Archive for the ‘Angela Merkel’ Category

Calls mount for Olympic ceremony boycott

March 18, 2008
By JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer 

PARIS – Moves to punish China over its handling of violence in Tibet gained momentum Tuesday, with a novel suggestion for a mini-boycott of the Beijing Olympics by VIPs at the opening ceremony.
Hollywood actor and Tibet activist Richard Gere, seen here in ... 
Hollywood actor and Tibet activist Richard Gere Saturday called for a boycott of the Beijing Olympic Games if China “does not act in the proper way” in handling protests in the Himalayan region.
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Jim McIsaac)

Protesters demonstrate against the Olympic Games in Beijing ...
Protesters demonstrate against the Olympic Games in Beijing in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Tuesday, March 18, 2008. Tibetans called on IOC President Jacques Rogge to speak up about the Tibet crackdown and ask for the withdrawal of the torch relay in Tibet.
(AP Photo/Keystone, Dominic Favre)

Such a protest by world leaders would be a huge slap in the face for China’s Communist leadership.

France‘s outspoken foreign minister, former humanitarian campaigner Bernard Kouchner, said the idea “is interesting.”

Kouchner said he wants to discuss it with other foreign ministers from the 27-nation European Union next week. His comments opened a crack in what until now had been solid opposition to a full boycott, a stance that Kouchner said remains the official government position.

The idea of skipping the Aug. 8 opening ceremony “is less negative than a general boycott,” Kouchner said. “We are considering it.”

Asked about Kouchner’s statement, China’s U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya said: “Certainly I think what he said is not shared by most of the people in the world.”

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said last month that he expects many heads of state — including President Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy — to attend the opening ceremony.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080318/ap_on_re_
eu/beijing_boycott;_ylt=AvvNW18F6E5KqIU
oGmo_MlCs0NUE

Afghanistan, Missile Defense To Dominate Munich’s Annual Security Conference

February 8, 2008

February 8, 2008

BERLIN (AFP)–A raging Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and U.S. plans for a missile defense shield in eastern Europe were set to send the sparks flying at the annual Munich security conference this weekend.

But fresh from a North Atlantic Treaty Organization meeting in Lithuania, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was expected to make little headway in pressing Washington’s aims, particularly when it comes to Afghanistan, experts and diplomats believe.

“Afghanistan is going to be the centerpiece of the conference,” said Daniel Korski from the European Council on Foreign Relations.

“America will continue to make the point for more burden sharing and more troops…There will be a continuation of the rhetoric and the Americans will bring out the bogeyman of NATO’s failure.”

But Gates is likely to draw a blank, Korski added: “Spain, Germany, France and Italy will not be able to provide the reinforcements requested.”

Commanders in Afghanistan have been calling for around 7,500 extra troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. ISAF currently comprises 42,000 troops from 39 countries.

In fierce fighting more than 6,000 people, including nearly 220 international soldiers, were killed there last year – the most since the U.S.-led toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001.

The U.S. wants Germany, France, Spain and Italy not only to boost troop numbers but also to aid U.S., U.K., Dutch, and Canadian forces fighting a resurgent Taliban in the south of the country.

Germany for instance leads ISAF in the relatively calm north of Afghanistan but with elections looming in 2009 and public support for Berlin’s six year-old Afghan mission slipping, it is wary of becoming further enmeshed.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government stresses instead the reconstruction role of its 3,200 troops, and last week Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung rejected a sharply-worded request by Gates for more help in the south.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the Prime Minister ...
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, left, and the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, right, review the honour guard at the Berlin Chancellery on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2008.
(AP Photo/Fritz Reiss) 

Jung says he will defend this position in Munich.

Germany’s refusal means other countries are also unlikely to step up to the plate, and this in turn could see the existing alliance unravel.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has threatened to withdraw his country’s 2,500 troops unless NATO provides reinforcements.

Since 2002, 78 Canadian soldiers and a senior diplomat have died in roadside bombings and in fighting. Next month sees a crunch vote in Ottawa on whether to extend Canada’s combat mission beyond February 2009.

Gates is also unlikely to get an easy ride over sausages and beer in Munich when it comes to Washington’s plans to site parts of a missile defense shield in eastern Europe.

The 10 planned interceptor missile sites in Poland and associated radar stations in the Czech Republic, which the U.S. wants operational by 2012, are designed, Washington says, to intercept projectiles fired from “rogue states” like Iran.

But Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov is expected to use his appearance in Munich to hammer home Moscow’s strong dislike for the plans, since the installations will be placed on what it sees as its doorstep.
Sergei Ivanov
Sergei Borisovich Ivanov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used a Polish newspaper interview on Thursday to accuse Washington of imperialism and seeking to encircle Russia with the project.

“When you look at a map, it becomes clear that everything is concentrated around our borders,” he told Gazeta Wyborcza.

The annual security conference in the Bavarian capital will bring together around 250 delegates from 50 countries including Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, NATO head Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, and Mohamed El Baradei, head of the U.N. atomic agency.
Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Jakob Gijsbert “Jaap” de Hoop Scheffer

Germany looks to Asia, at China’s expense

November 19, 2007

By Judy Dempsey
The International Herald Tribune
November 19, 2007

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc is studying a strategic partnership with Southeast Asia that would shift the German government’s focus away from China and link economic ties and human rights more closely to the rest of the region, the authors of the report said Monday.The paper, presented recently by Eckart von Klaeden, chairman of the foreign affairs parliamentary working group of the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union, is unusual for Germany’s conservative bloc.

Previous foreign policy analyses by the conservative bloc had tended to focus on Europe, Russia and the trans-Atlantic relationship, while Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat, had focused almost exclusively on Russia and China.

“Previous policy under Schröder was too focused on China and its economy,” von Klaeden said in an interview Monday. “The idea with this paper is to diversify and look at how countries….

Read the rest:
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/19/asia/germany.php?WT.mc_id=rssfrontpage