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Europe

2. Europe faces harassment

in Balkans 2019 · Economics 2019 · EN · Europe 2019 · History 2019 · Nation 2019 · Politics 2019 225 views / 14 comments

Europe

GEOMETR.IT  intellinews.com

* Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be.  Ernest Hemingway

Media ownership consolidated in Hungary

Things are barely better in Hungary, which slipped 14 notches to 87th out of 180 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index. 

  • The rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has seen independent media squeezed and critical outlets shut down over the years. The ownership of Hungary’s media has continued to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of oligarchs allied with Orban, with the result that the media landscape has been transformed in recent years.
  • The most important critical media outlets have had to close, while the editorial independence of others has been threatened by the presence of pro-government oligarchs on their boards, among their shareholders or within the financial institutions that fund them, according to the report.
  • Reporters Without Borders cites the creation of the central media holding, a consortium of some 500 pro-government newspapers, cable channels, radio stations, and websites.

The government blocked any potential antitrust investigation into the single largest media transaction by declaring the establishment of the media holding as an issue of national strategic importance.

Orban’s efforts to control media paid off in the 2018 election. With the acquisition of all county newspapers, Fidesz managed to win the hearts and minds of rural voters by stoking fears from migration.

  • In rural areas, the majority consume only government-funded media, mainly public television, which has become a mouthpiece of the government with the focus on spreading the government’s agenda on migration.
  • Government propaganda depicts Hungary, a country with practically zero immigration, as the last fortress standing in the way of “invasion” by migrant herds an allusion to Ottoman times, while being attacked for resisting migration by the decadent liberal elites of the EU, an allusion to the Habsburg era. There is no hourly news coverage without news on migration.

State interference in the Western Balkans 

Serbia, too, has become dangerous place for practicing journalism, which the watchdog links to the five-year rule of President Aleksandar Vucic. The country lost 14 positions to rank 90th in the latest report.

  • “Within five years of President Aleksandar Vucic in effect governing the country, Serbia has become a place where practicing journalism is neither safe nor supported by the state,” RSF noted.
  • It added that government officials have used increasingly inflammatory rhetoric targeting journalists. Moreover, the number of attacks on media is on the rise, including death threats.
  • Many attacks against journalists have not been investigated, solved, or punished, and the “aggressive smear campaigns that pro-government media orchestrate against investigative reporters are in full swing”. This has contributed to the weekly mass protests in Belgrade and other cities that have persisted since December 2018. 

Another Western Balkan state, Albania, fell seven positions to 82nd on the index. “Attacks on the media from both the government and organised crime reached an unprecedented level in 2018,” RSF concluded. 

It was noted that Albanian journalists were subjected to insults, death threats and legal proceedings designed to intimidate and deter them from investigating corruption.

  • Politicians, led by Socialist Prime Minister Edi Rama, branded journalists as “trash” and manufacturers of fake news.
  • It was noted in the report that Rama proposed a law to reinforce state control over electronic media, which restricts access to information.
  • The RSF said that the joint report published by RSF and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in March 2018 found that regulatory standards in Albania are being manipulated in favour of the government’s interests. At the same time ownership of broadcast media is concentrated in the hands of a few big businessmen, which created a situation in which self-censorship is widespread.

According to that report 80% of Albanian journalists have no confidence in their professional future.

  • Media freedom also continued deteriorating in Montenegro, which at 104th place is the worst ranked country in the Western Balkans.
  • State authorities were accused of placing advertisements in pro-government media in order to support them and, as a result, independent media outlets have faced serious financial difficulties.

Moreover, journalists were harassed and threatened by those in power, RSF noted. At the same time, the authorities are also putting pressure on public broadcaster RTCG to change its independent editorial policy, RSF said. 

It also pointed out that an investigation of shooting against Olivera Lakic, a local investigative journalist, produced no result until now like many other similar cases. Another invstigative journalist, Jovo Martinovic, was sentenced to eight months in jail in January 2019 for alleged drug trafficking. This has provoked many objections from several international organisations.

Improvements in North Macedonia

One of the few bright spots in the region was North Macedonia, which jumped 14 places to 95th. Reporters without Borders noted some progress in journalism safety in the country as the number of attacks on journalists in 2018 was just one-third compared with the previous year.

However it said that impunity is a well-entrenched problem with only two of the 59 attacks reported in recent years being investigated and solved.

Although the situation stabilised in 2018, the government led by the Social Democrats has been advised to amend the public broadcast media law, which was an electoral promise when they come to power in 2017.

According to Reporters without Borders, the programme of the state broadcaster MTV continues to serve the interests of the former ruling party, conservative VMRO-DPMNE.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  intellinews.com

GEOMETR.IT

1.  Europe faces harassment

in Conflicts 2019 · EN · Europe 2019 · Nation 2019 · Politics 2019 · Skepticism 2019 155 views / 13 comments

Europe

GEOMETR.IT  intellinews.com

* Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. Ernest Hemingway

Several Central and Southeast European states are among those where journalists can no longer safely, according to the latest World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. 

  • Globally, press freedom is respected more in the European Union and Balkans region than in any other world region, yet a series of murders and physical attacks against journalists, on top of harassment and political pressure, have contributed to a deterioration in the region’s score on the annual index measuring press freedom.
  • “The decline in press freedom in Europe, as seen in RSF’s Press Freedom Index over the past few years, has gone hand in hand with an erosion of the region’s institutions by increasingly authoritarian governments,” says the report. 
  • “What with murders, attempted murders, and physical and verbal attacks, Europe’s journalists are subjected to many forms of pressure and intimidation and increasingly to judicial harassment as well. Europe continues to be the continent that best guarantees press freedom, but the work of its investigative reporters is being obstructed more and more.”

The deterioration of the situation in Central and Southeast Europe comes in the context of a global deterioration of press freedom. 

“The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media,” says RSF. It reports that an “intense climate of fear” that is “prejudicial to a safe reporting environment.”

“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire in a statement. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.”

  • Compared to other world regions, the decline in the European Union and the Balkans is second only to the Americas, resulting from sharp falls in the US, Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua. 

The deterioration of the situation in Central and Southeast Europe comes in the context of a global deterioration of press freedom. 

“The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media,” says RSF. It reports that an “intense climate of fear” that is “prejudicial to a safe reporting environment.”

“If the political debate slides surreptitiously or openly towards a civil war-style atmosphere, in which journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire in a statement. “Halting this cycle of fear and intimidation is a matter of the utmost urgency for all people of good will who value the freedoms acquired in the course of history.”

  • Compared to other world regions, the decline in the European Union and the Balkans is second only to the Americas, resulting from sharp falls in the US, Brazil, Venezuela and Nicaragua. 
  • While several West European countries are singled out in the report, overall it is some of the eastern EU members and Western Balkans states that have the worst record in press freedom. 

Journalism “now dangerous in Bulgaria” 

Bulgaria, an EU member since 2007, is the worst ranked country from the European Union and Balkans, remaining in 111th place on the index, which places it between Ethiopia (110th place) and Mali (112th place).

“One might have expected an improvement in press freedom in 2018 because Bulgaria held the European Council’s rotating presidency during the first half of the year but instead the opposite occurred,” RSF noted.

The country saw the brutal murder of TV journalist Viktoria Marinova in October and a “blatant attempt by the authorities to cover up the circumstances by botching the investigation”.

“The murders of three journalists in MaltaSlovakia and Bulgaria in the space of a few months has made the world realise that Europe is no longer a sanctuary for journalists,” says the report. “This is especially true for those who take an interest in corruption, tax evasion and misuse of European Union funds, often involving the mafia, who are among investigative journalists’ most dangerous predators.”

Another worrying incident was the arrest of two investigative journalists, one from Bulgaria and one from Romania, were arrested in Bulgaria in September while tracking down the destruction of documents allegedly proving top-level corruption related to the distribution of EU funds. 

“In addition to lawsuits and prosecutions, investigative reporters are liable to be the targets of every other kind of harassment whenever they lift the veil on corrupt practices,” says the report, detailing incidents in Serbia, Malta, Slovakia, Mexico and Ghana as well. 

Meanwhile, the RSF noted once again that corruption and collusion between media, politicians and oligarchs is widespread in Bulgaria. “The most notorious embodiment of this aberrant state of affairs is Delyan Peevski, who ostensibly owns two newspapers (Telegraph and Monitor) but also owns a TV channel (Kanal 3), news websites and a big chunk of print media distribution,” RSF noted.

Bulgaria’s government is allocating EU funding to media outlets without transparency and allegedly this has the effect of bribing recipients “to go easy on the government in their reporting, or to refrain from covering certain problematic stories altogether”.

Meanwhile, RSF noted also that independent outlets have become subjects of increasing judicial harassment, giving as an example the Economedia group, has increased. “Threats against reporters have also increased in recent months, to the extent that journalism is now dangerous in Bulgaria,” the report concluded.

Media ownership consolidated in Hungary

Things are barely better in Hungary, which slipped 14 notches to 87th out of 180 countries in the latest World Press Freedom Index. 

The rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has seen independent media squeezed and critical outlets shut down over the years. The ownership of Hungary’s media has continued to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of oligarchs allied with Orban, with the result that the media landscape has been transformed in recent years.

The most important critical media outlets have had to close, while the editorial independence of others has been threatened by the presence of pro-government oligarchs on their boards, among their shareholders or within the financial institutions that fund them, according to the report.

Reporters Without Borders cites the creation of the central media holding, a consortium of some 500 pro-government newspapers, cable channels, radio stations, and websites.

The government blocked any potential antitrust investigation into the single largest media transaction by declaring the establishment of the media holding as an issue of national strategic importance.

Orban’s efforts to control media paid off in the 2018 election. With the acquisition of all county newspapers, Fidesz managed to win the hearts and minds of rural voters by stoking fears from migration.

In rural areas, the majority consume only government-funded media, mainly public television, which has become a mouthpiece of the government with the focus on spreading the government’s agenda on migration.

Government propaganda depicts Hungary, a country with practically zero immigration, as the last fortress standing in the way of “invasion” by migrant herds an allusion to Ottoman times, while being attacked for resisting migration by the decadent liberal elites of the EU, an allusion to the Habsburg era. There is no hourly news coverage without news on migration.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  intellinews.com

GEOMETR.IT

«0» VERTRAUEN IN EUROPA

in DE · Europe 2019 · Skepticism 2019 157 views / 14 comments

Balkans   Danube      Germany     Europe   Polska

GEOMETR.IT  stiftung-mercator.de

* Vertraue nur dir selbst, wenn andere an dir zweifeln, aber nimm ihnen ihre Zweifel nicht übel. Joseph Rudyard Kipling

EIN KOMMENTAR VON CHRISTOPH KLAVEHN, RETHINK: EUROPE

Die Mehrheit der Polen, Ungarn, Tschechen und Slowaken vertraut Europa mehr als ihren eigenen Regierungen – das zeigen eine aktuelle Umfrage im Auftrag der von den Ländern selbst getragenen Visegrád-Stiftung und aktuelle Zahlen des Eurobarometers.

Im Dezember 2017 erscheint eine Neuauflage des EU Cohesion Monitor aus dem von der Stiftung Mercator geförderten Projekt Rethink: Europe, der den europäischen Zusammenhalt für den Zeitraum von 2007 bis 2017 untersucht und dabei ebenfalls das Vertrauen der Europäer in die EU in den Blick nimmt.

  • Dabei wird deutlich: die relative Position der Visegrád-Staaten verglichen mit den Zustimmungswerten anderer europäischer Länder sowie der Trend der vergangenen zehn Jahre sind ernüchternd. Vertrauten 2007 noch klare Mehrheiten in Polen, Ungarn, Tschechien und der Slowakei der EU, liegen die aktuellsten Werte mit 40,8 Prozent (2007: 59,5 Prozent) nun unter dem europäischen Durchschnitt von 46,8 Prozent (2007: 53,6 Prozent).
  • Besonders groß ist der Einbruch in Tschechien. Heute mögen noch 30 Prozent der Tschechen der EU vertrauen – mehr als ihrer eigenen Regierung. Vor zehn Jahren waren es aber noch 58 Prozent. Vertrauensverlust gegenüber nationalen Institutionen stärkt im Umkehrschluss nicht die europäische Gesinnung eines Landes.

Neben dem Vertrauen in die EU bündelt der EU Cohesion Monitor über 30 weitere Faktoren zur Bestimmung des europäischen Zusammenhalts. Maßgeblich für die Bewertung sind dabei auch die Ergebnisse nationaler Parlamentswahlen. Die Visegrád-Staaten setzen sich auch bei diesem Indikator nach unten ab.

Die starken Demokratien, die sich die Menschen laut der Studie der Visegrád-Stiftung wünschen, haben sie selbst mehrheitlich nicht gewählt: in den Parlamenten in Warschau, Bratislava, Budapest und Prag sind nach über zehn Jahren EU-Mitgliedschaft Parteien vertreten, die dabei sind, Macht zu konzentrieren und ihre Länder von der EU abzugrenzen.

Insgesamt liegen die “Visegrád Vier” in der Rangliste des EU Cohesion Monitor für strukturellen Zusammenhalt in der EU – also auf Ebene von Wirtschaft und Politik – auf den vorderen Plätzen, Tendenz steigend. Beim individuellen Zusammenhalt ihrer Bürger sind sie dagegen die Schlusslichter, Tendenz fallend. Absolut liegen die Visegrád-Staaten damit beim strukturellen Zusammenhalt deutlich über dem europäischen Durchschnitt und beim individuellen mit einigem Abstand darunter.

Bei keiner anderen Staatengruppe innerhalb der EU klafft der Zusammenhalt in beiden Dimensionen so weit auseinander. Es bleibt vorerst offen, wie lange Polen, Ungarn, Tschechien und die Slowakei diese Unausgewogenheit vertragen können, bevor auch ihre strukturelle Verflechtung mit Europa tiefere Risse bekommt.

Mit einem vergleichsweise geringem Zusammenhalt auf individueller Ebene – den europäischen Erfahrungen und Einstellungen der Menschen – wird sich dauerhaft keine konstruktive Verankerung der Visegrád-Staaten in Europa gestalten lassen.

Weitere Informationen zum europäischen Zusammenhalt und der Entwicklung der Visegrád-Staaten finden Sie im EU Cohesion Monitor unter www.ecfr.eu/eucohesionmonitor und der Schwesterpublikation, dem EU Coalition Explorer, unter www.ecfr.eu/eucoalitionexplorer. Die aktualisierte Version des EU Cohesion Monitor 2017 und die in diesem Kommentar erwähnten Daten erscheinen im Dezember 2017.

   Die Veröffentlichung ist kein Leitartikel. Es spiegelt ausschließlich den Standpunkt und die Argumentation des Autors wider. Die Publikation wird in der Präsentation vorgestellt. Beginnen Sie in der vorherigen Ausgabe. Das Original ist verfügbar unter: stiftung-mercator.de

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Як НАТО продовжує підтримувати Україну

in Conflicts 2019 · Europe 2019 · EX-USSR · Nation 2019 · NATO 2019 · Politics 2019 · Ukraine 2019 157 views / 0 comments

Europe

GEOMETR.IT  eurointegration.com.ua

* 4 квітня – 70-річчя НАТО – Організації Північноатлантичного договору. Альянс був заснований після Другої світової війни групою європейських і північноамериканських країн, яких об’єднало бажання створити та забезпечити тривалий мир у Європі.

Від 1949 року багато чого змінилося у світі.

Загрози безпеці стали більш різноманітними і вони постійно змінюються. НАТО розширилося до 30 країн-членів і наразі має партнерські відносини із 41 країною, проте цілі Альянсу і досі залишаються актуальними. І це не випадково, адже мета НАТО є довгостроковою: сприяти миру, безпеці та стабільності не лише всередині країн Альянсу, але й за його межами.

Український народ чітко заявив про євроатлантичний напрямок, яким повинна йти країна.

Ви вже заплатили велику ціну за цей вибір, стикаючись із російською агресією на кожному кроці.

Ми розуміємо складність проведення широкомасштабних реформ одночасно із захистом країни від іноземного агресора. І ми розуміємо, що шлях до НАТО буде тривалим, складним і вимагатиме відданості та сильного лідерства. Але ця подорож є настільки ж важливою, як і її мета, оскільки процес змін тільки зміцнить Україну зсередини і зробить її більш стабільною і заможною.

Саме тому Альянс підтримував Україну після відновлення її незалежності, і ми продовжуємо розвивати наше тісне й особливе партнерство та допомагати вам зміцнювати ваші інституції та збройні сили.

Від 2014 року НАТО збільшило практичну допомогу для України, щоб забезпечити кращу здатність вашої країни захищати свої кордони та протистояти гібридним загрозам. Це передбачає вдосконалення командного й оборонного управління, системи військової освіти й підготовки, зміцнення демократичного контролю над збройними силами та сприяння боротьбі з постійними кібератаками на об’єкти критичної інфраструктури.

Країни-союзники також продовжують надавати серйозну двосторонню підтримку. Представники навчальних програм OpORBITAL та UNIFER під керівництвом, відповідно, Великої Британії та Канади пишаються тим, що надали важливу військову підготовку майже 20 тисячам українських військових. Візити кораблів британських і канадських військово-морських сил до Одеси протягом останніх місяців є чіткою демонстрацією нашої підтримки та спроможності реагувати та протистояти новим викликам, зокрема на морі.

Обидві наші країни беруть активну участь у виконанні програм реформ в Україні як члени групи послів “Великої сімки” та Консультативної ради з питань оборонної реформи. Багато інших членів Альянсу також активно і віддано підтримують Україну, оскільки ми розуміємо, що ваша безпека завжди була і залишається фундаментальною складовою європейської та євроатлантичної безпеки.

Проте НАТО – це значно більше, ніж оборона.

Незважаючи на те, що найвідоміша стаття Вашингтонського договору закріплює принцип колективної оборони, НАТО ніколи не розглядалося виключно як військовий альянс.

В основі НАТО – політичний союз, що базується на спільних цінностях, принципах демократії, свободи особистості та верховенства права. Ці принципи поширюються на діяльність НАТО в Україні.

Альянс продовжує підтримувати зусилля української влади з реалізації широких демократичних, судових і оборонних реформ, дотримання прав людини, гендерної рівності та боротьби з корупцією. Альянс також співпрацює в таких сферах, як наука і освіта.

Поступ реформ є важливим для безпеки України та її майбутнього процвітання. Реформована Україна, заснована на повазі до прав людини, демократії та верховенства права, є найкращим способом боротьби проти шкідливого російського втручання.

Ми бачимо величезний прогрес в Україні після Революції гідності, але якщо країна дійсно хоче розкрити свій потенціал, то немає місця для самозаспокоєння.

Попереду ще багато роботи, аби втілити ваші євроатлантичні прагнення. Велика Британія та Канада продовжуватимуть підтримувати Україну на шляху реформ за складних обставинах, що склалися. Наша місія як контактних посольств НАТО в Україні полягає в сприянні обізнаності суспільства щодо Альянсу, його політики та цінностей, посиленні зобов’язань України з дотримання принципів, на яких будується євроатлантична спільнота, а також у зміцненні особливих відносин, від яких залежить співпраця між НАТО і Україною.

 

ФОТО НАДАНЕ ПОСОЛЬСТВОМ ВЕЛИКОЇ БРИТАНІЇ

Автори:

Джудіт Гоф, посол Великої Британії в Україні
Роман Ващук, посол Канади в Україні

Публікація не є редакційною статтею. Вона відображає тільки думку і аргументацію автора. Публікація представлена у викладі: balashov.com.ua

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1. Capitalism. How to make it right?

in Crisis 2019 · Economics 2019 · EN · Europe 2019 · Finance 2019 · Nation 2019 · Skepticism 2019 136 views / 15 comments

Europe 

GEOMETR.IT  project-syndicate.org

* Behind today’s populist upheavals is a widespread recognition that the economy no longer serves the public good, or even the interests of most of its participants. To understand why, one must identify what has been lost amid so much material technological gain.

Rather suddenly, capitalism is visibly sick. The virus of socialism has reemerged and is infecting the young once more. Wiser heads, who respect capitalism’s past achievements, want to save it, and have been proposing diagnoses and remedies. But their proposals sometimes overlap with those who would tear the system down, making nonsense of traditional left-right distinctions.

Fortunately, Raghuram G. Rajan, a former governor of the Reserve Bank of India who teaches at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, brings his unparalleled knowledge and experience to bear on the problem. In his new book,The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave Community Behind, he arguesthat the cancer afflicting contemporary capitalism is the failure neither of “Leviathan” (the state) nor of “Behemoth” (the market), but of , which no longer serves as a check against either monster. Rajan thus prescribes an “inclusive localism” to rebuild communities that can furnish people with self-respect, status, and meaning.

Rajan’s book, like Oxford University economist Paul Collier’s The Future of Capitalism, is part of a rapidly growing genre of critiques by capitalism’s friends. Rajan is a proponent of capitalism who has accepted that it no longer works in the interest of the social good, and must be brought back under control.

The Third Pillar offers deep historical context to explain the current moment, but it is most successful when it retraces developments after World War II to explain why everything started unraveling around 1970. Until then, the world had been busy recovering and rebuilding, and economic growth had received an added boost from the adoption of frontier technologies through replacement investment.

But trend growth has decelerated since 1970, accounting for many of our current difficulties. Through it all, governments have had no idea how to address the slowdown, other than to promise a restoration of the lost postwar paradise. In most cases, that has meant additional borrowing. And in Europe, elites have pursued continental unification with the great aim of stopping recurrent episodes of carnage. Yet in their rush to secure the obvious benefits of integration, they forgot to bring their citizens along. They have since learned that after hubris comes nemesis.

The success of social democracy in the postwar era weakened the market’s power to act as a moderating influence on the state. According to Rajan, these weakened actors, in both Europe and America, were in no position to deal with the revolution in information and communication technology (ICT) that they were about to face, leaving ordinary people to face the threats on their own. Rather than helping their workers manage the disruption, corporations made it worse by using their employees’ vulnerability to enrich their shareholders and managers.

And how they enriched themselves! With median household incomes largely stagnant and a growing share of wealth accruing to the rich, capitalism became manifestly unfair, losing its popular support. To manage its opponents, Behemoth called on Leviathan for protection, not understanding that a right-wing populist Leviathan eats Behemoth in the end.

Two points of Rajan’s story need to be emphasized. First, declining growth is a key, albeit low-frequency, cause of today’s social and economic distress. Second, the unfortunate consequences of the ICT revolution are not inherent properties of technological change. Rather, as Rajan notes, they reflect a “failure of the state and markets to modulate markets.” Though Rajan does not emphasize it, this second point gives us cause for hope. It means that ICT need not doom us to a jobless future; enlightened policymaking still has a role to play.

Rajan’s account of corporate misbehavior is very well told, and it is all the more effective coming from a professor at a prominent business school. From the start, the near-absolutist doctrine of shareholder primacy has served to protect managers at the expense of employees, and its malign effects have been exacerbated by the practice of paying managers in stock.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: project-syndicate.org

GEOMETR.IT

Neue Brexit Szenarien

in Brexit 2019 · DE · Great Britain 2019 · Nation 2019 · Politics 2019 · Skepticism 2019 111 views / 7 comments

Europe 

GEOMETR.IT  taz.de

* Wir sollten die Zukunft dort lassen, wo sie ist: in der Zukunft. – Exler, Georg-Wilhelm..

Vier Wochen vor dem 29. März, an dem nach geltender Gesetzeslage Großbritannien die EU verlassen wird, gerät die britische Politik in Bewegung. Abgeordnete sortieren sich neu, Premierministerin Theresa May stellt eine Parlamentsabstimmung über eine Verschiebung des Austrittsdatums in Aussicht, Oppositionsführer Jeremy Corbyn will ein zweites Referendumunterstützen. Das alles ist keineswegs eine Abkehr vom Brexit, wie manche Kommentatoren es vorschnell darstellen – aber es ist gut, dass die wesentlichen Akteure jetzt jedes denkbare Szenario auf den Tisch legen.

Denn wenn die Dinge so chaotisch weitertreiben wie in den vergangenen Wochen, erleidet Europa in einem Monat Schiffbruch. Großbritannien will mit der EU den bestehenden Brexit-Vertragsentwurf so neuverhandeln, dass er eine parlamentarische Mehrheit in London findet – eine demokratische Selbstverständlichkeit. Die EU sagt, das sei nicht möglich – eine glatte Lüge.

Unterhalb dieser Ebene finden natürlich trotzdem Gespräche statt, aber es wird darüber nicht offen gesprochen – ein politischer Fehler. Ohne eine Ratifizierung des Brexit-Abkommens in London gibt es zwar einen Brexit, aber kein Abkommen – eine vermeidbare Komplikation. Ein No-Deal-Brexit wird als Katastrophe dargestellt, während sich beide Seiten längst darauf eingestellt haben – ein kommunikatives Desaster. Am Ende steht dann ein völlig unnötiges Ausmaß an gegenseitigem Misstrauen, das Europa dauerhaft schwächt.

Drei Szenarien stehen im Raum: eine Einigung, ein Brexit ohne Abkommen – oder eine Verschiebung, um weiterzuverhandeln. Es ist gut, dass May dafür jetzt einen klaren logischen Rahmen setzt. Der Ausgang aller Voten ist völlig offen. Wenn die europäische Seite an einer gütlichen Einigung interessiert ist, muss sie jetzt mit den Briten etwas ausarbeiten, das mehrheitsfähig ist.

Gerade unter bedingungslosen EU-Fans in Deutschland wird immer noch gern die bornierte Haltung gepflegt, wonach der Brexit eigentlich Quatsch sei, und jede Nachricht aus London wird durch das Raster gepresst, ob die Insulaner endlich vernünftig werden und bleiben. Aber das ist nicht nur arrogant, es führt auch komplett in die Irre. Den Brexit einfach zu kippen wäre für die britische Regierung ganz einfach.

Aber es wäre auch politischer Selbstmord, und daher steht das nicht zur Debatte. Es geht jetzt darum, einen schwierigen Prozess mit vielen Unbekannten so in den Griff zu bekommen, dass er nicht einen ganzen Kontinent ins Chaos stürzt. Für diese Weitsicht verdient die britische Politik, für die man in Brüssel derzeit vor allem Herablassung übrig hat, Anerkennung und Unterstützung.

   Die Veröffentlichung ist kein Leitartikel. Es spiegelt ausschließlich den Standpunkt und die Argumentation des Autors wider. Die Publikation wird in der Präsentation vorgestellt. Beginnen Sie in der vorherigen Ausgabe. Das Original ist verfügbar unter: taz.de

GEOMETR.IT

Deutschland und europäische Sicherheitspolitik

in DE · Germany 2019 · History 2019 · Nation 2019 · NATO 2019 · Politics 2019 · Skepticism 2019 135 views / 6 comments

Europe 

GEOMETR.IT  project-syndicate.org

* “Worte haben keine Macht, den Geist ohne den exquisiten Horror ihrer Realität zu beeindrucken” – Edgar Allan Poe..

BERLIN – Donald Trump hat im transatlantischen Verhältnis eine wahrhaft disruptive Wirkung entfaltet. Die Infragestellung der amerikanischen Sicherheitsgarantie für Europa und ihres institutionellen Ausdrucks, der NATO, führte zu der bedrohlichsten Krise im transatlantischen Bündnis, die dessen Existenz tatsächlich gefährden kann.

Denn mit der Infragestellung dieser Sicherheitsgarantie und des transatlantischen Bündnisses durch den amerikanischen Präsidenten brach für Europa einer von zwei entscheidenden Pfeiler weg, auf denen die europäische Friedensordnung und der Wiederaufstieg des von Kriegen zerstörten und von den Jahrzehnten des Kalten Krieges zerrissenen Kontinents beruhte.

Trump machte sich auch sogleich an die Destruktion des zweiten Pfeilers, die offene, liberale Weltwirtschaftsordnung mit freiem Welthandel. Und so stehen die Europäer, zwei Jahre nach der Wahl von Donald Trump, allein in den eisigen Winden der Weltpolitik und fragen sich zu Recht, was zu tun ist.

Die naheliegendste Konsequenz ist die, dass Europa sich enger zusammenschließen und auch militärisch stärker werden muss. Nur, wollen und können dies die Europäer auch? Diese Frage kann man am Vorabend des Brexit nicht ignorieren. Die EU wird ohne ihre zweitstärkste Militär- und Wirtschaftsmacht Großbritannien schwächer werden und nicht stärker. Und was mit Großbritannien geschehen wird, das ahnen wohl selbst die Beteiligten selbst nicht.

In ihrer Mehrzahl aber wollen die Europäer sicherlich eine auch machtpolitisch stärkere EU, mit einer gemeinsamen Sicherheitspolitik. Es gibt aber einen Sonderfall, einen ganz entscheidenden sogar – Deutschland, das Land in der Mitte der EU, mit der größten Bevölkerung und global die viertgrößte Wirtschaftsmacht. Ohne Deutschland wird es keine gemeinsame europäische Sicherheitspolitik geben. Aber kann dieser Schritt mit Deutschland gelingen?

Bei der Schaffung der europäischen Währungsunion hat man bereits einmal den Fehler gemacht, die Tatsachen dem Wunschdenken zu beugen: die tiefgreifenden Differenzen zwischen den einzelnen Mitgliedstaaten nicht nur in der Wirtschafts- und Finanzpolitik, sondern auch in den Mentalitäten, und die Ignoranz gegenüber den politischen Integrationsvoraussetzungen einer Währungsunion.

Denselben Fehler darf die EU in der Frage der gemeinsamen Sicherheitspolitik nicht noch einmal machen. Entscheidend wird es bei dieser Frage, wie zuvor schon bei jener der Wirtschafts- und Währungsunion, auf den Kompromiss zwischen Deutschland und Frankreich, den beiden größten und mächtigsten Mitgliedstaaten ankommen, und ein solcher Kompromiss wird nicht einfach zu erreichen sein.

Zu diametral entgegengesetzt sind die Mentalitäten, historischen Erfahrungen und daraus erwachsend die jeweiligen geopolitischen Interessen. Aus historisch-mentalen Gründen erweist sich Deutschland in dieser Frage – ganz entgegen seiner offiziellen Rhetorik – als das Haupthindernis.

Frankreich steht in der Tradition seines jahrhundertealten Selbstverständnisses einer europäischen Großmacht, deren Zeit (wie die der globalen Dominanz des alten Kontinents generell) zwar vergangen ist, aber die Tradition zählt nach wie vor, denn das Land ist Nuklearmacht und ständiges UN-Sicherheitsratsmitglied und sieht das Militär wie auch seine Rüstungsexporte als Teil seiner nationalen Außenpolitik und nicht als ein moralisches Versagen.

Das Genie de Gaulles hat das Land den Status einer Siegermacht des Zweiten Weltkriegs verschafft, es die Depression der Niederlage von 1940 vergessen lassen und die innere Zerrissenheit der dreißiger Jahre und der Zeit des Vichy-Regimes überwunden. Frankreich blieb dank de Gaulle in seiner historischen Linie.

Deutschland steht so ziemlich für das genaue Gegenteil. Seine Geschichte war 1945 geborsten, seine Traditionen entwertet und seine Staatlichkeit zerstört. Deutschland war zum Synonym für Terror, Völkermord und Aggression geworden.

Seitdem die Deutschen zweimal den Griff nach europäischer Hegemonie und Weltherrschaft mit der fast gelungenen Zerstörung ihres Landes und des Kontinents bezahlen mussten, seit der moralischen Selbstzerstörung durch den Völkermord am europäischen Judentum haben sie sich verabschiedet von jeglicher Form von militärisch gestützter Machtpolitik, von allen Arten außenpolitischer Machtphantasien und sich im Wesentlichen auf die Wirtschaft beschränkt. Nur so war der Wiedereintritt in die demokratische westliche Völkerfamilie und die Wiedergewinnung staatlicher Souveränität möglich.

Das war alles andere als eine erfolglose Strategie, denn sie endete 1990 in der Wiedervereinigung in Frieden und Freiheit, bei Beibehaltung der Mitgliedschaft in EU und NATO.

Die Deutschen sind nach 1945 in einer fundamentalen Abkehr von Machtstaat und Machtpolitik Pazifisten geworden, von links bis rechts im politischen Spektrum, und viele von ihnen sind, tief in ihrem Innern, gefühlsmäßig trotz Jahrzehnten von Westbindung, NATO, sowjetischer Bedrohung, etc. Neutralisten.

Seit dem Ende der deutschen Teilung und der Wiedervereinigung gilt dieser Befund mehr denn je, zumal die USA als Schutzpatron die Sicherheitsgarantie und auch die schmutzige Seite der Macht- und Geopolitik für Deutschland übernommen hatten. Diese für Deutschland sehr bequeme und erfolgreiche Arbeitsteilung und damit auch jene doppelte Nachkriegszeit von 1945 und 1989 ging mit der Wahl Donald Trumps definitiv zu Ende.

Eine Rückkehr Deutschlands in seiner Außenpolitik in Richtung klassischer Machtpolitik wird nicht ohne Risiken sein, aber ohne dass Deutschland sich dahin bewegt, wird es keine gemeinsame Sicherheitspolitik der EU geben, die mehr ist als wohlklingende Worte. Ohne gemeinsame Exportrichtlinien etwa wird es keine europäische Rüstungskooperation geben, von weitergehenden Projekten ganz zu schweigen.

In Deutschland tobt die Debatte um den deutschen Rüstungsbeitrag von 2 Prozent entsprechend eines Beschlusses des NATO-Rats. Gelingt keine europäische Lösung, so wird dies noch sehr viel mehr werden müssen, angesichts des absehbaren Rückzugs der USA und der Risiken in unserer Nachbarschaft. Eine nationale Aufrüstung Deutschlands ohne die europäische Lösung wirft viele Fragen auf. Mit und für Europa und damit auch innerhalb der NATO ist es eine völlig andere Sache, denn Europa muss stärker werden. Und Deutschland integriert bleiben. In unser aller Interesse.

Joschka Fischer

   Die Veröffentlichung ist kein Leitartikel. Es spiegelt ausschließlich den Standpunkt und die Argumentation des Autors wider. Die Publikation wird in der Präsentation vorgestellt. Beginnen Sie in der vorherigen Ausgabe. Das Original ist verfügbar unter: project-syndicate.org

GEOMETR.IT

1. Europe. Dangerous games

in Brexit 2019 · Europe 2019 · May 2019 · Nation 2019 · Politics 2019 · Skepticism 2019 104 views / 8 comments

Europe  Great Britain

GEOMETR.IT  project-syndicate.com

* The game of chicken is simple to describe but dangerous to play. Based on evolutionary game theory, it was sometimes used to describe nuclear brinkmanship during the Cold War.

( 01 )

Bertrand Russell, the great British philosopher and campaigner against nuclear weapons, reminded us that the game is usually played between what he called “youthful degenerates.” The players drive cars toward each other at high speed from opposite directions; the first driver to swerve away from a head-on collision – or, in some variants, to jump from the driver’s seat before it reaches a cliff edge – is the “chicken.” Russell believed this to be a description of the putative statesmanship of the nuclear powers in the Cold War. One miscalculation, one failure to swerve, and the result could be Armageddon: hundreds of millions of deaths, flattened cities, the end of civilization.

A less perilous version of chicken is being played by Theresa May, the obstinate vicar’s daughter who is the United Kingdom’s prime minister. If her diplomacy does not swerve soon, the victim will be Britain’s economy and wellbeing.

The deal May has negotiated for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union would leave the country poorer (according to some of her own ministers) and less influential, but at least not faced with a lethal crash. May’s exit deal is just that: it would not settle Britain’s future relationship with Europe. What will trade relations look like? How will the UK safeguard its scientific research base and world-class universities? How will its economic agreements with other countries be managed?

Years of argument with the 27 EU member states about those issues lie ahead. But at least we could avoid leaving the EU with no deal, limiting the immediate shock of departure at the price of a long and vexatious transition period.

The trouble, of course, is that in January Britain’s House of Commons rejected May’s deal by a margin of more than 200 votes – the biggest defeat suffered by any British government in living memory. There were three main objections to the accord.

Some believed that no deal could possibly be as good as canceling Brexit and remaining in the EU – an idea that many in this group wanted to test in a second referendum. Others reckoned that too little was clear about the future relationship with Britain’s closest neighbors. And still others – the English nationalists on the right wing of the Conservative Party – objected to the arrangements made to deal with the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  e-ir.info

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Frau M’s big decision

in EN · Germany 2018 · Merkel 2018 · Nation 2018 · Person 2018 · Politics 2018 136 views / 6 comments

Danube      Germany     Great Britain  Europe

GEOMETR.IT politico.eu

* Even the German leader’s biggest critics are worried about what will happen when she goes.

As if Europe didn’t have enough to worry about at the moment (Italy, Brexit, Poland, Hungary, populism … Italy!), Germany is back on the boil.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision this week to step aside from the leadership of her Christian Democrats may trigger all or none of the following: the end of her chancellorship, the collapse of the government, a new coalition, a minority government and/or new elections. Whatever the outcome, the waves will be felt well beyond Germany’s borders.

Some in the Brussels bubble have taken refuge in denial, insisting the European Union will chug along, regardless of what transpires in Berlin. After all, with 28 (for now) autonomous members there’s always political turmoil somewhere. Following a bit of hand wringing, things will return to normal, right?

If only wishing it would make it so.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Hungarian Prime Minister Vikto Orban in the background — but he might not stay there for long | Omer Messinger/AFP via Getty Images

Just as for Germany, Merkel’s departure would mark a watershed for the EU. No leader has dominated European affairs to the extent she has over the past 13 years for at least a generation, if not longer. Others may have built Europe, but it was Merkel who had the arguably more difficult task of holding it together. Whatever mistakes she made in handling the eurocrisis or migration, her moniker as the “Queen of Europe” is only half in jest.

For years, at any meeting of European leaders, all eyes have been trained on Merkel. Nothing is decided until the German chancellor, who likes to immerse herself in the arcane details of policy debates, has weighed in.

It’s tempting to attribute that influence solely to Germany’s size and power. Yet, according to Merkel’s fellow leaders, that’s only part of the story.

“There’s a different atmosphere in the room when she’s not there. Once she’s gone,

  • “She commands respect, even from those who disagree with her,” said one veteran center-right prime minister who has observed Merkel at innumerable summits over the years.
  • “There’s a different atmosphere in the room when she’s not there. Once she’s gone, [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán takes over.”

Call it the soft side of Germany’s hard power.

That might explain why some of Merkel’s biggest critics are the most worried about her potential departure in the coming months.

“The most important thing for us is Ms. Merkel declared she will remain chancellor until the end of her mandate,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz, whose party has been deeply critical of the chancellor’s refugee policy, said on Monday.

While that may sound more like a “devil-you-know” lament than true regret, he went even further, noting the chancellor’s “important place” in European history.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, another critic of Merkel’s approach to migration, expressed a similar sentiment. “For us it is crucial that she will stay as German [chancellor] for next three years,” he said. “Germany is our most important economic partner and the chancellor herself deserves credit for being a reliable friend of the Czech Republic.”

Despite those displays of admiration, the most pressing question for the EU is how much authority Merkel will retain as a lame duck, assuming she survives at all.

Even at the height of her power and influence, Merkel often had difficulty pushing through her agenda in the fractious bloc, as her failure to find agreement for an EU quota system for refugees, despite repeated attempts, illustrated.

On issues of broad consensus in the EU, such as Brexit, Merkel’s diminished status won’t be a problem. The same is true for decisions that need to be made in the near term, like filling senior European positions, whether at the European Central Bank or the Commission. Germany is still Germany and can throw its weight around when it wants to.

When it comes to more fundamental, longer-term questions, though, such as how to handle Central Europe’s increasingly illiberal governments or reforming the eurozone, the outlook is less clear. Poland’s endorsement for Merkel notwithstanding, Warsaw has every incentive now to play for time and see what emerges — especially if Merkel hardens her tone on the controversial question of the ruling Law and Justice party’s judicial reforms.

In an unexpected twist, Merkel’s move could renew hope for the stalled effort to repair the eurozone.

She has dragged her feet on reforming the euro for years, mainly due to political considerations at home, where any hint that German taxpayers could end up footing the bill for other Europeans is met with immediate outrage and resistance. (It was opposition to the eurozone bailouts that spawned the Alternative for Germany, which has since morphed into a virulent anti-immigrant party.)

Some observers believe Merkel, once absolved of her party obligations, will have a freer hand to finally cut a deal with French President Emmanuel Macron on a banking union, including the contentious issue of deposit insurance. The two agreed to a road map over the summer during a meeting at the chancellor’s official country residence, Meseberg, but little has happened since.

Even if Merkel (or her successor as chancellor) would find it difficult to push the reforms through the German parliament, she could make a strong statement by going ahead anyway, betting that by the time the measures come up for a vote the political constellation will have changed.

Considering that Merkel’s chief focus as chancellor has been her work on Europe, the idea might not be as crazy as it may first appear.

“We have to move forward, we cannot wait forever, and we need our German partners to make progress,” a senior French official said.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  politico.eu

GEOMETR.IT

A Goodbye Note from Berlin

in Europe 2018 · Germany 2018 · Merkel 2018 · Nation 2018 · Person 2018 · Politics 2018 · Skepticism 2018 114 views / 6 comments

Germany     Europe         

GEOMETR.IT  ecfr.eu

* For now, Europe will get more of the Merkel it knows so well: pragmatic, process-minded, and vision-free.

Angela Merkel’s announcement that she will not seek re-election as chair of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) at the party’s December 2018 congress has caught Berlin by surprise. After all, Merkel has shown remarkable patience in enduring several state election losses, quarrels between the two conservative parties of government, and the many compromises needed to maintain the CDU’s grand coalition with the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

But she seems to have finally had enough. Since the autumn 2017 federal elections, it has been widely anticipated that this would be her last term as chancellor. Now that she has confirmed this, her party is in turmoil: there have never been more than two candidates running for the CDU’s top job, and the last time its delegates had to choose between two candidates was in 1971, when Helmut Kohl lost to Rainer Barzel.

The disruption extends beyond Merkel’s party. Merkel’s decision has intensified pressure on Christian Social Union (CSU) chair Horst Seehofer to follow suit. And, even within the SPD, the prospect of a new CDU leadership quickens the heartbeat of many who know that looking different is often easier and more politically effective than thinking different.

At the same time, Merkel has laid out her plans for the final stage of her chancellorship: although she is making way for a new leader of the CDU, she is determined to remain chancellor until the next general election, scheduled for autumn 2021. In practical terms, this means she will remain in office for as long as the current coalition between the CDU, the CSU, and the SPD holds – or for as long as it would take to form another governing coalition following a snap election.

  • As the German constitution only allows for a constructive vote of no confidence, Merkel will remain chancellor until 2021 unless she resigns or an absolute majority that supports another politician emerges in the Bundestag.
  • Thus, the next leader of her party will not automatically become chancellor. Whoever is elected chair at the CDU’s December congress will have to reach an arrangement under which Merkel stays in the chancellery.
  • This is particularly significant for candidates for the post who have been critical of her: Friedrich Merz, who headed the CDU/CSU faction in parliament until 2002, when Merkel defenestrated him; and Jens Spahn, the self-styled future of the conservative wing of his party. Unlike CDU Secretary-General Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merz and Spahn will need to convince the 1,000 delegates at the party congress that they can work with Merkel effectively.

Angela Merkel is now a special kind of lame duck

The new CDU chair will be keen to succeed Merkel in government partly because this would allow him or her to lead the next election campaign with the authority and credentials of office. But for this to happen, the coalition would have to agree to appoint the new CDU leader as chancellor. The wording of Merkel’s declaration on her future mentions that she has no intention of stepping down ahead of time.

And SPD leaders have no interest in boosting the profile of a politician who they will compete against in the next election. Indeed, the SPD wants Merkel to remain in the chancellery precisely because her days there are numbered. Her guarantee that she will stay in office leaves SPD leaders in a catch-22: either sustain a coalition they increasingly dislike under her rule; leave the coalition and trigger the formation of a new one under a different chancellor; or leave and face new elections they are likely to lose badly.

Meanwhile, Merkel is now a special kind of lame duck. She can hardly launch bold initiatives or recommit Germany to Europe in any substantial way when her party is focused on replacing its leadership. Yet this may suit her reading of the situation in Europe. It is quite possible that she prefers not to:

  • act on French President Emmanuel Macron’s agenda for Europe;
  • deepen European fiscal integration while Italy rebels against EU budgetary rules;
  • pursue an integration agenda on migration and border security, despite many European capitals’ unwillingness to follow suit;
  • or launch new European security projects that require an increased financial and political commitment from Germany.

However, inaction on all these issues runs counter to one of her key arguments for maintaining both the governing coalition and her chancellorship for another three years – that the country and Europe need her experience, her international standing, and a functioning government at a crucial juncture in German and European affairs.

Merkel will serve her party well if she ends the coalition herself at some point, be it due to unacceptable new demands from the SPD or to claims from the Bavarian CSU.

In the elections that followed, her party would run under a changed leadership team that might appeal to voters as a new actor even as an experienced CDU leader held the chancellery. Although the move might not be enough to return the CDU to its former position of strength, it could well halt its decline.

Overall, Europe will get more of the Merkel it knows so well: pragmatic, process-minded, and vision-free. For as long as she is in office, there will be no German strategy of seismic change – of energetic policy initiatives that demolish the status quo.

This will be frustrating for Macron. He will find that, despite his dealings with liberal leaders elsewhere in Europe, Germany remains his indispensable partner. Yet Macron can take solace in the fact that Merkel’s Germany will not turn away from Europe, pursuing more nationalistic policies or some version of a “third way” between the EU and the United States.

Even with a lame-duck chancellor, Berlin has substantial resources it could draw on to prevent the European project from falling apart, contain those who would ignore the Brussels rulebook, and keep the EU policy machine running. For both the EU and Merkel’s party, this may not rule out future turbulence but it can certainly prevent a collapse.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at:  ecfr.eu/

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