Archive for the ‘EU politics’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 436: The Prince of human rights got it all wrong and we are still waiting

By Jan Oberg

General Ratko Mladic has finally been sentenced – to life – for crimes committed in Bosnia during the Yugoslav dissolution wars in the 1990s.

That motivated Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to make a statement to the effect that “Mladic is the epitome of evil, and the prosecution of Mladic is the epitome of what international justice is all about.”

But that statement is, if anything, the epitome of exemplary nonsense, pro-Muslim bias and something the UN S-G ought to distance himself from since it is a purely political statement.

The media – in the West in particular – have of course lapped it up. Most media people today are too young to have any personal experience of the events some 25 years ago and would have to read thick books to understand some of it.

The verdict’s political effect – whether intended or not – is to justify the horrible way the so-called “international community” intervened in the Yugoslav complex of intertwined conflicts with an inverse proportion between its intellectual understanding and its brutality.

Now, if you think I am thereby defending Mr. Mladic, let me say that there are strong reasons to believe that he is guilty of much including some of the killings in the massacre of Srebrenica.

Essentially, the argument of this article is not about Mladic. It’s about the Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s unacceptably politicized – but hopefully well-intentioned – statement.

But the Jordanian prince – who was with UNPROFOR in Yugoslavia at the time and should know better – anyhow got it all wrong because:

• The human evil card is a cheap one to play that doesn’t explain anything. Any serious intellectual knows that there are very complex economic, political, historical and other factors associated with crimes of this type. What happened in Srebrenica can’t be reduced to one man’s evil as little as the Second World War can be reduced to the single person Hitler.

• What made Srebrenica happen was, among other things, that the six safe zones the UN Security Council had established was never made safe by the UN members. Then UNPROFOR top General Wahlgren of Sweden whom I knew very well had required around 30.000 more UN troops to make those zones safe for refugees to be in; the international community gave him only 1200 Turks with a Turkey firmly sympathising with the fundamentalist Muslim leadership in Bosnia under Alija Izetbegovic.

• Interestingly, the safe zones were not de-militarised. The international community – the US? – had permitted Izetbegovic’s government to place its ammunition depots and troops inside these zones – from which they could then make excursion out and fire into Serbian villages while Serbs obviously could not fire into safe zones filled with refugees.

• In addition, the UN as such was bankrupt at the time – member states such as the US having ignored to pay its dues to the organisation. Read the rest of this entry »

Impact of European common values on the EU’s ability to solve conflicts in the countries of the Eastern Partnership

By Per Gahrton
Former Member of the European Parliament, Green Party of Sweden
PhD Sociology
Lund, Sweden, October 2017

A lecture at the XI Congress of Ukrainian European Studies Association, Kharkiv National University, October 20, 2017

Introduction: Sweden-Ukraine ties

A couple of days ago Swedish media reported that a wild boar, shot some 200 kilometres north of Stockholm, had been found to contain ten times more radioactivity than permitted by the health authorities. As you may guess, this radioactivity emanated from the Tjernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. This shows that we live in one globalized world and that my Sweden and your Ukraine are linked together.

Another example of Swedish-Ukrainian common experience might be the battle of Poltava in June 1709, which according to Wikipedia resulted in the “beginning of Sweden’s decline as a Great Power”. As belligerents, Wikipedia lists on one side Sweden and Ukraine, on the other Russia.

However, this military defeat against the Tsar may have been a blessing for the Swedes, because afterwards the Swedish people toppled the dictatorship of the king and introduced what is called The Times of Freedom (Frihetstiden), when a four-chamber parliament including peasants, ruled the country for half a century. Though it was not a full-fledged democracy (women and the poorest men were excluded) it was a starting point, well before the French Revolution.

About hundred years later Sweden suffered another defeat against Russia, which in 1809 conquered Finland, a country that until then had been an integral part of the Swedish kingdom.

Although many Swedes wanted to retake Finland, today most historians think that perhaps even this defeat was a blessing, for two reasons: First, the inevitable Finnish struggle for independence – which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year – was not conducted against Sweden but against Russia. And secondly, the political elite decided, as expressed by the famous poet Esaias Tegnér, to “reconquer Finland inside the borders of Sweden” which meant to build a peaceful and rich society and give up wars and dreams of territorial expansion and great power status.

Since then Sweden has been militarily non-aligned and has seen no war for more than 200 years.

Examples of Scandinavian conflict-resolution

However, earlier throughout history Scandinavia has been an arena for endless internal wars, mainly between the Danish and Swedish kingdoms. Like so often people have fought with those who should be their closest friends – their neighbours. Read the rest of this entry »

Oberg Comments: The EU must co-operate intensely with Iran

October 19, 2017

Comments on EU leaders stating their support for the nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA) and sending strong signals to Trump: But more is needed now.

Oberg also asks: Where is the similar statement from NATO, the allegedly peace and security organisation when its leader, the U.S., is moving towards war with Iran?

Brexit: May versus Merkel

By Jonathan Power

September 19th 2017

“It’s not over until the fat lady ends her song”- so goes the adage, referring to the often overweight soprano who sings the last aria in Wagner’s opera, Gotterdammerung.

British prime minister, Theresa May, is not fat in a bodily sense, but she is fat-headed, convinced of her own righteousness over Brexit, although she herself voted Remain in the Brexit referendum and then changed her opinion so she could win enough votes from Brexit members of parliament to become prime minister.

Fortunately, for those who believe that the European Union is a force that welds together the former warring nations of Europe who precipitated World Wars 1 and 2 into a well-run economic and political union and thus has ensured that Europe has achieved its longest period of peace in 2000 years, the fat lady has just got going on her long aria.

Indeed, her voice is gaining timbre as it becomes clear that the Remainers still have a chance of defeating Ms May and her inward looking, self-destructive, supporters who would have had Winston Churchill on their backs if he were still alive – he was a great believer in a unified Europe.

Fortunately for Europe, as Ms May goes backwards Chancellor Angela Merkel goes forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Evolving International Law, Political Realism, and the Illusions of Diplomacy

By Richard Falk

International law is mainly supportive of Palestinian grievances with respect to Israel, as well as offering both Israelis and Palestinians a reliable marker as to how these two peoples could live normally together in the future if the appropriate political will existed on both sides to reach a sustainable peace.

International law is also helpful in clarifying the evolution of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination over the course of the last hundred years. It is clarifying to realize how the law itself has evolved during this past century in ways that bear on our sense of right and wrong in the current phase of the struggle.

Yet at the same time, as the Palestinians have painfully learned, to have international law clearly on your side is not the end of the story. The politics of effective control often cruelly override moral and legal norms that stand in its way, and this is what has happened over the course of the last hundred years with no end in sight.

The Relevance of History

2017 is the anniversary of three crucial milestones in this narrative:

(1) the issuance of the Balfour Declaration by the British Foreign Secretary a hundred years ago pledging support to the World Zionist Movement in their campaign to establish a homeland for the Jewish people in Palestine;

(2) the passage of UN General Assembly Resolution 181 seventy years ago proposing the partition of Palestine between the two peoples along with the internationalization of the city of Jerusalem as a proposed political compromise between Arabs and Jews; and

(3) the Israel military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip over fifty years ago after the 1967 War.

Each of these milestones represents a major development in the underlying struggle.

Each combines an Israeli disregard of international law the result of which is to inflict major injustices on the Palestinian people. Without due regard for this past, it will not be possible to understand the present encounters between Israelis and Palestinians or to shape a future beneficial for both peoples that must take due account of the past without ignoring the realities of the present.

Israel is sophisticated about its use of international law, invoking it vigorously to support its claims to act in ways often motivated by territorial ambitions and national security goals, while readily evading or defying international law when the constraints of its rules interfere with the pursuit of high priority national goals, especially policies of continuous territorial encroachment at the expense of reasonable Palestinian expectations and related legally entrenched rights.

To gain perspective, history is crucial, but not without some unexpected features. Read the rest of this entry »

Russian and Western influence in Macedonia compared

By Biljana Vankovska

Text of report by Macedonian newspaper Nova Makedonija on 12 June

Commentary by Biljana Vankovska: “Russia ante portas!”

The UK The Guardian recently issued a bombastic report based on certain intelligence leaks, apparently resembling WikiLeaks, that revealed the big and terrifying secret of the Russian bad boys working on Macedonia’s distancing from the West for nearly 10 years through the use of old-fashioned methods (strange and mysterious spies and conspirators) and sophisticated means of influence via public diplomacy and “soft power”.

This crown “evidence” has fitted in perfectly with the subtle campaign that a number of national media has been leading for a while now, promoting the “intimidating notion” of the Macedonians regarding Russia as a friendly country. An opinion poll on our foreign political orientations has indicated that as many as 17 per cent of the respondents have a positive view on Russia.

Imagine, these impertinent persons have dared reduce the incredible 95 per cent of people who support the West, which was typical only of [Albanian communist leader] Enver Hoxha’s Albania and Bulgaria during [Bulgarian communist leader] Zhivkov’s era!

This thesis is being reiterated ad nauseam and serves a double purpose: first, it should prove the harmful effects of the perfidious policies of the VMRO-DPMNE’s [Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity] fake patriots and, second, such an approach of the journalists’ genuine shock and concern is a preventive disciplinary measure for those who – Heaven forbid – would dare criticise the West.

It is interesting that The Guardian report deals with the “self-leakage” of the Macedonian Counterintelligence Agency and that the text was prepared by famous Macedonian journalists.

The story of Russia’s clout, spread through the media propaganda of our journalists who think that it is virtuous to play into the West’s hands, has (once again) imposed our country as an instrument to settle a score between the great powers. Read the rest of this entry »

TFF PressInfo 417: The future of EU-US relations – The Debate

The Debate with Jim Walsh, MIT and Jan Oberg, TFF

Lund, Sweden – May 30, 2017

Last night “The Debate” on PressTV was devoted to the future of European-US relations in the wake of the NATO Summit, President Trump’s words and omissions and the – historic – words, in particular, of Chancellor Angela Merkel immediately after.

Undoubtedly, we are at a turning point in these relations in general and for the NATO alliance in particular.

To discuss these issues – past, present and future perspectives – were Jim Walsh, senior research associate at MIT’s Security Studies Program, Masschusetts, and Jan Oberg, director of TFF, Lund.

Thanks to PressTV’s excellently structured program and interviewer we touched upon a series of aspects and dimensions around which we found both agreements and slight disagreements – all in a sober tone fit for public education and personal reflection.

We hope this debate will stimulate your own thoughts about the future of war, security and peace.

We’d be grateful for your sharing it to media people, students and other academics as well as to decision-makers in the field that you may know.

See it here – The Debate

Missing: Political creativity

By Johan Galtung

A key slogan during the student revolt in Paris May 1968, soon 50 years ago, was Imagination au pouvoir! Bring imagination to power!

We were there, walking with thousands from Champs-Élysées to Place Etoile where a stentorian voice commanded us to sit in small groups in the circles under the Arch to “discuss the situation”. So we did.

France is now suffering from more imagination deficit than ever. To call Le Pen-Front National “extreme right” when the issue is for or against the EU is not helpful.

Left-right was 20th century politics.

Why not think bigger, beyond EU: for or against EURASIA, Russia-China are ready? Trade fills trains London-Beijing; a West-East axis, not the old colonial obsession with North-South (neo)colonialism.

And how about both, EURASIAFRICA? They hang together geographically.

Another word for imagination is creativity. Read the rest of this entry »

French election demonstrates Europe’s strength

By Jonathan Power

The result of the first round of the French presidential election has given the Euro-pessimists a knock over the head. About time too.

The European Union is not going to face break up. Big crises come but they also go. The Euro currency crisis was not dealt with as well as it should have been – austerity was the policy of the long way round – but it passed.

The great immigration crisis has been contained and the number of would-be refugees has fallen sharply.

The British say they are leaving, but how the biggest political paradox of my lifetime will be squared remains to be seen – a parliament with a majority of its members in favour of staying in Europe but with a government trying to get out as fast as it can with the support of most MPs of the two largest parties.

Moreover, there is another quite counterproductive consequence of Brexit – pushing Scotland to break from the United Kingdom. Leaving big, grand, Europe to become a truncated little England makes no sense at all. When the penny finally drops I expect the UK to reverse course on Brexit – or to disintegrate.

With or without Britain the EU will remain the world’s best example of political unity. Peoples who have fought each other for thousands of years no longer do. No other part of the planet is so Read the rest of this entry »

US/NATO increasing tension with Russia – focus Syria: New frosty Cold War

TFF Live
April 12, 2017

The secretaries of state, Tillerson and Lavrov meet today. We seem to enter a stage of what must appropriately be perceived as a frosty new Cold War.

In the worst of cases this can lead to a new Cuban Missile Crisis. God forbid!


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