This news bulletin was transmitted 0n 10th January 2014 on the RT news channel. A section shortly after the beginning contains worse than ever news for the EU and the Euro.
Blundering EU officials ignited the violence in Kiev and beyond.
In everyday life, if you see two or more parties arguing vigorously, the best thing to do is maintain a benevolent neutrality. This simple lesson also applies to diplomacy. But, as recent events in Ukraine demonstrate all too well, it is apparently one the leaders of the European Union have failed to heed.
The EU is pursuing what it calls its ‘European Neighbourhood Policy’ in relation to a group of countries – including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – that are normally seen as being within Russia’s sphere of influence. By furthering its economic and security interests, and in the guise of ‘exporting democracy’, the EU is challenging Russian interests. This is a serious misjudgement, with serious consequences for the people of Ukraine.
The EU is playing on a longstanding division within Ukraine, between the pro-European, rural west of the country and the populous and industrialised east and south, which have long looked to Russia. It is now eight years since the start of the EU’s Action Plan for Ukraine, which talked up ‘the opportunity for the EU and Ukraine to develop an increasingly close relationship, going beyond cooperation, to gradual economic integration and a deepening of political cooperation’. Ukraine has enough difficulty balancing its internal tensions and the need to keep Russia on side (for both strategic and historical reasons, Russia sees Ukraine as a vital part of its sphere of influence). The intervention of the EU into Ukraine’s affairs, rather than helping matters, has only exacerbated these internal instabilities.
Last November, the EU held a summit in Vilnius in Lithuania with a group of former Soviet states in an attempt to agree an ‘Eastern Partnership’ with Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and three states in the Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Negotiations had been going on since May 2009, in the aftermath of the Russian intervention into Georgia. The deal would have given these states greater access to EU markets, but at the expense of having to adopt many EU laws and regulations, and with no economic aid provided. However, Ukraine refused to sign the deal, having instead opted to accept $15 billion in bilateral aid from Russia and receiving a much-needed reduction in the price of gas imports. Given the parlous state of the Ukrainian economy, Russia’s offer was one Ukraine could hardly refuse.
However, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many western Ukrainians, who see Yanukovych as a corrupt Russian stooge and who desire closer ties with the EU. The protests of the past two months are a direct result of the failure of the Vilnius summit. At the end of last year, in an article titled ‘Europe’s Ukrainian blunder’, the former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer – no stranger himself to heavy-handed diplomacy – was sharply critical of the EU’s strategy. ‘From Yanukovych’s point of view’, he wrote, ‘[the Russian] agreement made sense in the short run: the gas deal would help Ukraine survive the winter, the loan would help keep it from defaulting on its debt, and the Russian market, on which the economy depends, would remain open.’ So why, Fischer asked, ‘did the EU press for an association agreement, without being able to offer Ukraine anything comparable to what Russia offered?’.
Even the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, admitted the EU’s strategy had been a mistake. ‘I think we underestimated the drama of the domestic political situation in Ukraine’, he told the German public radio station Deutschlandfunk in November. Ukraine, he said, ‘has been in a deep economic and financial crisis’ since the introduction of democracy. ‘They desperately need money and they desperately need a reliable gas supply’, said Schulz.
Now, the situation in Ukraine is desperate. The protests are even spreading east, taking on a general anti-government character. There is the possibility of deepening divisions and conflict in Ukrainian society. Ukrainian novelist Andrey Kurkov argues that it is by no means impossible that the country will disintegrate. If the protests are suppressed, he argues, Yanukovych will be viewed in western Ukraine as an oppressor.
There is a serious tension between the aspiration and the reality of EU foreign policy. The reasons for this include the missionary zeal with which it has been pursued – apparently without regard to such pesky things as national interests, geopolitical power relations or simple domestic political stability. The EU, in its preening fashion, sees itself as offering ‘values leadership’ to the world.
So, the European Neighbourhood Policy presents the EU as a ‘community of values’. Article 7a of the Lisbon Treaty declares: ‘The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.’ No mention here of such vile things as material interests or power politics. Once upon a time, such a drive for expansion would be regarded as ‘imperialism’ and understood as something negative. Today, the nation state – particularly when it comes to weaker states that refuse to bow down to the West – is now regarded as the problem.
What lies behind this EU drive to expand is not an evil intent or conspiracy. Rather, it is an infatuation with presenting positive values to the world, mixed with historical amnesia, that creates this ‘moral’ foreign policy. What is missing is any rational sense of the different interests that have created the situation in Ukraine, any appreciation of how the sort of meddling pursued by the EU over the past few years has ruptured delicate balances in Ukrainian society and inflamed tensions and violence that even EU officials themselves are now panicking about. What would be nice would be a European party that would stand up to this assault from Brussels on the elected government in Kiev. They would get my vote.
Sabine Reul is a writer and translator based in Frankfurt. She is also a member of the editorial team of the German magazine NovoArgumente. A longer version of this article, in German, is available here: Ukraine: Das Fiasko europäischer „Nachbarschaftspolitik“
The Estonian foreign minister expressed his suspicion that “somebody from the new coalition” in Kiev could have been behind the sniper shootings on the Maidan, according to a tapped telephone conversation, which has gone online. Sniper fire had preceded Berlin’s massively promoted putsch in Kiev. In the telephone conversation, the Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet, reported to the chief of EU foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton that a medical doctor in Kiev assumes that the mortal wounds to policemen and demonstrators had the same handwriting and could have come from the same assassins. The fact that Kiev’s government has yet to initiate an investigation could arouse the suspicion that elements from its own ranks could have been responsible for those assassinations. Videos, in fact, have already documented that snipers had been shooting at both sides. The putschist government, incriminated by Paet’s remarks and still enjoying strong German government support, is comprised also of rightwing extremist forces, for example several Svoboda Party politicians, as well as the commander of the armed militia on the Maidan and the leader of the paramilitary “Pravi Sektor” (Right Sektor). Both have been given high-level posts as Secretary and Deputy Secretary in the National Security and Defense Council of the Ukraine, under the personal leadership of the President.
Street Battles instead of Parliamentary Debates
At least British and US media are now openly mentioning the role played by the rightwing extremists in the Kiev putsch. As a Ukrainian journalist wrote in a US online publication, this role should, by no means, be “underestimated.” When “two months of protests in the streets” did not bring resounding results, “it was the far right” that was “the first to throw Molotov cocktails and stones at police and to mount real and well-fortified barricades.” Fascists were also among those, who burned two military personnel carriers on February 18. “The Euromaidan won thanks to the resoluteness of people, who were ready to fight rather than to negotiate in parliament,” the author concludes. This escalation strategy, supported by the extreme right, falls in line with a remark in an alleged Vitaly Klitschko email, which has been available online for several days. In the email, dated January 9, one can read, “I think we have paved the road for a more radical escalation of the situation. Is it not high time to continue with more resolute actions?” Klitschko has always been in close contact with Berlin’s foreign policy establishment, which, at the time, had not uttered a word of criticism concerning the rightwing extremist activities in the Ukraine.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Deputy, Oleksandr Sych, and several ministers of the putschist government are members of the Svoboda Party, which, even before the beginning of the recent mass protests, had already won one third of the votes in sectors of western Ukraine. The leader of the party had personally cooperated with the German foreign minister during the uprisings. Sych recently became known, when he suggested all abortions be banned, even those for pregnancies resulting from rape. He recommended that women “lead the kind of lifestyle to avoid the risk of rape, including one from drinking alcohol and being in controversial company.” Svoboda members Andriy Mokhnyk became Minister for Ecology, Ihor Shvaika, Minister for Agriculture and Ihor Teniukh, Minister for Defense. Teniukh had previously commanded Ukraine’s fleet from 2006 to 2010 and is now in charge of handling the Crimean conflict. This is significant because Svoboda is, by far, the most anti-Russian force represented in the putschist government. Svoboda’s Oleh Makhnitskiy became parliamentary inspector of the Attorney General’s Office.
Struggle against “Russians and Jews”
On the other hand, this should draw attention because Svoboda honors Nazi collaborator, Stepan Bandera and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), responsible for having committed massacres particularly of Jewish Ukrainians and Poles. Svoboda, according to activists in Kiev, still disposes of an illegal armed wing known as “C14.” This has been confirmed a few days ago by the BBC, which reports “C14’s” size allegedly at 200 members – and took over the headquarters of the Communist Party, an act that turns the spotlight on the concept of rule of law applied now in the pro-Western Ukraine. The name “C14” (“Combat 14”) is probably a semantic flirt with the name “C18” (“Combat 18”) one of the international networks of neo-Nazi terrorist organizations, with which the “C14,” of course, shares no organizational ties. At the same time, the name points to the number “14.” In fascist circles this refers to the “fourteen word” slogans of commitment to the “white race.” As the leader of Svoboda’s ally “C14” explained, his organization is in a “struggle” with “ethnic groups” that are wielding, among other things, “economic and political power.” The “ethnic groups” he is referring to are “Russians and Jews.”
Secretary in the National Security Council
The fascist’s structural influence can also be primarily seen in Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. The President of the Ukraine presides over the council. Members of the council include the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defense (Svoboda), the director of the SBU Intelligence Service and high-ranking military officials. The chair of the council designates a secretary. Since a few days ago, Andriy Parubiy has filled this position. Parubiy, together with Oleh Tiahnybok, had founded the neo-Nazi “Social National Party of the Ukraine” in 1991, which they renamed “Svoboda” in 2004, which is still under Tiahnybok’s leadership. In 2004, Parubiy had been one of the leading personalities of the “Orange Revolution.” However, over the succeeding years, he had gravitated toward the former ruling “Our Ukraine Party,” at the time, pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko was president of the country. Parubiy was then elected to parliament in 2012 on the electoral list of Yulia Tymoshenko’s “Fatherland Party.” He became internationally famous when he, as the “Commander of Maidan” was the head of the armed militias in Kiev. The militias were “not 100% but a large percentage” comprised of fascists, according to activists. The “Pravi Sektor” (“Right Sektor”), a sort of alliance of violence-prone right-wing extremist organizations, has wide representation within its ranks.
According to estimates, the “Pravi Sektor,” which received strong reinforcement through the Maidan protests, today nationally numbers up to 5,000 militants. In Kiev, it patrols the city in armed squads of up to a dozen members. Their weapons are usually baseball bats, but sometimes also pistols. Even the German media, which openly shows sympathy toward these protests, characterizes this organization as “paramilitary,” and obviously in possession of numerous firearms and ammunition. Its leader Dmytro Yarosh joined the right-wing extremist “Tryzub” (“Trident”) organization in 1994, which he has been commanding since 2005. During the Maidan protests, the “Tryzub” has mainly become known for its attacks on homosexuals and as participants in the “Pravi Sektor.” Yarosh, the leader of “Tryzub” and “Pravi Sektor” claims that an appeal published on a social network website with his profile, calling on the infamous Chechen terrorist, Doku Umarov to support the Ukrainian nationalists in their struggle against Russia, is a counterfeit created by hackers. A few days ago, Yarosh was named assistant to Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of the Ukraine, Andriy Parubiy.
Under these circumstances, Jewish organizations are becoming increasingly worried about the safety of the 200,000 Ukrainian Jews. These organizations – regardless of their political differences with one another – are “wondering whether their lives – whether Jewish life – has a secure future in Ukraine,” according to a report. After all, organizations of right-wing extremist thugs “are, at the moment, in control of the streets of Kiev.” At the beginning of the week, a group of Israeli self-defense specialists landed in the Ukrainian capital, on the initiative of the chair of Kiev’s Jewish community, to begin training members of the community. This is not only about methods of combat, but also about how to behave in crisis situations, it was reported. The “Jewish Agency,” the Israeli government’s official immigration organization, is already preparing emergency measures. Through its undifferentiated backing for even fascists within the Ukrainian opposition, the German government has helped create the situation making these measures necessary. Demands to isolate Svoboda and other rightwing extremists have been systematically ignored both in Berlin and by Berlin’s proxies at the Maidan. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.)
More reports and background information on the current German policy in reference to the Ukraine can be found here: Problems of Eastward Expansion, A Broad-Based Anti-Russian Alliance, Expansive Ambitions, Our Man in Kiev, Integration Rivalry with Moscow, On the Offensive, At all Costs and The Crimean Conflict.
 Oleg Shynkarenko: Can Ukraine Control Its Far Right Ultranationalists? www.thedailybeast.com 01.03.2014.
 See Vom Stigma befreit.
 Katya Gorchinskaya: The not-so-revolutionary new Ukraine government. www.kyivpost.com 27.02.2014.
 See Zwischen Moskau und Berlin (IV) and Zwischen Moskau und Berlin (V).
 An Interview with Mira, Andrei, and Sascha of AntiFascist Action Ukraine. www.timothyeastman.com 19.02.2014.
 Ukraine: Far-right armed with bats patrol Kiev. www.bbc.com 01.03.2014.
 An Interview with Mira, Andrei, and Sascha of AntiFascist Action Ukraine. www.timothyeastman.com 19.02.2014.
 Igor Mitchnik: Die Angst danach. Warum Juden den Umsturz auch mit Sorge betrachten. www.juedische-allgemeine.de 27.02.2014.
 Israeli security experts head out to Kiev to train local Jews in self-defense. www.haaretz.com 03.03.2014.
 Jewish Agency: Emergency assistance to Ukrainian jews could be increased. www.haaretz.com 03.03.2014.
 See Testfeld Ukraine.
From the brink of incredible success, the new German coalition is on the verge of driving Germany back towards an almost inevitable economic abyss…
Eurocrats love to opine about European competitiveness from their lofty tax free towers. Yet the most competitive aspect of Europe remains the race to be the genuine sick man of Europe. Britain held the mantle unchallenged during the 1970’s until Margaret Thatcher revitalised the nation’s fortunes in an unprecedented reversal. Now the sick man of Europe mantle is hypercompetitive. Greece, Spain, Italy and Cyprus are amongst a series of basket case economies while France is on the cusp of a triple dip recession thanks to a dizzying spiral of dismal government.
However, the idea that Germany, the all-powerful hegemon of Europe, might itself biodegrade economically sounds preposterous as we can easily bear witness to roads awash with an ocean of Audis, BMWs, Mercedes and VWs. Nevertheless, the cycle is turning and Germany is once again in danger of decline. Ironically Germany was written off a decade ago, after a lavish but bruising reunification process proved the folly of top down economics: Eastern Germany remains economically patchy whereas Poland without a western ‘sugar daddy’ is a remarkable economic success story. Germany’s rise was thanks to the Social Democrats (SPD) who, ironically, are proving pivotal in dragging Berlin back down again. Hartz IV was a key development by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, at once making Germany more dynamic and igniting the incredible decade of growth that saw“Mutti” Merkel hectoring the rest of the EU on the virtues of fiscal prudence.
Alas the German electorate just didn’t quite love Mrs Merkel enough, voting her a poisoned chalice in the recent general election. Her third term is a coalition moving Germany left. One key SPD demand? Watering down the Hartz employment laws which they introduced! Swingeing rises in minimum wages won’t help competitiveness, nor will higher taxes.
This economic paragon has obtained a complacent coalition just when it must plan for the future. Mrs Merkel hectors abroad yet appears aloof to the problems facing her homeland.
Demography is a big issue. Despite a lavish $265 billion annual spend on family subsidies to encourage population growth, Germany is aging (already the oldest in Europe with median age of 45). Demographic studies are frightening: the German population could plunge by 21% or 17 million people to 65 million by 2060. The workforce is shrinking by 200,000 a year. Germany has fewer people in work today than it had 20 years ago. Germans tend to be guarded about immigrants – just when they need an influx.
The German state has a massive series of top down legacy projects which allied with even a much more modest than predicted population decline, can cause economic problems. German power prices are 30% above the EU average and twice that of US rivals (no wonder Daimler Benz are considering a new Mercedes factory stateside).
Scaremongering about fracking is closing the shale spigot while Mrs Merkel’s knee-jerk cowardice post Fukushima in closing down all nuclear power plants will go down in history as concerted energy suicide. Germany lavishes 700 billion – 1 trillion euro subsidising erratic renewables which is, itself, er, unsustainable. This green dream is every taxpayer’s worst nightmare. Mrs Merkel is invariably the woman banging her stiletto on the EU summit table demanding prudence, reciting her triptych of welfare madness (Europe is 7% world population, 25% of the global economy and 50% of Earth’s social spending). Yet, Mrs Merkel herself is perilously close to ignoring her own golden rules at home.
Despite a massive government bribe for births, Germany’s demographics look shaky. An aging nation is discouraging investment and employment while demanding fiscal rectitude from eurozone neighbours. Ultimately Germany is slowing long-term. Productivity growth has been barely 0.6 percent for a decade, half the OECD rate. Right now Germany may appear the class of the field in its own backyard but then again the ‘Eurotrash’ economies are no match for their emerging competitors. Meanwhile Germany cannot afford to bulk up its government sector when holding together the euro vanity currency. It will soon require hard cash on top of national bills for crazy green subsidies, birth bonuses and a massive unfunded pension liability.
The German boom is close to its peak. It may soon be a sick man although probably not the sick man amongst Europe’s fantasy economies. However how can the EU itself survive a bout of German influenza?
When the Lisbon Treaty came into force at the end of last year, members of the European Parliament, who previously had been “representatives of the peoples of the States brought together in the Community”, became “representatives of the Union’s citizens”. This change in the legal status of MEPs is but one illustration of the constitutional revolution being brought about by the Lisbon Treaty.
For Lisbon, like the EU Constitution before it, establishes for the first time a European Union which is constitutionally separate from and superior to its Member States, just as the USA is separate from and superior to its 50 constituent states, or as Federal Germany is in relation to its Länder.
The 27 EU members thereby lose their character as true sovereign states. Constitutionally, they become more like regional states in a multinational federation, although they still retain some of the trappings of their former sovereignty.
Most people are unaware of these astonishing changes, for two reasons. One is that, with the exception of the Irish, the people of the EU member states have been denied any chance of learning about and debating them in national referendums. The other is that the terms “European Union”, “EU citizen” and “EU citizenship” were already in use before Lisbon, but Lisbon changes their constitutional content fundamentally.
The Lisbon Treaty therefore is a constitutional revolution by stealth.
Three steps to a federal-style Constitution
This revolution takes place in three interconnected steps:
Firstly, the Treaty establishes a European Union with legal personality and a fully independent corporate existence for the first time. This enables the post-Lisbon Union to function as a State vis-a-vis other States externally, and in relation to its own citizens internally.
Secondly, Lisbon abolishes the European Community which goes back to the Treaty of Rome and which makes European laws at present, and transfers the Community’s powers and institutions to the new Union, so that it is the post-Lisbon Union, not the Community, which will make supranational European laws henceforth. Lisbon also transfers to the EU the “intergovernmental” powers over crime, justice and home affairs, as well as foreign policy and security, leaving only aspects of the Common Foreign, Security and Defence Policy outside the scope of its supranational powers. The Treaty thereby gives a unified constitutional structure to the post-Lisbon EU.
Thirdly, Lisbon then makes 500 million Europeans into real citizens of the new Federal-style Union which the Treaty establishes. Instead of EU citizenship “complementing” national citizenship, as under the Maastricht Treaty, Lisbon provides that EU citizenship shall be “additional to” national citizenship.
This is a real dual citizenship – not of two different States, but of two different levels of one State. One can only be a citizen of a State, and all States must have citizens. Dual citizenship like that provided for in Lisbon is normal in classical Federations which have been established from the bottom up by constituent states surrendering their sovereignty to a superior federal entity, in contrast to federations that have come into being “top-down”, as it were, as a result of unitary states adopting federal form. Examples of the former are the USA, 19th Century Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia. Lisbon would confer a threefold citizenship on citizens of Federal Germany’s Länder.
Being a citizen means that one must obey the law and give loyalty to the authority of the State of which one is a citizen – in the case of classical Federations, of the two state levels, the federal and the regional or provincial. In the post-Lisbon EU the rights and duties attaching to citizenship of the European Union will be superior to those attaching to one’s national citizenship in any case of conflict between the two, because of the superiority of EU law over national law and Constitutions.
An alternative source of democratic legitimacy to the Nation State
Under Lisbon population size will in turn become the primary basis for EU law- making, as in any State with a common citizenry. This will happen after 2014, when the Treaty provision comes into force that EU laws will be made by 55% of the Member States – currently 15 out of 25 – as long as they represent between them 65% of the total population of the Union. Germany and France together have one third of the EU’s population.
Lisbon provides an alternative source of democratic legitimacy which challenges the right of national governments to be the representatives of their electorates in the EU. The amended Treaty provides: “The functioning of the Union shall be founded on representative democracy. Citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament. Member States are represented in the European Council by their Heads of State or Government and in the Council by their governments.”
The constitutional structure of the post-Lisbon EU is completed by the provision which turns the European Council of Prime Ministers and Presidents into an “institution” of the new European Union, so that its acts, or its failing to act would, like those of the other EU institutions, be subject to legal review by the EU Court of Justice.
Constitutionally speaking, the summit meetings of the European Council will henceforth no longer be “intergovernmental” gatherings outside supranational European structures, as they have been up to now. The European Council will in effect be the Cabinet Government of the post-Lisbon EU. Its individual members will be constitutionally obliged to represent the Union to their Member States as well as their Member States to the Union, with the former function imposing primacy of legal obligation in any case of conflict or tension between the two.
As regards the State authority of the post-Lisbon European Union, this will be embodied in the EU’s own legislative, executive and judicial institutions: the European Council, Council of Ministers, Parliament, Commission and Court of Justice. It will be embodied also in the Member States and their authorities as they implement and apply EU law and interpret and apply national law in conformity with European law. Member States will be constitutionally required to do this under the Lisbon Treaty.
Although the Lisbon Treaty has given the EU a Federal-style Constitution without most people noticing, they are bound to find out in time and react against what is being done. There is no democratic legitimacy to the institutions the Lisbon Treaty establishes and there is nothing that will make people identify with these as they do with the institutions of their home countries. This is the core problem of the EU integration project. Lisbon has, in effect, made the EU’s democratic deficit much worse.
Anthony Coughlan is President of the Foundation for EU Democracy, Brussels, Belgium, and Director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, Dublin, Ireland. (See www.nationalplatform.org.) He is Senior Lecturer Emeritus in Social Policy, Trinity College Dublin.
It is often forgotten that Ukrainian industry would be disastrously undercut as a result of the proposed EU association agreement. With much of its market in Russia and no hope of competing with more modern industries in EU countries, Ukraine would be in a similar disastrous state to East German industry after reunification but with no massive social support such as East Germany received from West Germany. The deal offered by Russia looked by far the most sensible option economically - a continuation of its existing trade with Russia, a large injection of cash and a heavily discounted price for Russian gas. The German puppet organisations and fascists who organised the demonstrations which destabilised the country will face the wrath of their countrymen and more instability once the economic effects of their policy become apparent. Edward Spalton
The EU’s Second Ring
Taken from German-Foreign-Policy Blog