NEWS ARCHIVE – April 2012

Strengthening economic relations between Australia and New Zealand

Joint study of the Australia and New Zealand productivity commissions, April 2012, Page 19In reality, countries can adopt some elements from different levels of integration. Accordingly, bilateral and regional arrangements tend to be more complicated than suggested by figure 5. For example, current trans-Tasman arrangements embody elements of free trade and a common market.
In many respects Australia and New Zealand are good candidates for higher levels of integration due to: similarities in culture, institutions and values; geographic proximity; and a common language. Even so, there are also some potential downsides to high levels of integration. For example, some decisions may need to be taken above the national level and this can be regarded as unduly compromising national sovereignty.
[Comment: Australia and New Zealand are the principal nations in the Pacific Islands Forum, and their bilateral integration would become a springboard for greater regional integration. The above chart from the Australia-New Zealand joint study is the same path that all of the world’s major geopolitical regions have embarked upon toward regional governance. Currently, North America is moving past level one (free trade), with intensive effort being made, through the Beyond the Border agreement, the Regulatory Cooperation Council and the North America Leaders Summit, to reach level three. According to a document released by Wikileaks, attention will be focused upon level four (a common currency) once level three is in place.]

Germany starting gun registry

Toronto Sun, April 29, 2012 – Germany is building its own gun registry, complying with a future database rule that will cover the entire European Union….Under the new law, German police will be allowed to enter people’s homes unannounced to see if their legal weapons are properly stored….The European Union has mandated that all member states must have a computerized data-filing system registering all firearms in place by 2014.

US strikes a military pose for Iran – Asia Times (Hong Kong), April 30, 2012 – Since President Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Abu Musa three weeks ago, the UAE and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have embarked on a virulent international campaign to renew the UAE’s sovereignty claim over the islands as well as calls on Iran to consent to arbitration by the International Court of Justice…Hypothetically, if the UAE somehow managed to wrest those islands from Iran’s hands, then the US could conceivably overcome its present military deficit in the Strait of Hormuz by joining the UAE forces in protecting those islands and offsetting any Iranian move to scuttle oil flows in the event of a military flare-up.

Peru to participate in Unasur meeting in Colombia – Andina (Peru), April 30, 2012 – Peru’s Interior Minister Daniel Lozada will attend next week the meeting of Ministers of Defense, Justice and Home Affairs of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) to be held on May 2-4 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The meeting will focus on establishing a regional proposal that will prevent and face the threats of transnational crime…

GIABA advocates more action against money laundering – Vanguard (Nigeria), April 30, 2012 – The Inter- Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa has called on Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries to step up their approach in the fight against the menace of money laundering and terrorism financing in the sub-region.

Kirk Explains US Asia-Pacific Trade Policy –, April 30, 2012 – …United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk described the Administration’s broad trade policy in the Asia-Pacific region as using the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to make further progress with its trading partners around the Pacific Rim….“Since 2006 the US-ASEAN Trade and Investment Framework Agreement has served to deepen our relations and support ASEAN integration, including ASEAN’s goal of becoming a single economic community by 2015,” Kirk noted.

Ireland Minister Says ‘No’ Vote Would Risk Any Future Bailouts – Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2012 – Ireland will have no access to any new bailout if its voters reject the European Union fiscal compact in a public referendum May 31, the country’s finance minister Michael Noonan said Sunday.

European Union Readies $264 Billion Investment Plan, Pais Says – Bloomberg, April 29, 2012 – The European Union is working on an investment plan of 200 billion euros ($265 billion) to be focused on infrastructure, renewable energy and technology, El Pais said, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The money will be channeled mostly toward countries worst hit by the European debt crisis, the newspaper said.

Gulf Union:
Kingdom calls for GCC to be fully integrated

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), April 29, 2012 – Prince Saud called on the Gulf governments to move to “a phase of union with full integration of key affairs to give greater impetus and strength to the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).” Prince Saud’s speech was read out by Prince Abdulaziz, deputy foreign minister, at a high-profile conference entitled “Gulf Youth: From GCC to Gulf Union” in the capital.
Saudi official urges Gulf unity to confront Iran – Fox News, April 28, 2012 – Saudi Arabia’s deputy foreign minister says Gulf Arab states must seek full integration of key affairs such as diplomacy and defense to counter perceived threats including Iran’s nuclear ambitions and Arab Spring spillover. Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah’s comments highlight strong Saudi support for unity efforts among the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Death of Nation-States and the Rise of Empire – American Thinker, April 29, 2012 – It is not too far-fetched to describe the European Union as an attempt to establish a European empire by economic means via the currency of the euro, the ubiquitous regulations of the EU, and that entity’s accompanying economic dictates. It is quite possible that unless Europe’s individual nations fight for their sovereignty, a unified European entity — a goal long-dreamed of by military conquerors — could be achieved by a European economic empire.

Brussels orders EU flag must fly over Whitehall every day… and we could be fined if we fail to comply – London Daily Mail, April 28, 2012 – Eric Pickles reacted with fury last night after being ordered by Brussels to fly the EU flag continuously over Whitehall….But under the proposed change, drafted by the European Commission and due to take effect within the next two years, the flag would have to fly permanently outside any organisation which managed development funding from Brussels….including Cambridge University, Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant in Cornwall and The Crucible Theatre in Sheffield…

ASEAN, Japan agree to work toward launching new trade talks – The Mainichi (Japan), April 29, 2012 – For the road map for Japan and ASEAN members’ strategic growth, the ministers defined five priority areas to focus on. They are trade and investment liberalization, regulation harmonization, improvement of logistics and distribution networks, narrowing development gaps, and promoting development of advanced industries….The 10 ASEAN members are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

NORTH AMERICA: NDP wants new cross-border police law studied separately

Embassy (Canada), April 28, 2012 – The NDP is calling on the Harper government to yank amendments it has bundled with its budget bill, ones that pave the way for Canadian and United States maritime officials to operate in each other’s territory, and present them as separate legislation….The Canada-US perimeter plan currently being hammered out also calls for a new land-based version of the program, which the RCMP has said could hand US Federal Bureau of Investigation and US Drug Enforcement Administration agents access to Canadian soil.

Iran: Between three rocks and a hard place – Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2012 – Ahmadinejad’s visit was the first ever by an Iranian leader since the country gained control of Abu Musa in 1971. Worse still, he used the opportunity to score propaganda points by reminding the world that the body of water separating his country from the Arabian Peninsula is the “Persian” Gulf, not the “Arabian Gulf,”as Arab countries prefer to call it….Gulf officials said any “aggression” against the UAE would be considered an act against the entire Gulf Cooperation Council, the six-country alliance.

ASEAN Secretariat to host int`l dialog on democracy – The Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy is a platform for engagement among regional organisations on democracy. Apart from the ASEAN Secretariat, other participating organisations include the African Union [AU], European Union [EU], League of Arab States [Arab League], Pacific Islands Forum [PIF], Organization of American States, and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation with International IDEA as the facilitator.
And what wonderful bastions of freedom they all are! Their “democracy” is the mandate of the controlled masses through created crises that manipulate populations to demand more government control.

EU eyes closer ties with ASEAN, participation of East Asia Summit – Xinhua (China), April 28, 2012 – Catherine Ashton, EU’s high representative for Foreign Affairs and Political Security, said….”The European Union wants to be an active and constructive player in Asian regionalism, including by taking part in the East Asia Summit (EAS).”….Mohamed Bolkiah also announced two new EU-sponsored programs, the ASEAN Regional Integration Support and Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument, to help ASEAN reach its `regional integration targets’, at a cost of 20 million euros (26.5 million U.S. dollars).

Arab League urges members to join UN convention against transnational organized crime – Kuwait News Agency, April 27, 2012 – Mohammad bin Khadra, the legal advisor to the Arab League’s Secretary General, said Friday the League was trying to convince its member states, which have yet to endorse the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and Protocols….The Arab countries, realizing the need to scale up regional cooperation to enforce this global legal instrument, singed the Arab treaty against transnational organized crime in Cairo on December 22, 2010

PH to push for Asean integration plans in ADB Meet

Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 27, 2012 – The Philippines will push for the speedy implementation of plans to integrate the financial systems of and strengthen ties among Southeast Asian countries during the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in the country on May 2 to 5. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. said….“It’s an opportunity for Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries to discuss how we can further intensify regional cooperation given the challenges brought about by what is happening in Europe and the rest of the world.”
ASEAN trading link to be launched in June – Business Times (Malaysia), April 27, 2012 – Bursa Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Tajuddin Atan said this was an affirmative step towards an integrated ASEAN capital market.

Washington Bets On The Gulf Royals – Eurasia Review, April 27, 2012 – The GCC is the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab NATO, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Each of these is a monarchy, with the UAE disguising the royals behind a federation and with the Saudis ecstatic to proclaim the benefits of the royal bloodline. They pretend that their great enemy is Iran, but in actual fact it is the idea of Democracy.

France threatens to pull out of borderless Europe – KFVS|Associated Press, April 26, 2012 – In the heat of France’s presidential election campaign, the French government insisted Thursday that if the European Union didn’t back its tougher line to fight illegal immigration it would lead to the demise of the continent’s borderless travel zone….Under current rules, the so-called Schengen zone of 26 European nations protects its common outside borders only, and allows free travel inside the member nations. The Schengen zone concept will become common to all of the world’s geopolitical regions and is identical to the Obama-Harper “Beyond the Border” agreement’s continental security perimeter for North America. Only in this context does the U.S. border security dereliction and illegal alien influx become clear. North America is being intentionally amalgamated both culturally and economically, as downward pressure is being placed upon the American middle class toward a two-class oligarchic system.

Belarus Trapped Into Eurasian Integration – Belarus Digest, April 27, 2012 – Unlike countries like Moldova and Armenia, Belarus is increasingly integrating into the Eurasian Economic Union without any serious interest in European integration. The reason for this is oil and its financial dependence on Russia.

AFRICAN UNION: Southern Africa: Region Re-Endorses Zuma – AllAfrica, April 27, 2012 – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has re-submitted its candidature of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma to the African Union for the position of chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC). The South and North are the only two regions of Africa that have never held the position of chairperson of the African Union (AU) or its predecessor, Organisation of African Unity which was established 49 years ago, and therefore, SADC feels that it is its turn to chair the African Union Commission.
West Africa bloc to send troops to Mali, Guinea-Bissau – Reuters, April 26, 2012 – The West African regional bloc ECOWAS said on Thursday it would send troops to Mali and Guinea-Bissau to help swiftly reinstate civilian rule after their coups, and threatened sanctions if junta leaders try to cling to power. The decision was one of the most forceful moves by the group in recent years, and won the immediate support of the European Union…
East African Community / Recommendations and Resolutions of the 2nd Dialogue of Political Integration – StarAfrica, April 25, 2012 – The Dialogue builds on the rational that successful economic integration requires a stronger political authority to enforce implementation of the milestones and regional policies. This is on the understanding that since integration is essentially a political process, the economic vibrancy is also dependent on effective monetary and fiscal policies implemented within a supranational political dispensation. To this end, empowering and establishing national and regional political governance structures capable of driving the regional agenda is mandatory…. The key question being whether EAC is stuck at inter-governmental level or is moving towards supra-national?

North America:
Rubio’s foreign policy vision

Washington Post, April 25, 2012 – Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) went to the Brookings Institution today for what was billed as a major foreign policy speech. Why Brookings, and why now?…. “….Third, we must reject protectionism and instead embrace the ultimate goal of a free trade area of the Americas…. We need to move forward to bring both Canada and Mexico into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Stopping SOPA (Stop Online Privacy Act) hasn’t stopped cyber security threats – from government – Calgary Herald, April 23, 2012 – That’s due to the little known but highly impactful Canada-US agreement known as Beyond the Border: A shared vision for perimeter security and economic competitiveness. That deal maps out the integration of border management, trade facilitation and increased security between the two countries. It means that a U.S. cybersecurity strategy adopted today may well become a Canadian cybersecurity strategy tomorrow.

African Countries Urged To Equip AU To Withstand European Agrression – Bernama, April 26, 2012 – African countries should adequately equip the African Union (AU) to enable it stand up to the aggression and intimidation of western countries which threaten to destabilise the continent, says Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe.

Iran’s moves to annex UAE islands slammed – Gulfnews (Dubai, UAE), April 26, 2012 – Asked about Iran’s recent statements to establish a new province with Abu Mousa island as its capital, Abdul Latif Al Zayani, Secretary-General of Gulf Cooperation Council, said: “The GCC position is clear: Any decision does not change the historical and legal reality of the Abu Mousa, Greater and Lesser Tunbs islands. These islands are Emirati….”

Nazarbayev: Single Economic Space of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus is an equal union – Gazeta (Kazakhstan), April 26, 2012 – By 2015, when all our agreements become laws, we will conclude additional contracts and ratify the agreements. This space will be absolutely free, transparent to all of us, and then we have to announce the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union,” Nursultan Nazarbayev emphasized.
Russia’s Strategy, Remaking the Union – Market Oracle, April 24, 2012 – The Russo-Georgian War of 2008 achieved both ends. The Russians had carried out an offensive operation and the Americans, bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, could not respond….demonstrating that Russia was again going to be the heart of Eurasia. Indeed, one of Putin’s latest projects is the Eurasian Union, tying together Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, a large economic and military part of the former Soviet Union.

India, Pakistan boost trade ties – Asia Times, April 26, 2012 – Commerce Minister Sharma has mentioned favorably a proposal for a South Asia-wide power grid for sharing electricity. This would further boost trade in what is the least-integrated region in the world in intra-regional terms: trade among the members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC…) accounts for less than 5% of their total international trade. By contrast, that percentage is over five times greater among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations…

An expanding partnership for ASEAN-EU – Phnom Penh Post, April 26, 2012 – “As foreign ministers from ASEAN and the European Union gather in Brunei Darussalam for the 19th ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting today and tomorrow, the sense of drive and ambition underpinning our partnership has never been stronger. I look forward to using this meeting to take the EU’s relations with South-east Asia to a new level.” [Cathy Ashton, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy]
PH to push for Asean integration plans in ADB meet – Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 26, 2012 – The Philippines will push for the speedy implementation of plans to integrate the financial systems of and strengthen ties among Southeast Asian countries during the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in the country on May 2 to 5….“It’s an opportunity for Asean [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries to discuss how we can further intensify regional cooperation given the challenges brought about by what is happening in Europe and the rest of the world,”

Australia, Solomon Islands to start talks on troops – Herald Sun (Australia), April 26, 2012 – Australia and the Solomon Islands will start talks on the final withdrawal of Australian troops who have helped maintain law and order in the Pacific island country since 2003…..”The drawdown process will involve further consultation with Solomon Islands, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Forum.”

Three Ocean Passways in UNASUR Plan – Prensa Latina, April 25, 2012 – The construction of three Ocean passways to join the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are included in a 31-work plan the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will present on Wednesday to the 12 member nations of the regional bloc. The project is expected to join the two oceans through roads, railways, and/or seaways
U.S., Latin America relations strained, not broken – La Prensa, April 25, 2012 – Like the European Union, those leaders would like to escape the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) by establishing a common currency similar to the euro….UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) also is an attempt to unify and integrate Latin American countries outside U.S. influence.

EU president condemns ‘winds of populism’ in Europe – Straits Times {Singapore), April 25, 2012 – European Union president Herman Van Rompuy condemned on Wednesday the rise of extremist movements and populism as a threat to the free movement of people across the 27-nation bloc.
Hollande plans to end EU treaty – Euronews, April 25, 2012 – France’s Socialist presidential frontrunner Francois Hollande has claimed European leaders are awaiting his election to back away from German inspired austerity. He said the budgetary discipline treaty signed by 25 EU leaders in March would plunge Europe into recession…

A Lethal Cocktail: Drugs, Guns and Corruption

ISN, April 25, 2012 – In the case of North America, political localism and the pushback of indigenous movements are impediments to regional integration, as are the chronically weak governments which the drug trade helps create in Mexico and Central America.

Asean Can Keep Pace With China and India in the Asian Century Horse Race – Jakarta Globe, April 25, 2012 – Take as an example the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which is starting to flex its growing regional and global muscle. Asean, with a population of approximately 600 million people, is more populous than the European Union or the Arab World, has a combined economy larger than India’s, and given its strategic geographical location, holds substantial geopolitical influence.

Naryshkin proposes formation of Eurasian Parliament – Vestnik Kavkaza Russia), April 25, 2012 – Russian Speaker of Parliament Sergey Naryshkin has proposed the formation of a Eurasian Parliament based on direct democratic elections, RIA Novosti reports. Presidents Dmitry Medvedev (Russia), Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus) and Nursultan Nazarbayev (Kazakhstan) signed a declaration on Eurasian economic integration in Moscow in November 2011 to form the Eurasian Economic Union by January 1, 2015…
Medvedev: results of presidency, future prospects – Voice of Russia, April 24, 2012 – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed his hope to see the Eurasian Union rise to become one of global key players, stressing the EAU was open for a closer integration with the EU, BRICS, Asia-Pacific region and other regional players.

South America eyes $21bn infrastructure projects – Business Recorder, April 24, 2012 – The scheme, which will require more than $21 billion in private and public investment, was unveiled at a seminar organized by the powerful Federation of Sao Paulo State Industries (FIESP), the 12-nation Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Brazilian government. It calls for the construction of 2.4 kilometers (1.6 miles) of bridges, 14 kilometers of tunnels, 57 kilometers of ring roads, 360 kilometers of transmission lines, 379 kilometers of river dredging, 1,500 kilometers of gas pipelines, 3,490 kilometers of waterways, 5,142 kilometers of highways and 9,739 kilometers of railway lines…..Noting that a key challenge for Brazil was to defend its domestic industries in the face of aggressive Asian competition and a “currency war” waged by rich countries, [Brazil’s deputy minister] Simoes said South America, with its 400 million people, offered the best outlets for Brazilian goods.
Doesn’t this sound like the Keystone Pipeline and North American Highway system? Similar efforts are underway in the ASEAN region, SAARC, the Arab League, the GCC and the African Union, as the reports below indicate:

UNCTAD to offer Africa assistance to boost intra-continental trade – The UN Conference on Trade Development (UNCTAD) says it will offer assistance with three elements of the newly adopted African Union (AU) action plan on intra-African trade….On the issue of expanding productive capacity, UNCTAD said the continent’s needs include more modern production facilities, more efficient transport and communication systems, and the establishment of credible certification systems that ensure adherence to international production norms and standards.
African Countries Need More Connectivity – Dlamini Zuma – AllAfrica, April 24, 2012 – Speaking on “Economic Liberation: The Role of the African Union” at a seminar in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday, the minister highlighted the importance on developing infrastructure that would facilitate connectivity between African countries by road, rail, air, sea and telecommunications.

Gulf Force to Conduct Military Drill, Bahrain News Agency Says – Bloomberg, April 24, 2012 – Last year, a force drawn from the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council was dispatched to Bahrain to help quell a month of mass protests by mostly Shiite demonstrators demanding equal rights and representation from the Sunni monarchy.

Russia’s Finance Ministry: Belarus Fails to Comply with Certain Lines of EurAsEC Credit – (Belarus), April 25, 2012 – Belarus fails to meet a number of conditions, provided by the loan program of the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund. This was stated by Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, speaking at the New York Council on Foreign Relations on April 23.
EurAsEC Loan Terms Tougher for Belarus – RIA Novisti, April 5, 2012 – With a crisis similar to last year’s downturn looming over Minsk, experts from the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund are considering tightening the terms of an emergency loan for Belarus, Nadezhda Yermakova, head of the National Bank of Belarus, told a news conference yesterday. Local experts agree and see a change of government as the only solution….The full impact of the crisis is still keenly felt by ordinary consumers.
Sounds like Belarus will go the way of Greece and Italy, who were forced to change their leadership to European Union-appointed technocrats. Likewise, Belarus’ destiny is to remain under the thumb of Russia’s Eurasian Union.

EU voters, citizens rebel against austerity – BusinessWeek | Associated Press, April 24, 2012 – For more than a year European Union officials seeking to solve Europe’s debt crisis have been baying for austerity, austerity and more austerity….Governments have fallen, more are at risk and, in some places a stark streak of nationalism seems on the rise that could swing Europe ever deeper into a fortress mentality.

Iraq’s New International Role

Assyrian International News Agency, April 24, 2012 – Last March, Iraq hosted an Arab League summit for the first time in two decades. On May 23, it will similarly host the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group. According to commentators, both events show Iraq’s bid to reemerge as a regional power now that Saddam Hussein has gone and the American occupation has ended.

South Pacific: (PIF) Passport-free travel between Australia and New Zealand proposed – eTN Australia, April 23, 2012 – The Tourism and Transport Forum has proposed a “common border” between the two countries that would require only photo ID, similar to arrangements for domestic travel.

North America: Carney: Keystone Pipeline Would ‘Sacrifice American Sovereignty’ – Breitbart, April 23, 2012 – In a press conference on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to the recent new Keystone pipeline bill passed by Congress earlier this week, as theWashington Examiner reports: “It would be preemptively sacrificing American sovereignty” to approve the pipeline, White Hosue [sic] Press Secretary Jay Carney said, because a route for the northern portion of the pipeline has not been established…..Jay Carney feigns concern about America’s sovereignty over an abundant source of energy from an ally, but seems to have little to no concern about the fact that the nation is grossly indebted to foreign countries.
Comment: Actually, both Carney and the writer are partly right, but also misleading: Carney is indeed feigning concern about American sovereignty in an election year, since Obama’s “Beyond the Border” agreement with Canada’s Prime Minister Harper is already harmonizing the countries’ infrastructures toward North American integration. The Keystone Pipeline is just another part of their North American transportation infrastructure. The reality is that the U.S. does not need a pipeline from Canada. We could achieve energy independence by developing our own reserves.

Iran: Between three rocks and a hard place – MENAFN – Arab News, April 23, 2012 – Ahmadinejad’s visit was the first ever by an Iranian leader since the country gained control of Abu Musa in 1971. Worse still, he used the opportunity to score propaganda points by reminding the world that the body of water separating his country from the Arabian Peninsula is the “Persian” Gulf, not the “Arabian Gulf,”as Arab countries prefer to call it….Gulf officials said any “aggression” against the UAE would be considered an act against the entire Gulf Cooperation Council, the six-country alliance.
Knocking on the Persian door – Al Arabiya News, April 24, 2012 – Aal al-Sheikh mentions a book written by an American author called Robert Baer entitled “The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower.” The author is a former case officer at the Central Intelligence Agency [CIA] who has written a number of books….Baer argues that the Shiites are more rational than the Sunnis and that the U.S. should not take hostile statements by Iran’s leaders very seriously, contending that what counts is their actions on the ground. In this manner, the author proceeds to make suggestions on how to contain Iran’s fears, reassure and offer it a leading role in the region and transform it from an enemy into an ally.

Russian Foreign Minister In Tajikistan To Talk Investments, Gas – RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty, April 24, 2012 – Talks are expected to focus on the Central Asian nation’s cooperation in the Commonwealth of Independent States and its Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and the Eurasian Economic Community.

African countries need more connectivity – Dlamini Zuma – 7thSpace Interactive (press release), April 24, 2012 – Speaking on “Economic Liberation: The Role of the African Union” at a seminar in Cairo, Egypt, on Monday, the minister highlighted the importance on developing infrastructure that would facilitate connectivity between African countries by road, rail, air, sea and telecommunications….She said the AU should identify priorities that would unite the continent and that countries could work together on. It also needed to work towards full economic integration and political unity, the minister added.
EAC Holds Training of Trainers Workshop on Regional Integration – StarAfrica, April 24, 2012 – The EAC [East African Community] Deputy Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration, Dr. Julius Rotich, today opened a one-week Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop on the EAC integration process….The meeting has brought together representatives from the East African Business Council (EABC), East African Civil Society Forum (EACSOF), the East African Local Governments Association (EALGA) as well as the Ministries of EAC in the Partner States.

Asean’s diversity: Asset or liability? – Bangkok Post, April 24, 2012 – The 10 members of the Asean community collectively make a market in excess of 598 million people. This is nearly twice the population of the United States and more than the population of the European Union….Its trade pacts with Japan, India, South Korea and most importantly China will pave the way for a regional economic bloc that will rival the EU.
ASEAN militaries to share medical capabilities – Jakarta Post, April 24, 2012 – “Based on our last agreement, each member country should have an inventory list of their medical capabilities which could be used to handle threats such as disaster or epidemic disease,” the Indonesian Military chief Adm. Agus Suhartono said on Tuesday. He said to inventory capability was the main principal for the member countries to strengthen their cooperation.


Marine Le Pen’s success reveals populists’ appeal to European voters

London Guardian, April 23, 2012 – Leading France’s Front National to its best ever first-round result in her first presidential campaign, Marine Le Pen counts herself as the big winner even if she vanishes from the ballot papers in a fortnight….In any case, there is nothing new about the Front National’s pivotal position in French politics. The FN has been well-established for 30 years and Le Pen’s 18% of the vote on Sunday confirms that, if anything, its influence is growing.
From Wikipedia: Marine Le Pen
As a eurosceptic MEP, she holds globalization, intergovernmental organizations, ‘euro-mondialism’, free trade and ultra-liberalism responsible for the decline of agriculture and the fishing industry, deindustrialization, offshoring and structural unemployment…. Advocating a ‘Europe of the nations’ like a loose confederation of sovereign nation states, she opposes supranationalism, the euro and the eurozone, the technocracy of Brussels, and the European Union’s federalism….She pledged to pull France out of NATO, saying that the National Front has from day one been opposed to NATO membership.
Marine Le Pen advocates to “vote for the abolition of the law enabling the regularization of the illegal immigrants.”….Marine Le Pen seeks to establish a moratorium on legal immigration….In her view, citizenship is indivisible from nationality and rests on the equality of all people before the law; the latter should preclude preferential treatment based on the membership of a social, ethnic or religious category. As a result, she favours the repeal of affirmative action…Marine Le Pen is opposed to the repeal of the 1975 Veil Law (Loi Veil) which framed abortion in a restrictive legislative provision….She is strictly opposed to any softening of the law against euthanasia.

The Faustian Bargain

New Eastern Europe, April 23, 2012 – After nearly two decades in power, authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko brought Belarus to the brink of economic ruin….Russia stepped in with the offer that Lukashenko had long resisted: cash for control of Belarus state-owned assets….For then-Russian Prime Minister Putin, this was another step in advancing his idea of creating a Eurasian Union.

Visa issue a major hurdle in pushing industry ties – Times of India, April 23, 2012 – The rapid progress in normalizing trade relations between India and Pakistan has spurred hopes for a jump in business between the two countries….”The main issue now is visas for business travel. This is important for business to business contact,” said Vikramjit Sahney, president of the SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, adding that more steps need to be implemented to upgrade border infrastructure.

Rwanda: Varsities to Offer Integration Lessons – AllAfrica, April 23, 2012 – Starting next academic year, EAC universities and other institutions of higher learning will include regional integration in their curricula so as to enhance students’ understanding of the integration process….”We want these younger east Africans to grow when they’re well conversant with the East African Community and this will help in regional economic development.”

Africa fears becoming a perpetual raw materials supplier – ICT Update, April 23, 2012 – Benjamin W. Mkapa, the former president of Tanzania and Chairperson of the South Centre, on EPA negotiations with the East African Community….goes deeper and presents the three possible scenarios for EU-EAC negotiations….According to his analysis, the elimination of tariffs on 80 per cent of trade, restrictions on the use of export taxes and quantitative restrictions, as well as the standstill clause will result in nothing less than Africa becoming a perpetual supplier of raw materials.

Russian working to remake Soviet Union

WND, April 22, 2012 – In effect, Putin, who is a former KGB officer, has visions of recreating the grandeur of the former Soviet Union. Putin calls the proposed economic entity the Eurasian Union. He views it as ultimately being competitive with the European Union and as an alternative for those former Soviet states that have been excluded from joining the E.U.

Dutch regime set for collapse – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 22, 2012 – The ruling Dutch minority government was on the brink of collapse Saturday after anti-European Union lawmaker Geert Wilders torpedoed seven weeks of austerity talks, saying he would not cave in to budget demands from “dictators in Brussels.”

Argentina Demands Petrobras Up Investment, Eyes Joint Projects – Latin American Herald Tribune (Venezuela), April 22, 2012 – Argentina [Planning Minister Julio De Vido] called on Brazilian state-controlled energy giant Petrobras to boost investment and participate in joint projects in Latin America with oil firm YPF, which the Argentine government decided earlier this week to nationalize….On a clearly political note, he credited the former presidents of Brazil and Argentina, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the late Nestor Kirchner, as well as Venezuelan head of state Hugo Chavez, with “planting the seed” for the Union of South American Nations, or Unasur, and for a new model of Latin American integration.

Katju suggests panel of SAARC press councils – The Hindu, April 22, 2012 – Press Council of India Chairman Justice Markandey Katju has proposed a joint panel of press councils from all SAARC countries which can work on related issues and also on improving relations.

China’s top political advisor vows more cooperation with ASEAN countries – People’s Daily (China), April 22, 2012 – China’s top political advisor Jia Qinglin on Saturday said China will join hands with Thailand and other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) to promote east Asian cooperation….As a big country outside the region, China took the lead in joining the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, establishing strategic partnership with ASEAN, signing free trade agreement and supporting the establishment of a non-nuclear zone.

Unleashing Asean’s dynamism

Malaysia Star, April 21, 2012 – IF market size is what defines economic potential in today’s increasingly competitive world, then surely Asean has a compelling growth story to tell….Mustapa noted that growth in this union of 10 nations, comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, would continue at a healthy pace, even as the world braces for some challenging times ahead.

The Gulf and the Arab Spring – The Majalla Magazine, April 21, 2012 – Gulf elites have been meeting annually for the last 33 years to discuss the issues that they believed were priorities in their communities: the communities of the six Gulf States or the Gulf Cooperation Council States….While there were many calls for reform, the most prominent effect of the Arab Spring—regime toppling—was not really discussed.

Unctad offers backing to shore up Africa trade – Gulf Times (Qatar), April 21, 2012 – Members of the African Union (AU) had adopted an action plan to accelerate the formation of a continental Africa free trade area at a meeting in January. Unctad [United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] has offered its expertise to help with three aspects of the plan…

Sense and summitry – DAWN (Pakistan), April 21, 2012 – The summit meeting of [Pakistan] President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at New Delhi on April 8 was held unexpectedly, and concluded with results none had expected….Our leaders have always been meeting ‘on the sidelines’ of some international conference or another rather like timid lovers meeting furtively on ‘the sidelines’ of a family gathering. Saarc, NAM, CHOGM and the like, besides, of course, the annual session of the UN General Assembly provide opportunities for meeting without raising any hackles at home….
Disputing sovereignty – Ottawa Citizen, April 20, 2012 – It is important to clarify that the Malvinas Islands dispute did not start in 1982 but in 1833, when the Malvinas were usurped by means of an act of force perpetrated by the United Kingdom, which also expelled the Argentine population and the legitimate Argentine authorities, impeding their return and replacing them with subjects of the occupying power. Since 1833, Argentina has protested that illegitimate and forceful act, without consenting to it at any time….Several regional fora – MERCOSUR and UNASUR among them – have expressed their concern over those unilateral activities and have also spoken out for the resumption of negotiations….

Southern Africa: Attorney General Office Holds SADC First Regional Meeting – AllAfrica, April 20, 2012 – The first regional meeting of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) of attorney general offices will take place on 26-27 April in Luanda….According to the programme of the event that reached Angop on Friday, the meeting will discuss themes such as judiciary cooperation experiences with SADC member states, standardization for extradition procedures in Africa, extradition treaties and mutual legal assistance in the ambit of African Union.

Nigeria: 54 Nations Storm Abuja for Education Ministers’ Conference – AllAfrica, April 21, 2012 – The meeting which will have in attendance ministers of education and senior education officials from the 54 member nations of the African Union, will among others deliberate on global, regional and sub-regional developments and seek ways of addressing them through the instrumentality of education sector.

NAFTA hits state again

Decatur (AL) Daily, April 20, 2012 – The North American Free Trade Agreement took another swipe at Alabama on Wednesday….Audi’s board of directors announced it would build its $2 billion SUV plant in Mexico. It cited free trade agreements as a major factor in its decision. The primary market for the high-priced vehicle, of course, is the United States. As a result of NAFTA, Audi can build the vehicles in Mexico and ship them to the United States without penalty.

A Regional Responsibility – The Choate News, April 20, 2012 – One of the ways for the United States to tangentially intervene would be by promoting stronger law through the Arab League. The creation of a tribunal, given jurisdiction from the United Nations, could potentially deal with the massive violation of human rights that has been occurring with in Syria. It could uphold international law, and in this way it could play a role similar to the International Criminal Court. Most importantly, the tribunal would be composed of Arabs, who might be better received by the Syrian people than Westerners.

ASEAN, China to become top trade partners – China Daily, April 20, 2012 – The members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will together become China’s top trading partners within the next three years, a trade organization predicted on Wednesday….ASEAN is made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. China has a free trade agreement with ASEAN. Taking effect in January 2010, it established the third-largest free trade area in the world, just behind the European Union and the North American Free Trade Area.

European Union: Goldman squid grabs Europe – Asia Times, April 20, 2012 – The Goldman Sachs coup that failed in America has nearly succeeded in Europe – a permanent, irrevocable, unchallengeable bailout for the banks underwritten by the taxpayers….Europe’s national budgets in the hands of one single unelected intergovernmental organization? Is that the future of Europe? Is that the new EU – a Europe devoid of sovereign democracies?

Tiny Gulf islands rekindle big Arab-Iran dispute – Associated Press, April 20, 2012 – “….Iran will strongly defend its rights.” It appeared to be a reply to Tuesday’s statement by senior Gulf officials pledging full support to the UAE and saying any “aggressions” would be considered an act against the entire six-nation bloc, known as the Gulf Cooperation Council, which is led by Iran’s main regional foe Saudi Arabia.
The fast and furious Sunni revenge – Asia Times, April 19, 2012 – Strategically, the GCC was invented – with essential American input – to defend those poor Gulf petromonarchies from the evils of Saddam Hussein and the Iranian Khomeinists, with its members comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. But when the 2011 Arab revolt exploded…the petromonarchies faced a larger evil that simply petrified them: democracy.

What a Eurasian Union Means for Washington – The National Interest, April 19, 2012 – This planned Eurasian Union would lower trade barriers, harmonize regulations and currency policies, and eventually lead to deeper political association. If this sounds like the growth of the European Union, that is deliberate. Putin’s Izvestiya article portrays the Eurasian Union as modeled directly on the EU and even suggests that a strong Eurasian Union would be a natural partner for the EU…

SECURITY: Talking truth to power – IRIN Africa (United Nations OCHA), April 20, 2012 – The architecture of Africa’s peace and security structures since the launch of the AU [African Union] in 2002 and the subsequent May 2004 ratification of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) endowed the continent with a comprehensive security armoury allowing for intervention in states to resolve or prevent conflicts, using such instruments as the yet-to-be-constituted African Standby Force (ASF) and the Panel of the Wise – an AU five-member consultative body drawn from the continent’s five geographical regions…

Nations unite for all-out effort to hunt down warlord Kony – Washington Times, April 19, 2012 – The African Union has started a troop surge to end the Lord’s Resistance Army’s 25-year war on civilians in East and Central Africa, weeks after the video “Kony 2012” attracted more than 100 million viewers on the Internet. The force includes an estimated 5,000 soldiers…along with communications and logistic support from the United States, and civilian escorts from the U.N.

A New Legal and Diplomatic Foundation for Energy Policy in the EU – Journal of Energy Security, April 19, 20212 – In recent years, however, energy policy in European Union (EU) has shifted from an entirely national matter to a supranational policy initiative. Indeed, at a time when the EU is struggling to develop a coherent strategy to tackle deep financial problems, efforts to enhance closer unity in the energy security arena and forge a coherent “single voice” approach in the energy sector when dealing with international partners, have gathered considerable momentum.

European Union: Europe needs economic union to escape crises – IMF

Reuters, April 18, 2012 – Euro zone policymakers must lay out a clear path toward fiscal union and supervise their banks centrally if they are to restore market confidence in monetary union and achieve lasting financial stability, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday….”European authorities need to provide investors with a clear vision of where monetary union is going, because the answer to this is more and better Europe, not less Europe,” said Jose Vinals, IMF financial counsellor in releasing the report.

North America: Canadian envoy cites delicate balance – Buffalo News, April 18, 2012 – “Beyond the Border” is one of two initiatives recently announced by U.S. and Canadian leaders. The other, which has received less attention, is called the Regulatory Cooperation Council. The council aims to harmonize regulations between the two countries that can interfere with cross-border trade….Some regulations are already aligned through deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], she said. “What we need to do now is expand it to other sectors.”

DPM: Asean must strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation – Malaysia Star, April 19, 2012 – Asean should face the reality of the borderless world of terrorism and that terror networks cover more than one country, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Seri Muhyiddin Yassin said….”Regional forums on security and defence serves as an important mechanism that will enhance the collective capability of Asean member states and dialogue partners to swiftly and effectively respond to the threats, and in turn strengthen regional security cooperation,” he said at a forum here.

Peru seeks out new trade partners to boost economy – Peru This Week, April 18, 2012 – The global economic crisis has strengthened Latin America’s commitment to pursuing economic growth and social inclusion on a regional level, according to Peru’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Rafael Roncagliolo….Hesaid that while the roles of organisations like the Union of South American Nations (Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, UNASUR) and the Andean Community (Comunidad Andina, CAN) had changed over the years, they still had a key part to play in areas such as intra-regional trade, improvements to transport infrastructure and resource development. “We have also integrated road infrastructure, which is crucial, as it connects north and south, Atlantic and Pacific. This is very important for developing the region.”

India urged for changes in trade laws to reduce trust deficit – The SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC-CCI), Aman Ki Asha (AKA) and the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) are playing a vital role in promotion of bilateral relations. This consensus was developed in the Jang Economic Session on “Progress in Pakistan-India Trade Relations — Way Forward” here on Wednesday.

Secretary General Launches Institute for Regional Integration and Development – StarAfrica, April 19, 2012 – The Secretary General of the East African Community Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera today launched the Institute for Regional Integration and Development (IRID) at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi, Kenya….The Secretary General disclosed that the Inter University Council (IUCEA), an autonomous institutions of the EAC set up to harmonize higher education standards, was expected to take the centre stage in transforming East Africa into a Single Higher Education Area by 2015.
East Africa: EAC to Adopt NTB Protocol By August – AllAfrica, April 18, 2012 – The East African Community (EAC) member countries have agreed to adopt a protocol by August that will have legal mechanisms to prevent non-tariff barriers amongst member countries. EAC Secretary General Richard Sezibera told journalists in Nairobi that the five member states have agreed to this measure in order to speed the implementation of the Common Market Protocol.

Ukraine at a crossroads – Washington Post, April 18, 2012 – The Ukrainian government is pursuing contradictory policies: It seeks to integrate Ukraine into Europe while emasculating its domestic opposition….Yanukovych has courageously challenged President-elect Vladimir Putin’s plan to assert control over the states of the former Soviet Union through a Eurasian Union. The question is whether Ukraine sees its future in the European mainstream or relegated to the borderlands.

Argentina, Brazil Have Common Defence Agenda

Bernama, April 18, 2012 – Argentina and Brazil have agreed to work on a common defence agenda underlining the importance of strengthening the Latin Unasur bloc and working to ensure that Latin America is a peace zone thus sending a strong message to Britain on the Falklands/Malvinas issue.

North America: Hundreds of frontline border officers to be axed: Union – Embassy (Canada), April 18, 2012 – Cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency could impact the country’s Perimeter border plan with the United States or ruffle feathers in Washington, say union and opposition members—but the US Embassy says it has full confidence in Canada….Prime Minister Stephen Harper stood beside US President Barack Obama in Washington on Dec. 7 to announce two border plans: the Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness, which will align much of how Canada and the US share information and evidence between police forces and intelligence agencies, and the Action Plan on Regulatory Co-operation, which will align many trade regulations.

New threat of terrorism – AsiaOne (Singapore), April 18, 2012 – “These platforms have brought greater transparency in handling sensitive issues within Asean member states or with countries outside Asean,” [Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi] said. He said several initiatives have been implemented including joint border patrols and multilateral efforts to combat piracy and transnational crime. “From these efforts, we see that one country’s interest has also become another country’s interest. As such, national interest is becoming more and more about collective interest,” he added.
Asean support vs China incursions a work in progress, says DFA – Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 18, 2012 – Aside from the Philippines, Asean also groups Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos, Cambodia and Brunei Darussalam. Four Asean members—the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei—are among the Spratlys claimants, along with China and Taiwan. Hernandez pointed out that “our regional and international partners, including the United States, our treaty ally, are assisting us upgrade our capabilities and build a minimum credible defense posture for us to be able to protect our territorial sovereignty and maritime jurisdiction.”

GCC slams Iran provocation – Khaleej Times (UAE), April 18, 2012 – The six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council’s meeting in Doha on Tuesday condemned as ‘provocative’ a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to UAE’s island of Abu Mousa.

Chairperson Receives UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs – StarAfrica, April 18, 2012 – The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Dr. Jean Ping, received in his office at the AUC Headquarters on Tuesday, 17 April 2012, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Ms. Patricia O’Brien. During the meeting, both personalities discussed the existing ties of cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations in the area of legal affairs and agreed on the need to broaden the framework of such collaboration.

Israel Critical of Iran Nuclear Talks – Voice of America, April 18, 2012 – Israeli officials say European Union-led negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are giving Tehran more time to develop nuclear weapons. U.S. officials are trying to reassure Israel there is still time for a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff.

The New Russian Empire

The National Interest, April 16, 2012 – Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization may help to remove some of the barriers that impeded Ukraine’s participation. In addition, at the recent summit meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community in Moscow, the countries that make up the customs union, as well as the other Central Asian states that are members, committed to completing work on a proposed Eurasian Union treaty by 2015….A Russian-led regional economic order keeps the ruble as the regional currency and Russian as the de facto business language of the area, and it allows for more horizontal and vertical integration, especially between Russian, Kazakhstani and Ukrainian firms.

North America: Nafta should look beyond its borders to the world – Financial Times (London), April 17, 2012 (Google News link) – The challenge is to deepen integration to export to other regions, particularly Asia….To achieve that, increasing exports of finished manufacturing goods at competitive prices implies co-producing them with Mexico. And that requires even deeper industrial integration.

France elections: EU at arm’s length – BBC News, April 17, 2012 – If the polls are right more than 30% of the French electorate will vote on Sunday for candidates who are openly hostile or critical of the EU. The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen wants to take France out of the euro. She believes that the European Union has not protected French jobs.

More pacts with Pak on anvil – Rediff (India), April 17, 2012 – Relations between India and Pakistan might get another boost, with the two countries planning to sign a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement and looking to enter an easy business visa mechanism soon. Companies from both sides have shown interest in entering the energy, cement, healthcare, and hospitality segments. Banking is also likely to draw some interest. Vikramjit Singh Sahney, president of the Saarc [South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation] Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told Business Standard Bippa was also being negotiated and might come up along with the multiple entry business visa norms.

China’s ASEAN role wins praise – AsiaOne (Singapore), April 17, 2012 – Thailand is keen to play a coordinating role between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said….Calling China “a responsible and constructive partner of ASEAN”, Yingluck said Bangkok is “committed to continuing the good progress and momentum achieved between ASEAN and China so far”.

Will the East African Community Have Teeth to Bite Like Ecowas? – AllAfrica, April 16, 2012 – One the major weapons that give Ecowas [Economic Community of West African States] teeth to bite is its regional bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) that manages money supply in the West African zone. In the recent past, this bank has proved to be the biggest tool against undemocratic tendencies in that region because it is used to starve coup makers of funds. It worked against Gbagbo, Camara , Sanogo….So, shouldn’t the East African Community (EAC) be seeking to achieve financial unity rather than a political federation as a means of ensuring much-needed stability and democratic governance in the region?

Despite Obama charm, Americas summit boosts U.S. isolation – Reuters, April 16, 2012 – The stark divide over Cuba – with 32 nations in favor of inviting it to future summits and only the United States and Canada opposed – will fuel arguments that the OAS is an outdated institution for regional diplomacy. The OAS already faces competition from alternative forums such as the Union of South American nations (Unasur) and the Chavez-backed Community of Latin American and Caribbean states (Celac).

‘UAE urges swift solution’ – Arab Times Kuwait English Daily, April 16, 2012 – Tehran on Monday warned Arab states in the Gulf that things could become “very complicated” if they do not act cautiously over a simmering islands dispute between Iran and the United Arab Emirates. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi made the declaration to Iran’s ISNA news agency on the eve of talks in Doha between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states over three tiny islands in the Gulf and claimed by both Iran and the UAE.

Pacific Islands: Australia: A big brother or a big bully? – Islands Business, April 16, 2012 – Australia walks a tightrope when dealing with its small islands neighbours. As the largest and wealthiest nation in the region, it has clout. The nation’s population of 22 million is about twice the total for the rest of the members of the Pacific Island Forum—New Zealand included.

‘Diplomatic offensive’ pushed – ABS-CBN News | April 16, 2012 – MANILA, Philippines – Sen. Joker Arroyo yesterday called on President Aquino to launch a “diplomatic offensive” in the region by tapping the support of the United States and its allies in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the latest conflict with China. Arroyo said he wants a collective stand against the apparent intrusion of China into Philippine shores through Scarborough Shoal.

European Union: No simple answer to EU growth vs. austerity conundrum – Reuters, April 16, 2012 – The growth camp argues that synchronized austerity….reduces public sector jobs and shrinks demand….The austerity crowd contend that cutting spending is vital to make public finances sustainable

Private sector chiefs hold forum on EAC integration – The Standard (Kenya), April 16, 2012 – East Africa Community (EAC) top private sector executives meet in Nairobi this Monday to review progress on regional integration process….The meeting comes against a backdrop of a World Bank report warning that though the East African Community business environment for entrepreneurs improved in 2010 and 2011, the five economies still lag behind global competitors in implementing institutional reforms to improve investment laws.
EALA Session Resumes Today in Nairobi – AllAfrica, April 16, 2012 – The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will, today, resume its plenary sessions in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi….EALA is the legislative Organ of the EAC. Its Membership comprises a total of 52 members, of whom 45 are elected (9 from each Partner State) and seven ex-officio members (the Ministers responsible for EAC Affairs from the Partner States, the Secretary General of the Community and the Counsel to the Community).

ECOWAS security council recommends deployment of regional troops in Mali – BusinessGhana, April 15, 2012 – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Mediation and Security Council has recommended the deployment of regional troops in Mali to assist the West African country secure its territorial integrity as well as undertake peace-keeping and related operations, a statement by the regional bloc said Saturday.

Trans-tasman union is more than economics – National Business Review (New Zealand), April 14, 2012 – New Zealand is not as important to Australia as the other way round….As an integrated economy, the whole could be much larger than the parts. Recent events in the eurozone have highlighted the need to have the economic, political and legal foundations, among others, sorted before embarking on others such as a common currency.
Currency union with Oz makes no cents – New Zealand Herald, April 12, 2012 – The advantages and disadvantages of a common currency, after all, is only one of 37 questions the paper poses. But it is a proposition which has in the past commanded considerable support among parts of the business community….Currency union would in effect involve not only adopting the Australian dollar but outsourcing monetary policy to the Reserve Bank of Australia, with perhaps a token Kiwi on its board.

Region’s Secretary General Receives U.S. Senators – AllAfrica, April 14, 2012 – The delegation led by Senator James Inhofe, …also included Senator John Boozman (Arkansas), Congressman Jeff Miller [Florida], Congressman Steve Pearce (New Mexico) and Congressman Vernon Buchanan (Florida). Senator Inhofe…remarked that it was important for trade as a founding precept of the Customs Union to be at the forefront of the EAC [East African Community] as an economic bloc.

Arab countries step up preps to launch regional customs union – Zawya (Dubai), April 14, 2012 – Arab customs officials on Saturday kicked off a meeting at Arab League Headquarters in Cairo to discuss final details to launch an Arab Customs Union. In its meeting, the Arab Commission for the Unified Customs Tariff will tackle the tariff table of goods exchanged between Arab League member states and world countries in a bid to adopt a unified tariff mechanism as the backbone of the union’s strategy.

Eurasian Union: Vladimir Putin’s report to the Russian parliament on government performances – BSR Russia, April 14, 2012 – Together with our Belarusian and Kazakh partners, we have delegated the essential powers in the field of macroeconomics, customs activities and technical regulations to a supranational agency – the Eurasian Economic Commission. In fact, this will make the integration processes irreversible. Here I would like to emphasise that the creation of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space has been the key geopolitical and integration event in the post-Soviet space since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Bar calls for more talks on Asean human rights draft

Malaysia Star, April 14, 2012 – Asean is close to adopting an Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) but the majority of its peoples have not heard of or seen it or been consulted on it. Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee said this was deeply regrettable as the proposed document would speak about the human rights of the peoples of Asean.
Manila Hosts ADB Annual Meeting – Manila Bulletin, April 14, 2012 – Finance ministers and central bank heads of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with China, South Korea and Japan, or ASEAN+3, are expected to tackle proposals to increase a pool of funds under a regional currency swap pact when it meets in Manila on the sidelines of Manila 2012.

Portugal ratifies European Union treaty devised to end bloc’s ongoing debt crisis – Washington Post, April 13, 2012 – Portugal’s Parliament has ratified a European fiscal treaty designed to prevent government overspending and help end the bloc’s sovereign debt crisis….It was also under particular pressure to adopt the treaty, as ratification is a precondition to further aid from the other euro countries.

OAS Still Relevant Amid Rising Latin American Regionalism – World Politics Review, April 12, 2012 – Perhaps the most visible challenge today comes in the form of alternative regional groupings, such as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), created by Brazil in 2008, or the smaller and more radical Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA), which began as an agreement between Cuba and Venezuela in 2004.
Backgrounder: The Organization of American States – Council on Foreign Relations, April 13, 2012 – Many consider another regional organization, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), to be a useful counterweight to the OAS. UNASUR is regarded by many observers as a means for Brazil to assert its power in the region. O’Neil argues the organization has been able to fulfill some duties that the OAS has been less effective in doing, such as successfully mediating between Ecuador and Colombia during their diplomatic crisis in 2008.

European Union aims to regulate internet of things – Rethink Wireless, April 12, 2012 – The EU released documents to kick off its public consultation, acknowledging that the boundaries between online and offline are already blurring as previously standalone objects like energy meters and home appliances link to the internet and each other.

Eurasian Union: Russian Lender Building Its Own Bloc in Eastern Europe – New York Times, April 13, 2012 (Google News link) – But in many ways, the Russian bank’s Eastern Europe push is continuing an expansion into former Soviet-influenced territory that began during the 2008 financial crisis. Benefiting from distracted or wounded Wall Street players that had become leery of risky lending in former Soviet countries, Sberbank began acquiring local banks to quickly become the biggest foreign bank in Kazakhstan and one of the largest in Ukraine. Lithuanian and Ukrainian PMs have different attitude towards Eurasian Union – The Baltic Course, April 12, 2012 – “Both our experience and of Ukraine is the very clear (&) there is no European Union integration alternative to countries of this region,” Kubilius said on the Eurasian Union project Thursday, reports LETA/ELTA.

EIB launches EUR 50m East Africa microfinance programme – The Financial (Georgia), April 13, 2012 – The East African Community Microfinance Facility, backed by the European Investment Bank, Europe’s long-term lending institution, allows experienced banks and microfinance institutions engaging in microfinance to receive local currency funding to support their financing of local business….The East African Community Microfinance Facility will be the first of three regional microfinance programmes that the European Investment Bank plans to launch in sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years.

Spanish Law Aims To Rein in Budget – Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2012 – The new law develops budget guidelines that Spain last year enshrined in its constitution at the behest of its European Union peers. It is the latest attempt by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s government to reassure the EU and international investors that it can slash a budget deficit that topped 8.5% of gross domestic product last year.

 Indo-Pak private sectors to keep pace with political development

Daily Times (Pakistan), April 12, 2012 – “We are committed to keep pace with the recent development in bilateral relations between India and Pakistan and perceive the recent meeting between President Asif Zardari and Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh as the commencement of new era in the history of Pakistan and India,” said SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAARC CCI) Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik.

Africa Urged To Establish Single Postal Territory – Bernama (Malaysian National News Agency), April 12, 2012 – African countries should come up with a single postal territory which allows free movement of mail and other items, an official said….The PAPU [Pan African Postal Union] is a specialised agency of the African Union formed in 1980 to spearhead postal service development on the continent.
East Africans show the way – IPP Media, April 12, 2012 – It is sometimes difficult to gauge accurately how well the process of bringing together the five partner states of East Africa is unfolding. This is so especially since the various threads that need to be woven together to realise a unified and dynamic bloc, that is the East African Community and eventually a federation, are not so apparent to the ordinary people and even to some of the highly placed public figures.

‘GCC needs integrated missile defence shield’ – Emirates 24/7, April 12, 2012 – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) needs robust defence networks and comprehensive solutions that are practical and not theoretical, Dr Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, GCC Secretary-General, said on Wednesday…

Hidden depths in South China Sea tensions – Asia Times, April 12, 2012 – Cambodia and Myanmar were the only two ASEAN members opposed to raising maritime security concerns during the East Asia Summit held last November….In recent years, Phnom Penh has accumulated over $8 billion in debts from Chinese loans.

US Policy Increasingly Out of Touch with Latin America’s New Political Reality – Venezualanalysis, April 11, 2012 – The US’s interventionist policy toward Venezuela and the ALBA has instead left it looking ever more isolated in the hemisphere. For example, the State Department’s sanctions against PDVSA last May were collectively rejected by the ALBA, Petrocaribe, and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).

Will EurAsEC grow into Eurasian economic union? – Registan, April 11, 2012 – One of the main deterrents of the Eurasian economic integration, which Russia so desperately wants accelerate, is that the rest of the participants are not prepared for what might follow the economic union – political integration….In particular, Stratfor analysts wrote that “Russia’s goals in Kazakhstan is to continue the integration with the Central Asian country through common economic space and, eventually, through the Eurasian Union, to arrange the transfer of power so that the results were favorable to Russia
Bogdankevich: Belarus Needs Safety Cushion of $14 Billion – (Belarus), April 11, 2012 – Maybe we’ll get new loans, borrowing from the East not only through the Eurasian Economic Community, but also from the Russian banks. Do not expect some crash, if the declared policy is pursued,” assures an economist.

Eastern Europe, a Cold War Relic, Still Alive at U.N.

ISP, April 11, 2012 – “By opting to be part of the European Union, these countries cast their lot with the Western Europeans for a united Europe….Paul told IPS the battles around regional representation at the U.N. are a sign that something big is happening. “There has been a major evolution towards regionalism in the real world, as new institutions arise and existing ones gain rapidly in strength,” he said. The African Union, the European Union, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) are the major players in this game, but there are many others as well.

Putin says Russia passed economic recession – Vestnik Kavkaza, April 11, 2012 – The next step is formation of the Eurasian Economic Union in 2015. Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan expect other partners to join the initiative.

Training to ensure a bang for the buck – Kuensel (Bhutan), April 11, 2012 – The governing council of SDF, which consists of eight finance ministers of SAARC countries, met in Bangladesh last month and approved the idea of SDF functioning as a regional international bank, which will provide soft loans….Memoranda of understandings will soon be signed among the regional and international funding agencies, such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, to form a consortium to make loans available for SDF projects.

Time to suspend Syria from the U.N. – Washington Times, April 11, 2012 – Syria’s government has already thumbed its nose at sanctions and condemnations from the Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council and the European Union as well as various U.N. organs and individual countries.

North America: NAFTA Triumverate Moves to Further Cement Continental Union – Pacific Free Press, April 10, 2012 – On April 2, President Barack Obama hosted Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderon for the sixth North American Leaders Summit….In their joint communique, the leaders recognized, “the growing regional and federal cooperation in the area of continental energy, including electricity generation… They emphasized the need to deepen, “cooperation to enhance our collective energy security, including the safe and efficient exploration and exploitation of resources.”….Mexico’s drug war is increasingly being seen as a continental problem that requires continental solutions which is further pushing the NAFTA partnership into a common security front. This is escalating the militarization of the borders, integration in areas of law enforcement and the military, as well as advancing the development of a North American security perimeter.

Gulf Union talks set for next month

Gulfnews (Dubai), April 10, 2012 – Abu Dhabi: Heads of state of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will meet next month-end to discuss the final report of the commission set up to study the proposal for member-states to form a Gulf Union.

European Union: Europe has yet to make Europeans – Financial Times, April 10, 2012 (Google News link) – Most analysts reckon that, to survive, the euro will have to be backed by a much bigger European federal budget, common debt (eurobonds) and a more powerful central government….However, the popular backing for such steps is nowhere to be seen.
Beware the crude impact of Iran sanctions – Financial Times (London), April 10, 2012 (Google News link) – The European Union and the US imposed different sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports earlier this year….The sanctions, however, were too successful….The wider and faster impact of the sanctions on Iranian oil exports is linked to two factors: reputational risk for banks handling oil payments to Iran, and maritime insurance.

China and ASEAN: Explosive Fertility, Regional Integration – Examiner, April 9, 2012 – The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South-Korea met this weekend in China to discuss mechanisms to foster regional cooperation and trust. The newly inaugurated Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (TCS) aims to expand commercial and cultural intercourse. The forum also wants to provide a platform for debating maritime conflicts, Korean reunification as well as ASEAN integration.

Brazil’s Rousseff Goes to Washington – TIME, April 9, 2012 – Regionally, Brazil helped create the 12-member Union of South American Nations [UNASUR], which has pointedly excluded its northern neighbor while focusing on U.S. issues like its military bases in the Americas and its monetary policy. Brazil has also engaged with actors the U.S. would rather leave at the time-out table, such as Evo Morales of Bolivia, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela…and the Castro brothers of Cuba.

Africa’s Success Lies in Unity – AllAfrica, April 9, 2012 – The vision of African integration has played out at two levels: At continental organisation where there has been an unequivocal political tone; and at sub regional levels, where several economic sub-regional arrangements have emerged. The sub-regional institutions have predominantly focused on intra-regional trade promotion through preferential arrangements; establishment of common currency areas and harmonisation of macroeconomic policies to achieve convergence….This definitive trend has been given concrete substance in the formation of the African Union and the strengthening of the regional economic communities.
Kony 2012: A message from commander hunting down the warlord – Toronto Star, April 9, 2012 – The commander of a new 5,000-strong African Union force tasked with hunting down Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army says his message for Kony and his troops is simple.
Central Africa: Lord’s Resistance Army Response to Kony 2012 – AllAfrica, April 9, 2012 – The following is a copy of a statement written by the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army in response to the online video, “Kony 2012″….In 2009, an extra-territorial law was enacted in the US, on the advocacy of the Invisible Children and other US based organizations known to front for US AFRICOM in Africa, to provide the requisite legal foundation in the US law for US military intervention in Uganda and Central Africa. The African Union (AU) through its Peace and Security Committee is now mindlessly being made to lend political and legal legitimacy to the said extra territorial US law after the fact.

How Can Belarusian Authorities Retaliate Against the EU Sanctions? – Belarus Digest, April 9, 2012 – In fact, the authorities will make no concessions to Russia. Together with Kazakhstan, they will block the initiatives of the Russian leaders to strengthen the centralization in the framework of the newly created Eurasian Union….In 2012, the most pressing foreign policy issue for Putin’s administration will be relations with Ukraine. Russia will put pressure on Ukraine in order to buy its gas transportation system. It will push Ukraine into the Customs Union.

Civil society ‘shunned’ by AHRD drafting panelBangkok Post, April 9, 2012 – Over 100 civil society organisations have expressed disappointment over the continued secrecy and non-transparency in the drafting process for the historic Asean Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). They say the drafting committee has so far shunned all recommendations put forward by the non-state sector, and have called for a practical platform for their meaningful participation in the drafting of the Asean rights declaration.

North American energy independence remains elusive

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), April 8, 2012 – This emerging North American energy landscape, free from dependence on Middle East, is based on a number of factors. Shale gas developments gave rise to this revolution, and it was soon complemented by tight oil in the United Sates, the oil sand of Canada and the growing energy outflow from Mexico. [ Comment: The internationalist media will continue to assert that U.S. economic independence must require a North American context. In reality, the U.S. has the resources itself without the need a Keystone Pipeline, North American Highway, or any other “regional mechanism.” In order for the U.S. to reclaim economic independence, we must see environmentalist and business regulatory strangleholds, Middle East oil crises and their accompanying terrorism for what they are: created conflicts to force the United States into North American regional governance within the globalists’ New World Order of regions. ]
Rep says highway threatens U.S. sovereignty – Yuma Sun, April 5, 2012 – Rep. David Stevens, R-Sierra Vista, told his colleagues they should do whatever they can to stop construction of the proposed I-11 highway….“There’s been an attempt over the years to build what’s called the Canamex Highway,” he said, creating an unbroken line of roads from Nogales to the Canadian border….“There are people at this point who want to try to make North America one country,”

Now India-China model for India-Pakistan ties? – Zee News, April 8, 2012 – In a potential paradigm shift in bilateral ties, Pakistan on Sunday agreed with India to adopt the “India-China model” in negotiating their sensitive relationship, which entails focusing on scaling up trade while resolving outstanding issues in a “step-by-step” incremental manner.
Despite opposition, Zardari all set to visit India – The Hindu, April 7, 2012 – President Asif Ali Zardari was all set to head off to New Delhi on Sunday morning…As of Saturday evening, the entourage was 57-member strong and there remained the possibility of legislators and others with the ‘SAARC sticker’ joining him separately as the sticker allows them to enter India without a visa. The presidential entourage will include his son and chairperson of the Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari…
Next govt unlikely to derail normalisation process – The News International (Pakistan), April 7, 2012 – There was also a consensus among speakers that the rise in regional trade was the way forward for the SAARC region, without which India cannot become a global player.

Shaken Spain seeks to restore confidence – Financial Times (London), April 8, 2012 (Google News link)- Luis de Guindos, the economy minister and Spain’s de facto international spokesman on the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, has said in interviews with local and foreign media that Spain did not need a bailout of the kind provided to Greece, Ireland and Portugal by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

Toward Sound And Sustainable Dev”t – By Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, Manila Bulletin, April 7, 2012 – Our task together is to build a new regional order that integrates the emerging powers into the regional system. Specifically, we must establish a regional “balance of sustainability” that recognizes both America’s claim to being a Pacific power and gives rising China, Japan, India and ASEAN-10 significant roles in constructing our new regional order.

Opinions sought on expanding economic links with Australia – New Zealand Herald, April 7, 2012 – The Productivity Commission is seeking feedback on how – and how far – to deepen economic integration with Australia. Between the present situation, where there are few barriers to the movement of goods, people and capital between the two countries, and full political union lies what it calls economic union. That involves a common currency, common monetary and fiscal policy, and harmonised tax rates.
Bank of the South to operate with USD 7 billion at the outset – El Universal (Caracas), April 7, 2012 – Together with the Bank of the South, the governments of the region are planning to establish the Fund of the South in order to provide funds to the member countries of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) if a global economic instability threatens to create a balance of payments crisis.

Mali junta to stand down under deal with W. African bloc – The West Australian, April 7, 2012 – The junior officers who seized power last month have agreed with West African bloc ECOWAS to give up power in return for an amnesty deal and a lifting of sanctions that the regional body had imposed on landlocked Mali.

Call for Arab common market

Oman Daily Observer, April 6, 2012 – The Arab Labour Conference in a final statement called on the Arab League to speed up the establishment of Arab common market to ensure easy flow of capital, commodities and labour and realise the integration by expanding the role of Arab finance funds.

Do the operations of the European Defence Force have democratic legitimacy? – London Daily Mail, April 5, 2012 – Below is the currently accepted coat of arms of the European Defence Force (informal title), which British troops in the near future will be forced to wear. You may not have heard of this European Union military project, but it has been up and running for over a decade now.

Chinese delegation visits IPRI – Daily Times (Pakistan), April 6, 2012 – A Chinese delegation of research scholars from the School of Central Committee of the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army, led by Col Pan Zheng visited the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) on Thursday…A host of subjects concerning Pak-China cooperation in development projects, growing Indo-US strategic partnership, Pakistan’s interest in membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and China’s desire to join the SAARC…were also discussed.

ECCAS & ECOWAS converge to fight Piracy, Robbery At Sea, and Illegal Maritime Activities – Awoko, April 6, 2012 – Business More than 250 representatives from more than 20 African nations attended the official opening ceremony of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Maritime Safety and Security Conference held last week in Cotonou….Other guests representing the United Nations, the African Union, Europe and the United States were also in attendance.

North America is a process – Ottawa Citizen, April 3, 2012 – The Canada-U.S. Chamber of Commerce fell apart years ago and the North American Competitiveness Council’s influence was damaged by its association with the apparently sovereignty-threatening Security and Prosperity Partnership….It is surely time that such an organization – a North American Chamber of Commerce, perhaps? – be created, networked with business and workers associations, regional bodies, and business and policy schools.Given recent deadlocks on specific North American issues, perhaps we should be thinking more about governance.

North American Union Moves Closer After Trilateral Summit

The New American, April 4, 2012 – President Obama hosted Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Washington, D.C., this week for the so-called “North American Leaders Summit,” announcing further integration of the three governments across a broad range of fields. The meeting, however, fueled deep suspicion and concern among advocates of national sovereignty and the U.S. Constitution.

Economic union final SAARC goal: Dipu – Bangladesh News 24, April 4, 2012 – Foreign minister Dipu Moni has said the ultimate objective of SAARC is to form a South Asian economic union….”There is an understanding right now that the cost of non-cooperation is too high and we need to move ahead,” Dipu said. She admitted that the progress in SAARC activities was slow earlier but now it has gained momentum. The minister laid emphasis on the role of media in promoting SAARC…
‘SAARC needs legal mechanism to resolve problems of member states’ – Financial Express Bangladesh, April 5, 2012 – One recommendation says a legal mechanism like the European Court of Justice could be a desirable institution in the SAARC to resolve the problems of the member states.

African Union Imposes Travel Ban, Asset Freeze On Mali Junta Leaders – Bernama (Malaysia), April 5, 2012 – The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council has imposed a travel ban and frozen the assets of the leaders and members of the military junta which has seized power in Mali, the AU says.
Is Pan – Africanism Still Relevant Today? – AllAfrica, April 4, 2012 – When the child is born into the tribe the price of his growing up is giving a part of his freedom to the tribe. This he soon learns or dies. When the tribe becomes a union of tribes, the individual tribe surrenders some part of its freedom to the paramount tribe.” ….The successful African Union military intervention in Anjouan, Grand Comoros, in 2008 to oust a renegade secessionist was a clear statement about how a new Africa can be born through the vehicle of regional cooperation and integration.

Asean pivotal in Korea’s global presence – AsiaOne (Singapore), April 5, 2012 – Should Korea meaningfully raise its voice and power in the international community, the GDP ratio of Korea could be at least 3 per cent – and an integrated Association of Southeast Asian Nations will play a pivotal role in helping Korea reach that goal, said Chung Hae-moon, secretary-general of Asean-Korea Centre….”Before the cooperation with Asean, Korea was a monolithic society. But with the Southeast Asian people getting married, studying, working and doing business here, Korea is becoming a multicultural society,” he said.

PM Sargsyan: Armenia will seek cooperation with ex-Soviet partners without joining Customs Union – Armenia Now, April 5, 2012 – Last month Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan attended a Moscow summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), a Russia-led economic reintegration project for former Soviet countries in which Armenia has an observer status.
Tymoshenko’s release and Ukraine’s European integration: too little too late – Voice of Russia, April 4, 2012 – ….The preference of the Ukrainian elite for “European” integration instead of the “Eurasian” one is quite obvious. In this situation, it is only natural that Moscow shows little enthusiasm for discounts on prices of natural gas and other Russian exports to Ukraine. Yanukovych shot himself in the foot, pursuing too many objectives at a time.

UN’s Ban and UNASUR Chief Talk Falklands, Haiti Reconstruction – Caribbean Journal, April 4, 2012 – United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Maria Emma Mejia Velez, the head of the Union of South American nations, held talks in New York Tuesday on issues including the Falkland Islands and sustainable development.

An Arab War-Crimes Court for Syria – New York Times, April 4, 2012 (Google News link) – In seeking other ways to ensure that the Syrian government and its henchmen pay a price for slaughtering their citizens, United States officials are seeking ways to bring them to justice. A war crimes tribunal run by the Arab League could be the solution.

‘Arabs should accept responsibility for Jewish refugees’

Ynetnews (Israel), April 4, 2012, “The Arab League must accept responsibility and recognize that they are the ones who caused the displacement of Jews from Arab countries,” [Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon] said. Ayalon further said that Arab nations should acknowledge their own role in creating Palestinian refugees, displaced by their wars with Israel.

GCC border controls need to be simplified – here can be no meaningful economic integration of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, without the free flow of goods and services between member states….This can be done by working together to strengthen controls on borders with non-member states, while easing movement within the GCC, like the European Union is doing.

SAARC urged to give full membership to China – Financial Express (Bangladesh), April 4, 2012 – Speakers at a conference Tuesday said South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) should give full membership to China as the country is an integral part of the region….Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the conference…

ECOWAS Committee adopts strategic regional development document African Management, April 4, 2012 – The tools are designed to strengthen ECOWAS/World Bank collaboration towards making Community Institutions a knowledge hub for the development of the region, it said.

ASEAN Economic Community vital to meet competition: PM Lee – Today (Singapore), April 4, 2012 – Mr Lee reiterated that the ASEAN Economic Community is vital, as it is the best way for the 10-member grouping to meet growing competition. Such a community will also create new opportunities by integrating the markets and supply chains, he added.
ASEAN+Korea, China Japan FTA Negotiations to be Launched – Arirang News (Korea), April 4, 2012 – A two-day ASEAN summit is taking place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. And it looks like negotiations for a possible multilateral free trade agreement between ASEAN member nations and Korea, China and Japan could begin by the end of this year.

European Union: Eurozone weighs union on bank regulation – Financial Times (London), April 4, 2012 (Google News link) – Jörg Asmussen, an ECB executive board member, argued that the 17-nation currency bloc should be ready – if there is no deeper integration across the EU – to establish its own system to monitor financial institutions, including a special fund to handle collapses.

Australia and New Zealand could adopt single currency

The Telegraph (London), April 3, 2012 – Australia and New Zealand will consider adopting a single currency under a proposal jointly floated by the countries’ productivity bodies. The productivity commissions of the two nations indicated a shared Trans-Tasman currency could reduce business costs but pointed to Europe as an example of possible downsides.

Zombie time! ‘Dead’ North American Union revived

WND, April 3, 2012 – Anyone who thinks the globalist initiative to integrate North America on the model of the European Union is dead or beyond any hope of revival is badly mistaken. Robert Pastor, for one – regarded as the “father of the North American Union” – fails to give up.

The US Is Arming The Gulf. Against Whom? – Eurasia Review, April 3, 2012 – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her visit to Saudi Arabia, attended the first Strategic Cooperation Forum between the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)…. The most important outcome of the session on Saturday was the decision to establish a common missile defense shield against Iran. Now, the issue is really worth looking deeper into.

VK Singh to visit Nepal on Wednesday – News24 (India), April 3, 2-12 – Some 50-60 high ranking army officials from USA, Japan and SAARC countries are arriving in Kathmandu to attend the regional meeting.

UK, Argentina mark Falklands War anniv – Sydney Morning Herald, April 3, 2012 – At the United Nations, the head of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) was to meet with UN chief Ban Ki-moon Monday to deliver a letter of support for Argentina in its row with Britain.

Angola: Country Takes Over AU Peace, Security Council – AllAfrica, April 3, 2012 – The Republic of Angola assumes, from April 1, the Rotating Presidency of the Council for Peace and Security of the African Union (AU), a mechanism created with the aim of promoting peace, security and stability in Africa.
ECCAS and ECOWAS take steps to improve maritime security – defenceWeb (South Africa), April 3, 2012 – Nations from the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have signed an agreement regarding the improvement of maritime security during their Maritime Safety and Security Conference….Other guests representing the United Nations, the African Union, Europe and the United States were also in attendance.
Zimbabwe: EU to Increase Investment in the Country – AllAfrica, March 31, 2012 – THE European Union (EU) says it intends to increase trade and investment relations with Zimbabwe and has urged the country to take advantage of the bloc’s support for the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa). The EU is funding and providing technical assistance to Comesa in order to enhance regional integration and trade activities.

Scorecards show ASEAN on track for single community – Jakarta Post, April 3, 2012 – As envisioned by the AEC 2015 Blueprint, the community will be supported by four pillars: a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region with equitable economic development and a region fully integrated into the global economy. The establishment of the community will be a continuation of earlier efforts made through the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) started in 1992.
ASEAN Leaders Open Summit in Cambodia – Voice of America, April 3, 2012 – Leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN – are gathered in Phnom Penh for a two-day summit….The official agenda stresses talks on ASEAN’s goal of developing a European-style single market within the next three years. But several of the participants have acknowledged the leaders will not be able to avoid discussions on pressing security issues.

Eurosceptic’s warning on EU treaty – UK Press Association, April 3, 2012 – “The approach to this treaty provides further and ever more disturbing evidence of the European Union, in the context of increasingly coercive attitudes by Germany and France and the European establishment in pursuit of further and deeper political and legal integration, dangerously ignoring its own precepts for political ends.

Obama Hosts Calderon, Harper to Boost N. American Economy

Bloomberg, April 2, 2012 – The top leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico hold a trilateral North American Leaders’ Summit at the White House today to thrash out conflicts in energy and regulations to boost economic competitiveness and increase jobs….The summit may yield more progress on two separate studies aimed at harmonizing border-crossing issues that hamper the movement of commerce, analysts said….The fastest way “to create jobs and double exports is for the three governments to work together on continental plans for transportation, education and infrastructure” [Robert] Pastor wrote in the Miami Herald on Nov. 15.

Analysis: Complex, divided EU gets philosophical about its future – Reuters, April 2, 2012 – As the euro zone debt crisis forces the currency area to integrate more closely to survive, those outside the bloc but in the European Union are worried that they will be left as junior partners…
Conundrum for Europe: Fair Versus Free Trade – New York Times, April 2, 2012 (Google link) – Under pressure from the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, the European Commission adopted proposals March 21 that could shut foreign companies out of the bidding for public contracts in the European Union unless their home countries provided similar access to European companies.

UNASUR to Support Argentina at the UN – Prensa Latina, April 1, 2012 – Growing international support to Argentina’s sovereignty claims on the Malvinas Islands will be confirmed Monday at the United Nations through Union of South American Nations (Unasur) Chairman Maria Enma Mejia talks to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

ASEAN, EU stress importance of regional partnership – Jakarta Post, April 2, 2012 – The second joint business summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) kicked off in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Sunday, with both organizations underlining the importance of continuing their strategic economic partnership. ASEAN countries will not side US or China: ESM Goh – Today (Singapore), April 2, 2012 – ASEAN countries will not take sides with either the US or China, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on Monday….”But we welcome more players into the region,” Mr Goh added.

Vladimir Putin looks to reprise his role on world stage – London Telegraph, April 2, 12012 – What Moscow does want is to preserve its political influence in the post-Soviet territory and it is now making plans to form a Eurasian Union based on shared economic interests.

The Return of Baghdad, and the New Arab Order

– Al-Arabiya News (Dubai), April 1, 2012 – It is no longer possible for the institution of the Arab Summit and the Arab League to adapt to the developments of the Arab Spring, which the Baghdad declaration was obliged to praise, unless we accept that a new regional order will arise as a result of the changes in these countries.

US Committed to Gulf Security – Voice of America, April 1, 2012 – Speaking Saturday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, at the launch of a “strategic forum” between Washington and the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, Clinton said America’s commitment to the bloc is “rock solid and unwavering.” The top U.S. diplomat called for improved maritime strategies between the United States and council members, as well as for a coordinated missile defense system for the GCC, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

India, Pakistan to start discussions on import duties cut – Pakistan Daily Times, April 1, 2012 – India and Pakistan will soon begin discussions on a preferential trading arrangement to lower import duties on an array of goods. The talks will be held under ambit of South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) signed eight years ago between member states of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a senior Indian official said on Saturday.

Mali: Ecowas Moves Against Military Junta – AllAfrica, April 1, 2012 – The Authorities of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have asked member states with common boundaries with Mali to close their borders and seaports if the Malian coup leaders refused to restore constitutional order in the country.

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