Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Bear with a sore head.

by Colman Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:39:38 AM EST

Turns out the Russians are causing trouble again, according to the FT: the editorial today opens with:

President Vladimir Putin has raised the stakes in Russia’s deepening conflict with the west over missiles, deterrence and security.

By suspending the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, the Russian leader hit at a key pact ending the cold war. Mr Putin complained the treaty was unfair because Nato states had not ratified it. Nato said it had not been ratified because Russia had not met key conditions – pulling troops from Georgia and Moldova.

Nasty Mr Putin up to his old tricks again. Except ...
The US is entitled to look after its own security. But it must accept security is often easier to build in partnership with others than alone. America, not Russia, was the first to pull out of a cold war arms pact when in 2001 it abandoned the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Washington’s recent effort to explain its missile defence plans to sceptical European states, including Russia, is long overdue.
That's later in the same article. So it's Russia's conflict with the West, not a US conflict with damn near everyone else?


Philip Stephens has a fluff opinion piece on the Europe-US alliance, Merkel's relationship with the US and how the security of the "American homeland" is going to be the "first, second and third" priority of any incoming US President, just as it is Bush's. He also opines:

And, for all the genuine clashes of strategic culture, the mutuality of interests and values between America and Europe far outweighs the differences.
Of course, he doesn't explain what those mutual interests are, or how they are specially shared with the US rather than Russia or China or whoever. That's a given.

Anyone want to explain what NATO is for to me, or the point of Atlanticism? Philips manages to recognise this much: " Since the end of the cold war, the relationship has been one of choice rather than existential necessity." He says it needs to be worked at: he's right, and the first thing to do is look to see whether both parties to the relationship are having their interests served. I don't believe they are.

How does a new Cold War with Russia serve Europe? Or a new Cold War with the Soviets, if you believe that fool Rice:

CONDOLEEZZA Rice, the United States' Secretary of State, spoke yesterday of the "Soviet" nuclear arsenal in a slip of the tongue as she urged Russia to abandon Cold War thinking.

Slip of the tongue nothing. The US-Soviet war is so deeply embedded in the psyches of elites on both side that it is easy for them to fall back into the old patterns. You can even see it in the left-wing US blogs, where the recent negative stories about Russia fell straight into pre-existing narrative structures.

In my world, Putin is pursuing a rational course of action in order to achieve rational and possibly even objectively fair goals: protecting the strategic balance of power without having to spend a large amount of money on the military. It would be simple, if expensive for Russia to overwhelm any possible missile defence shield, even if it worked as advertised. However, it is preferable to negotiate a settlement. It is quite clear that the current US regime doesn't negotiate unless it has no choice: it prefers bullying and exertion of manly raw power to girly talking. Negotiation is what you do after your opponent or victim has capitulated to your demands. To bring a party like that to the negotiating table you have to have a credible alternative to negotiation that is unacceptable. That's what Putin is trying to manufacture here - they've made it quite clear they don't want to do this and would prefer a negotiated agreement with NATO.

Display:
We have always been at war with ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:41:52 AM EST
Philip Stephens has a fluff opinion piece on the Europe-US alliance, Merkel's relationship with the US and how the security of the "American homeland" is going to be the "first, second and third" priority of any incoming US President, just as it is Bush's. He also opines:
And, for all the genuine clashes of strategic culture, the mutuality of interests and values between America and Europe far outweighs the differences.
Of course, he doesn't explain what those mutual interests are, or how they are specially shared with the US rather than Russia or China or whoever. That's a given.
The conclusion of this paragraph is that "the security of the American homeland" is a key European value. Go figure.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:52:05 AM EST
Or more accurately, the illusion of security for the American Homeland.

The Cold War arms race was largely manufactured from outright lies about Soviet nuclear capabilities. (Nothing new to see - move along please...) The Soviets had bombs, but they didn't have nearly as many bombs as intelligence analysts stated they did. With accurate intelligence the pace of the Cold War would have been much slower and the threat of total nuclear wipe-out much lower.

There's something truly psychotic at the heart of the US establishment. It's not as insane as Stalin and Hitler were, but it seems to suffer from a milder form of the same sociopathy - albeit directed more towards siphoning tax money towards military adventurism than rounding up millions of civilians into camps.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:20:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, the camps are on standby.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:23:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They'll be used for the illegal immigrants first in the case of a severe economic contraction in the US, or perhaps even more likely, serious unrest in Mexico leading to mass migration. As 40% of Mexican government revenue relies on the Cantarell Complex, they are in big trouble.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 01:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was at a conference on Gazprom yesterday evening (where I spoke), and in the discussion afterwards, people involved in diplomatic/military circles told me that the working relationship with the Russians had never been so bad as it is now. Russia is seen as playing hardball on all fronts.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:53:53 AM EST
That would be the rational response, wouldn't it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In game theory terms, anyway.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 04:59:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly.

I think game theory starts to creak a little when you can see mutually assured destruction a few moves down the line.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 10:31:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what Putin is trying to manufacture here - they've made it quite clear they don't want to do this and would prefer a negotiated agreement with NATO.

There is no possible negotiated agreement with NATO since NATO speaks for the US only. Since there is no strategic advantage to this spat for any European Country, NATO should be dissolved and the Eu should negotiate with Russia. This is impossible because what makes this whole thing possible is Polish and Czech pathological need to stick it up to Russia. If the EU leadership were not Atlanticist, they might have allowed themselves to lean on the Polish and Czech governments.

What a fucking, unnecessary mess.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:02:18 AM EST
That is a bit of a problem with the approach, but the Russians are sort of short of options here ... and maybe the Polish and Czech governments could have a think what a targeted departure from the CFE would mean for their borders ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:10:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, they'll just ask the US to deploy troops on their soil.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:18:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:20:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Luckily, most U.S. troops are tied up at the moment.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:22:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unluckily, there is always the draft.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:39:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And Congress is trying to untie them as we speak.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:39:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think so. George W. Bush is on his last legs now. And I think if he tries to do something crazy, like bomb Iran, Robert Gates, who was put there by Poppy Bush and Carlyle to babysit W, will stop him.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:45:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
W is a symptom, not the disease. See you in 5 years.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:01:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sadly, you're right.

Reading this put the Obama creep factor over the top for me. Even allowing for the Overton Window in the US, this is a right wing position, sketched out by someone who either doesn't understand the last fifty years of foreign policy at all, or is playing to the mil-ind complex to reassure them that he's not going to take their toys and profits away.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:25:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds just like his 2004 convention speech: America is the last best hope of mankind, which is what any US politician must say in a foreign policy speech.

What does Obama actually stand for? Has he said anything surprising?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:32:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No - but he did have a dig at the whole of dKos for, er, not saying anything surprising.

I don't think Obama likes real surprises.

My guess is that he's someone who knows how to display the local cultural signifiers of leadership without knowing how to do any actual leading. This is the only explanation I can think of for his popularity.

He's a lot like Bush from that point of view. And Blair too, more or less.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has he said anything surprising?

No - but he did have a dig at the whole of dKos for, er, not saying anything surprising.

I mean ever, not in his latest speech.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 07:01:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's not related to David Cameron, by any chance?

There appears to be the same amount of substance in both.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 07:47:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That Cameron - he seems like such a nice man.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 07:49:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even allowing for the Overton Window in the US, this is a right wing position, sketched out by someone who either doesn't understand the last fifty years of foreign policy at all, or

Wikipedia: Obama's early life and career

After graduating from Punahou, Obama studied at Occidental College for two years, then transferred to Columbia University, where he majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.

or is playing to the mil-ind complex to reassure them that he's not going to take their toys and profits away.

He probably knows he needs to pander to the Military-Industrial complex if he wants to look presidential and (more importantly) be allowed to win.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:07:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have this feeling that whoever's elected president [...] when you win, you go into this smoky room with the twelve industrialist, capitalist scumfucks that got you in there, and this little screen comes down... and it's a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you've never seen before, which looks suspiciously off the grassy knoll.... And then the screen comes up, the lights come on, and they say to the new president, 'Any questions?' ...

[President]: 'Just what my agenda is.'"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Hicks



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, no, it's easier than that. The agenda is internalised and if you haven't you won't be allowed to win, the media will destroy your campaign.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:52:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I always thought expanding NATO to the East was insane. When Madeline Albright proposed it I thought, "Hey Madeline, why you want to fuck with the Big Bear? Especially a bear that plays chess very well."

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:28:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Convincing the countries of the former Eastern bloc that NATO membership was a co-requisite of EU membership must count as one of the most successful misinformation camapigns of European history. However, it has been used successfully on other countries such as Spain and Portugal, I think.

For some reason, Ireland and Finland have been immune to this.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:32:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ireland wouldn't sign on for a military alliance that included the UK. At this stage military neutrality has become an article of faith here.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:34:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After Bush II, I wonder why anyone would still want to be part of a military alliance that includes the US.

But, even on this front, Bush is just a symptom, not the disease. That's what Atlanticists have a hard time realising.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:37:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, really? So if Putin or Ahmadinejad wanted to fly their captives through Shannon to be tortured, the Irish would let them?

Interesting concept of "neutrality"!

by Matt in NYC on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:06:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
WTF?

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:08:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What I'm saying: the CIA certainly doesn't think of Ireland as a "neutral" country.
by Matt in NYC on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:24:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably, if the price was right. Putin, no problem. Ahmadinejad maybe.

Aeroflot always operated through Shannon.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:13:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least the Russians would stop for a drink.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:15:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, it was always neutral against the Commies, but that's another matter.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:10:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"The general public opinion [in Finland] would be for a European security solution instead of NATO. But the politicians don't hold out much hope for this - the EU is not a military alliance and any security guarantees given by the EU states are not such as could offer real defence," she added.
I have an idea: let's put a Finn in charge of the European Defence Agency.

Hmmm, the head of the EDA is the HR for the CFSP, which is Javier Solana of NATO Serbia bombing campaign fame.

I was going to suggest Martti Ahtisaari [no other Finnish diplomats come to mind, sorry] to succeed Solana, but he's gotten himself embroiled in the Kosovo mess on the NATO side, so I don't know.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, NATO's secretary general, expressed dismay at the Kremlin's decision, saying the alliance greeted Russia's announcement with "concern, grave concern, disappointment and regret" and calling the treaty "one of the cornerstones of European security.""
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/27/world/europe/27russia.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hp

Possibly someone here could send an email to Mr. Scheffer explaining to him why Russia is pissed.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!

by LEP on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:10:09 AM EST
I'm pretty sure the Soviets, uh Russians, explained it in detail to him.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ET review:

Ratify the CFE Now! by soj on Jun 25th, 2005

Although the 1999 Adapted CFE was designed to be ratified as soon as possible, the 18 NATO states (including the United States) have refused to ratify (or attempt to ratify) the treaty because of violations of the Final Act.  In essence, the 30 countries have acted like the 1999 Adapted CFE is a valid treaty, in terms of limiting the number of TLE in the various zones and areas, but the treaty has never actually been validated.  Therefore, at this time, any country could begin a build-up of conventional forces.

Reuters: Germany's Schroeder slams U.S. missile shield plans (European Salon, 2007/2/26)
and also, Financial Times: Nato chief warns of split over US missiles

Deutsche Welle: US Battles to Ease Russian Fears Over Missile Shield (European Salon, 2007/3/25)

I can't find the Salon entries on the recent climbdown by the EU and the NATO summit.

"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 05:28:17 AM EST
I have often posted that the major challenge of the next decade will be for the world to deal with the collapse of the US of A; in that context, the Russians (and the Chinese, I suspect) may be more far sighted than the Europeans.
by Lupin on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:10:43 AM EST
We're letting the US drag us down with it.

Let the Albatross soar...



"It's the statue, man, The Statue."

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 06:15:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've often wondered whether it is better to be far-sightedly cynical or short-sightedly altruistic.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:24:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh Putin's move to suspend the treaty was just return the ball to Bush and Co. They are playing game - Iraq proved to be Black Hole and Russians became aggressive in Europe with Gazprom imperialist designs. So Bush and Condi using their advantage (Eastern Europeans are naturally wary of Russia)decided to check Russian ambition in the region by "limited installations" in Poland and Chech republic knowing in advance that would irk Russia and further divide EU.  
by FarEasterner on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:23:09 AM EST
Thanks for that comment.

Does nobody remember this one?

NTI: Bush-Putin summit, November 2001 (Michael Jasinski, December 2001)

The most closely watched part of the discussions, however, was the question of strategic arms control. In spite of expectations that the two presidents might reach a breakthrough on the ABM Treaty, no such breakthrough materialized. The two presidents, however, expressed readiness to sharply reduce their countries' strategic nuclear arsenals, and following the December 13, 2001 U.S. declaration of intent to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, some observers speculated that Bush and Putin had reached an informal agreement on the withdrawal during their Crawford meeting.

...

Following the friendly earlier meetings between Bush and Putin, some observers expected the two presidents to reach a breakthrough on the crucial issue of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which would allow the United States to proceed with the National Missile Defense program without having to withdraw from the treaty. Such a breakthrough, however, did not materialize. But the two presidents appeared ready to sharply reduce their countries' strategic nuclear arsenals, and there are some indications that the Russian Federation has informally adopted a more flexible stance on the ABM Treaty.

...

During the summit, President Bush unilaterally pledged to reduce the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal from 7,000 deployed warheads to only 1,700-2,200 over a period of 10 years. The promised unilateral cuts in effect side-step the START II treaty and its warhead ceiling of 3,000-3,500 warheads. In response, Putin promised that Russia would respond in kind and reduce its own strategic nuclear arsenal consisting of 6,000 warheads by two-thirds, which would also leave approximately 2,000 deployed Russian nuclear warheads. ... Moreover, the two presidents appeared to have had different views on how formalized the new commitments ought to be. Whereas Putin insisted on turning the commitments into a formal treaty, Bush expressed a preference for a far more informal, and unbinding, arrangement.

I remember Bush came up with some trademark bullshik along the lines of "gentlemen don't need treaties" [but States do, unless you have a patrimonial vision of the State, like Bush] and something about "looking into Putin's eyes", etc.

Let's not look at the propaganda from November 13, 2001...

Johnson's Russia List: Bush, Putin Build a Friendship (By NANCY BENAC on November 12, 2001) — this one shows Bush and Putin drooling over each other despite earlier mutually dismissive statements.

The Acronym Institute: Disarmament Diplomacy (November 2001) — this one has very interesting transcripts from the press conference, all about trust and being friends and no longer enemies, etc.

Center fro Nonproliferation Studies: Hope for a Strategic Breakthrough at the Bush-Putin Summit (William Potter and Nikolai Sokov, November 12, 2001)

For attentive observers, there is little new in that statement. Mr. Putin has warned a number of times that if the U.S. withdraws from the ABM Treaty, Russia would feel free to withdraw from other arms control treaties. The new language simply adapts this old position to the new circumstances and opportunities: whereas previously it was withdrawal for withdrawal, now it is modification for modification.
So where's the surprise at Putin's current position?


"It's the statue, man, The Statue."
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:41:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure no surprise. Sometimes it's boredom because of ceaseless repetition of such steps in history, the question I am interested in is whether Europeans (especially Eastern) would fall to hysteria (imagening Russian tanks) or would recover their senses in near future.
by FarEasterner on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 09:06:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you said "they're playing a game" and "the ball is on Bush's court" I thought that, after all the nice words 5+ years ago, Putin is saying "you want to play hardball? Let's play hardball".

And one can say Russian policy has been consistent over the years. It's US policy that is constantly shifting with respect to others and assigning the role of "bad guy" here and there.

But the current showdown over the missile shield has been an announced disaster since Bush assumed office, and is following entirely predictable lines.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 09:50:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, nobody should be surprised by what's happening. No Russian president would have let the Pentagon lay out bear-traps in Russia's front garden; certainly not Putin.
It's sad that we're seeing these two players wrestling each other on European ground as mere bystanders like it's 1961 or something. Seems like nothing changed too much, only the playground moved a little east.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 10:58:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Europe's leaders eye Sarkozy partnership

Nicolas Sarkozy may still have work to do to win the French presidency but he has already secured the unspoken support of Berlin, Brussels and London.

To leaders in Europe's big power centres, Mr Sarkozy may be an abrasive Gaullist, but he is best placed to bring a reformed France back into the political mainstream, making him the fourth member of a powerful group of Atlanticist European Union modernisers.

Angela Merkel, German chancellor, José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, and Tony Blair, British prime minister, have privately discussed the idea of forming a "strategic partnership" with Mr Sarkozy.

Gordon Brown, Mr Blair's presumed successor, has also spoken to Ms Merkel and Mr Barroso on how the four might work together to promote economic reform and build a more outward-looking Europe, with strengthened US relations.

Yuck, yuck, yuck.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 08:31:30 AM EST
It's irrelevant anyway. Purely moving the deckchairs on the Titanic.

No support they could give the US can prevent the necessary structural global readjustments....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 09:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe's leaders eye Sarkozy partnership

Nicolas Sarkozy may still have work to do to win the French presidency but he has already secured the unspoken support of Berlin, Brussels and London.

Since when is Gordon Brown a European leader? And having the endorsement of Barroso and Blair/Brown should be enough to make Sarkozy very scary.

European Leaders are just Germany, France and the UK. No mention of Spain (Zapatero would readily partner with Royal) or Italy (Prodi's  Margherita is already a partner of Bayrou's [former] UDF in the European Democratic Party).

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 09:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown is already a leader because he's been polite to Bush - unlike that shrieky Royal harpy who'd be less than polite. And is not only French, but a woman too.

As for the rest - 'outward looking' means 'towards the US', of course.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 10:30:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Royal seems less likely to submit to Bush's advances than Merkel, who is therefore more leaderlike.



Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 11:02:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And now Estonia feels the timing is right to remove the russian WWII memorial. The bear is now in a real bad mood.

I wish we had more people from Eastern Europe here to tell us how they feel about this.

by balbuz on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 11:35:30 AM EST
Events in Estonia have internal reasons, they are not related to Russia and took several years of campaigning and passing laws that allow government to interfere into what is essentially a local, city level, issue. Russia does not offer any meaningful support to Russians abroad, and Russian politicians rhetoric is on the memorial is just that - rhetoric for domestic consumption. Estonia is one of offshores for the Russian elite, there are common business interests, so government there has a free pass from Russia.

Issue here is with Russian (and Soviet) minority in Estonia (used to be 30% of population) and attempt by the government to once again show them the proper place in the country and remind the electorate who the real enemy (naturally, Estonia's own residents) is in the light of the coming economic troubles. But looks like government miscalculated the reaction of the Russians - I don't think they really expected several days of disorder, that borders will have to be closed (happened today) and that hangars will have to be filled with the arrested.

Russians in Estonia do not have citizenship rights, and discrimination increased in the last few years due to more nationalistic government. Russians have higher unemployment, less paying jobs, are under represented in management and government jobs. Problem is with Estonian "integration" policy: Russians ought to speak, think and live like Estonians. "Integration" means full assimilation and still monoethnic job places are quite common. Jobs are conditioned by government Estonian language exams, which were becoming more and more strict. Requirements include writing business papers and essays. Recent amendments to the language law allow language commission to re-examine a person while the whole exam process is universally considered arbitrary.

Government and media prop fake "pro-Russian" parties and only "model Russians" (slightly to the right of the government) are allowed mainstream media time. Another issue is schools: teachers in Russian schools are being
replaced by native speakers and number of subjects in Estonian are increased. Government program for those schools by design does not give correct or enough Russian and after high school the education level is
not enough for the college.

Russians do not have political voice, government actively arrests, intimidates, deports or uses language commissions to fire from jobs possible troublemakers.

What Russians in Estonia are saying is that there are preciously few cultural places at this point they were allowed to keep, including only one theater. Destroyed monument and tradition to go there on VE Day was exactly one of those places, thus the reaction.

So what it is a movement against oppression. Problem is, it's leaderless resistance and that government is not ready to view the conflict in political terms.

by blackhawk on Fri Apr 27th, 2007 at 11:42:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a political party representing the the Russian speakers in Estonia? Of course, when you say "Russians in Estonia do not have citizenship rights" this includes electoral disenfranchisement, but the "integration" process must have allowed a number of Russian speakers to gain full citizenship. How many of these are there?

FQIW, at the latest European Parliament elections, The voter turnout in Estonia was one of the lowest of all member countries at only 26.8%. What this means is that, to elect one of Estonia's 6 MEPs one only needed 3% of the registered voters (in fact, 2% did suffice). I mention this because a Russian Estonian MEP would be able to raise awareness of the situation of the Russian minority at the EU level, which is quite necessary. I don't think many people are aware of what the EU got into itself in that regard.

We have discussed the Council of Europe's convention on regional and minority languages in connection with Ukraine. Maybe it is because the Russian speakers are actually disenfranchised that the isse is not current in Estonia.

Bush is a symptom, not the disease.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 08:47:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About 10% of voters are former "aliens". Aliens are allowed to vote in local elections, but the problem, from Russian minority, agenda, is coming from the national level. Memorial debacle is an example: people, electorate and authorities of Tallinn were against dismantling, but the decision was made by national parliament. BTW, on local level Russian is used, but there is a problem with pressure on Russian schools and media.

Russian parties seem to be on the out: there are two of them (not a good idea, given 5% national parliament barrier), to squabble, let the private interests run amok, did nothing about closing of the Russian TV channel, the Russian Radio station and a newspaper.

So in recent elections Russian vote went to the Centrist party of Savisaar, which has European views on minority rights. This potentially makes the Centrist party less likely to blocked with, so, when expedient, they mute the aliens issue.

Problems are not going to be solved with more representation, it's more an issue of political culture and spirit: xenophobic and nationalist rhetoric is accepted from politicians, fact that decisions affecting schools and language commissions worsening the situation are pushed  from national level without consultations with the minority, discrimination in wages and positions, no dialog with minorities, educational policies and staffing that caused higher education rates for Estonians and aliens, equal in Soviet times, now differ two fold.

Today's Estonian biggest newspaper opines on Russians: Unknown Bastard.

by blackhawk on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 05:16:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sheesh, the European Commission's Country Profile for Estonia prior to EU accession has only this to say about the Russian minority:
Population: 1.36 million (2002), 80% citizens of Estonia, 7% citizens of other countries and 13% stateless.
Looking at the final progress report I realise that there doesn't seem to be any specific area of the EU Acquis where this issue fits. This is where a Bill of Rights would help.

Thre is, however, a couple of items from 2000 regarding language laws.

European Commission: Commission welcomes adoption of new Language law in Estonia (16/06/2000)

The Commission welcomes the new Language Law which was adopted yesterday by the Estonian Parliament. It notes with satisfaction that Estonia has thus followed its recommendations made in the Regular Report and Accession Partnership of October 1999 and worked towards compliance of the text with both international standards and the Europe Agreement.

"I warmly welcome this decision" said European Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen. "The result of today represents an important step towards striking the right balance between the legitimate objective of promoting and protecting the Estonian language with full respect of the international standards on minorities and compliance with Estonia's obligation under the Europe Agreement. This decision constitutes an additional step in Estonia's efforts to create a modern, democratic and inclusive society. The rapid consensus found in the Estonian Parliament is a clear indicator that there is a strong majority in favour of this objective".

The Commission is very confident that Estonia will also continue to strive towards reaching full compatibility with international standards and the Europe Agreement in the implementation of the law.

European Commission: Statement by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on The Estonian Language Law and the State Integration Programme (13/09/2000)

Statement by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on The Estonian Language Law and the State Integration Programme

The European Union welcomes the Estonian Parliament's adoption on 14 June of amendments to the Language Law. The Union notes with satisfaction that EU recommendations have been taken into account, thus bringing the law largely in conformity with the Europe Agreement. The Union supports the statement on the language law by the High Commissioner for National Minorities, Mr. Max Van Der Stoel in which he concludes that the law now largely complies with international standards. The Union trusts that the proper implementation of the law will be ensured.

At the same time the European Union acknowledges the Estonian government decision to adopt in March 2000 the State Integration Programme for the years 2000-2007. The State Integration Programme, complemented with a proper implementation plan, offers substantial scope for strengthening the process within Estonian society towards the integration of the non-Estonian speaking minority.

The Union considers these steps taken by Estonia as most encouraging signs of positive development in the integration process and will continue to work in close cooperation with the Estonian authorities to support this objective.

WTF is the "Europe Agreement"?

Europa Glossary: Europe agreement

A Europe agreement is a specific type of association agreement between the European Union and the Central and Eastern European countries that subsequently became EU candidate countries. The Europe agreement is based on respect for human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the market economy.


Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 05:36:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is from a Russian source, but it hopefully doesn't misrepresent the Council of Europe's [not to be confused with the Council of the European Union] report.

Mosnews: Council of Europe Concerned Over Racism in Estonia, Lithuania (22.02.2006)

Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) has released reports on racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in four countries, including Estonia and Lithuania.

...

In Estonia, the number of stateless people who have obtained Estonian citizenship has been steadily increasing, the report said. But Estonia has not developed a consistent policy aimed at bringing the Estonian-speaking and Russian-speaking communities together. Estonia has yet to examine the full extent of the Holocaust in Estonia and to give it its rightful place in the national debate. The report also noted that the Roma community in Estonia was still disproportionately affected by unemployment and discrimination in the field of education.

The Council of Europe admitted that ethnic Russians in Estonia were faced with serious discrimination on the way to integration into society, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance said Tuesday. Estonia has failed to accept an anti-discrimination set of regulations and the law on rights and status of national minorities, the Gazeta.Ru news website quoted the ECRI report as saying. About 140,000 Russians residing in Estonia (some eleven percent of the population) have not been granted citizenship, particularly because of a strict Estonian language test.

Among the Russian population in Estonia, the rate of unemployment is disproportionately high, and the government has not developed a policy that would draw together Russian and Estonian nationals. The commission suggested that the Estonian authorities organized a body that would fight racism and ethnic discrimination.



Bush is a symptom, not the disease.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 28th, 2007 at 05:45:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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