Atlantic Update 06/02/11


Europe considers imposing trade and arm bans on Yemen if President Saleh refuses to step down, and reacts to the arrest and extradition of Ratko Mladic. The European Central Bank tackles EU’s economic issues.


Tadic revives Serbia’s hopes for EU entry (European Voice)

Many uncertainties surround the arrest last week (26 May) of Ratko Mladic, the wartime commander of Bosnian Serb forces who had evaded international justice for 16 years. Was the arrest staged to conceal some kind of deal under which Mladic surrendered? Were Mladic’s whereabouts known to the Serbian authorities all along, his arrest timed to blunt the impact of a negative report on Serbia’s co-operation with a United Nations tribunal? Who exactly protected the former general, and why did that protection cease? But one thing is certain: the Serbian government now expects a reward from the European Union. Božidar Djelic, a deputy prime minister of Serbia, said on Monday (30 May) that the government’s aspiration is that the summit of member states’ leaders in December will grant Serbia the status of a EU candidate and fix a date – “hopefully in the spring of 2012” – for starting negotiations. “Today, we cleared our name and the name of all Serbs,” said Boris Tadic, Serbia’s president, announcing the arrest. 

Mladic extradition ‘not enough for Balkan reconciliation’ (EUobserver)

The EU on Tuesday (31 May) welcomed the extradition to the Hague of Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. But a Croatian author, Slavenka Drakulic, says this move is not enough to achieve reconciliation in the Western Balkans. Her books explore the monsters we could all become one day if faced with the power to shoot, rape or simply keep silent, out of fear, when atrocities are committed. The war criminals on trial in the Hague, now joined by the "butcher of Bosnia", Ratko Mladic, are all people like you and I, Drakulic says.

EU considering Yemen sanctions as Arab diplomacy falters (EUobserver) 

Syria-type EU arms trade and visa bans are looking ever more likely to be imposed on Yemen as fellow Arab countries struggle to resolve the crisis.

EU foreign relations spokeswoman Maja Kocjancic told EUobserver on Tuesday (31 May) that the Union is still waiting to see if Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries manage to push through a deal for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in return for legal immunity for killings.  

German soldier killed, NATO general wounded in Afghanistan attack (Deutsche Welle)

Afghan officials said on Sunday that an investigation was underway into the suicide attack, which killed seven people, including two German soldiers and two senior Afghan police commanders.German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere confirmed that the two German soldiers were killed in a suicide attack in the northern Afghan city of Taloqan on Saturday.Five more German soldiers were injured, including General Markus Kneip, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for northern Afghanistan. Kneip was the most senior NATO official to have been injured in a Taliban assault since international forces were deployed to the country nearly 10 years ago.

EU welcomes transfer of Mladic to UN war crimes court (Deutsche Welle)

European Union foreign policy head Catherine Ashton has hailed the transfer of former Bosnian Serb army chief Ratko Mladic to a UN court as a key moment for international justice."I welcome the transfer of Ratko Mladic to the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague," Ashton said in a statement. "This is an important moment for reconciliation in the region and for international justice."

Mladic was flown out of Serbia on Tuesday and remanded in custody at the ICTY in The Hague to await trail on charges of genocide and war crimes for his role in the 1990s Bosnian war. Mladic has been on the run for almost 16 years.

Russia extends scrapping of chemical weapons until 2016 (Ria Novosti)

Russia has extended the deadline for complete destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal until December 31, 2015, a senior Russian lawmaker said on Thursday. The country has so far destroyed a half of its chemical weapons stockpile (20,000 metric tons out of 40,000) and was under an obligation to complete the program by May 2012.

"The implementation of the program has been hampered by the global financial crisis, which threw it back two to three years," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. Kosachev added that Russia would not face international sanctions for the delay in the implementation of the program because it is not the only country that will not be able to meet the deadline.

A Yerevan Spring? Armenian Government, Opposition Moves Towards Reconciliation (Radio Free Europe)

What is happening in Armenia these days is what opposition parties in most former Soviet republics dare not even dream about. On May 31, the country’s most prominent opposition leader, Levon Ter-Petrossian, told a crowd of tens of thousands of supporters in Yerevan’s main Liberty Square that the government had conceded to the opposition’s pre-conditions for talks.

Those pre-conditions read like a laundry list of what embattled opposition movements usually never get. They include the release of all jailed political opponents of the government, the right to hold protests in the capital’s main square, a new investigation into the deaths of protesters who challenged the country’s last presidential election as rigged.

Tensions Worsen Between Berlin and European Central Bank (Der Spiegel)

It wasn’t all that long ago that Europe’s top monetary policy experts and the leader of the European Union’s most important member state were politely exchanging compliments. Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel for having made Germany into an "example for all of its neighbors." Merkel, for her part, thanked the Frenchman for his decidedly "successful actions."

A few years and a crisis later, the relationship has cooled off considerably. Merkel feels that the Frankfurt-based monetary watchdogs are pressuring her inappropriately, while Trichet and his fellow bankers have taken to characterizing the Berlin government’s proposals as "incorrect," "illusory" or simply as a "catastrophe."

Today, members of the German government and the ECB seem to have trouble spending time in the same room together. At a recent meeting of finance ministers in Luxembourg, Trichet stormed out of the room after being confronted with yet another crisis plan from Germany that he didn’t like.

‘There Is a Certain Aid Fatigue in Northern Europe’ (Der Spiegel)

Many in Europe assume that Greece will ultimately have to default on a portion of its debt. In an interview with SPIEGEL, European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, however, insists that debt restructuring is not on the agenda. He also discusses reports that Athens is considering a return to the drachma.

Union: money for democracy (Gazeta Wyborcza )

"More money from the European Union for more reforms towards democracy" – is the ultimate principle of the reform of the Neighbourhood Policy, which presented yesterday the head of EU diplomacy Catherine Ashton.

Skeptics point out that "it was already", but both Brussels and EU member states shall ensure that the principle of strict dependence now support the political reforms will be taken very seriously. This reaction to the Arab spring in North Africa, which toppled the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt remain on good terms with Europe. The latter stability over democracy submit to the southern borders.

We must seize the historic opportunity that came up in the South, along with changes in the Arab world. I do not think that most North Africans wanted to get on boats and sail to Europe. Want to develop their own countries and in this we must help them – to persuade Ashton.

The European Commission has promised to spend on neighborhood policy additional 1.2 billion by 2013, the next few billion of loans should sail, which already agreed to the EU countries, the European Investment Bank. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has increased investment in North Africa and the Middle East to reach the ceiling of 2.5 billion euros in 2013. (Full Text in Polish)

Trichet proposes EU finance ministry (European Voice)

Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, has floated several controversial ideas for strengthening economic governance in the eurozone, including an economic ministry for the European Union. He suggested that where a eurozone country that was receiving financial assistance from its partners failed to comply with the conditions attached to that assistance, then the eurozone authorities should have “a much deeper and authoritative say in the formation of the country’s economic policies if these go harmfully astray”. Such powers of intervention would, he suggested, be “well over and above the reinforced surveillance that is presently envisaged”. A balance had to be struck, he said, between a country’s independence and the interdependence of countries’ actions.


The IMF: Time for a change (The Economist)

Officially, the search for a new head of the IMF, to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who awaits trial on charges of sexual assault, has barely begun. The fund’s member governments have until June 10th to propose candidates, after which a shortlist will be drawn up. But in practice the race seems all but over. That is because European countries, which hold over a third of the votes on the IMF’s board, have rallied around a single contender: France’s finance minister, Christine Lagarde. How is the rest of the emerging economies reacting to this candidate? And is it possible that the new head of the IMF not originate from the Euro-zone?


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