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Uniting democracies has been the key international political trend of the last hundred years. Understanding this trend and enabling it to continue is the key to world political development.

What's New

New Book by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Kenneth Weisbrode
In Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers, historian Kenneth Weisbrode asserts that Old Diplomacyis not really that old—many of its concepts and methods date to the mid-nineteenth century—while the practices of New Diplomacy emerged only a couple of generations later. Moreover, "Diplomacy 2.0" and other variants of the post-Cold War era do not depart significantly from their twentieth-century predecessor: their forms, particularly in technology, have changed, but their substance has not. In this succinct overview, Weisbrode reminds us that to understand diplomatic transformations and their relevance to international affairs is to see diplomacy as an entrepreneurial art—and that, like most arts, it is adapted and re-adapted with reference to earlier forms. Diplomatic practice is always changing, and always continuous. To read more about this book, click here.

Kenneth Weisbrode, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is an Assistant Professor of History at Bilkent University, Turkey and has written and edited several books, including Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers; Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI; and The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America's Vital Alliance with Europe. He is also the co-founder of the Toynbee Prize Foundation's Network for the New Diplomatic History, and holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

New Book by Streit Council Board Member Richard Rosecrance
In The Resurgence of the West: How a Transatlantic Union Can Prevent War and Restore the United States and Europe, Richard Rosecrance calls for the United States to join forces with the European Union and create a transatlantic economic union. A U.S.-Europe community would unblock arteries of trade and investment, rejuvenate the West, and enable Western countries to deal with East Asian challenges from a position of unity and economic strength. Through this great merger the author offers a positive vision of the future in which members of a tightly knit Western alliance regain economic health and attract Eastern nations to join a new and worldwide international order. To read more about this book, click here.

At the Washington D.C. Summit on Cross Continental Cooperation, held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from November 4-7, Streit Council President Richard Conn Henry reviewed the history of the Streit Council, starting with Clarence K. Streit's self-publication of Union Now just prior to World War II, and continuing with the passing of the Atlantic Union Resolution in 1964. Henry also expounded his idea on a possible Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if adopted, would lead to a federal union with the European Union. His proposal can be found here.

Brendan Simms, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is a Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the think tank Project on Democratic Union, which supports a full political union of the Eurozone. He also founded and is the President of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank dedicated to fostering a strong British and European commitment to liberty; constitutional democracy; human rights; governmental and institutional reform; a robust foreign, security, and defense policy; and the transatlantic alliance. His publications include Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire 1714-1783 (2008) and Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001).

Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News

The U.S. Says It Has New Evidence That Russia Fired Artillery at Ukrainian Troops
25 July 2014 – AFP
The United States reported yesterday that it has evidence that Russian forces inside of Russia have been shelling Ukrainian army positions during the past two weeks. While the U.S. will not reveal the source of its information or specifics about the position of the Russian forces and the type of artillery used, American officials also say that the Russian military has been steadily increasing its troops along the Ukrainian border and is planning to deliver more advanced rocket launchers to pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. Citing commercial satellite photos, the U.S. has also alleged that Russia is building up its base at Rostov, which is the final staging area before weapons are smuggled to pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Ukrainian officials blame Russian forces for the downing of two Ukrainian fighter jets this past Wednesday, but the U.S. has not confirmed the accuracy of these accusations.
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Gaza conflict deaths pass 800 as Kerry pushes ceasefire
25 July 2014 – BBC
As the death toll in the conflict rises above 800, efforts to secure a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are intensifying. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Cairo, where negotiations have been held for the last few weeks, and the news that Secretary Kerry, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have scheduled a press conference this afternoon has raised hopes “for at least a limited deal.” Ultimately, Israel hopes to “keep its military in Gaza” and Hamas wants to “lift the siege on Gaza,” which it calls “the world’s biggest prison.” But beyond a “temporary pause in hostilities,” there are few details regarding what, if any, provisions this deal will make.
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U.S. displeased with plan to move Ospreys
24 July 2014 – The Japan News
A U.S. Defense Department official has made known his irritation with the Japanese government’s plan to transfer MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Okinawa Prefecture to Saga Prefecture. “We have not received any official request by” the Japanese government regarding the plan to move the tilt-rotor transport aircraft from the Futenma Air Base to Saga Airport, the official state Wednesday. On Tuesday, the Japanese government requested Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa to agree to the plan in order to reduce the problem in Okinawa of housing too many of the U.S. bases. It appears that the government may have done so without discussing with the U.S.
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Commission swamped by 150,000 replies to TTIP consultation
24 July 2014 – EurActiv
The European Commission’s consultation survey on the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) received 149,399 responses. Some preliminary data was made public by the Commission last night, but a full analysis of the responses will not be completed until November. With 52,008 responses or 34.81% of the total, the UK’s populace was the most vocal. 22.59% of the responses or 33,753 originated from Austria, 21.76% or 32,513 responses came from Germany, 6.55% or 9,791 hailed from France, 6.29% or 9,397 emanated from Belgium, 3.28% or 4,906 came from the Netherlands, and 1.7% or 2,537 originated from Spain. Thus, 96.98% of the responses came from only seven of the 28 member states. It was “one of the highest response rates ever for a Commission consultation,” the Commission wrote. The EU suspended negotiations with the United States on ISDS in January in order to hold this consultation. 569 organizations submitted replies; 11 of these were government institutions and regulators.
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Topic: Strengthening Eurozone Recovery Despite Lackluster French Performance
24 July 2014 – Multiple sources
A lackluster French economy and crises in the Ukraine and Middle East have so far not hindered the entire Eurozone’s recovery. Markit Economist Chris Williamson said: “Business activity picked up again in July to suggest that the economy is growing at one of the strongest rates we have seen in the past three years.” However, France “is stagnating at best,” while Germany “is growing at a robust 0.7 to 0.8 percent pace at the start of the third quarter.” However, geopolitical conflicts in the Ukraine and Middle East may have an effect on the recovery, especially if Europe implements sectoral sanctions against Russia. The strengthening recovery follows increased Chinese manufacturing and the introduction of new ECB policy measures in June including a negative deposit rate. Economist Peter Vanden Houte said: “Monetary policy will have to remain extremely accommodative for a long time to come to make sure that the economic recovery can withstand the looming headwinds.” French factory activity declined at its quickest rate this year. French private sector activity contracted for the third consecutive month, although at a slower rate. Germany’s service sector grew at its fastest rate in over three years.
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Lithuania Set to Join Euro Zone on January 1st
24 July 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
With a population of three million, Lithuania will become the 19th member of the Eurozone on January 1, 2015, European leaders said on Wednesday. The European Council fixed the exchange rate for the transition at 3.4528 litas to one euro. The expanded membership of the Eurozone triggers different voting rules. Every member state has had one vote at European Central Bank policy meetings. On January 1, there will be only four seats at the table for the five most populous countries, and eleven for the other fourteen members; thus, each of the five largest members will be denied a vote once every five meetings. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann has often found himself in singular opposition to ECB President Mario Draghi on issues such as the Outright Monetary Transactions program.
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Poland “Helped in CIA Rendition,” European Court Rules
24 July 2014 – BBC
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that Poland violated the European human rights convention by aiding the CIA in the rendition and torture of suspected terrorists and also obstructed the investigation by refusing to submit evidence. The two suspects who brought the case, a Palestinian and a Saudi who are alleged to be members of Al Qaeda, are currently inmates at Guantanamo Bay. They were arrested and brought to a secret prison in Poland in 2002, where they were held and tortured until 2003. The ECHR has ordered Poland to pay the two men 100,000 euros each. Poland objects that the ruling is premature, as the country has not finished conducting its own investigation that started in 2008. Similar complaints about "black sites" in Lithuania and Romania during the same period are also currently under investigation by the ECHR.
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Chinese man admits U.S. military sensor smuggling
24 July 2014 – BBC
Bo Cai, a Chinese national who was arrested last year attempting to smuggle a piece of U.S. military technology back to China, pled guilty today.  By attempting to “smuggle [the] sensors…to China…despite knowledge that [they] could not be exported without a license and that the [U.S. does not] issue licenses to export [them] to China,” Bo Cai directly violated the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, the Justice Department said in a subsequent statement. Because the sensors are “primarily manufactured for sale to the US Department of Defence [sic] for use in high-level applications,” and because Bo Cai obtained them through his cousin, a microbiology student at Iowa State University, this case appears to validate recent U.S. accusations of Chinese “industrial espionage.”
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Should the “right to be forgotten” be reviewed by an international court?
23 July 2014 – EurActiv
In May, the European Court of Justice ruled that individuals had the right to request of search engines such as Google to remove negative information that is irrelevant or not pertinent to the public interest from searches. Google has complied with the court’s ruling. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe, could allow companies to sue governments for treaty violations in international courts under the proposed investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision. Google could argue that it was unfairly treated, as the costly burden is imposed on it and not the article’s publisher. Some studies have found no relationship between other ISDS clauses and the investment they are purported to protect.
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Russian ties, trade lie behind EU sanctions rift
23 July 2014 – Reuters
Further EU sanctions against Russia will particularly hurt Italy and Germany, while encouraging greater capital flows from Russia to overseas British dependencies. The German economy is the most dependent on Russia, accounting for one-third of EU exports or approximately €36 billion. The most stalwart proponents of further sanctions—Poland, Sweden, and the UK—are also the ones with the least to lose. At almost €11 billion, Italian exports came in second to Germany. With exports of €8 billion, the Netherlands altered its stance in favor of harsher sanctions following the murder of 193 Dutch citizens. In terms of oil, the Netherlands receives disproportionate imports from Russia. Russian elites have invested considerable sums in Cyprus, making the country indisposed to further sanctions.
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EU Trade to Make up for the Loss of Iraq
23 July 2014 – The Daily Sabah
The Eurozone’s economic recovery is hoped to counter the trade Turkey has lost with Iraq. Turkish Exporter’s Assembly Chairman Mehmet Büyükekşi said exporters will recoup their lost trade by increasing their exports to the EU. Exports to Germany, France, Croatia, and Italy rose by 10%, 12%, 108%, and 18% respectively in June, while for the European Union as a whole exports rose 15%. While exports to Iraq fell by 21%, exports to Oman, Syria, Qatar, and South Korea rose by 181%, 94%, 154%, and 64% in the same month. Exports to the Middle East rose by 2%.
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Germany rejects calls to strip Russia of 2018 World Cup
23 July 2014 – BBC
The German government has rejected calls from allies of Chancellor Angela Merkel, including leading MP Michael Fuchs, to stop Russia hosting the 2018 football World Cup over the crash of the Malaysia Airlines airliner in Ukraine. Fuchs argued that stopping Russia from hosting the Cup would have a "stronger impact than sanctions." Russia is Germany's biggest trade partner in Europe, and German trade associations have said that new EU sanctions could hurt Germany. The interior minister for the state of Hessen, Peter Beuth, agreed with Fuchs, saying the World Cup in Russia would be "unimaginable" if President Vladimir Putin did not fully cooperate with the investigation. The Dutch football association said it was "too early" to review Russia's right to host the tournament, and that the MH17 investigation should take precedence.
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Pentagon Supports Emergency $225M for Israel's Iron Dome
23 July 2014 – Defense News
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter to Congressional leadership on Tuesday requesting $225 million in additional funding to accelerate production of Iron Dome missile-defense components for Israel. Israel requested the extra components and the Pentagon supports the request, which would come on top of the $176 million the Obama administration already requested for the program in the fiscal 2015 defense budget. In Congressional markups this past spring, House and Senate defense and appropriations panels have doubled the Pentagon’s fiscal 2015 budget request for the Iron Dome to $351 million. The House passed its bill in June but the Senate has yet to take up the measure. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said Wednesday morning that the additional money would come on top of the Pentagon’s original request since the congressional plus-ups have yet to be passed. He was unclear what accounts would be used to pay for any additional funding.
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UN’s Navi Pillay warns Israel of Gaza “war crimes”
23 July 2014 – BBC
At an emergency meeting in Geneva, Navi Pillay, the head of the UN Human Rights Council, condemned the actions of both the Israeli military and Hamas for their “disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life.” Ms. Pillay believes that, because “[the] principles of distinction and precaution are clearly not being observed,” there is a “strong possibility [that] war crimes [have been committed].” Israel's Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has responded to the accusation by dismissing the UN Human Rights Council as “anti-Israel” and shifting responsibility for the “regrettable” deaths of the Palestinian civilians — which comprise “about 74% of those [who have been] killed in Gaza” — onto those civilians themselves. This is “what happens,” Mr. Livni says, when they fail to heed the government’s “call…to vacate.”
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Israel's Gaza Incursion Sets Off Protests in Europe
23 July 2014 – New York Times
As conflict in Gaza escalates, several European capitals have seen thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators take to the streets and demand that Israel's actions be stopped. Most of these protests have been peaceful, but several in France have flared up into blatantly anti-Semitic attacks that have European Jews and European leaders worried. In Paris, eight synagogues were attacked in the last week alone, and during protests on Monday, Jewish shops were targeted with smoke bombs, stones, and glass bottles. 
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Syria says hopes new peace mediator will be fair
23 July 2014 – Reuters
Syria advised a recently appointed international moderator to be "objective and honest" as he pursues an end to the conflict, Syrian television reported on Wednesday. This was the first reaction of Damascus for the selection of Staffan de Mistura by UN chief Ban Ki-moon two weeks ago. Mistura has been a UN official for 30 years and a letter sent to the UN by the Syrian foreign ministry asked Mistura to have "respect for the choices of the Syrian people." Mistura has dual citizenship with Italy and Sweden and is a former UN special ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq. He is faced with a conflict that has killed thousands, displaced millions and exacerbated religious differences throughout the Middle East.
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Japan Is Building Two More Aegis Antimissile Ships
23 July 2014 – Global Security Newswire
The Japanese Defense Ministry will seek financing for two added Aegis destroyers in forthcoming budget proposals. The plan is to begin building the first warship in fiscal 2015 and to start the second one in fiscal 2016. Japan’s plans to increase its sea-based capability to down launched ballistic missiles is happening as North Korea recently is carrying out a high number of ballistic-missile tests. The selection of a new defense chief in South Korea could cause the country to become more agreeable to hosting an innovative U.S. missile defense system. “The U.S.[Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system], if deployed on the Korean Peninsula, will be helpful in controlling North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations and strengthening the security posture on the peninsula,” Defense Minister Han Min-koo stated in a recent interview.
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Iran, P5+1 talks to resume in September
23 July 2014 – Albawaba News
Iran and the P5+1 will continue their negotiations to reach a final arrangement over Tehran’s nuclear energy program in September, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham states. “September 1 has been set for the first round of talks during the extended period,” Afkham said on Wednesday. She also said that they would likely hold meetings before the new round of negotiations. She stressed that the extension of talks does not mean their failure. On the other side, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Tuesday said that the P5+1 group has no “everlasting chance” of reaching a final agreement with Iran. Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany agreed on the extension of talks until November 24. The two sides made a temporary deal in Geneva, Switzerland, on November 23, 2013, that lasts for six months. With the deal, the six countries are providing Iran with some sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit certain nuclear activities.
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Syrian opposition coalition dissolves interim government
22 July 2014
The Western-backed National Coalition of Syrian (NCS) opposition members said on Tuesday it had voted to remove its "interim government" and form a new one within the month. Efforts to create a practical government-in-exile for Syria's opposition has been difficult. The NCS is the chief body representing the rebels by the U.S. and other world powers, but it has little influence over resistance fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad. The group stated on Tuesday it was disbanding its temporary cabinet to "create new ground for work on the basis of moving the government into the interior as soon as possible, and employing Syrian revolutionary capabilities." Critics have accused Prime Minister Ahmad Tumeh of being ineffective, and he underwent a political defeat this month at a coalition general assembly meeting. The coalition statement said Tumeh and other ministers would continue to work until the new government was formed. The dissolution of the government comes after the group elected Hadi al-Bahra to replace Jarba. Bahra has close ties with Saudi Arabia and has been chief negotiator at U.S. and Russian-sponsored peace talks in Switzerland.
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Lithuania Slams French Warship Deal With Russia During Ukraine Crisis
22 July 2014 – Defense News
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite said Tuesday the European Union was compromising its values to protect trade ties with Russia, condemning a French agreement with Moscow for two French Mistral warships by stating that the sale of military technology to Russia under current circumstances “cannot be tolerated.” Grybauskaite also warned that “indecisive” EU policy would mean “a direct invitation for the aggressor to be more aggressive and go further.” Britain is calling for tougher measures against Russia, but France and Germany, who have important trade ties to Moscow, have been more reluctant.
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Poland: NATO Must Beef Up Eastern Flank
22 July 2014 – Defense News
Presidents from nine ex-communist NATO members met in Warsaw on Tuesday for talks on how to re-enforce the alliance’s eastern frontier as it faces a resurgent Russia., described as the “most important security challenge since the end of the Cold War” by Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. Several former Soviet NATO members have asked the Alliance for permanent “boots on the ground” in the region amid the sharp escalation of fighting between government troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Senior NATO officials have said decisions on the possible permanent deployment of alliance forces throughout its eastern flank can be expected in September. Komorowski also said that in a Tuesday telephone call, U.S. President Barack Obama reiterated a June pledge of $1 billion dollars (€741 million) in military funding for U.S. allies on NATO’s eastern border.
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EU to look at financial services, defense, energy in Russia sanctions
22 July 2014 – Reuters
European Union foreign ministers have requested that the European Commission keep in mind Russian defense, energy and financial services sectors when looking at new sanctions for Moscow over the eastern Ukraine conflict, said Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans. "We have decided today that the list of persons under sanctions will be enlarged and a list will be submitted to COREPER (EU ambassadors) by Thursday (24 July)," Timmermans told reporters while he was leaving a meeting with EU foreign ministers. "We also decided that the Commission will be tasked to look at a number of potential measures in a number of fields, including defense, dual-use goods, high-tech goods including in the energy sector and financial services," stated Timmermans.
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Bulgaria's Defense Min Vows Support for Macedonia's EU, NATO Bids
22 July 2014
The defense ministers of Bulgaria and Macedonia have communicated their shared desire for teamwork between the two countries militaries. Macedonian Defense Minister Zoran Jolevski met with his Bulgarian counterpart on Tuesday on a formal visit to Bulgaria. Naydenov stated that Bulgaria had repeatedly given its support for the European and Euro-Atlantic integration of the Western Balkans. He also brought attention to Bulgaria's backing of Macedonia's EU and NATO membership bid. Bulgaria's Defense Minister said that Bulgaria anticipated Macedonia to be a good neighbor. Naydenov suggested that the bilateral collaboration with militaries would be a good place to start. In his statement, the Jolevski drew attention to the solid relations between the two countries. He pointed out that Macedonia had a deliberate objective of joining NATO and the EU.
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EU Foreign Affairs Council approves decision to send police mission to Ukraine
22 July 2014 – Kyiv Post
In Brussels, at a meeting, on Tuesday, the foreign ministers of the EU member states decided to approve sending a police mission to Ukraine as part of the EU's Common Security and Defense Policy, stated the press office of the European Council.
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Bulgaria calls for more NATO troops in southeastern Europe
22 July 2014 – Reuters
Bulgaria asked for an increase of NATO troops in southeastern Europe and the Black Sea, as well as more joint military exercises, to help improve security in the area. Bulgaria was a close ally of Russia but joined NATO in 2004 and the European Union three years later. "The events in Ukraine proved that we cannot take peace and security in Europe for granted," President Rosen Plevneliev stated at a meeting in Warsaw with NATO leaders in central and eastern Europe. He also said Bulgaria will increase its defense spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2015 and then gradually bring it to 2 percent. Bronislaw Komorowski said in a statement that a NATO summit planned for September should bring ideas for improving defense capabilities of the Eastern section of the alliance. On Monday, Romanian President Traian Basescu criticized the EU for a soft position toward Russia after the shooting down of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine last week.
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Merkel eyes portfolio for Oettinger
22 July 2014 – EurActiv
German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants the current European Energy Commissioner, Günther Oettinger, to be the next Trade Commissioner. The German Chambers of Industry of Commerce welcomed the development, while one TTIP opponent has said that the energy commissioner “…showed no concern for voices from civil society.” While there were earlier rumors about Oettinger staying at his current post, no commissioner has ever done this. Finland, Spain, Latvia, and Slovakia are all vying for the Trade Commissioner post. It is thought that member states will announce their Commission nominees by the end of July, although less than half have done so already. European leaders want to complete the appointments for the next commission at their next EU summit in Brussels on August 30. While only one woman has been formally designated thus far, Commission President-Elect Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted to increase the number of women in the upcoming commission. The Parliament’s president has said the parliament would not sanction an overly male-dominated commission.
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Weaker Euro is a Bear Necessity
22 July 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
UniCredit believes the euro may be overvalued by 16.6% despite already falling 1.8% from this time last year and 3.5% from the single currency’s zenith this year on May 8. It estimates that the common currency should be about $1.16 and not the current $1.35. The euro’s strength hurts European exporters. The Federal Reserve’s loose monetary policy has contributed to the euro’s continued strength. However, the Federal Reserve will probably stop purchasing bonds in October, while the European Central Bank will launch a long-term bank loan scheme in September. This divergence in monetary policy may help weaken the single currency, but it will certainly not happen in the short-term.
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Draghi Cedes Euro Control to Yellen on Fed Rate Wagers
22 July 2014 – Bloomberg Businessweek
Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen caused the euro to depreciate last week to just under $1.35 when she said interest rates may increase sooner than anticipated. Euro-dollar traders have said they do not foresee any significant policy changes from the European Central Bank after it made unprecedented interest rate cuts on June 5. However, the June 5 policy changes have had little impact, and the single currency edged up 0.2% after the ECB’s action. The crises in Ukraine and Gaza have also had little impact on the euro’s exchange rate. Paresh Upadhyaya of the Boston-based Pioneer Investment Management said “…now it’s the U.S. leg of it that’s really moving the euro.”
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S. Korea, U.S., Japan begin search-and-rescue exercise off peninsula
21 July 2014 – Kyodo News International
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan began a two-day search-and-rescue exercise in waters south of the Jeju Island on Monday. The exercise, called SAREX, is held once or twice a year. It includes the South Korean and U.S. navies, and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. October was the last time a drill of this kind occurred in South Korea's southern waters. The U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington that reached South Korea on July 11 for a joint exercise with South Korea also contributed to the latest trilateral drills. North Korea has increased tensions with South Korea in recent weeks by firing rockets, short-range ballistic missiles and artillery ammunitions into the sea off its eastern coast.
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ECB to publish “minutes” of policy meetings
21 July 2014 – RTE News
The European Central Bank recently stated that it would release the minutes of its policy meetings from January 22, 2015 onwards. The Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan all already follow this practice. Past objections to this practice have fallen by the wayside, as the bank thinks improved transparency might help it increase low Eurozone inflation. ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank’s monthly policy meetings will be held every six weeks to allow financial markets to respond to the minutes and policy changes of the previous meeting. The votes of board members are unlikely to be included in the minutes. The minutes are anticipated to be released three to five weeks after meetings.
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Threat by British to quit EU could prove beneficial for Ireland
21 July 2014 – The Irish Independent
While a British exit from the EU would be a fiasco for Ireland and could destabilize the union by boosting anti-EU forces, reforms aimed to keep the UK in the union could be useful for Ireland, according to Colm McCarthy of the Irish Independent. British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would hold a referendum on British membership of the European Union following a renegotiation of Britain’s status if his party obtains a majority in the next elections in May 2015. However, Labour, which is unlikely to hold such a plebiscite, is slightly ahead in the polls, and most observers predict another hung parliament. Cameron hopes to persuade Europe to introduce a number of reforms, some of which could require difficult treaty changes, after a Tory election victory to sway the UK’s voters to stay in the EU. 
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MH17 Bodies to go to Netherlands
21 July 2014 – Yahoo News and Agencies
Four days after the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in eastern Ukraine, Dutch forensic experts were able to reach the rebel-controlled crash site along with a team of monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The bodies of the victims were loaded into Soviet-era refrigerator railcars by separatists. An emergency command center has been set up in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which is out of the conflict area. Specialists from several countries have flown to Kharkiv to assist with the inspection process. From Kharkiv, the bodies are set to be transported to the Netherlands - the flight's country of origin - where they will be identified. Russia still denies involvement despite accusations from the United States and various European states. The European Union is likely to increase its sanctions on Russia, having imposed relatively light penalties only one day before flight MH17 was shot down.
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EU meeting set to speed, not deepen, sanctions on Russia
21 July 2014 – Reuters
In the wake of the downing of flight MH17 and the supposed expansion of its sanctions on Russia, the EU “is not likely to punish Russia…beyond [merely] speeding up the imposition of already agreed [upon] sanctions” at today’s ministerial meeting. The U.S., as well Britain, France and Germany, have said they are “willing to suffer the economic consequences” of issuing “a more forceful response” to Russia, but there are several factors which confound this possibility. First, “[several] diplomats [have] said [that] more sweeping economic sanctions [can] only be [imposed] by heads of government.” Second, the only country with a “moral mandate to demand a resolute, firm reaction” is the Netherlands, which lost 193 citizens in the crash, but it has yet to take a strong stance in one direction or the other.  And finally, in the words of one European diplomat, “[energy] sanctions would most likely derail the fragile European recovery…and could even lead to a complete economic collapse in certain member states.”
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Airliner Strike Intensifies Urgency for E. European Procurement, Cooperation; Regional NATO Leaders To Meet in Warsaw
20 July 2014 – Defense News
The shoot down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger aircraft over eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists are fighting against Ukraine’s pro-government troops, is expected to be front and center this week during a meeting of Eastern European NATO member states in Warsaw. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and his counterparts from the three Baltic States, which comprise Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as the presidents of Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Bulgaria, are set to meet July 22 in Warsaw to discuss defense and security cooperation. The downing of Malaysian passenger plane is also expected to speed up plans for joint weapons purchases. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced that Russia’s direct military involvement in the conflict necessitates that the Ukrainian Armed Forces modify their “tactical approach” to the ongoing operation against pro-Russian separatists.
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EU’s Next Challenges Are Geopolitical
20 July 2014 – The Wall Street Journal
As May’s European elections proved, the European Union’s greatest problems have been the extremely sluggish recovery, high unemployment, and rising anti-EU opinion. That is until the worsening of the Ukrainian crisis. If conclusive evidence proves that the Russian-backed rebels were responsible for the Malaysian airlines plane crash, then European leaders will be hard pressed to ignore calls for further sanctions despite the economic consequences. Market volatility has remained low despite the crash and long-term instability on Europe’s southern and eastern borders. Regulators argue that reforms have made economies more resilient to shocks; however, they have not been tested. German GDP growth has weakened as a result of Russian sanctions. Southern Europe is witnessing rising levels of immigration, as migrants escape conflicts on boats across the Mediterranean. The EU needs a common immigration policy if it wants to maintain Schengen’s freedom of movement and stem the rise of anti-EU populism; this deficiency means countries with an external border bear the brunt of the costs for enforcing and policing this border. Jean-Claude Juncker has said no country would be admitted to the union in the next five years; this means the EU will lack its traditional carrot for stability on its borders.
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If Europe has a future, is it to the East or the West?
20 July 2014 – The Irish Times
Despite the failure of European leaders to come to a consensus on a number of senior EU posts this month including the High Representative, many are still discussing the future direction of the European Union amid the crisis with Russia and fears of an economic downturn in China. Europe is currently trying to deepen its economic relations with the U.S. through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a bilateral free trade agreement. While the agreement may help Europe’s recovery, it also could lower regulations in both entities. The U.S. Senate would likely have to relinquish its power to amend the treaty and simply agree to vote on the treaty’s entirety if the current negotiations are to intensify. Revelations of NSA spying could hinder growing transatlantic ties in the short term, while the growth of American energy resources is attractive for those Europeans who hope to reduce the continent’s reliance on Russia.
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Ankara proposes free trade plans to Russia
20 July 2014 – Hurriyet Daily News
Turkish Economics Minister Nihat Zeybekci suggested a free trade agreement to his Russian counterpart Alexei Ulyukayev at a meeting of the G20 in Sydney. Turkey reportedly wants to establish a free trade area with Russia’s custom union. Russia is Turkey’s largest trade partner after the European Union. In 2013, bilateral trade accounted for $32.7 billion. Turkey is increasingly frustrated with the European Union over its refusal to allow the country to join the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) before negotiations are concluded. Turkey concluded a customs union with the EU in 1995 that prevents it from placing trade restrictions on products coming from countries that have free trade agreements with the EU. Turkey also does not gain greater access to these markets through these deals. The NATO member’s proposed trade deal with Russia is a message to the West, which has seen its relations with Russia deteriorate since the start of the Ukraine crisis.
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Topic: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
18 July 2014 – Multiple sources
The international community acted quickly in response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over a rebel-held area in eastern Ukraine. At the urging of Britain, the United Nations Security Council met in an emergency session today and called for a "full, thorough, and independent international investigation" into the jet's downing. Meanwhile the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe negotiated with Russian and Ukrainian officials to gain the permission of pro-Russian separatists for OSCE monitors to visit the crash site. According to American officials, the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Rebel forces are not believed to have the capability on their own to carry out such an attack and it is suspected that Russian forces were involved. For their part, Russian officials accuse the Ukrainians of carrying out the attack. So far, all three parties deny responsibility.
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Israel ready to widen Gaza offensive
18 July 2014 – BBC
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now calling for “the [significant] widening the ground operation” in the Gaza Strip to enable its “forces…to hit the terror tunnels [which cross] from Gaza into Israel's territory.” The expansion of this operation is due to the “[impossibility of dealing] with the tunnels only from the air” as well as the fact that, during both the Egyptian and the UN ceasefires, “Hamas continued to fire.” On the periphery, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in Cairo, furiously negotiating toward a full truce. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius is on his way to Egypt as well, and showed his support for “a lasting truce,” arguing that both “Israel's security needs and Palestinian economic needs” must be preserved. 
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U.S. plans more Osprey training flights in mainland Japan
17 July 2014 – Stars and Stripes
Marine Corps Ospreys will be flying more over mainland Japan due to the U.S. military trying to reduce training hours on Okinawa. The Japanese government is in the course of constructing facilities at U.S. bases on the mainland so the majority of the training can be done outside Okinawa, according to Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. The 2012 stationing of the MV-22 Ospreys at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma encountered with resistance by many citizens in Okinawa who were afraid of the aircraft’s safety record. On Tuesday, Ospreys restocked at Naval Air Station Atsugi, near Tokyo, before dropping off personnel at Camp Fuji, officials said. Two Ospreys are scheduled to refuel at Yokota Air Base on Saturday on their way to the July 20 Sapporo Air Show. The Ospreys are allowed to operate at all U.S. bases in Japan, according to the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The mainland flights follow selected routes that are already used by other Japanese and U.S. military aircraft.
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