Atlantic Update 4/20/11


As France and Italy join Britain in sending advisers into Libya, Hungary strikes back at Berlin responding to criticisms over its new constitution. The Economist explores the U.S.-Russian reset while Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin outlines an ambitious blueprint for Russia (and perhaps a platform for a Presidential bid). And the European Union asks for a bigger budget and calls for more centralized economic decision making.


Germany’s Greens Divided in the Face of Responsibility (Spiegel)

For the first time in its history, Germany’s Green Party is preparing to lead a state government. But far from basking in the glow of success, deep divides between party conservatives and ideological leftists are bubbling to the surface. Is the party ready for major political responsibility?

France and Italy Will Also Send Advisers to Libya Rebels (International Herald Tribune)

The French and Italian governments said Wednesday that they would join Britain in sending a small number of military liaison officers to support the ragtag rebel army in Libya, offering a diplomatic boost for the insurgent leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, as he met with President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

Budapest: ‘German interference in Hungarian domestic affairs unacceptable’ (EUobserver)

The Hungarian foreign ministry has denounced Germany’s criticism of its new constitution as an "unacceptable" interference in domestic affairs and warned Berlin to steer away from such "shocking" statements in the future. "The comments made by minister of state Hoyer basically evaluated Hungarian domestic political processes," Zsolt Nemeth, the German minister’s counterpart said on Thursday.

Putin outlines blueprint for stronger Russia (RIA Novosti)

Russia needs to be strong and avoid experiments with "unjustified liberalism" in order to safeguard its sovereignty and prevent outsiders from dictating the country’s development, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday.

In an annual address to parliament – his last as prime minister before legislative elections later this year and presidential elections early next year – Putin painted a glowing picture of his government’s performance in 2010, stressing achievements ranging from economic growth to new infrastructure and social development.

Resetting the stage (The Economist)

An assessment of America’s “reset” with Russia suggests that it was a modest policy that has produced modest achievements. Both countries consider it a qualified success so far. Two years ago the relationship was in tatters. George Bush’s gazing into the eyes of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s former (and possibly future) president, had ended in the August 2008 war with Georgia that was seen in Moscow as a proxy fight with America. The main advantage of Mr Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, in seeking to reset relations with Mr Putin’s successor, Dmitry Medvedev, was that they could hardly get any worse. The aim of the reset was not to change Russia, still less to embrace it, but rather to restore detente in pursuit of America’s national interest. And this modest goal has been largely achieved. 

Georgia Annuls Russian Military Transit Agreement (Defense News)

Parliament in ex-Soviet Georgia voted April 19 to annul an agreement which allowed Moscow to transport military equipment across the country to a base in neighboring Armenia.

The agreement was signed before war broke out between Georgia and Russia in 2008, and officials in Tbilisi said it was no longer appropriate after what they described as Moscow’s "aggression" against their country.

Belarus economy appears to unravel in wake of terror attack, crackdown (CS Monitor)

A week after a powerful bomb killed 13 people in a Minsk subway station, and President Alexander Lukashenko warned of stiff punishment for anyone who spreads "panic," Belarus’s state-guided economy appears to be unraveling. Now, worried Belarussians are emptying shop shelves of durable goods and line up outside banks in hopes of converting their rubles into dollars or euros.

EU Commission wants budget raised by nearly 5% (BBC News)

The European Union’s executive arm has asked for a significant increase in the annual EU budget – risking a new row with member states. The European Commission asked for a 4.9% rise – well above EU inflation, which is about 3%.

A divided EU Parliament tightens measures to centralise economic decisions (EUobserver)

MEPs have toughened up the provisions in a package of six laws that centralise economic decision-making in the EU, delivering more powers for oversight of national fiscal policies to the European Commission. In a four-hour, at times heated meeting of the powerful economics committee of the European Parliament, deputies waded their way through a full 2000 amendments proposed to the package of bills, dubbed the ‘six pack’ by EU officials. A number of key votes passed with majorities slimmer than the house is used to.

Ciao to nuclear power (Corriere della Sera)

"Government abandons nuclear energy," headlines Corriere della Sera. In a surprising move, the government has cancelled plans for the construction of new nuclear power stations, citing the need "for more scientific proof." The opposition and commentators like Corriere’s Sergio Rizzo have been quick to suggest another reason for this decision: the desire to avoid holding a referendum, originally scheduled for 12 and 13 June, which could have resulted in the abrogation of the law on nuclear power. Recent polls have highlighted the emotional impact of the Fukushima accident, which could have boosted support for the anti-nuclear front, leading to an embarrassing defeat for the government in the run-up to crucial local elections.(Full Text in Italian)

Protest days (The Economist)

Both Serbs and Croats seem angry. On Saturday Serbs, egged on by the opposition leader, Tomislav Nikolić, marched in Belgrade to demand new elections. Meanwhile Croats took to the streets in Zagreb to protest against the conviction of two generals by the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. The causes may look different—but beneath the surface the underlying grievances are similar.


Towards transnational Euro-elections (De Morgen)

“Even if there is a long road ahead, it is a good idea,” writes Yves Desmet in De Morgen. The editorialist remarks that “Europe is increasingly an economic and monetary project with no greater ambition than the rationalisation of national budgets. Beyond that, there is hardly anything resembling a political or moral project.” He goes on to warn against the populist nationalism that has emerged in many member states, which “is almost exclusively based on fear of others and selfishness”. “A European constituency will not be a cure-all, but at least it will give politicians a chance to seek the backing of voters for a large-scale European project in which they still believe. Then and only then will politicians have a political space in which they can communicate their message that globalisation and internationalisation do not only represent a threat but also an opportunity.” (Full Text in Dutch)

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