Archive | February 26th, 2014

EU enlarg. comm. arrives in Sarajevo for talks with political leaders


Štefan Fuele

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele arrived in Sarajevo on Monday afternoon to meet for talks with leaders of the seven most influential political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Fuele was the first European Commission official to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina after an outbreak of social unrest in the country ten days ago.

In a special message released on Sunday, Fuele said that his talks in Sarajevo would again focus on the enforcement of the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the Sejdic-Finci case, but political leaders invited for talks with him showed hardly any optimism. The only exception to a certain extent was the president of the Bosnian Croat HDZ 1990 party, Martin Raguz, who said that new historical circumstances had arisen for the relationship between Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU.

“I expect the key EU people for enlargement and all of us here to understand this difficult situation and find answers to it,” Raguz said, stressing that solutions had to be sought because the situation in the country had become untenable.

The vice-president of the predominantly Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Sefik Dzaferovic, said that arrangements regarding the Sejdic-Finci ruling had been agreed upon long ago and that it remained to be seen to what extent the European Commission would insist on them and whether they would be accepted by the two strongest Croat parties, the HDZ BiH and HDZ 1990. “There is no room for any further demands because they would lead to further ethnic and territorial divisions of the country,” Dzaferovic said.

Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zlatko Lagumdzija said he expected a “new, consolidated proposal” from Fuele. “I expect Mr Fuele and other EU officials to hear the voice of citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina and realise that this is their problem as well and that it is time for the EU to give some new hope to Bosnia and Herzegovina because obviously the present approach, according to which the Sejdic-Finci ruling is the only issue in this country, is not producing results,” he said.

Serb Democratic Party (SDS) president Mladen Bosic said it was not clear why this meeting was scheduled at all. “I have no reason to be optimistic,” Bosic said, while the head of the League of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), Milorad Dodik, issued yet another tirade against the further existence of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“I expect nothing, just like this country is nothing. This is just an illusion that needs to be constantly fed with unsuccessful meetings,” Dodik said, adding that Bosnia and Herzegovina “is a frivolous country in which nothing can function normally.”

Dodik said that the international community was not honouring the Dayton agreement, which put an end to the country’s 1992-1995 war, and was to blame for the present situation. “I am not a politician of Bosnia and Herzegovina because its policy does not interest me at all. I am a politician of Republika Srpska,” he said, referring to the Bosnian Serb entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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One more round of talks between Bosnian politicians ends inconclusively


One more round of the EU-mediated talks between leaders of seven major political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina on how to implement the ruling of the European Court for Human Rights in the Sejdic-Finci case ended inconclusively in Sarajevo after midnight on Monday.

“We have made no progress,” said Martin Raguz of the Croatian Democratic Union 1990 (HDZ 1990) after the eight-hour negotiations, moderated by European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele, ended shortly after 1am Tuesday.

Raguz said that all participants in the talks agreed on the removal of the ethnic prefix from the constitutional provision on the election of members of the country’s presidency, but they could not agree on how to make safeguards against imposing one people’s will on another people.

“The key cause is a lack of political will on behalf of all of us,” Raguz said praising Fuele for investing huge efforts.

A Presidency member and senior official of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Bakir Izetbegovic, confirmed the failure of the meeting.

We were so close to (agreement), but we did not make it, Izetbegovic said.

According to Izetbegovic, the main bone of contention was between Croat and Muslim (Bosniak) parties about dividing the ten cantons in the Croat-Bosniak Federation into two groups of so-called floating cantons.

“The Croats insisted on the definition of those two groups, which was not acceptable to the Bosniak parties,” Izetbegovic said.

Commissioner Fuele declined to comment on the failed talks.

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Venizelos says Greece will strongly support Serbia on EU path


Venizelos named Greece

Serbia’s European prospects are as important to the whole region as they are to Serbia, Greek Foreign Minister and European Union Council of Ministers President Evangelos Venizelos said in Belgrade on Tuesday, vowing Athens’ assistance and support to Serbia during Greece’s EU presidency.

He officially visited Serbia in his capacity as EU Council of Ministers president, meeting with top state officials. He said he was pleased that Serbia had formally launched accession negotiations on January 21, during Greece’s presidency.

Speaking at a joint press conference with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic, Venizelos said Greece’s plan was to have Serbia open as many negotiation chapters as possible in the first half of 2014 so that Serbia could make the swiftest possible progress and join the EU.

The negotiations do not refer only to political but technical issues as well and Greece is willing to extend all the technical assistance to Serbia on that path, Venizelos said, adding that after its EU presidency Athens would try to keep the pace of EU-Serbia negotiations at a high level.

Dacic said Serbia would do its utmost so that an early parliamentary election due in March did not obstruct the EU integration process so that it could join the EU in 2020.

Venizelos also met with President Tomislav Nikolic, Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic and Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic.


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Gen. Shirreff:International troops to remain in Bosnia as long as necessary


General Richard Shirreff, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe and operation commander of the EU military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said in Sarajevo on Tuesday that the international community would maintain its military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina as long as necessary and the necessary political stability of the country was established.

The international missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina will end only after a political solution is achieved that will be acceptable to all the parties and will not threaten the stability of the country and the region, Gen. Shirreff said.

Gen. Shirreff has arrived in Sarajevo for a farewell visit at the end of his term, accompanied by his successor, Gen. Adrian Bradshaw.

EUFOR currently has less than 1,000 troops in Bosnia and Herzegovina under the command of Austrian General Dieter Heidecker. According to Gen. Shirreff, these troops will remain in the country, along with NATO and the EU Special Representative, to help Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to Euro-Atlantic integration.

Commenting on ongoing protests that broke out two weeks ago, Gen. Shirreff said that they should be a clear signal to domestic politicians to listen to the voice of the people more closely. He said he was disappointed by the absence of any progress and that the protests were yet another proof of how bad the situation in the country was.


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Puljic and Inzko condemn violence, criticise government


The head of the Bosnian Catholic church Cardinal Puljic leads the Easter morning prayers in the central Sarajevo cathedral

The Archbishop of Sarajevo, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, and the international community’s High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, have condemned violence at anti-government protests in the country and said that the present authorities ignore the need for dialogue with citizens, the Catholic news agency KTA said on Tuesday.
The archbishop received the Austrian diplomat who run the international administration in Bosnia and Herzegovina at his own request.
Puljic expressed hope that the international community would take a more serious approach in addressing problems in the country, while Inzko thanked Puljic and the head of the Islamic community, Husein Kavazovic, for their statement in efforts to defuse the escalation of public discontent in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Protests continue in Sarajevo


A small group of anti-government demonstrators blocked traffic in central Sarajevo again on Wednesday, reiterating their demands for resignations and seeking more social justice throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

As every day for nearly two weeks, they first rallied outside the BiH Presidency building and then blocked a very busy intersection nearby.

An informal association called Sarajevo Citizens’ Plenum asked the Sarajevo cantonal assembly to take a position by Friday on their demands for the swift formation of a new cantonal government.

The Plenum also insists on the formation of a commission of inquiry into the riots of February 7, when demonstrators and police clashed and the buildings of the BiH Presidency and the cantonal government were set on fire.

The Plenum threatened blocking the entire capital on Friday unless their demands were met.

The establishment of new local governments is also unlikely in Tuzla, Zenica-Doboj and Una-Sana cantons, where no one has nominated prime minister-designates.

The government of the Federation entity has not stepped down either, despite demonstrators’ demands. Prime Minister Nermin Niksic and other ministers have said they will step down as soon as a new entity government is appointed in line with the Constitution and the law.

The entity parliament is expected to take a position on the current situation in the entity on February 25 and, according to lower house deputy chair Tomo Vidovic, decide on measures to improve it.

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Serbian PM’s ex-associate under probe over links to drug traffickers



The arrest of Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic’s former associate Branko Lazarevic, who was placed in 48-hour detention and taken over by the special prosecutor’s office for organised crime last night, was the breaking news in Belgrade’s print media on Thursday.

Dacic’s chief of staff when he was minister of the interior in the previous Serbian government is suspected of revealing state secrets and conspiracy to commit crime. He was arrested on leads that he was in contact with associates of drug lord Darko Saric, who is on the run.

Lazarevic is currently the charge d’affaires at the Serbian embassy in Athens.

Dacic would not comment on the interrogation of his ex-chief of staff, telling Blic daily: “I don’t know what my former associate said during the interrogation, I won’t interfere.”

Deputy PM Aleksandar Vucic would not comment on the arrest and interrogation either, telling the press that the law was the same for everyone and that he could not see how the interrogation could impact the relations between his Progressives and Dacic’s Socialists.

Some media did bring the interrogation into the context of the current election campaign in which the two parties, although partners in the incumbent government, are opponents and the leaders of two coalitions running for 250 seats in the Serbian parliament.

Lazarevic is expected to answer to claims about his contacts with Saric’s associates, including Rodoljub Radulovic, who has been accused of cocaine smuggling. Radulovic has been linked to Dacic and the media speculated on their contacts last year. Dacic admitted in December that they knew each other but that he did not know what business Radulovic was in.

Citing sources close to the investigation, Belgrade’s media said the police interrogated Lazarevic about his contacts with accused members of Saric’s group to whom he had allegedly leaked information about the surveillance measures the Interior Ministry had been taking against them.

Lazarevic allegedly confirmed that Dacic had introduced him to Radulovic as a friend who should be met halfway, and that Radulovic had asked him if the police were investigating Saric.

Lazarevic’s attorney Dragoljub Djordjevic would not comment on the interrogation and the arrest of his client.

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Ukraine’s Sickness and Europe’s Cure: Neo-Liberalism and Neo-Fascism Join Hands

Global Research

The situation in Ukraine is evolving by the hour. Right wing ultranationalists and their “liberal” collaborators have taken control of the Rada (Ukrainian parliament) and deposed the democratically elected, though utterly corrupt and incompetent, President Yanukovich.

Former Prime Minister, and convicted criminal, Yulia Tymoshenko has been freed, and is now making common cause with Noe-Nazi Right Sector, Svoboda, and other fascist elements, while the opposition’s nominal leaders such as Arseny Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko begin to fade into the background.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin undoubtedly watches with anxiousness. In Washington, Victoria Nuland and the Obama administration rejoice. However, perhaps the most critical development of all is soon to emerge in Europe, as the forces of Western finance capital prepare to welcome Ukraine into the fold. They will come bearing the usual neoliberal gifts: austerity and “economic liberalization.”

With the overthrow of the Yanukovich government, the $15 billion of promised Russian financial assistance to Ukraine is in doubt. According to Moody’s rating agency, “Ukraine will require $24 billion to cover a budget deficit, debt repayments, natural gas bills and pension support just in 2014.” Without Moscow’s continued bond purchasing and other forms of financial aid, and with pro-EU forces taking control of the country’s economic and foreign policy, the outcome is not hard to predict: a rescue package from Europe and the IMF with all the usual austerity conditions attached.

In exchange for European “aid”, Ukraine will be forced to accept the driving down of wages, significant cuts to the public sector and social services, in addition to a rise in taxes on the working class and slashing of pensions. Moreover, the country will be compelled to accede to a liberalization program that will allow Europe to dump goods into the Ukrainian market, deregulation and the further opening up the country’s financial sector to predatory speculation and privatization.

It doesn’t take psychic powers to predict these developments. One merely has to look at the wave of austerity in European countries such as Greece and Cyprus. Furthermore, Eastern European countries with similar economic and historical conditions to Ukraine – Latvia and Slovenia specifically – provide a roadmap for what Ukraine should expect.

The Model of “Success”

As Ukraine’s pro-EU “leadership” under Tymoshenko & Co. (and the fascist Right) begins to eye the future, they will immediately look to Europe to address the most pressing economic concerns. The Ukrainian people however would do well to examine the precedent of Latvia to understand what lies in store for them. As renowned economists Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers wrote in 2012:

What enabled Latvia to survive the crisis were EU and IMF bailouts…Elites aside, many emigrated…Demographers estimate that 200,000 have departed the past decade – roughly 10 per cent of the population…Latvia experienced the full effects of austerity and neoliberalism. Birth rates fell during the crisis – as is the case almost everywhere austerity programs are imposed. It continues having among Europe’s highest rates of suicide and of road deaths caused by drunk driving. Violent crime is high, arguably, because of prolonged unemployment and police budget cuts. Moreover, a soaring brain drain moves in tandem with blue-collar emigration.

The myth of prosperity to follow EU integration and bailouts is just that, a myth. The reality is pain and suffering on a scale far greater than the poverty and unemployment Ukraine, especially the western portion of the country, have already experienced. The most highly educated, those most equipped to take up the mantle of leadership, will flee en masse. Those leaders who remain will do so while lining their pockets and ingratiating themselves to the European and American financiers who will flock to Ukraine like vultures to carrion. In short, the corruption and mismanagement of the Yanukovich government will seem like a pleasant memory.

The “liberalization” that Europe demands will create massive profits for speculators, but very few jobs for working people. The best land will be sold to foreign corporations and land-grabbers, while the resources, including the highly regarded agricultural sector, will be stripped and sold on the world market, leaving farmers and city dwellers alike in grinding poverty, their children going to bed hungry. This will be the “success” of Ukraine. One shudders to think what failure would look like.

In Slovenia, another Eastern European country that has experienced the “success” Europe strives for, the economic dictates of Brussels have ravaged the country’s working people and its institutions. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued a 2013 report in which it recommended that, as a first step, Slovenia act to “help the banking sector stand on its feet again,” adding that, “additional and radical measures are necessary as soon as possible.”

Furthermore, the OECD recommended the full privatization of Slovenia’s banks and other major firms, despite predicting a more than 2% contraction of the economy. In laymen’s terms, Europe recommends that Slovenia sacrifice itself and its people to the forces of international finance capital, nothing less. Such is the cost of European “integration.”

Ukraine is undergoing a transformation of the worst kind. Its political institutions have been trampled upon by a motley collection of delusional liberals, slick politicians in fancy suits, and Nazi extremists. The social fabric is tearing apart at the seams, with each region searching for a local solution to the problems of what used to be their nation. And, in the midst of it all, the specter of profit-seeking financiers with dollar signs in their eyes is all the Ukrainian people can expect.

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Click on the photo to start tagging.Finished tagging


Of course, no one call her anti-Semite because she is insulting Muslims

During the #Knesset discussion on imposing #Israeli_guardianship on#Al_Aqsa_Mosque, the extremist Knesset member Mari Regeve from Likud insulted#Muslims. “We want to put an end to the call for animals invented by #Mohammed[peace be upon him], which is calling from the Temple Mount [Al-Aqsa Mosque,” she said. — ‎with ‎Muji Saaj Padia andصالح النعامي‎‎.‎

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