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.
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).
The United Kingdom has assumed the presidency of the G8, which will meet in Northern Ireland from June 17-18, 2013. Two thematic challenges that the G8 must address are: economic difficulties in developed and developing countries, and violent conflicts that demand the attention of the international community. For more information on this year’s agenda, click here.
Streit Council Board Member Steve Hanke receives third doctorate, Honoris Causa, at Istanbul Kultur University on April 16, 2012. He served as a Senior Economist on President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisers, engineered more major currency reforms than any living economist, and has written over 20 books and hundreds of articles on currency reform and currency boards. Hanke currently holds numerous positions, including that of Professor of Applied Economics at Johns Hopkins University and Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. For additional information on Hanke's achievements, click here.
Streit Council Board Member Steve Hanke’s new article “The U.S.A. and Europe: A Graphical Status Report” has been published in the March 2012 issue of GlobeAsia. In this article, Hanke argues that important economic indices are not providing a rosy picture of America’s immediate economic future. He also notes that “what happens in the U.S. and elsewhere will be conditioned by what occurs in Europe” and provides evidence that shows that Europe is headed toward a deflationary slump due to events in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. Hanke does note, however, that President Obama’s reelection chances have improved by about 10% since September 2011. To read this article in full, click here.
Streit Council Board Members Steve Hanke and Richard Conn Henry Propose a NEW CALENDAR in an article published in the January 2012 issue of GlobeAsia. In "Changing Times" the authors explore the adoption of a new modern calendar and the use of Universal Time rather than time zones to realize economic benefits such as banks and businesses (if desired) being open at the same time around the world and unambiguous scheduling of conference calls. In addition, the adoption of a modern calendar would allow school, sports and business schedules to be the same every year. To view the proposed Hanke-Henry Permanent Calendar, click here. To read this article in full, please click here.
The Streit Council is now publishing the Washington Watch, a weekly round-up of events hosted by members of the Washington DC policy and academic community that focus on issues related to transatlantic relations and inter-democracy cooperation. Updated weekly, the Washington Watch provides a listing of local events of interest to the Council and likeminded thinkers.
Advisory Board Member Stanley R. Sloan’s new article “The War on Terror and Transatlantic Relations” has been published in the September 2011 issue of Atlantisch Perspectief (Atlantic Perspective). In this article, Sloan explores both the unifying and divisive pressures that the War on Terror has placed on transatlantic relations. On balance, he argues that the divisive pressures which the War on Terror has placed on the transatlantic relationship have overshadowed the unifying pressures. This might begin to change, however, now that American public opinion has shifted away from support for the war in Afghanistan and closer to European opinion. To read this article in full, click here.
Paul Findley's new book on U.S. foreign policy - Speaking Out: A Congressman's Lifelong Fight Against Bigotry, Famine, and War
In his twenty-two years as an Illinois congressman and in the years since he left office, Paul Findley has fought to eradicate famine, end wars, and eliminate bigotry in U.S. foreign policy. This sweeping political memoir opens with Findley’s early days in rural Pittsfield, Illinois, and chronicles his service during six administrations in Washington. His many accomplishments in Congress include authoring the Famine Prevention Act, coauthoring the 1973 War Powers Resolution, leading agricultural trade missions to the Soviet Union and China, and strongly opposing the Vietnam War. This autobiography is also a no-holds-barred critique of Israel’s lobby and its toll on the national interests of the United States. Few politicians are so openly critical of their government, and Findley’s opinions on what he believes to be disastrous foreign policy provide a unique behind-the-scenes perspective on the shaping of these policies in the latter half of the twentieth century. For a preview, click here. Additional information about this book can be found here.
On December 10, 2010, the Free University of Tbilisi awarded Steve H. Hanke, a Professor of Applied Economics at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, a Doctorate of Economics, Honoris Causa for his pioneering work on currency boards and economic reforms in emerging-market countries. On the occasion of this award, Prof. Hanke’s new book, A Blueprint for a Safe, Sound Georgian Lari, which he co-authored with his long-time collaborator and former Hopkins post-doctoral fellow Dr. Kurt Schuler, was released. For more information on Steve Hanke’s accolades, click here.
Streit Council Launches New Blog, Streit Talk
The Streit Council for a Union of Democracies is pleased to announce the launch of its new weblog, Streit Talk. This new site is designed to keep you informed on the latest transatlantic news, while offering expert opinion on our core areas of transatlantic study, including economy, energy and environment, security and global governance. Also feel free to interact with our staff and other transatlantic policy watchers in the comments section. You can head over to our new blog by clicking here.
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
Ashton: Ukraine “intends to sign” agreement with EU
12 December 2013 – Voice of America
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton came away from a recent meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich with the indication that he actually “‘intends to sign’” an association agreement with the EU. Yanukovich’s erstwhile rejection of the agreement, in favor of a similar offer from Russia, has proven troublesome for his administration—which is beset by popular protests and resignation calls by the opposition party—and vexing for the EU, which hoped to sign this agreement as a step towards potential integration. His belief is that turning away from Russia would place his country in an untenable financial situation because its exports to Russia are necessary to maintain the Ukrainian economy. In their conversation, Ashton reassured Yanukovich that “that those challenges…can be addressed by…support…from the European Union [and] the kind of investment that” will come from signing the association agreement. Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov is asking for $27.5 billion in assistance from the EU before it will sign the agreement.
Ukrainian leader calls for dialogue after police sweep fails
11 December 2013 – Los Angeles Times
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has turned conciliatory, offering dialogue with his opponents after he sent security forces in to clear protestors. Early Wednesday, several thousand riot police armed with clubs and shields were sent into Independence Square to dismantle barricades and push the protestors out. The action drew additional protesters in and the police failed to disperse the crowds. Police withdrew by daylight and left 467 people injured. Yanukovich stated later in the day: “I invite representatives of all political forces, priests, public figures to hold the nationwide dialogue…In order to achieve compromise, I urge the opposition not to refuse, not to choose the path of confrontation and ultimatums.” He again promised to not use force against protestors, a promise made by police chief just the day before several thousand entered Independence Square early yesterday. Opposition leader Vitali Klitscho responded: “There can be no compromise with thugs and dictators.”
U.S. Lawmakers Warn of Sanctions if Ukraine Violence Worsens
11 December 2013 – Voice of America
U.S. lawmakers are considering legislation to deny visas to Ukrainian officials or freeze their U.S. assets if there is an escalation of violence against anti-government demonstrators. Both Democrats and Republicans have condemned crackdowns on protests by President Viktor Yanukovich. Concerns in Congress arose after Ukrainian authorities sent of riot police with bulldozers into a protest camp overnight, resulting in injuries of dozens of police and demonstrators. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee, stated: “We're going to be watching Yanukovich's conduct very carefully." Senate and House of Representatives aides reported staff level discussions about sanctions, visa restrictions or legislation along the lines of the Magnitsky Act.
France's Hollande Visits CAR After 2 French Soldiers Killed
11 December 2013 – France24
French President François Hollande arrived in the Central African Republic on Tuesday following the deaths of two French soldiers who were part of a UN-backed military operation in the country aimed at halting inter-religious violence. Nicolas Vokaer, 23, and Antoine Le Quinio, 22, were killed in a short-range firefight near the airport in Bangui. Their deaths occurred a day after French troops began disarming militias. The former French colony fell into conflict after Muslim Seleka rebels ousted president François Bozizé in a March coup, leading to outbreaks of inter-religious violence with militias from the country’s Christian majority. Hollande called for swift elections in the country in an interview last week.
11 December 2013 – Multiple Sources
According to The Tehran Times, a European Union delegation is set to visit Iran later this week, which will mark “the first such visit to Iran in six years.” This delegation—comprised of officials from Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, and “several other members”—reflects the EU’s hope for successful, continuing diplomatic relations with the new, more moderate regime. A separate French delegation is also traveling to Tehran in the hopes of fostering and “[expanding] parliamentary cooperation” between the two nations. Meanwhile, Foreign Policy reports that the Obama administration has managed to forestall recent efforts by the Senate to impose new sanctions on Iran during the course of U.S.-Iran negotiations because Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson said that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry made “a strong case” for doing so. Moreover, Congressional efforts to include further sanctions as a rider in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act “appear unlikely to succeed.” Nonetheless, the Senate is still working on legislation which requires the administration to certify, monthly, that Iran is abiding by the Geneva agreement and, if Iran is deemed to be in violation, authorizes Congress to “take away the sanctions relief and make new efforts to target Iran's mining and constructions sectors.”
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Ukraine Protesters Reclaim City Center After Police Raids
11 December 2013 – Bloomberg News
Protesters in Ukraine reclaimed the center of their demonstrations in Kiev today after a clash with police overnight that left dozens injured and arrested. U.S. and European officials condemned the actions of the police, which withdrew as protesters rebuilt barricades around Independence Square. The protests began November 21 when Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich refused to sign a trade deal with the EU. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland stated: “I made it absolutely clear that what happened last night is absolutely inadmissible in security terms in a democratic state…It is still possible to save Ukraine’s European future and that’s what we want to see the President lead. That is going to require immediate security steps and getting back into a conversation with Europe and the IMF.” Nuland made the remarks after a meeting with Yanukovich and a visit to the square.
Ukraine leaders meet, fail to break stalemate
10 December 2013 – Los Angeles Times
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and his last three predecessors held a meeting Tuesday, but were not able to break the stalemate. The men met in a nationally televised round table discussion to try and find a solution to the crisis that developed after Yanukovich refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. During the discussion Yanukovich stated that Ukraine was still moving toward European integration. Former President Viktor Yushchenko suggested that Ukraine sign a political pact with the EU while working on an economic one. Yanukovich responded that Ukrainian envoys are traveling to Brussels Wednesday to resume integration talks. Yanukovich stated: “We want to get conditions which would satisfy Ukraine, Ukrainian producers and Ukrainian people today…As soon as we reach mutual understanding and compromise [my] signature will be there.” Yanukovich met with EU Envoy Catherine Ashton and also promised to release some protestors. Opposition leaders were not invited to the meeting of the presidents and they were not impressed with the results. Opposition lawmaker Natalia Agafonova said “[i]t was not a dialogue but a monologue on the part of Yanukovich, who once again didn’t say anything the country wanted to hear.” Meanwhile fresh riot police and interior troops were bused into Kiev overnight and began dismantling barricades around government buildings.
Western Diplomats Try to Break Ukraine Political Deadlock
10 December 2013 – Voice of America
U.S. and EU officials arrived in Ukraine on Tuesday in an attempt to break the ongoing deadlock with diplomacy. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met with the three main leaders of the opposition. At the same time, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton met with President Viktor Yanukovych. Later, Ashton visited the protest camp and met with opposition leaders as well. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Ukraine’s president on Monday night and urged a peaceful solution. Nationwide street protests are now entering the third week.
Researcher: Chinese Hackers Spied on Europeans Before G20 Meeting
10 December 2013 – Voice of America
Chinese hackers eavesdropped on the computers of five European foreign ministries before last September's G20 Summit, which was dominated by the Syrian crisis, according to research by computer security firm FireEye. The hackers infiltrated the ministries' computer networks by sending emails to staff containing tainted files. When recipients opened these documents, malicious code was loaded on their personal computers. For about a week in late August, California-based FireEye said its researchers were able to monitor the “inner workings” of the main computer server used by the hackers to conduct their reconnaissance and move across compromised systems.
South Korea warns of North Korea’s “reign of terror”
10 December 2013 – BBC
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is making moves to consolidate his authority. In what South Korean president President Park Geun-hye is calling “a reign of terror,” Kim Jong-un has purged Chang Song-thaek – his uncle one of his regime’s top military leaders. President Park continued, calling the move part of a “large-scale purge in order to strengthen Kim Jong-un's power” and she worries that it may make the “South-North…relations [even] more unstable.” The official justification for Chang Song-thaek’s removal is that he attempted to “challenge the party through factional acts [meant] to undermine the…leadership of the party,” in addition to committing “’depraved’ acts such as womanising [sic] and drug abuse.” The state newspaper Rodong Sinmun has declared that North Korea cannot abide and must “never forgive any traitors,” which appears to preclude any possibility of Song-thaek being “rehabilitated” as he was after being removed from duty back in 2004.
NATO to setup cyber attack response teams
9 December 2013 - DefenseWorld
NATO plans to set up two response teams to react in the event of a cyber attack. According to an official, they are expected to be up and running within weeks. In 2012, NATO reported 2,500 significant cases of cyber attacks. Figures for 2013 have yet to be tallied, though they are no dramatic increases or reductions. The NATO Cyber Incident Response Center underwent a 58 million dollar upgrade that better prevents and responds to cyber attacks. The NATO official said of its future and implementation: “Looking to 2014, we expect to see the operational benefits of the increased detection and response capability which we are currently achieving by upgrading the NCIRC. Our defensive efforts will focus on tuning our new system to maximum effect.”
Putin Dissolves State News Agency, Tightens Grip on Russia Media
9 December 2013 – Voice of America
Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russian media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency, RIA Novosti, and creating a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which will promote Moscow's image abroad. While most Russian media outlets are already loyal to Putin and opponents get little air time, this move underlies the lingering concerns Putin has regarding ratings and image. The head of the new agency is a conservative news anchor, Dmitry Kiselyov.
Ukraine president to meet with past leaders, seek end to crisis
9 December 2013 – Los Angeles Times
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich announced a nationally televised round table with his three predecessors to resolve the political crisis. Yanukovich announced the plans Monday when the crisis escalated after armed riot police stormed the headquarters of an opposition party. Yanukovich will also meet with EU envoy Catherine Ashton. Kiev has been home to massive demonstrations in recent weeks after Yanukovich decided not to sign with the EU. Late Monday riot police stormed the headquarters of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party. Tymoshenko’s press secretary said the police broke doors and furniture, and took computers and papers. Opposition leader Arseny Yatsenyuk stated: “If President Yanukovich thinks that he can resolve the political and economic crisis in the country with the help of interior troops…riot police, he is making a mistake.”
Palestinians: Kerry appeasing Israel over Iran at our expense
9 December 2013 – Haaretz
A senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official has bemoaned the “security concessions” the U.S. has asked them to make in its talks with Israel in order to silence the latter’s “criticism of world…diplomacy over Iran's nuclear program.” This official, Yasser Abed Rabbo, claimed that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented ideas during his meeting with both parties last week that threatened to “[plunge] the process into crisis” because of its underlying desire to “‘appease Israel [by] agreeing to its expansion demands in the (Jordan) Valley.’” Rabbo continued, saying that U.S. “acquiescence” in these negotiations was a simple matter of “silencing the Israelis over the deal with Iran…at [the Palestinian people’s] expense.” For his part, Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, denied that there was a link between these two diplomatic efforts and asserted that both are equally, though separately, important in helping the Middle East become “a quieter and [more] stable region.” He also emphasized that the “Gaza's government would have to change for Palestinian statehood to be fully realized.”
Independent Scotland would be ejected from EU, says Spanish prime minister
8 December 2013 – The Guardian
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Scotland would be ejected from the EU if it became independent. His comments were aimed at Catalan nationalists who want to hold a referendum on secession from Spain. Rajoy said: “This is a fact, it’s neither a value judgment nor an opinion, it’s simply a fact. If part of a country integrated into the European Union leaves that country, the logically it would be outside the European Union, not because I say so, but because that’s what the treaties say.” Rajoy indicated during the interview that it would be against Spanish law to allow Catalan to hold a referendum on independence from Spain. Rajoy stated “…Look at all these movements for regional integration, and all of the treaties of free trade hat are being negotiated. These are important events. That is to say, I believe we need to walk in the same direction…and that is towards greater integration, not against it.” On the topic of Gibraltar, Rajoy said relations between Spain and the UK were “fantastic.”
Ukrainian Protesters Rally in Kiev
8 December 2013 – The Wall Street Journal
Hundreds of thousands of protestors took to the streets for the second weekend in a row in Kiev. Protestors gave speeches then advanced from the square setting up new barricades on roads leading to government buildings, in order to prevent the government from working. President Viktor Yanukovich’s meeting Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin fueled the pro-European protestors’ anger. They tore down a statue of Vladimir Lenin, who symbolized Russia’s historic dominance over Ukraine. Protestors are having trouble converting the popular anger into political gains because the people do not trust anyone associated with the government, including opposition leaders. The EU is sending foreign policy chief Catherine Aston to Ukraine in the next few days to try and help end the standoff between the government and protestors.
Ukraine’s Yanukovich heads for talks in Russia with Putin-news agency
6 December 2013 – Reuters
Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency reported Friday that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich is stopping in Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Yanukovich was expected to return to Ukraine Friday from a four day visit to China, but is instead detouring to Sochi. UNIAN reported: “The President of Ukraine, on his way back home from China, will make a working visit to Sochi, where he will hold negotiations with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin.” Moscow has not confirmed the report. Analysts believe Putin offered Yanukovich cheaper Russian gas and credits in exchange for Ukraine not signing a deal with the European Union.
6 December 2013 – Multiple Sources
The EU has backed away somewhat from its decision to halt negotiations on an association agreement with Ukraine, sanctioning a new mission to Ukraine under the stipulation that Cox and Kwasniewski—the current and former monitoring team—can find and “establish clear interlocutors in the Ukrainian government.” Radio Free Europe reports that European Parliament President Martin Schulz is prepared to restore this mission to “build a bridge between the government and the opposition.” According to ForUm, finding a receptive party within the Ukrainian government might be easier than they anticipate as First Deputy Prime Minister Serhiy Arbuzov indicated today that Ukraine is working to assure Europe that integration with them “remains a strategic choice of Ukraine.” Moreover, “[he] stressed [the importance of] integration…for the Ukrainian economy [as well as the necessity of adopting] European values and criteria.” In his statements, he also attempted to assuage any misgivings his EU counterparts might have over the current standoff between the Ukrainian government and its people, saying “the government is ready to seek a compromise.”
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OSCE reminds Kiev of its obligations to protect basic freedoms
5 December 2013 – UPI
OSCE Secretray-General Lamberto Zannier reminded Ukraine on Thursday that all member states must protect fundamental civil freedoms. The 20th ministerial conference for the OSCE began Thursday in Kiev. Protests erupted in Ukraine last week over President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision not to sign an association and trade agreement with the EU. Leaders from both the EU and the U.S. were outraged with the excessive use of force from the police last weekend which left over 200 injured. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ranko Krivokapic said: “Peaceful protests are an important tool of public expression [and] the right to assemble publicly and peacefully must remain completely protected.”
Kerry, seeking to nudge along peace talks, offers Netanyahu security proposal
5 December 2013 – New York Times
In the latest leg of his worldwide diplomatic tour, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel to discuss a potential Palestinian peace agreement. The success of these discussions appears to hinge on “the difficult question of what the borders of a new Palestinian state should be,” because many in the Israeli government consider the mountainous terrain of the Jordan Valley to be key to restricting the influx of terrorists, smugglers, and other undesirables. Some—international, Palestinian, and even Israeli citizens—question this assertion, but Netanyahu reiterated his belief that “Israel must be able to defend…itself with [its] own forces against any foreseeable threat” and a “‘security border’ [encompassing] ‘the Jordan Valley, in the widest sense of that term’” is key to that ambition. Kerry agreed with Netanyahu’s message of security independence but declined to comment on the importance of either the Jordan Valley or what, if any, role the Israeli military might have there.
Former Ukrainian Presidents Back Anti-Government Protests in Kyiv
4 December 2013 – Voice of America
Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko, three former Ukrainian heads of state, have come out in support of continuing anti-government demonstrations in Kyiv aimed at ousting President Viktor Yanukovych. Earlier on Wednesday, as protests spread through Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov warned protesters they could face criminal charges for their acts. He later accused the opposition of trying to provoke violence. As protests in Kyiv continue, Ukrainian negotiators headed for Moscow seeking a deal to lower fees for gas imported from Russia. The talks are part of a push by Ukraine to ensure funding for 2014 debt repayments and gas costs estimated at $17 billion.
Russian, NATO Ministers Meet In Brussels
4 December 2013 – RFE/RFL
At a session of the Russia-NATO Council, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with counterparts from NATO countries in Brussels to discuss bilateral cooperation, Russia's continued opposition to the bloc's further enlargement eastward, details regarding the destruction of Syria's chemical arsenal and possible further plans for Iran's nuclear program. The talks also touched the alleged pressuring of Ukraine by Russia into withdrawing from a key deal with the European Union. Russian news agencies report that after the end of the NATO-Russia Council, Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry went into a closed-door meeting.
Sen. Ben Cardin hits Ukraine for crackdown on Kiev Protests
4 December 2013 – The Washington Times
Sen. Ben Cardin, chairman of a congressional human rights panel, Wednesday condemned the police crackdown on pro-Western protests in Ukraine on the eve of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which Ukraine chairs and will be hosting. Ukrainian officials hosting the summit seemed embarrassed by the police actions during protests Sunday that left many injured. Sen. Cardin urged those attending the conference to condemn Ukraine for violating the pledges it took upon joining the organization in 1992. Cardin stated: “The brutal dispersal of peaceful protests and beatings of dozens of journalists constitute serious violations of Ukraine’s OSCE commitments on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression…I am particularly concerned by reports that the whereabouts of more than a dozen protesters cannot be determined.”
Ukrainian PM Says Opposition Planning Coup, As Protests Continue
4 December 2013 – RFE/RFL
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated that the ongoing protests in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities have "all the signs of a coup d'etat." Azarov made the comment on December 2 during a meeting with foreign ambassadors in Kyiv, adding: "From a mass protest, this has grown into one that is out of control." Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have turned out in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, pushing for the resignation of the government of President Viktor Yanukovych over his refusal to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union. Former Interior Minister and now opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko vowed the protests will continue. "The Cabinet of Ministers must go away, and a new life, as well as an economic [life], must start," he said. This is the biggest demonstration in the Ukrainian capital since the 2004-2005 Orange Revolution.
Ukrainian Protestors Block Central Bank
4 December 2013 – New York Times
Protestors in Ukraine expanded their reach overnight, blockading the central bank. After the Ukrainian Parliament defeated a measure calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his government, protesters promised to surround additional government buildings. Demonstrators and their leaders have vowed not to stop until the current government is removed. Protestors were unable to blockade the presidential administration building, but they did advance 500 yards. Protestors set up tents, made bonfires on the sidewalks and waved flags 100 yards from a line of riot police guarding the administration building. A coalition has formed over the past week among the three main political opposition parties, civic organizations and student groups. Nine protestors were charged with organizing mass unrest related to a violent confrontation between police and demonstrators over the weekend. In parliament, Prime Minister Azarov apologized for the police role in the violence, but warned: “We will give you a hand…If we see a fist, we have enough force.”
Ukraine unrest: NATO condemns crackdown on protests
3 December 2013 – BBC
In Ukraine, thousands of protesters gathered outside parliament due to the government’s decision to not sign an association deal with the EU last week. NATO foreign ministers denounced Ukraine’s use of excessive police force against the protesters and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has urged Ukraine to “listen to the voices of its people.” Prime Minister Mykola Azarov has apologized: “On behalf of our government, I would like to apologize for the actions of our law enforcement authorities.” The president and the government deeply regret that this happened." However, he did defend his decision, stating that he saw signs of a coup in the protests.”
British Editor Tells Parliament Snowden Data Is Secure
3 December 2013 – Voice of America
Britain's Guardian newspaper has published less than one percent of the information leaked by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden and kept the rest secure, editor Alan Rusbridger told a parliamentary committee on Monday. Summoned by parliament's home affairs select committee as part of a counter-terrorism inquiry, Rusbridger defended his decision to publish the leaks as some lawmakers suggested he had helped terrorists by making top secret information public and by transmitting it to other news organizations. “We have published I think 26 documents so far out of the 58,000 we've seen, or 58,000 plus. So we have made very selective judgments about what to print,” he said. “We have published no names and we have lost control of no names.”
U.S. urges Ukraine to listen to its people
3 December 2013 – Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the Ukrainian government to “listen to the voices of its people.” Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich’s surprise decision to abandon plans to sign a historic trade and association agreement with the EU has led to days of mass demonstrations throughout the country. Kerry stated: “Mr. Yanukovich has obviously made a personal decision and the people don’t agree with that decision…Clearly there is a very powerful evidence of people who would like to be associated with Europe…we stand with the vast majority of the Ukrainians who want to see this future for their country.” Kerry made the remarks at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. The ministers condemned the use of excessive force against protestors. Kerry said that it was not an issue for NATO, but one the Ukrainians need to work out themselves. Kerry cancelled his trip to Ukraine and is sending Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland.
Ukraine protests: Opposition loses no-confidence motion
3 December 2013 – BBC
Unrest in Ukraine is growing after the government’s decision to suspend negotiations for an association agreement with the EU. In addition to the protests, there was a movement among opposition leaders within the government to force the ruling officials from office with a vote of no-confidence. The actual vote fell short—garnering only 186 of the 226 votes needed to pass—but the message was clear. When Prime Minister Azarov addressed the Parliament before the vote, he was forced to shout to be heard above the raucous booing of the opposition. Embracing the narrative of revolution, Azarov “appealed for Ukrainians not to return to the unrest of the Orange Revolution of 2004,” urging protesters to “[push] away the plotters” whose actions resemble “the signs of a coup.” And, while he did apologize for the weekend violence against the demonstrators in Independence Square, he denounced the mindset of the opposition, calling the notion of the current regime’s ouster an “illusion.”
France invites Ukrainian opposition’s Klitschko to Paris
3 December 2013 – Reuters
Vitaly Klitscho, Ukraine’s senior opposition leader, was invited to Paris to discuss recent events in his country. Since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich changed course and refused to sign a historic political and economic agreement with the EU, Ukrainian citizens have taken to the streets in protest. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told RFI radio that after he met with Yanukovich in Vilnius last week, he felt he should also meet with the opposition. Fabius said: “It’s not up to us to intervene in domestic issues, but the other day we spoke with Yanukovich and it seems normal to me to meet Mr. Klitschko as well, since Mrs. Tymoshenko is in prison.”
Tiny Moldova to get big boost from U.S.
2 December 2013 – CNN
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will stop in Moldova for just four short hours. Moldova signed a historic economic and political agreement with the European Union late last week as part of the Eastern Partnership, a program designed to foster closer ties between the EU and Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Days before the summit, Ukraine caved to pressure from Russia and decided not to sign, stunning the EU and the US. State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Moldova has “put a number of reforms in place, and they’re working hard on their economy. And the Secretary felt it was important to highlight that.” Russia also tried to pressure Moldova into not signing by banning imports of Moldovan wine. It has also threatened to cut gas supplies to the small country. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said “Recent Russian actions against the import of Moldova’s wine and other agricultural exports…have a disproportionate impact on its small economy, and could potentially expand into other sectors as the country deepens its EU integration. We are exploring ways we can help including by increasing Moldova’s energy independence and promoting trade with the EU and the United States.”
Russia, U.S. to Hold Joint Military Drill in July 2014
2 December 2013 – RIA Novosti
Col. Yaroslav Roshchupkin announced Monday that Russia and the United States will hold a joint military exercise next July, known as Atlas Vision 2014, in the Chelyabinsk Region in the Urals. Central Military District troops will also participate in a joint command post exercise with peacekeeping forces of a regional security bloc – the Collective Security Treaty Organization – in Kyrgyzstan in July, and in a similar drill with Chinese troops in China in August.
Arctic Made Priority for Russian Navy in 2014
2 December 2013 – RIA Novosti
Plans for Russian naval forces to make the Arctic a priority region have been put into effect for 2014, boosting combat training and scouting lesser-known areas of the Arctic territory. The move is intended to protect the country’s interest in the region. Russia has already begun deploying aerospace defense units and constructing an early missile warning radar system near the far northern town of Vorkuta, planned for completion in 2018. The Defense Ministry is also currently renovating the Temp military airfield on the New Siberian Islands. International competition for influence in the Arctic has stepped up considerably in recent years, with countries including Canada, Denmark, the U.S., and Norway all increasing their military presence in the resource-rich region.
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