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« Reply #225 on: November 26, 2008, 03:36:35 PM »

Israelis and Palestinians should become European
By Richard N. Rosecrance and Ehud Eiran Richard N. Rosecrance And Ehud Eiran
Nov 26 2008

Cambridge, Mass. – Scratch just a bit under the hope generated by the coming electoral changes in Washington, Jerusalem, and maybe Ramallah, and you discover deep despair about the possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The roads taken in the last 15 years in pursuit of a deal – the negotiations since Oslo, the unilateralism of the Gaza disengagement, and even the violence since the (second) Intifada – all failed.

The opponents of an agreement did not waste that time, however: The number of Israeli settlers grew almost threefold since the early days of the peace process, making a territorial compromise even more difficult.

Political leadership on both sides offers little hope for reconciliation. The Palestinian national movement is weak and deeply divided. The coming Israeli elections will most likely bring about a more hawkish Israeli Parliament, if not a more conservative prime minister.

A sense of hopelessness has reached even the most committed peace activists. The Palestinian activist Sari Nusseibeh, for example, wondered publicly if territorial compromise is still an option. And Israel's Yossi Beilin recently announced that he will retire from politics altogether.

Israelis and Palestinians need a new vision. They need a vision that will include a powerful incentive not only to get the train of negotiations back on track, but will also outline a final destination for its journey. With the lessons of the failed Oslo process before us, it is clear now that a future peace agreement needs to respond to the deepest grievances and darkest fears of both sides.

To find a path forward, we need to go back to the origins of it all. It was Europe's violent rejection of Jews in the past that begat modern Zionism and paradoxically contributed to its success. Once the problem, Europe may now be the solution. To both encourage and reward a territorial and security agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians, it should offer a clear path for their membership in the European Union.

It could help the parties fashion a settlement. The prospect of joining the richest union of states on earth is an enormous incentive for reaching a deal. The union's organization and values offer the frame for a peace agreement.

In fact, the dual identity of a supranational entity comprised of peaceful national states holds the answer for both sides' most profound concerns. For Israelis, EU membership offers physical security and permanent legitimacy. For Palestinians, membership means a territorial settlement, including a return, of sorts, of their lands through the new joint European source of security and authority over them.

Such an arrangement also holds significant benefits for Europe. It would contribute to political stability on its eastern and southern flank. If successful, it might even open a path for EU members to certain North African states, thus limiting the frustrations of millions of would-be immigrants to leave their instable region and go to Europe.

If European capital moves to areas of abundant nearby labor, labor has less reason to migrate to areas of capital abundance. Perhaps more important, it will expand the geographical borders of Europe, as well as the confines of its current identity, in a manner that will make the conversation with Turkey far easier.

Of course, there will be challenges. Israelis are haunted by the potential flood of Palestinian refugees from the open borders that Europe espouses (though the Schengen agreement has been applied differentially). Palestinians are still angered by the result of European colonialism, and Europeans may not want to proceed beyond admitting the nearby Island of Cyprus. Europe might be hesitate to broker such a deal, but the possibility of their succeeding with a Palestinian settlement, which had eluded the US for 40 years, would be a strong incentive to proceed. All these are weighty issues, but solvable ones.

The possibility of a day in which the descendants of the ancient foes – Christendom, Islamic civilization and Judaism – come together to resolve the century-long conflict over the Holy Land, finally acknowledging their common ancestor, Abraham, is not far afield. By using entrance to the European Union as an incentive for peace, Europe would not only free the region from a seriously destabilizing quarrel, but may also finally put to rest a millennia-long rivalry.

Israelis and Palestinians should become European
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« Reply #226 on: November 28, 2008, 09:20:29 PM »

EU, Syria move closer to signing association agreement
Middle East News

Nov 25, 2008, 18:41 GMT

Brussels - The European Union and Syria on Tuesday moved closer to signing an Association Agreement, which will eventually grant the Middle Eastern country access to the bloc's neighbourhood funds.

At a meeting in Brussels, officials from the European Commission and Syria said they had agreed on a series of technical updates to the agreement, which was initialled in 2004 but subsequently frozen as a result of the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

The update takes into account the latest developments in Syria, as well as the fact that the EU has expanded to accommodate two new member states, Bulgaria and Romania, since the start of the talks.

EU external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner singled out Syria's decision to establish diplomatic relations with Lebanon and to hold indirect peace talks with Israel as 'recent positive developments' in the country's regional policy.

'The two sides ... agreed to meet again in Damascus on 14 December to initial the updated text, with a view to submitting it to their respective authorities for consideration and subsequent signature,' the EU commission said in a statement.

The EU already has such Association Agreements in place with all of its Mediterranean partners, expect Syria and Libya.

The text must now be endorsed by the EU's 27 national governments before it can be signed some time 'in the near future', officials said.

Once it comes into force, it will allow Syria to access EU funds and sign cooperation and trade agreements.

EU, Syria move closer to signing association agreement
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« Reply #227 on: January 01, 2009, 11:24:04 PM »

Czechs taking over EU presidency
By Karel Janicek
Dec 31 2008

PRAGUE, Czech Republic – A weak government. A Euro-skeptic president. Parliament in stalemate over an EU reform treaty. The Czech Republic does not look ideally suited to assume leadership of the European Union.

On Thursday, the Czechs take over the bloc's six-month rotating presidency from EU heavyweight France, whose dynamic President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken vigorous action on tackling Europe's economic woes.

The Czech Republic, only the second post-communist EU newcomer to take the bloc's helm, will face the daunting task of implementing a $258 billion European economic stimulus package approved by EU leaders under the French presidency.

The nation of about 10 million people bordering Germany and Poland is also the last EU member to vote on the stalled Lisbon Treaty — a blueprint for reforming the EU that supporters say is essential for it to work effectively.

The project has been on hold since Irish voters rejected it in June. The Czech Parliament postponed its vote after the Irish rebuff — and has yet to schedule a new ballot even though Ireland has agreed to hold a new referendum.

The most prominent Czech critic of the treaty is the nation's president, Vaclav Klaus, who openly says "a well functioning, bureaucratic EU is not my goal."

Klaus has even said he won't allow the EU flag to fly over Prague Castle, his official seat, during the Czech presidency because the country "is not an EU province."

His views are shared by some lawmakers from the conservative Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

Topolanek said he wants Parliament to ratify the treaty. But his party is threatening to block ratification unless lawmakers first approve a deal allowing the U.S. to base part of a missile defense system on Czech soil.

The governing coalition does not have a majority in Parliament's lower house and the opposition fiercely rejects the missile defense plan. Opposition leaders threaten a no-confidence vote if the coalition fails to approve the EU charter by February.

Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra said political infighting will not affect the country's ability to effectively lead the bloc. "We are rational people. So don't expect any kind of a mess here."

A staunch U.S. ally, the Czech Republic has set ties with the new U.S. administration high on its foreign policy agenda; it hopes to invite Barack Obama to Prague for his first visit to Europe as president.

The Czechs are awaiting word from Obama's team on the missile defense deal brokered under President George W. Bush. The shield is backed by NATO but some European leaders, including Sarkozy, have recently questioned it.

The shield, which would also be based in Poland, has angered Russia and could overshadow planned EU-Russia talks during the Czech presidency.

Russia is already pressuring the incoming U.S. administration to scrap the plans and has threatened to deploy missiles near the Polish border.

Czechs taking over EU presidency
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« Reply #228 on: May 11, 2009, 02:05:27 AM »

EAC summit starts with focus on solving outstanding issues on proposed common market
Posted: 2009/05/04

The heads of state or government from the member states of the East African Community (EAC) began to meet here Wednesday with solving the outstanding issues related to the establishment of a proposed common market high on the agenda.


ARUSHA, Tanzania, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Cementing a common market within the bloc is the second phase of EAC's integration process. The bloc has already has a functional customs union which was created in January 2005. A common market by 2010 is as the third and a political federation of the East African States as the final.

The Treaty for Establishment of the EAC was signed on November 30, 1999 and entered into force on July 7, 2000 following its ratification by the original three partner states of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Rwanda and Burundi acceded to the EAC Treaty on June 18, 2007 and became full members of the community with effect from July 1, 2007.

The EAC has held rounds of formal negotiations on the establishment of the proposed common market since last year which was originally expected to be concluded by December 2008. But thorny issues have prolonged the negotiation process which has pit Tanzania against four other member states.

The negotiations have been bogged down in three areas, namely national identification document, access and use of land and permanent residence, a press release from EAC has said.

Also high on the agenda of the summit is the border dispute between Uganda and Kenya.

Rwandese President Paul Kagame, who is current chairperson of the EAC, told the press days ago that the dispute over the ownership of Migingo Island on Lake Victoria could be blown out of proportion, causing more chaos.

He said he would consult with his counterparts by the end of this month on resolving the border issue between the two neighbors.

EAC summit starts with focus on solving outstanding issues on proposed common market
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« Reply #229 on: May 11, 2009, 02:06:34 AM »

Russia concerned with EU's Eastern Partnership initiative
2009-04-28 22:21:27

    LUXEMBOURG, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia would keep eyes open on an initiative of the European Union (EU) to further engage former Soviet republics.

    The EU is to hold a summit on May 7 with leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to launch a so-called Eastern Partnership.

    "We've heard statements from Brussels saying that this is not a question of expanding their sphere of influence and that this is a process which is definitely not directed at Russia. We would like very much to believe this," Lavrov told reporters after a meeting with EU officials.

    But he quickly added that some of the comments Russia has received about this initiative from the EU side are worrisome. "We'll have to wait and see what happens... We'll see that following the summit that sets up the Eastern Partnership, there will be an implementation of what our European Union colleagues have now told us," said Lavrov.

    Lavrov on Tuesday toned down his rhetoric against the EU initiative to enhance relations with the former Soviet republics.

    He suggested last month that the EU was seeking an eastern "sphere of influence" with this initiative. On Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, labelled Lavrov's remarks as "nonsense."

    Schwarzenberg made the comment one day before his meeting with Lavrov in Luxemberg in the framework of the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council.

    Schwarzenberg said the EU wants "to develop these countries because it is in our interests that these countries don't lag too far behind the European Union -- because that would create difficulties in the future."

    On Tuesday, Lavrov said Russia would like to continue to engage the EU in discussing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's proposals on a new European security architecture and Medvedev's new proposals on international energy cooperation.

    Schwarzenberg said the EU finds Medvedev's proposals on energy cooperation interesting, but needs more information to clarify certain points.

Russia concerned with EU's Eastern Partnership initiative
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« Reply #230 on: May 11, 2009, 02:08:35 AM »

Canada, EU to seek "economic partnership"
Staff
5/7/2009 6:24:00 AM

Canadian farmers are seen being among the beneficiaries of a proposed "economic partnership agreement" between Canada and the European Union.

Meeting Wednesday in Prague in the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, EU President Mirek Topolanek and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced the launch of negotiations between Canada and the 27-nation EU.

"This partnership has the potential to bring a $12 billion boost to the Canadian economy and lead to significant gains for both Canada and the EU," the federal government said in a release.

"At a time when many countries are retreating into protectionism, Canada is showing the way," Harper said. "We are working to open new markets and positioning our country for the future."

"Canada and the EU agree that we should be seeking an ambitious agreement, and will negotiate a wide range of areas, including trade in goods, technical trade barriers, trade facilitation, customs procedures and rules of origin, trade in services, investment, central and sub-central government procurement, food safety and animal and plant health measures, regulatory co-operation, intellectual property, competition policy, dispute settlement and sustainable development," the government said.

Ottawa noted that a bilateral agreement with the EU "could deliver commercial benefits across many sectors of the Canadian economy, including aerospace, chemicals, wood products, automotive vehicles and parts, agricultural products, and transportation and other business services."

In 2008, two-way merchandise trade between Canada and the EU totalled $90.4 billion, up seven per cent from 2007, the government said. The EU is Canada's second largest export market, after the U.S., and Canadian merchandise exports to the EU alone were up 3.5 per cent in 2008, reaching $36.4 billion.

The investment relationship is even stronger, the government said, noting the EU is Canada's second most important investment partner and Canada the EU's fourth most important investment partner.

In October last year, the EU and Canada released a joint study indicating that the liberalization of trade in goods and services has the potential to give a $12 billion boost to the Canadian economy and increase bilateral trade by over 20 percent.

Ottawa is responsible for negotiations in international treaties, but the provinces and territories are responsible for implementing the treaty obligations that fall within their jurisdiction, including through enacting legislation, as required.

Thus the government said it will provide a process for the participation of the provinces and territories and "ensure that their views are fully taken into account in the development of Canadian negotiating positions, both before and during these negotiations."

To that end, Quebec Premier Jean Charest on Wednesday appointed former premier Pierre-Marc Johnson as the province's chief negotiator on this agreement.

Deal on beef?

Ottawa's move for closer economic ties with the EU comes as the U.S. government has announced an agreement in principle to ease out of its trade dispute with the EU over hormone-treated beef.

Both Canada and the U.S. have imposed trade sanctions against the EU over its ban on beef from cattle treated with growth-promoting hormones. Beef industry observers say a deal between Washington and the EU suggests a similar deal between Ottawa and the EU can't be far off.

Washington's agreement in principle would give the U.S. additional duty-free access to the EU market for U.S. beef from cattle not treated with hormones, to the tune of 20,000 tons in the first three years, increasing to 45,000 tons beginning in the fourth year.

The agreement also calls for the U.S. to maintain existing sanctions, but to not impose new sanctions on EU products during the initial three-year period. Washington would then eliminate all its related sanctions during the agreement's fourth year.

According to a release Wednesday from U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the agreement also calls for both the U.S. and EU to "refrain from further litigation at the World Trade Organization regarding the EU's ban on beef treated with certain growth-promoting hormones for at least 18 months."

Before the end of the four-year period, Kirk's office said, the two sides will "seek to conclude a longer-term agreement."

FIPA with Czechs

Harper on Wednesday also announced the signing of an updated Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) with the Czech Republic.

Canada has had such an agreement in place with the Czechs since 1992, but these updates bring it into compliance with EU law and provide for "a number of improvements requested by Canada, including a new clause for environmental, health and other safety standards and greater transparency during investor-state arbitration."

The updated FIPA is meant to "encourage two-way investment by providing investors with the clarity and certainty they need when investing in foreign markets." Canada currently has 23 such agreements in force, six of which are with EU member countries.

Canada, EU to seek "economic partnership"
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« Reply #231 on: May 11, 2009, 02:10:24 AM »

 EU targets transit treaty with Middle East, Central Asia
Posted : Wed, 06 May 2009 16:47:49 GMT

Prague - The European Union will ask Turkey and energy exporters such as Egypt and Iraq to sign up to a new treaty on oil and gas transit at a summit in Prague on Friday, according to a draft declaration seen by the German Press Agency dpa. The bloc will also ask energy producers to set aside specific volumes of oil and gas for its use, as the EU bids to guarantee energy supplies in an increasingly competitive world.

And it will press Turkey to agree within weeks the rules covering the "Nabucco" pipeline, the highest-profile energy project in the region so far, in a bid to kick-start construction of the project.

According to the draft declaration, which EU diplomats revised on Wednesday, the EU and key energy producers and transit countries want to see "the establishment of a Corridor Agreement" setting out the rules on how energy supplies should be transported, how much transit countries should charge and how the fees should be shared out.

Such an agreement would bind the EU and Azerbaijan, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - the countries of the EU's so-called "Southern Corridor" - in a single contract on energy transport for the first time.

Future cooperation should also include "the identification of non- committed natural gas and oil volumes by producer countries that can be dedicated specifically to the EU."

Energy producers should provide "a precise timetable for their availability on the basis of their commercial profitability."

And Turkey, the single most important transit route to Europe, should sign a separate contract with EU members setting out the rules and fees for the Nabucco pipeline "by June 2009," the draft says.

In return, the EU should give "reliable commitments" on the amount of fuel it will buy, to ensure "transparency, competitiveness, long-term predictability and stable regulatory conditions."

And it should offer its partners the technology and investment they need to upgrade their own energy systems and use their resources more efficiently, the draft says.

The EU is keen to reduce its dependency on Russian gas, which currently accounts for a quarter of all the gas burned in the bloc.

To that end, the bloc is pushing for the construction of three new pipelines in the region which would ultimately bring natural gas from the Caspian basin, Iran and Iraq to Europe.

Nabucco, the highest-profile of the three, is planned to link the EU to existing pipelines crossing Georgia and Iran. It is tipped to come into operation in 2014.

The second, known as ITGI, is designed to link Greece and Italy to gas networks in Turkey and the Caspian. It is set to open in 2012.

White Stream, the newest project, is intended to carry gas under the Black Sea from Georgia to Ukraine or EU member Romania. It is planned to begin operations in 2016.

EU targets transit treaty with Middle East, Central Asia
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« Reply #232 on: May 11, 2009, 02:12:31 AM »

Black Sea 2007-2013 operational cooperation programme to be launched
2009-05-05

BUCHAREST, May 5. (AGERPRES). The Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Housing, in its capacity as the common management authority for the Black Sea 2007-2013 joint cooperation programme, organises, May 5-6, a conference for the launching of the programme. The Black Sea 2007-2013 Joint Operational Programme is sponsored by the European Union under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and co-funded by the participating countries.

Expected to attend the event are officials and potential beneficiaries from the 10 participating countries - Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia - as well as officials of the European Commission and other international organisations operating in the Black Sea zone.

The first day of the conference is devoted to the presentation and promotion of the programme as part of European and international initiatives in the Black Sea basin, while the second is devoted to potential beneficiaries, which will be introduced the priorities of the programme for the generation of project ideas and assessing eligibility of applications.

Black Sea 2007-2013 operational cooperation programme to be launched
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« Reply #233 on: May 11, 2009, 02:13:40 AM »

Cambodia to host ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in late May 
May 02, 2009 08:27 PM

PHNOM PENH (Xinhua) -- Delegations from 40 ASEAN and EU countries will gather here in late May to discuss ways to fight terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling and weapon proliferation, said a statement received on Saturday.

The 17th Ministerial Meeting between ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and EU (European Union) will review previous and future cooperation between the two regional bodies from May 27 to 28, said the statement issued by the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

"In particular we will talk about how to control weapons of mass destruction," said ministry spokesman Koy Kuong.

Cambodian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hor Namhong and Vaclav Klaus, Czech President and current EU President, will be named as co-presidents of the meeting.

The 16th Ministerial Meeting between ASEAN and EU was held in Germany from March 14 to 15, 2007.

The meetings rotate between ASEAN and EU countries.

Cambodia to host ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in late May 
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« Reply #234 on: May 11, 2009, 02:15:29 AM »

France's Sarkozy proposes EU membership alternative for Turkey

06/05/2009

PARIS, France -- President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday (May 5th) the EU should create a common economic and security space with Turkey as an alternative to Turkey's membership in the Union, media reported. "There are countries, such as Turkey, which are bound to be associated to Europe as tightly as possible, but which should not become full members," he said. Instead of full membership, he proposed a reinforced partnership in the economy and security sectors, which the Union could also extend to Russia. The EU "must cease to dilute itself in endless enlargement" and should not make promises to Turkey that it will never be able to keep, Sarkozy warned. Turkey began EU membership talks in October 2005 but has so far opened only ten of the 35 negotiation chapters.

France's Sarkozy proposes EU membership alternative for Turkey
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« Reply #235 on: May 11, 2009, 02:16:38 AM »

Betting on infrastructure
By Sherine Shoukry

INFRASTRUCTURE projects are bringing the Union for the Mediterranean closer together, Sherine Shoukry reports.

Optimism rang through the walls of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina last Thursday as delegates from over 40 member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean (UFM) and CEOs from 30 different financial and regional institutions sat down to discuss their commitment to participating in and financing infrastructure projects in the Euro- Mediterranean region.

Heading the informal meeting, which is said to be "the first breakthrough towards the realisation of concrete projects in the context of the UFM," was Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, and special adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy, Henri Guaino.

The Union for the Mediterranean is a 2008 re-launch of the Euro- Mediterranean Partnership, formerly known as the Barcelona Process. The union includes all EU members with several non-EU countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

One of the highlights of the meeting was the launch of the InfraMed Fund, an infrastructure investment fund. "The InfraMed Fund offers a new model of cooperation between North and South that underscores the importance of the private sector's contribution, together with the public sector, to achieve cooperation and integration among the two shores of the Mediterranean Sea," explained Rachid.

Leading the fund is Egypt's EFG-Hermes, Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) of France, Cassa depositi e prestiti (Cdp) of Italy, and Caisse de Dépôt et de Gestion (CDG) of Morocco. It is hoped that the fund will expand to include Gulf investors, with some of the leading sponsors from the region being present at the meeting.

The InfraMed Fund will begin by looking at projects in four main areas: energy efficiency; transportation; de-pollution of the Mediterranean; and urban development. So far 400 million euros out of a total of one billion euros have been committed by the InfraMed Fund sponsors.

"The Union for the Mediterranean is nothing but the natural progression of the achievements of the Barcelona Process, for in the absence of the gains created by the Barcelona Process, this union would have never emerged," declared Rachid in the meeting's inaugural session.

Both Rachid and Guaino outlined some basic philosophies within the UFM. Guaino explained that there will be "more practicality in implementing the projects", elaborating on the importance of "trying to separate the political from the economic", and that there will be no veto to stop a project if it will be of benefit to other countries. Rachid went on to say that there is no preference of one project over the other, and that they are "all important".

Other concrete outcomes of the meeting include a $750 million commitment from the World Bank-managed Clean Technology Development Fund to finance the Mediterranean Solar Plan. The Global Environment Facility also announced its readiness to contribute $50 million to finance projects in the area of international waters management in the Mediterranean. And Agence Française de Développement, the German Kreditanstalt fèr Wiederaufbau, the European Investment Bank, UNIDO, and the EU Commission Directorate of Aid revealed their willingness to channel already existing funds to UFM's soon to be announced projects.

The conference made frequent reference to the current economic crisis, but maintained a positive tone relative to it. Determined to bring optimism to the conference, Guaino called the crisis "an opportunity". "The Mediterranean is a point of relay for growth, and we want to share the model of the growth of tomorrow with it," he explained. "We must seize the opportunity and, more importantly, convince everyone that this is an opportunity."

Betting on infrastructure
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« Reply #236 on: June 16, 2009, 11:15:37 AM »

EU security proposals are 'dangerously authoritarian'
The European Union is stepping up efforts to build an enhanced pan-European system of security and surveillance which critics have described as “dangerously authoritarian”.

By Bruno Waterfield in Brussels
Published: 4:32PM BST 10 Jun 2009

Civil liberties groups say the proposals would create an EU ID card register, internet surveillance systems, satellite surveillance, automated exit-entry border systems operated by machines reading biometrics and risk profiling systems.

Europe's justice ministers will hold talks on the "domestic security policy" and surveillance network proposals, known in Brussels circles as the "Stockholm programme", on July 15 with the aim of finishing work on the EU's first ever internal security policy by the end of 2009.

Jacques Barrot, the European justice and security commissioner, yesterday publicly declared that the aim was to "develop a domestic security strategy for the EU", once regarded as a strictly national "home affairs" area of policy.

"National frontiers should no longer restrict our activities," he said.

Mark Francois, Conservative spokesman on Europe, has demanded "immediate clarity on where the government stands on this".

"These are potentially dangerous proposals which could interfere in Britain's internal security," he said.

"The chaos and division in Gordon Brown's government is crippling Britain's ability to make its voice heard in Europe."

Critics of the plans have claimed that moves to create a new "information system architecture" of Europe-wide police and security databases will create a "surveillance state".

Tony Bunyan, of the European Civil Liberties Network (ECLN), has warned that EU security officials are seeking to harness a "digital tsunami" of new information technology without asking "political and moral questions first".

"An increasingly sophisticated internal and external security apparatus is developing under the auspices of the EU," he said.

Mr Bunyan has suggested that existing and new proposals will create an EU ID card register, internet surveillance systems, satellite surveillance, automated exit-entry border systems operated by machines reading biometrics and risk profiling systems.

"In five or 10 years time when we have the surveillance and database state people will look back and ask, 'what were you doing in 2009 to stop this happening?'," he said.

Civil liberties groups are particularly concerned over "convergence" proposals to herald standardise European police surveillance techniques and to create "tool-pools" of common data gathering systems to be operated at the EU level.

Under the plans the scope of information available to law enforcement agencies and "public security organisations" would be extended from the sharing of existing DNA and fingerprint databases, kept and stored for new digital generation ID cards, to include CCTV video footage and material gathered from internet surveillance.

The Lisbon Treaty, currently stalled after Ireland's referendum rejection last year, creates a secretive new Standing Committee for Internal Security, known as COSI, to co-ordinate policy between national forces and EU organisations such as Europol, the Frontex borders agency, the European Gendarmerie Force and the Brussels intelligence sharing Joint Situation Centre or Sitcen.

EU officials have told The Daily Telegraph that the radical plans will be controversial and will need powers contained within the Lisbon Treaty, currently awaiting a second Irish vote this autumn.

"The British and some others will not like it as it moves policy to the EU," said an official. "Some of things we want to do will only be realistic with the Lisbon Treaty in place, so we need that too."

EU security proposals are 'dangerously authoritarian'
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« Reply #237 on: June 16, 2009, 11:57:02 AM »

 EU-Jordan informal summit to be held in Brussels next week
2009-06-13 13:00:52

    PRAGUE, June 12 (Xinhua) -- The Czech republic, which holds the rotating EU presidency, will convoke an informal summit between the EU and Jordan in Brussels next Wednesday, a diplomatic source said on Friday.

    The EU-Jordan summit will focus on the Middle East peace process and the possibilities of solving persisting disputes between Israel and the Palestinians, the Czech news agency CTK said.

    The King Abdullah II will represent Jordan at the summit. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will also participate in the meeting. Czech

    President Vaclav Klaus will attend the summit as the representative of the Czech EU presidency.

EU-Jordan informal summit to be held in Brussels next week
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« Reply #238 on: June 20, 2009, 12:59:10 PM »

Geert Wilders: EU is not Israel's friend    

jpost.com

Basking in the glow of his spectacular election showing in last week's European Union (EU) vote, Geert Wilders, the head of the Dutch Freedom Party, told The Jerusalem Post in an exclusive interview on Friday that the EU is "one-sided and always against Israel," adding that "nothing will happen" if Israel "depends on the Europeans" to stop Iran's genocidal threats against the Jewish state.

The Freedom Party campaigned on a platform for shifting more decision-making power away from Brussels, the headquarters of the European Parliament, and back to members of the 27 EU countries. The vote was on European representation within the EU Parliament in Brussels and showed that "people are not so interested in Europe."

Wilders's Freedom Party garnered 17% of the vote, finishing second after the governing Christian Democratic Alliance of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, which tallied 19.9% of the vote.

"The Netherlands is not against Europe," he said, but "we don't want a European super state."

Terming the EU vote as a "referendum on the political state" in Holland, Wilders attributed the growing support for the Freedom Party as a call for prioritizing the domestic agenda. "Money should be spent in Holland" and not "subsidizing farmers in France and Poland," said Wilders.

Asked about the EU's posture toward Israel and forcing the Islamic Republic of Iran to halt its nuclear weapons program, Wilders said the European Parliament has "always been biased against Israel." He said he regrets "that they (EU) have a foreign minister" and argued that the "European Parliament should not be involved in foreign politics."

Wilders said Israel was the "only light of democracy in the Middle East" and that Islamic war was "against us all." The Jewish state was "more like the canary in the coal mine," he said, and stressed that an "ideological conflict" was unfolding in the region. "It is not a territorial conflict. Please forget about this crazy concept." The Islamists "see Israel as a big settlement" and if Israel "gives Territory A," said Wilders, then the other side will ask for Territory B, "such as Haifa."

Commenting on the Iranian election and Teheran's nuclear enrichment program, Wilders said it "does not matter who wins. The rhetoric at the end of the day is the same."

Wilders, who has visited Iran several times, says the country has a "friendly, young public" but the "regime is terrible." The mullah regime "really believes Israel has no right to exist" and Iran's diplomats are "fooling us" in their purported efforts to negotiate a solution to the nuclear crisis, said Wilders.

Referring to Europe's approach to clamping down on Iran's effort to attain nuclear capability, Wilders said, "Israel is more or less on its own." He termed US President Barack Obama's speech as a "talk of appeasement" and said that without a "strike back in some way" against the Iranian regime, then the international community "will pay a big price."

Citing Iran's rapidly developing missile program - including the Shihab-3 ballistic missile - Wilders warned that the rockets "cannot only reach Jerusalem but the whole world." Israel should be militarily supported if there is a showdown over Teheran's refusal to suspend its nuclear activities, he said.

When asked about commentaries in the German media labeling the Freedom Party as "extreme right" - a term typically reserved for neo-Nazi parties in Germany - Wilders said that is "totally ridiculous" and an "insult to the the Dutch people" because the party is now the "biggest party in Holland" according to polls.

The Freedom Party should be viewed within a liberal Dutch tradition, he said, noting that "we are not for cutting social welfare and are for more health care" and because of our "friendship for Israel, the extreme right demonstrates against us."

He has been attacked as a "crazy blond Zionist," and has long been the target of death threats because of his criticism of political Islam, which prompted constant police protection for him. He rejects the "strengthening of blasphemy laws" that shield Muslim minority groups from "not being insulted." A lively, open democracy should absorb robust free speech exchanges, he said.
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« Reply #239 on: June 20, 2009, 01:02:59 PM »


EU President to Be linked with Mediterranean Union's governance?   

en.greenplanet.net

The activities of the Union for the Mediterranean are to be resumed at the end of June in Paris, with a meeting of the Ministers for the Environment.

As announced by a spokesperson from the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs to AFP, "a meeting among Ministers and Ministries that are in charge for the environmental issues is being organized, although a defined date has not been fixed yet."

At the end of May the head of Egyptian diplomacy in France Ahmed Abul Gheit had told AFP that the meeting would take place on June 25 in order to "re-activate" the Union, whose work was stopped since the Israeli attack to Gaza Strip at the end of 2008.

Born as headlight project of the French presidency at the European Union during the second semester 2008, the Union for the Mediterranean - whose main purpose is to re-launch the Euromed cooperation started in 1995 in Barcelona through the development of concrete projects in sectors such as environment, transportation, energy, culture, education etc. - has been literally ignored so far.

The Union for the Mediterranean involves some 40 members, including EU countries, Israel and Mediterranean Arab countries.

The French Minister for Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner on Wednesday will go to Sweden - that is taking over the EU presidency from the 1st of July - to discuss with his counterpart Carl Bilt the proposal to link the EU presidency with the Union's governance, which so far is jointly held by France and Egypt.
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