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 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
Rush to China’s bank pushes U.S., Japan to speed trade talks
16 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
China’s new infrastructure bank, the AIIB, has lined up 57 countries – placing pressure on the U.S. and Japan to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. U.S. and Japanese negotiators are forging agreements on their portion of the 12-member agreement, which is expected to serve as another economic center of gravity in the Asia-Pacific region. As they do so, they will need to overcome domestic opposition, particularly in the U.S. where Congressional approval of fast-track authority is not guaranteed.
EU clears path for 17 new GM foods
16 April 2015 – The Guardian
In response to pressure from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations to facilitate biotech trade, the EU is expected to authorize 17 new genetically modified foods for import. While the European Food and Safety Agency “has never refused a GM authorization,” this new wave of authorization comes with an opt-out for EU members on grounds outside of environmental or health concerns. Critics to the opt-out argue this could jeopardize the functioning of the single market. Criticism of the approval for further GMOs in the European market stems largely from societal considerations.
Why the U.S. shouldn’t worry about the AIIB
16 April 2015 – CNBC
While the establishment of the China-led Asian Investment Infrastructure Bank (AIIB) is regularly referred to as competition for the existing US-led World Bank, a number of experts point to deficiencies in the structure of the AIIB, which prevent it from posing a legitimate threat. For instance, Chinese financial markets lack the depth to serve as a dominant foreign reserve currency, the Chinese economy may not be large enough to take on such a global leadership role, and the institution lacks clear direction. Key aspects such as governance and funding of the AIIB have not been clarified; the U.S. has announced “it will only welcome the AIIB if its standards match those of existing institutions.”
G-7 statement gives Japan new backing over China issues
16 April 2015 – The Japan Times
G-7 foreign ministers endorsed a “Declaration on Maritime Security,” in which the group states its opposition to any attempt to press maritime or territorial claims “through the use of intimidation, coercion or force” in the South China Sea. While European G-7 states are more responsive to attempts at revising borders given Russian incursions into Ukraine, Japan was unable to secure European support in the event of an incident arising in connection with China’s territorial claims. The next G-7 meeting is set for June 7-8.
ECB Rues Limits of Stimulus as IMF Gauges Rust in Economy
15 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
While the European Central Bank has emphasized the success of the quantitative easing program, along with the IMF, it remains conscious that raising inflation may not be solved without cooperation from member governments to implement further reforms. Specifically, lack of inflation hinders price growth, and the IMF predicts “the economy won’t work at full capacity… before 2020 at the earliest.” The focus for ECB President Mario Draghi in combatting lasting ramifications of the 2008 recession is on the integrated participation of member states to align monetary policy and implement structural reforms.
Nick Clegg refuses to veto in-out referendum
15 April 2015 – The Guardian
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he would not rule out a coalition with the Conservatives even if that meant a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by 2017. Clegg would require Prime Minister David Cameron to repudiate £12 billion worth of proposed welfare cuts in exchange for a referendum. The Liberal Democrats’ manifesto has been crafted to ensure that Clegg can form a coalition with either of the two main parties. Clegg described the manifesto as “an insurance policy against either main party lurching off to the extremes.” He said that the Scottish National Party was unfit to govern a nation they sought to divide, suggesting that even an informal agreement between the SNP and Labour would derail any possible coalition between Labour and his party. Labour leader Ed Miliband already promised not to enter into a coalition with the SNP. The Guardian predicts that Labour and the Conservatives will obtain 271 and 270 seats respectively. The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats are expected to win 54 and 29 seats. Clegg said his party would take an active role in any possible renegotiation of the EU treaties.
EU, Russia, Ukraine to resume trade pact talks
14 April 2015 – The Economic Times
The trilateral talks among the EU, Russia and Ukraine regarding a free trade agreement between the EU and Ukraine will continue next week, after being delayed since September by violence in eastern Ukraine. The free trade deal is “part of the broader 2014 EU Association Agreement at the heart of the Ukraine crisis, with Moscow angry to see its Soviet era satellite turn to the West at its expense.” A promise for “flexibility” toward Russia’s concerns over the deal from an EU representative reflect the positive atmosphere surrounding the resumption of talks, indicating all sides are interested in achieving outcomes. Representatives from these parties will also discuss plans on securing gas supplies for the coming year.
Violence escalates in Ukraine ahead of talks
14 April 2015 – Reuters
Fighting in eastern Ukraine is intensifying as the government accuses rebels of using heavy weapons – a violation of the ceasefire deal. Recently, one Ukrainian serviceman was killed and six were wounded in rebel-held territories. U.S., French and German officials expressed concerns at the apparent violation. "We are going to remind our colleagues, both Russian and Ukrainian, that the Minsk process must be respected and must be respected before the end of the year," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters.
Ukraine faces “unprecedented” energy crisis
14 April 2015 – Euractiv
According to the International Energy Agency, Ukraine faces a major energy crisis. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and damage from fighting has cut Ukraine off from access to coal mines and shale gas fields, and Russia’s energy minster stated yesterday that his country will not renew natural gas transit contracts with Ukraine. Approximately 40 percent of natural gas supplies to Europe go through Ukraine. Yesterday, a Gazprom official warned the EU against moves to block Russian plans to transit gas to Europe through other routes.
AmCham EU: Parliament’s TTIP recommendations can lead to a robust deal
13 April 2015 – EurActiv
As negotiations pick up speed in the European Parliament with an upcoming vote on a draft resolution, American Chamber of Commerce to the EU managing director Susan Danger reiterated support for the deal and the importance of this opportunity. Danger praised the Parliament’s commitment to transparency and stakeholder engagement, and an added section regarding the inclusion of small and medium enterprises; she further encouraged the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement and “language enabling cross-border data flows and oppose forced data localisation requirements.” Crediting EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom with bringing TTIP back into focus, Danger confirmed AmCham’s support of the continuing debate.
Russia opens way to missile deliveries to Iran, starts oil-for-goods swap
13 April 2015 – Reuters
Russia is ending a ban on missile system deliveries to Iran and started an oil-for-goods swap. A senior Russian official said that Russia is supplying grain, equipment and construction materials to Iran in exchange for crude oil. This comes after an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program was reached between Iran and major world powers earlier this month. The deadline for a final deal is June 30th.
Greece casts shadow as ECB money printing buoys Eurozone
13 April 2015 – Reuters
Despite the recent stabilization of Eurozone prices due to the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program, concerns over a resolution between Greece and its creditor institutions continue to threaten recovery. Eurozone ministers meeting tomorrow will discuss the possibility of releasing emergency funding to the debt-ridden country, pending the extent of reforms submitted by Athens. ECB President Mario Draghi may “reveal whether the ECB's decision-making Governing Council extended the limit on emergency liquidity that can be drawn by Greek banks,” before attending the G20 summit in Washington DC. Low oil prices and euro depreciation are contributing to the positive outlook in the Eurozone, but some analysts also think Draghi should “show there is room for flexibility in rolling out money printing to ensure” the large scale of the bond-buying program.
Swedish central bank governor worried about strengthening crown
13 April 2015 – Reuters
Stefan Ingves, the governor of Sweden’s central bank, expressed concern over the effect of the European Central Bank’s aggressive quantitative easing program on Swedish currency. Specifically, the appreciation of the crown against the falling euro has forced the Riksbank to bring interest rates into negative territory and “risks creating another property bubble.” While the Swedish economy is experiencing growth, the ECB’s policy could lead to a chain of events in which deflation impedes further growth.
Modi, Merkel seek deeper trade ties at Hannover Messe
13 April 2015 – Deutsche Welle
Speaking at Hannover Messe, the world’s largest industrial trade fair, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promoted strengthening their countries bilateral trade through restarting talks on a free trade agreement between the EU and India. Modi, who ran for office on the premise of updating Indian infrastructure and refreshing the economy, is leading a “Make in India” campaign to bring manufacturing to the country. The current quantity of bilateral trade between Germany and India reached a three-year low of 16.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2014. Merkel cited Germany’s position as India’s largest European trading partner, encouraging further growth in this relationship.
Germany’s Bundesbank backs IMF quota and governance reforms
13 April 2015 – Reuters
A top official of the Bundesbank urged IMF members to implement reforms of the organization held up by the U.S. Bundesbank board member Andreas Dombret addressed IMF quota reform: "This is important so that member countries are appropriately represented at the IMF, and so that financial contributions and voting rights in the fund are more in line."
European officials push for lasting peace deal in Ukraine
12 April 2015 – Wall Street Journal
The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France are meeting today to forge a durable peace deal. Measures agreed to in a February deal include a cease-fire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and appear to be sticking. But Russia and Ukraine are clashing over the next stages of the deal - the reintegration of eastern territories into Ukraine and increased local autonomy. Ukraine has offered more local powers after elections are monitored by international observers. Russia wants the rebels included in direct talks with Kiev, including those on constitutional reforms.
U.S.-EU deal: Germany warns against overblowing expectations
12 April 2015 – Reuters
Despite concerns over inflated estimates of economic gains from the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and the EU, German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel voiced support for the deal as a much-needed boost for European companies and a crucial opportunity to set global standards of trade. The elimination of tariff barriers alone ensures a positive effect on both economies, making TTIP worth it for Gabriel, while other implications, such as a reinvigoration of transatlantic relations and improved and harmonized global standards add further incentive for the deal. Still under negotiation, Gabriel suggested the goal to finalize TTIP within the year “was very ambitious.”
Influx of Canadian food expected as EU laws change
11 April 2015 – The Scotsman
With the finalization of the Comprehensive Economic Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada, the Scottish market is expected to see an increase in Canadian food, such as maple syrup, cheese curds, bison beef and geoduck. The removal of “99 per cent of all tariffs on Canadian goods entering the UK and the rest of Europe” will create higher demand for previously more expensive Canadian foods, diversifying the Scottish restaurant scene. The deal is set to go into effect next year.
UK election may be our cue to consider EU exit
12 April 2015 – Irish Independent
Ireland questions its place in the EU if the UK were to leave its current agreement. With the fall of the euro from the European Central Bank’s aggressive bond-buying program, Germany’s consistent dominance in the continent, and growing concerns of Greece’s future in the union, as well as the UK’s, it could be in Ireland’s interest to follow Britain out rather than staying in the euro. Citing Britain’s place as Ireland’s top trading partner and as the third largest economy in the EU, and the Irish link to the U.S., the argument follows that Ireland still has those economic relationships if it becomes necessary to leave the Eurozone or the EU.
Greece may have blown best hope of debt deal
12 April 2015 – Reuters
The hostile atmosphere of negotiations between the Syriza-led Greek government and its creditor institutions of the IMF, the ECB and particularly Eurozone officials could prove the most costly misstep thus far. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and finance minister Yanis Varoufakis are denouncing austerity, demanding German war reparations, and avoiding reforms have shattered the trust of wary creditors. Rather than continue on this path of alienation, experts suggest the Greek government “pay off its expensive IMF loans early, redeem bonds held by the European Central Bank and extend the maturity of loans from euro zone governments to secure lower interest rates for years to come.”
NATO caps size of Russia’s mission after internal reports of espionage
10 April 2015 – The New York Times
NATO is lowering the cap for the number of officials that partner countries can include in their delegations to the Alliance – to 30 members. The move comes after a confidential assessment by the alliance’s Civilian Intelligence Committee that intelligence agents had been a part of Russia’s delegation. Additionally, it is said to be “a practical measure, which applies to all  partners at NATO headquarters, including Russia” The Russian mission to NATO has not commented, although partner states have nine months to comply with the new guideline.
Nordic nations agree on defense cooperation against Russia
9 April 2015 – Reuters
In a joint declaration released on Thursday, the defense ministers of Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Iceland cited Russia as the “biggest challenge for European security.” "Russia's leaders have shown that they are prepared to make practical and effective use of military means in order to reach their political goals, even when this involves violating principles of international law," ministers from the countries stated. In response to heightened Russian military and intelligence activity against them, they agreed to closer defense ties and increased solidarity with the Baltic states.
Widening UK trade deficit prompts fears for growth
9 April 2015 – The Guardian
The Office for National Statistics in the UK reported a large gap in British current account deficit of £2.9 billion in February, having increased from £1.5 billion in January. The trade deficit with just the EU, Britain’s primary trading partner, reached a record high of £21.1 billion. The main implication of this statistic is that “the economic recovery may be waning.” While there is hope that a recovering Eurozone will lead to more demand, currently, “UK GDP growth will likely remain largely reliant on domestic demand.”
Obama officials ramp up trade pressure with 50-state report
9 April 2015 – The Hill
In a crucial effort to build the case to Congress to approve proposed trade deals with the EU and Asian countries, the U.S. Trade Representative and the Commerce Department published a joint report on the impact of trade at state level, focusing on small and medium enterprises. Specifically, the report presents “the value of goods exported, jobs supported [which reached 11.7 billion in 2014], number of companies that sell their goods overseas and the percentage of those that are smaller businesses.” Emphasizing the need to “catalyze a race to the top,” the report also cites geopolitical concerns and democratic values in support of the deals.
Tspiras Returns to Reality After Meeting Putin
8 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
No concrete economic agreements were reached between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Russia’s Vladimir Putin at the recent Moscow meeting. Greece denied having requested aid from the Kremlin and the Russian ban on Greek produce still stands. Tsipras announced the official intention of the visit as “enhancing Greece’s trade, its role as an energy hub and to look at boosting tourism.” Tsipras repeated his disapproval of EU sanctions against Russia, and Putin noted Russia’s fall from the top of Greece’s trading partners.
Berlin to hold four-way Ukraine talks
9 April 2015 – Deutsche Welle
The “Normandy Group” – consisting of representatives from Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia – will meet in Berlin on Monday to follow up on previous talks on the Ukraine crisis. Despite some clashes and the slow rollback of heavy weapons, the Minsk Agreement appears to be holding. "There has been some progress on the ground in implementing the package of February 12 Minsk measures, despite too many violations, where pulling back heavy weapons in concerned," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
U.S., Japan near cyber defense agreement
8 April 2015 – The Hill
Faced with hacking threats from China and North Korea, the U.S. and Japan are close to an agreement on bilateral defense rules to defend cyberspace. While specifics are unavailable, the new rules are expected to be finalized when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with President Obama later this month. China itself has moved to implement cybersecurity rules that would require companies to implement Chinese encryption and open all source code to inspection by the Chinese government – steps that are opposed by the U.S. and Japan.
EU Stresses Single Voice in Trade Negotiations
8 April 2015 – Hellenic Shipping News
In response to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras cozying up to Moscow for favorable trade deals, the European Commission emphasized the need for a unified voice representing the EU in negotiations. Specifically, Tsipras seeks a removal of the ban on Greek fruits exported to Russia and lower natural gas prices from Russia. While Tsipras is toeing the line by exposing a rift within the EU, he has refrained from outright threatening to veto a continuation of the economic sanctions against Russia. A spokesman for the European Commission also acknowledged the Russian ban of Greek agriculture as “politically motivated and unjustified.”
In Russia-West tug of war, Moldova sees EU as only option
8 April 2015 – AFP
In an effort to advance its relations with the EU over an increasingly aggressive Russia, Moldova approved critical political and trade agreements. The government of the eastern European country stressed that cooperation with and potential membership in the EU is the best option to improve the economic situation and “reunification of the country,” which has dealt with pro-Kremlin separatists in the past. Already, 30 percent of Moldova’s exports go to the European single market, mostly fruits and vegetables, with “the promise of a much bigger market for Moldovan producers,” as well.
Piketty Says EU Politics Risks Driving Greece Out of Euro
8 April 2015 – Bloomberg Business
International bestselling economist Thomas Piketty views the unsympathetic and pushy attitudes of European politicians as a catalyst for Greece to leave the Eurozone. Piketty, citing a “lack of institutional coherence [that] has damaged the euro area,” suggested stronger and more democratic institutions as a necessary solution, as well as the recognition on the creditors part, mainly Germany and France, that a “Grexit” would be detrimental to their economies as well. On the topic of a British exit, Piketty noted the UK would suffer more than the continent would from that decision.
European citizens have spoken out, and it’s time for the EU to pass Net Neutrality
8 April 2015 – Access Now
Arguing a strong case for Net Neutrality in the European Telecoms Single Market negotiations, proponents point to overwhelming public support for free Internet equality, as supporting innovation and free speech and solidifying an important global precedent set by the United States’ recent decision to protect Net Neutrality. While the European Union had been moving in the direction of Net Neutrality two years ago, rising efforts from major internet providers’ lobbyists are bogging down the progress, resulting in “complex, bureaucratic text which actually undermines non-discrimination principles” in the latest draft from the EU.
Ukraine to sign military and technical cooperation agreement with NATO – Yatseniuk
8 April 2015 – Interfax–Ukraine
NATO and the Ukrainian government have reached an agreement of support, according to Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk. Yatseniuk said that the support agreement would include “the implementation of four trust projects with NATO, including military and technical cooperation, communications, new communications and information technologies”. Further, Yatseniuk said that the Ukrainian military would be rebuilt in keeping with NATO standards, as well as in the image of “the strongest armies and associations…fighting for global peace.”
How the U.S. thinks Russians hacked the White House
8 April 2015 – CNN
U.S. officials believe that they have ascertained how hackers working for the Russian government were able to hack into an unclassified, albeit sensitive, part of the White House’s computer system in October 2014; the system contained “real-time non-public details of the president’s schedule.” The hackers were able to gain access to the White House system by first hacking into the State Department, which is still plagued by the Russian hackers. It is believed by investigators that the hackers gained entry to the White House system from a phishing email sent from a hacker-controlled State Department email account. The investigators, led by a coalition of the Secret Service, FBI and the various U.S. intelligence agencies, consider the security breach to be “among the most sophisticated attacks ever launched against U.S. government systems.”
Ukraine crisis: Tension over rise of nationalist Yarosh
8 April 2015 – BBC
A controversial member of the Ukrainian parliament, Dmytro Yarosh, has just been appointed to a position in the Ukrainian armed forces, serving as “liaison between the military and the volunteer battalions.” Yarosh is the head of Right Sector, a small political party that made a name for itself during the Maidan revolution and also has a volunteer battalion fighting the separatists. The Russian media condemned Yarosh’s appointment, claiming the he is a neo-Nazi and that “neo-Nazis are strengthening their positions.” While Yarosh’s political viewpoint is certainly on the right, he believes in nationalism based on citizenship, which would have his definition of “true Ukrainians” include any member of any ethnic group that is a citizen of Ukraine. Another aspect of his appointment is the reduced autonomy of the volunteer battalions.
IMF official sees “leeway” in judging Ukraine’s debt progress
7 April 2015 – Reuters
Ukrainian officials are currently working with creditors to restructure Ukraine’s debt in order to bridge the $15 billion gap in funding left by the IMF bailout. The Ukrainian government gave itself a June deadline to complete this task, with many financial analysts “skeptical” as to the reality of meeting that deadline. Also, in June, the IMF will carry out a review on Ukraine’s progress in meeting the conditions of the IMF bailout, although an official says that while “it would be best if Ukraine and its creditors could reach agreement by that point” the IMF still has “a fair amount of leeway” in its assessment of Ukraine’s progress and can ascertain next steps at that point if no agreement has been reached.
France to challenge 2016-17 structural budget targets
7 April 2015 – Reuters
The French government’s newly released budget plans for the next two years fall short of EU expectations, a move that could further irritate other EU members as Paris “has repeatedly missed deadlines and budget consolidation targets,” despite extended deadlines. Pointing to “oversized” structural effort amounts demanded, French budget minister Christian Eckert describes the new stability plan as close enough to EU suggestion, without compromising growth. Another budgetary detail includes a promise to save an extra 4 billion euros this week, and separate efforts to increase investment will be presented.
Euro zone price discounting drives growth in activity
7 April 2015 – Reuters
The rapidly increasing business activity in the European Union for the month of March, attributed to steep price discounting, is “vindicating” the European Central Bank’s aggressive trillion-euro bond-buying program. Germany reported the fastest pace of private sector growth in the past eight months; France saw growth as well, albeit at a slower rate; Italy finally reported growth in the service industry. The ECB’s quantitative easing program has provided a level of confidence needed for the Eurozone recovery to get off the ground.
How Grexit bill could dig deep into ECB pockets
7 April 2015 – Money Market UK
The majority of the burden of debt would fall on EU member states if Greece were to default on its debt and remove itself from the Eurozone because Greece has continued to use the ECB as a source of loans and “the 'overdraft' that Greece is running in the euro zone payments system.” The head of Germany’s Ifo Institute predicts the maximum tab on Germany in the case of a Grexit to be approximately 86.2 billion euros. Despite precautionary funds of the ECB, the unraveling of confidence in the Union could prompt other crisis countries to exit. One suggestion is the implementation of capital controls in Greece.
Russian nuclear submarine “on fire” in Arctic dock
7 April 2015 – BBC
A fire broke out on the Russian nuclear submarine Orel, currently docked at the Severodvinsk shipyard in the Arctic; it has been contained and there have been no casualties reported. Sources report that there was no threat to the nuclear reactor. The submarine had been undergoing repairs, and it local reports indicate that the fire was sparked by “insulation material [that] caught fire during welding work.” The dry dock is being flooded in order to put out the fire, which may take an additional two hours. The Orel is not reported to have any weapons or nuclear fuel at this time.
Nagorno-Karabakh: “Frozen” conflict threatens to reignite
7 April 2015 – BBC
Tensions are rising in Nagorno-Karabakh, an internationally recognized part of Azerbaijan’s territory that was the site of a brutal war between Azerbaijan and Armenia; the war lasted from 1992 to 1994, leaving approximately 30,000 people dead and 600,000 Azeris and 300,000 Armenians displaced before the conflict froze under a fragile ceasefire. On the frontline, the number of shootings has increased greatly in the past few months, as have military casualties. Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh consider themselves to be “citizens of the Artsakh Republic” and continue to hate Azerbaijan; the region depends on Armenia for both military and financial support. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, has spent billions of dollars buying weaponry from Russia as it threatens to retake its territory by force. The OSCE’s Minsk Group is mediating peace talks, but both sides are so far from one another that there has been minimal progress.
OSCE mission unable to confirm full arms pullback in Donbas
7 April 2015 – Interfax
OSCE monitors in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region continue to report that the relocation of weaponry is ongoing; however, they are unable to verify that the withdrawal of weapons from the line of contact has been fully completed. The OSCE is asking for additional information from both Ukrainian and rebel forces about their weapons inventory and storage locations, as well as unfettered access to the affected territories in order to allow the OSCE’s monitors to keep observing.
Ukraine President Says No Objection To Vote On Regional Power
6 April 2015 – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty
While Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko continues to reject the idea of federalizing Ukraine, Poroshenko said that he is open to the idea of a referendum granting more power to the troubled Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. Initially opposed to the idea of a decentralization of power, Poroshenko changed his mind after meetings with the commission working to amend the Ukrainian constitution, in keeping with the Minsk II agreements. Although decentralization would provide Ukraine’s regions with more power, such important functions as foreign policy, defense and national security would remain in Kyiv’s hands.
Putin’s popularity peaks a year into Ukraine conflict
6 April 2015 – France 24
One year ago, Russian-backed separatist rebels seized control of government buildings in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, following the national election of a Western-oriented government. Shortly thereafter, the separatists declared the existence of the new Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. These actions have spurred the year of conflict that have killed approximately 6,000 people and have left 1.6 million more displaced. Although Russia continues to deny any involvement in the conflict, it has left Russian President Vladimir Putin with very high popularity ratings, with Russians seeing Putin “as a strongman with the ability to reclaim [Soviet] territory.”
Cyprus lets Eurozone’s first capital controls go quietly
6 April 2015 – Reuters
Cyprus ended capital controls yesterday, after implementation in March 2013 to avoid a bank run. Banks reported normal activity, thanks to an “incremental relaxation over the past 18 months.” The Cypriot government has made a concerted effort to remain distanced from the economic woes of Greece, and ending capital controls calmly confirmed the success of significantly reduced financial ties. Cyprus is currently the only nation in the EU to have used capital controls to cope with the financial crisis.
Exit from EU “would worsen inequality across Britain” as poorer areas depend on manufacturing
6 April 2015 – The Independent
A recent study from the Centre for European Reform contends that the most economically vulnerable regions to a British exit from the EU are manufacturing areas such as the West Midlands and the North-east, where opinion polls also report the highest euro-skepticism. Specifically, the tariffs the EU would place on British exports would result in “tariffs of £197m on its exports, mostly in the car manufacturing sector, equating to 0.43 per cent of the [North-east’s] output.” The occurrence of the referendum to redefine British-EU relations depends on the Conservatives winning the general election next month.
Next page: About Us