Netanyahu and Macron spar over Jerusalem and approach to peace

French President Emmanuel Macron has called on Israel’s prime minister to make “brave gestures” toward the Palestinian people. The two leaders fundamentally disagreed over the US decision on Jerusalem.

French President Emmanuel Macron (L) welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Getty Images/AFP/L. Marin)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made his first trip abroad, to Paris, since US President Donald Trump announced last week that the US would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, drawing international condemnation and sparking violent protests across the Middle East and beyond.

Standing side-by-side with French President Emmanuel Macron during a post-meeting press conference on Sunday, Netanyahu attempted to strike a conciliatory tone, calling the French leader an indispensable leader in the quest for peace in the Middle East.

Watch video02:50

DW correspondent Tania Krämer in Jerusalem

Even as thousands of Israelis protested against Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, the prime minister insisted he was open to peace talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. And he stole a line from John Lennon, saying he wanted to “give peace a chance.”

Macron agreed that the Israelis and Palestinians should push for peace, which is why he opposes the US declaration on Jerusalem.

“We can only succeed when people talk,” Macron said. “I fully agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu, let’s give peace a chance.”

That is why, he said, “I disapprove of Trump’s declaration; as much as it is against international law. There is no contradiction there. It isn’t good for the security of Israel.”

Macron urged Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement building during their one-on-one talks.

“Freezing settlement building and confidence measures with regard to the Palestinian Authority are important acts to start with,” he said.

Urged to show courage

During the press conference, Macron urged the prime minister “to show courage in his dealings with the Palestinians to get us out of the current dead end.”

Netanyahu, however, insisted that Jerusalem belongs solely to the Jewish people.

“Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years, and you can read that in a number of places, including the Bible,” he said.

Watch video01:46

US Jerusalem move draws protests, condemnation

Eventually, Netanyahu sought to shift the discussion to Iran, saying that a precondition for peace is recognizing the right of your opponent to exist. Iran has frequently called for Israel’s destruction.

Netanyahu lashed out at the Iranian regime, which he said poses an existential threat to Israel, citing their presence in neighboring countries.

“Iran is all over the place,” he said. “They’re in Iraq, they’re in Syria and they’re in Lebanon, where the president is valiantly trying to change the situation.”

“They’re in Gaza, and in Yemen,” he continued. “We have to do what we can to stop Iran. Iran wants to entrench itself militarily with land, air and sea forces in Syria. We will not accept that.”

“They’re also putting precision-guided-missiles in Lebanon, thousands of them, that could be a great danger to Israel,” he said. “We won’t tolerate that.”

COURTESY: DW

Slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya and the silence of the humanitarian hawks

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
Slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya and the silence of the humanitarian hawks
The reports that black Africans are being sold at slave markets in ‘liberated’ Libya for as little as $400 is a terrible indictment of the so-called ‘humanitarian intervention’ carried out by NATO to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

In March 2011 virtue-signaling Western ‘liberal’ hipsters teamed up with hardcore neocon warmongers to demand action to ‘save’ the Libyan people from the ‘despotic’ leader who had ruled the country since the late 1960s. “Something has to be done!” they cried in unison.

Something was done. Libya was transformed by NATO from the country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009 into a lawless hell-hole, with rival governments, warlords and terror groups fighting for control of the country.

Under Gaddafi, Libyans enjoyed free health care and education. Literacy rates went up from around 25 percent to almost 90 percent. A UN Human Rights Council report on Libya from January 2011, in which member states praised welfare provision, can be read here.

It was clear that while there were still areas of concern the country was continuing to make progress on a number of fronts.

In the Daily Telegraph – hardly a paper which could be accused of being an ideological supporter of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – Libya was hailed as one of the top six exotic cruise ship destinations in June 2010.

Cruise ships don’t have Libya on their itineraries today. It’s far too dangerous.

The only surprising thing about the return of slave markets (and it’s worth pointing out that before the CNN report, the UN agency, IOM also reported on their existence in Libya earlier this year) is that anyone should be surprised by it. Human rights and social progress usually go back hundreds of years whenever a NATO ‘humanitarian’ intervention takes place. And that’s not accidental. The ‘interventions,’ which purposely involve heavy bombing of the country’s infrastructure and the subsequent dismantling of the state apparatus are designed to reverse decades of social progress. The ‘failure to plan’ is actually the most important part of the plan, as my fellow OpEdger Dan Glazebrook details in his book Divide and Destroy – The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis.

‘Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project’ (Op-Edge by @NeilClark66http://on.rt.com/8hbx 

Three countries, three continents: One imperial Western project — RT Op-Edge

A resource-rich, socialist-led, multi-ethnic secular state, with an economic system characterized by a high level of public/social ownership and generous provision of welfare, education and social…

rt.com

Libya was targeted, like Yugoslavia and Iraq before it, not because of genuine concerns that ‘another Srebrenica’ was about to take place, (note the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee report of September 2016 held that ‘the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence’) but because it was a resource-rich country with an independently-minded government which operated a predominantly state-owned socialistic economy in a strategically important part of the world.

Neither Libya, Iraq or Yugoslavia did the bidding of the West’s endless war lobby, which is why they were earmarked for destruction. The chaos which routinely follows a NATO regime change op is a ghastly experience for the locals, who see their living standards plummet and their risk of violent death in a terrorist attack greatly increase, but great for rapacious Western corporations who then move in to the ‘liberated’ country en masse, taking advantage of the lack of a strong central authority.

Of course, this is never mentioned in NATO-friendly media. The role of the Western elites in turning previously functioning welfare states into failed states is missing from most mainstream reports on the countries post ‘liberation.’

In his recent piece for FAIR, journalist Ben Norton noted how reports “overwhelmingly spoke of slavery in Libya as an apolitical and timeless human rights issue, not as a political problem rooted in very recent history.

The dominant narrative is that slave markets have re-emerged in Libya ‘as if by magic,’just like Mr. Benn’s shopkeeper. The country’s ’instability’ is mentioned, but not the cause of that instability, namely the violent overthrow of the country’s government in 2011 and the Western backing of extremist, and in some cases blatantly racist, death squads. Everyone is blamed for the mess except the powerful, protected people and lobbyists who are ultimately responsible.

The French government played a leading role in the destruction of Libya in 2011, yet today the French president, the ‘progressive’ Emmanuel Macron blames ‘Africans’ for the country’s slavery problem. “Who are the traffickers? Ask yourselves – being the African youth – that question. You are unbelievable. Who are the traffickers? They are Africans, my friends. They are Africans.

Macron, like other Western leaders, wants us to see the slavery issue in close-up, and not in long-shot. Because if we do, NATO comes into the picture.

There is similar whitewashing over Iraq and the rise of ISIS. Again, we are supposed to regard the group’s emergence as “just one of those things.” But ISIS was not a force when the secular Baathist Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq; it only grew following his ousting and the chaos which followed the occupiers’ dismantling of the entire state apparatus.

The result of intervening in Libya has been “disappointing at the very least”, says Observer leader, arguing against action in Syria. Balls.

Six-and-a-half years on, it’s revealing to look back at the things the cheerleaders for the ‘humanitarian intervention’ in Libya were saying in early 2011 and what actually happened as a result of NATO’s 26,500 sorties.

The price of inaction is too high” was the title of one piece by David Aaronovitch in The Times, dated March 18, 2011. “If we don’t bomb Gadaffi’s tanks, Europe is likely to face a wave of refugees and a new generation of jihadis,” was the synopsis.

Guess what? The West’s military alliance did bomb Gaddafi’s tanks (and a lot more besides) and we got “a wave of refugees” of Biblical proportions and “a new generation of jihadis,” including the Manchester Arena bomber, Salman Abedi.

But there’s been no mea culpa from Aaronovitch, nor from his Times colleague Oliver Kamm – who attacked me after I had penned an article in the Daily Express calling for NATO to halt its action.

In the Telegraph, Matthew d’Ancona wrote a piece entitled ‘Libya is Cameron’s chance to exorcise the ghost of Iraq.’

In fact, the experience of Iraq should have led all genuine humanitarians to oppose the NATO assault. In many ways, as John Wight argues here,

Libya was an even worse crime than the invasion of Iraq because it came afterward. There was really no excuse for anyone seeing how the ‘regime change’ operation of 2003 had turned out, supporting a similar venture in North Africa.

Unsurprisingly the politicians and pundits who couldn’t stop talking about Libya in 2011 and the West’s ‘responsibility to protect’ civilians seem less keen to talk about the country today.

Libya and its problems have vanished from the comment pages. It’s the same after every Western ‘intervention’: saturation coverage before and during the ‘liberation,’ bellicose calls from the totally unaccountable neocon/liberal punditocracy for military action to ‘save the people’ from the latest ‘New Hitler,’ and then silence afterwards as the country hurtles back in time to the Dark Ages.

The ‘liberators’ of Libya have moved on to other more important things in 2017, with Russophobia the current obsession. Anything, in fact, to distract us from the disastrous consequences of their actions.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy: RT

Next stop, Paris: The strange journey of Lebanon’s Saad Hariri

Next stop, Paris: The strange journey of Lebanon’s Saad Hariri
In early November, Lebanese PM Saad Hariri shocked the world by unexpectedly flying to Saudi Arabia and announcing his retirement. The Lebanese people suspected foul play on the part of Riyadh. Now they may finally have a chance to hear the full story.

In the latest twist in this incredible tale, Saad Hariri is expected to leave Saudi Arabia for France in several days before traveling to Beirut where he will reportedly formally resign as prime minister. To say Hariri’s return will be a momentous event would be a great understatement. Naturally, speculation is rife among Lebanese citizens that Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician with strong bonds to Saudi Arabia, was coerced to quit.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun said Thursday that he looked forward to Hariri’s return following the latter’s acceptance of the French invitation. “I await the return of PM Hariri to Beirut so we can decide on the situation of the government – if he wants to resign or rescind his resignation,” Aoun said, according to presidential sources quoted by Reuters.

Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Hariri to France after speaking to him and the Saudi Crown Prince, the Elysee Palace said on Wednesday. Macron insisted that the invitation is not an offer of political exile.

The flight of Hariri

This sensational story began on November 3 when Hariri suddenly and without apparent warning boarded a flight from Beirut to Saudi Arabia. The next day, from the capital Riyadh, he announced his resignation, pointing to the “regional interference” of Iran and Hezbollah as the reason for his decision. He also said he feared assassination, which is certainly reasonable given that his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, was killed in a massive truck bombing in 2005.

Analysts are of the opinion that Riyadh had grown exasperated with Hariri’s power-sharing arrangement with Hezbollah. And with Iran and Hezbollah’s success in helping to defeat Islamic State terrorists in Syria, tossing President Bashar Assad a veritable lifeline, this was seen as the last straw.

Hariri’s flight to Saudi Arabia and subsequent resignation, however, was just one earthquake among many to rock the kingdom at about the same time.

On the evening of Hariri’s announcement, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) initiated an extraordinary anti-corruption raid, which led to the arrest of 11 princes, four ministers and many businessmen. The Riyadh Ritz Carlton has been converted into a luxury jailhouse to hold the detainees. In addition to tightly consolidating King Salman’s son’s grip on power, the move could potentially add $800 billion to Saudi coffers. There was probably hope in Riyadh that all of the events, taken together, would spark chaos on the streets of Lebanon. However, if that is the case, that effort failed, as has been the case with so many Riyadh initiatives of late. In fact, Lebanon seems to have been energized and united by the Hariri scandal.

“In one week of Hariri being in Saudi Arabia, the Lebanese PM has achieved more in unifying the Lebanese than he could ever have hoped for in a lifetime of politics,” Beirut-based journalist Martin Jay wrote in an RT opinion piece this week.

As if the purge of Saudi Arabia’s princedom and business elite were not enough, MbS began a dangerous saber-rattling display aimed at regional countries.

Saudi saber-rattling

Days after Hariri announced his resignation, Riyadh accused Lebanon of “declaring war on Saudi Arabia” because of purported “aggression” by the Iran-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah. In reality, however, this was a poorly feigned attack on Iran, which for Riyadh is the real bugbear in this story.

Although Iran-Saudi relations have been strained for over a decade, things really took a turn for the worse in January 2016, following the execution of a prominent Saudi Shiite cleric.

Then, on June 7, 2017, Iran suffered its first terrorist outrage in a decade as Islamic State militants carried out attacks against the Iranian Parliament building and the Mausoleum of Ruhollah Khomeini, leaving 17 civilians dead and 43 wounded. Many Iranian officials suggested that the attacks were the work of “foreign governments,” including Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is beginning to suspect that it is being outmaneuvered in its ‘near abroad’ by Tehran, which now enjoys an arc of influence extending from Iraq to Lebanon, and beyond, as well as in the tiny outposts of Yemen and Qatar. Riyadh exaggerates the danger of this “Iranian influence,” while at the same time failing to recognize its flatfooted foreign policy as a major reason for its setbacks of late.

For example, in its three-year war against Yemen, which has already killed some 10,000 civilians, a humanitarian disaster of epic proportions is underway, threatening some 7 million Yemenis with starvation. The turbulent events of Nov.4 were partially designed, it seems, to shroud the Yemen breakdown.

As Saad Hariri issued his resignation from Riyadh, and Saudi princes and officials were being rounded up and arrested, the young Crown Prince, 32, said his military had intercepted a Houthi ballistic missile, launched from Yemen towards an international airport on the outskirts of the Saudi capital. Some analysts are of the opinion no rocket was ever fired. In any case, MbS blamed Iran for supplying the Houthi rebels with missiles.

“The involvement of the Iranian regime in supplying its Houthi militias with missiles is considered a direct military aggression by the Iranian regime,” MbS told UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in a telephone conversation. He added for good measure that the move “may be considered an act of war against the kingdom.”

At this point in our Arabian mystery, it cannot be denied that Riyadh is working closely with the United States and Israel. It did not go unnoticed, least of all by Iran, that US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had paid a visit to the Crown Prince just one month before the November tumult began.

Although the contents of that meeting have never been made public, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, fired off a tweet that got no Trump response: “Visits by Kushner & Lebanese PM led to Hariri’s bizarre resignation while abroad. Of course, Iran is accused of interference.”

Judging by the secretive Kushner meeting, Riyadh appears to be working as a proxy of sorts for the region’s real power-brokers, the United States and Israel.

“We don’t know if the Saudis are playing a game whereby they will let Hariri go back to Lebanon as a reminder… that they can go to any extreme to remove power from him,” Beirut-based Martin Jay told RT via telephone.

Now it remains to be seen if Saad Hariri and his family will remain a long-term guest of Emmanuel Macron in Paris, or if he will, as promised, continue on to the next leg of his mysterious journey back to Lebanon, where he will certainly be the center of attention from all sides.

Robert Bridge, RT

@Robert_Bridge 

Courtesy: RT

Macron’s eurozone plans put eastern EU members on the spot

French President Emmanuel Macron is impatient to reinvigorate the eurozone. But this poses a dilemma for the EU’s eastern members: stay out and risk losing clout in Brussels or join and risk losing economic sovereignty?

USA Präsident Macron vor der UN-Vollversammlung (Reuters/S. Stapleton)

Macron reiterated his view this week that a multi-speed Europe led by a core of ‘avant-garde’ countries could be the price worth paying for pushing the eurozone — and the European project more widely — forward in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

“We should imagine a Europe of several formats — going further with those who want to advance, while not being held back by states which want to progress slower or not as far,” Macron said.

“It appears that Macron would like a tighter, more centralized eurozone with France and Germany at its heart,” Liam Carson of Capital Economics told DW. “However, he remained fairly vague on euro-zone specifics, probably because of the worse than expected outcome for [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel in the German election.”

But Macron’s words have fallen on some deaf ears in Central and Eastern Europe, a region struggling with political uncertainty and growing Euroskepticism, despite continued strong growth.

Of the nine new member states that joined the EU in 2004-2009, the Baltic countries, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus and Malta have adopted the euro, while Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia have not yet done so.

Critics argue that speeding up the process of monetary — as a precursor to fiscal — integration might fuel the overheating that was seen in Southern Europe after the 2007-8 financial crisis and subsequent recession.

But, “if the eurozone can generate growth throughout the 19 nations and not just the center, then any new institutions may prompt the non-euro members to want to join. If not, then the divisions would surely widen,” Linda Yueh, a professor of Economics at London Business School, told DW.

Watch video01:16

ECB policy seen as less than stimulating

‘It’s now or never’

Will Hutton, a British economist, told DW that while a two-speed Europe is a risk, “the time has come for this. Macron’s plans are the biggest boost to Europe since the early 1990s, the era of Jacques Delors.”

“Sure, Macron is using Merkel’s weakness, but Europe is on the cusp of an economic run and while some eastern European economies might not be able to stand the pace, Europe can’t go on at the speed of the slowest for much longer,” Hutton said, adding that the UK might even be knocking back on the EU’s door in the next five to ten years.

All non-euro EU member states except Denmark and the UK are already legally obligated to work toward adopting the euro, by satisfying various “convergence criteria,” namely:

Inflation — Member states should have an average rate of inflation that doesn’t exceed that of the three best-performing member states by over 1.5 percent for a period of one year before being assessed.

Government budgets — Member states’ ratio of planned or actual government deficit to GDP should be no more than three percent. Their ratio of government debt to GDP should be no more than 60 percent.

Exchange Rates — Member states should have respected the normal fluctuation margins of the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) and should not have devalued their currency against any other member state’s currency for at least the two years before being assessed.

Interest rates — Member states should have had an average interest rate over a period of one year before being assessed that does not exceed by more than two percentage points that of the three best-performing member states.

Central & Eastern Europe: weary and ​​​​​wary 

“It seems unlikely that any of the major economies in Central and Eastern Europe will adopt the euro any time soon,” Carson says.

“With respect to the criteria, as things stand, Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic all meet the debt, interest rate and inflation criteria for joining,” although he added that there is a good chance that loose fiscal policy in Poland and Romania will cause budget deficits to widen beyond the 3 percent of GDP threshold by next year.

“Hungary’s deficit could also widen beyond 3 percent of GDP and with public debt still well above 60 percent of GDP, it also fails the debt criteria.”

“More importantly, political appetite for joining the euro is generally waning. Accession to the eurozone in Poland and Hungary is unlikely to happen under the ruling PiS (Law and Justice) and Fidesz governments, which have both become increasingly hostile towards EU oversight of domestic policy,” Carson says.

“Poland’s opposition is based on ideological grounds, but also public support is not sufficient. In the Czech Republic the main obstacle is public support. Most of the parties would have been open to introducing the euro, but public opinion has prevented that so far. In Hungary there is strong public support and a governmental decision ahead of the 2018 elections might be a popular step,” Daniel BarthaExecutive Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy (CEID)  in Budapest, told DW.

The Palace of Culture and Science in WarsawPoliticians in Warsaw have warned that the creation of a multi-speed Europe could “break apart” the EU.

Poland

“Brexit is not a risk for the EU … A bigger threat is if the EU starts to break apart into a multi-speed union, into blocs where some are stronger and can decide about others,” President Andrzej Duda said this month. “The result could be a divided EU that’s not politically or economically viable, which may break apart the bloc,” he added.

The bedrock of common understanding that Merkel and ex-Polish PM Donald Tusk shared is now long gone. And ties between Warsaw and Paris have been strained since August after Macron’s speech criticizing what he called Warsaw’s attack on democracy and a French plan to tighten rules on EU posted workers, such as Polish truck drivers.

The Law and Justice (PiS) government has also taken aim at Germany, demanding war reparations, attacking plans to build a second Nord Stream gas pipeline to Russia that bypasses Poland and being highly critical of its western neighbor’s policies towards refugees.

Nonetheless, Poland will start to debate whether to join the eurozone when the bloc becomes a stable and transparent entity, Konrad Szymanski, the Polish deputy foreign minister in charge of European affairs, has said.

About 80 percent of Polish international trade is accountable in euros, so entering the eurozone will significantly decrease currency risk and simplify transactions with foreign companies. Despite this, over two-thirds of Poles oppose joining the euro area.

Prague, the Czech capitalA general election to be held October 20-21, will show whether the Czechs will seek to join the EU hard core.

Czech Republic

The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka wants his country to set a date for the adoption of the euro and has “the ambition to belong among the most advanced European countries.”

The Czech Republic has been cautious about joining the euro, on both the left and the right. No firm date has been set and in recent years governments have shied away from making predictions.

The country has a long reputation for running a credible monetary policy and traditionally has had interest rates below those in the eurozone.

“In the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, who is the heavy favourite to become Prime Minister following next month’s elections, has continued to strongly reiterate that the Czech Republic shouldn’t adopt the currency,” according to Carson.

Hungary

Hungarian economic policy cannot abandon its long-term intention of joining the eurozone, “but there is no rush,” the economy minister, Mihaly Varga, said in June. Vargo said a currency system where monetary policy is unified but fiscal policy is not is also a viable route.

But a senior Hungarian politician said in early August that Hungary could only consider adopting the euro when its level of economic development is closer to that of the eurozone countries.

“That is, if there is genuine convergence,” Andras Tallai, state secretary at the economy ministry, said.

Hungarian parliament bulilding is seen as ice floes float on the Danube river in Budapest In 2013, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán proclaimed euro adoption would not happen until the country’s purchasing power parity weighted GDP per capita had reached 90 percent of the eurozone average.

“Otherwise, Hungary could be the loser of accession similar to some Mediterranean countries,” he went on, adding that Hungary won’t yet enter the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) — a kind of ante-chamber for eurozone aspirants — but already meets all of the Maastricht criteria for adopting the euro, with the exception of the forint not being pegged to the euro.

Hungary has to enter to the ERM2 (the exchange rate mechanism) and meet the criteria for 2 years constantly. Hungary meets all other criteria: inflation was 0.1 percent, the deficit 2.4 percent and interest rates are also around 1 percent, and although the debt level is beyond the 60 percent limit, as it is constantly reducing, Hungary also meet that criterion.

Romania

Former Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has said Romania will adopt the euro only after wages in the country come close to those in other EU member states.

Romania has second lowest minimum monthly wage out of 20 EU member states, of 1,450 lei ($341/321 euro), after Bulgaria, according to a study by KPMG.

A study conducted last November by the European Institute of Romania showed that the country could join the Eurozone 13 years from now – if it sustains the average growth rate of the last 15 years.

Currently, Romania is below 60 percent of the European Union average in terms of GDP per capita.

“The story is slightly different in Romania. The foreign minister, Teodor Melescanu, recently announced that Romania will adopt the euro. However, he stated that this won’t happen until 2022. And given that previous plans to adopt the euro have been shelved, this date could easily be delayed. In short, Romania won’t become a member of the euro-zone any time soon,” Carson says.

Frankreich PK Migrationsgipfel in Paris (Reuters/C. Platiau)Angela Merkel is supporting Macron’s call for a new powerful eurozone finance minister post to oversee economic policy across the bloc. She said the new role could provide “greater coherence” to economic policy.

Merkel holds the key

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also backed a plan for a European Monetary Fund (EMF) that would redistribute money within the bloc to where it was needed.

Macron believes that the monetary union suffers from too little centralization and needs its own budget, while Merkel views the bloc’s problem as over-centralization and too little national responsibility.

Merkel has backed her Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble‘s proposal to turn the European Stability Mechanism, the eurozone’s bailout fund, into the EMF, but she does not see the official possessing “expansive powers.”

Merkel has said she wants a budget of “small contributions” rather than “hundreds of billions of euros.”

France will implement these deep structural reforms on the proviso that Germany agrees to modest steps towards fiscal federalism in the eurozone. But many in Germany — and far beyond as well — appear skeptical about Macron’s ability to achieve his domestic goals.

Still, observers say, Merkel will want to help Macron politically as it is in Germany’s interests to see that he is not replaced at the next presidential election in France by Marine Le Pen of the National Front.

Watch video02:11

Macron calls for more European unity

 

DW RECOMMENDS

AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

UN: France anti-terror draft law would affect civil liberties

UN human rights experts have warned France that the planned legislation could have “grave consequences” for civil liberties. They fear a permanent state of emergency.

Soldiers patrolling in Nice (Reuters/E. Gaillard)

The UN’s Human Rights Office has expressed concern about a French draft law that translates as a “bill to strengthen internal security and the fight against terrorism.”

It could affect people’s “right to liberty and security, the right to access to court, freedom of movement, freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief,” according to a statement by two UN human rights rapporteurs, Fionnuala Ni Aolain and Michel Frost.

France: “The normalization of emergency powers has grave consequences for integrity of rights protection” @NiAolainFhttp://ow.ly/xbLD30fsAzZ 

Read more: Macron:Fighting Islamist terror France’s top priority

The draft law, which was passed by the senate and is now being debated in the National Assembly, would incorporate temporary measures granted to authorities in a state of emergency into ordinary law.

‘Vague wording’

In the statement, the two UN experts criticize the “vague wording” of the bill, which they say does not define terrorism nor the threats to national security sufficiently well. Ni Aolain and Frost are also worried that Muslims may face “discriminatory repercussions.”

They argue that a government’s options for cracking down on terrorism are “limited by its compliance with international human rights standards.”

That means that a state of emergency must be proportionate and have a time limit, according to the statement.

French President Emmanuel Macron argues that the law is necessary to combat terrorism and foil further plots once a state of emergency imposed in 2015 expires.

Watch video00:28

France marks one year since Nice terror attack

 

DW RECOMMENDS

AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

French President Emmanuel Macron sets out vision for EU

Emmanuel Macron says EU members must forge a common path. France’s president has set out his vision for a rebooted European Union, targeting skeptical German politicians who made strong gains in Sunday’s elections.

Frankreich Emmanuel Macron, Präsident | Präsentation Europäische Initiative in Paris (Reuters/L. Marin)

On Tuesday, Emmanuel Macron said Germany and France had overcome the legacy of two world wars together and alongside their partners could improve the European Union together. The former economy minister took power as France’s president in May, promising to strengthen the eurozone and deepen EU integration as the bloc prepares for Britain’s departure. He has already begun to undertake an aggressive neoliberal agenda in France.

“Here we are with a Europe that is more fragile than ever bearing the brunt of globalization as we know it and falling victim to ideas like nationalism and identitarianism,” Macron said in a heavily anticipated speech delivered at Paris-Sorbonne University on Tuesday. “The dangers, the ideas of the past are growing once more,” he added, alluding to the growing power of the far right in EU nations.

Read more – Macron’s EU vision meets Merkel’s realities

Macron has grown desperate to receive German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s endorsement of his agenda, which includes plans to give the 19-member eurozone a finance minister, budget and a parliament independent of the 28-country EU’s existing 750-seat transnational legislature. But Macron’s plans received a blow on Sunday, with the shock result of the elections in Germany, where the anti-immigration, euroskeptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) emerged as the parliament’s third-largest party.

Since Sunday, Macron has spoken twice with Merkel, as well as other EU leaders and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker — who does not support the idea of a separate eurozone budget or parliament. Merkel does not oppose having a eurozone finance minister, but differs with Macron on how powerful to make the role.

French Pres  calls for:

EU asylum office,
EU general attorney,
EU defence budget,
EU intelligence Academy,
EU transaction tax.

‘It’s a lie’

Macron used his speech to argue for institutional changes, initiatives to promote the EU, and new ventures in the technology, defense and energy sectors. He called for fellow EU leaders to pay attention to domestic needs but not to forsake the bloc in doing so and suggested that countries could integrate foreign soldiers into their armies as France will.

Read more – Macron: More Europe, please

Macron also called for a common tax on carbon emissions, as well as increasing investments into “development” projects in regions such as Africa.

“It’s a lie that hunkering down on your own country is ever going to be a successful path,” Macron said on Tuesday. “Let us be bold together and try this new path.”

Along with Brexit and Germany’s elections, Macron’s proposals will likely top the agenda at a two-day summit of the 28 EU members in Estonia starting on Thursday. Germany’s cooperation will prove essential, though Macron also needs to convince other EU partners.

German politicians respond

An early response to Macron’s speech came from Germany’s laissez-faire Free Democrats (FDP), potential partners to Chancellor Merkel’s Christian Democrats in any future coalition government. Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the top Free Democrat in the European Parliament, said he welcomed Macron’s call to strengthen EU military cooperation and digitization, but he rejected the idea of a joint eurozone budget.

“This was a courageous speech by President Macron, even if not all of his proposals will receive the approval of the FDP,” Lambsdorff said on Tuesday. “The problem in Europe is not a lack of public funds, but a lack of reform,” he added. “A eurozone budget would set exactly the wrong incentives.”

Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, whose Social Democrats intend to lead the opposition under Germany’s next government in a bid to curb the influence of the newly-elected far-right AfD, was more generous in his assessment of the speech, saying in a statement that Macron had delivered “a passionate argument against nationalism.”

“Only with common solutions can we inspire the people in Europe again about Europe,” Gabriel said in his statement. However, he added, “we also need the common European will.”

Watch video05:01

Macron lays out his vision for EU reforms: DW’s Catherine Martens from Paris

mkg/kms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

DW RECOMMENDS

AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

EU cash-dumping in Africa bolsters unruly regimes, aggravates migrant crisis

Martin Jay
Martin Jay is an award winning British journalist now based in Beirut who works on a freelance basis for a number of respected British newspapers as well as previously Al Jazeera and Deutsche Welle TV. Before Lebanon, he has worked in Africa and Europe for CNN, Euronews, CNBC, BBC, Sunday Times and Reuters. Follow him on Twitter @MartinRJay
EU cash-dumping in Africa bolsters unruly regimes, aggravates migrant crisis
Trump’s recent block on US aid to Egypt over human rights concerns raised many eyebrows. But the EU should follow his lead in Africa as it is geopolitical bribery dressed up as aid, which is really the heart of the matter.

Recently, Europe’s four big guns and three African states agreed on a strategy to tackle illegal human trafficking and support nations struggling to contain the flow of people across the desert and the Mediterranean Sea. The move has been prompted primarily by Italy, which accused France and other EU states of not sharing the migrant burden.

But is it an EU problem? And if it is, just how much blame can the EU and Brussels take for the crisis in the first place?

The 28-nation European Union has long struggled to reach any solution to the influx of migrants fleeing war, poverty and political upheaval in the Middle East and Africa. Specifically, it is Africa where Brussels seems incapable of dealing with the crisis, the epicenter of which is Libya, which French President Emmanual Macron is trying to stabilize with a recent initiative to bring together the two rival power blocs for peace talks following a recent ceasefire.

Macron is also leading the much-needed debate about the refugee crisis from Africa. Addressing the leaders of Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libya, he called for greater cooperation.

A recent conference allowed leaders to iron out a plan setting out a mechanism to identify legitimate migrants who are fleeing war and persecution. The idea is that they can avoid being exploited by traffickers if the UN can register them in Niger and Chad.

“At the core of it, it’s all about fighting illegal migration,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

EU programs in Libya pay cash to traffickers – MEPs

And she’s right. Although this is a step in the right direction, aren’t both France and Germany paying diplomatic lip service to the EU in not pointing out one erroneous detail in all of this: if the EU imposed much tougher conditions on aid given to African leaders, forcing them to improve on human rights, the effect on the sheer numbers of people fleeing those countries would be considerable.

They are not fleeing poverty alone, but more oppression.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recently accused the EU of financing the trafficking business with its aid program in Libya. The program, which has funded coastguards to patrol against human smugglers, has led to the deplorable plight of captured migrants being held in detention centers. Nevertheless, Italian and Spanish MEPs on September 12th regaled the EU foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini for her new EU programs, which MSF claims are “short-sighted” and have resulted in the traffickers actually benefiting from EU cash.

Yet the MEPs and MSF missed the point. The international medical organization and the growing numbers of MEPs should look more closely at the EU aid programs for the African countries themselves.

Building detention centers for the refugees is like using a sticking plaster from the first aid box to deal with a decapitation. Simple logic is required. Donald Trump gave us the example in August when he cut off US aid to Egypt, citing human rights concerns.

The problem with dictators on the continent is that they become addicted to Washington or the EU’s aid lifeline. Soon enough, leaders ask for more money to resolve problems which stem from symptoms of escalating corruption. It’s a vicious circle which neither Merkel nor Macron care to acknowledge.

At the auspicious conference, this was apparent, with even EU leaders falling into the trap of throwing more money at the problem.

“If we want to stop human traffickers, then this can only be achieved through development aid,” Angela Merkel said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a shortage of African leaders who were ready to present their former colonial leaders with begging bowls.

But money will not solve the issue. In fact, it is EU money – by the lorry load – which is at the heart of the problem.

EU President Antonio Tajani recently recommended that up to $6 billion should be put aside to stop migrants and $10 billion to do the same in Libya’s southern neighbor, Chad. Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson pledged on a recent trip to Benghazi and Tripoli €9 million to help control terrorism and people trafficking. With no loss of an irony, the Italians have been accused of paying off local militias to stop the flow of migrants to their shores.

After living in Africa for six years, I have seen with my own eyes how Western money nearly always creates cultures of dependency and makes governments more ingenious at stealing it, illustrated by investigative journalist Graeme Hancock in his investigation into UN corruption, ‘Lords of Poverty.’

Ethan Chorin, a contributor to Forbes magazine agrees.

“Uncoordinated and vague, these pledges have little chance to make progress — but large potential to make things worse,” he argues, while dismissing the case for a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa, arguing instead for regional players to stop financing the warlords in Libya.

However, the real core problem, which neither old Europe nor the EU wants to address, still lies with the African countries themselves. And they have good reason.

Nearly 120,000 migrants, including refugees, have entered Europe by sea so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration. Tragically, more than 2,400 have drowned while making the dangerous journey, often without enough food or water in overcrowded dinghies run by people smugglers.

Yet, most of these people are lower middle-class Africans who want to escape the horror of tyrannical regimes which are oppressing them, convincing them that they have a better life waiting for them in Europe. The real issue is human rights and how the EU continues to blithely support these regimes with hundreds of millions of euro in ‘development’ programs while turning a blind eye to horrific human rights atrocities like torture, rape, and false imprisonment.

Macron should hold the EU to account much more. Ironically, at the very conference where the EU’s foreign policy diva Federica Mogherini is invited – but could not organize as she has so little influence with Paris and Berlin – we are witnessing a farce. The EU is asked to offer its opinion to a problem which is almost entirely created by its own foreign policy ruse with African leaders.

A new UN peace process on Libya – which Macron, not Brussels is taking charge of – might want to ask the EU to hold the leaders of many African countries to account more on human rights atrocities and follow Trump’s example in Egypt.

Baby, you can drive my CAR

The Central African Republic (CAR), for example, which the EU gives hundreds of millions of euro is one of many examples. And we could also, while we’re at it, ask what this money is really for. Being ‘development aid,’ the results are hard to fathom. After working in Brussels for over a decade, I would argue that the money gives Brussels more bang for its buck as those governments are obliged to assist Brussels in its PR program to make itself look more relevant on the world stage.

In 2016, Federica Mogherini herself pledged to give over €2 billion in reconstruction aid following civil war there. It’s hard to see how this, or the more modest €360 million of state-building ‘aid’ given to CAR is helping crack down on torture, rape and a plethora of abysmal human rights atrocities, but more assist the EU with its delusional view that it is a global player.

According to the US State Department, CAR has an off-the-scale rating on human rights atrocities. These include“extrajudicial executions by security forces; the torture, beating and rape of suspects and prisoners; impunity, particularly among the armed forces; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention centers; arbitrary arrest and detention, prolonged pretrial detention and denial of fair trials.”

‘Politics raped European values’: EU court rejects Hungary & Slovakia’s bid to stop refugee flow https://on.rt.com/8mdi 

Photo published for ‘Politics raped European values’: Hungary & Slovakia slam EU court for refusing quota demands — RT...

‘Politics raped European values’: Hungary & Slovakia slam EU court for refusing quota demands — RT…

The European Court of Justice has ruled that the current system of quotas for resettling refugees is proportionate, amid protests by east European states that cite culture clashes and terrorist…

rt.com

The State Department also highlights, for good measure “fatal mob violence; the prevalence of female genital mutilation; discrimination against women and Pygmies; trafficking in persons; forced labor; and child labor.”

But there is no real accountability from the EU on where this money is spent, a point often raised by critics of Brussels which call it a “blind spot,” with as much as half of the annual 23 billion euros lost due to corruption and incompetence.

Nor, any reports from the European Commission on what it is doing to crack down on gargantuan human rights atrocities carried out by the CAR regime.

Is it hardly surprising that there is an exodus of people from this country escaping the vestiges of human rights atrocities which, arguably, are meted by a brutal despot supported by the EU?

If this money was used instead to assist start-up companies and train young people in entrepreneurialism – and be given only on the basis of leaders scrapping their atrocious practices – then not only would the migrants not leave their own countries and head for Europe, but they would create jobs for thousands of others in their own countries.

The problem really is the money going there in the first place, and the unpalatable relationship leaders of these regimes have with Brussels, who almost uncertainly pocket the money themselves. It is really the EU which needs to be held to account much more about its own graft in these countries which is fueling the Libyan refugee crisis.

But who would do that? Macron and Merkel know what €20 billion of aid from Brussels and European states are doing in Africa. They are both guilty of turning a blind eye as they know this money is not improving human rights and creating jobs but merely strengthening unruly regimes who will stop at nothing to remain in power.

Martin Jay is based in Beirut and can be followed at @MartinRJay

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Courtesy, RT