20/11/2015, 22:47

NATO, UN, EU, Defence Policy


 20 november - The recent terrorist attacks in Paris revealed the weakness of the Defence and Security policy at Union level and above all, the strong need for a joint action by all the Member States.

author: Martina Lima

20 november - The recent terrorist attacks in Paris revealed the weakness of the Defence and Security policy at Union level and above all, the strong need for a joint action by all the Member States.At international level, a few days ago, the Representatives of the Member Countries of the UN security Council gathered in the glass building of New York to debate and take decision on how to fight ISIS. The Council, condemning the dramatic events in Paris, unanimously decided to permit to the Member Countries the use of "all the necessary measures to defeat the Muslim fundamentalism, including increased measures against the so called "foreign fighters".

The Resolution was proposed by France, in this latest year, the most hitten country by terrorism. The French Ambassador, in submitting the topic, stated: " The attack of ISIS, was an act of war against France, but the Islamic State did not attack only France, but all over the world".

It passed unanimously. Actually, it was not surprising, since the States of the board have the right to "veto", which it means that if one of the member opposes to the resolution, this can’t be approved by the Council; on the contrary, if one ore more Members decides to abstain, the decision can be approved without prejudice.

The UN Security Council is composed of 15 members, including 5 permanent and 10 non-permanent, elected from among the member countries of the United Nations for a term of two years. In this particular case, in addition to the five permanent members (China, France, United Kingdom, Russia and USA), other countries were also present: Angola, Malaysia, New Zeland, Spain, Venezuela, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania and Nigeria.

To conclude, due to the mission itself of the UN Security Council which is ensuring peace and safety at international level, it sure it won’t pass a long time since the Member Countries return on the issues of ISIS and terrorism, so effecting deeply the management of Syria crisis and the same European countries operations in that territory.

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20/11/2015, 10:00


 Europe: last chance?

author Tommaso  Leso

Brussels, 20.11.2015 - After the terrorist attacks of November 13 in Paris, and even more so after the discovery of the ties between some of the terrorist and the capital of Belgium, the political agenda and the media events in Brussels has undergone major changes.
Les Journées de Bruxelles, the yearly event organised at the Palais des Beaux Arts by the Belgian newspaper OBS, with the collaboration of other major Belgian newspapers (Le Soir, De Standaard) and the patronage of the European Commission and the city of Brussels, went nonetheless on as planned on Wednesday 18 and Tuesday 19 November: the attacks in Paris, however, had a powerful effect on the discussions taking place during the panel devoted to the "migratory challenges" that Europe is facing right now.
The fervent address by Dimitris Avramopoulos, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, reminded the audience that these terrorist attacks were carried out by European citizens, born and bred in Europe - they are the product of the forty-year long lack of effective policies of inclusion. As he pointed out, "they are our citizens, and our responsibility". He also explained that it is precisely in dire times that we must preserve our values of humanity and solidarity, not falling to populism, to fear and prejudice, to divisions within our society: the European leadership must therefore grow stronger.
All the analysts in the panel brought insightful views to the intertwined themes of migration and terrorism. Philippe Douste-Blazy, a French politician and, among other things, former minister of Defence (2005-2007), identified right away the three major challenges that the current terrorist threat presents to Europe and the EU: first and foremost, the preservation of the European values of democracy and civil liberty - attacking refugees in the wake of terrorist attacks, when they are the first victim of those same terrorists and are fleeing to Europe to find shelter, is simply disgusting (bear in mind that this was a conservative politician speaking). Secondly, security:  Europe needs an integrated police system, able to tackle challenges on a European level. Last but not least, defence and foreign policy: the main problem of waging war to ISIS, as French president François Holland and many other world leader have pledged to do during these last weeks, is that it is a non-state, at the same time nowhere and everywhere.
Jean-Paul Perruche, President  of EuroDéfense-France, picked up on the theme of additional integration as a tool to tackle the crisis, and made the case for a common European defence. Convincingly, he argued that the distinction between security (actions carried out by the police, within the boundaries of a state) and defence (actions carried out by the military outside the national territory) is increasingly blurred, as the quasi-military police actions in Saint-Denis (Paris) and Brussels show. He also objected to the total subordination of the foreign policy of European countries to that of the United States: and a common, strong defence program is the only means able to give Europe more independence in this field.
The speech of Edouard Tetrau, journalist and essayist, brought to light some of the problems and contradictions of Europe’s approach to the migrant crisis and to terrorism. First of all, he deplored the use of the word "migrant", because of the unwelcoming connotation it bears, with its implied assumption of the provisional nature of any settlement  the people coming to Europe could find, of any life they could build; moreover, he accused the citizens of Europe of suffering from a form of de-mission in their relations to defence and foreign policy, and he was right. How many of us think to defence spending as something more than a waste of money? How many of us even think in any active manner about the military? If we are to carry Europe forward, he pointed out, we should become a bit more like the American people: more optimist, and readier to use "actions, and not words".
The debate was closed by a showing of comic strips on both migration and terrorism by Plantu, a French cartoonist whose work focuses on foreign policy and its effect on war, peace, and poverty. In a collection of impressing and powerful comic strips, one in particularly hit me: a boat packed full of people is sinking, but a golden Superman, the letters EU on his chest, keeps it afloat. That, for me, is the symbol of the EU as it should be, the EU we should work to build. The embodiment of the values it represents and the role that it should play in the world.
18/11/2015, 11:09

EP, CEPS, Communist Bloc, EU, Helsinki Act, Human Rights., Micheal Emerson, RUSSIA, S&D, Security and Defence


 Brussels, november 17 - Forty years ago, when an iron curtain divided the world, the USA, Canada and the countries of Western Europe, and the states of the Communist bloc, signed the Helsinki Act.

Author: Hanne Van De Ven

Brussels, november 17 - Forty years ago, when an ironncurtain divided the world, the USA, Canada and the countries ofnWestern Europe, and the states of the Communist bloc, signed the Helsinki Act. This Act was intended to improve the relations in thendialogue of economic cooperation, human rights and security. As opposed to the expectations, Europe currently faces a seriousndivision in East and West again since Russia annexed Crimea. For this reason, the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) group of the European Parliament discussed a revision for the Helsinki Act during a conference on 17 November in Brussels.

Since the establishment of the HelsinkinAct, the world has globalized increasingly through developments inninternet and technology. As a result, countries have become more involved with each other, particularly in trade. While the EuropeannUnion (EU) supports trade by opening the borders between the Member States of the Schengen zone, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia andnKyrgyzstan established the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) in 2015 for similar purposes.

In relation to the revision of the Helsinki Act, one could therefore ask what the potentials of economic cooperation would be between the EU and the EEU. This question was the first topic of discussion during the S&D conference. The opinions were divided. Marian Lupu, chairman of the Democratic Partynof Moldova, stated that Moldova would be in favour of a dialogue onncollaboration between the EU and EEU and proposed her country to have a position in the middle of both Unions. It is a comprehensible point of view, as Moldova has been internally divided in a frozen conflictnsince 1990. In the majority of country rules the pro-Europeannattitude, however on the Ukrainian border lies the self-proclaimed independent and pro-Russian province of Transnistria.

Michael Emerson of the Centre forEuropean Policy Studies in Brussels, on the other hand, did not seen the future as bright as Lupu. He stated that according to Russian economists, cooperation with the EU could exists, but then all advantages would be on the EU side. Therefore the possibilities of a free limit area are limited. His statement was deemed faulty by Vladimir Chizhov, Russian ambassador to the EU, who expressed that the EU and EEU are already economic partners. Chizhov however disregarded the current sanctions that have been placed between the EU and Russia and was unable to conceptualize how the EU and EEUncould enter into further cooperation on an economic level. With regard to his position, one might question if Russia is really interested in collaborating with the EU on an economic level.

On the matter of human rights, Russianseemed more open to collaboration though. During the second debate of the conference, Mikhail Fedotov, advisor to the Russian presidentnVladimir Putin and chairman of the Russian presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights, showed support for the renewal of the Helsinki Act. He stated that the Act should be enriched with othernhuman rights and gave the right to peace as an example. The right to peace would justify Russia’s actions in Ukraine, as they claim that their actions have been purely to protect the ethnic Russian citizens from the pro-Ukrainian side. Besides that he expressed the need fornan equal approach by saying: “We cannot be a teacher towards eachnother, but we can be peers.” This position derives from the fact that the EU has been a normative power on amongst  others the value of human rights. In Russia this has been perceived as arrogant and hypocritical, because while the EU is telling other countries how tongovern, the member states are facing problems on human rights themselves.

Peter Niedermüller, a S&D membernfrom Hungary, confirmed Fedotov’s point by sharing that he is not very optimistic about Central and Eastern Europe. Some governments in this region go systematically against human rights, rule of law and democracy. He therefore argued that the problem of the Helsinki Act is that it positions Russia on side and the EU on the other, while they should not be looking at each other with fear.

Especially since the Paris attacks on 13 November, a dialogue on the division in Europe between Russia and the EU seems more important than ever. In the third panel discussion the question was raised how the EU and Russia’s common responsibility for Europe’s security should be restored. Again the opinions were divided. Alexey Gromyko, director of the Institute of nEurope of the Russian Academy of Sciences, claimed that the common responsibility for a European security could not be restored because there never was one. He therefore proposed a dialogue for an European security system. However, the EU has to keep in mind that Russia wants to ensure stability on its doorstep. This means, Russia would not accept the EU to interfere with Russia’s neighbouring countries, as what had happened in Ukraine. Manana Kobakhidze, first Deputy Chair of Parliament of Georgia, responded to that by saying that the choice to go into agreement with the EU does not mean a movement against Russia. She also pleaded for the strengthening of the OSCE in order for it to be capable of on the field investigations, as currently 20% of Georgia’s territory is under occupation of Russia.

Russia’s illiberal position towards the Ukraine and Georgia’s sovereignty, makes it difficult for thenEU to become partners. In spite of that, one might ask if there is another choice with regards to Syria. The area of possibility in security lies beyond Europe. Hannes Swoboda, President of the International Institute for Peace in Vienna argued that perhaps after collaborating in Syria, trust can be regained. Karsten Voigt of the German Council on Foreign Relations, is sceptical and contends that in order for a common security system within Europe, the EU needs to have a deep conviction that Russia will not change boundaries by force.

Nevertheless, the common challenges are bigger than the differences between the EU and Russia. Therefore, some say the EU has no other choice than to cooperate with Russia against terrorism. Although this will put the value of human rights onto hold, one could argue that through cooperation a better understanding will be established. Perhaps this will even help to develop the human rights situation on both sides, EU and Russia.

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