A busy December in Brussels: sprint before Christmas

This December is a hot month for the European agenda. We will have several fronts and many moments of action, with a European Council on December 10 and 11 and a plenary session of the European Parliament that will begin on 14. What are the fronts?

Budget pulse

Hungary and Poland decided last week to cast their veto on the budget package, which includes the € 750 billion Recovery Fund from which Spain could get up to 140 billion. It is in retaliation for the agreement on a rule of law mechanism that could cut off their access to European funds for their attack on judicial independence.

Press conference of the Prime Ministers of Poland (in the foreground) and Hungary.  (EFE)
Press conference of the Prime Ministers of Poland (in the foreground) and Hungary. (EFE)

The safest thing is that this matter is pending until the summit of December 10 and 11. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, intends to hold this meeting in person in Brussels, because the videoconference format has proven to be of little use in solving serious problems.

When Hungary and Poland formalized their veto two weeks ago, it was thought that a change in the wording could be enough, but Budapest and Warsaw are directly opposed, and the rest of the Member States and the European Parliament do not feel like making concessions. That is why many voices in Brussels believe that it is only a matter of waiting for them to continue seeing each other alone and without the possibility of obtaining concessions so that they end up withdrawing their bluff in exchange for some minimum transfer.

The agony of Brexit

After Michel Barnier, chief negotiator of the European Commission, traveled to London on Friday after a difficult week, this past weekend has been one of intense negotiations. Many assume that the Frenchman’s trip is due to a good signal from the British side.

Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, in London for another round of Brexit negotiations.  (EFE)Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, in London for another round of Brexit negotiations.  (EFE)
Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, in London for another round of Brexit negotiations. (EFE)

The three pending issues are those already known to all: governance of the agreement, fishing and ‘level-playing field’ or equal conditions. With 95% of the agreement completed in its technical aspects, as they have assured from the European Commission, these three issues are linked to an ideological element. That is precisely what is making them especially difficult to negotiate.

Once an agreement is reached, if at all, the job is not done. The ratification process will not be straightforward either, and Brexit will surely have to continue to be paid attention to well into December. The European Parliament has been willing to ratify the agreement as late as is December the 28th.

If it is not possible to close a deal, it goes without saying that the matter will gain importance as Member States have to prepare for an unknown scenario in their trade with the United Kingdom. as of January 1, 2021. Again, deal or no deal, Brexit will be one of the main issues at this month’s summit and will keep diplomats busy for weeks to come.

Turkey continues to give problems

European leaders promised Cyprus, which was calling for sanctions against Turkey for its oil and gas exploration in Cypriot and Greek waters, that they would take up the issue in December. In the meantime, Ankara would be offered the possibility of building a “positive agenda”. Despite strong friction between Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron, the dialogue between Berlin, Brussels and Ankara has not ceased.

Ships of the Turkish navy in the Aegean.  (Reuters)Ships of the Turkish navy in the Aegean.  (Reuters)
Ships of the Turkish navy in the Aegean. (Reuters)

But the tensions between the Hellenic, Cypriot and Turkish governments have not abated either. “Europe cannot pretend that Turkey is acting as an acceptable player in the regionNikolaos Dendias, the Greek foreign minister, complained last week, calling Ankara’s behavior “delinquent and provocative.” Last week, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, the Spanish Josep Borrell, explained to the European Parliament that the EU bloc is at a “critical moment” in its relationship with Turkey.

The European Parliament called in a non-binding resolution addressed to the meeting of leaders on December 10 and 11, that the European Union “act and impose harsh sanctions in response to the illegal actions of Turkey.” The atmosphere will heat up in the coming days, especially if there is any kind of tension in the Aegean Sea.

This week

This coming week, the one prior to the key dates of December, it will also come loaded, with meeting of finance ministers of the Eurozone and the European Union this Monday and Tuesday, with a review of the national budget plans, including the Spanish one, which have received the general approval of the European Commission.

Huawei's counter at an electronics conference in China.  (Reuters)Huawei's counter at an electronics conference in China.  (Reuters)
Huawei’s counter at an electronics conference in China. (Reuters)

Also on Monday there will be a videoconference of ministers of Education and also of Youth. It will be the turn of those of Culture and Sports on Tuesday, and on Wednesday that of the Ministers of Justice, who will discuss the launch of the European prosecutor’s office, and also of those of Health, who in an informal meeting will address the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in the European Union. Also on Thursday Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, will have a meeting with Ken Hu, CEO of Huawei, and also with Abraham Liu, CEO of Huawei in Europe.

The week will close with an employment and social affairs council. In addition, Yolanda Díaz, Minister of Employment, will see a lot of faces with the commissioner of the branch, the Luxembourgian Nicolás Schmit, because in addition to the Council they will participate together in a videoconference on social economy that same Friday.

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Vodafone tries to stop a millionaire lawsuit from a Spanish firm in London

19/11/2020 05:00

Ahead of

Vodafone is trying to neutralize a millionaire demand in London filed by the Spanish company Top Optimized Technologies (TOT). The lawyers of the British operator asked the High Court of Justice of England and Wales for a telematic hearing, held this Tuesday, in which they asked that the trial be postponed, according to sources familiar with the situation consulted by El Confidencial.

The former Vodafone partner asks you to be held accountable for plagiarism, patent infringement, breaches of contract and improper use of information, among other allegations. However, the operators’ lawyers request that the trial be delayed until a similar case is resolved that is pending appeal in Spain, for which TOT was claiming Vodafone and Huawei more than 500 million of euros.

At the time, an expert report from the consulting firm Ernst & Young (EY) calculated the compensation between 300 and 500 million, with the option of multiplying it based on certain technical variables until reaching the 1,500 million.

Image: Enrique Villarino. Image: Enrique Villarino.
Image: Enrique Villarino.

Vodafone has requested the suspension of this case in the islands by virtue of a European Union regulation, which establishes that when two different courts are adjudicating related cases, the court can suspend the proceedings to avoid contradictory sentences. “The processing of this procedure should be suspended until the Spanish court of appeal has made a decision,” say official Vodafone sources, adding that, “in any case, TOT’s accusations against Vodafone are unfounded.”

In addition, he considers that if there is a person responsible, it is Huawei: “The procedure against Vodafone in the United Kingdom is based on an alleged violation of Huawei, which a Spanish court has already rejected,” they explain from the operator. On the other hand, the lawyers of the British giant could claim abuse of use of cuts by TOT. That is, to go to different courts with the aim that one of them may rule in favor of their interests.

Vodafone: “The processing of the procedure should be suspended until the Spanish court of appeal has made a decision”

At the end of 2019, the Mercantile Court number 7 of Madrid dismissed a lawsuit filed by Top Optimized Technologies (TOT) against Vodafone and the Chinese manufacturer Huawei for patent infringement. The lawsuit, which dates back to 2016, accused both multinationals of breach of contract, disclosure of industrial secrets and ‘know how’, plagiarism of patents, infringement of patents, unfair competition and consequent compensation for damages.

After the ruling, the Spanish company, which has refused to comment, decided to appeal, although in this case most of the appeal in Spain is directed against Huawei. However, before reaching this scenario, the Justice in Spain had ruled that I was not competent to resolve potential irregularities on contracts signed under British law, hence the plaintiff later charged before the UK Justice and understands that they are illegal other than those reported in Spain.

C. Otto

Problems for Huawei and Vodafone: a Spanish startup demands more than 500 million euros from them and accuses them of plagiarism and infringement of patents and of disclosure of industrial secrets

If the postponement is granted, the substantive issue to be resolved could take years. Like the quantification of damages, which would arrive ‘a posteriori’, although the possibility of an out-of-court settlement always hovers over these cases. Unlike Spain, in the United Kingdom or the USA you can request a proceso de ‘disclosure’ o ‘discovery’, by which the judge could request all the internal information that is in the possession of both companies in order to discern the responsibility of each one.

The origin of this litigation goes back five years. TOT registered four patents in 2002 for mobile phones to optimize the use of the 3G network, which is very useful in crowded environments like a crowded stadium. With this application, TOT started a relationship with Vodafone in 2005 that ended in 2015, when the operator pointed out that Huawei had developed similar technology. It was after that that TOT sued for infringement of its patents.

This is not the first time that this consulting and development company has faced a technology giant. The Spanish firm has already accused Xiaomi of infringing patents on three mobiles that it presented at the Mobile World Congress in 2018.

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Five accessories for less than 50 euros that will make your telework much easier

Everything indicates that the coronavirus pandemic has come to stay for several months and, with it, the confinements, curfews and restrictions of all kinds. In this situation, there are more and more employees who, if they can, are taking up teleworking to minimize the risk of contagion. Working from home is not a panacea, especially if you have been doing it for months and the stage is so many more months ahead. It is important to have the right equipment so that teleworking is the closest thing to working in the office, but with all the advantages of doing it from home. And no, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some essential accessories that will make your life much easier and, yes, return to the office much more difficult.

Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Keyboard

The Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Keyboard.
The Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Keyboard.

It is one of the best value for money keyboards on the market. It is compatible with Windows computers (7, 8, 10 or later), macOS 10.10 or later, Chrome OS and iPad, as well as Android and iOS. This allows you write comfortably on almost any device. Connect up to three devices simultaneously, for example, a Windows computer, an iPhone, and an Android tablet. Logitech promises 18 months of life of the AA alkaline batteries that it incorporates inside. It is very light (only 465 grams) and compact (35 x 14 x 2 cm).

Buy this model

AUKEY Webcam 1080P

The AUKEY Webcam 1080P.The AUKEY Webcam 1080P.
The AUKEY Webcam 1080P.

If you are one of those who are all day on video calls and your laptop doesn’t have a good webcam, or you work with a desktop computer, you need to get hold of this ‘gadget’. This is a full HD (1080p) webcam with a 1 / 2.9-inch CMOS image sensor. It offers clear and smooth video for video calls and recordings, with good performance even in dimly lit rooms. It connects via USB without any additional ‘software’ required. It is compatible with Windows XP / 2000/2003 / Vista / 7/8/10, Mac OS 10.6 and Android 5.0 or higher, it works with Smart TV, Android TV Box and all the ‘online’ video call services.

Buy this model

Logitech M720 Triathlon

El Logitech M720 Triathlon.El Logitech M720 Triathlon.
El Logitech M720 Triathlon.

It is a powerful mouse that can be used by pairing with up to three computers switching between them at the push of a button. One of its strengths is the design, designed to last and with buttons that resist up to 10 million clicks. It is compatible with macoOS, iPad OS and Windows and incorporates a single AA battery that lasts up to 24 months.

Buy this model

Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2

Los Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2.Los Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2.
Los Xiaomi Mi True Wireless Earphones 2.

It is the first version of the AirPods signed by Xiaomi that arrives in Spain. It does so with a similar aesthetic although distinguishable at first glance. The swab is slightly longer and has a more oval shape. They hold well, although playing sports you may put your hand to your ear more than once. To use while working, answering calls, listening to music, etc., they are perfect. In the aspect of sound, perform at a good levelAlthough it can be said that they do not perform as well as other models in the bass. The level they reach, for the rest, is quite high. For the current price, 30 euros, difficult to find something better.

Buy this model

Tigeru Laptop Backpack

Tigeru backpack.Tigeru backpack.
Tigeru backpack.

You will surely have to go from office to home and from home to office more times than ever. Y a good backpack for your laptop will be essential. This model from the Tigeru brand is affordable, sober, robust and it will not disappoint you. It is made of Oxford fabric with a polyester lining to guarantee water repellency. The interior compartment for the laptop (up to 17 inches) is padded for added protection. It doesn’t weigh much (700 grams, 33 x 16 x 50 cm), it has a double front zip to support the weights well, and endless compartments for sunglasses, passport, documents, tablets, coins, side pockets …

Buy this model

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this is the Samsung that will interest you the most

If there is a terminal that has managed to give in the last year is the iPhone 11. This mobile is on the way and has practically all the ballots of becoming the best-selling terminal of 2020, as a course before it was the iPhone Xr. Why have you convinced so much? Because Apple knew how to read that many would be willing to have a next-generation high-end mobile by making some resignations if it meant being able to move away from the thousand euros. We do not know if driven by the success of this bet or by Chinese competition, but Samsung has created the Galaxy S20 Fan Edition (from now on FE) with which he intends to follow this same path.

M. Mcloughlin

The company will present its terminals next Tuesday. 5G will be one, not the only one, of its great claims. Something that with the foreseeable reduction of the previous generation will make it difficult to choose

We have spent a week with this mobile, a terminal as unexpected as it is interesting if what you are looking for is an Android, with a good specification sheet for just over 600 euros. Here are the good and the not so good of this machine, which bets a lot on performance, the camera and the screen to convince you to make eyes and Give up going to OnePlus or a Xiaomi.

As Apple already did with the iPhone 11, Samsung has taken advantage of this Galaxy S20 FE to introduce a wide palette of colors. Yellow, blue, purple, red … There are many finishes of this new model, whose frame is made of plastic in the case of the back and aluminum for the frames. It is obvious that it is a material that feels less ‘premium’ than a body finished in tempered glass, but the truth is that the treatment they have given it hides a lot and gives the hit.

Despite its 6.5 inches, its elongated design makes it comfortable to handle with one hand for quick actions such as sending messages or WhatsApp without having to grab both the right and the left at the same time. It is neither very heavy nor very light, at 190 grams. Nor does it stand out for its thickness, 8.4 millimeters. It has IP68 resistance, it has a USB Type-C port, a stereo speaker (with a drinkable sound but with room for improvement) and it forgets the headphone jack, something that still has many defenders.

Foto: M. Mcloughlin.Foto: M. Mcloughlin.
Foto: M. Mcloughlin.

For the screen they choose, as we have already seen in other models of the house, for piercing your SuperAMOLED to house the camera on the front. They put the fingerprint reader under the panel. It is not the fastest sensor you will find but it handles enough reliability so that you do not end up choosing the PIN or the pattern to unlock the mobile. Its 6.5 inches handle a resolution of Full HD + (measure more than enough for most of the people) as well as compatibility with HDR10 + and a refresh rate of 120Hz.

Display and performance

It is true that Xiaomi launched a pulse with 144Hz in its Mi 10T, But 120 is already a very high level, which makes everything feel and look very fluid. It can be deactivated if you want to stretch the autonomy.

For this price you will not find the brightest screen on the market either, but it has enough muscle to work in very bright environments or shoot a photo without problems when the sun hits directly. Good gloss, good calibration, good color reproduction within the particular style of the SuperAMOLED (They tend to saturate certain tones, although it can be adjusted) … I think the screen is one of the strengths of this device, although it is obviously far from what a S20 Ultra or a Note 20 Ultra can offer you.

The other thing the Galaxy S20 FE excels at is performance. It comes with a different engine depending on whether you opt for the 4G or 5G version. In this latest version, the one we’ve been testing, it handles the Snapdragon Qualcomm 865, one of the best chips of the year, which has held up very well the things that I have been throwing at it. Zero jerks, no temperature rises. Nothing.

Although the Exynos 990 is one step behind, power is not going to be a problem if you opt for the entry model, with LTE connectivity and not 5G.

Foto: M. McloughlinFoto: M. Mcloughlin
Foto: M. Mcloughlin

In both cases you can choose 6 or 8 GB of RAM. Obviously a higher figure will help to have a more fluid performance and to age the terminal better, but we find the same scenario as with the processor. 6GB is more than enough for the common man. It comes with Android 10 (we expect an early update to Android 11) running under One UI. In the case of storage you have two options: 128 GB or 256. In both cases, this memory handles the 3.1 UFS standard, the fastest on the market when it comes to writing and reading files. You can increase this space by external card.

Your biggest but

It has a 4,500 mAh battery. Perhaps having fitted a 5,000 mAh battery would have been an extra hit of effect. It’s enough? Keep in mind that we handle a Full HD + panel and not a Quad HD +, something that always helps not to burn fuel. It is not spectacular, but it is more than enough with normal use in a work day. This week, the day ends with more than 15% when I have dispensed with 120 Hz. That figure fell below 10% when I did not give it up. It convinces, but it will not take away your hiccups.

Foto: M. Mcloughlin.Foto: M. Mcloughlin.
Foto: M. Mcloughlin.

One of the things that is not fully understood is that being compatible with 25W fast charge, include one of 15. It has been a general complaint among those of us who have tested the device, since once again a technology brand is walking with an atypical stinginess of these prices.

With the charger you will be able to give a 25% kick in just a quarter of an hour. 40% is reached if we leave it plugged in for half an hour. So even if you forget to charge it overnight, you can still get enough power in the time when you shower and have breakfast before leaving home on the way to work.

A solvent chamber

Foto: M. McloughlinFoto: M. Mcloughlin
Foto: M. Mcloughlin

Before testing this phone, the camera was what generated me the most doubts. It is one of the sections where brands juggle more when it comes to adjusting the price and thus reducing the bill when it comes to creating terminals like this Samsung Galaxy S20 FE. Here we find a triple sensor, although that alone says little. It is the same as with the megapixels of the sensors: more does not always mean better. I have to say, however, that in this case we find a very solvent camera considering the price range in which we operate.

We have a 12 megapixel main sensor, with f / 1.8 aperture, 1.8 micron pixels as well as optical stabilizer. It is punctuated by a 12 megapixel wide angle, 123 degrees aperture and f / 2.2 aperture. The third element in this equation is a telephoto lens with three optical magnifications and up to 30 digital. This choice seems to me clearly a success by leaving aside sensors of dubious practical utility at the moment of truth such as macros or monocolors, things that can be done without the need for a part of the dedicated hardware.

This configuration allows this phone to have good results in quite good photography and even measure up in video, where a little more fish is. In normal light conditions it works very well. Yes, my recommendation is that you deactivate the image recognition assistant, especially with blue skies because it tends to exaggerate them on many occasions. Portrait mode, which relies on dynamic focus mode, responds quite accurately, even in low light conditions. In night photography it also performs at a good level.

In the field of video we have 4K or 1080p capabilities at 60 or 30 frames per second. It has a stabilization function that helps reduce vibrations to a great extent, although here there are obvious differences with more expensive models. It does a good job although it does not reach the precision of the Note 20 or other higher ranges at all.

As far as the front camera is concerned, we have a single 32 megapixel, 0.8 micron and f / 2.2 sensor. Under normal conditions meets the record but when the light is scarce suffers when processing the image, printing a fairly artificial finish.

Similar but different proposal

Once we have arrived here, we have to ask ourselves: Does it really match the iPhone 11 proposal? Although the idea may be similar, each has its strengths. Even when it comes to performance, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE handles a better screen and a more versatile camera. In the case of the Apple terminal, it handles a simpler camera (main sensor + wide angle) but probably with a somewhat finer end result, especially in video; better autonomy and a tempered glass design.

Foto: M. McloughlinFoto: M. Mcloughlin
Foto: M. Mcloughlin

It must be said that Samsung offers the possibility of getting 5G connectivity, which the iPhone does not, although it is expected that this afternoon the first ones will arrive with this technology. The question in this case that many ask themselves is whether they really need a phone with 5G. I do not expect that it will be such an important leap in our day to day, as I have said on other occasions, compared to those that supposed to jump from 3G to 4G, so it would not be a drama either.

It does not seem essential to me and represents a considerable saving. The entry model costs 659 euros. If you add 5G, it already goes up to 759 euros. In particular, I think that the vast majority of people will be more than satisfied with what this terminal offers and do not need to pay the extra peak that a Galaxy S20 + or S20 Ultra requires.

But there is another substantial difference. Within Android, there are more brands. So it is not just enough to discourage them from getting a terminal that works with iOS, but we also have to compete with many other brands. And in this price range, there are other interesting alternatives such as Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro or some Oppo terminals, among other brands.

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the Chancellor’s complex relations with China, Russia and Turkey

Ethics and pocket: values ​​and interests. That is one constant dilemma in German foreign policy. Angela Merkel knows this well, for many years she has struck a difficult balance, promoting the international business of the DAX 30 while denouncing human rights abuses and defending democracy beyond her borders. But 2020 has gotten in his way. The opacity with which China concealed the beginnings of the pandemic, the abuses of Beijing in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, the poisoning with Novichok of the Russian opponent Alexéi Navalni and the Turkish aggressiveness in the eastern Mediterranean are making it impossible for the Chancellor to maintain her equidistant pragmatism . Their position, which has come to be seen as lucrative and inspiring, may end up being seen as self-serving, contradictory, and ultimately counterproductive.

Few leaders in Europe, and throughout the West, know how to quickly get the presidents of China, Russia and Turkey on the phone. When things go wrong with the coronavirus, with Ukraine or Belarus, with Syria, Nagorno-Karabakh or Libya, It is Merkel who speaks with Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But is his unappealable recourse to dialogue with these autocrats really effective? Is his conciliatory and negotiation-prone character worth the fait accompli and testosterone? Can the commercial interests of the largest European economy be demarcated from the foreign policy decisions of its Executive?

Carlos Barragan

That it is accepted to lose the idiosyncrasy of Hong Kong, between the indifference and the conformity of world public opinion, is the greatest symptom of a change of era between the superpowers

China: Hong Kong, the Uyghurs and covid-19

2020 was going to be the big year for Germany and China. Berlin had been carefully preparing for months its rotating presidency of the European Council, from July to December this year. The climax was to come in September, when an event was scheduled to take place in Leipzig (Germany). EU-China summit with the leaders of the 27 and the Chinese president. There, a bilateral investment protection agreement was to be signed with great pomp that would make the bloc the preferred partner of the Asian giant.

But the summit did not take place. There was hardly a video conference. The agreement was not reached either. And it seems difficult to finally reach an ambitious and consensual text by December, the deadline for Brussels. The EU has been disappointed by Beijing’s unwillingness to step forward. Europe demands reciprocity – that European companies can do in China what Chinese companies are allowed in Europe – and Beijing does not want to make that qualitative leap. The president of the European Commission (and former Merkel Defense Minister), Ursula von der Leyen, assured that China had a lot to do.

The agreement was ruined by the lack of economic progress, but the European side was seeing less and less politically digestible an agreement with China in the current context, regardless of the letter of the text. The image of Beijing has fallen whole in recent months due to political repression in Hong Kong – where it has ended judicial independence and freedom of expression – and in Xinjiang, where it is estimated that one million of members of the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority are in concentration camps. But also due to the increasing aggressiveness with Taiwan and the feeling that Beijing concealed the severity of the coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic, which made it impossible to tackle it in time. In addition, it continues to refuse international experts to travel to Wuhan for an independent investigation and has raised its financial contribution to the World Health Organization (WHO), already questioned in its impartiality, increasing doubts about its independence.

Enrique Andrés Pretel

Under normal circumstances, WHO is often profiled in the media. But these are not normal circumstances and the proof is that you are reading this confined to home

These reasons have also led Merkel to distancing itself from China in recent months, blurring, one year after leaving power, one of the pillars of his legacy: his political and, above all, commercial approach to China. In her fifteen years at the Foreign Ministry, she has traveled to the Asian giant twelve times, always accompanied by a select group of businessmen. The chancellor has helped large transnationals such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Mercedes and BASF do multi-million dollar deals in the world’s second largest economy.

An example of this distancing is Germany’s turnaround on the thorny issue of 5G. If the German government, led by Merkel, began by defending the possibility that the Chinese Huawei participated in the deployment of this new telecommunications standard in its territory, now it is maneuvering so that, in practice, it is out of the game. After defending the importance of the free market and the need to adopt the latest technologies as soon as possible, the government’s draft of the new Telecommunications Security Law does not prevent Huawei’s participation, but it qualitatively limits it in practice. According to the economic daily ‘Handelsblatt’, the legislation provides for a technical control and a political scrutiny of each provider of critical elements of telecommunications networks.

File photo of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni.  (Reuters)File photo of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni.  (Reuters)
File photo of Russian opponent Alexei Navalni. (Reuters)

Russia: Navalny and the Nord Stream 2

For Merkel, Putin’s Russia has always been a difficult interlocutor, but an interlocutor. The chancellor did not consider cutting off the dialogue even in 2014, when Moscow militarily annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea and armed and financed a separatist guerrilla in eastern Ukraine. He supported expelling Russia from the G8 and imposing a series of sanctions from Europe that are still in force, but kept in contact. In fact, it was mainly her, although she led the then French president, François Hollande, by the hand, who a year later he brought Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to the table, to seal the Minsk Accords.

Merkel has endured a lot from Putin (perhaps more than anyone) and not only in foreign policy, where the chancellor has received rudeness and indifference from the Russian president when addressing the crises in Syria, Libya or, more recently, Belarus. Also in matters that directly affected Germany. In 2016, the Bundestag suffered a serious cyber attack that experts say was launched from Russia, but Moscow denied the biggest. And last year a Chechen ex-combatant and confidant of various Western secret services was shot in broad daylight in Berlin. The author of the shots, arrested shortly after, was a Russian agent. But for the Kremlin it was all a hoax.

Carlos Barragan. Kyiv

The end of the war in Ukraine sheds light on the turbulent geopolitical landscape. Europe is divided, the US is in internal crisis, Russia is weakened and China is positioned as the silent giant

What reasons could Merkel have to put up with this behavior? On the one hand, there are historical ties of Germany and Russia, in the cultural and human. Like the relations between Spain and Morocco, they are not always simple. There is also the conviction that carrot it is always better than stick, a thesis supported by the chancellor and her government.

But there is also the mere business. The most obvious and controversial example is the Nord Stream 2. It is a gas pipeline that directly connects both countries through the Baltic Sea and that, in addition to providing cheap energy insurance for the German private sector, is an oxygen balloon for Gazprom, the Russian state gas company. The project, which is close to completion despite opposition from Washington -which has imposed extraterritorial sanctions against the companies involved- and several European partners, represents a significant financial setback for Ukraine, which according to an estimate will stop receiving 1.8 billion euros annually in passing taxes.

But Merkel’s patience seems to be over with the Navalni case. The Novichok poisoning of the Russian opposition leader has shocked the chancellor, who has demanded cooperation from Russia and a thorough and transparent investigation of what happened, because only the Russian state possesses this nerve agent. The German government has warned that the use of chemical weapons cannot be left “without consequences” and has advanced talks with its European partners for a “joint response”. It will be time to see if the Chancellor is serious and is really willing to break the deck. The suspension of the Nord Stream 2 would be a good start.

Turkey: The eastern Mediterranean and the refugee crisis

Merkel has once again bet on dialogue on the last front that has been opened to her, the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean between Turkey and Greece. Ankara’s oil prospecting in disputed waters has raised the temperature in the region. Numerous warships on both sides patrol the area and the possibility that human error could unleash an armed conflict has been warned.

The chancellor has once again displayed her ability to balance here, defrauding Athens and sparking skepticism within the EU. And at the last European summit he has gotten away with it. Merkel has opted to avoid confrontation with Turkey, sacrificing the possibility of building a common European front. He has insisted that we must show “solidarity” with Greece, but at the same time seek a diplomatic solution to the conflict. The chancellor has not taken sides with her community partner -as other members of the bloc have done-, but has wanted to act as a mediator, sending her Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, to speak with the two parties, as if they were two alike . Equidistantes.

Behind this diplomatic effort is its interest in keeping Turkey in NATO, but also its need, for internal political reasons, for Ankara to maintain its commitment to host Turkey in its territory. refugees arriving from Syria and Iraq, preventing them from advancing towards Europe. Because Merkel doesn’t want another crisis like the one in 2015, in which she kept her country’s borders open and allowed a million people to enter, but suffered great political wear and tear and caused a deep internal crisis within the conservative German bloc (and the take off of the extreme right). That cannot be repeated. Not a year from the elections.

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