Archive | November 18th, 2016

False Promises of the European Dream: Moldova and Bulgaria Elect Pro-Russian Presidents

NOVANEWS
 
Bulgaria_Moldova-380x250

As the European Union continues to spiral towards an all-out disaster due to significant economic problems, the migrant crisis, cultural decay, and an overall loss of purpose, countries like Moldova and Bulgaria, which were once blinded by the false promises of the European dream, are beginning to shift course back towards the only nation in Europe today that is experiencing a remarkable renaissance – yes, Russia.

In the second round of presidential elections, both of which took place on Sunday, November 13 – the pro-Russian candidates Igor Dodon of Moldova and Rumen Radev of Bulgaria have come out victorious over their pro-European rivals.

Reuters reports:

A pro-Russian candidate for president of Moldova has won the race, preliminary results showed on Sunday, following a campaign in which he vowed to slam the brakes on seven years of closer integration with the European Union.

With 98 percent of votes counted, online results showed Socialist candidate Igor Dodon had won 54 percent, and his pro-European challenger, Maia Sandu, had just under 45 percent. Dodon’s win is in part a reflection of a loss of trust in pro-European leaders in the ex-Soviet state of 3.5 million.

In another potential blow to the European Union brand, Bulgaria – which also held a presidential vote on Sunday – elected a pro-Russian candidate by a large margin, according to exit polls.

Since joining the European Union in 2007, Bulgaria has been plagued by the same corruption, political turbulence, and stalled economy that it had hoped to escape. Bulgarian politicians and citizens once viewed membership in the EU as the end of a long march to modernity.

“This is a day of historical justice, because Bulgarians have always been Europeans in spirit and identity,” the Bulgarian president told a crowd gathered on the day of their E.U. ascension.

Instead of prosperity, however, European Union membership has led to a steady flow of young people out of Bulgaria. Many take low-paying service jobs in other countries. College-educated Bulgarians flee for advanced sectors in countries like Germany and Sweden. The European Union’s own economic outlook for Bulgaria has been dismal, with out-migration playing a role in declining tax revenues.

As for Moldova, its Association Agreement with the EU signed back in 2014 has done more damage than good for the national economy. Moldovan export goods, which include foodstuffs, textiles, and machinery, have not been given fair access to the EU markets. Meanwhile, European products have flooded the country, pushing domestic businesses towards bankruptcy.

Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, agriculture and industry in Moldova has been under steady decline, making up only 37% of GDP in 2015. In comparison, this figure was at 76% back in 1989. Countries of the former USSR, including Russia and Belarus, both of which are part of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) formed in 2015, are still among Moldova’s top export partners today.

Experts believe that by forging closer ties with the EAEU and its five member states – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia – both Moldova and Bulgaria could see a significant boost to their economies. Why? Simply because all of these nations share a common (Soviet) industrial architecture that once formed a single production and supply chain with uniform rules and regulations.

A reconstruction of this chain with a modern outlook and innovative approach has the potential to significantly increase production and output in each of these counties, providing their economies with the necessary liquidity and investments to not only develop internally, but also successfully compete on the international markets.

Ultimately, neither Moldova nor Bulgaria have anything to lose from parting ways with the EU and trying something different. Today, Bulgaria is number nine on the list of top ten poorest countries in Europe. Moldova is first, followed by its neighbor – Ukraine.

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Crime Without Punishment – a Contemporary Balkan-Global Novel

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

The entire wrongness of the modern world is evident on the territory of the former Yugoslavia today. While in Croatia they remember with pride and sadness the battle for Vukovar and tell old and new stories of back then, mentioning Chetniks and Šešelj-ies, on the other side of the border Vojislav Šešelj, freer than ever, continues to spread his hatred. The difference now is that this is the new normal. It represents victory over political correctness, secured by Donald Trump – the most avid fighter against political correctness, which includes one of the greatest achievements of human civilisation – respect for those who are different. Today’s review of the press in former Yugoslavia mirrors all that is wrong with the world, built on the legacy of the Cold War.

Today, Croatia marks the 25th anniversary of the battle for Vukovar and this is the leading subject for all media in the country. This year, however, is different. For the first time the focus of the celebrations is different – the economic and social conditions in the “town of heroes”. In recent years, Vukovar has been an arena of division in Croatian society – between true patriots and false ones. It even came to splitting the column of the traditional procession from the Vukovar hospital to the cemetery in two. This year, however, the new Croatian government changed the approach. It held the traditional government meeting exactly in Vukovar, where it brought new projects and money, aiming to deal with the slow disappearing of the heroic town due to economic hardships. Media in the country report that this year a record-breaking number of visitors is expected and the procession will be the longest one so far.

Hotel and restaurant proprietors announce on TV channels that they have been fully booked for months and that the closest available bed is 150 kilometres away in Slavonski brod. “Crime with no punishment” is the headline of an article in Novi list by Tihomir Ponoš, who reports that on the crimes in Vukovar the Hague Tribunal has read just two sentences. No one was convicted of the top members of the former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA). The author reports that up until now the Tribunal has charged nine people for crimes committed in Vukovar around the year 1991, but there are just two convictions. The first brought before the Tribunal on charges of war crimes in Ovčari is Slavko Dokmanović, but he committed suicide in the detention facility in Scheveningen. With no sentence for Vukovar, as well as for many other crimes, committed in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo, remained Slobodan Milošević as well, reports the newspaper and reminds that he also died in detention.

Death proves to be swifter than justice for Goran Hadžić as well, reminds Tihomir Ponoš. “Vojislav Šešelj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party and one of the many Chetnik paramilitary organisations during the war was acquitted at the first instance of all charges”, reports Ponoš. Serbian media do not mention the anniversary at all, but on the other hand the political activity of Vojislav Šešelj, who is now a member of the Skupština, gains more and more popularity. Blic reports that the scandal, surrounding the presentation of the annual report of the European Commission on Serbia’s progress towards EU membership continues in full force. Šešelj’s Radicals have once again blocked the access of the boss of the EU delegation in Belgrade Michael Davenport to the Parliament building, where he was to present the report in front of the European integration committee.

Members of Parliament from the SRS are threatening that they will not allow him to appear at the next meeting as well. If the party in power insist that he presents the report, they need to change the rules of Parliament, said the radicals. The commemoration of the battle for Vukovar is thoroughly covered in one of the most circulated newspapers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dnevni avaz. The newspaper reports that this year the anniversary passes under the motto “Vukovar – a place of special respect”. Avaz reminds that the battle for Vukovar is the largest and bloodiest one in the war for the separation of Croatia from the former Yugoslavia. It was a 87-day siege, ending in defeat, but also with great losses to attackers and huge devastation of Vukovar. Multiple murders and expulsion of the Croatian population. Between 2900 and 3600 people lost their lives in the battle, reports Avaz.

Gotovina enters politics

There is another large piece of news for this year’s anniversary. General Ante Gotovina, four years after his acquittal from The Hague, has decided to join politics anyway. He is going to be appointed adviser to Defence Minister Damir Krstičević. This caused sharp reactions in Serbia. Blic quotes the informal spokesperson on neighbourly affairs in the Serbian government, otherwise Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Policy Aleksandar Vulin, that this is an insult to all banished Serbs and the victims of “Storm” (the operation on the recovering of the territorial integrity of Croatia, started on August 4th, 1995). “If Gotovina is the Croatian contribution to world peace and their vision of security, then we all have a cause for concern”, said Vulin, quoted by Blic.

Danas quotes the president of the Union of Serbs in the region Miodrag Linta, who believes that the decision of the Croatian government is scandalous. This decision is directly pointed against the good neighbourly relations between Serbia and Croatia and against the strengthening of peace and stability in the Western Balkans region, as well as against the building of trust between the two nations. In his words, “it is obvious that Croatian society is not prepared to stand up and face its criminal past and the fact that Croatia is the only EU member state where war criminals are glorified”. Linta believes that it is high time that the EU, USA and Germany send a clear message to the Croatian government that it needs to remove from all state functions Gotovina, Markač, and all the rest, who have evidence against them for committing war crimes against Serbs, continues Danas.  The Hague Tribunal has acquitted both generals (Gotovina and Markač) on war crime charges.

Again in Danas, there is a valuable commentary by Snežana Čongradin, entitled “Call Kosovo”, written on the occasion of the agreement on telecommunications between Belgrade and Priština, thanks to which Kosovo now has its international dialling code. “This was supposed to mean that Serbian officials are working together with the Kosovo officials for the realisation of the common interests of the citizens of Serbia and Kosovo, rather than having military instigation and creation of an atmosphere of instability, uncertainty, and profiteering of punks, who fit the abnormal and inhuman conditions in both societies”, writes Čongradin. Serbia should have been the first to rejoice at the normalisation of life there after “the horrible crimes, committed in the name of Serbian citizens by those same punks”.

“Serbia continued in the years following the war in Kosovo to act just like it did in the years of losing it. Hatred, intolerance, misunderstanding, and identifying with the group of incapables and tyrants at the high places of the state, who, with their actions, laid shame and placed negative connotation on their own citizens in the eyes of the world, are present 16 years later as well, although bound within the borders that reality imposes”, writes Snežana Čongradin in Danas.

Let us not forget Trump

Vuk Perišić makes an interesting parallel between Donald Trump and Franjo Tuđman in his commentary for the Croatian website tportal. The author calms everybody down that there is no danger of Donald Trump ever becoming a dictator, for the USA has strong institutions available as well as a clear separation of powers. There are too many hindrances to the totalitarianisation of the country. “There are no reasons to fear that Trump will ruin the USA, as for example Tuđman and the HDZ ruined the Croatian society which, following their economic and moral devastation, lies in clinical death on the litter, incapable of anything but patriotic fantasies. As opposed to the USA, Croatia neither ever had nor created, nor wanted to create a meaningful and true democracy, independent state foundations, rule of law, and a critical society. Croatian political tradition was depleted and brought down to a blind and irrational state building, whereas the American one lays on rationalism, enlightenment, and the culture of the Free Individual” (capital letters are by the author).

Vuk Perišić also disproves Europe’s fears of a possible warm-up of relations between the USA and Russia. “Blame for all possible hardships that come to Europe would fall entirely on Europe. It is its own greatest adversary. It brought itself twice in the 20-th century to the brink of total self-annihilation, when behind the veil of its alleged civility peaked countless amounts of savagery and criminal energy”, writes Vuk Perišić for tportal.

Pernar on the sputnik of geopolitical love in Belgrade

The newly hatched Croatian anti-establishment player Ivan Pernar, who caught Moscow’s attention with his anti-European and anti-NATO positions, is gaining more and more attention and “is growing” in his geopolitical career. Serbian Politika (which is part-owned by Russian capitals) prints today on its title page an interview with Ivan Pernar on the occasion of his visit to the Serbian parliament. The newspaper reminds that this visit is happening 88 years after the radical MP Puniša Račić wounded Ivan Pernar’s grandfather in an attack in the Skupština. Today, 88 years later, Pernar goes to the Skupština for a visit, organised by the Russian propaganda machine Sputnik (Russian for satellite).

In his interview for Politika Mr Pernar also says that he is a close friend to the anti-European and pro-Russian movement Dveri, led by Boško Obradović, who recently stated in an interview for the regional N1 television channel that October 5th of 2000 (the day of the protests that brought down Milošević) did harm to Serbia. Obradović boasted in that same interview about his close relations with the new president-elect of Bulgaria, General Rumen Radev, who was a guest to the Russophile gathering this year in Kazanlak, Bulgaria. To Obradović, the future belongs to politicians like him. Ivan Pernar says in his interview for Politika that the thing connecting Live Wall to Dveri is their position against the EU and NATO. They differ about Srebrenica. To the question what his relations with Sputnik are, Ivan Pernar replied: “Sincere and friendly. I see Russia as a friendly state, not as some threat that the NATO generals talk about”.

Russians charged for the preparation of terrorist attacks in Montenegro on October 16

The big news in Montenegro today is the new version, as Vijesti reports, of the prosecution on the investigation of the state coup attempt in the country on election day, October 16. Two Russian nationals have been charged with the organisation of the prevented attacks – Eduard Vladimirovich Shirokov and Vladimir Nikolajevich Popov. They organised a criminal group, which was supposed to assassinate Prime Minister Milo Đukanović, is written in the investigation of the specialised prosecution on the case. The group was supposed to cause chaos in Montenegro on election night. Montenegrin Pobjeda reports that the opposition – represented by the Democratic front – is preparing a new wave of protests in December, similar to the last year’s.

According to the newspaper, the official goal of the protests is the same as last year – the formation of a transient or minority government, which is to prepare new parliamentary elections, which are to be held together with the presidential ones. The informal goal is keeping up the pressure on the Skupština, which soon needs to make a decision on the NATO membership.

European integration apathy

An interesting analysis by Jovana Marović, who is a member of the workgroup on Article 23 of Montenegro’s negotiations with the EU, is published by Vijesti. In it, she points out that the European Commission’s reports are all the same. Progress is technical, all is the same. She underlines the unpleasant coincidence, when in one and the same day came the announcement of the results of the presidential elections in the USA and the EC’s annual reports on enlargement. “In the very day, when the results were announced from the presidential elections in the USA accompanied by discussions about the end of liberal democracy as we know it, came the presentation of this year’s progress reports in the process of European integration. Forecasts for the strengthening of democracy in this part of the world are just as pessimistic”, believes Jovana Marović.

The EU is jaded by the enlargement process. Global tendencies of the degradation of democratic values, as well as problems in the region are the main reason for it, is the expert’s opinion. She notes that Montenegro is presented in Brussels as being the most advanced, but it actually has no competition. Progress is purely technical and practically all is the same.

“Let us conclude – ‘the permanent progress’ in the strengthening of institutions and laws through the process of negotiations does not also mean a strengthening of democracy in Montenegro. Democracy is walking backwards. The democracy index of Freedom House for Montenegro shows that since the year 2012 there is a regressive trend. By the way, even without the use of a well developed methodology, you could see this quite well in the election and post-election rhetoric, the atmosphere of threats, labelling, attacks on independent media and critics of the authorities, the system of (ir)responsibility for breaking the law, the multitude of frauds, selective reactions by the institutions, and the still restricted conditions for free and fair elections”, writes Jovana Marović for Vijesti.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in Europe, Bosnia, Croatia, SerbiaComments Off on Crime Without Punishment – a Contemporary Balkan-Global Novel

The EPPO Might Not Be Ready By Year End

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

Despite efforts being made, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) might not be agreed by the end of the year, as are the expectations of the European Commission and the Council’s Presidency. Another deadline will be missed and the discussions surrounding the new European institution show the strength already gained by integration scepticism. The draft regulation for the formation of the EPPO was discussed for the first time in its entirety on October 14 by EU justice ministers. So far, the draft was being discussed in sections for small “victories” were easier to achieve. On October 14, for the first time, an approximate cost for the project was presented as well. In previous discussions, ministers of several member states (mainly Scandinavian) asked that the European Commission to make an estimate of expenses and benefits.

Commissioner for Justice Věra Jourová (Czech Republic, ALDE) presented the estimate with several caveats. It is based on the current text of the draft regulation, which provides for shared competence between the prosecution and member states, which means sharing the costs. Moreover, it was done without having full agreement on the EPPO’s competencies and without having come to an agreement whether it will deal with VAT fraud. The documents provides for, should an agreement for the formation of the EPPO is reached by the end of the year, that it should start working in full (with the so called cruising speed) in 2021. By then, expenses on it would have reached 26.7 million euro, which includes costs for personnel, buildings, operating expenses.

In the first year of work for the EPPO (the year 2019), the EC believes that expenses would be 11.9 million euro. The total benefit of the new semi-supranational institution are estimated at 204 million euro in 2019, which includes the investigation of common crime against the Union’s financial interests, as well as VAT fraud with a 2 million euro threshold (more details on this follow). It is expected that benefits from the EPPO will reach over 3 billion euro in 2021. The expenses presented are just for the supranational dimension of the prosecution and will be covered by the European budget. Shared national competences and expenses on them will be covered by national budgets. Along those lines is the main conflict on whether the EPPO should investigate VAT fraud or not.

During the public part of the discussion of the full text of the draft Regulation, Commissioner Jourová once again expressed her concerns regarding the prosecution’s competences. “We have to make sure that the EPPO’s competence is not only crystal clear but that it also remains meaningful. Unfortunately I don’t think this is the case with the current article 20/3B. This provision would lead to excluding a significant number of offences for which EPPO is established”, warned Mrs Jourová. The Netherlands continues to have reserves towards the draft Regulation and it still remains to be seen whether the Dutch parliament will agree that the country participates in the EPPO. Dutch Minister of Justice Ard van der Steur insisted that the EPPO plays a rather more of a supportive role to national authorities, than what is provided for in the current draft of the text.

The minister also expressed his concerns by the intention to transferring money and personnel from Eurojust and OLAF to the prosecution. A concern expressed by many ministers. Van der Steur finds the EC’s estimate of expected benefits from having the EPPO too optimistic, especially regarding the results of fighting VAT fraud (if of course it is agreed that this would be included in its competences). Italian Justice Minister Andrea Orlando also expressed unhappiness by this next version of the text, but for the exact opposite reasons – the EPPO should have power over national authorities. He believes that it is only this way that the EPPO will be truly effective. Italy has insisted from day one on a strong and independent of member states EPPO, with very wide powers, including even fighting organised crime. An idea, which turned out to be completely impossible to implement at the current stage.

German Minister of Justice Heiko Maas advocates for not going into new arguments, but accepting the draft in the shape it currently is in. “I think that over the years we have reached a large degree of agreement on the proposed regulation. Therefore I would like to state quite clearly that of course there are still things which we would have liked to be different, but on the basis of this current draft we’d like to withdraw all our reservations we’ve had so far because in the foreseeable future and if possible this year we would like us to conclude the work on the draft regulation”, were his words. He strongly warned that no articles, which have already been agreed on, should be reopened. Lithuania announced that it is ready to support major elements of the consolidated text. Luxembourg, too, stood behind Germany, having Minister Félix Braz add that the added value of the EPPO will make sense only if it had a true European dimension.

The central body will have to make the main decisions on the cases and will have to exert control over investigations, performed by the delegated European prosecutors. The minister asked not to weaken the powers of the Permanent Chambers. “The EPPO has to be absolutely independent and we have to be extremely cautious here”, added Mr Braz. Cyprus also accepted positively the proposed compromising text, but kept its reserves on several points. Poland once again was very critical about the text and even stated that Warsaw might reject it. Polish concerns are that some of the Prosecution’s competences are too wide and lead to some very difficult procedures at the national and European level.

Hungary also expressed reserves, although it did soften its positions from what they were. Until recently, its resistance stemmed from the fact that the regulation would force amendments to the Hungarian Constitution. The minister announced that they are already planned. Despite that, however, Budapest continues to disagree with the prosecution’s competences. He asked that national rules and procedures prevail.

Strong support for the text and the quick wrap-up of work on this dossier came from Paris as well. France announced that it shares Germany’s concerns. “This is taking three years so far and successive presidencies have made contributions and now we have a consolidated text which responds to the major issues at stake for example balance, independence and seeking added value”, stated the French representative. Everything right now is coming down to fine tuning, he said and pleaded that everyone made some allowances. Belgium, too, agreed with the text. Bulgaria supported its colleagues from Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. Justice Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva repeated that Bulgaria prefers a strong, effective, and independent EPPO.

She believes that the proposed texts, despite the compromises, still provide the necessary powers to the EPPO. She repeated the words of the Luxembourg justice minister that the independence of the EPPO comes at a price. Estonian Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu expressed disagreement with the EC’s assessment of costs and benefits. In his opinion, there is not a single case, which is of the competence of the EPPO and has just 30 pages. He was talking about the Commission’s assessment, which is at euinside’s disposal, where there are expenses provided for translation, based on the complexity of the case. The EC has estimated that there will be a need to translate around 5% of all cases. Not so complicated cases are estimated to be around 30 pages, which would cost 61 200 euro (for 20 cases). The most complicated cases are expected to be 500 pages each and the annual price for them is expected to be about 255 000 euro (for 5 cases). The medium complexity cases are estimated at 200 pages each with an annual expense of 1 020 000 euro (for 50 cases).

The Estonian justice minister also warned that all efforts should be made to avoid having the EPPO approved without unanimity and was adamantly opposed to its existence through the enhanced cooperation procedure (where a group of member states decide to do something independently of the others, like it is with the financial transaction tax or the legislation ruling over asset disputes of trans-border partnerships and marriages). The draft regulation calls for an unanimous support in the Council and the approval of the European Parliament.

VAT is the big stumbling block

Against the background of disagreements on the issue of whether VAT frauds should be included in the competences of the EPPO, disagreements with the full text of the draft regulation pale in comparison. The subject of VAT fraud is extremely serious and spreads over several spheres, which further complicates lawmaking at the European level. Parallel to the negotiations on the EPPO there are ongoing negotiations in the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on a new draft directive of the European Commission regarding fighting crimes against the Union’s financial interests, known by the PIF abbreviation. On October 14, the discussion on the PIF was held before the one on the EPPO. One of the most controversial moments in these negotiations as well is VAT. The EC demands that VAT fraud be included in the scope of PIF, and thus enter the competences of the EPPO. Disagreements among ministers, however, are abundant.

Věra Jourová explained that crimes under PIF are often linked to the so called “white collar crimes” – corruption, public procurement fraud, money laundering, VAT carousels, and common scams. She believes that if the EPPO receives the power to deal with VAT as well, it would enhance not only justice systems around Europe, but will also contribute to a great degree for a serious recovery of European funds. The Presidency put forward two main questions for discussion on October 14th – whether VAT fraud should to be included in the scope of the directive and whether they are to be included in the competences of the EPPO. The Slovak Presidency is of the opinion that those are purely political questions.

The discussion was pulled out of deep freeze after, due to anti-terrorist measures, the ministers of finance of the EU agreed (on October 11) to work at the European level for fighting VAT fraud and other financial crimes. The commissioner for justice is adamant that both questions must be answered “yes”, because in most cases VAT frauds are trans-border. Luxembourg had a positive reply to both questions. Slovenian Justice Minister Goran Klemenčič insisted that the fight against VAT frauds at the European level be limited only to trans-border cases and with a set high enough threshold at that. Most ministers gravitated towards the 10 million euro mark, while the EC estimate on costs and benefits of the EPPO is calculated based on a threshold of 2 million euro. In general, Slovenia supports the inclusion of VAT frauds in the scope of PIF, but is opposed to having the EPPO deal with this. “We don’t want to flood the EPPO with VAT investigations”, added Minister Klemenčič.

The Netherlands is also opposed. Minister van der Steur said, however, that if The Netherlands is to agree, it would only happen under condition that it is only about very serious crimes, exceeding 10 million euro. He is definitely against the harmonisation of VAT frauds in the EPPO regulation. He does not see the logic behind having both the directive and the regulation deal with these frauds simultaneously. Poland was opposed to both proposals, because it believes that these problems should be addressed at the national level. Hungary is of the same opinion. A very small portion of the money passes through the European budget and indirectly at that, so national budgets are the ones most harmed, so, therefore, this is in the sphere of competences of national authorities, was the position of Hungary.

France retorted that there already exists a judicial precedent, which proves that VAT frauds damage the financial interests of the EU. It talks about the ruling of the European Court on the Taricco case. Paris supports including VAT frauds in the PIF directive, but puts four conditions. The first one is for the scope of the directive not be expanded from VAT to other taxes. The second is that national competent tax authorities preserve their powers, mainly regarding the reimbursement of taxes. The third condition is finding a parallel approach between administrative and penal fines and the fourth one is agreeing on a common definition of a VAT fraud, so that European competence can be explained. France is of the opinion that including VAT in the scope of competences of the EPPO will breed legal uncertainty.

The Czech Republic has so far expressed sharp resistance towards treating VAT frauds at the European level, but following the “Taricco” ruling Prague is willing to reconsider its position, provided a solid threshold of 10 million euros is placed. Ireland was firmly opposed. Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that tax issues should be discussed solely in tax legislation dossiers and are not to be included into non-tax legislative projects, the approval of which may not be unanimous. Another problem is that Ireland does not have a separate definition of VAT fraud in its national law. Dublin has principal issues against including VAT frauds in the EPPO Regulation.

It was difficult for Romania to answer the questions, for both legislative dossiers are linked to each other. There could be no progress on one of them until there is some clarity on the other. In general, Bucharest has reserves against including VAT in the PIF directive and the EPPO regulation. Greece fully supports including these frauds in the EPPO competences list, as the “Taricco” case shows. The Bulgarian justice minister agrees to the widening of the scope of PIF directive to include VAT frauds, but is opposed to including them in the EPPO regulation. Cautious on the issue are also Sweden and Finland, although Helsinki exhibits sympathies to the idea of the EPPO taking over some VAT fraud cases, but prefers looking for alternatives.

Belgium prefers VAT to be included in the competences of the EPPO, rather than the PIF directive. Latvia proposed a 3 to 6 million euro threshold for including VAT frauds in the PIF directive. Germany continues to be opposed and prefers more attention to be placed on public procurement orders, money laundering, and corruption. VAT should not be treated separately, said Minister Maas, but agreed on VAT being addressed by just the EPPO regulation, with Berlin prepared to lift all its reserves on this, as was also evident from the discussion on the consolidated text of the EPPO.

Croatia also agrees that the EPPO deals with VAT frauds, only if they are included in the scope of PIF, however. Cyprus is opposed to having the scope of the directive cover VAT as well. Austria has not yet reached an agreement at the national level. Estonia is opposed to having the EPPO deal with VAT, but agrees with including it in the PIF directive. At the end of the discussion Věra Jourová stated that it will be extremely difficult for her as a politician to explain why the EPPO is not going to deal with the investigation of large tax frauds. The legal service explained that the design of both the PIF directive and the EPPO regulation is such that they have to work together.

The goal of the directive is to harmonise a considerable part of the penal code. Here, we are not talking about the harmonisation of VAT or tax laws. Logic demands that both be combined, was the opinion of the legal service, which stated that it fully understands why some people might be opposed. Up until now the investigations of financial crimes against the interests of the EU were the job of OLAF.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in EuropeComments Off on The EPPO Might Not Be Ready By Year End

Is Trump a Product of Democracy, or Tyranny?

NOVANEWS
Adelina Marini

Analyses and comments once again prevail in today’s press from the countries of former Yugoslavia. To some, Trump is the harbinger of tyranny, to others – just the opposite. In today’s review you can also read about the visit of the Croatian minister of defence to Bosnia and Herzegovina, about Macedonia’s outrage caused by statements of the Greek president, about another police operation in Serbia, and, last but not least, about who is the preferred leader for the Serbs.

“Trump liberates America and the world from the terror of facts”, is the headline of today’s column by the very popular and translated all over the region author Miljenko Jergović. “Freed from the terror of facts, Trump voters felt free of literacy, decency, history, memory, and all else, which in traditional societies was a heavy burden to separate people and society”, writes Jergović “To us here this is nothing new or unusual. We entered the postfactology era long before America. And when Vojislav Šešelj, for example, is celebrating so frenetically Donald Trump’s victory, he is actually not excited by his political think-alike or future ally – although this is not out of the question – he celebrates the one, who set up his own world according to his own (Šešelj’s) long-standing principles”, states the column of Miljenko Jergović.

According to him, major importance in the postfactological society is reserved to the feelings, perceptions, and beliefs. “For example, if your feelings tell you that the Earth is flat, that Muslims are lower creatures, or that the Virgin Mary conceived without sin, that the only problem of the world is capitalism, that Hitler and Stalin were right, or that the world is being run by Illuminati and Jewish bankers, then no facts about the Earth being round cannot question the absolutely more important opinion of yours”, is Mr Jergović’s conclusion.

He was opposed in absentia in the Serbian Politika by the university professor Miroljub Jevtić, editor of the “Political science of religion” magazine. “Trump: victory to liberalism over totalitarianism” is the author’s headline, who believes that the Republican candidate’s victory is a return to original values. The author reminds that the core of liberalism, as was described by John Stuart Mill, is that “We can never be certain whether the opinion we wish to silence is wrong, but even if we are completely certain of that, silencing it would be evil”. The author concludes from these words that absolutely any idea, even the most extreme one, is legal.

His thesis is that liberal democracy worked well while the USA, Great Britain, France, and the countries that followed this rule were mono-cultural societies. Now multiculturalism leads to having many ideas and political behaviour being forbidden and condemned. So, the conclusion of Miroljub Jevtić is that Trump represents a return to original values. He wins power by following strict procedures.

Montenegrin Vijesti reprints from the Croatian Nacional an analysis by Ratko Knežević, titled “It’s arrogance, stupid!”, in which he explains why Trump won and Clinton lost. “Arrogance is the most dangerous coin in politics”, believes Knežević. “After 25 years in American and world politics, Hillary Clinton thought that her success is guaranteed and decided that instead of launching a movement, based on ideas, moral principles, and visions for America for at least the next decade, she decided to go on a victory march for these ones, and perhaps also for the next elections in 2020”. The author believes that Trump’s victory could have been predicted if everything was viewed objectively and not through the eyes of fans.

“Besides, democracy is not necessarily a logical process. People vote with emotions and impulses, decide on political elections just as they make decisions on anything else in their lives”, explains Mr Knežević . At the end of the day, Trump’s authenticity won, not the phoniness and media hysterics, concludes the author.

Krstičević was not arrested!

All media in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina report on the visit to BiH of Croatian Defence Minister Damir Krstičević. Why did this make the news? Because, last week, he postponed his visit to the country immediately following the report of his name being on the list with indictments of war crimes with Croatian commanders. Back then Mr Krstičević explained that he postponed his visit due to the preparation of the budget for 2017. Some Serbian media in BiH reported that Krstičević may be arrested right at the border, should he enter the country. This did not happen, report Bosnian media. His words upon arrival in BiH were quoted that he had no problems at the border.

Bosnian Dnevni avaz meanwhile publishes at its front page an interview with the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia Serge Brammertz, who believes there is an ongoing process of denying crimes and glorifying of criminals. Every victim of a crime deserves justice, regardless of whether we are talking about Orašje, Sarajevo, or Vukovar, said the prosecutor in an interview for the newspaper. He warns that there is another process underway as well – creation of a false version of history.

Leading news in Serbia and Montenegro today is the police operation in Serbia, during which a huge amount of weaponry was discovered. Serbian Blic quotes Minister of Internal Affairs Nebojša Stefanović that a group of 10 people was apprehended in Apatin and Sombor, who were selling, distributing, and using weapons. Among the arsenal found there were nine kilograms of plastic explosive, 20 kilograms of TNT, over ten electric detonators, 111 hand grenades, 12 handheld anti-tank bombs, eight automatic rifles, and many others. The other leading subject in Serbia today is the package of laws, which the Skupština begins to discuss today. According to Blic, there are several bills on the session’s agenda, among which are changes in the Penal Code, a bill on fighting organised crime, terrorism, and corruption, as well as changes in the Law on confiscation of property acquired through criminal activity

Tito is the Serbs’ favourite

Danas published on its front page the first results of a poll, executed in October among 1500 Serbs. One of the poll’s questions is “Who is the best leader of Serbia”. 32% answered Tito. Right behind him is the current Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, who received 31% of the vote. Third place is occupied by the assassinated Serbian PM Zoran Ðinđić, who does, however, gather just 11% support. Fourth is Milošević, backed by only 3%. Following him are Boris Tadić and Vojislav Koštunica with 2% each. Danas reports that in the poll Tito is preferred among all education groups, while Vučić has support just among those with secondary education. More detailed results will be officially announced today.

Another piece of news in Danas is that Serb radicals continue to resist the showing of the EU representative in Serbia Michael Davenport in front of the Skupština to present the EC’s annual report on Serbia’s progress. MPs from the Serbian Radical Party will not allow Mr Davenport to show in the Committee on European integration, because this is against the rules of Parliament. Last week, the boss of the EU delegation was expelled from the Skupština, because he did not bring the report in Serbian and because he sat in a chair that does not belong to him, explained the radicals, supported by other extreme right-wing formations in the Skupština, to whom this is a question of preserving the dignity of the Serbian parliament.

Macedonian Dnevnik comes out today at its front page with outrage by another provocation of Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos. The newspaper reports that during his visit to Athens on Tusday American president Barack Obama turned a deaf ear to Mr Pavlopoulos’s statements against Macedonia. “It is fact that a neighbouring country, besides looking for a name, which is a falsification of history, but also spreads Irredentism and directly insists on changing borders. All this is against both the European and international laws and undermines the European perspective of this state”, goes the newspaper’s quote of Pavlopoulos from the start of his conversation with Obama, noting that this happened in front of the cameras of numerous media, which reported on the visit of the American president.

According to Dnevnik, however, Obama did not respond to the allegations but instead concentrated on the economy and the relations between Washington and Athens. The newspaper quotes a recent statement by Mark Burns – presented as a spiritual adviser to American President-elect Donald Trump – that no one has any intention of changing the constitutional name and identity of Macedonia. “Rest assured that Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States will not change the name of your state”, said Burns according to Dnevnik. Macedonia is currently recognised as the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia. The material does not clarify whether they mean the constitutional or the internationally recognised name.

Translated by Stanimir Stoev

Posted in USAComments Off on Is Trump a Product of Democracy, or Tyranny?

Will Trump Withdraw from NATO?

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It’s no more likely than the sun henceforth rising in the west once he’s inaugurated.

Though calling NATO “obsolete” and “costing us a fortune,” he said “I don’t want to pull (America) out,” adding “I think the distribution of costs has to be changed.”

“We’re paying disproportionately. It’s too much…(I)t’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea…(M)aybe we have to pay a lot less,” other countries more.

“(I)t doesn’t really help us. It’s helping other countries.” The media are “so totally dishonest.” They say “ ‘Trump doesn’t want NATO, wants to disband.’ “

That’s not what I said. I said you’ve got to pay your bills. And you know what? If they can’t pay their bills…they’ve got to go. Because we can’t do this.

“(T)he US must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves” if they won’t pay more. “We have no choice.”

What he and others in America and Europe never explain is why the alliance is needed when its only enemies are invented ones.

No countries anywhere threaten Western nations. ISIS and other terrorist groups are US creations. End support and they’ll fade away. They can’t exist and flourish without foreign help.

Humanity would be much safer if NATO disbanded – not the other way around. Yet Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s staff reportedly drafted a secret report, dealing with America possibly leaving the alliance, ending it in its current form.

Separately, Stoltenberg said NATO “allies have made a solemn commitment to defend each other” – against what he didn’t explain, failing to acknowledge no known threats exist.

Claims about “Russian aggression” are baseless – one among other phony reasons to justify NATO existence. When the Berlin wall came down in 1989, followed by the Soviet Union’s 1991 dissolution, the alliance should have been disbanded.

Instead, it expanded from 16 to 28 members, 22 partners, seven Mediterranean Dialogue allies, four Istanbul (Gulf) Cooperation Council Initiative states, and eight other global partners.

Stop NATO’s Rick Rozoff earlier called the alliance a “global missile” aimed at humanity’s heart, a killing machine planning expansion on every continent, threatening world peace, stability and security.

It works cooperatively with the UN, EU, and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. As long as NATO exists, world peace is unattainable.

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Peace with Russia and China, But More Wars in the Middle East?

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Peace with Russia and China, But More Wars in the Middle East? The Contradictions of Trump’s Foreign Policy
 
D. Trump

Who will replace the current Secretary of State John Kerry once the President-elect Donald Trump takes over the White House in January? It will no doubt be one of the most important decisions when it comes to Trump’s foreign policy.

The Secretary of State will define Trump’s foreign policy in his first four years in office as to whether the world will witness more wars or a lasting peace. In his search for the Secretary of State, more wars seem inevitable with the several names mentioned from the political establishment as possibilities. But one of the most recent and surprising developments concerning Trump’s search is the meeting he is having with former Republican Nominee Mitt Romney this weekend as reported by CNN:

President-elect Donald Trump will meet this weekend with one of his fiercest critics: 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, a discussion that could include the position of secretary of state 

The former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani and extremist neocon John Bolton who held various positions in several Republican administrations have also been mentioned. Bob Corker, the Senator from Tennessee who supported the war in Iraq and led the effort to supply lethal arms to the Ukraine for the war in Donbass is also a possibility. Republican and former speaker of the US House of Representatives Newt Gingrich was on the list but he has confirmed he will not be on Trump’s cabinet. CNN also reported that Trump will soon meet with several other politicians and a Navy Admiral for the position:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is under consideration by President-elect Donald Trump for secretary of state, and other cabinet positions, a transition source told CNN Wednesday, despite their rocky history.

Trump is going to meet with Haley, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Cincinnati Mayor Ken Blackwell, Admiral Mike Rogers and Rep. Jeb Hensarling on Thursday, according to Trump’s communication director Jason Miller and Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is the politician who signed into law a bill to prevent her state from doing business with any firm that boycotts Israel under what is known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement or the ‘BDS movement.’ The Jerusalem Post published the story in 2015 ‘South Carolina becomes first US state to take action against anti-Israel boycotts’ which said the following:

South Carolina’s governor has signed into law a bill to stop efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel on Thursday afternoon, in a first for the nation on a statewide level. The bill makes no mention of Israel directly, but prevents public entities from contracting with businesses engaging in the “boycott of a person or an entity based in or doing business with a jurisdiction with whom South Carolina can enjoy open trade.” The premise of the law is that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, colloquially known as BDS, discriminates against the people of Israel and weakens the economy of South Carolina 

CNN also mentioned that war criminal and pro-Israel advocate Henry Kissinger is also considered for the job. Appointing Henry Kissinger would be a slap in the face for Trump’s supporters. If Trump decided to appoint Henry Kissinger to run US foreign policy, a war will no doubt be on the horizon. U.S. Navy Admiral Michael S. Rogers who serves as the Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Chief of the Central Security Service will also be interviewed for the position. According to The Times of Israel Rogers met secretly with Israeli officials earlier this year:

The director of the US National Security Agency, Admiral Michael Rogers, reportedly paid a secret visit to Israel last week to discuss cooperation in cyber-defense, in particular to counter attacks by Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy Hezbollah

One thing in common with all of the candidates for Secretary of State is that they all seem to be pro-Israel which should be a serious concern for the Middle East. Trump said he would like to orchestrate a peace deal between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s, but to the contrary Israeli hardliner and Education Minister Naftali Bennett declared that the “era of the Palestinian state is over” when Trump was declared the winner of the elections. That statement is not encouraging for the Palestinians who support a two-state solution. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Trump a “true friend of Israel”. So what do the Israelis know that we don’t know about Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East?

Trump’s Confusing Foreign Policies towards Russia and China

Trump wants better relations with Russia in order to fight the Islamic State. Trump also wants a better relations and trade deals with China, but calls Iran (an ally to both Russia and China) the “biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world.” So what should we think about Trump’s foreign policy when it comes to the Middle East? For sure Trump’s “element of surprise” will surely come soon as he will announce his Secretary of State. With that said, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reached out to the President-elect to “to offer his congratulations on winning a historic election.” The Los Angeles Times reported what the conversation between Putin and Trump had entailed:

The release said the two men discussed “a range of issues including the threats and challenges facing the United States and Russia, strategic economic issues and the historical U.S.-Russia relationship that dates back over 200 years” and that Trump looks forward to “a strong and enduring relationship with Russia and the people of Russia”

Reuters reported on the conversation that took place between Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping. Xi had told Trump that “The facts prove that cooperation is the only correct choice for China and the United States” according to China Central Television (CCTV) cited Xi as saying.” Reuters also published what The Global Times had said if Trump went forward with his plan to charge China “heavy tariffs” for its exports to the U.S.:

The Global Times, a nationalist tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, said if Trump slapped China with heavy tariffs it would “paralyze” bilateral trade. “When the time comes, large orders for Boeing planes would switch to Europe, U.S. auto sales in China would face setbacks, Apple phones would essentially be crowded out, and U.S. soybeans and corn would be eradicated from China,” the paper said in a commentary

There is a real possibility of a trade war looming between the U.S. and China. But what is most concerning about Trump’s U.S. foreign policy so far is not that he wants a diplomatic and peaceful relationship with Russia and to renegotiate trade deals and build a better relationship with China, it is his dangerous rhetoric against Iran and their allies in the Middle East. So let’s take a closer look at what Trump has said about Iran during his campaign. Here is an excerpt from Trump’s AIPAC speech this past March:

In Gaza, Iran is supporting Hamas and Islamic jihad. And in the West Bank, they’re openly offering Palestinians $7,000 per terror attack and $30,000 for every Palestinian terrorist’s home that’s been destroyed. A deplorable, deplorable situation. Iran is financing military forces throughout the Middle East and it’s absolutely incredible that we handed them over $150 billion to do even more toward the many horrible acts of terror. Secondly, we will totally dismantle Iran’s global terror network which is big and powerful, but not powerful like us. Iran has seeded terror groups all over the world. During the last five years, Iran has perpetuated terror attacks in 25 different countries on five continents. They’ve got terror cells everywhere, including in the Western Hemisphere, very close to home. Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism around the world. And we will work to dismantle that reach, believe me, believe me.

Trump’s comments that “Iran is the biggest sponsor of terrorism” will raise tensions with Tehran as more evidence points to the fact that Trump’s will most likely appoint a pro-Israel, anti-Iran Secretary of State.

Will there be War or Peace? US-Iran Relations under a Trump Presidency

Those who supported Trump during the campaign will be offered a position in the White House including Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who was a vocal critic against Iran’s nuclear deal:

“We must commit ourselves to unconditional victory against them [terrorists],” Giuliani said. “This includes undoing one of the worst deals ever made – Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran that will eventually let them become a nuclear power and is putting billions of dollars back into a country that is the world’s largest supporter of terrorism.

“We are actually giving them the money to find the terrorists who are killing us and our allies. We are giving them the money – are we crazy? Donald Trump will make sure that any agreement with Iran meets the original goals of the UN and our allies – a non-nuclear Iran”

On October 12th CBS news reported what Trump’s Vice-President Mike Pence had said about Iran’s nuclear deal in a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina when he said “that a Trump administration would “rip up the Iran deal.”Trump took an aggressive stance towards Iran following recent incidents that occurred between the U.S. Navy and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). One of the incidents happened on August 24th when U.S. battleships (the USS Nitze and the USS Mason) and Iranian ships of the IRGC confronted each other in the Strait of Hormuz which could have easily led to a conflict. “Commenting on the incident, Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said the nation’s forces patrol the area to protect its territorial waters” according to an RT News report. The report also mentioned another incident that occurred on September 4th involving the USS Firebolt coastal patrol boat and an Iranian vessel in the Persian Gulf:

An American patrol ship had to change course in the Persian Gulf after an Iranian military vessel came within 100 yards (90 meters) and did not respond to attempts to contact it, US defense officials told Reuters. The incident happened on September 4, according to the news agency, which cites two US Defense Department officials. The USS Firebolt coastal patrol boat had to change course after a vessel of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard sailed directly into its path

The Washington Post published an article on September 9th titled ‘Trump: Iranian boats that make improper ‘gestures’ will be ‘shot out of the water’ on what Donald Trump had said during the campaign trail in Pensacola, Florida on the incidents involving both navies:

“And, by the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people, that they shouldn’t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water,” Trump said to thunderous applause. Soon the crowd began to chant: “USA! USA! USA!”

Trump’s posture towards Iran and its close allies including Hezbollah seems likely to be confrontational. One other problem facing the Middle East is Trump’s position on Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel which is extremely controversial and dangerous. In a provocative statement, Trump said he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem which would spark a conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Trump said “I have said on numerous occasions that in a Trump Administration, the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the one true capital of Israel.” As Trump’s advisor David Friedman told The Jerusalem Post in article titled ‘Trump adviser to ‘JPost’: President-elect will be best friend Israel ever had’ that the “Israelis are going to have a friend in president-elect Donald Trump “never seen before” by the State of Israel” after Trump’s victory speech in New York City. The Jerusalem Post continued:

“The level of friendship between the US and Israel is going to grow like never before, and it will be better than ever, even the way it was under Republican administrations in the past,” he told the Post. Friedman is said to be a leading candidate to become the new US ambassador to Israel

He said one of the administration’s first moves would be to follow through on a campaign promise that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, made last month, according to which her father would move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “It was a campaign promise, and there is every intention to keep it,” Friedman said. “We are going to see a very different relationship between America and Israel in a positive way”

According to The Jerusalem Post “one change he hinted at was the removal of the restriction on Israel not to ask the US for additional money.” What this means is that there is a possibility that the Trump administration will remove one of the restrictions on the 10-year $38 billion military aid deal that restricts the Israeli government to ask Washington for more U.S. taxpayer money. In other words, under a Trump administration, Israel would receive more funds if they ask for it. One other issue that will concern the Palestinians is the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and other Palestinian territories. The Wall Street Journal published an article titled ‘Trump Adviser: Israeli Settlement Building Not an Impediment to Peace’ on Jewish only settlements in the West Bank as told by Trump’s co-chair of the Israel Policy Committee during the presidential campaign, Jason Greenblatt:

Jason Greenblatt, who Mr. Trump named co-chair of an Israel policy committee during his campaign in July, on Thursday played down any risk from the building activity to peace prospects.

“Mr. Trump does not view the settlements as being an obstacle for peace,” Mr. Greenblatt told Israel’s Army Radio. “The two sides are going to have to decide how to deal with that region, but it’s certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activity should be condemned and that it is an obstacle to peace. It is not the obstacle to peace”

Trump called Obama’s and Clinton’s foreign policies in the Middle East (Iraq and Syria) and Northern Africa (Libya)“disasters”, but Trump’s policies are following in the same footsteps of previous administrations. Although Trump has suggested that he is opposed to targeting Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government and has emphasized attacking the Islamic State with Russia, Trump’s statements against Iran is provocative. Trump was called an anti-establishment candidate but is eying several Republican neoconservatives and Washington insiders from previous administrations. If Trump selects John Bolton, a neoconservative war hawk from the Bush administration who perceives Iran, Russia and China as enemies of the United States, the world would witness a rise in tensions or even a possible war against Iran. Trump believes that the Iranian nuclear deal would allow Iranian government to develop nuclear weapons that would eventually be used against the United States, Israel or Europe.

Russia is one of Iran’s largest trading partners. Russia and Iran also have extensive economic ties and are jointly working on various projects in the energy sector, port facilities, hydrocarbons and railways. They also have agreements in a joint oil exchange program, agriculture and telecommunications sectors. Major Russian oil companies such as Gazprom and Lukoil have been developing several Iranian oil and gas projects as well. RT Newsreported in August that “Russian President Vladimir Putin has praised the successful cooperation between Moscow and Tehran, and has expressed hope that a free trade zone can soon be established between Iran and the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union.” According to the report, Putin had said:

“Iran is Russia’s longtime partner. We believe that bilateral relations will benefit from the reduction of tensions around Iran following the comprehensive agreement on the Iranian nuclear program,” Putin said in a major interview with Azerbaijani state news agency Azertac released on Friday. He added that Iranian leaders shared his approach

China also has economic, political and social ties with Iran since the 1950’s. Press TV recently reported that both China and Iran have signed an agreement to elevate military cooperation and to fight the scourge of terrorism:

The agreement was inked by Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan and his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan in Tehran on Monday at the end of an earlier meeting between the two sides.

“The development of [Iran’s] long-term defense-military relations and cooperation with China is among the top priorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s defense diplomacy,” Dehqan said in the meeting.  He added that the two countries’ defense-military cooperation would guarantee regional and international peace and security

So the prospect for peace in the Middle East seems like a slim chance under a Trump presidency although he wants peace with Russia and to a point peace and economic cooperation with China. Will Trump or his newly appointed Secretary of State come to realize that war against Iran means war against Russia and China?

Posted in USA, China, RussiaComments Off on Peace with Russia and China, But More Wars in the Middle East?

Friendly with Putin, War against Muslims

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Friendly with Putin, War against Muslims: Trump Picks General Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor
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Media reports indicated Trump chose him. It’s unclear if he accepted. Likely so as otherwise consideration of him for the position would have been kept under wraps.

We’ll know either way soon. The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (NSA) needs no Senate confirmation.

Duties involve advising the president on national security issues – specifically domestic, foreign, and military policies, along with assuring cooperation between military branches and civilian intelligence agencies.

The 1947 National Security Act established the National Security Council, the NSA its head, the legislation also creating the CIA, America’s first peacetime intelligence agency, succeeding the wartime OSS, dissolved in 1945..

The late Chalmers Johnson once said America “will never again know peace, nor in all probability survive very long as a nation, unless we abolish the CIA, restore intelligence collecting to the State Department, and remove all but purely military functions from the Pentagon.”

He called the CIA the president’s praetorian guard, a private army operating extrajudicially, unaccountable to Congress or the public, menacing fundamental freedoms.

Flynn’s appointment as NSA is worrisome, if he accepts, as appears likely – a known Islamophobe, forced to resign as Obama’s Defense Intelligence Agency director, earlier calling “radical Islamism” a “cancer.”

He wants these elements eliminated without acknowledging America created and supports them, saying “(w)e will win the global war against radical Islamists.”

Last March, he lied, claiming “Brussels is their battlefield. Paris is their battlefield. San Bernardino is their battlefield” – all false flags, along with similar incidents in America and Europe, innocent patsies blamed for state-sponsored crimes.

“I’ve been at war with Islam” for decades, said Flynn, adding “fear of Muslims is rational.” Post-9/11, he was involved in torture and other disturbing practices.

He suggested killing family members of suspected terrorists is acceptable. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill said

“(a)long with Gen. Stanley McChrystal and Adm. William McRaven, Flynn was the embodiment of Donald Rumsfeld’s view that the world is the battlefield.”

In Iraq and Afghanistan, he “and JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) waged secret wars with the broader conventional wars and dramatically expanded the pace of night raids.”

Flynn as NSA “means that a very sophisticated, accomplished assassin could end up in a position of tremendous authority.”

At the same time, he’s friendly with Vladimir Putin, hostile to Iran, and according to Program on Peace-building and Rights director David Phillips, he reportedly lobbied for Turkish President Erdogan, raising “ethical concerns, cast(ing) doubt on his suitability for public office.”

“We’re in a world war,” said Flynn. But very few Americans recognize it, and fewer still have any idea how to win it.”

Appointing him NSA, if he accepts, isn’t an encouraging sign, suggesting Trump’s administration intends continued war on Islam – instead of ending what never should have begun.

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The “Left” Is No Longer Left or Progressive It Has Been Co-Opted

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An effective form of suppression and control is the co-optation of the so-called “progressive left” in such a way that self-described “progressives” or “leftists” find themselves unwittingly supporting terrorism.

Well-documented facts pertaining to the 9/11 wars, all supported by sustainable evidence, have barely made inroads into the collective consciousness of Western media consumers. Despite the presence of five years of sustainable evidence that contradicts the Western narratives, people still believe the “official” lies.

The consensus of ignorance is sustained by what Michel Chossudovsky describes as an “American Inquisition”. Beneath the protection of this psychological operation, the engineered enemy is Islam, and the Global War On Terrorism (GWOT) has become a brand to disguise imperial wars of aggression as “humanitarian”.

Thus, huge sums of public monies are diverted from worthwhile, domestic projects such as healthcare schools and roads, to support a criminal Project for a New American Century (PNAC) that is globalizing death, poverty, and destruction as the U.S led empire tries to impose a unilateral model of control over the world. The U.S is said to be “exceptional”, and therefore the rightful ruler. Manifest Destiny writ large.

Dissent is suppressed within the framework of corporate media monopolies. Predominant narratives are supported by corrupt “NGOs” – totally bereft of objectivity — and intelligence agency “fronts”. Real investigative journalism offering historical context and legitimate evidence are relegated to the fringes, far outside the domain of the broad-based “consensus of misunderstanding.” So-called “progressives” (presumably unwittingly) support Canada’s close relationships with Wahabbi Saudi Arabia, Apartheid Israel, and even the foreign mercenaries currently invading Syria (ie ISIS and al Nursra Front/al Qaeda).

“Progressive” War Propaganda: Deception with a Human Face. Image by Anthony Freda

Some of the more pernicious lies covering the escalating war on Syria include unsubstantiated memes that fit neatly into the propagandists’ toolbox of false representations, and of projecting the West’s crimes onto the victims (Syria and Syrians).

To clarify: the War on Syria is not a “civil” war; the “uprising” was not “democratic”; Assad does not “starve his own people”; Assad, does not “bomb his own people”; Assad is the democratically-elected president of Syria, and not a “brutal dictator”.

Conclusive evidence demonstrates, and has demonstrated for years, that the war is an invasion by Western proxies, which include ISIS and al Qaeda/al Nursra Front, and that there are no “moderates”.

The initial uprisings were marred by armed, foreign-backed criminals, against unarmed, innocent people, unarmed soldiers, and unarmed police. Peaceful grassroots protests were hijacked by these murderous foreign-backed elements (as was the case in Ukraine) – all consistent with “hybrid war” as elaborated by Andrew Korybko. The illegal sanctions imposed by the West – including Canada – coupled with terrorist practices of theft and hoarding of humanitarian aid – are responsible for the starvation.

Claims that Assad “kills his own people” were further debunked when the so-called “Caesar photos” evidence was proven to be a fraud. In fact, many Syrians criticize Assad for not carpet bombing terrorist occupied areas (as US occupiers did in Fallujah, for example). They sometimes refer to Assad as “Mr. Soft Heart”.

The disillusionment of the so-called “left” and “progressives” is exemplified by a piece from the “Socialist Project”: Solidarity With the People of Syria! Build the Antiwar Movement! where journalist Richard Fidler writes,

In that country,[Syria] the rebel cities that rose up four years ago in revolt against the brutal Bashar al- Assad dictatorship are now under a genocidal siege, bombed and assaulted from the air by Assad’s military, aided and abetted by Russian fighter jets and bombers. Their desperate fight for survival, if unsuccessful, will put paid to the Arab Spring and with it the potential for building a democratic, anti-imperialist governmental alternative in the Middle East for an extended period to come. Socialists everywhere have every interest in supporting the Syrian people and opposing that war.

This inversion of the well-documented truth is commonly accepted by so-called “progressives” and “leftists”. Thus, a firm foundation of lies that serves as a sanctified justification for global war and terror, remains strong.

The taboos need to be lifted, and the repeated lies contradicted.

We need to shatter the “Inquisition” which subverts freedom of thought and expression as it protects the criminal cabal perpetrating and orchestrating this global catastrophe. Truth and justice must prevail over lies and crimes. Currently, the opposite is the case.

Posted in USAComments Off on The “Left” Is No Longer Left or Progressive It Has Been Co-Opted

Will Donald Trump End Illegal US Sanctions on Russia? Praises Putin as a Good Leader, Better than Obama

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He praised Putin as a good leader, doing a great job, wanting to get along with him. Straightaway he should end US sanctions by executive order, influencing EU leaders to follow suit.

Imposed without Security Council authorization, they’re illegal under international law – based on phony “Russian aggression” claims, nonexistent intervention in Ukraine, and accommodating overwhelming Crimean sentiment to return the territory to Russia, correcting a historic mistake.

On his final foreign tour before leaving office in January, Obama met in Berlin with Germany’s Angela Merkel, Britain’s Theresa May, France’s Francois Hollande, Italy’s Matteo Renzi, and Spain’s Mario Rajoy – a summit glorifying dirty business as usual, showing unity against responsible change.

They expressed support for NATO, anti-populist globalization and widely despised TTIP (the pro-corporate, anti-consumer, anti-environment US/EU TPP equivalent), along with maintaining illegal sanctions on Russia.

The endorsed peace and stability while continuing to wage aggressive wars. Following their meeting, a White House statement said:

“The leaders agreed on the necessity of working collectively to move the transatlantic agenda forward, particularly on bringing stabilization to the Middle East and North Africa, as well as securing diplomatic resolution to the conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine.”

“The leaders also affirmed the importance of continued cooperation through multilateral institutions, including NATO.”

“On Syria, the President emphasized that de-escalation and a diplomatic solution to the ongoing conflict are the only viable ways to end the suffering, prevent another migration (sic) crisis, and move toward a political transition” – while continuing to support ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorists groups ravaging the country, supported by Pentagon and “coalition” warplanes.

“They unanimously agreed on the continued need for Russia to fully meet its commitments under the Minsk agreements and that Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia must remain in place until it does so.”

They ignored Moscow’s all-out efforts for conflict resolution, fully complying with Minsk, its good faith consistently undermined by Washington.

Unlike America and its rogue partners, Russia “never initiated  sanctions” against other nations (illegal under international law without Security Council authorization), Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained.

In Lima, Peru for the November 19 – 20 APEC Leaders’ Summit, Peskov said Putin and Obama may speak informally on its sidelines. No formal meeting was arranged.

Earlier ones achieved nothing toward normalizing bilateral relations – responsible change hopefully coming after Trump’s inauguration.

Posted in USA, RussiaComments Off on Will Donald Trump End Illegal US Sanctions on Russia? Praises Putin as a Good Leader, Better than Obama

“Doubts” Expressed by Trump Concerning The Downing of MH17

NOVANEWS
“Doubts” Expressed by Trump Concerning The Downing of MH17: Open Letter to the President-Elect of the U.S.
Issue: Death of 298 people in Malaysian civilian Boeing MH-17; downed by unknown perpetrators on 17th July 2014
 
donald-trump

Open Letter to Donald Trump, President-Elect of the United States of America 

Your election has raised hopes that easing of tensions, between U.S. and Russia, and peacemaking in Europe in general is achievable. Settlement of the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine and lifting the sanctions against Russia which is vital for the world community has a realistic chance now. With this in mind, there is also hope for a higher quality investigation into the disputed downing of MH17, as you expressed your doubts in an October 2015 interview, regarding the proof of Russian guilt: 

“They say it wasn’t them. It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them. I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.“ (MSNBC)

Indeed, we agree with you, we will never be sure, with the kind of investigation we have seen over the past two years. The official investigation of the “Dutch Safety Board“ (DSB) and the “Joint Investigation Team“(JIT) was neither independent nor convincing. This kind of investigation forms a huge burden particularly to the families who lost their loved ones in the downing of MH17. They need to know the truth. 

WE ARE ASKING YOU, TO PLEASE PUSH FOR A NEW INVESTIGATION. This could happen within an international framework like the U.N. comprising the following aspects: 

(1) A team of international, independent scientists and would exclude veto power for any government. This exclusion of veto is especially important, due to the overwhelming role of one of the involved parties, Ukraine. The main source of information to the DSB and JIT used for their official investigations was SBU, the Ukrainian secret service.

(2) Keeping all scenarios on the table.

(3) Declassifying and releasing “available satellite images” claimed by Secretary of State, John Kerry, on 20th of July 2014; or (if not) disclaiming their existence.

(4) Conducting forensic examination of impact holes (for metal residues) in the MH17 wreckage and reproducing pattern of damage by shelling tests (as usually done in crime cases). Completing key information fields, such as body forensics, voice recorder, radar data etc.

(5) Prior construction of, a clear path to an international, objective trial in the U.N. framework with judges from countries which are not connected with the crash.

FURTHERMORE, WE ARE ASKING YOU TO PLEASE INITIATE PEACE TALKS WITH ALL PARTIES CONCERNED (including but not limited to Russia, Ukraine, and the EU) aiming at settling the dispute and establishing a reconstruction plan for Eastern Ukraine including the compensation of the MH17 families.

Thank you so much in advance, for your attention to this matter.

– Independent journalists & experts on MH17 –

* Spokesman for media – Mr. Billy Six

e-mail Billy@six-newhagen.de

facebook BILLY SIX

tel. 0049 152 269 27 443

MARK BARTALMAI, journalist & Ukraine documentaries producer, GERMANY

BERND BIEDERMANN, missile defense colonel ret., military attaché ret. & book author, GERMANY

CHRISTOPHER BLACK, international lawyer on human rights / war crimes, CANADA

NORBERT FLEISCHER, investigative journalist, GERMANY

PROF. DR. ELMAR GIEMULLA, lawyer of German MH17 victims, GERMANY

DR. HERMANN HAGENA, airforce general ret. & author of MH17 military study, GERMANY

PROF. DSC. OTTO-FRIEDRICH HAGENA, physicist, GERMANY 

PETER HAISENKO, journalist, publisher & former “Lufthansa” pilot, GERMANY

FRANK HÖFER, journalist & film producer, GERMANY

DIETER KLEEMANN, airforce colonel / trainer ret. & book author, GERMANY

DR. JAMES O´NEILL, barrister on human rights & geopolitical analyst, AUSTRALIA 

JOOST NIEMÖLLER, journalist & MH17 book author, NETHERLANDS

GRAHAM PHILLIPS, investigative journalist, UNITED KINGDOM

HECTOR REBAN, political analyst & blogger on MH17, NETHERLANDS 

NORBERT K. REISBERG, Lt.-Col. ret., airforce pilot ret., Dipl. rer. mil., GERMANY

BILLY SIX, investigative journalist & book author, GERMANY

MAX VAN DER WERFF, blogger & private MH17 investigator, NETHERLANDS 

PROF. KAREL VAN WOLFEREN, journalist, political analyst & book author, NETHERLANDS 

Posted in USAComments Off on “Doubts” Expressed by Trump Concerning The Downing of MH17


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