By Shada Islam* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint
BRUSSELS (IDN) - Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini’s appointment as the new European Union foreign policy chief offers the opportunity for an overhaul of EU foreign and security policy.
With many EU leaders, ministers and senior officials slow to respond to world events given Europe’s traditionally long summer break, the 2014 summer of death and violence has left the reputation of ‘Global Europe’ in tatters, highlighting the EU’s apparent disconnect from the bleak reality surrounding it.
When she takes charge in November along with other members of the new European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, Mogherini’s first priority must be to restore Europe’s credibility in an increasingly volatile and chaotic global landscape.
It cannot be business as usual. A strategic rethink of Europe’s global outreach is urgent.
By Valentina Gasbarri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
ROME (IDN) - Fundamental freedoms and human rights are at the heart of the founding treaties of the European Union (EU) and these are protected under member states’ national legislation. The Charter on Fundamental Rights also sets out the civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.
In November 2012, the Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged the commitment and activities of the EU in reconciliation, democracy, promotion of human rights and enlarging the area of peace and stability across the continent, and awarded it the Nobel Peace Prize.
As a universal human right, freedom of religion or belief (FORB) is a priority under the EU human rights policy. The EU defends and promotes freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled, within and outside the EU. The EU Guidelines on FORB, adopted early in 2013, underline the 28-nation bloc’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of this universal human right without any discrimination.
By Brenna Owen | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
KINGSTON, Canada (IDN) - The view that Russian President Vladimir Putin has consolidated and strengthened Moscow’s power is commonly held and, indeed, holds much truth.
Domestically speaking, Putin has effectively reconstituted Russian state power – aided in part by the appeal of his charismatic ‘strongman’ image. What has emerged is a system of competitive authoritarianism in which Putin governs through formal democratic institutions, but violates rules and processes to such an extent that his regime fails to meet universally accepted democratic standards.
In addition to an iron-fisted grip on domestic politics, the perception exists that Putin’s foreign policy is a testament to Moscow’s strength. For instance, Putin’s close association with the relative stabilization of Chechnya conferred on him the mantle of legitimacy and lent him popular electoral support.
By J C Suresh | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
TORONTO (IDN) - The way international financial institutions jumped in on the heels of the political turmoil in Ukraine and are rivalling to deregulate and throw open the country’s huge agricultural sector to foreign investors is described by a new report from the California-based Oakland Institute, Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.
The crisis in this Eastern European country, sprawling an area of 603,628 square kilometres (233,062 square miles), thus making it the largest country entirely within Europe, was precipitated by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an Association agreement with the European Union in favour of a Russian deal. It was a major factor leading to his ouster in February 2014.
Soon after the change to a pro-EU government, the country’s swing to the West was buttressed with a USD 17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an additional USD 3.5 billion aid package from the World Bank, both of which require significant economic reforms and austerity measures that are expected to have disastrous impact on the country’s economy.
By Francesca Dziadek | IDN-InDepth NewsFeature
BERLIN (IDN) - A leap of faith is on the agenda in Berlin where a visionary project for interfaith dialogue, launched as the House of One, hopes to bring Christians, Jews and Muslims to worship under one roof from 2018.
In a country where inter-religious dialogue has spun numerous initiatives for Christian-Jewish dialogue set up after World War II (1939-45) and post 9/11 – the time after a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001 – public opinion in Germany has yet to come to terms with how it was possible for six million Jews to be murdered by the citizens of a Christian nation.
By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - A rather strange debate is taking place in Germany for several months. Most strange, because it refers to a fiction, to a bizarre aspiration – of German troops waging war in different parts of the world, contrary to the role stipulated by the German constitution for the country’s army – an aspiration that hardly fits into the present reality or in the probable future.
This delusion, which began several years ago, and was abandoned for all practical purposes, reached climax again last January, at the Munich Security Conference during which, in an obviously concerted action, two German ministers and the country’s federal president argued that Germany, as the foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier put it, “must be ready for earlier, more decisive and more substantive engagement in the foreign and security policy sphere.”
By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - Once a year, the German government reports the amounts of weapons the country’s military industry exported to the world during the previous 12 months. Once a year, German society pretends to be scandalised by the numbers and particularly the recipients of the weapons. Once a year, the German government explains why the military exports are important for the country (jobs, jobs, jobs!) and why the importing regimes, many of them undemocratic, should continue benefiting from the German high tech weapons. And never something changes.
By R. S. Kalha* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
NEW DELHI (IDN | IDSA) - When China decided to abstain in the vote taken in the UN Security Council on March 15 on the issue of the referendum to decide on Crimea’s future; it handed the Western powers a pyrrhic victory for they could then proclaim that Russia was completely isolated as all the other UNSC members had voted in favour of the western sponsored resolution.
Despite their rather close relations with Russia, President Xi Jinping chose Russia as the first country that he visited on taking office and was in Sochi for the Winter Olympics, the Chinese were aware of the ramifications of their abstention. The reasons for abstention go far beyond the immediate issue at hand and are enveloped in deep Chinese strategic interests. The abstention in no way lessens their intention in firmly maintaining close and mutually beneficial strategic ties with Russia.
By Said Khaloozadeh* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TEHRAN (IDN) - Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, paid a two-day official visit to Iran on March 9-10, 2014. During her stay, she met with the Iranian President Dr. Hassan Rouhani, Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) Speaker Ali Larijani, President of Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research Ali Akbar Velayati, and Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani. Her visit to Iran was a very important development, which can be analyzed from various angles.
By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
BERLIN (IDN) - The U.S. government is unofficially accusing Russia of violating the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, by flight testing two-stage ground-based cruise missile RS-26.
Although the U.S. government has not officially commented on the alleged Russian violation of the INF, which prohibits both countries to producing, testing and deploying ballistic and cruise missiles, and land-based missiles of medium (1,000 to 5,500 kilometres) and short (500 to 1,000 kilometres) range, high ranking members of the government in Washington have been leaking information to U.S. media, in a moment of particular tense relations with Moscow.
By Eric Walberg* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
TORONTO (IDN) - In the latest ‘color revolution’, it was not an army but a rump parliament that pulled the plug on the elected president on a wave of protest, pushing out Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovich on February 22. He apologized from exile in the Russian city of Rostov-on-the-Don for his weakness during the uprising, but his fate was sealed when he was disowned by his own Party of the Regions, the largest party in the fractious parliament. The rump parliament unsurprisingly ordered the release of Yanukovich’s arch rival, ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko from prison, a condition for Ukraine’s signing a European Union Association Agreement.