News Archive – August 2015
Senior members of the European Parliament want the Prime Minister to set out his ‘secretive’ renegotiation demands before MEPs in Strasbourg
The Telegraph (Loondon, UK), Aug 31, 2015 – The Telegraph understands that a committee of senior MEPs will on Thursday discuss a proposal from Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister who leads the liberal bloc in the Parliament, to invite Mr Cameron to speak. Any invitation will be issued by Martin Schulz, the German socialist speaker of the Parliament who has claimed the British renegotiation is driven by “lies” about immigrants and “national resentment.” ….Mr Verhofstadt said last night: “Cameron should come to the European Parliament to outline his demands and put his case for a reformed European Union in a transparent manner.” ….Mr Cameron cannot be forced to attend a debate, but refusal may be ill-advised: the Parliament will have a crucial role in passing any treaty change or new legislation that the British renegotiation requires. Syed Kamall, the British Conservative MEP who is also due to discuss the invitation, said: “….The British prime minister answers to the British parliament and the British people, not to Guy Verhofstadt.”
Verhofstadt wants a Cameron close-up
Liberal group leader calls on British PM to debate Brexit in the European Parliament.
Politico, Aug 31, 2015 – Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, took aim at Cameron for claiming that the EU process isn’t democratic enough while so far failing to initiate a debate with the EU’s one democratically elected institution. Cameron has promised that Britain will hold a national referendum before the end of 2017 on the country’s EU membership. “David Cameron has often accused the EU of a democratic deficit. It would therefore be very strange for him to turn down an invitation to openly discuss his proposals,” he said in a statement.
AFRICAN UNION: EAC & ‘REGIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE’
East Africa sees regional power links ready in three years
Business Day (South Africa), Aug 27, 2015 – Power lines connecting the east African states of Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Ethiopia are expected to be completed within the next three years, helping improve supplies and power trading, a senior Kenyan official said on Thursday…. Linking up national grids would provide a bigger pool of resources and mean one state can tap idle supplies in another…. All the states, except for Ethiopia, are part of the East African Community trade bloc.
GCC & ISRAEL:
Combatting Islamism – the Arab-Israel axis
Jerusalem Post, Aug 26, 2015 – That there is unprecedentedly close Egypt-Israel military cooperation in Sinai, combating IS terrorism, is no longer a secret, but recent reports have suggested covert security cooperation also between Israel and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders. Regular, secret flights between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv have recently been documented, despite the ostensible ban on Israeli citizens entering the UAE…. A change of atmosphere can certainly be detected, but despite covert cooperation, sober reality continues to rule.
European Union rules out changes to passport-free travel area
Malta Independent, Aug 24, 2015 – The so-called Schengen agreement allows travel without border checks between 22 EU member countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. EU Commission spokesman Christian Wigand said that “Schengen is non-negotiable and the Commission has no intention of changing it.” But he said that Schengen rules allow for security to be stepped up by national police as long as actions are targeted and do not substitute for border checks.
India signs pact for South Asia’s first trans-national oil pipeline
Business Standard (India), Aug 24, 2015 – [Indian Prime Minister] Modi, during his first official visit to Nepal in an address to the Constituent Assembly on 4 August 2014, had announced the building of the pipeline that will serve to improve regional connectivity among the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations.
Asean Economic Community will take shape end-2015: Mustapa
New Straits Times, Aug 22, 2015 – The Asean Economic Community or single market will take shape end of 2015 despite recent setbacks said Asean Economic Ministers chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed…. The AEC comprises three core pillars: political, security community, economic community and socio-cultural community. “Transcend National, Embrace Regional” was Malaysia’s appeal to its Asean member states to work towards an integrated market.
SAARC & ‘SOUTH ASIAN ECONOMIC UNION’ :
SAARC to create economic union
The Statesman (India), Aug 20, 2015 – The finance ministers of SAARC nations on Thursday decided to create an economic union for economic integration in the region…. It also discussed harmonisation of customs procedures and documentation, harmonisation of standards of identified products, finalisation of Schedules of Specific Commitments under SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services, regional connectivity, according to a statement issued here after the meeting…. Finance ministers and high-level delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated in the meeting.
SAARC Finance Ministers Discuss Closer Cooperation Meet in Nepal
NDTV (New Delhi, India), Aug 21, 2015 – Finance Ministers of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) including from India gathered to discuss closer economic cooperation in the region, including connectivity…. “We believe that the vision of South Asian Economic Union (SAEU) is relevant and can be achieved in a phased manner within a reasonable period of time with an inbuilt provision for sharing benefits equitably among its member countries,”….
‘Jilted’ Saudis creating joint Arab force to counter ISIS, Iran
Seen as response to U.S. nuclear agreement with Tehran
WND, Aug 20, 2015 – Saudi Arabia is moving ahead with a plan to assemble a joint Arab intervention force to counter ISIS as Egypt and Libya fight off increased attacks in their countries by the jihadist army, which has declared the establishment of an Islamic state in parts of Syria and Iraq, according to a new report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin…. The decision to create the joint Arab intervention force comes as the U.S. has turned down a request from the Arab League to extend the U.S.-led bombing coalition to hit ISIS targets in Libya and Egypt.
ASEAN to continue joining UN in solving security challenges: Vietnam ambassador
Tuoi Tre News (Vietnam), Aug 20, 2015 – ASEAN countries suggested that the report of Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the orientation for UN activities on the occasion of its 70th anniversary include specific recommendations on promoting cooperation with regional organizations and dialogue between the organizations and the UN and between themselves, Ambassador Nga said.
Pak raises Kashmir at UN, seeks OIC intervention
GreaterKashmir, Aug 19, 2015 – “SAARC has been constrained because of the deep differences among its members and attempts to utilise it for regional domination,” Lodhi said. Each regional organisation was unique, some had proven their worth, such as the European Union, African Union and Arab League while others such as SAARC were yet to fulfill that promise, she said.
US commits $550m to boost peacekeeping in Africa
StarFM (Ghana), Aug 19, 2015 – This was disclosed at a workshop on Peace Operations and Security Challenges in Africa for heads of military institutions on the continent…. The Commandant Major General Obed Boamah Akwa said the three-day workshop will address critical topics such as the security environment in West Africa, peacekeeping versus peace enforcement, responding to political crisis and insecurity on the continent as well as ECOWAS external partnerships with AFRICOM, the United Nations and African Union.
New pipeline route to boost economy – Standard Digital (Kenya), Aug 20, 2015 – The construction of the pipeline will not only change the economic fortunes of Uganda and Kenya, but also the larger East African region. Access to affordable petroleum, for instance, by the East African Community will accelerate economic growth in the region.
Libya calls on fellow Arab countries to help fight ISIS affiliate
CTV News (Canada), Aug 18, 2015 – Arab League officials said member states are meeting next week to discuss the formation of a joint Arab force to be used to intervene in regional crises and combat terrorism. Libya has slid into chaos since the 2011 overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Government of Armenia approves draft on free movement of capital in EEU
Armenian News Agency, Aug 1, 2015 – At the Government session, August 18 the Government of the Republic of Armenia approved the draft decision on “Exchanging information, including confidential information, in the financial sphere for the purpose of creating conditions on the financial markets to ensure free movement of capital.” Armenpress reports that Deputy President of the Central Bank of Armenia Nerses Yeritsyan noted that the need of the draft was preconditioned by Armenia’s membership to the Eurasian Economic Union. According to Yeritsyan, the draft was also adopted by the governments and parliaments of EEU member states.
The Greek Debt Deal’s Missing Piece
New York Times, Aug 15, 2015 – As it stands, none of that new money flowing into Greece will come from the agency that has, until now, played a crucial role in virtually every bailout, in Greece and elsewhere around the world: the International Monetary Fund. That is because the I.M.F. says that Greece was simply incapable of repaying its staggering debt. Yet the accord reached last week makes no effort to reduce that burden…. The latest bailout is heavy on austerity measures like privatization of power companies and seaports, reduced pensions and tax increases in shipping and tourism, and says nothing about debt relief.
GCC-POL fully supported
Bahrain News Agency, Aug 10, 2015 – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani on Sunday asserted keenness of the GCC Secretariat and its willingness to provide full support to the Gulf Police Force (GCC-POL) for the sake of strengthening its role in the joint security work…. The secretary-general affirmed that the GCC ministers of the interior are paying great attention to the GCC-POL as a leading Gulf foundation aimed to promote the Gulf integration and interdependence in the security field.
China is making itself the spanner in Asean’s works
South China Morning Post, Aug 10, 2015 – The United States wants a more unified Association of South East Asian Nations to back its pivot to Asia. China prefers a bickering Asean that is little more than a talk shop. China’s goal is of course much easier to obtain, as witnessed in the latest joint communiqué. Without naming anyone, the release warned that land reclamations in the strategic South China Sea “had increased tensions”, but stopped short of including demands by the Philippines and the US that all reclamation, construction and militarisation should halt.
ASEAN flag hoisted in Ho Chi Minh City – Tuoitrenews (Vietnam), Aug 10, 2015 – The display of the ASEAN flag and those of its 10 members shows the city’s determination to promote the images of the regional countries and the ASEAN community to local people, Tu added…. ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a political and economic organization with 10 members, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
We want Iran cooperation, not meddling, Gulf Arabs tell Kerry
Reuters, Aug 3, 2015 – Iran’s nuclear deal should bring stability and “good neighborliness” rather than interference, Gulf Arab states told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday as they began talks on the merits of its historic accord with world powers. Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah, welcoming Kerry to Qatar for the talks with the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), said the alliance wanted to spare the region “from any dangers and threats from nuclear weapons”. This should be done by authorizing the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in line with international rules, he said, speaking for the GCC as host of the meeting.
China Pushes ASEAN to Deeper Integration
‘One Asean stand may stop China’
Manila Times, Aug 2, 2015 – There is a chance that China will stop its island-building spree in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and other areas if all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and Japan agree to issue a united stand against Beijing’s sea activities, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said…. The dispute grew increasingly tense in recent years with the Philippines at the forefront of accusing China of “bullying” in asserting its claim to the South China Sea, a crucial lane and fishing ground also believed to hold vast mineral resources.
China wants no talk of South China Sea at ASEAN meeting – Reuters, Aug 3, 2015 – But in Washington, State Department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner said tensions in the South China Sea would be discussed as part of regional security concerns…. Neither the United States nor China are members of ASEAN but have been invited to participate alongside other countries outside the group…. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, and rejects the rival claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Banking union or bust
The EU can only survive by fully integrating its banks into a common system
by R. Daniel Kelemen, Al Jazeera America, Aug 3, 2015 – It is now obvious that the Eurozone is an incomplete monetary union, lacking key attributes of successful currencies, and that this incompleteness makes the Eurozone prone to crisis. And the current crisis in Greece — along with previous iterations of the crisis in Ireland, Spain and Cyprus — demonstrates that Europe can’t have a stable currency union until it has a true banking union…. A true banking union must combine common supervision of banks, a common mechanism for the resolution of failed banks and common deposit insurance.
R. Daniel Kelemen is a Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University.