Archive for the ‘EU’ Category

Euopean Union President: Obama “will undermine the stability of the global financial market”

March 25, 2009

As the President of the United States gets ready for his first trip to Europe, he’ll have to prepare humself for disunity over his budget and economic plan — from the European Union.

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that Obama, ” talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans.  All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell.”

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek addresses deputies at the European Parliament.

The “biggest success” of the European Council so far this year is a refusal to follow the same path, he said.

“We need to read the history books and read with it the lessons of history,” Topolanek said.

But Britain’s Pime Minister, Gordon Brown, meanwhile, is trying to convince Obama to spend even more……

Here is how Gordon Brown faced the heat at the EU:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=94lW6Y4tBXs

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts,  as he listens to ... 
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown reacts, as he listens to the debates, Tuesday March 24, 2009 at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, eastern France. Brown called for global standards of financial regulation and insists every continent must pour enough funds into their economies to beat the crisis.(AP Photo/Christian Lutz)

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From The Telegraph (UK)

Mr Brown used a speech to MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday to exhort the European Union to take the lead in rehabilitating the world economy and forging a new “moral” capitalism. He called for an end to offshore tax havens, tougher financial regulation, and international limits on remuneration.

But his message risked being overshadowed by a warning from Bank of England Governor Mervyn King that Britain may not be able to afford further fiscal stimulus measures.

Mr King told the Treasury Select Committee that the UK’s deficit levels were already “very large”.

“I think the fiscal position in the UK is not one where we could say, ‘well, why don’t we just engage in another significant round of fiscal expansion’,” he added.

The remarks were seen as embarrassing to Mr Brown, who has successfully pressed the case for wealthy countries to bring forward significant fiscal stimulus packages to refloat the economy.

Read it all:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/p
olitics/gordon-brown/5047550/Gordon-Bro
wn-seeking-to-win-over-US-bankers-with-hi
s-vision-for-global-economy.html

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A top European Union politician on Wednesday slammed U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as “a way to hell.”

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, told the European Parliament that President Barack Obama’s massive stimulus package and banking bailout “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

Associated Press

A day after his government collapsed because of a parliamentary vote of no-confidence, Topolanek took the EU presidency on a collision course with Washington over how to deal with the global economic recession.

Most European leaders favor tighter financial regulation, while the U.S. has been pushing for larger economic stimulus plans.

Topolanek’s comments are the strongest criticism so far from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from recent U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.

They also pave the way for a stormy summit next week in London between leaders of the Group of 20 industrialized countries.

The host of the summit, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, praised Obama on Tuesday for his willingness to work with Europe on reforming the global economy in the run-up to the G-20 summit.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/e
u_eu_us_economy

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/BU
SINESS/03/25/EU.topolanek.u
s.economy/index.html

Biden: “U.S., West Not Winning In Afghanistan”

March 10, 2009

Vice President Joe Biden says the “deteriorating situation” in Afghanistan poses a security threat to every NATO country and beyond.
.

BRUSSELS — Vice President Joe Biden urged NATO members to jointly confront Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan where he said instability threatens all of the alliance’s members equally.

Appearing before NATO’s top decision making body, Biden solicited ideas to reverse a losing military strategy in Afghanistan as part of President Barack Obama’s policy to bring more European allies on board to fight the Taliban-led insurgency.

He warned the situation in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan was worsening, adding, “The deteriorating situation in the region poses a security threat from our respect not just to the United States, but to every single nation around this table.”

“It was from that remote area of the world that Al Qaeda plotted 9/11 and subsequent attacks” in Europe and elsewhere.

In his speech, Biden said the Obama administration will be keen to engage NATO allies in global security discussions, marking a departure from the last eight years when Washington often was on a go-it-alone course that upset its European allies.

“President Obama and I are deeply committed to NATO. Lets get that straight right from the start,” Biden told the North Atlantic Council — the panel of ambassadors from NATO’s 26 member nations.

Biden said Americans view a terrorist attack in Europe “as an attack on the United States. That is not hyperbole … We view it as a gateway to further attacks on the United States. So please understand that this is not a U.S.-centrist view that only if America is attacked is there a terrorist threat.”

He said he came to hear ideas from the allies on how NATO can bring stability to Afghanistan.

“It is from that area that Al Qaeda and its extremist allies are regenerating in conceiving new atrocities aimed at the people around the world from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India to the United States, Europe and Australia,” he added.

After his consultations with NATO allies he will meet with senior officials at EU headquarters.
His visit, less than a week after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with senior NATO and EU officials here, highlights the new priority that diplomatic outreach to allies has become for Washington.

An issue closely related to the Afghan war is growing concern that neighboring Pakistan could be sliding further into instability.

Obama launched a strategic review of U.S. policy in Afghanistan after he took office in January. That review is expected to be completed later this month.

“What I want to learn is what your countries believe are working, what you think is not working, how we can do a better job in stopping Afghanistan and Pakistan from being a haven for terrorists,” Biden said.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/200
9/03/10/biden-warns-deteriorating-sit
uation-afghanistan/

See Also Reuters:
“West Not ‘Winning’ in Afghanistan”
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/200
90310/pl_nm/us_afghan_nato_b
iden_4

While President Obama and VP Biden attempt to squeeze more troops out of Europe, they are facing the economic problems of the global recession as well as great uncertainty about U.S. policy, commitment, capability and ability….

Related:
Obama Throws Britain Under the Bus: Relationship “Reset” and “Regime Change”

Era of Obama, American Weakness Emboldens Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Terrorists

Obama’s First Major Foreign Crisis Brewing?
.
Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama

Czech President Says Obama Views “Unknown” On Key Foreign Policy Issues

White House: U.S. Will Not Shoot North Korean Missile

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations
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Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”

Obama, State Department, White House Staff, Hillary “Unaware,” “Overwhelmed” by Expectations

March 8, 2009

Bungle: : to act or work clumsily and awkwardly. 

Etymology: perhaps of Scandinavian origin; akin to Icelandic banga to hammer.Well, President Obama and Hillary Clinton both hammered their roles as foreign relations dignitaries last week….

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British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

Barack Obama’s offhand approach to Gordon Brown’s Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America’s economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been “overwhelmed” by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

The above quote comes from the Telegraph Newspaper in the UK.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa
/barackobama/4953523/Barack-Obama-too-tired-to-give-prope
r-welcome-to-Gordon-Brown.html

Bloggers in the UK and elsewhere are somewhere between bemused and ouraged:
http://www.politicalbyline.com/2009/03/07/can-som
eone-remind-me-as-just-why-exactly-we-elected-this-do
uche-nozzle/

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Related:
Obama And The Fine Art of Political Nuances
Fine Art Of Protocol, International Relations Lost On Obama?

Protocol: Brit Media Furious At Obama 

In The White House, Protocol Not Just For Computers
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Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

 Obama Forges New Path in Protocol

 Hillary: One-Time Health Care Failure Now American’s Chief Diplomat, Fouls Up First Time Out

Russia Sees Obama, U.S., Others As “Weak,” “Naive”
(Now we can add stupid….)

Hillary’s Benito Bungle

Hillary Clinton raised eyebrows on her first visit to Europe as secretary of state when she mispronounced her EU counterparts’ names and claimed U.S. democracy was older than Europe’s.

Clinton has set herself a gruelling pace on visits to Egypt, Israel and Brussels soon after touring the Far East, attending dozens of meetings and giving speech after speech, with little time worked into her schedule for sleep.

Tiredness appeared to show on Friday when she answered questions in front of 500 young Europeans at the European Parliament, where she was the highest-ranking U.S. visitor since the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1985.

A veteran politician, Clinton compared the complex European political environment to that of the two-party U.S. system, before adding:

“I have never understood multiparty democracy. “It is hard enough with two parties to come to any resolution, and I say this very respectfully, because I feel the same way about our own democracy, which has been around a lot longer than European democracy.”

The remark provoked much headshaking in the parliament of a bloc that likes to trace back its democratic tradition thousands of years to the days of classical Greece.

One working lunch later with EU leaders, Clinton raised more eyebrows when she referred to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who stood beside her, as “High Representative Solano.”

She also dubbed European Commission External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner as “Benito.”

From Reuters and Canada.com:
http://www.canada.com/news/Solano+Benit
o+Democracy+Clinton+raises+eyebrows/1
361287/story.html

Barack Obama and Gordon Brown: Has Gordon Brown's meeting with Barack Obama restored his fortunes

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown walk down the Colonnade of the White House in Washington, Photo: AP

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior ... 
Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel gestures prior to the inauguration ceremony of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States, in Washington, January 20, 2009. Emanuel famously said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”(Jim Young – UNITED STATES/Reuters)

Obama cuts ‘Buy American’ plan after EU trade war threat

February 4, 2009

The European Union warned the US yesterday against plunging the world into depression by adopting a planned “Buy American” policy, intensifying fears of a trade war.

The EU threatened to retaliate if the US Congress went ahead with sweeping measures in its $800 billion (£554 billion) stimulus plan to restrict spending to American goods and services.

Gordon Brown was caught in the crossfire as John Bruton, the EU Ambassador to Washington, said that “history has shown us” where the closing of markets leads — a clear reference to the Depression of the 1930s, triggered by US protectionist laws.

From The Times (UK)

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/ne
ws/world/europe/article5655115.ece

China Premier’s gifts to Europe come with price-tags

January 26, 2009

China’s Premier flies to Europe on Tuesday bearing vows of support for its crisis-rattled economies, in a bridge-mending visit that shows Beijing‘s potential to use its financial muscle for diplomatic sway.

Premier Wen Jiabao is traveling during China’s big Spring Festival holiday and his diplomats have said his seven-day “journey of confidence” will sprinkle agreements and uplifting declarations on European states battered by economic woes.

Reuters

Related:
China Loves You: Here’s $15

This holiday cheer comes less than two months after China called off a summit with the European Union, venting anger over French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

“This visit is intended to have a lot of symbolic value. I think the Spring Festival time was chosen for good reason,” said Zhou Hong, an expert on relations with Europe at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a leading state thinktank in Beijing.

“China wants to show it’s ready for a fresh start after the recent troubles, ready to expand communication and coordination, especially over the financial crisis.”

Such heartening sentiment from the world’s third biggest economy with its $2 trillion in reserves will probably be welcomed at Wen’s five destinations: Switzerland and the World Economic Forum in Davos, Germany, the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Spain and Britain.

But Beijing’s gifts have price-tags attached.

China is still fuming over Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader condemned by Beijing as a separatist for demanding autonomy for his homeland.

Paris is conspicuously off Wen’s itinerary. Too little time for that, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Wu Hongbo told reporters last week.

Wen can use the lure of investment and deals to remind the often jostling European states that Chinese cooperation comes with perhaps unspoken but nonetheless clear conditions, said John Fox, a former British diplomat in Beijing now at the European Council on Foreign Relations in London.

“Certainly, from the European side and Number 10 Downing Street the focus of this visit will be almost entirely on the financial crisis,” said Fox, referring to the British Prime Minister‘s residence.

“But China is also looking for Europe to rebalance relations, to take the sting out of these disputes.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090126/wl_n
m/us_china_europe_wen_1

‘Last chance’ gas talks in Moscow

January 17, 2009

The prime ministers of Russia and Ukraine are to meet in Moscow in an effort to end the dispute disrupting supplies of Russian gas to Europe.

However, there are sharp divisions within Ukraine over whether to link transit supplies to supplies for Ukraine itself at the negotiations.

The EU has urged Russia and Ukraine to prove they are “credible” partners and said it was their “last chance”.

BBC

A bid to hold a Moscow gas summit on the same day appears to be floundering.

Some central and east European states have been reduced to rationing gas.

Others have been seeking alternatives to the pipelines carrying Russian gas via Ukraine.

Russia ceased supplies of gas to Ukraine on 1 January after talks on the price Kiev should pay in 2009 collapsed.

On 7 January, it stopped deliveries to Europe via Ukraine, saying it was forced to do so because Kiev was stealing the gas.

Ukrainian officials deny the allegation and accuse Russia of provoking the crisis.

Almost 20 countries in Europe have been affected by what is the worst energy crisis the EU has ever faced, the BBC’s Richard Galpin reports from Moscow.

Rival positions

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, fresh from a visit to Germany, one of Moscow’s biggest gas clients, is due to meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Yulia Tymoshenko, on Saturday afternoon.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7834796.stm

Russia’s Real Gas Pain is Pro-Western Ukraine

January 14, 2009

The feud between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas prices and transit fees has left large swaths of Europe without heat. Yet, what is baffling is that the dispute has always seemed overly technical and easily resolved, if there was the slightest desire on either side. After all, both countries stand to profit from selling fuel to Europe.

By Andrew Kramer
The New York Times

The latest agreement collapsed Tuesday, in a familiar cacophony of complaints and countercomplaints, and again over a seemingly trivial issue. With European Union monitors along the pipeline to make sure that Ukraine did not divert any gas for its own use, Russia agreed to resume shipments to Europe.

But rather than repressuring the Ukrainian pipeline system for exports, Russia’s gas monopoly, Gazprom, ordered a single test shipment to see if it would pass through Ukraine to Europe, through a pipeline that was being used to supply the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Ukrainian authorities refused, saying they did not want to cut supplies to their own people, and Russia again halted shipments — not, some experts believed, reluctantly.

Political experts say that neither side is motivated to settle the dispute, because it has never been about the stated issues. Instead, it has been a proxy for far more fundamental and insoluble matters, particularly Ukraine’s 2004 turn to the West in the “Orange Revolution,” which deeply shook Russia’s nationalists.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin inspects the inside of ... 
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin inspects the inside of the central control room at the Gazprom headquarters in Moscow. EU leaders kept up pressure Wednesday on Russia and Ukraine to resolve their gas dispute after an attempt to resume transit supply failed to deliver gas to European consumers.(AFP/Alexander Nemenov)

“The Russian side is appealing to a lot of technical details to explain why it still wants the conflict to go on,” Vladimir S. Milov, president of the Institute of Energy Policy in Moscow and a former deputy energy minister of Russia, said in a telephone interview.

“It’s very clear to see the desire to pressure the Ukrainian politicians, and pressure them that if they continue to pursue a pro-Western course and not adhere to the rules imposed by Moscow on the post-Soviet space, they will face difficulties,” he said.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/world
/europe/14gazprom.html?_r=1

Russia, Ukraine trade blame in Europe gas crisis

January 14, 2009

Hopes that Russia would get natural gas flowing again to shivering Europeans vanished like a winter’s breath Tuesday when Moscow turned on the taps, then alleged hours later that Ukraine was blocking the shipments.

Ukraine in turn blamed Russia in the weeklong dispute, saying the Kremlin had demanded the Europe-bound gas go by a laborious route that would require Ukraine to cut off supplies to its own people.

By JIM HEINTZ
Associated Press

A pipeline is seen at a gas compressor station in Sudzha in ...

European Union monitors brought in to keep tabs on gas flows in both countries weren’t saying who was at fault, but the EU was clearly angry at the crisis that has deprived millions of heat, light and even work.

“We are not entering a blame game here, but the commission reminds both parties of their responsibilities,” EU spokesman Johannes Leitenberger said. “The European consumer cannot, shall not, be held hostage to what is clearly a bilateral situation.”

Europe gets about 20 percent of its gas from Russia through pipelines that cross Ukraine. Russia stopped selling gas to Ukraine on Jan. 1 in a dispute over prices and debts, then stopped sending any gas into its vast pipeline system on Jan. 7, alleging Ukraine was siphoning off supplies destined for Europe.

The crisis raises high risks for both ex-Soviet countries. European countries that are already spooked by Russia’s increasing military assertiveness — underlined by last summer’s war with Georgia ….

Related:
Power, politics fuels Russia-Ukraine war
.
 Russia’s Real Gas Pain is Pro-Western Ukraine

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article
/2009/01/13/AR2009011300285.html?wprss=rss_
world%2Feurope

Russia, Ukraine: Cold Gas Diplomacy Thaw?

January 9, 2009

Russia and the European Union clinched a deal on monitoring gas shipments through Ukraine, paving a way for the resumption of deliveries to EU countries.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reached an accord with Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who holds the EU’s presidency, on deploying a monitoring commission. Russia and Ukraine still have to resolve their dispute over gas prices, fees and debt that’s hit supplies to at least 20 nations.

Bloomberg

Since a previous dispute over gas prices in 2006, European Union nations have diversified their sources of fuel and improved inventories. They are also using more gas, the source of 24 percent of the world’s energy in 2007, to reduce emissions linked to global warming. OAO Gazprom suspended transit flows on Jan. 7 after accusing Ukraine of siphoning off gas destined for other buyers, a charge the country denies.

“It’s high time the EU gets serious about gas security and presses ahead with the creation of a single gas market,” Pierre Noel, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in an e-mailed statement. “The EU must be instrumental in the push for investment” in eastern states.

The deal came after talks in Brussels involving Gazprom Chief Executive Officer Alexei Miller, his counterpart at NAK Naftogaz Ukrainy, Oleh Dubina and EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stalled as the EU sought to negotiate an end to the dispute.

The agreement “should lead” to Russian gas supplies to the EU being restored, the Czech presidency said on its Web site.

Read the rest:
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=2
0601130&sid=aNXC2C0PRDd8

Europe Freezes, Ukraine Gives Russia Conditions for Gas Transfer

January 8, 2009

Ukraine‘s natural gas chief says he wants Russia to provide extra fuel to boost the flow of gas before his company can allow Russia to send the fuel back into a freezing European Union.

Russia’s Gazprom has announced it will resume pumping gas toward Europe once international monitors are in place to check the flow through Ukraine’s pipelines.

Oleh Dubina of Ukraine’s Naftogaz said Thursday his company will ship Russian gas to Europe on the condition “that Russia restores supplies and provides technical gas for Ukraine’s gas transport system.”

Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Dubina met twice Thursday and are continuing to talk as they fly back to Moscow, trying to resolve the dispute that has caused an energy crisis in Europe.

–Associated Press