Archive for the ‘European Union’ Category

Ukraine-Russia Gas Talks End With No Result; Europe Shivers

January 8, 2009

Gas talks overnight between Ukraine‘s state energy firm Naftogaz and Russia’s gas export monopoly, Gazprom, ended with no concrete results, the head of Naftogaz was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Interfax-Ukraine quoted Naftogaz chief Oleh Dubyna as saying the talks in Moscow with Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller ended without result but that they would be continued.

Austria's OMV gas refinery -- one of Europe's largest -- has seen its deliveries from Russia cut.

Above: Austria’s OMV gas refinery — one of Europe’s largest — has seen its deliveries from Russia cut.

The news agency also quoted Dubyna as saying that three-way talks in Brussels, involving the European Union, had been canceled at the behest of the Russian side.

(Reporting from Reuters by Yuri Kulikov, writing by Guy Faulconbridge and Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Christian Lowe)


From the BBC
Some EU states are getting no gas at all or have seen supplies sharply cut.

Ukraine denies Russian accusations that it is stealing gas passing through export pipelines on its territory.

Russia cut gas to Ukraine itself a week ago as a row over allegedly unpaid bills escalated.

Read the rest:


From CNN
Oleh Dubyna, the chief executive of Ukraine’s Naftogaz, told Russia’s Interfax news agency that the Thursday meeting in Brussels between himself, the European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and Gazprom boss Alexey Miller had been cancelled by the Russians.

Dubyna said talks would, however, continue in Moscow.

“What matters most now is to restart gas shipments to Ukraine,” he said.

Read the rest:

General view of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom's headquarters ... 
General view of Russian gas monopoly Gazprom’s headquarters in Moscow, January 6, 2009. Gazprom said on Tuesday it had supplied around 65 million cubic metres of gas to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday, compared with around 300 mcm in previous days.REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA)


Russia, Gazprom and the European Gas & Oil Mess

January 6, 2009

Russia sharply cut gas flows to Europe via Ukraine on Tuesday in a dramatic worsening of a pricing dispute with Kiev that threatened to disrupt supplies as far west as Italy and Germany.

Russian export monopoly Gazprom said it supplied some 65 million cubic meters (mcm) to Europe on Tuesday through ex-Soviet neighbor Ukraine, a fall of 78 percent from the 300 mcm it had been shipping since the dispute erupted on January 1.


The European Union, dependent on Russia for a quarter of its gas, urged Moscow and Kiev to find a solution this week and German Economy Minister Michael Glos said it was very important the two sides began negotiations.

The head of Ukraine’s state energy firm said he would fly to Moscow on Thursday. Gazprom said it was ready to talk any time but did not expect Ukraine to return to the talks table for now.

Read the rest:


By GEORGE JAHN and MARIA DANILOVA, Associated Press Writers

The RussiaUkraine natural gas dispute hit Europe with the force of a winter storm Tuesday, cutting or limiting supplies to nearly a dozen nations. Tens of thousands of people were left without heat and governments scrambled to find alternate energy sources.

Shocked by how fast the shortages were spreading, the European Union demanded a quick end to the dispute — a sharp turnaround from their earlier stance, when officials had downplayed the conflict between Moscow and Kiev as primarily a business matter.

But by Tuesday evening, gauges on delivery pipelines to six countries — including some depending totally on Russian gas — were pointing toward zero and an increasing number of other nations reported significant reductions.

The Ukrainian gas company Naftogaz said Russia’s gas giant Gazprom had sharply reduced its shipments to Europe through pipelines crossing Ukraine, triggering the cuts.

Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Croatia and Turkey all reported a halt in gas shipments, and even France, Germany, Austria and Poland reported substantial drops in supplies from Russia.

Read the rest:


What Is Gazprom?

Gazprom is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of natural gas — and Russia’s most powerful company.
It controls 20 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves and operates the world’s largest gas distribution network — approximately 157,000 kilometers of pipelines covering an area from Europe to the Far East, according to its Web site.

Gazprom exports energy to 32 countries and provides around 25 percent of the European Union’s gas supplies.

Last month it reported an 85 percent increase in net profits to $20.8 billion for the first six months of 2008. In 2007 it reported annual profits totaling nearly $61 billion. In 2008 the Financial Times placed it fourth on its list of the world’s top 500 corporations, as ranked by market capitalization.


Formed in 1989 to replace the Soviet Ministry of the Gas Industry, Gazprom is closely tied to the Russian government, which owns a controlling 50 percent stake in the company. Current Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is a former Gazprom chairman.

In recent years, an increasingly confident Moscow has used Gazprom to assert its authority over Russia’s former sphere of influence by offering heavily subsidized gas to ex-Soviet countries such as Ukraine and Belarus.

But that policy has led to disputes as Gazprom has then sought to raise prices.

Read the rest:

Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

January 6, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert told French President Sarkozy to please block the cease fire resolution in the United Nations.

Olmert also relayed that request to the European Union and others.

Sarkozy has been on a Middle East trip to find ways to broker a cease fire.

But Olmert told him until Hamas in Gaza stop sending rockets into Isreal there can be no end to the fighting.  He said Israel has acted in self defense….

Olmert also reminded Sarkozy that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

Gaza Day 11: Civilian Losses Mount; Israel Unmoved
Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?


From National Public Radio

French President Nicolas Sarkozy is on a ceasefire mission to the Middle East. While his country no longer holds the European Union presidency, Sarkozy says it is France’s duty to look for all paths to peace. Critics say Sarkozy is on a power trip after his six-month stint as diplomatic head of Europe. They accuse him of muddying EU efforts to broker a ceasefire.

Hear the report from NPR:

Gaza campaign exposes Middle East policy vacuum

January 3, 2009

Israel’s week-old offensive in the Gaza Strip is a violent sequel to a drive led by the United States, with much European and Arab support, to punish Hamas for resisting a largely discredited Middle East “peace process.”

The campaign is unlikely to eradicate Hamas or make it any easier for the next U.S. president, Barack Obama, to break the cycle of conflict and rescue swiftly receding prospects for a solution based on creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent

Israel is consolidating its grip on the West Bank, while keeping Gazans bottled up. Splits between Palestinian factions have made sporadic U.S.-sponsored talks between the Israelis and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas notional at best.

Outgoing President George W. Bush had set a goal of reaching a peace deal by the end of 2008 after belatedly relaunching Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at Annapolis in November 2007.

Faced instead with a new spasm of violence, the White House has effectively encouraged the Israelis to pursue what they portray as an attempt to quell rocket attacks on their civilians and “change the reality” in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

The European Union, lacking the energy and unity to act in the diplomatic vacuum left by Washington, has merely appealed for a ceasefire — and promised a bit more humanitarian relief to the 1.5 million people locked into the coastal strip by a punitive Israeli blockade and a sealed Egyptian border.

The Arab League, caught between public dismay at the Gaza bloodshed and the hostility of many member states to Hamas and other Islamist groups allied to Iran, has agreed only to ask the U.N. Security Council to compel Israel to halt its onslaught.

But the council is toothless without the United States and other veto powers in accord. It has yet to adopt a resolution.

 Gaza, Israel Could Highlight Stark Obama, Bush Differences

Read the rest:

EU In For A New Czech

December 31, 2008

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

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

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

By KAREL JANICEK, Associated Press Writer

In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo Czech President Vaclav Klaus ... 
In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo Czech President Vaclav Klaus gestures during a press conference, at the Dimitrie Cantemir Christian University, in Bucharest, Romania. On Thursday Jan. 1, 2009, the Czechs take over the bloc’s six month rotating presidency from EU heavyweight France, whose dynamic President Nicolas Sarkozy has taken vigorous action on tackling Europe’s economic woes.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

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

EU Reality Czech: Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus

Read the rest:

EU Reality Czech: Eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus

December 27, 2008

When you are head of state of the country about to hold the EU presidency, you might normally be looking forward to a taste of the international limelight, and a busier, more prestigious schedule than usual.

But Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, may be relishing his country’s assumption of EU leadership in January for very different reasons – as an opportunity to publicise views which other EU leaders will not enjoy hearing.

Vaclav Klaus 
Vaclav Klaus

For Mr Klaus, a steely, bespectacled economist who came to sudden prominence after the Czechoslovak revolution against communism, is a vehement Eurosceptic. He believes the EU has echoes of the old Soviet bloc he used to live under.

And he is also an enthusiastic challenger of European and international policy on everything from climate change to relations with Russia.

Constant dissidence

Mr Klaus gave a foretaste of what the EU can expect on an official visit to Ireland in November. Upsetting his Irish hosts, he ostentatiously visited Declan Ganley, leader of the successful Irish No campaign against ratification of the EU’s Lisbon reform treaty.

Klaus compared Ganley and his supporters to dissidents in the old communist bloc – which angered many former Czech dissidents who suffered persecution and imprisonment for their views.

But Mr Klaus likes to think of his life as a kind of constant dissidence against what he sees as the erroneous views of the majority.

Read the rest from the BBC:

Gays and Secular Law: “Render unto Caesar….”?

December 24, 2008

When religious leaders speak in our secular world today, few people really listen (or care).  But somehow the Pope managed to anger many.  Below is an example of the loopy comments we have seen….God Bless and Merry Christmas to everyone….

“I am afraid that the Pope’s positions differ strongly from those of the governments of the 27 EU Countries who, in the Charter of Fundamental rights of the EU citizen, have clearly stated and stressed that any sort of discrimination based on sexual orientation is a crime.”

“I believe that the Pope is treading on dangerous waters when he comes up with this type of arguments.”

This came to Peace and Freedom from Arnold Cassola at:

Arnold seems to admit that the Pope can walk on water; which means I’ll listen…..

Unless Arnold has slipped into an oxymoron….which doesn’t make anyone a moron….

Also, the Pope generally deals with sin, not crime.

Recall the phrase “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s….”?

We would just point out that the Pope answers to another power than do the many nations of the European Union so it is no crime or sin or surprise that the entities do not agree…..

Merry Christmas!

Pope Down on Gays

Iran: We Have Best Plan for UN Consideration

December 15, 2008

An Iranian lawmaker said here [in Tehran] Sunday that the talks on Iran’s proposed package is the best solution to Iran’s nuclear standoff, Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported.

“Negotiations within the framework of Iran’s proposed package is the best solution to Iran’s nuclear dispute,” head of Iran’s Parliament (Majlis) National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi told reporters.

“Recognized principles of the UN nuclear watchdog and the Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as the framework provided by the two sides’ proposed packages are the best possible solution,” Boroujerdi was quoted as saying.

He made the remarks when asked about the European Union (EU) Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana’s statements concerning the hope to meet Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili in near future.              

Solana in mid-June presented to Iran a new package of incentives proposed by six major powers, including Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, suggesting that Iran get a temporary reprieve from economic and financial sanctions in exchange for freezing its enrichment activities.

However, Iran’s government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham said that the country would reject any nuclear deal offered by major world powers that demands a suspension of its uranium enrichment.

Iran’s failure to answer the new package in a way expected by the West, reasoning that Iran’s answer will be based on logical and constructive answers to Iran’s already-proposed package to the Westerners which is aimed to help resolve regional and international problems including Iran’s nuclear issue, disappointed the West.

The United States and its allies have accused Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear program.

Iran denies the charges and insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.



In These Tough Times, Global Warming Issue a “Silly Luxury” – Head of State

December 13, 2008

Czech President Vaclav Klaus hit out at the EU climate deal concluded Friday and described global climate issues as “a silly luxury.”

“I do not like the way they forced it”, Klaus said shortly after an agreement was announced in Brussels.

Václav Klaus

He also claimed that his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy had “pushed” the deal so that it would not be left when the Czech Republic takes over the EU presidency from France on January 1.

“This is scandalous,” he said. “We should have been able to discuss it during our presidency, to force it now is not very good.”

“Environmental issues are a luxury good,” Klaus added. “Now we have to tighten our belt and to cut the luxury.”


Global climate issues “are a silly luxury good,” he repeated.

Read the rest:

Cha-Ching: China Will Do More For Global Warming if U.S. Pay$ More

December 12, 2008

China‘s top negotiator at the UN climate talks welcomed the climate pact adopted by EU leaders on Friday as a “positive step,” but criticised carbon reduction goals set by US president-elect Barack Obama as too weak.

In an interview with AFP, Su Wei said the deal struck at the European Union‘s summit in Brussels as “a positive step.”

by Marlowe Hood

Passers-by look at the picture of the earth at the "Technologies ... 
Passers-by look at the picture of the earth at the “Technologies for Climate Protection” exibition during the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan, on December 7, 2008. China’s top negotiator at the UN climate talks welcomed the climate pact adopted by EU leaders on Friday as a “positive step,” but criticised carbon reduction goals set by US president-elect Barack Obama as too weak.(AFP/File/Wojtek Radwanski)

“We welcome that,” Su said. “It is important that European Union continue to take the lead in the international cooperation to address climate change.”

He added, though: “Maybe some of the positions have been watered down compared to 2007.

“Of course, we understand in the face of the international financial crisis, countries put more efforts to address that crisis. But we think measures to address climate change should not in any way be delayed or watered down.”

Su — whose fast-industrialising nation has overtaken the United States as the world’s leading emitter of CO2 — qualified this.

“I also heard the very firm political commitments from the ministers of the EU and from the European environment commissioner” Stavros Dimas, he said.

The European Union‘s so-called 20-20-20 package seeks to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, make 20-percent energy savings and bring renewable energy sources up to 20 percent of total energy use.

The Chinese negotiator said Obama’s plan to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 was well short of the mark.

Read the rest: