NEWS ARCHIVE – MARCH 2012

African Union launches fresh bid to capture Kony – ABC News (Australia), March 31, 2012 – The African Union now aims to coordinate 5,000 soldiers already hunting for Kony from South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Uganda with logistical and intelligence help from the United States.

EU, Ukraine set to initial association accord

– Bloomberg, March 31, 2012 – The European Union and Ukraine took the first step on Friday toward the country’s gradual integration in the bloc, beginning the process of concluding a new accord calling for the implementation of constitutional reforms, including an independent judicial system.
Moving west is ‘lesser evil’ for Ukraine – Edmonton Journal, March 31, 2012 – Russia president Vladimir Putin will try to increase Russia’s political influence in neighbouring states and integrate them into the Russian geopolitical sphere. The various means – the Customs Union, Eurasian Union, gas transit consortium, and CIS free trade zone – are all part of the same Kremlin puzzle.

Clinton tackles Syria, Iran concerns during Saudi visit – Dawn (Pakistan), March 31, 2012 – Raising security ties from a bilateral to a regional level, Clinton is breaking new ground here as she will join the first strategic cooperation forum between the United States and the six-country Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Iraq can re-emerge as key player – Gulf News, March 31, 2012 – The 23rd Arab League Summit concluded on March 29 in Baghdad. Unlike the 22 non-emergency summits that preceded it, this one was worth watching for two reasons. First, to the surprise of many, the Arab League has become an organisation of consequence.

Asean finance ministers sign new agreement on customs – Borneo Post, March 31, 2012 – Asean finance ministers yesterday signed a new agreement on customs, which promotes seamless processing among their customs authorities to facilitate a free flow of goods and commodities across the grouping borders.

Clinton to participate in high-profile GCC meeting

– Middle East North Africa Financial Network (Jordan), March 29, 2012 – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah will hold wide-ranging talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who will arrive in the Saudi capital on Friday….”Clinton will also attend a high-profile meeting with GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] foreign ministers,” said Abdullateef Al-Zayani, GCC’s secretary general, here yesterday. Al-Zayani pointed out that Clinton will attend this first ministerial meeting of the GCC-US Strategic Cooperation Forum, which will discuss the whole range of bilateral and regional issues…

German Finance Minister: Need At Least All Euro-Zone Members For Financial Transaction Tax – Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2012 – Schaeuble again expressed considerable doubts that all 27 European Union members would agree to introduce such a tax on trading in stocks, bonds, currencies and other financial instruments as proposed last year by the European Commission.

China influence over Cambodia to be tested at SE Asia summit – Reuters, March 29, 2012 – Cambodia has been rapidly pulled into China’s economic orbit in recent years and rarely speaks on the maritime dispute, in which it is not one of the six claimants. Its tenure as chair of ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] this year adds to doubts that the group will be able to formalise a 2002 declaration of conduct and cooperation with China over the South China Sea.

Somalia will become land of opportunity – Daily Nation (Kenya), March 28, 2012 – Asked by journalists when he visited Washington, D.C. in 1958 why he was so persistent on the establishment of a continental government with a military high command, Ghana’s President Nkrumah’s answer was to the point: “Sooner or later, Africa will need the two institutions when things begin to fall apart.” The Somali fall-out from 1991 when Siad Barre’s regime collapsed was the type of phenomenon which Nkrumah anticipated. And after two decades of chaos, the African Union has at last resolved to help its helpless member….

Africa: U.S. AFRICOM Commander General Carter Ham Visits AU Peace and Security Department – AllAfrica, March 28, 2012 – On March 26, General Carter Ham, Commander, U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM), visited Addis Ababa and the United States Mission to the African Union (USAU) to discuss current USAFRICOM engagement with the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Department and the significant role the African Union (AU) plays in mitigating and resolving conflicts on the African continent.

North America united in drug war

– Windsor Star, March 28, 2012 – The three NAFTA partners will increase intelligence exchanges and security cooperation on land and sea to confront the cartels, MacKay said. “Quite frankly, these cartels don’t recognize borders, they don’t recognize nationalities,” he said.

ECOWAS Suspends Mali, Sends Military Delegation to Bamako – Voice of America, March 28, 2012 – ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] spokesman Sonny Ugoh said the military delegation is expected to be followed later in the week by another delegation comprising six ECOWAS heads of state….He said the heads of state agree to activate the ECOWAS standby force to send a stronger message that the region may consider the use of force if the junta in Bamako refuses to restore democracy.

CIS Interparliamentary Assembly meets in Almaty – Caspionet (Kazakhstan), March 28, 2012 – Valentina Matviyenko, IPA CIS Council Chairperson, Chairperson of Federation Council of Federal Assembly of Russia: “When the President of Kazakhstan first announced, explained and elaborated the idea of establishing the Eurasian Union, so many people were skeptical about this considering it as another unrealizable idea. So little time has passed and this idea is now realized and materialized even in the creation of a supranational authority of the three countries and the transfer of some sovereign powers to this supranational body. It means it is another deeper level of integration. So, as they say, what is impossible is possible.”

Experts condemn US plans for Gulf missile defense shield – Muslim News (UK), March 28, 2012 – The Middle Eastern missile shield will protect the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council against cruise and ballistic missile attacks….Madelyn Creedon, US assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, said Washington would work to promote “interoperability and information-sharing” among the members of the GCC – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

ASEAN intelligence chiefs meet in Cambodia to further cooperation – Philippine Star, March 28, 2012 – The 9th ASEAN Military Intelligence Informal Meeting (AMIIM) kicked off here on Tuesday, aiming at further strengthening the bloc’s military intelligence cooperation. The 3-day meeting, under the theme “Enhancing Force Interoperability toward the 2015 ASEAN Community”, was attended by military intelligence chiefs from all ASEAN member states….

EU, OECD Focus On Firewalls Ahead Of Key Euro-zone Meeting – Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2012 – The European Union and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Tuesday urged euro-zone leaders to forge ahead with a decisive boost to the economic bloc’s firewalls to prevent runs against solvent sovereigns. Speaking at a press conference, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Olli Rehn said the size of the firewall must be “convincing,” while OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria urged leaders to increase the lending capacity of the bloc’s bailout fund to as high as EUR1 trillion.

Greece plans detention sites for illegal migrants

– Boston Globe|Associated Press – Authorities in financially troubled Greece on Monday detailed plans to build detention centers for 30,000 illegal immigrants by 2014, a project they claimed would help fight rampant inner-city crime, deter economic migrants and create thousands of local jobs. Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysohoidis said 30 facilities — officially named “closed hospitality centers” — would be created on unused military sites under a (EURO)250 million ($332 million) program funded by the European Union.
Amnesty International urges EU nations to again probe CIA rendition flights – Washington Post, March 27, 2012 – Amnesty International is urging reluctant European Union nations to make a renewed commitment to investigate their own involvement in secret CIA flights carrying suspected terrorists. Amnesty said in a statement Monday there is “an appalling lack of political will to secure the truth” among EU member states.

East Africa: Experts Hopeful On Monetary Union – AllAfrica, March 27, 2012 – Regional negotiators mooting the establishment of a regional monetary union are optimistic that plans to set up a single currency would be completed by the end of this year, Dr Thomas Kigabo, the Rwandan negotiator in the talks disclosed yesterday….In attendance were East African Community [EAC] officials, East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), members of the Rwandan chapter, among other government officials.
Is Africa on trial? – BBC News, March 27, 2012 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up to try those responsible for the most serious crimes in the world – such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. So far, all 24 people facing charges – and the only person convicted – are from Africa, leading to accusations of bias. The African Union has said members countries should stop cooperating with the Court.
Rwanda to import sugar duty free – The Citizen (Tanzania), March 26, 2012 – On negotiations involving Comesa, EAC and SADC to have a free trade area, the meeting directed that the secretariat expeditiously develop an EAC negotiation position on a “Cluster One and Two” of the Tripartite FTA negotiations on trade in goods. The first cluster to be negotiated between April this year and August next year, covers the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers, rules of origin, customs and transit related issues….

Form of coming Asean integration still unclear, StanChart chief says – The Nation (Thailand), March 27, 2012 – The 10 Asean member countries are Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam. The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will materialise in 2015, but the form of integration remains unclear, said Swaroop, noting that progress would require collaboration between businesses and regulators. “This is going to be incremental, step-by-step progress.

NGOs Critical of ‘Consultation About Consultation’ – Scoop (New Zealand), March 27, 2012 – The Non State Actor meeting is being organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and hosted by the Australian government on March 26….“The negotiations on a regional free trade agreement are the most important economic negotiations facing the Pacific Islands and yet the Forum Secretariat and Australian government continue to do the bare minimum in regards to hearing from the people of the Pacific….”

In Riyadh, Clinton will attend the first ministerial meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Al-Arabiya, March 27, 2012 – U.S. strategic cooperation forum, which is likely to also raise the perceived threat from Iran across the Gulf. The council known as the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] is composed of heavyweight Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Peru’s president: no problem in relations with Britain after cancellation of warship’s visit – Washington Post, March 26, 2012 – He said the decision adhered to the policy of the Union of South American nations, or UNASUR, a budding regional alliance. It has sided with Argentina in its sovereignty claim on the Falklands. Without referring to Britain, Humala said that in Peru’s foreign policy, “we don’t accept pressure by anyone.”

Irish plan to announce EU referendum date Tuesday

– Seattle Times, March 26, 2012 – Irish voters have rejected the previous two EU treaties in referendums, then approved both in reruns. Rejection this time would undermine Ireland’s own financial options, restricting its access to future European bailout funds.

Arab League goes from bluster to clout in Arab Spring – Channel News Asia, March 26, 2012 – Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi tasked former Algerian foreign minister and UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to design a plan to restructure the League “to put forward a vision that gives the League foundations to deal with these new developments,” said Ben Hilli. One proposal is a new, robust League security council, he said.

“Eurasian Peoples’ Union” Established in Minsk – Telegraf.by (Belarus), March 26, 2012 – The EPU main goal is to help build up the Eurasian Union, intended by Presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia….Also, “Eurasian Peoples’ Union” is in favor of involvement of Ukraine in the Eurasian Union…

Guarded praise for US World Bank nominee – Financial Times (London), March 25, 2012 (Google link) – Sindiso Ngwenya, secretary general of Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa], a regional bloc of 20 countries and 400m people in eastern and southern Africa, told the Financial Times: “I think what Barack Obama has done is he’s trying to bill him [Dr Kim] as a South Korean, but he’s an American; the position should go to the developing world. “These [Bretton Woods] institutions need radical change, they are hidebound by traditional interests.

Report: U.S. believes Iran trying to secure foothold in Gulf with activity in Yemen – Haaretz (Israel), March 25, 2012 – The pan-Arab daily al-Hayat cited Gerald Feierstein, in an interview in London, as accusing Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Hamas of helping their backers in Shi’ite Iran at the expense of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a bloc in which Sunni-led oil giant Saudi Arabia’s influence is dominant.

African Union launches U.S.-backed force to hunt Kony

– Chicago Tribune|Reuters, March 24, 2012 – The African Union (AU), backed by the United States, has put together a 5,000-strong military force to hunt down fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, whose profile has shot up following a celebrity-backed campaign against him….”The Americans are playing a pivotal role in some aspects,” AU special envoy Francisco Madeira said on Saturday. “They support us militarily, they support us with equipment, they support us with military advice, they support us even with intelligence and training,” he told reporters…
Security: ECOWAS Police Chiefs strategize against transnational crime – Afrique en Ligue, March 25, 2012 – The Head of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] Regional Security Directorate, General Charles Okae, represented by Col. Abdouramane Dieng, called on police chiefs in Member States to develop regional strategies and synergy in tackling organized transnational crimes confronting West Africa, especially illegal circulation of weapons, piracy and terrorism.

European NGOs ‘keeping Africa poor’ – The Citizen (Tanzania), March 25, 2012 – European humanitarian organisations are involved in a conspiracy to keep Africa in the throes of poverty, a former senior European Union official has claimed. Lord Peter Mandelson, the former EU Trade commissioner, told a summit on Africa in London that European charities opposed his attempts to re-negotiate trade agreements that would afford Africa more commercial opportunities….[Former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa] says Africa will not emancipate itself from poverty and chains of colonialism until it chooses to reconsider its position in the world today through regional integration towards a United States of Africa.

China, Indonesia Seek to Cement Coordination in Regional Cooperation – China Radio International, March 25, 2012 – China and Indonesia seek to strengthen collaboration and coordination within the cooperative framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The two countries voiced the willingness in a joint statement issued in Beijing on Sunday as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wrapped up a three-day state visit to China.

Removal of non-tariff barriers: ‘trade between India, Pakistan will be doubled’ – Business Recorder (Pakistan), March 25, 2012 – Vice President, Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Iftikhar Ali Malik has expressed hope that trade between India and Pakistan will be doubled in a year with removal of non tariff barriers. Talking to a delegation of traders, he said that it is objective of the chambers that trade between Saarc countries should increased substantially in near future at the side of India and Pakistan.

Arab League summit being held in Baghdad boosts Iraq’s chances of returning to fold – Denver Post|Associated Press, March 25, 2012 – Iraq hopes the three-day Arab League summit, which begins Tuesday, will silence worldwide concerns about the fledgling democracy’s stability after years of bloodshed. But the string of attacks raises fears al-Qaeda and other militants will target the summit to embarrass Iraq and prove how shaky its security remains.

‘Made in North America’: USTR to appeal WTO Country of Origin Labeling ruling

– Delta Farm Press, March 23, 2012 – The U.S. government will appeal a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) breaks trade rules. The ruling came following Canada and Mexico objecting to COOL, which requires that all meat sold retail be labeled as to origination.

The future lies in Arab unity – Saudi Gazette, March 24, 2012 – The covenant of the Arab League should be reformulated so that the group effectively serves the mutual interests of Arabs in line with the local, regional and international developments which have taken place since it was formed in 1945….It would be better if there were a strong all-Arab union to protect the interests of Arabs. When we talk about a union of Gulf nations and Arab unity to face our common enemy, the Zionists, we should remind ourselves of the most effective method for achieving this noble goal: union.

Police chiefs welcome anti-crime initiative – The Citizen (Tanzania), March 24, 2012 – Police chiefs of the East African Community (EAC) partner states have supported an EAC initiative to set up a Regional Referral Forensic Centre (RRFC) to tame crime….The EAC has already initiated the harmonisation of peace and security initiatives, common policing standards, joint investigation, exchange of information and mutual legal assistance in the partner states, among others. EAC deputy secretary general in charge of Political Federation, Ms Beatrice Kiraso, stated….that the importance of regional forensic services becomes even more necessary and inevitable in the advent of regional integration which has now moved to the second stage of common market.

The UN Versus Regional Organizations: Who Keeps the Peace? – The Internationalist (Council on Foreign Relations – CFR), March 23, 2012 – ….The United States must adapt its diplomacy to rising regionalism. The State Department tends to approach conflict management through the lens of bilateral relationships, while giving short shrift to relevant regional organizations. (Indeed, it was only in 2009 and 2011, respectively that the United States sent its first resident ambassadors to the AU [African Union] and ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations]). Meanwhile, State’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, continues to focus overwhelmingly on the United Nations, though it is beginning to reach out to some regional entities. More effective U.S. engagement will also require changing the professional incentives of foreign service officers, to reward expertise in and diplomatic postings to regional organizations.

European Commission Locks Horns With Germany Over Data Retention Law – PC World, March 23, 2012 – European Union regulators have warned Germany that it must implement the controversial Data Retention Directive within one month or face legal action and possible fines. The Data Retention Directive requires E.U. member states to store vast amounts of telecommunications information, including data about email, phone calls and text messages, for law enforcement purposes.

The European Union According to Hayek – Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2012 – ….However, a big society—one based on cooperation with strangers on a large scale, such as a state—should not attempt to play the game of the “just” distribution because it is not fit to it. The European social model that trade unions and political parties still defend with such passion was ill-conceived from the start. A market system cannot work properly if a society aims to dole out rewards and punishments like a teacher in a classroom.

Challenges Facing the Manufacturing Industry

– MFR Tech, March 21, 2012 – The whitepaper—which references President Obama’s plan to revive the industry, as well as some recent, astounding statistics—explains why manufacturing is so critical to economic growth, and determines that “Made in North America” is a priority, as Canada, Mexico and the U.S. are all dependent on one another.

Ashton lauds GGC role in resolving Yemen crisis – Kuwait News Agency, March 23, 2012 – European Union High Representative Catherine Ashton Friday stressed on the growing cooperation between the 27-member EU and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and called for strengthening of ties between the two blocs. “We work very closely with the Gulf Cooperation Council and recently the (GCC) Secretary General was here. We had a very good debate. We have a strong bilateral relations and we are trying to improve that,” she told journalists…

Preparation for the AEC: Free flow of goods – Bangkok Post, March 23, 2012 – The year 2015 will be a year of special importance for Thailand as well as all Asean member states, as it marks the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) as agreed on by country leaders at the 2007 Asean Summit. Section 9 of the AEC Blueprint clearly lays out the five core elements to attain the goal of having a single market and production base for the Asean region _ the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour.

ECOWAS charges police chiefs on transnational crimes – Vanguard (Nigeria), March 23, 2012 – In an effort to control illegal circulation of weapons in West Africa; ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States] has tasked police chiefs in member-states to develop regional strategies and synergy in tackling the myriad of organised transnational crimes confronting the region.
West Africa: Pursue Implementation of Trade Protocols – AllAfrica, March 22, 2012 – Govt. Tells Ecowas Members – The ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme seeks to establish a Customs Union among all Member States aimed at the total elimination of customs duties and taxes of equivalent effect, removal of non-tariff barriers and the establishment of a Common Customs External Tariff to protect goods produced in Member States.

North America: Canadian growers increase safety while waiting on U.S. rule – The Packer, March 22, 2012 – George Gilvesy, general manager of the Leamington-based association, said Ontario greenhouse vegetable growers also have the Regulatory Cooperation Council watching their operations. Early this year the council announced harmonization of food safety practices. About 70% of the vegetables grown in Ontario’s greenhouses are exported to the U.S., according to the association’s annual report.

EU: Transaction Tax Could Save U.K. Billions – Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2012 – The U.K. government could see its direct contribution to the European Union budget reduced by €7.6 billion ($10.04 billion) by 2020 if the EU’s proposal for a regional transaction tax to fund Brussels’s spending is agreed upon, Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski said Thursday….In its report, the Commission estimates that by 2020 a financial-transactions tax levied on shares, bonds and derivatives could generate €81 billion annually.

Moscow stages CIS economic forum – Caspionet (Kazakhstan), March 22, 2012 – According to the Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, the creation of a supranational parliament is necessary in order to ensure a transparent and clear legislation to the Eurasian Union. A special parliamentary commission is to be formed to deal with the establishment of the new structure.

Dhiyana calls for law to abolish political parties

– Haveeru Online (Maldives), March 22, 2012 – Former SAARC Secretary General and Former Attorney General Fathimath Dhiyana Saeed has said that action needed to be taken against Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members for the repeated criminal offences….She said that the 47 member council of Europe had drafted a guideline to eliminate political parties and according to the draft, parties can be eliminated on certain grounds. “Hence, getting rid of such a party is a democratic process…”
South Asia to gain in Pakistan-India free trade: SAARC chamber – South Asian News Agency, March 22, 2012 – The free trade pact among the eight member nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) will be operational by the year-end once Pakistan grants India most-favoured nation (MFN) status, says a top chamber chief.

EU ministers mull sharing military resources to cope with changes in US strategy – Washington Post, March 22, 2012 – European Union defense ministers on Thursday considered pooling their military resources in response to falling defense budgets and a U.S decision to refocus its strategy on regions beyond Europe.

Another attempt to settle the gas issue – to no avail – The Day Weekly Digest (Ukraine, March 22, 2012 – Russia, with its incumbent and newly elected heads of state, is trying to give an impetus to the CIS integration process. The main objective (being kept top secret) is to gradually create something resembling the late Soviet empire, using the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Community. Will Ukraine join this ill-organized process?
Gas Price Gamble – Russia Profile, March 22, 2012 – Officially, the Ukrainian president was in Moscow to attend the summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEc), a Kremlin-led customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. But on the eve of his departure, Yanukovich made it crystal clear that he was going to Moscow to negotiate for “fairer gas prices.”
Hryschenko: Ukraine striding toward full integration into European Union – Interfax (Ukraine), March 21, 2012 – Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostiantyn Hryschenko has stated that Ukraine is moving towards full integration into the European Union step by step.

Ministers to Examine Strategies for Unleashing Africa’s Economic Potential – Voice of America, March 22, 2012 – Many African governments blame those market-oriented policies for the continent’s economic stagnation in the 1970s and 80s. Last year’s ministerial conference was devoted to examining the state’s role in development… Comments Wednesday by African Union Economic Affairs Commissioner Maxwell Mkwazelamba and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Deputy Chief Abdallah Hamdok revealed that the issue is far from settled.

Gulf States Tell Russia: Dump Assad – The Jewish Week, March 21, 2012 – Russia may be softening its support for Bashar Assad, and it could be the result of unexpected Arab pressure, a well-informed Congressional source told me. The Gulf Cooperation Council of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, recently told [Russian Foreign Minister] Lavrov he was not welcome in any of their countries until Russia gets on board with their position toward Syria…

Unasur wants to invest US$ 10 million to expand integration in South America – Invest in Brazil, March 21, 2012 – The idea is to expand the integration between countries and stimulate internal development. The priorities are the areas of health, defense, infrastructure, including roads, railways, and navigability of the rivers aimed at enhancing interregional trade.

Top Asean/EU trade officials to convene in Cambodia – The Nation (Thailand), March 21, 2012 – The 2nd ASEAN-EU Business Summit will be held in Phnom Penh on April 1, to bring together entrepreneurs, private investors and public policy-makers from both the EU and ASEAN to address key issues related to ASEAN-EU trade relations, while identifying new business and investment opportunities on both sides.

U.S. Exempts Japan, 10 EU Nations From Iran Oil Sanctions

Bloomberg, March 21, 2012 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced yesterday that an “initial group” of countries — Japan and 10 European Union nations — have “significantly reduced” their Iranian oil purchases and thus qualified for an exemption from sanctions for a renewable period of 180 days under the law.

House passes ASEAN antiterror pact – Jakarta Post, March 21, 2012 – The [Indonesia] House of Representatives officially passed a bill on the ASEAN Convention on Counterterrorism (ACCT) into law. The bill allows Indonesia to cooperate with ASEAN countries to share information and data from intelligence agencies, stop the flow of funds to terrorists, cooperate in investigations and trials for terror attacks and extradite terrorist suspects.

Kazakh President meets with Russian Prime Minister – Caspionet, March 21, 2012 – “I support the idea of the Eurasian Union and will do everything to make it happen. The vast majority of Russian voters voted for you [Putin] and Kazakhstan, as well as myself fully support their choice. I’ve known you for many years, so I’m convinced that time and history will show that this choice is correct.”

Peru supports Latin American integration, says foreign minister – Andina (Peru), March 20, 2012 – Peru’s Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo said Tuesday that his country is committed to the unity and integration of Latin America and thus it believes that the Andean Community (CAN) and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) should be part of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
Peru cancels Royal Navy visit over Falklands – BBC News, March 20, 2012 – Peruvian Foreign Minister Rafael Roncagliolo told news agency Andina Peru he supported Argentina’s “legitimate rights” over the Falkland Islands. He said: “This decision has been taken in the spirit of Latin American solidarity commitments undertaken in the framework of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) with regard to the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute over the Falkland Islands…

Can SAARC be South Asia’s EU?

– The Diplomat (Tokyo), March 20, 2012 – A concept paper from the ICWA argued that the real test for SAARC now is to benefit from the process of globalization through deeper regional integration, including eventually creating a South Asian economic union. To achieve this goal, a deliberate shift from “independence” to “interdependence” is needed…

Medvedev: Agreement on Eurasian Union to be Signed by 2015 – Telegraf.by (Belarus), March 19, 2012 – March 19, at a meeting of the EurAsEC Interstate Council in Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev informed about the plans to pass to creating the Eurasian Economic Union by 2015. To this end, Heads of State took a series of decisions and agreed to instruct their governments and the Eurasian Economic Commission to study the issue of enhancing the effectiveness of the institutions of the Eurasian Economic Community.

Africa: Conversations With America: U.S. Engagement With the African Union – StarAfrica, March 20, 2012 – We are privileged to have Ambassador Michael Battle, U.S Ambassador to the African Union….AMBASSADOR BATTLE: The relationship between the United States and the African Union is designed around the premise that it is in our strategic, tactical, and vested interest to have a kind of capacity to strengthen the capacity of the African Union, to make the African Union strong where it is not so strong, to cooperate with the African Union in areas where it is strong, and most importantly, to collaborate with the partners of the African Union who provide 90 percent of the program budget for the African Union and a substantial percentage of the operational budget of the African Union.

Africa: Why Continent’s Claim for Unity Remains Elusive After More Than Five Decades of Independence – AllAfrica, March 20, 2012 – This is the fundamental challenge before the African Union (AU). Incidentally, the aim of the AU is to, “bring the deepest possible integration of the continent socially, economically, militarily, culturally and politically.” The objective as contained in Article 3 (c) of the constitutive Act is to “accelerate the political and socio-political and economic integration of the continent.”

A year after the Arab Spring, it’s spinning out of control – Jerusalem Post, March 20, 2012 – Meanwhile, the [Moslem] Brotherhood’s upsurge is continuing. After Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco the Brothers are looking for gains in the forthcoming elections in Algeria in April and in Libya in June. There are talks about reviving the [North African] union of Maghreb states established in 1989 which failed because of a number of conflicts between the member states; today it is felt that Islam can be a unifying factor, though it is unclear whether Islamic solidarity will be stronger than national and economic interests.
UN Chief Deepens Ties with ASEAN on Visit to Indonesia – Voice of America, March 20, 2012 – The United Nations says a recently adopted partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was the focus of talks Tuesday between Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the head of ASEAN.

NAFTA Members Cooperate on Consumer Product Safety

– Apparel Magazine, March 19, 2012 – The First North America Consumer Product Safety Summit was held at the CPSC Headquarters in Bethesda, Md., in September 2011, where representatives from the consumer product safety agencies of the NAFTA countries of the United States, Canada, and Mexico met to discuss the coordination and promotion of safety in products manufactured and sold across the region.

Nigeria: Soludo – EU Trade Agreement is Second Slavery – AllAfrica, March 19, 2012 – The Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) being negotiated with African countries, including Nigeria, on sub-regional basis by the European Union (EU) will further underdevelop the continent despite the juicy promises that come with the EPA, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Professor Chukwuma Soludo, has warned.
Ireland’s Referendum On EU Treaty To Await French Election – Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2012 – A pledge by French Socialist candidate Francois Hollande to renegotiate the European Union’s budget-discipline treaty if he is elected president will likely influence the timing of Ireland’s looming public referendum on the pact.

Eurasec Leaders to Discuss Post-Soviet Integration in Moscow – RIA Novosti (Moscow), March 19, 2012 – The leaders of former Soviet republics making up a regional economic grouping, the Eurasian Economic Community (Eurasec) led by Russia, will on Monday meet in Moscow to discuss prospects of integration processes, the Kremlin reported….Russian President Dmitry Medvedev earlier said Russia expected the Eurasian Economic Union to be up and running by 2015.

Africa: Non-tariff barriers set for removal – The Citizen (Tanzania), March 19, 2012 – Tanzania is set to scrap a $200 fee for trucks entering the country from East Africa and waive visa on visiting business people from the region.This was among key decisions made by a ministerial meeting of the East African Community (EAC) partner states in Mombasa convened to address the non-tariff barriers (NTBs).
Extra-ordinary meeting of Sectoral Council on trade, industry, finance and investment convenes today – StarAfrica, March 19, 2012 – Ministers responsible for these dockets in the EAC Partner States will be discussing among others reports on the Ministerial Meeting on Non Tariff Barriers; EAC-EU EPA Negotiations; COMESA-EAC SADC Tripartite FTA Negotiations; and the proposed Single Customs Territory .
Giant park symbolises regional integration – New Era (Namibia), March 19, 2012 – The opening of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) is a true symbol of regional integration. These were the comments of Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomáo, the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)….Partners in the TFCA are Namibia, Botswana, Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

The underlying cracks in the veneer of Arabian calmness – ABC (Australia), March 19, 2012 – Speaking at a recent Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit, Saudi King Abdullah proposed a confederation of the primary states in the Arabian Peninsula. Although Saudi Arabia, Oman and the various smaller Emirates have always maintained close institutional ties, such a declaration is unprecedented, and represents a pushback against both an emerging Iranian hegemon in the region and the fallout of the Arab Spring throughout the Middle East.

Plainly speaking – Bangkok Post, March 19, 2012 – The “English Speaking Year 2012” programme, initiated in preparation for the merging of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in three years, would be given a much needed boost if a significant amount of funds could be channelled into cutting down the number of students per class in public schools…

Iraq backs idea of Arab peacekeepers: deputy minister – AFP, March 18, 2012 – Iraq’s deputy foreign minister voiced support on Saturday for the idea of peacekeeping forces manned exclusively by Arab League troops but stopped short of backing a Qatari proposal to deploy one in Syria.

Asian Nations Look to Double Currency Fund

– Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2012 – Southeast Asian nations along with Japan, South Korea and China plan to double the size of a fund created to help each of the countries battle currency volatility, an official at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] said Sunday.

Kuwait Amb. to UK holds seminar on ‘European Union and Arab Spring’ – Kuwait News Agency, March 18, 2012 – Kuwaiti Ambassador to the UK Khaled Al-Duwaisan held a seminar, late Saturday, under the slogan of “The European Union and the Arab Spring.”….He emphasized that the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries were not affected by any uprisings due to the deep relations that ties [sic] these countries together.

Africa Union fails to break leadership deadlock – Angola Press, March 18, 2012 – Leaders of eight African Union countries failed on Saturday to break a deadlock over the leadership of the 54-member body, highlighting divisions that have repeatedly stymied its decision-making.
The pan-African project and the EU fiscal union – The East African, March 17, 2012 – Within our regional East African Community (EAC), we’re at the stage of a Customs Union — with the full Common Market due this year. Next up is the monetary union. We could be looking at the United States (US) as an example for monetary union—its federated structure provides some of the safeguards that current Eurozone arrangements do not.

Old wine in new bottles – Pakistan Observer, March 18, 2012 – President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule in Yemen has finally come to an end after thirty-three years. This made him the fourth dictator in a row to cede power in the region, although Gaddafi’s was not voluntarily. Saleh stepped down under a deal brokered in Saudi Arabia in November last year sponsored by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in return for immunity from prosecution for the crimes committed by him.

S.American group rejects UK oil exploration in Falklands – Chicago Tribune|Reuters, March 17, 2012 – “The military presence of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in the Islas Malvinas … goes against the region’s policy to seek a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, and (the region) reiterates its rejection of that presence,” the foreign ministers of the UNASUR grouping of South American nations said in a joint statement on Saturday in Uruguay.

Asia oil buyers urge EU to revise Iran sanctions

– Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), March 17, 2012 – Japan, South Korea and global ship insurers are lobbying European Union (EU) officials to revise planned sanctions against Iran to allow Europe’s insurance market to continue to cover Iranian oil shipments to Asia, government and industry sources said.

The true spirit of SAARC – Pakistan Observer, March 17, 2012 – The joint venture of the SAARC and the European Union regarding the peace and prosperity of the South Asian region shall benefit millions of people of South Asia whose lives have become hell at the hands of terrorists and their benefactors….The role of the SAARC is concerned; it must be same as that of the European Union. The European Union has very successfully brought most of the European countries under one flag; and this organization now acts as a custodian of the common interests of the whole European region.

EAC to launch medicines registration harmonisation project – IPPMedia, March 17, 2012 – The East African Community (EAC) plans to launch a Medicines Registration Harmonisation (EAC-MRH) project to ensure rapid availability of safe and effective medicines….“It also aims at building national and regional capacity in medicines regulation and develop and implement a framework for mutual recognition of regulatory decisions of the partner states,” it said.

UNASUR Countries Commit to Advance in Energy Pact

– Prensa Latina, March 16, 2012 – On behalf of his country, which holds the pro tempore presidency of UNASUR, Paraguayan Minister of Public Works and Communications Cecilio Perez said a fundamental value has been granted to energy as a key element of regional integration… He added that this takes, above all, the political will of all 12 member countries, as well as trust and full exercise of sovereignty over the valuable resources of each and every nation.

Use SADC languages to promote regional integration – Prof Saleshando – Mmegi (Botswana), March 16, 2012 – The seminar, which continues today, is being held under the theme “Languages as Tools of Regional Integration in the SADC Region,” focusing on French, English and Portuguese as the three official languages of the region.

Russia: Putin’s Tsar Paul Complex – Eurasianet, March 16, 2012 – Now that Vladimir Putin has dispensed with the formalities of reclaiming presidential authority, Kremlinologists can focus on the more substantive question of how Russia’s paramount leader intends to define his third term. In particular, many are wondering how he will proceed with his pet project — the creation of a Eurasian Union. Russia-led Eurasian integration is perhaps the last “big idea” in Putin’s ideological arsenal…

Businessman optimistic about better Indian ties – Daily Times (Pakistan), March 16, 2012 – The recent political development between India and Pakistan has encouraged business leaders to evolve a strategy for further deepening of economic cooperation between Pakistan and India to the extent of their true potential. Confederation of Asia pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) Vice President Tariq Sayeed, India-Pakistan CCI (IPCCI) President S M Muneer and SAARC CCI Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik in recent meeting with FICCI [Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry] President R V Kinoria and Secretary General Dr Rajiv Kumar discussed possible roadmap to promote economic cooperation.

East Africa: EAC Inches Towards Monetary Union Stage – AllAfrica, March 16, 2012 – The East African Community (EAC) is expected to enter into monetary union chapter before end of the year to pave the way for a roadmap for attaining the bloc’s single currency. The EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam mid this week that the monetary union would be executed in phases until it has reached its summit just like the custom union which has been instituted in the past ten years.
East Africa: MPs Pose Threat to Integration, Says Wetang’ula – AllAfrica, March 16, 2012 – The biggest threat to the East African Community integration process is the parochial and narrow-minded sense of patriotism by regional MPs [members of parliament], Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetang’ula has said. He said African parliaments are full of MPs who fail to see the bigger picture and embrace the benefits of integration.
In Sierra Leone, ECOWAS Parliament Dialogues on Single Currency – Awareness Times (Sierra Leone), March 15, 2012 – Members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament in Sierra Leone are currently debating extensively on the chances for the creation of a single currency for all member states. The five-day meeting held at the Taia Resort Hotel, Lumley in Freetown.
Southern Africa arms against pirates – Times Live, March 16, 2012 – Chief maritime strategy director Bernhard Hein Teuteberg said the navy is prepared to meet the threat. The key to fighting pirates was collective Southern African Development Community security, he said in Cape Town yesterday. “We have proposed a maritime zone and regional maritime domain zone centres, all working together to exchange information,” he said.

African Union: African leaders to discuss AU leadership crisis – Times Live (South Africa), March 16, 2012 – With the 54-nation organisation increasingly adrift since splitting in January over whether to re-elect Jean Ping as head of the AU Commission or giving the post to South Africa’s Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a select group is to meet to try to build consensus ahead of another vote expected in July….Saturday’s meeting will gather a leader from each of Africa’s five main regions, with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika representing North Africa and Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara sitting in for West Africa.

What ASEAN can learn from the EU crisis

– Jakarta Post, March 15, 2012 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) have very different social and economic characteristics. Based on GDP, the economic power of the EU is more than nine times that of ASEAN. The EU already started its integration in 1958, long before the Bangkok Declaration of ASEAN in 1967. Despite the differences, the current EU debt crisis may give ASEAN valuable lessons for the future.

Yanukovych to attend EurAsEC summit in Moscow March 19 – BSANNA News, March 15, 2012 – Earlier, on March 14, the Kremlin press service issued a message stating that the upcoming summit will be attended by the heads of states – members of the Eurasian Economic Community (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan) and observer states (Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine).

Saudi Arabia closes embassy in Syria – CBS News, March 15, 2012 – Last month, the Gulf Cooperation Council proposed that all Arab League nations withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus. The GCC includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

Lukashenko Wants to Expand Cooperation with Russia within Union State – Telegraf.by, March 15, 2012 – President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said during a meeting with Union State Secretary Grigori Rapota on March 15 that he hopes to expand cooperation between Belarus and Russia in the format of the Union State. The Belarusian leader believes that in the process of the integration the two countries should not reckon with any opinion, but act in the interests of the peoples of Belarus and Russia.

North America: A Perimeter Approach To Security And The Transformation Of The U.S.-Canada Border

– Counter Currents, March 14, 2012 – Through a series of bilateral meetings, U.S. and Canadian officials are busy working out the details of the perimeter security action plan. This includes a recent joint crime forum which dealt with border and law enforcement issues. These various discussions are part of the implementation process which when finished would bring about the complete transformation of the northern border and another step closer in the creation of a fully integrated North American security perimeter.
Pakistan Army outshines in SAARC countries championships – South Asian News Agency, March 14, 2012 – In a six day long championship played between armies of the SAARC countries Pakistan Army athletes shine with four gold, four Silver and four Bronze medals.

Eurasian Union opposes EU sanctions against Belarus – Times of Central Asia, March 14, 2012 – The European Union slapped new sanctions Monday against Belarus in protest against continuing repression by President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime…. Member states of the Eurasian Union – which include Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Russia – strongly criticized a plan by the European Union to impose sanctions…

SA to lead in Islamic finance – MediaClubSouthAfrica, March 14, 2012 – The tour also aims to highlight trade figures, investments and business partnerships with the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council countries.Islamic finance is becoming an important player in the finance sector….What distinguishes Islamic finance from conventional banking is that it has to be in line with Islamic law, also known as Shari’ah…

ASEAN Law Ministers explored more cooperation on model extradition treaty – Philippine Information Agency, March 14, 2012 – Attended by ASEAN Member States, Prof. Wisit Wisitsora-At, Director General of Legal Execution Department, Ministry of Justice, Thailand, stressed the important work of ASEAN Senior Law Officials Meeting (ASLOM) in putting in place legal instrument to support ASEAN as rules-based organisation, according to the release from ASEAN.
Ambassador of Japan to ASEAN presents credentials to Secretary-General of ASEAN – Philippine Information Agency, March 14, 2012 – “Specifically, in order to support ASEAN Community Building by 2015, Japan will continue to support ASEAN’s efforts at enhancing ASEAN Connectivity, through, inter alia, infrastructure maintenance and system standardisation that will strengthen ASEAN’s economic integration,” Ambassador Ishikane added.
Nod to watchdog on Asean energy rules – Power Engineering Magazine, March 14, 2012 – Southeast Asian countries will establish the Asean Energy Regulators Network….The agreement is an initial and pivotal step in developing the major organisation in overseeing Asean energy regulation to be in line with current energy development and to prepare for the Asean Economic Community coming up in 2015.

European Union: EU Will Back Down on Airline Carbon on ICAO Plan: SocGen – Bloomberg, March 13, 2012 – Nations outside Europe “are irritated by the principle because they see it as an infringement of their sovereignty,”….The EU can replace its carbon curbs on aviation with a global measure to cut pollution from the industry as long as the broader program is as ambitious as the EU plan, the bloc’s climate chief said Feb. 17.

Putin’s Grand Plan for Asia – The Diplomat, March 13, 2012 – Worried Russia will be marginalized by China, expect Vladimir Putin to push his Eurasian Union vision – and perhaps spring a surprise over Pakistan.

SAARC meet on measurement begins – Bangladesh News 24, March 13, 2012 – A coordination meeting on regional cooperation began on Tuesday with an aim to adopt a uniform measurement system, aligned with the global standards, for all member SAARC countries.

Draft framework of Asean Regulators’ Network agreed – The Nation (Thailand), March 13, 2012 – Nine Asean countries have agreed in principle to the proposed establishment of Asean Energy Regulators’ Network….”This is the first step to give birth to a regional regulatory agency, in line with the current energy development trend and the regional integration in 2015,”…

Bahrain Continues Suppression of Peaceful Protests – Fars News Agency (Iran), March 13, 2012 – Violence against the defenseless people escalated after a Saudi-led conglomerate of police, security and military forces from the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) member states – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar – were dispatched to the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom on March 13, 2011, to help Manama crack down on peaceful protestors.

Cover Report: The Marshalls’ Paradox – Islands Business, March 13, 2012 – The Marshall Islands, like neighbouring north Pacific Compact nations Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia, is engaged in a delicate dance when dealing with the Pacific Islands Forum…. But expressing the ambivalence the relationship causes, he added: “The United States is trying to lump us with other Pacific Islands, but we have a unique and special relationship. I hope they don’t forget us.”

More coherence needed for AU, UN – Independent (South Africa), March 12, 2012 – Six of the UN’s 14 peacekeeping operations and nearly 80 percent of its peacekeepers are deployed in Africa, including the UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 23 383 staff, and the UN-African Union (Unamid) peacekeeping mission in Sudan with 27 501 staff. However, there is no African country with a permanent seat on the UNSC council.
EAC court gets permanent base in regional headquarters – The Citizen (Tanzania), March 12, 2012 – The president of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) and the Principal Judge would now be permanently relocated to Arusha to enable them discharge their duties efficiently. The decision, which would be effected from July this year, was made by the East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers, the policy organ of the Community.
Security in the Gulf of Guinea: Sub regional forces unit – Nouvelles (Cameroon), March 12, 2012 – The Cameroonian navy alongside navies from ECOWAS and ECCAS countries are taking part in the military exercise as proof of their collective determination to combat piracy and other maritime crimes on the Gulf of Guinea. The annual exercise in its third edition has been organized by the government of the United States of America.
SADC encouraged to consider integrating infrastructure – Legalbrief, March 13, 2012 – Southern African Development Community (SADC) member countries should look into ways of integrating energy structures in order to reduce the cost of energy resources, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters says.

Japanese Business Leaders Push Cooperation – Manila Bulletin, March 12, 2012 – With the full economic integration of ASEAN by 2015, the Japanese would like to get a perspective on how to create a seamless business environment within the region in terms of infrastructure and systems.

EAC Monetary Union date yet to be set – East African Business Week, March 12, 2012 – “There have been a lot of misunderstandings and media reports that signing the East African Community Monetary Union (EAMU) Protocol means introduction of the Single Currency for the region.” He explained that by December the partner states will have the protocol signed but it will lay out benchmarks for monetary policy integration that will later culminate into the introduction of the single currency.

Window of opportunity – Republica (Nepal), March 12, 2012 – The US and NATO member countries too could benefit if they can divert even a part of their resources from war to reconstruction and development projects as per the SAARC Master Plan. This gives them a chance of a tidy exit from the region.

Competing European, Russian trade blocs offer little boost for nation’s agribusinesses – UkrAgroConsult (Ukraine), March 12, 2012 – The debate that has raged in recent months over whether Ukraine should sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union or enter a Russia-led Customs Union has been focused on geopolitical questions rather than economic pros and cons.

PIF Geneva Office announces Trade Policy Officer appointment – Matangi Tonga, March 11, 2012 – In welcoming Mr Kerangpuna, Mrs Aivu Tauvasa, Permanent Representative of the Pacific Islands Forum to the WTO, said the appointment strengthens the technical capacity of the PIF-Geneva Office and will improve the support provided to Forum Island Country WTO Members and Observers.

Gulf union: To be or not to be – Gulf News (Dubai), March 11, 2012 – Common security concerns and worries over Iran’s increasing “interference” paved the way for the Saudi proposal to transform the 31-year-old Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into a union, analysts say. The plan, they say, faces enormous challenges. If the sovereignty of states is a matter of concern, the lack of progress over the common currency is likely to fuel scepticism.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan reject sanctions against Minsk – Voice of Russia, March 11, 2012 – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan consider economic sanctions against Minsk unacceptable. The joint declaration of the governments of the three countries reads that such measures set up artificial barriers in trade, impeding economic cooperation on the territory of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Community
[It is being claimed that an action taken against an individual nation is equivalent to taking action against the multilateral region of which that nation is a member.]

Regional unity ‘lies in sharing languages’ – Bangkok Post, March 11, 2012 – There has been a great deal said about the need to improve English-language skills ahead of the formation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, but much less emphasis is put on communication between members in their native languages. While English is indispensable as a common international language, a multilingual approach also has clear advantages for building regional understanding and relations.

Tribunal plan hailed – Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), March 11, 2012 – The ministerial council of the Arab League has welcomed His Majesty King Hamad’s initiative to set up an Arab Human Rights Tribunal. The tribunal’s by-law will be discussed by an Arab committee of experts during a meeting to be hosted by Bahrain.

German idea for new EU constitution gets mixed response – Chicago Tribune|Reuters, March 10, 2012 – Germany’s foreign minister Guido Westerwelle said on Friday the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, drafted after Dutch and French voters rejected a proposed constitution in 2005, was not enough to keep European decision-making structures effective.

Shell to stop Iran crude buys ahead of EU embargo – MarketWatch, March 9, 2012 – European oil major Royal Dutch Shell PLC will stop buying crude oil from Iran ahead of July 1, when a European Union embargo of Iranian oil takes effect, a company spokesman said Friday.

Russia to critics: We’re not protecting Syria – USA Today, March 10, 2012 0 Arab countries were particularly angered by the veto because it stymied an Arab League peace plan for Syria. “We are not protecting any regimes,” Lavrov insisted at the League session. “We are protecting international law … We are not looking for a special prize or geopolitical interest here.”

A power grid for Asean? – The Star (Malaysia), March 10, 2012 – “If you look at a five-to-10 year horizon, it is a pretty awesome opportunity. Malaysia has the potential to be the hub for an Asean electrical grid.”

SAARC: Pakistan Not putting Kashmir issue on backburner – Greater Kashmir, March 10, 2012 – Pakistan today said it is not putting the “core issue” of Kashmir on the backburner as it works to normalise ties with India, and any final settlement between the two sides would be linked to realising the “aspirations of the Kashmiri people.”

AU troops to replace Ethopian forces in key Somali cities – Star Africa, March 9, 2012 – African Union troops are set to replace Ethiopian forces in two Somali cities recently taken from Shebab rebels, the AU Commissioner for the Peace and Security Council said Friday.

Stopping Kony: Why has the ICC tackled cases from only Africa? – Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2012 – The infamous Joseph Kony of Uganda is wanted by the International Criminal Court, along with seven other men accused of heinous crimes. It’s hard not to notice that all of the wanted men are from Africa. African leaders have definitely noticed: Last year, the African Union called the court discriminatory.

Indonesia set to ratify ASEAN anti-terror pact – Jakarta Post, March 9, 2012 – The convention also requires that ASEAN countries share information and data from their intelligence agencies, stop the flow of funds to terrorists, cooperate in investigations and trials for terror attacks and extradite terrorist suspects.

 African Union: Transparency and Accountability Needed – Heritage Foundation, March 8, 2012 – In addition to these direct funding streams, the U.S. taxpayer provides millions of dollars indirectly to the AU through multilateral organizations. For instance, the U.S. provides 22 percent of funding to the United Nations regular budget, which funds the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)….If support for AU peacekeeping is included, U.S. support rises to well over $100 million annually.

North America: Teamsters Respond to Government on Mexican Truck Program – Bradenton Herald, March 8, 2012 – “The FMCSA makes the bizarre argument that our members aren’t harmed by a program that opens the border to low-paid truck drivers and dangerous, dirty trucks….U.S. commercial truck drivers must follow all U.S. safety regulations while Mexican drivers only need to follow selected Mexican regulations. The government is flat-out wrong to say Mexican trucks and drivers meet equivalent standards.”

No Nuclear Compromise – Now Lebanon, March 8, 2012 – Not only does Israel see a nuclear Iran as an existential threat, but also Arab countries—especially members of the Gulf Cooperation Council….The only hope for a Middle East nuclear free-zone is to stop Iran from reaching nuclear capability. While Israeli nuclear capability primarily aims to protect a country surrounded by enemies, Iran’s attempt to obtain such capability remains unjustifiable in the eyes of the West and also neighboring countries…

Panel suggests new name for GCC – Arab News, March 8, 2012 – The GCC consultative committee met here yesterday and proposed to change the name of Gulf Cooperation Council to Arab Gulf Union Council.

Why Putin is driving Washington nuts – Asia Times, March 8, 2012 – He sees a Eurasian Union as a “modern economic and currency union” stretching all across Central Asia….But the meat of the matter is Eurasia integration. Atlanticists will freak out en masse as he puts all his efforts into coordinating “a powerful supranational union that can become one of the poles of today’s world while being an efficient connecting link between Europe and the dynamic Asia-Pacific Region.”

Asean app plans to speak 11 languages – Bangkok Post, March 8, 2012 – Finally, an app that can facilitate communication within Asean, not only developed by Thais but also the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. The Asean One app, still in its first phase, translates common and practical phrases into 11 languages including English.

Somalia: EU to Increase Funding for Peace Keeping – allAfrica, March 8, 2012 – The European Union on Wednesday pledged to increase its funding for African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) by 100 million euros up to 2013….Odinga said the EU and Kenya have similar stand on environmental issues and called for collaboration in development of green energy and environmental conservation. He also appealed to the EU to allow members of the East Africa Community to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement as a bloc and not as individual states.

Argentina blasts EU and describes Trade spokesperson statements as “false” – Merco Press, March 8, 2012 – “Minister Timerman has talked with Unasur Secretary General Maria Ema Mejia to tell her that Argentina would like that organization to pair with the EU, in representation of all South American countries, so that the UK complies with UN resolutions.”

North America: Canada, U.S. Cooperate to Fight Cross-Border Crime – Bahamas Weekly, March 7, 2012 – In addition to the problems of human trafficking and smuggling, the Cross-Border Crime Forum also focused more generally on efforts to advance President Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness initiative. Participants focused on efforts to develop the next generation of integrated cross-border law enforcement operations and improve information-sharing practices…

ASEAN plans to adopt an ‘ASEAN bank’ system – Mainichi Daily News (Japan), March 7, 2012 – The plan to set up ASEAN banks is part of a wider roadmap to integrate the region’s financial markets in line with ASEAN’s goal to create an economic community by 2015.

North America: U.S. official muses about joint border controls with Canada – Yahoo! News Canada, March 6, 2012 – Imagine a ‘North American’ customs agent inspecting your luggage as you return from your European vacation. According to a report in the Globe and Mail, a top U.S. Homeland Security official says it could happen.

Regional economic integration – Pakistan Observer, March 7, 2012 – Unlike other economically integrated regions such as EU, NAFTA and ASEAN with lot of potential for free trade and economic development, South Asia was quite late in recognizing the concept of regional economic integration. It took the first step in this direction in 1985 by establishing South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Despite being slow in embracing regional economic integration, SAARC, in its life of 26 years has gradually made efforts in this regard.

‘Climate change a security threat’ – Newsday (Zimbabwe), March 7, 2012 – Parliamentarians from African Union (AU) member states have been urged to consider climate change as a security threat and integrate issues affecting the environment into national policies to reduce the effects on livelihoods and the economy….“Members of Parliament’s inclusion is to ensure that AU decisions and instruments are implemented….”

Arab court based on ICC would deter war crimes – Financial Times (London), March 7, 2012 (Google Link) – …Russia and China will block referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court in the UN Security Council. There is an alternative route. The Arab League could establish a court modelled on the ICC….It would have Arab judges, Arab prosecutors, Arab investigators and Arab defence attorneys, and it would conduct its proceedings in Arabic.

Iran Offer for Nuclear Talks Accepted by Europe as Military Action Weighed – Bloomberg, March 6, 2012 – The European Union offered to restart negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, seeking a “full settlement” of the clash that has pushed up oil prices and raised the specter of war in the Middle East.

Gulf states bale out U.S. arms industry – UPI, March 6, 2012 – Gulf Cooperation Council states — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain — are bolstering defense budgets to counter Iran and are being encouraged to do by the United States.

Does Putin’s Return To Kremlin Breathe New Life Into Eurasian Union Project? – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 6, 2012 – “And so Russia will pursue very close relations with Kyrgyzstan, will push us to join the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union. If Russia fails to embrace us — the CIS countries — then Russia itself will fail. It will be just the backyard of Europe or a source of raw materials for China. There is no other way for Russia.”
Moscow to use ‘stick and carrot’ method on Kyiv, political expert says – Interfax, March 5, 2012 – Under the presidency of Vladimir Putin, Russia will reinforce its economic pressure on Ukraine and trade wars will continue, Director of the Shevchenko Institute of Political and Sociological Analysis Volodymyr Bondarenko has said. “Economic pressure will be stepped up, trade wars between Ukraine and Russia will continue so that Ukraine loses its economic and political independence and has to enter to the EurAsEC [economic union],” the expert told Interfax-Ukraine in Kyiv on Monday.

GCC reaffirms support for AL’s Syria initiative – Arab Times, March 6, 2012 – The Foreign Ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) concluded their 122nd ordinary session here Sunday night by adopting a final statement that highlighted commitment of their countries to the outcome of the Arab League’s initiative for solving the Syrian crisis.

Asean prepares for summit in Cambodia – Mizzima (Burma), March 6, 2012 – In the economic area, they will focus on economic and infrastructure connectivity that’s necessary for integrating the free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and freer flow of capital by 2015.
Indonesia Accused of Dragging Feet on Asean Terror Pact – Jakarta Globe, March 6, 2012 – The ACCT was signed by Asean leaders in Cebu, the Philippines, in 2007. The convention aims to enhance the region’s capacity to confront terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and to deepen counterterrorism cooperation among the region’s law enforcement and other relevant authorities.

Irish Support for Fiscal Treaty Rises – Wall Street Journal, March 6, 2012 – Support among Irish voters for the new European Union budget-discipline agreement is gaining ground, providing comfort for the Irish coalition government and the rest of Europe that Ireland will endorse the treaty in a looming referendum, according to two opinion polls published Sunday.
European Union– imposed austerity cuts politically motivated’ – PressTV, March 3, 2012 – An economic expert says austerity measures forced on European countries by the EU is the result of irresponsible loans to eurozone nations to save the shared Euro currency for political reasons, Press TV reports….“There is a sovereignty and democracy issue, and the troika, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the ECB, and the other institutions that make up the EU, own the only assets of Greece. They are owned by these supranational institutions which operate without democratic accountability,” Oulds concluded.

German Opposition Pressures Merkel on EU Pact – Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2012 – Germany’s main opposition Social Democrats on Monday tied their support for passage of the European fiscal pact for greater budget discipline to broadening the language of the pact to include measures to boost jobs and growth in the European Union and introduction of a European financial transaction tax, putting up a potential obstacle to approving the pact in Germany.

Saudi flexes Gulf grip with Bahrain ‘union’ plans – Sioux City Journal|Associated Press, March 5, 2012 – Last month, Saudi’s King Abdullah claimed “unnamed hands” were behind the upheavals in Bahrain and other unrest against Sunni leaders in the Arab world. Abdullah did not specifically cite Iran, but similar terms have been used by Saudi officials and others in the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
Gulf union will not affect member countries’ sovereignty, Saudi minister says – Gulf News, March 5, 2012 – Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said that transforming the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) into a union would not affect the sovereignty of any member country. The union will not be used as a medium to interfere in their domestic affairs, either, Prince Saud Al Faisal told the meeting of GCC foreign ministers in Riyadh on Sunday evening.

Russian Patriarch Calls Putin Era a ‘Miracle From God’ – The Trumpet, March 5, 2012 – Interfax reports that the Moscow Patriarchate has been particularly inspired with Prime Minister Putin’s idea to set up his own “Eurasian Union,” modeled on the European Union. “I hope the Eurasian Union will enter the history as one of the strongest international associations,” said the head of the Synodal Department for Church and Society Relations, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, in an interview filmed last year.
My dinner with Putin – New Statesman, March 5, 2012 – On the idea of the Eurasian Union – the proposed political and economic grouping of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other states – Putin asked why integration was encouraged elsewhere in the world but, when it was taking place in the post-Soviet space, it was denounced as Russian neo-imperialism.

Regional trade key to SA growth – Independent (South Africa), March 5, 2012 – A free-trade agreement with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in 2008 had been the first building block for open regional trade. The second achievement had been a tripartite agreement between the SADC, the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. “It is our ambition that by June 2014 these 26 countries,…will be united in a single free trade area.”

Gatete Says Regional Community Needs to Sustain Financial Markets – allAfrica, March 5, 2012 – EAC financial markets integration is identified as one of the key pillars of establishing the region’s monetary union…
Regional Community to Set Up Panel of Eminent Persons – allAfrica, March 5, 2012 – EAC Partner State experts have adopted a draft instrument for the establishment and functioning of a Panel of Eminent Persons….The Panel will is expected to perform a role similar to the one that was played by the African Union’s team headed by a former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the retired Tanzanian head of State Benjamin Mkapa and the wife of South African icon Nelson Mandela in resolving the post election violence in Kenya in 2008.

‘European Union– imposed austerity cuts politically motivated’ – PressTV, March 3, 2012 – An economic expert says austerity measures forced on European countries by the EU is the result of irresponsible loans to eurozone nations to save the shared Euro currency for political reasons, Press TV reports….“There is a sovereignty and democracy issue, and the troika, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the ECB, and the other institutions that make up the EU, own the only assets of Greece. They are owned by these supranational institutions which operate without democratic accountability,” Oulds concluded.

Spain Defies EU on Deficit – Wall Street Journal, March 3, 2012 – Spain Friday went back on its 2012 budget-reduction commitment to the European Union, highlighting the difficulties of the EU’s efforts to tighten control over the finances of its member states.

North America: PMO cool to U.S. official’s ‘NORAD border’ musings – Globe and Mail (Canada), March 2, 2012 – A top Homeland Security official says he believes the time will come when Canada and the United States have a joint organization to handle border controls – what he described as a “NORAD border.”….“Why should we have separate admissibility processes into our countries if in fact North American security would suggest that a Canadian and a U.S. immigrations and customs official ought to be working together to clear people in Frankfurt who are coming into Canada, to clear them such that they would be able then to come seamlessly across [the joint border into] the United States.”

Pacific Nations Join Forces to Tackle International Arms Trade – Solomon Times, March 2, 2012 – Those attending the talks will also develop a regional position to take to negotiations at the United Nations in July for the world’s first truly global, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)….The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, said efforts to combat the illegal use of small arms and light weapons were needed to ensure the Pacific was a region of peace, security and economic prosperity.

Renewed International Effort Underway to Rid Africa of LRA – Voice of America, March 2, 2012 – Abou Moussa’s comments followed a meeting Wednesday of the African Union and the United Nations in Addis Ababa….President Obama sent about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa last year to help regional forces there fight the LRA Army. Obama said the troops would act as advisers in efforts to hunt down rebel leader Joseph Kony, but will not engage in combat except in self-defense.

Kazakh President says, we are consistently moving towards Eurasian Economic Union – Gazeta (Kazakhstan), March 2, 2012 – “The Eurasian integration is a key factor of the regional stability, raising the competitive strength of the countries of the region and ensuring their technological breakthrough.”

S Asia grid plan gets a leg up as Bangladesh plans power buys – Indian Express, March 2, 2012 – In a boost to India’s strategic initiative for putting in place a SAARC electricity grid, Bangladesh has come up with a plan to jointly develop power projects in north-east India, with the aim of wheeling back power to meet its own demand.

India embraces Pakistan trade plan – South Asian News Agency, March 2, 2012 – India welcomes Pakistan’s decision to phase out major restrictions on Indian imports by the end of this year, a move to normalise trade ties between the nuclear-armed neighbours….Federation of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Secretary General Rajiv Kumar said, “This will not only normalise India-Pakistan bilateral trade but also pave way for much higher intra-regional trade within the SAARC region.”

Switching sides: Now, India to back Arab League’s stand on Syria – Times of India, March 2, 2012 – With India having switched its stance on Syria to being more critical of the Bashar al-Assad regime, New Delhi is ready to lend considerable diplomatic clout to support the Arab League, which is driving the international community’s response to the ongoing unrest in Syria.

European states sign new fiscal treaty, kicking off potentially difficult ratification process – Washington Post|Associated Press, March 2, 2012 – “It will bring us, as it were, the economic and monetary union that is finally walking on two legs,” said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who oversaw the drafting of the treaty. Only Britain and the Czech Republic decided not to sign the agreement, triggering some concern over a rift in the 27-country European Union.

African Central bank on the way – Business Day (Nigeria), March 1, 2012 – Already, a study group exists to work on a joint African Union Commission (AUC)-AACB strategy for the establishment of the African Central Bank.

Angola: Chief of Staff Encourages Army’s Continued Training – allAfrica, March 1, 2012 – The chief of Staff of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), gen. Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, Thursday in Luanda called for a continued preparation for peacekeeping and security missions in the continent, under the United Nations, African Union, SADC and ECCAS.

Ecowas Parliament Should Be Given Legislative Powers – Veep – allAfrica, March 2, 2012 – Vice President John Dramani Mahama says the ongoing efforts by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) parliament to get its powers enhanced and given legislative powers are legitimate and progressive. He said, “If we ultimately succeed in advancing the sub regional parliament to the next level of its evolution, it will promote our integration process, and enhance further participation of the people in the process.”

A Useful Clash With Belarus – New York Times, March 1, 2012 – (Google Link) – Russia has placed strict conditions on further support: It is demanding political integration within a planned Eurasian Union and the privatization of strategic energy assets into Russian hands. For Lukashenko this is not an option: Belarus’s political and economic independence is the cornerstone of his rule.

AU concludes work on African Monetary Fund, others – The Guardian (Nigeria), March 1, 2012 – Stressing that the African Union Commission was working hard on financial integration of the continent, Mkwezalamba announced that work was also at advanced stage towards the establishment of the African Investment Bank and the African Monetary Union. He charged the Association of African Central Banks to work hard on the final push for the take-off of the African Central Bank and the common currency for the region. His words: “Work is advancing seriously on African Central Bank…”

Argentina Calls On EU And Lat Am UNASUR Bloc To Discuss Falklands Dispute – Bernama, March 1, 2012 – Argentine’s Foreign Ministry has suggested that the European Union (EU) and the Union of South American nations (UNASUR) discuss the Falklands-Malvinas islands conflict. The announcement follows Britain’s request to the EU to express concern regarding the Argentine plea to its companies not to buy British products, local media reported.

Qatar calls for pan-Arab legal system – ArabianBusiness, March 1, 2012 – Addressing a meeting of Arab attorneys in Cairo, Qatar’s attorney general Dr Ali Bin Futais Al Merri….proposed giving the Arab League secretary general the power to set up a commission that prepares an Arab plan for the independence of the judicial system, which he said should be presented to the ministerial council of the Arab League and later to the Arab summit conference for approval.

Gulf ministers to discuss Syria with Russia – The Daily Star (Lebanon), March 1, 2012 – “A meeting will be held with the Russian foreign minister and the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council on March 7 in Riyadh,” Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Sabah told Kuwaiti MPs. He said the ministers from the six-nation bloc will “express their disappointment with the Russian stance,” on the crisis in Syria.

Danger of relying too much on Asean template – New Straits Times, March 1, 2012 – For instance,…As a post-colonial construct, the thrust of Malaysia’s foreign policy is both a derivative of what was left behind (by the British especially), as well as a manifestation of its own national initiative subsequent to its independence in 1957. While it supports the Commonwealth, it is an ardent member of Asean, too; especially the platforms spawned under the name of the latter.

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