Europe would have benefited from a few more years of Trump

One of the most recurrent common places among those who make European politics and those of us who comment on it is Jean Monnet’s phrase according to which “Europe will be forged in crises.” It has turned out to be true many times: had it not been for the crisis exchange rate of the early 1990s, the economic crisis of 2008 or the current crisis of the coronavirus, it is very likely that the euro would not have been founded, nor would the union levels that we currently enjoy would have been achieved. But it is a dangerous phrase: it seems to affirm, also, that when things go well (if that happens one day, in the near future), the European Union it will stand still.

But despite the risks, let me use it one more time: the biggest inadvertent crisis the EU has suffered in the last four years, when it was just emerging from the euro crisis, has its own name: Donald Trump. Trump started a trade war with the EU, encouraged Boris Johnson to carry out a hard Brexit, threatened to remove the United States from NATO, he became the political reference for the leaders of the two countries that do the most to break the founding values ​​of the EU, Poland and Hungary, he tried to impose his criteria for the use of technology on Europe and fooled with the leader of the closest adversary from the EU, Russia.

But once again that crisis ‘forged’ Europe. European countries not only committed (not very credibly, certainly) to increase defense spending to meet the requirements of the OTAN and demanded by Trump, but even began to talk about a possible European army with a self defense strategy. When Trump imposed tariffs on European imports, The EU responded by imposing its own on the importation of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, an emblem of America that votes for Trump, which ended up taking part of its production out of the United States. The EU started talking about something akin to industrial policies to strengthen the european technology, such as the one developed by Ericsson or Nokia for 5G networks. It even had, for the first time, a relatively credible tool to force unruly countries to comply with the rule of law: to condition the receipt of aid on compliance.

The two words that were repeated in the European Comission, the ‘think tanks’ and among the European intellectuals were “strategic autonomy”. The idyll with the United States, which had lasted since the end of World War II, was ending; Trump, it was thought, had done nothing but accelerate a trend that was already there underground, and now Europeans had to learn to manage alone in military, commercial and geostrategic matters. The process would be slow. Yet it was inevitable and unstoppable.

But was it? As soon as Joe Biden won the presidential election, doubts began to be expressed. First, the German Defense Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, public an article in the Brussels newspaper ‘‘in which he said that “in a world marked by increasing competition for power, the West will only be able to stand firm and defend its interests to the extent that it remains united. Europe continues to depend on the United States for its military protection, both nuclear and conventional, but the United States will not be able to carry the banner of Western values ​​alone. In an unusual act, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, disavowed it in an interview: “I strongly disagree with the German Defense Minister in ‘Politico,” he said. “I think it is a historical misinterpretation. Luckily, if I am correct, the Chancellor [Merkel] does not share this point of view. The United States will only respect us as allies if we are honest, and if we are sovereign when it comes to our defense. ” Trump’s trade for Biden, Macron said, it should be an opportunity to “continue to build our independence in the same way that the United States and China do.” In an even more unusual act, Kramp-Karrenbauer publicly stated that he agreed with the French president, but not entirely: “Without the nuclear and conventional capabilities of the United States, Germany and Europe cannot protect themselves. It is the harsh reality ”.

The two sides of the discussion are somewhat right: strategic autonomy is the objective that the EU should pursue, but it is doubtful that it has the political capital necessary to achieve it in the medium term. Meanwhile, dependence on the United States will persist. But, in any case, this public shock shows that the presence of Trump allowed to forge consensus which, in its absence, will be more difficult to sustain. His presence functioned as a accelerator of the tasks that the EU had pending but He was in no hurry to do it, and as much as we celebrate his departure from power, it is possible that the European tendency to leave things by halves is underpinning. Why should we continue with the frenetic pace of autonomous technological, military and commercial plans if old America is back in Washington, the one that was politically hardened in the Cold War and the sacred notion of protecting Europe?

Trump, in that sense, leaves a huge void in European politics. All analysts have been hoarse to repeat that the good old days will not return and that, no matter how much the Democrats rule, or later a more traditional version of republicanism, United States it will continue to urge Europeans to, for example, spend more on defense or align with them in the confrontation with China. But not seeing that man in the White House will make us relax. Macron It will try not to make it happen, but it will. And, in a sense, we will be able to invoke Monnet again, but with a twist: “The Trump presidency was a crisis that allowed Europe to be forged, but it was too short a crisis.”


The Patio leads from Greece the final stretch of its deployment with NATO

The voice of Galicia

M. Arroyo


19/11/2020 05:00 h

The combat supply ship Patio (A-14), which remains integrated into the NATO fleet number two, left the port of Souda, in Greece, to continue its surveillance missions in the Mediterranean. He is already facing the last days of his deployment, which began on September 19 with his departure from the Military Arsenal, where he will return next month.

During the stay in port, the naval group fired the lvaro de Bazn (F-101) frigate, which, after more than five months of mission, was relieved as command unit by another escort ship of the 31st. Squadron, Cristbal Coln (F-105).

Reception in Ferrol

According to the forecasts of the Navy, the lvaro de Bazn frigate, which is sailing back, will arrive in Ferrol next Sunday, November 22.

The welcoming ceremony will be held at nine in the morning at dock number 4 of the Military Arsenal and will be chaired by the captain of the navo head of the 31. Surface Squadron, Santiago Vila Barrn.

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NATO already poses the “Turkish problem”

Turkey, indispensable and unbearable. The power of the Turkish Armed Forces but above all the geographical position of Turkey make the country one of the most important member states of the Atlantic Alliance. Turkey controls the Russian exit to the Mediterranean, It is Europe’s gateway to the Middle East, it has borders with Syria, Iraq, Iran, the Caucasus, it acts as a European gendarme to stop migrations, it is a large arms customer and for years it has sought to position itself in North Africa.

At the same time, Turkey is an ongoing problem, sdo everything for your Greek and Cypriot neighbors, with whom you are continually discussing the sovereignty of the Aegean waters and even some of its smaller islands. In recent days, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rhetorically wondered about the “mental problems” of French Emmanuel Macron – Paris has already called the ambassador in Ankara for consultations – and the Turkish Armed Forces made the first tests of his new, brand-new – and Russian- anti-aircraft system, the S-400.

Nobody is considering the expulsion of Turkey from the military organization, but in the NATO headquarters in Evere (Brussels), where it has always been swept under the carpet and silence has been kept in an attempt not to upset the Turkish Government, patience seems to be running out of the glass. The Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, the former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, brought up the subject – which was not on the agenda – during the last meeting of NATO defense ministers, held last week by videoconference.

NATO sources say that the ministers discussed what would happen if the European Union approved sanctions against Turkey for its hydrocarbon exploration activities in waters that Greece and Cyprus consider theirs or if the military escalation with those two countries is increasing.

In Brussels, many Turkish movements have been annoyed, especially since last year, such as the attack against the anti-Assad militias in Syria and against the Kurdish guerrillas in Syria, which had constituted the bulk of the ground forces that ended the territorial control that ISIS had in Syria. Ankara for its part reproaches NATO for being outraged by the purchase of the Russian S-400 when Greece has the previous version, the S-300 and has never been reproached for it.

Since then Ankara has repeated the provocations: hydrocarbon prospecting, violations of the arms embargo on Libya – including an incident between three Turkish frigates that were protecting a freighter going to Libya and a French frigate that was supposed to halt and inspect the freighter – or involvement in the war for the territory of Upper Karabakh.

Last week’s videoconference helped Stoltenberg warned ministers of the danger of rising tension. The French – who are becoming Turkey’s main antagonists in NATO – assure that Ankara could be tempted to continue escalating the conflict.

The Defense Ministers of the Atlantic Alliance should meet in person – or by videoconference again if the epidemiological situation recommends it – in early December. At that meeting they will discuss Turkey again, on the role of the Russian anti-aircraft guns in a country that is home to a large NATO air base and a major radar system.

Turkey on Friday took a step in the direction indicated by NATO. Ankara agreed to put in place an “anti-conflict mechanism” with Athens. The two governments agreed to suspend their next military exercises. Stoltenberg told a news conference that it was “a step in the right direction.”


NATO Warns Turkey: Operating S-400 Will Affect Relations Between NATO Members – ANHA | HAWARNEWS

A spokeswoman for the Alliance said in statements to the German news agency (dpa) on Saturday: “This system may represent a danger to the aircraft of the allies and affect relations between the Alliance partners.”

He expressed NATO concern over those reports and called on Ankara to seek alternative solutions with the other allies.

He confirmed the inability to integrate the “S-400” system with the air defense and anti-missile system of the military alliance, while stressing that testing the system through Turkey will be regrettable.

Earlier, Turkish media reports have stated that the Ankara government had for the first time tested Russian surface-to-air missiles in operating conditions near the Black Sea city of Sinop.

In addition, the United States excluded Turkey from the F-35 program, due to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian missile defense system, and threatened to impose sanctions on Ankara.



EU condemns Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean | The World | DW

The leaders of the European Union on Friday (10/16/2020) condemned Turkey’s actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, where its hydrocarbon exploration operations dramatically aggravated old tensions with Greece and Cyprus.

The conclusions of the two-day European summit in Brussels mention the condemnation of Turkey’s “unilateral and provocative actions” and reiterate its “full solidarity” with Greece and Cyprus, two EU member countries.

At the same time, they urge Turkey to “reverse these actions” and ensure the reduction of tensions in the area. For her part, the head of the German government, Angela Merkel, told reporters that “the recent unilateral measures taken by Turkey, which are obviously provocations, have increased tensions again instead of dissolving them.” This “is very regrettable, and also unnecessary,” he added.

“You have to know that the language of threat will not work with Turkey. Instead of threatening Turkey, the European Union should make proposals to resolve the dispute in an unbiased and mutually beneficial way,” reacted the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Relations in a statement.

They warn sanctions against Turkey

EU leaders had a lengthy discussion about their relations with Turkey at a summit just two weeks ago, but Greece and Cyprus put their demands on the Turkish attitude in the Mediterranean again on the agenda.

After a similar dispute in August, Turkey redeployed the research ship “Oruc Reis” in waters between Cyprus and the Greek islands of Crete and Kastellorizo.

The United States and Germany, two staunch NATO allies of Greece and Turkey, have called the Turkish gas exploration mission a “provocation” and urged Ankara to withdraw the ship.

However, the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, said on Friday that there would be no change in the strategy agreed at the last summit.

Under that plan, the EU will closely monitor Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean and decide on possible actions at a summit scheduled for December.

The bloc warned Turkey that all options are on the table, including sanctions.

French President Emmanuel Macron strongly supported Greece to the point of mobilizing a war fleet in the Mediterranean as a show of force, but said Europe was ready to speak with Turkey. However, he warned that “we will not yield anything to these provocations.”

mg (afp, AP)


NATO Covert Support to Turkey and Azerbaijan in Upper Karabakh

Azerbaijan has the support of the NATO intelligence services in the countries of the former Warsaw Pact to mobilize the international press against the Armenians.

Since the beginning of the armed actions of Azerbaijan in Upper Karabakh – on September 27, 2020 – the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, under the co-chairmanship of the Egyptian Ismail Serageldin and the former President of Latvia, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, has been multiplying the dissemination in the international press of interviews and free stands of its members in favor of Azerbaijan.

But as early as April 2020, the former US ambassador to Azerbaijan, Robert Cekuta, announced in the center’s magazine that the time had come for Washington to get involved in Upper Karabakh [1]. ‎

The Nizami Ganjavi International Center – named after a famous 12th century poet born in Persia – was founded in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, on September 30, 2012, and its board of directors includes numerous politicians from the Caucasus, the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Baltic Republics. This center is co-financed by Azerbaijan and the oil transnational ExxonMobil.

The intense lobbying work initiated by the Ganjavi Center on the Upper Karabakh conflict shows that NATO is surreptitiously backing the ‘people of the two states», Phrase used by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoagn when referring to Turkey and Azerbaijan.

[1] “Time for more active U.S. engagement on Nagorno-Karabagh”, ‎Robert Cekuta, Global Policy Analysis, April 2020.


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

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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.

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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.