News Archive March 2013

A NEW REGIONAL STRUCTURE?
Asian giants tiptoe toward free trade deal
Huffington Business, March 29, 2013 – China, Japan and South Korea are inching ahead with talks for a free trade zone that would rival the European Union and North America in economic heft. Despite the achievement of setting aside their often acrimonious relations to begin negotiations, progress will be slow. An agreement to start talks took 10 years.

AFRICAN UNION – EAC:
National health care? How about regional health care?
Regional platform for inclusive, affordable health care services – EAC official
IPP Media (Tanzania), March 29, 2013 – “It’s not only in harmony with the EAC health strategy but also strategically aligned to the current East Africa Development Strategy …,”

UNASUR:
UN Official Announces Strengthened Involvement with Integration
Quito, Mar 28 (Prensa Latina) Rebeca Grynspan, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), announced here the will to strengthen the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), and to be strongly engaged with integration institutions.

AFRICAN UNION:
Central African Integration Better on Paper Than Practice
Voice of America, March 28, 2013 – It has been more than 20 years since heads of state created the six-nation Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, CEMAC, to foster regional integration among members with a common currency.

ARAB LEAGUE:
Russia criticises Arab League’s move to give Syria chair to rebels
Euronews, March 27, 2013 – The Arab League’s move seals the Syrian president’s expulsion from the club. Worse was to come for the Damascus strongman.

AFRICAN UNION:
Davies lobbies for African common market
Independent Online (South Africa), March 27, 2013 – Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies highlighted the need to create a common market with the critical mass to drive growth on the continent. And he appealed for a Brics partnership to “move us along that journey” – towards integration.
EAC monetary union feasible in long term – IPP Media (Tanzania), March 27, 2013 – According to Paul Collier, a professor of economics and director at the Centre for Studies in African Economies at the University of Oxford, the EAC [East African Community] needs to first complete trade integration before implementing the monetary union.

EUROPEAN UNION:
How the European Union killed Cyprus in one day
MarketWatch, March 26, 2013 – In 147 banking crises since 1970 tracked by the IMF, no depositors, irrespective of the amounts held and the banks with whom the deposits were placed, suffered losses. Depositors in weak banks in weak countries now may consider the risk of loss or confiscation.
EU finance ministers approve Cyprus bailout deal, funded by bank assets seizure – Fox News, March 25, 2013 – Imagine waking up to find out that as much as 40 percent of the money you thought was safely deposited in the bank was seized, without your permission, to bail out a near-bankrupt government. That’s just what thousands of large depositors in Cyprus woke up to Monday morning….

UNASUR:
Falklands ‘a NATO base’ and the referendum ‘unacceptable and ridiculous’, says Uruguay
We have to prepare to defend ourselves, but together because no one country can face such a challenge, not even Brazil”, said the Uruguayan Defence minister who then praised the creation of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur and its defence policies.

AFRICAN UNION:
AU’s proposed plans of establishing a pan-African stock exchange yet to realized
SpyGhana, March 25, 2013 – The African Union (AU) together with its partners such as the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank have moved in to take up the subject of establishing the bourse.
Regional blocs face integration challenges – News Day (Zimbabwe), March 25, 2013 – Five regional blocs including the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and Sadc are facing challenges in attaining the free movement of persons across countries, as the continent moves to attain a Free Trade Area by 2017.

ASEAN:
China signals its pivot on Asean
The Nation (Thailand), March 25, 2013 – In the near future, Asean also wishes that China-Japan relations will improve, as they directly impact on the economic progress and integration in this region. The ambitious Asean Community would never become a reality if the two Asian giants are not on good terms.
Asean won’t accept ‘states within states’ – New Straits Times, March 25, 2013 – It is technically unconstitutional for any Philippine citizen to have a private army, to bear arms without licences….

ARAB LEAGUE:
Arab League reportedly gives Syria’s seat to rebels
Times of Israel, March 25, 2013 – The move represents a blow to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose seat has been vacant since its suspension in November 2011, several months after the unrest in the country began.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Cyprus Edges Closer to a European Union Bailout
Reuters, March 22, 2013 – Cyprus is expected to make a dramatic U-turn on Saturday to avert the imminent threat of financial meltdown, having signaled it is willing to tax big savers in its stricken banks to clinch a bailout from the European Union.
The Art obtaining Schengen Visa for the European Union – eTurboNews, March 22, 2013 – The Schengen visa covers travel between its 25 member countries (22 European Union states and 3 non-EU members). Traveling on a Schengen visa means that the visa holder can travel to any (or all) member countries using one single visa, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country.

EURASIAN UNION:
Meltdown of Russia’s Offshore Banking Haven in Cyprus
Global Research, March 22, 2013 – Meanwhile, Putin’s economic adviser, Sergei Glazyev, told journalists Russia could bail out Cyprus if the island joined the Eurasian Union together with Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan (RIA Novosti, March 20).

EUROPEAN UNION, GCC:
GCC, EU to renew joint action program
Arab News, March 23, 2013 – The joint program, once renewed, will ensure that the EU shares its experiences with the GCC in key areas. The program calls for closer cooperation in areas such as terrorism, money laundering, monetary affairs,…environment, industry, intellectual property rights and information technology.

SAARC:
‘Just Lines on a Map’: How Border States are Redefining India-Pakistan Relations
The AsiaN, March 23, 2013 – Despite periods when New Delhi and Islamabad have sought to overcome six decades of mutual mistrust and hostility, the prospects for deepening ties and greater co-operation between the two often seem elusive. Yet Tridivesh Singh Maini and Manish Vaid point to increasingly vibrant trade relations and business interactions between key border areas that could herald the foundations of a lasting Indo-Pakistani reconciliation.

NORTH AMERICA:
US Senate budget plan embraces Keystone XL approval
Reuters, March 22, 2013 – It was symbolic because the budget is a blueprint that will not become law. But the measure was selected out of hundreds of others for a vote and was approved by a strong majority in the 100-seat chamber led by Democrats.

AFRICAN UNION:
African Union steps up bid for permanent UN Security Council seat
Africa Review, March 22, 2013 – Africa’s push for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council has gathered pace with the meeting in Sierra Leone of a select committee of nations tasked with forging a common regional position.

NORTH AMERICA:
Federal Budget 2013: U.S. Perimeter Security Projects To Go Ahead
Huffington Post Canada, March 22, 2013 – The federal budget says new projects related to Canada’s perimeter security deal with the United States will go ahead as planned, despite budget woes south of the border.

EUROPEAN UNION, SADC:
European Union Finances Regional Integration
AllAfrica, March 21, 2013 – According to a joint SADC-EU press release, the programme will support SADC’s poverty reduction efforts through promoting growth and accelerated development in the region, and encouraging deeper levels of regional integration and economic cooperation.

UNASUR:
Hugo Chavez, Internationalism and Revolution
Venezuelanalysis, March 21, 2013 – While urging the consolidation and growth of ALBA, Chavez forced (literally, it must be understood) the South American Community of Nations to transform itself into the Union of South American Nations.

GCC:
GCC urged to privatize border customs centres
Emirates 24/7, March 21, 2013 – Gulf hydrocarbon producers need to privatize their border customs centers and unify procedures for cross-border movement of goods to tackle obstacles blocking the fill implementation of a landmark agreement to create a customs union.

ASEAN:
Asean Military Chiefs” Meeting in Session Today
Prensa Latina, March 20, 2013 – The Tenth informal meeting of the Asean Armed Forces leaders (ASDFIM-10) has begun here, aimed at strengthening defensive links for peace, stability and common regional development.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Cypriot deposit levy a ‘fiscal measure’, according to European Union
Irish Times, March 20, 2013 – The move to levy Cypriot depositors is a “fiscal measure” which does not go against the spirit of the European deposit guarantee, the European Union said yesterday as public opposition to the deposit levy continued.
A European Union end-run on Cyprus’ bank depositors – Lebanon Daily News, March 19, 2013 – How can this even be dreamt of as OK? The European Union came up with a plan to bail out the economy of Cyprus, one of the poorer eurozone nations, by seizing a portion of the bank accounts of many of the nation’s depositors – some of whom had insured accounts.

UNASUR:
Peru to host 1st meeting of Unasur education ministers
Andina (Peru), March 19, 2013 – Lima will host the First Meeting of Education Ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) aimed at coordinating educational policies at the regional level, Peru’s Deputy Minister of Institutional Management, Fernando Bolaños announced Monday.
[Integration of education is among the common regional objectives throughout the world, and is being pushed in North America with initiatives such as the "Dream Act."]

AFRICAN UNION:
East Africa: EAC Set to Harmonise Food Safety Measures With the Rest of Africa
AllAfrica | News of Rwanda, March 19, 2013 – In addition it is expected that there will exchange of ideas with the African Union Commission and other regional economic communities (ECOWAS, COMESA) in order to domesticate and apply the Reference and Guidelines for Harmonization of the Management of the Food Hygiene in Africa.

EUROPEAN UNION:
‘Maybe the European Union is no longer a civilized democracy?’ – SAXO Bank CEO
Voice of Russia, March 18, 2013 – The European financial community is flabbergasted by the Eurogroup’s decision to confiscate a part of the funds deposited with the Cypriot banks. The fundamental question is whether the European Union can still be considered a civilized democracy in which the property rights are respected.

AFRICAN UNION – EAC:
East Africa: Don’t Rush Monetary Union, Experts Warn
AllAfrica | Rwanda Focus, March 18, 2013 – While economics officials in the East African Community (EAC) have committed themselves to kick off the third integration, the Monetary Union, before the end of this year. Some experts, however, caution them not to rush.
EAC, EU agree on harmonisation of measures to ensure food safety – IPP Media (Tanzania), March 18, 2013 – Regional economic blocs of East African Community (EAC) and European Union (EU) have teamed up to fast-track the process of harmonising food safety measures in African continent….EAC official Owora Richard Othieno….revealed that the workshop is expected to cross-fertilize ideas with the African Union Commission and other regional economic communities (Ecowas, Comesa)….

ASEAN:
What next for ASEAN human rights commission?
Jakarta Post, March 18, 2013 – Despite the fact that the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has existed for three years, human rights in ASEAN are going nowhere. The AICHR’s silence to a number of human rights violations in the region is scandalous.

NORTH AMERICA:
B.C. launches pilot project to speed up border crossings for truckers
Vancouver Sun, March 17, 2013 – Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Mary Polak says a pre-clearance area will be set up at the border in Surrey for U.S.-bound cargo trucks so U.S. officials can inspect cargo on Canadian soil. She said the pre-cleared trucks will then be fast-tracked through a designated lane.

EUROPEAN UNION, EURASIAN UNION
Attention EU: Sign the association agreement with Ukraine
Kyiv Post, March 17, 2013 – The effects of the upcoming decision by the EU will reverberate for decades after the current president’s departure. Putin’s most powerful argument in favor of the Eurasian Union is not positive, but negative: he asserts that Ukraine is unwelcome in Europe, and therefore Yanukovych will have no choice but to turn eastward sooner or later.

GCC:
US official praises GCC role in resolving Yemeni crisis
Kuwait News Agency, March 16, 2013 – “In Yemen, the GCC and the Arab League, the GCC in particular, really put together an extraordinary proposal that the rest of the international community helped to implement,” Wendy Sherman, undersecretary for political affairs at the US Department of State, told the Brussels Forum Friday evening.

UNASUR:
Ecuador Expects to End All Investment Treaties by May
Box Business, March 15, 2013 – The constitution allows for disputes to be resolved between Latin American states and their nationals in regional arbitration courts. Ecuador has said it expects a tribunal will be set up within the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur.
Chavez’s radical legacy – The News International (Pakistan), March 16, 2013 – Venezuela played a major role in creating Unasur (Union of the Peoples of South America), with a broad economic and political agenda, and was admitted to Mercosur, a South American common market which sets its sights beyond business and profits.

EUROPEAN UNION, EURASIAN UNION:
EU v EurAsEC: Discussion in Yerevan focuses on key geopolitical choice for Armenia
Armenia Now, March 15, 2013 – President Serzh Sargsyan’s visits to Moscow and Brussels after his reelection last month have again activated discussions around the possible geopolitical choice of Armenia that many believe will be between the European Union and integration among former Soviet republics spearheaded by Russia.

NORTH AMERICA
Napolitano Meets With Canada Counterpart To Discuss Border Control
Albany Tribune, March 14, 2013 – The CBP truck cargo pre-inspection pilot project provides CBP officers a designated preclearance area in Canada to conduct primary inspection activities for eligible truck traffic and drivers seeking to enter the United States—fulfilling a commitment in the Beyond the Border Action Plan, and expediting legitimate cargo and travelers.

AFRICAN UNION:
First Brics summit on SA soil
The New Age (South Africa), March 15, 2013 – The summit’s theme emphasises the African Union’s own prioritisation of infrastructure development and industrialisation and will also contribute to sharing of related international and regional approaches and best practices between Brics and Africa.

SAARC:
India hopes Pak will grant MFN status by June-July
Zee News, March 14, 2013 – Allaying concerns of Pakistan businessmen that after this status Indian products would swamp Pakistani market, Rao said that enough safeguards are available in the SAARC agreement to protect domestic industries.

ASEAN:
Some in ASEAN want closer ties: Japan minister
Channel News Asia, March 14, 2013 – Some southeast Asian nations want one-time foe Japan to play an active role in regional security, Tokyo said Thursday, as countries seek a balance for China’s growing clout.
Japan seeks defense ties with ASEAN amid China rows – Global Times, March 14, 2013 – Vice-minister level representatives from Japan and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) began a two-day gathering in Tokyo.

UNASUR:
South America welcomes Pope Francis with mixed feelings
Times of India, March 14, 2013 – Jokes apart, the South American countries….have open borders and their citizens don’t need visas to travel from one country to another. All South American countries are members of a group known as Unasur and a common market called Mercosur….With the current Argentinian president, a very close ally of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who died last week, Bergoglio has clashed over same-sex marriage, abortion and artificial insemination.
Unasur to the UN said that Chavez will remain in the memory of the people
AVN (Venezuelan News Agency), March 13, 2013 Google Translate) – It was under the leadership of President Chavez visionary in April 2007 when it was decided, in Margarita Island, Venezuela, the creation of Unasur, since then his tireless commitment to the cause of South American integration process marked our imprint inspired a search welfare and justice for the majority.
Nasserism and Chávismo – Egyptian Gazette, March 12, 2013 – But whereas Nasser’s attempts at real Arab unity (including a short-lived union with Syria), had virtually failed, Chávez was instrumental in the 2008 treaty that established the Union of South American Nations, a 12-member intergovernmental organisation that might someday move the continent toward the model of the European Union.

EUROPEAN UNION, EURASIAN UNION:
Armenia: Yerevan Keen to Opt Out of New Russian-Led Bloc
EurasiaNet, March 13, 2013 – Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, who won a second term in a disputed election in February, has successfully navigated apparent Russian pressures and moved his country closer to the West – the European Union, in particular – while maintaining, and even deepening, Armenia’s military alliance with Russia.

GCC:
US Locked Into the Middle East
Al_Monitor, March 13, 2013 – Overall the US still maintains in the Gulf region nearly 50,000 soldiers. Moreover it plays a critical role in the shaping of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s defensive architecture….Ironically, the US is stuck in the Middle East where it struggles to define a regional strategy while it aims at pivoting to Asia where it has one.

ARAB LEAGUE:
Shimon Peres has a point
Hurriyet Daily News, March 13, 2013 – Why don’t the Islamic countries in the region, including Turkey – even though it is not an Arab country – get organized under the umbrella of the Arab League to lead such an intervention in order to stabilize the situation in Syria?
ARAB LEAGUE:
Peres urges Syria intervention by Arab League force
Saudi Gazette, March 12, 2013 – STRASBOURG, France — Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday called for an Arab League force to intervene in Syria “to stop the massacre.”

AFRICAN UNION:
AU and EAC advised to open own crime courts
IPP Media (Tanzania), March 12, 2013 – Opposition party National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi) has urged the African Union and the East African Community to form their own courts to deal with crimes instead of resorting to the International Criminal Court.

NORTH AMERICA:
Cut Global Red Tape to Promote Economic Growth
Bloomberg, March 11, 2013 – More ambitiously, the U.S. and Canada have created a joint Regulatory Cooperation Council, which is carrying out a public plan to ramp up regulatory cooperation, and thus to allow companies to sell goods across the North American border without facing independent requirements.

NORTH AMERICA:
Jeb Bush: I’m ‘in Sync’ With Lindsey Graham on Immigration Reform
ABC News, March 10, 2013 – Bush subsequently reversed course and said he could in fact support a plan that included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already living in the United States.

SAARC:
Pakistan’s regional pivot
The Nation (Pakistan), March 11, 2013 – Emanating signals indicate that there is substantial political will to move the South and Central Asian regions towards shared prosperity. While demonstrating such will, Pakistan has taken keen interest in expediting certain initiatives to promote economic cooperation in bilateral, sub-regional, regional and trans-regional frameworks.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Banks saved, but Europe risks “losing a generation”
Fox Business, March 11, 2013 – Europe has spent hundreds of billions of euros rescuing its banks but….little has been done to tackle the devastating social impact of the crisis, with more than 26 million people unemployed across the EU, including one in every two young people in Greece, Spain and parts of Italy and Portugal.

USASUR:
Post-Chávez Test For Brazil Leadership – Analysis
Eurasia Review, March 10, 2013 – While his death certainly raises questions about the longevity and sustainability of his Bolivarian revolution, it also stands as a significant test of the democracy promoting credentials of Brazil and the two important regional clubs it runs: the South American political grouping UNASUR and the trade bloc Mercosur.
The disposable Mercosur – ABC Color (Paraguay), March 10, 2013 – The best way to ensure that Brazil devised their role as “leader” was boosting regional creation of UNASUR-space in which their claims are secured and their spokesperson is undisputed….Initially, Mercosur, created by them, was a useful instrument in the hands hegemonic Brazilian, but having fulfilled this mission, it was time to discard it.
The block of ‘ant-imperialist’ Chavez – Deia (Spain), March 10, 2013 – With his death, the subcontinent remains without a key figure without a reference for many of its leaders, but all are committed to this successful integration is a long term project. CELAC and UNASUR are consolidated institutions with a dozen countries interested in moving forward.

EURASIAN UNION:
The Putin Doctrine
Russia’s Quest to Rebuild the Soviet State
Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), March 9, 2013 – Moscow refuses to lower the prices of its natural gas exports to Ukraine — which pays more than many European importers — until the country abandons plans for gradual integration into EU economic structures and, instead, charts a path to membership in the eventual Eurasian Union.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Turkey’s tentative EU springtime
Cyprus Mail, March 10, 2013 – France is allowing EU documents to refer once again to an eventual EU “accession” for Turkey, and will allow one of five chapters it has blocked in the EU-Turkey negotiation process to open, the first in two and a half years.

AFRICAN UNION & THE ICC:
Would Kenyatta govern Kenya from the Hague?
Foreign Policy, March 8, 2013 – Kenyatta has promised to report to The Hague even if he wins the presidency….But my guess is that Kenyatta will find a way extricate himself from his pledge. In so doing, he’ll likely have strong backing from the African Union, which has already risen in defence of Bashir on several occasions; the AU even instructed its members that they had no legal obligation to arrest Bashir.
Kenya: Jubilation for Kenyatta with slim majority – USA Today, March 9, 2013 – Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding president, is indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court and if he becomes president, problems with Western allies are expected.

SAARC:
Central bank signs USD 100M currency swap agreement
Kuensel (Bhutan), March 9, 2013 – The idea to set up a swap facility among SAARC nations, to improve negative balance of payments in the region, came in during the SAARC central banks’ governors meeting in Nepal last year.

UNASUR:
Death of Chavez is a new challenge for Unasur bloc says ex-secretary
LaRazón (Bolivia), March 6, 2013 – Mejia said that Chavez “became Latin America and regional integration in a decade”, and, for that reason, “will be a very memorable and beloved president.” “We owe him not weaken but strengthen the South American integration,” he said…

EURASIAN UNION:
MEP: Georgia in Danger of Sliding Back
Estonian Public Broadcasting, March 8, 2013 – “The Russian president’s main goal is to make the Eurasian Union a reality by next year. At the recent Russian defense college session, he demanded that former Soviet republics be re-integrated decisively and rapidly,” Kelam said.

EUROPEAN UNION:
EU presses Israel on Mideast peace
UPI, March 7, 2013 – Israeli President Shimon Peres arrived Thursday in Brussels to meet with European Barroso, who said that, following January elections in Israel, the European community anticipated a strong partnership with a new government.

ASEAN:
Reviewing the ASEAN Charter
Jakarta Post, March 7, 2013 – However, actual cases show us that the power of ASEAN is not effective and strong enough to “enforce” its purposes and principles upon ASEAN member states (AMS).

EURASIAN UNION:
Sarkisian To Hold Key Talks With Putin
ArmeniaLiberty, March 7, 2013 – In what will be his first trip abroad after reelection, [Armenia] President Serzh Sarkisian will fly to Moscow early next week….Moscow has clearly been pressing Yerevan to join the trade bloc which President Vladimir Putin hopes will eventually grow into a closely-knit Eurasian Union.

GCC:
Political party criticises Gulf detention campaigns
Middle East Monitor, March 6, 2013 – A Kuwaiti political party has denounced the detention campaigns being carried out by governments belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council. Al-Omah Party said that “reformers, scholars, politicians, writers and social media activists” in the UAE and Saudi Arabia “are being detained without charges or trials.”

NORTH AMERICA:
Technology Demonstration Focuses on Harmonizing Cross-Border Emergency Communications Efforts
MarketWatch, March 6, 2013- This demonstration represents a milestone for the Beyond the Border Action Plan for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness…. The goal of these interoperable systems is to share alerts, warnings and incident information to improve response coordination across the border during bi-national disasters.

UNASUR:
Since the veto to the FTAA, to join Mercosur, Chavez boosted the role of Venezuela in the region
Télam (Argentina), March 6, 2013 (Google Translate) – Regionally, were created and consolidated areas of integration as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and institutions such as the Bank of South and Unified Regional Compensation System (SUCRE) which sought to limit dependence on the dollar and promote regional financial autonomy.

GCC:
Kerry on Gulf tour pledges backing for Syria rebels
Tengri News (Kazakhstan), March 5, 2013 – Kerry, on his first tour to the Gulf region since taking up the post, held talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) officials on Monday and also met in Riyadh with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, who flew in unannounced.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Western Aid: EU May Provide Training to Syrian Rebels
Spiegel Online, March 4, 2013 – The European Union may be preparing to provide weapons training to rebels in Syria, SPIEGEL has learned. Whereas the statement issued by Brussels last week mentioned merely “technical assistance,” both the UK and France might provide more hands-on help. Calls for arming the rebels are also increasing.
Greece And Now Cyprus: Is Troika Pushing Austerity For All The Wrong Reasons?
The International, March 5, 2013 – One year after the ‘Troika’ – composed of the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the European Central Bank (ECB) – provided the second round of emergency financing to the Greek government, bringing the total amount to 195 billion euros over the last three years, Greece is set to receive another disbursal. In exchange for the loans, the Greek government agreed to spending cuts and tax hikes – austerity measures….

ARAB LEAGUE:
Arab League to set up teams for Syria, Mideast peace talks
Kuwait News Agency, March 5, 2013 – The Arab League Council, which held its 139th session on the permanent-delegate level here on Monday, adopted a draft resolution to form an Arab ministerial delegation for contacting the world’s major power to resolve the Syrian crisis and re-launch the Middle East peace talks.

PIF:
Australia’s and NZ’s Fiji policy weakened Forum, says academic
Radio New Zealand, March 5, 2013 – An academic says New Zealand and Australia’s relationship with Fiji has split the Pacific Islands Forum into less effective sub-regional groups.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Remote EU is seen as ‘agent of globalisation’
Public Service Europe, March 4, 2013 – Most citizens see the European Union as a remote “agent of globalisation” with little interest in democracy and even less interest in reforming itself, despite its agenda to pressure member states into reform packages, the foreign affairs minister of the Netherlands has claimed.
European union on the verge of losing Italy to popular revolt – Gulf News | Reuters, March 4, 2013 – A surge in support for anti-euro populist Beppe Grillo and the surprise resurrection of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on an anti-austerity platform in last week’s election have plunged Rome into political deadlock.
Far right’s Le Pen calls for French EU membership referendum next year – Radio France Internationale, March 3, 2013 – Buoyed up by a British by-election that showed the eurosceptic Ukip leaping into second position and comedian Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement winning 25 per cent of the vote in Italy’s general election, Le Pen has repeated the demand for a referendum that she made during last year’s presidential election … but this time she has put a date on it.
Europe won’t change to satisfy critics – El Paso Inc. (from New York Times), March 3, 2013 – Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, said he saw “no impending need to open the EU treaties” to address the complaints of countries like Britain that are outside the eurozone and that object to “federal Euroland” rules governing the Union.

EURASIAN UNION:
Managing Central Asia: Russia’s Approach
ISN (Switzerland , March 4, 2013) – Russia aims to encourage the development of these multilateral structures as a way to lock the CARs into close relationships with them, and by virtue of their post-Soviet nature keep the other external powers from developing their relationships with the CARs to the same level. Central Asia will thus inevitably be of integral importance should Putin’s vision of a Eurasian Union come to fruition.

GCC:
Bahraini FM urges full integration among GCC states
Kuwait News Agency, March 3, 2013 – Bahraini foreign minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa called here Sunday for fostering cooperation and integration among the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries through economic integration, establishing the common market, and creating the monetary and custom unions.
GCC retail sector ‘may achieve 8.3pc growth – Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), March 4, 2013 – The GCC retail industry is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 8.3 per cent till 2015, industry assessments have shown.

NORTH AMERICA:
State Dept: No big concerns with Keystone XL line
Daily Republic | Associated Press, March 2, 2013 – The State Department on Friday raised no major objections to the Keystone XL oil pipeline and said other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change. But the latest environmental review stops short of recommending whether the project should be approved.

GCC:
GCC foreign ministers to meet Kerry
Gulf News, (Dubai, UAE), March 3, 2013 – The foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council are scheduled to meet newly-appointed US Secretary of State John Kerry as he makes his second trip to an Arab capital as secretary of state following his stop in Cairo.

EUROPEAN UNION:
During historic EU visit, Israeli President Peres to urge European leaders to blacklist Hezbollah
European Jewish Press, March 3, 2013 – On March 12, Peres will deliver a historic speech before the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg….Peres will also meet NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen….
Smoother Access to Europe for the Trusted Few
International Herald Tribune (New York Times), March 3, 2013 – The new system would apply to the 25-nation Schengen group, which has abolished internal borders in favor of a single external frontier. Britain is the notable non-member among the 27 E.U. member states.

EUROPEAN UNION:
Ukip leader Nigel Farage: Eastleigh by-election result is ‘sign of things to come’
The Telegraph (London), March 1, 2013 – Ukip (IK Independence Party] stunned the Conservatives by beating them into third place in Eastleigh and came within 2,000 votes of the Liberal Democrats, who retained the seat.

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