News Archive – December 2014
EURASIAN UNION, UNASUR:
Regional Currency Plots Advance in Eurasia and South America
By Alex Newman, The New American, Dec 29, 2014 – As the world’s nations are increasingly cobbled together into freakish and largely arbitrary regional unions via economic and political “integration,” transnational currencies are also advancing quickly. The European Union’s controversial single currency, the euro, is the furthest along…. Two more emerging regional regimes, meanwhile — the Eurasian Union and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR or UNASUL) — are now making similar moves toward the creation of eventual monetary unions.
EURASIAN ECONOMIC UNION:
Why Is The West Intent In Making Vladimir Putin Its Villain?
Eurasia Review, Dec 29, 2014 – For the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) to arrive as a major world economic power in the next decade, it will require more than just a few former Soviet republics to join in…. Russia would need to ally both Iran and Turkey, Islamic countries – one fundamentalist in its religion (Iran) but not the other, something which may pose a problem for a harmonious association, but certainly doable as commonality of interests by the three nations becomes obvious.
Armenia’s Communists see Armenia thriving within EEU fraternity
Armenian News Agency, Dec 26, 2014 – By joining the EEU, Armenia is first and foremost re-establishing its relations with Russia and is creating good opportunities for the establishment of a new relationship,” First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Armenia Tatchat Sargsyan said during a December 26 press conference, adding that he’s certain that Armenia will thrive within the fraternity of the EEU, as “ArmenPress” reports.
Eurasian ruble to be introduced already in 2015?
Eurasian ruble backed by real valuables will appear already the next year
Azerbaijan Business Center, Dec 22, 2014 – “Of course, it will happen in summer at the earliest, when the parts of former Ukraine return “home”: some to the Russian Federation and some to the Eurasian Union…. From this point of view fluctuations of ruble pegged to the dollar are of little importance for us, because the Eurasian ruble will be a quite different currency. Yes, oil and ruble fall in price that’s why our sales of energy resources bring more and more real money to the country…. He also points out that Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan have bought gold in large quantities over the recent half of the year: about 70% of the world sales.
India and China slugging it out in South Asia
Japan Times, Dec 21, 2014 – For a long time, the dominant narrative of SAARC has been how India-Pakistan rivalry has hampered its evolution into anything of significance. That is now rapidly losing its salience with China’s growing dominance of the South Asian landscape…. Now, much to India’s consternation, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal are supporting China’s full membership in SAARC…. China’s strategy toward South Asia is premised on encircling India and confining her within the geographical coordinates of the region.
EUROPEAN UNION & TURKEY:
Turkey and the European Union – Media freedom RIP?
A fresh round of arrests takes relations with the European Union to a new low
The Economist, Dec 20, 2014 – The EU’s foreign-affairs boss, Federica Mogherini, and enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, warned that Turkey’s hopes of becoming a member depended on “full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights.” They called the arrests “incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy”. Mr Erdogan said the EU should “mind its own business and keep its opinions to itself”.
EURASIAN UNION & TURKEY:
Russia-Turkey: principles of tactical cooperation and strategic alliance
Vestnik Kavkaza (Russia), Dec 18, 2014 – The attractiveness of Russian integration model depends on the situation in our country in 2015, whether we will be able to resolve our conflicts with Europe over Ukraine. The success of Eurasian integration doesn’t depend on ideology; it depends on economic indices. If we hold inflation within the limits of 10%, achieve stable growth of 3-4%, maintain a similar index in labor production, we will be interesting for everybody from Turkey to Vietnam. And probably in this case the dialogue with Ankara will shift to its technical membership in the EaEU.
Britain’s borders blown wider apart: EU judges ruling to open up UK to even MORE migrants
Express (UK), Dec 18, 2014 – Meddling European judges have today made a landmark ruling which could blow Britain’s open borders even wider apart. European Union (EU) judges have ruled that the UK cannot block non-EU family members from entering the country without a travel permit. The judgement could now potentially open up Britain’s borders to large numbers of non-EU nationals.
EUROPEAN UNION (OR EURASIAN UNION?):
Russian PM uses Turkey joke to downplay Ukraine’s EU chances
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Ukraine and Turkey have little to no chance of joining the European Union.
Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), Dec 16, 2014 – “….It is sufficient to have a look at Turkey – this country signed the association agreement 51 years ago and it’s still not an EU member,”…. Medvedev also recalled a joke by former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who was once asked by a reporter when Ukraine could become an EU member. “Right after Turkey,” Chernomyrdin answered quickly.
Senate GOP Leaders Back Obama Amnesty, Oppose Cruz Vote
Daily Caller, Dec 14, 2014 – Twenty-four of 42 GOP senators, including all the GOP leaders, backed the $1.1 trillion 2015 budget that funds President Barack Obama’s unilateral amnesty…. The vote was engineered by Sen. Ted Cruz, who filed a “Point of Order” claim that required the senators to say if they thought the budget bill was constitutional despite not defunding Obama’s amnesty.
ARAB LEAGUE & ISRAEL:
Is it time for Israel to talk peace within the region?
Yahoo News, Dec 14, 2014 – The shared threat of a nuclear Iran and militant groups like Islamic State opens the way for alliances with states such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia…. “We need to normalize the region and the only ones who can do that are the Israelis,” says former Jordanian Foreign Minister Kamel Abu Jaber, who also sees great potential for Israel to help reorient the Middle East’s resources from strife to development. “I dream that one day we can reconcile these two scions of the Semitic race.”
Zuma betrayed Gaddafi – Malema
Independent Newspapers (South Africa), Dec 14, 2014 – “Since Jacob Zuma surrendered the life of Brother Leader Gaddafi to imperialist murderers, Africa is lacking of a Pan African voice which should unite all progressive forces,”…. [Malema] said more than 80 percent of funding for the African Union and the Pan African Parliament came from the European Union. “Gaddafi was the only one who was willing to fund the African Union and was the only one who took practical steps to unite the African continent.”
Hawks mum on Libyan asset probe - The Citzen (South Africa), Dec 7, 2014 – The Sunday Independent reported that R2 trillion in US dollars from Libya is stored at seven heavily-guarded warehouses and bunkers in secret locations in Pretoria and Johannesburg…. Most of the assets were taken out of Libya when [South Africa] President Jacob Zuma got invoved in an African Union process to persuade former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi to step down after an uprising to force him out of office began in February 2011, according to the newspaper.
From Wikipedia: The Hawks are South Africa’s new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) which target organized crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime referred to it by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service.
ASEAN countries working towards Common Visa
Financial Express (India), Dec 12, 2014 – As proposed a few years ago, ASEAN member states are working towards the establishment of visa-free travel in the region for ASEAN nationals. A proposal for an ASEAN Common Visa for non-ASEAN nationals to facilitate business mobility and tourism is also working its way through the official channels.
Boehner Omnibus Gives Social Security Benefits to Illegal Aliens Under Obama Amnesty
Breitbart, Dec 10, 2014 – Pages 958 and 959 of the 1,603-page omnibus spending bill from House Speaker John Boehner include a provision that gives Social Security benefits to illegal aliens under President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty…. Despite omitting language that would prohibit any funding for any part of Obama’s executive amnesty, congressional leaders did include 451 other times where they prohibited funding from being used for a given purpose.
Gulf Arab states close ranks with navy, police
Yahoo News, Dec 9, 2014 – The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which is concerned about Shiite Iran’s regional influence and the rise of Sunni extremist groups, agreed on Tuesday to create a joint naval force based out of Bahrain and announced a police force based out of the United Arab Emirates’ capital of Abu Dhabi…. Of the six GCC nations, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have taken part in airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
‘Never Waste a Good Crisis’:
Low Oil Price Pretext Pushes GCC Nations to Deeper Integration
Kuwaiti emir says oil price fall hitting Gulf Arab incomes
Arabian Business, Dec 10, 2014 – Sheikh Sabah suggested one of the solutions was greater economic integration within the GCC, a goal often invoked but rarely enacted by the member countries – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
GCC’s historic turning point – Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Dec 10, 2014 – This is clearly not a time for overzealous national fervor. Those who are opposed to the GCC unity initiative because it might impact on national sovereignty, should study the example of the European Union, which despite its flaws have achieved a working system for disparate states. There were inevitable sacrifices of some sovereignty for the common good in the EU, based on a great deal of political maturity. It involved making tough decisions that would ultimately benefit the group. It is this same level of understanding that is currently being displayed by GCC leaders.
Driving Force for the EU Army
German-Foreign-Policy.com, Dec 8, 2014 – Military experts of the SPD group in the German Bundestag are calling for an EU “military academy” and “permanent military headquarters” along with other steps toward establishing an EU army. “As Social Democrats, we want to be the driving force in Europe of a parliamentary controlled European army,” ….”NATO is the relevant address for solving high-intensity conflicts. We are convinced that the EU has the better means for handling intermediate and low intensity challenges.” The perspective of engaging in military missions independently from the USA demands an autonomous arms industrial base.
Plans Underway for South American Regional Currency
teleSUR (Venezuela), Dec 8, 2014 – “To implement the joint currency of the Sucre, we have to begin with the creation of a regional reserves fund, which is what analysts have proposed as the first step, which is designing the region’s financial architecture,” said [Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Ernesto Samper]. A regional reserves fund and the Bank of the South would use the Sucre to break from the control of the World Bank, IMF and other traditional financial institutions that leaders maintain have historically not acted in regional interests. The Sucre would increase regional sovereignty by eliminating the official use of foreign currencies.
UNASUR Rejects IMF Criticism to Regional Pro-Integration Processes
Prensa Latina (Cuba), Dec 8, 2014 – “The IMF has no moral authority to come and give us any recommendation after we were for many years subject to its terms that hindered any possibiluty of progress. It is like Dracula running a blood bank,” said Samper during a press conference in this capital. In recent remarks in Santiago de Chile, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said pro-integration mechanisms like Unasur, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Central American Integration System (SICA) should be rejuvenated, and also compared them to a big plate of spaghetti.
East Africa: Govt Ratifies the EAC Monetary Union Protocol
Iwacu English News (Burundi), Dec 9, 2014 – Burundi has joined Rwanda and Tanzania in ratifying the East African Community Monetary Union Protocol. The Protocol aims to harmonize monetary and fiscal policies and establish a common central bank for the East African Community.
EU hails Pan African Court, pledges support – Daily News, (Tanzania), Dec 8, 2014 – European Union (EU) has lauded the work of the Arusha-based African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR), pledging to support some of its activities. The Head of the European Union Delegation to the African Union (AU), Ambassador Gary Quince, said that EU was closely following the work of the Pan African Court….
‘India blocking China’s entry into SAARC to retain supremacy’
Economic Times (India), Dec 9, 2014 – Riled by India’s opposition to expanding SAARC, a Chinese think-tank today accused the country of attempting to retain its supremacy in the South Asian bloc, saying it is “afraid” that an anti-India group will take shape if China joins the eight-member grouping. In an article titled ‘South Asia forum delayed by India’s self interests’, published in the state-run Global Times today, Liu Zongyi, a scholar at the Shanghai Institute of International Studies launched a scathing criticism against India, accusing it of attempting to retain its supremacy in the region.
Is There Any Hope for SAARC? – The Diplomat, Dec 8, 2014 – One solution, which gets around the China conundrum, could be intensifying work toward setting up a SAARC Development Bank…. Whatever the tool may be, political reconciliation cannot be found without creating economic interdependence in the region.
UNASUR & ‘SOUTH AMERICAN CORRIDOR’
Unasur prioritize the bi-oceanic corridor that includes Bolivia
laRazon (Reason – Bolivia), Dec 8, 2014 (Google Translate) – The Union of South American Nations (Unasur) prioritize eight projects of regional integration, among which is included Bioceánico Central Rail Corridor (CFBC) that will link the Pacific with the Atlantic and pass through Bolivia….
Unasur hastens the launch of the South Bank – MDZ (Mendoza, Argentina), Dec 8, 2014 (Google Translate) – The Unasur agreed activation South Bank, before the end of December 2014 as well as the creation of the Reserve Fund and Financial Protection regional bloc. It also agreed to activate from 2015 a working agenda that allows a higher common trade, strengthening our coins and momentum of a real economic integration project…. The South Bank project is being promoted since 2007 by Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. And it is presented as an alternative to the IMF, World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.
EUROPEAN UNION, EURASIAN UNION:
Crafting a win-win-win for Russia, Ukraine and the West
Washington Post, Dec 7, 2014 – ….In keeping with some of the ideas put forth by former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, and building as well on suggestions from former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski — two great U.S. strategists not thought of as appeasers or wishful thinkers — the deal that we should propose to Russia would include elements like these:….
●NATO would be unapologetically retained with its current membership. But because of the new security arrangement, it could eschew further enlargement and increasingly play only a supporting role in European security, refocusing on missions outside of Europe.
●The European Union would agree to work with Russia to make any possible future Ukrainian relationship with the union, including membership, compatible with Ukraine’s participation in Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union project….
UNASUR to introduce free movement of people within the region
The so-called concept of South American passport means free travelling across the region, receiving education and jobs in any part of the continent, and mutual recognition of higher education diplomas
TASS (Russia), Dec 5, 2014 – The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) has prepared a concept for “South American citizenship,” which will let all people living on the continent to travel freely within the region, the organization’s head Ernesto Samper said at the Union’s summit on Thursday. “We have adopted a concept of South American citizenship, which means free travelling across the region, receiving education and jobs in any part of the continent, and mutual recognition of higher education diplomas. This right is granted to 450-500 million people living in South America’s 18 million square kilometers,” Samper said. “Symbolically, we call it the South American passport.” The Union’s leader said the concept, which is similar to the Schengen zone in Europe, will be the first sop towards free movement of people within countries of the union.
Lula: Regional Integration Is the Solution – teleSUR, Dec 4, 2014 – South American regional integration is crucial to combat economic crises, former Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told a meeting of South American leaders Wednesday…. Social integration and the notion of regional citizenship were also themes Lula stressed were important. “The examples of other regional integration blocs show us that integration is only possible when there is an exchange of alliances. We have to support not only political and economic integration but also the integration of people and society,” he said.
Russia, UNASUR to discuss cooperation memorandum — Russian ambassador to Ecuador
TASS (Russia), Dec 4, 2014 – The organization brings together Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador…. UNASUR has created the South American Parliament, the South American Bank and South American Defense Council, an advisory and coordinating mechanism, aimed at ensuring conditions for the reduction of tension on the continent.
The GCC puts on its armor
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), Dec 4, 2014 – Ever since it was established in 1981, it was clear that the six-member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council would be looking beyond the creation of a powerful international trading bloc. A single currency will in time cement the business and commercial ties. But from the outset, GCC leaders also saw that there was a security component to their ever-closer links…. Given the looming presence of IS bigots in Iraq and Houthi rebels in Yemen, it is right that the GCC is expanding its military cooperation. The planned launch of a Joint Military Command to counter Iranian threats and the rising danger of terrorism, will absolutely be the right move.
Armenian Parliament Ratifies Eurasian Economic Union Treaty
Radio Free Europe, Dec 4, 2014 – The Armenian parliament has overwhelmingly passed a treaty to join the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. The vote on December 4 was 103 in favor, seven votes against, and one abstention.
Russia-Turkey Axis Should Have Given Pause to Armenia’s Mad-Dash to Join Eurasian Union – Asbarez Armenian News, Dec 4, 2014
….Yet the Armenian government, which still has to comprehensively delineate and explain the pros and cons of an association with the EU versus Russia, sprinted toward the endgame of joining the EEU [Putin's Eurasian Economic Union], despite the fact that now Turkey has become a player in that union and Kazakhstan’s close alliance with Azerbaijan is still a thorn that could prick with uncertain consequences as Astana continues to act as a proxy for Baku within the EEU. In the current scheme of things, what would stop Russia from forcing Armenia to open its borders with Turkey, with heavy preconditions and without distinct benefits to Armenia?
Moldova says no to Mr. Putin. Will he listen? – Washington Post, Dec 1, 2014 – On Sunday he lost another one: Moldova, a former Soviet republic wedged between Ukraine and Romania, voted to retain its pro-Western government despite a robust Russian campaign to install its own clients. The result means the nation of 3.5 million will continue on its course of integration with the European Union — provided that Mr. Putin does not again resort to armed aggression…. Leaders of the Socialist party tied themselves directly to Putin and promised to lead Moldova into his Eurasian Economic Union….
ASEAN & US ‘REGION-BUILDING’ :
Envoy: Asean economic integration goes well with US programmes
The Star (Philippines), Dec 5, 2014 – The United States is spending almost US$40mil (RM138mil) on programmes under this initiative… The funding also helped to train hundreds of small and medium enterprises and prepare for the Asean Single Window, she explained, “connecting Customs procedures of the 10-member countries so that goods can flow more freely across borders”.
SAARC Membership: India blocks China’s entry for the time being
Economic Times (India), Dec 2, 2014 – China, now an observer in Saarc, has been seeking an entry to the regional organisation, with support from Pakistan which also roped in Sri Lanka and Maldives. A section of Nepali political class also pleaded China’s case. But other SAARC members, including Bangladesh, did not show enthusiasm at the Summit for China’s entry into SAARC, official sources informed.
Saarc countries: Business leaders for common currency
Business Recorder (Pakistan), Nov 29, 2014 – President of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Rashid Ahmed Siddiqui, has suggested that South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation’s (Saarc) member-countries should introduce single currency on the pattern of European Countries (EU).
SAARC: China offers a way forward – Sunday Times (Sri Lanka), Nov 30, 2014 – India was hyper-active at Kathmandu as the Pakistani doosra to invite China into the ‘club’ took all by surprise. India’s diplomatic machine worked overtime to quash China’s almost brazen bid to seek full membership in the eight-nation grouping…. With China fast moving towards the position of the world’s No. 1 economic power, India’s aim may be wishful thinking. How can SAARC be a counterweight to China unless it emerges as a confederation or an economic union like the European Union?
Let’s Partition SAARC – Analysis – Eurasia Review, Nov 29, 2014 – By playing spoiler at the SAARC summit, maybe the Pakistanis have spared India the embarrassment of reneging on the road and rail deal at a later date. A deal like this which would open India to Pakistani traffic is a security nightmare and highly avoidable. But more importantly, Pakistan has opened an opportunity for India to take the sub-regional route with the other South Asian countries from whom India stands to gain a lot more than from Pakistan.