Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

Why Can’t France, Sarkozy Get International Respect?

December 2, 2008

In much of the world, President Nicolas Sarkozy enjoys a reputation for being something of a diplomatic dynamo. But Sarkozy and France get ignored, maligned, lectured and insulted often and loudly from one voice in Asia…..In China, the energetic French leader has a strikingly different standing than the one he enjoys almost everywhere else. In China, Sarkozy (and France) is the favorite international whipping boy……

By Bruce Crumley
Time Magazine

Business ties with China are likely to suffer if the French President goes ahead with his plan to meet the Dalai Lama.  Photo by Gerard Cerles / Pool / Reuters

The latest humiliation comes with Beijing’s decision to boycott the 11th annual China-European Union summit, which has been scheduled to open in Lyon today. China stunned E.U. officials last week by announcing that its delegation of more than 150 political and business leaders would stay at home because, in the words of China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, “the summit cannot be held in a sound atmosphere, nor can it achieve expected goals.” The reason? The French President’s plan to meet with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on December 6 as part of an event honoring fellow Nobel peace prize winner Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in Poland.

“China firmly opposes any contacts with the Dalai Lama by foreign leaders in whatever form,” Qin said in a statement released by the state-run Xinhua news agency. “We hope that France could fulfill its commitments, and properly deal with China’s major concerns in earnest so as to create conditions for the steady development of bilateral relations.”

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets the audience ... 
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets the audience before delivering a speech in Prague November 30, 2008.(David W Cerny/Reuters)

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China’s execution of alleged spy harms rights dialogue: EU

November 29, 2008

The European Union condemned Friday China’s execution of a scientist accused of spying for Taiwan, warning of damaging consequences for dialogue with Beijing on human rights.

“The European Union condemns in the strongest terms the execution of Mr Wo Weihan,” a statement said. “This execution seriously undermines the spirit of trust and mutual respect required for this EU-China dialogue on human rights.”


Ran Chen -- the daughter of scientist Wo Weihan -- in Beijing ... 
Ran Chen — the daughter of scientist Wo Weihan — in Beijing on November 26, 2008. The European Union condemned Friday China’s execution of the scientist who was accused of spying for Taiwan, warning of damaging consequences for dialogue with Beijing on human rights.(AFP/File/Peter Parks)

The EU underscored that it “comes just after the conclusion in Beijing of the EU-China human rights dialogue, in the course of which the EU reiterated its strong opposition to the death penalty and once again raised the case of Mr Wo Weihan and requested that he be pardoned.”

The 27-nation bloc also deplored the conditions under which Wo had been detained and tried and said it regretted that China had ignored numerous calls to defer the execution and commute the death sentence.

China executed the 59-year-old scientist on Friday, his daughter told AFP.

Wo was based in Austria from 1990 to 1997, and his daughter has Austrian citizenship. He was arrested in 2005 in Beijing on accusations of passing information of a military nature to Taiwan. He had said he was innocent.

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China Cancels EU Summit; Economic Turndown Worries Everyone

November 27, 2008

The head of France’s business lobby said Thursday she is “worried” about the trade implications of China’s decision to pull out of an upcoming China-European Union summit.

The EU-China summit was planned for Monday in the French city of Lyon. On the sidelines, around 150-200 Chinese business executives had been expected to meet with European counterparts at an event organized by the French employers lobby Medef.

China called off the meeting, however, in protest at French President Nicolas Sarkozy long-awaited meeting with Tibet‘s exiled Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.

Medef’s President Laurence Parisot called China’s decision “a real shame.”

“This worries me for French companies,” Parisot told the Associated Press.

“I don’t understand what motivated the Chinese authorities,” he said, noting that the U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Tibetan leader without provoking such a reaction.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang hinted that his government may be looking at economic reprisals as well.

“Since France has major interests in China, since the French leader repeatedly says that he takes China as a major strategic partner, then why is he doing this?” he asked at a news conference Thursday in Beijing.

“This is exactly where we feel confused and where the Chinese government and people express strong dissatisfaction.”

Pulling out of the summit suggests that countering criticism on Tibet is a bigger priority for China’s communist leaders than working with the EU and nations like France on solutions to the global financial crisis.

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Poland Won’t Lobby Obama on Missile Defense

November 20, 2008

Poland’s foreign minister said yesterday that his country will wait for the Obama administration to make up its mind on basing missile defense interceptors in his country and will not lobby to have the project proceed.

Saying that the Warsaw government had agreed “out of friendship” to the Bush administration proposal to establish a U.S. base for 10 interceptor missiles in Poland, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski added: “We will tread carefully and wait until the new administration makes its decision.”

By Walter Pincus
The Washington Post
The controversial European basing plan, which also involves placing a U.S. radar unit in the Czech Republic, is to be part of a broader missile defense system that the Bush administration has said is designed to intercept Iranian missiles aimed either at U.S. or European targets. Russia has voiced strong objections to the plan.

Sikorski’s remarks, made during an appearance at the Atlantic Council of the United States, a bipartisan foreign policy organization, reflect the modification of a statement posted Nov. 8 on the Web site of Polish President Lech Kaczynski. The statement said that during Kaczynski’s conversation congratulating Barack Obama, the president-elect said that “the missile defense project would continue.”
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The Testing of Obama Rolls On

November 20, 2008

The ink had barely dried on the final vote count when the testing of President-elect Barack Obama began.

One of the first was by Vladimir Putin’s puppet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev declaring that if the United States continued with its plan to deploy 10 ABM interceptor missiles into Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic, then Russia would move short range missiles into Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic, targeting Europe. Russia’s excuse for this threat is that they were forced into it because the U.S. defensive system could be converted to an offensive system, targeting Russia. This is a contrived argument and Mr. Putin knows it is groundless.

By James Lyons
The Washington Times

What’s more disturbing is that Mr. Putin’s European proxies like the former German defense minister, Peter Struck, currently the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats, called Mr. Medvedev’s threat understandable and blamed President Bush for provoking Russia. This is incredible since he knows Russia was invited to participate in this very limited defensive shield whose fundamental purpose is to destroy any ballistic missile fired at Europe or the United States from a “rogue state” such as Iran.

During Mr. Medvedev’s recent visit to Washington, he appeared to soften his opening salvo by saying he hoped a compromise on the planned defensive shield deployment could be worked out with the new administration. He suggested a potential global system of protection against rogue states or perhaps use of existing systems to defeat such an attack. Existing systems clearly will be inadequate for this task. Mr. Medvedev concluded his comments by saying Russia will not make the first move.

With NATO’s weak response to Russia’s blatant invasion of Georgia, plus Russia’s increasing control of energy resources provided Europe, Mr. Putin sees the defensive shield issue as another opportunity to embarrass and further weaken U.S. influence while furthering his own agenda. If Mr. Putin can cause President-elect Obama to eventually back down on the deployment of the defensive shield, then Mr. Putin’s influence in dealing with the Eastern European border states, as well as the rest of Europe, will be significantly strengthened. Mr. Putin and his KGB cronies can be expected to further expand their control over the energy systems fueling Europe, as well as promoting the gas cartel.

Just last week, we saw the European Union reverse its position on withdrawing from negotiating with Russia on a “strategic Partnership” – the negotiations now will proceed even though Russia has not lived up to its obligations in the EU-brokered agreement with Georgia. Led by France and Germany, the EU has essentially caved and will resume business as usual. After all, since they have mortgaged their energy requirements, they cannot afford to have Mr. Putin turn off the energy valves as he did to the Ukraine in the winter of 2006.

I believe Mr. Obama will come under intense pressure from our European “partners” to cancel the deployment of defensive missiles to Poland. With no change in Iran’s drive to achieve a nuclear weapon capability, we would be sending all the wrong signals by canceling the deployment.

 Russia’s Putin and the Great Deception

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World Leaders Agree to Seek Major Economic Reform

November 16, 2008

Group of 20 In Wasshington DC Pledges Cooperation to Restore Growth
World leaders holding an emergency meeting to combat the economic crisis agreed yesterday to a far-reaching action plan that, over the next 4 1/2 months, would begin to reshape international financial institutions and reform worldwide regulatory and accounting rules. 

By Glenn Kessler and Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 16, 2008; Page A01

The leaders’ 11-page statement spoke of broad principles, leaving the details to be worked out by lower-level aides before another summit meeting in April, after Barack Obama assumes the presidency. But the gathering in Washington of the nearly two dozen nations — from every region of the world — reflected the new balance of power emerging in the aftermath of a financial crisis that has devastated even well-run economies, a wrenching process that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has dubbed “the birth pangs of this new global order.”

World leaders pose for the group photo on Saturday, Nov. 15, ...

World leaders pose for the group photo on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008, in Washington. President Bush invited leaders of the G-20 community to Washington for a weekend summit to discuss the world economy and the current condition of the financial markets.(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Vladimir Rodionov, Presidential Press Service)

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China Settles Trade Dispute Over Media Access

November 13, 2008

China agreed on Thursday to loosen restrictions on foreign news and information providers inside the country, settling a trade dispute with the United States, the European Union and Canada.

The agreement, which was signed in Geneva, allows international news and information agencies, like Bloomberg, Dow Jones & Company and Thomson Reuters, to more freely compete and sell their services inside China, where government controls were tightened in 2006.

The United States and European Union had filed a case against China at the World Trade Organization in March arguing that China unfairly required foreign news and financial information providers to be licensed by the Xinhua News Agency, a Chinese state-controlled entity that serves as the official outlet for the Communist Party and also a competitor of the foreign news companies. Canada later filed its own complaint against China.

According to the settlement, China agreed to remove the requirement that financial news providers be licensed by Xinhua and instead will set up an independent regulatory agency to oversee all financial news and information providers.

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Russia Promises to Halt Missile Deployments Facing Poland

November 12, 2008

Russia’s foreign minister has said it will abandon plans to station missiles in Kaliningrad if the US does not base part of a missile shield in Europe.

Sergei Lavrov said short-range Iskander missiles would only be deployed in the western enclave, which borders Poland, to neutralise any perceived US threat.


President Dmitri Medvedev unveiled the planned counter-measure a week ago.

The US insists the planned shield is designed solely to guard against attack by “rogue states”, such as Iran.

At present, the system will include a tracking radar in the Czech Republic and 10 missile interceptors in northern Poland. Moscow says they could threaten its own defences.

These would be in addition to radars and interceptors in Alaska and California in the US, and another radar at Fylingdales in the UK.

‘Third zone’

At a news conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Mr Lavrov was asked whether the Russian plans to deploy Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad might affect Friday’s EU-Russia summit and renewed talks on a new partnership and co-operation agreement.

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European Union Sends Naval Force to Deter Pirates

November 10, 2008

The European Union launched Monday a security operation off the coast of Somalia — its first-ever naval mission — to combat growing acts of piracy and help protect aid ships.

Dubbed Operation Atalanta, the mission, endorsed by the bloc’s defence ministers at talks in Brussels, will be led by Britain, with its headquarters in Northwood, near London.

“Britain is a great military power, it’s a nice symbol that this operation be commanded by a British officer and from a British headquarters,” French Defence Minister Herve Morin said, after chairing the meeting.

“It is a great symbol of the evolution in European defence, and I would say, of its coming of age,” he told reporters.

The so-called EUNAVOR operation will be made up of at least seven ships, three of them frigates and one a supply vessel. It will also be backed by surveillance aircraft.

A Kenyan man (R) talks with two officers from the Italian navy ...
There are also NATO ships on anti-piracy patrol.  Here a Kenyan man (R) talks with two officers from the Italian navy on the deck of their destroyer Luigi Durand De La Penne in Mombasa, November 6, 2008. The Italian warship is operating under the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) and together with the British military vessel HMS North Umberland conducts maritime operations off the coast of Somalia to allow the World Food Program (WFP) to fulfill its mission of providing humanitarian aid to Somalia. NATO has increased operations following recent attacks on vessels by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean.REUTERS/Joseph Okanga (KENYA)

It will include contributions from eight to 10 countries including France, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Spain, with Portugal, Sweden and non-EU nation Norway also likely to take part.

“Our participation in the Somalia project is an important one,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband told reporters.

“This is obviously a very challenging project but one that European leaders are approaching with real humility as well as determination,” he said.

The EU initiative was taken after Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed urged Somalis and the international community to combat rising piracy off the lawless nation’s waters.

Last month, a maritime watchdog said Somali pirates were now responsible for nearly a third of all reported attacks on ships, often using violence and taking hostages.

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Russia, Medvedev Step Back: Missile Deployment Opposite Poland Only If U.S. Missile Shield Built

November 10, 2008

Medvedev and Putin seem to be pressuring barack Obama in a cat and mouse game…
By Maria Ermakova

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) — Russia will deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad only if the U.S. goes ahead with plans to build a defensive shield in Europe, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said, signaling an easing of Russia’s stance.

Placing missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian region wedged between Poland and Lithuania, would be “a responsive measure” taken only if a U.S. anti-missile defense system is located “in the form of interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic,” Grushko was cited as saying today by state-run television channel Vesti.

“Russia won’t deploy Iskander if the U.S. decides against plans to locate the system in eastern Europe,” Interfax news agency quoted Grushko as saying in a separate interview.

Grushko’s comments differ from those of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made just hours after Barack Obama won the presidential election. Medvedev said Nov. 5 that he would deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad to “neutralize” the U.S. system, without making any qualification.

“This is a step back and it was right to do so,” said Alexander Rahr, a Russia expert at the German Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin. “They must have realized in the Russian government that Medvedev’s announcement must have sounded quite harsh, while Obama has been rather reserved about the matter.”

`Good Partnership’

Medvedev congratulated Obama on his victory in a phone conversation yesterday and the two agreed to organize a meeting in the “near term,” according to a Kremlin statement. Rahr said that with the latest remarks on missiles, there is now “a chance for a good partnership.”

Russia has repeatedly criticized the U.S. missile-defense system as posing a threat to its territory and said it would target Poland and the Czech Republic in response. The U.S. says the shield is necessary to protect against attack from “rogue” states such as Iran.

Grushko’s remarks come amid doubts over whether Obama plans to press ahead with the missile-defense system in Europe. Obama’s office said yesterday that he has made “no commitment” to the system, after a statement on the Polish president’s Web site suggested that Obama will press on with the shield. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in an interview with yesterday’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper that “we don’t know” what the U.S. will decide.

`Workable’ Technology

“Obama’s position is as it was throughout the campaign, that he supports deploying a missile defense system when the technology is proved to be workable,” Denis McDonough, Obama’s senior foreign policy adviser, said in a statement released to reporters.