Berlin Launches A Visionary Project for Interfaith Dialogue

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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.

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A New German Fiction

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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.”

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The Saga of German Weapons For The Arab World

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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.

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Crimea Vote Does Not Affect China-Russia Ties

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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.

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Cautious Move To Open A New Chapter in Iran-EU Ties

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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.

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NATO and Russia Caught in New Nuclear Arms Race

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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.

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Ukraine: Russia Strives To Pick Up Pieces As US Plans Founder

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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.

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Free Trade Is Not So Free After All

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - International negotiations on so-called “free trade agreements” have always had something surreptitious about them. In the late 1990s, the industrialised countries represented at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) wanted to pass a “multilateral agreement on investment” (MAI) with the alleged goal of facilitating – liberating, so to speak – international investment. But, for all the good that such investment was supposed to bring about across the world, the OECD managed the negotiations in a most clandestine way.

With good reason: Only thanks to the extraordinary work of civil rights activists and journalists, it was revealed that the MAI draft constituted a carte blanche for corporations to commit all kind of violations of national legislation on social and environmental matters.

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What November Referendum in Catalonia Would Mean For Spain and Europe

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By Julio Godoy* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BARCELONA (IDN) - Last December, the Catalonian parliament adopted a resolution that a referendum be carried out in November 2014, to decide whether the region remains part of Spain, or proclaims its independency. To say that the resolution constitutes a major challenge for the central government in Madrid is a euphemism.

Because, on the one hand, the Spanish constitution does not envisage referendums; and on the other, given the present climate of animosity reigning in Catalonia against Madrid, it is likely that a majority of the Catalonian population follows the 'separatists' – I use that term for lack of a better one: Catalonians rallying for independency claim they are not nationalists, but that they simply don’t feel as Spaniards – among the political leaders and proclaims the region as a new independent state, and thus opens the way for other separatist movements in Spain, such as that of the Basque country. Finally, most Catalonians reject the monarchy and would prefer to ground a republic.

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WRI Gently Criticises EU’s 2030 Climate Goals

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By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BERLIN (IDN) - The World Resources Institute (WRI) has greeted the European Commission’s announcement of a climate and energy package, which the 28-nation European Union (EU) heads of state would consider at their meeting on March 20-21. But the Institute points out that “the proposal does not yet ensure a clear pathway to a low carbon economy”.

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Implications Of Scottish Independence For Development Cooperation

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By James Mackie* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

BRUSSELS (IDN) - While the debate on Scottish independence is heating up prior to the referendum in September 2014, it is important to consider what implications an independent Scotland would have for UK and European development aid. While the UK aid would undoubtedly be affected, this new donor country would need to make an effort to minimize the effect on further aid fragmentation.

Scottish independence would lead to more fragmentation of European development cooperation and a major reduction in Department for International Development (DFID) programmes as a result of an estimated GBP 1 billion cut in its budget, yet neither of these two outcomes are really dealt with in two recent reports on what a Yes vote in the 2014 Scottish referendum would mean for development cooperation.

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