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Thread: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

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    Default Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    RUSSIA AND GERMANY RESTART THEIR SPECIAL PARTNERSHIP
    By Pavel K. Baev
    Monday, October 6, 2008

    The two-headed Russian leadership is seeking to demonstrate that the “issues” in their relations with key European countries caused by the Georgian “episode” have come to an end in less than a month. Precisely that was achieved in the Russian-German summit in St. Petersburg last week where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and German Chancellor Angela Merkel presided over several wide-ranging meetings of key ministers and business leaders (Rossiiskaya gazeta, RBC Daily, October 3). The leaders felt obliged to discuss the post-war settlement and confirmed that “differences on this issue have not all been settled yet,” and Merkel insisted that “Georgia’s territorial integrity is not open to discussion.” Medvedev also saw no point in such discussions and was ready to leave those to other forums, such as the Council of Europe, where parliamentarians had a two-day-long shouting match last week resulting, predictably, in a hollow resolution (Kommersant, October 3).

    Merkel knew perfectly well that with the German economy sliding into recession, business interests had to have precedence above everything else, so she uttered one phrase that removed most political obstacles to trade and investment—the “time was not ripe” for granting Georgia and Ukraine Membership Action Plans (MAP) for joining NATO. The confirmation that at the December NATO Ministerial meeting Germany would remain opposed to approving the two MAPs was duly issued, and a whole range of business deals made great progress. The central agreement involved the German energy giant E.ON, which after four years of negotiations acquired a 25 percent share in the Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field. The deal is quite profitable for Gazprom, which has bought back 1.44 percent of its shares (currently worth some $ 2.5 billion, down by half from three months ago), but it would perhaps have preferred to receive some assets in Europe (Vedomosti, October 3). The recent arrangement in Italy giving Gazprom direct access to Italian consumers fits better into its strategy of expanding control over European distribution networks (Kommersant, September 29).

    For Medvedev and Putin (who was noticeably absent from the St. Petersburg bonding), achieving a breakthrough on the European front was imperative, since they are concerned that the wave of “patriotic” mobilization triggered by the five-day war could carry them too far toward a confrontation with the West (Vedomosti, September 24). Fostering a pre-emptive détente in this quasi-Cold War, Medvedev is recycling his initiative on a new pan-European security pact; but neither Merkel nor Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, who also paid a visit to St. Petersburg, showed any interest. The lull in security cooperation affects many business interests, and the Moscow stock market has experienced a near-catastrophic “correction.” Putin’s $50 billion rescue package has failed to check this trend, and last Friday the key indices recorded a new 7 percent fall (www.gazeta.ru, Kommersant, October 3). Seeking to encourage a return of European investors, Medvedev resumed his trademark campaign against corruption and held a meeting with Viktor Vekselberg, the oligarch who initiated a bitter conflict in the TNK-BP oil company, in order to announce the end of this high-profile quarrel.

    More carefully orchestrated good news could be in the making, including Gazprom’s possible acquisition of a 20 percent stake in the Spanish oil company Repsol, but the topic that Medvedev tries to exploit to the maximum effect is Russia’s financial solvency (www.gazeta.ru, October 3). He emphasizes again and again that the point of origin of the devastating crisis was not the now-proverbial sub-prime mortgages but the disarray in the U.S. budget, and he points out that Russia has free reserves to shore up its partners in need. Illuminating this proposition, some Russian experts argue that Sberbank should have made a bid for Lehman Brothers before that respectable bank collapsed but that new opportunities will certainly emerge (Expert, September 29). What follows logically is the conclusion that the EU and Russia should take more responsibility for managing global finances underpinned by Russian contributions to financial institutions in select European states. Germany remains opposed to setting a common EU fund for rescuing troubled banks, as Merkel told French President Sarkozy who held an emergency summit in Paris over the weekend; and that is fine with Russia, which prefers to deal with its key European allies and not with the EU bureaucracy.

    The Europeans are aware that the source of Russia’s wealth is their payments for energy resources, which are still rising as Gazprom’s export price for gas reached an astonishing $500 per 1,000 cubic meters (Kommersant, October 2). By mid-2009 it is certain to drop to $350 followed by a lag in the trajectory of oil prices, but the crucial moment is now; and for the EU there is no alternative to grasping every business opportunity in Russia. There is nevertheless much unease in Europe about a partnership with Putin’s Russia, since Medvedev’s “business-friendly” policy has retrogressed until it is barely discernible. The country’s political development over the last 15 years, from the tanks in the streets of Moscow in October 1993 to the tanks on the outskirts of Tbilisi in August 2008, shows a consistent propensity for relying on military force as the ultimate political argument.

    The unwelcome political reality of deepening European dependency upon Russia is somewhat similar to the American asymmetric and unbalanced economic relations with China, which is the main holder of U.S. state debt, although mutual trust is very weak and political compatibility nonexistent. In both Moscow and Beijing the current analyses of the political options available to the West in mitigating the unfolding economic disaster actually encourages their self-assertive and resolutely anti-democratic behavior. The multi-polar world that Medvedev is propagating with the approving nods of Chinese comrades could, however, turn out to be far more brutally competitive and violent than Russia is able to handle (Nezavisimaya gazeta, September 16). The easy victory over Georgia has propelled Russia toward a dangerous trap of self-aggrandizement, and the renewed dialogues with the Europeans create an impression that the price for revisionism is symbolic. Medvedev would perhaps prefer the next step to be a business takeover, but tanks still hold sway.

    http://jamestown.org/edm/article.php?article_id=2373424

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    German Pre-emption

    Merkel says 'nyet' to Georgia in NATO.

    Updated Oct. 8, 2008 12:01 a.m. ET

    NATO is having a bad year, and Angela Merkel is making sure it'll stay that way.

    The German Chancellor hasn't learned that appeasing Vladimir Putin's Russia carries a price. On Thursday, she let drop that Georgia and Ukraine won't be considered for the "Membership Action Plan" (or MAP) that would help them prepare for possible accession to the alliance. The MAP is usually a decade long and membership is not guaratneed. Ms. Merkel also made her announcement in St. Petersburg, no less, the hometown of Mr. Putin and his Tonto, President Dmitry Medvedev. She was there to midwife an energy deal with Gazprom.

    Her hosts were doubtless pleased, but NATO's 25 other members should be steamed by the German pre-emptive strike. At the alliance's April summit in Bucharest, Germany (backed by France) vetoed an American-led push to bring Ukraine and Georgia into MAP. The concession prize was a promised review of that decision in December. Now Ms. Merkel has ruled that out, before the alliance even had a chance to consider the matter, saying that the year-end ministerial would be only "an initial evaluation on the road to MAP." That's not how others understood the April deal.

    As it was, the Bucharest cave-in set the stage for Russia's invasion of Georgia in August. Mr. Putin read the West's weakness correctly and pushed into Georgia to ensure NATO would be scared away from embracing that young democracy. By the signs from St. Petersburg, he has achieved that goal.

    Meantime, Mr. Putin is pressing Ukraine, an independent nation of 48 million people, into its "sphere of influence." Just as Ms. Merkel was sounding conciliatory, the Russian Prime Minister issued a not-so-veiled threat against Kiev, accusing Ukraine of arming its Georgian friends.

    With a German election looming, Ms. Merkel strikes a profile in lack of courage in foreign affairs. Her Russian outreach comes as Germany continues to refuse to take greater military risks in NATO's struggling Afghan mission. The German contingent, the second largest in Afghanistan, is barred from leaving the safe north of the country. That complicates the job of NATO commanders who can't deploy alliance troops as needed. It also means a few allies -- such as the U.S., Canada and U.K. -- shoulder a disproportionate share of the risk. That's not good for alliance solidarity in a year that has been the bloodiest for NATO since the fall of the Taliban.

    Back in August, Ms. Merkel said Georgia "will join NATO" one day. But Germany's policies call into question whether there will be a NATO worth joining, or whether either Georgia or Ukraine will be free to make that choice.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1223...googlenews_wsj

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Germany on Russia: Forgive and Forget

    The two economies are too closely intertwined to be endangered over something like Georgia

    by Jack Ewing

    FRANKFURT, Germany—
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel isn't known as a great fan of Russia's government, but her tone was remarkably mild when she met President Dmitry Medvedev in St. Petersburg on Oct. 2. She called Russia's incursion into Georgia in August "not appropriate," but otherwise avoided the subject and even enjoyed a lengthy dinner with Medvedev aboard a restaurant ship on the Neva River.

    The swift return to cordial relations was recognition of just how intertwined the German and Russian economies have become. Manufacturing everything from luxury autos to machinery to food, some 4,600 German companies are active in Russia and 70,000 German jobs depend on business with the country. Germany is also Russia's largest trading partner, with $45 billion in two-way trade during the first six months of this year. Little wonder that the 25 German businesspeople who joined Merkel in St. Petersburg seemed anxious to forgive the events in Georgia and get back to doing deals with Russian partners. The biggest deal: an agreement allowing energy supplier E.ON (EONGn.DE) to acquire 25% of a huge Siberian natural gas field owned by state-controlled Gazprom (GAZP.RTS). The Düsseldorf-based utility traded control of a 3% stake in Gazprom valued at $5.4 billion, ending years of stalemated negotiations.

    Strong German Business Lobby
    Merkel's rhetoric on Russia is generally harsher than that of her Social Democratic predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, a pal of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who now works for Gazprom. But Germany's business lobby makes sure that Merkel never forgets how much their companies depend on the former Soviet state. "Whatever we can do to advise our government, we are doing," says Klaus Mangold, a former Daimler (DAI) executive who leads the East European committee of the German Federation of Industries. In fact, Merkel rarely says anything that would damage German-Russian economic ties. "The economic cooperation is advantageous for both sides," she told an audience that included Medvedev in St. Petersburg. Russia is also a crucial energy supplier: Germany buys 36% of its gas and 32% of its oil from the country.

    As trade with Europe and the U.S. has flattened, exploding Russian demand has helped insulate Germany from global economic turmoil. Russian trade is particularly important for sectors such as the German machinery industry, which has boosted exports to Russia fivefold since 2000, to $8.8 billion last year. In the first seven months of 2008, machinery sales to Russia hit $6.4 billion, a 29% increase vs. the same period a year earlier. By contrast, machinery exports to the U.S.—which has a much larger economy than Russia—were stagnant at $9.9 billion in the first seven months. "Russia has more than made up for the U.S.," says Ralph Wiechers, chief economist for the German Engineering Federation.

    A Change in Pace
    So far, German businesspeople say, growth in business from Russia seems to be cooling but remains high. "It isn't yet exhausted, but it won't continue at the same pace," says Andreas Hartleif, CEO of VEKA, a German maker of plastic window and sliding door frames that has factories in Moscow and Novosibirsk. Not all German exporters are so laid back. Russia is important for German carmakers trying to make up for slower U.S. sales, which the weak dollar has hammered. Not only are Russia's nouveau riche keen to get behind the wheel of a Mercedes or a Porsche (PSHG_p.DE), but they are willing to pay for costly options. Daimler cited Russia as one reason its Mercedes car division eked out a 1% increase in operating profit in the second quarter. Says BMW (BMWG.DE) brand chief Friedrich Eichiner: "We sell 10 times as many cars in the U.S., but Russia is very profitable."

    Even though Russia accounts for only about 3% of German exports, for many companies it is one of the few growth markets left. Says Gerd Hassel, economist at BHF-Bank in Frankfurt: "An economic slowdown in Russia would be very decisive for the German economy."

    http://www.businessweek.com/magazine...4000670377.htm

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    The Monster at the Bottom of the Abyss

    by J. R. Nyquist

    Weekly Column Published: 10.10.2008

    Print IIn an October 6 article titled The German Question, STRATFOR’s George Friedman poured a pitcher of cold logic on America’s plan for NATO’s future. It appears that Germany is determined to block NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. The long-term implications of this decision are stunning. “Since NATO operates on the basis of consensus,” wrote Friedman, “any member nation can effectively block any candidate from NATO membership.” The Russian invasion of Georgia has forced Germany into this position. The conflict in Georgia has forced the Germans to clarify their geopolitical thinking. What we see now, quite clearly, is Germany turning away from NATO. They can call it whatever they like. They are thinking as Germans. Russia’s thrust into Georgia was a masterstroke because it successfully redirected Germany’s political sensibility from a NATO-centered view to a German-centered view. In Europe there is one question that stands above all others, and the Germans must give the answer. Either Europe will confront Russia in a new Cold War, or Europe will become Russia’s partner. According to Friedman’s logic, Germany has already decided on partnership with Russia.

    Imagine a partnership between Russia and Germany. The Russians supply the military muscle, the natural resources, and cheap labor. The Germans supply the technology, the money, and European finesse. Friedman says that Germany’s energy situation is “desperate,” and that German leaders are merely looking after their country’s national interest. It is important to remember, however, that Germany sees a carrot as well as a stick. The German leaders are not merely avoiding pain. They are tempted by a Russian partnership, especially as global financial structures are imploding.

    As Friedman points out, Germany’s “political problem” is its geographical position in the center of Europe. Does Germany face east or west? Does Germany align itself with Russia or the Anglo-Americans and the French?
    But surely the German’s understand that their destiny lies with the West! Such a conclusion, however, may be sensible to someone viewing affairs from a distance. It is not immediately sensible to the German leadership, tempted as they are by the prospect of a vital “reforming” role in Europe.

    The European Union is not functioning properly and the Euro may be headed for the ashcan of history. The NATO system, dominated so long by America, is increasingly inconvenient from the German point of view. It may, in fact, be a harebrained scheme to partner with the Kremlin – which prefers Asiatic methods. But such a partnership appeals to German vanity as well as to Germany’s practical sense. The Russians value the Germans. The Russians whisper sweet nothings into Germany’s ear. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is a fluent German speaker who even possesses German traits, sympathizes with German thinking, and thereby flatters German feeling. It is a complex case of seduction.

    How do the Germans feel, deep down, about Russia’s intentions toward Georgia and Ukraine? The Germans are ready to think in terms of their own national interest. They are tempted to disregard NATO. Perhaps they are sick of being NATO’s prisoner. After all, Germany was defeated in World War II and became trapped in the Cold War between Russia and America. This is not a situation that bears repeating. Conflict between Russia and NATO is not in Germany’s national interest. Friendship with Russia holds promise – even if the promise is a false one.

    France and Britain are willing to challenge Russia’s new aggressive stance. Germany doesn’t want this at all. The United States seeks to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. Germany doesn’t want this at all. There is a serious rift in NATO. Will the Germans find a way out of NATO? Conventional wisdom supposes that this is unthinkable. Everyone knows Russia is dangerous. Partnering with Russia is like playing with fire. Sooner or later Germany is going to get burned. At the same time, however, recent events in Georgia have educated the Germans. Suddenly Germany is confronted with an unpleasant choice.

    “NATO,” noted Friedman, “as an institution built to resist the Russians, is in an advanced state of decay. To resurrect it, the Germans would have to pay a steep economic price.” Quite clearly, the Germans have already decided to abandon NATO’s mission in pursuit of their own short-term economic interest. Where this will lead in the long-run is obvious. One day Russia and Germany will come to blows, and America isn’t going to be around to help Germany. Perhaps the financial crash on Wall Street has underscored the future irrelevance of America for Germany. America is collapsing, after all.

    NATO is therefore in trouble. It may not exist much longer. The Russian’s are shrewd in playing their diplomatic, economic and military cards. Luring the German’s into partnership opens the way to NATO’s destruction by diplomatic means. “NATO has no real military power to project to the east,” wrote Friedman, “and none can be created without a major German effort, which is not forthcoming.” The logic of Friedman’s analysis cannot be disputed. The Kremlin looks at the collapse on Wall Street and sees an opportunity. During an October 2 joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said, “One of the complicated issues we discussed was the financial crisis. We have realized once again that the current global financial security system, like the international security system, doesn’t satisfy present needs. The flaws in the economic … model pursued by the United States of America … are serious, and we are paying for this today.” In a speech before the Russian-German Public Forum, the Russian president translated today’s financial crisis into geopolitical language. “What have recent events shown?” he asked. “They have demonstrated that the time in which one economy and one currency dominated the globe is irretrievably gone. And we need collective solutions to resolve the financial crisis brought on by financial selfishness….” In other words, let the Americans suffer their fate. Europe is face-to-face with Russia now. Does Europe want to oppose Russia on its own? The Russians are forcing Germany to make a decision. “It is possible that today some people would like to go back to the primitive division of the world into ours and theirs, right and wrong, but in Russia we are convinced that this time is irretrievably gone. It is impossible to revive the Berlin Wall, just as it is impossible to return to the Cold War – there is no reason to do so.”

    President Medvedev is winking at the Germans. You know what to do, he says to them. You don’t want to fight us. You need us. The wickedness of the KGB cabal in Moscow is not the issue. One must look “beyond good and evil,” to the hard realities of the situation. Does Germany want to feel the chill of winter, without the benefits of Russian oil or Russian natural gas? This is not a sensible position, and Germany knows which way to turn.

    NATO is finished and America is going to collapse. Therefore Europe needs a new “security architecture.” In other words, Europe now belongs to Russia and the Germans should cut a deal while the Russians are in a generous mood. If the French Prime Minister says that the world stands on the “edge of the abyss,” the monster at the bottom of the abyss is Russia.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    The New Ostpolitik
    America's German problem
    by Melana K. Zyla
    02/16/2009, Volume 014, Issue 21



    No sooner had Russia turned off the gas flowing through Ukrainian pipelines in the first days of the new year, sending tens of thousands of Europeans into a deep freeze, than German economy minister Michael Glos pointed out that "if we already had the Nord Stream pipeline," which would bypass Ukraine, flowing from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, "then we in Germany, at least, would be a little more reassured."

    The official desire to replace the current Russia-Ukraine pipeline with a Russia-Germany pipeline says a great deal about how Germany sees the gas dispute, and other global issues as well: Get the small fry--Balts, Poles, Ukrainians, and other former Russian suzerainties--out of the way and let Moscow and Berlin restore some Ordnung to things. In the January crisis, Russia cut off gas heading west to Ukrainian pipelines after Ukraine and Russia disagreed over what penalty Ukraine owes Russia for disputed late payment fees, and what the price of the gas should be now that global prices have fallen.

    Glos's comment underscores to what degree Berlin has entered a new era of shared interests with Moscow and divergence from Washington. Incoming administration officials would be wise to recognize that on issues ranging from the gas dispute to Eastern Europe to Afghanistan and Iran, the Germany of today is not the partner the United States once had.

    President Bush learned that lesson the hard way. His administration at first hailed Germany's Christian Democratic Union chancellor, Angela Merkel, as a foreign-policy soulmate, akin to France's Nicolas Sarkozy. But on issue after issue, she fell short of expectations.

    Consider Bush's efforts to expand NATO. In the run-up to a NATO foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels in early December, Merkel publicly torpedoed Ukraine and Georgia's chances to proceed towards membership. Her government did the same last spring, ahead of the Bucharest NATO meeting. Both times, news of Germany's opposition coincided with Merkel's visits with Russian leaders, who vociferously oppose Ukraine and Georgia's inclusion in NATO.

    Russia's influence "is unfortunate because all of us have said no third party gets a veto" in NATO matters, says Daniel Fata, deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy during Bush's second term. As for Afghanistan, Germany in October announced the withdrawal of its only combat troops there--some 100 special operations soldiers. It plans to expand only its NATO peacekeeping force, to 4,500, and thereby add to the risk of creating what Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called a "two-tier alliance," in which only the United States and a few other NATO countries do the fighting. Germany's own soldiers don't think much of their restricted, noncombat missions, with Ger-many's top special operations general, Hans-Christoph Ammon, calling his country's training of an Afghan police force a "miserable failure" and adding that at Germany's current rate of effort and financing, "it would take 82 years to have a properly trained Afghan police force." Indeed, the United States has had to take over Germany's police-training mission.

    Merkel supporters try to explain her weakness as a result of her sharing power with the left-leaning Social Democratic party. Yet Labour-led Britain has 8,050 troops in Afghanistan, many of them in combat roles.

    Which raises the question: With German conservatives like these, who needs Socialist pacifists? In 2006, after a newly elected Merkel gave a tough speech on making the trans-Atlantic relationship her priority, "we had hoped that we would see a big change" from the anti-American politics of the outgoing Social Democratic chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, says Fata. Instead, "there was a lot of disappointment on our side."

    And there's the prospect of more disappointment to come. Merkel is now in an election year in which she will face off against Frank-Walter Steinmeier, her foreign minister and vice-chancellor from the Social Democratic party. Until the September vote, she's likely to channel Steinmeier's views, particularly the pro-Moscow ones. That's because she wants "to avoid having Russia [be] a topic of the election campaign," says Joerg Himmelreich, transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

    German voters don't like Vladimir Putin, says Himmelreich, a former policy-planning staffer at the German foreign ministry and banker in Moscow. But as Fata puts it, "Germany and Russia are always going to have a special relationship," not least because of Germany's dependency on Russian energy and large amounts of trade with Russia.

    Of course, Germany's Christian Democrats often showed great solidarity with Washington, even in the face of solicitousness from Moscow, during the Cold War. But even if Merkel's party regains a majority in 2009, that tradition may be gone for good. For one thing, the party's base is German industry, which is now heavily invested in Russia and dependent on Russian gas. Germany gets one-third of its gas from Russia, and will be dependent on that source for years--even if it does develop alternatives. Moreover, German companies and the political class are heavily tied to the Nord Stream pipeline project, which is controlled by Russia's state-owned energy giant Gazprom.

    Indeed, gas is the leading means through which Moscow manipulates Berlin. Gazprom's gas cutoffs this January, like those in 2006, prompted Germans and other West Europeans to see Ukraine as an unstable partner that gets in the way of their economic needs: Cut Ukraine out of the relationship, and things will be golden is the message from Moscow.

    In Russia's gas politics with Germany, the most powerful connection of all is between Gazprom and former chancellor Schröder. He chairs the $16 billion Nord Stream project, which is 51 percent owned by Gazprom. Schröder's service to Gazprom may be the most disturbing illustration of Moscow's influence on German elites ("It has never happened in German history that a chancellor acts as an agent of a foreign company that doesn't always follow the interests of Germany," says Himmelreich), but it's hardly the only one. Himmelreich says Berlin's foreign policy think tanks are pressured by Moscow. Even the prestigious German Council on Foreign Relations, he says, has been pressed not to invite Putin critics or Russian opposition voices to its events.

    The head of the Council's Russia program, Alexander Rahr, confirmed that there have been occasions when "official Russia criticized us," but added, "we never adjusted our themes and seminars to their wishes."

    Beyond Russia, there's a gap between Germany's tough rhetoric and action on Iran as well. While Merkel and Steinmeier have been critical of Iran's nuclear ambitions and blocked Germany's biggest banks from doing business there, Germany's economic relations with Iran continue to grow. With annual trade between the two now over $7 billion, Germany is Iran's biggest EU trading partner.

    Berlin's interests now diverge from Washington's on several key issues. The new administration's best chance to lead on issues of concern to Europe will therefore be to play Europeans off each other the way Moscow does, Himmelreich says. For example, "German policy towards Russia will be considerably weakened if the United States succeeds in getting Sarkozy onboard for a new Russia policy." The United States should support energy transport routes for Europe that bypass Russia, such as those that tap Central Asian energy, and be wary of Gazprom's efforts to gain control of gas interests in North Africa, which remain an alternative source for Western Europe. Himmelreich says the United States should also push Europeans to improve their military capabilities.

    On NATO, the United States will need to continue to push to bring Georgia and Ukraine into the fold. Otherwise, Russia will control the issue, using Germany to represent its interests. How strongly Berlin will ultimately embrace Moscow isn't clear. But as the gas and NATO disputes show, the two are now more tightly linked than they have been in decades.

    Melana K. Zyla is a reporter in Washington.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Russia must be part of European security structures - Merkel



    15:00

    MUNICH, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russia must be included in European security structures, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday at the 45th Munich Conference on Security Policy.

    Merkel said it was in the general interest to involve Russia in Europe's future security structures, adding that attention should be paid to the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on discussing a new security set up for the continent.

    Relations with Russia play a key role in European security as Russia is a part of Europe, Merkel said.

    She added that the new NATO security approach should be all-encompassing.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Russia and America: The Struggle for Europe

    Thursday, 10 September 2009, 11:04 am
    Opinion: Reuben Steff

    Click to enlarge

    Bush greeting troops on the eve of the First Gulf War (Image: US Govt)

    A New Era; a New Order


    In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the successful ousting of Iraq from Kuwait in 1991, US President George Bush Sr. made a remarkable speech. He stated that a New World Order was emerging: "A world quite different from the one we’ve known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak.”

    Bush’s speech was as ambitious as it was sincere. But he was mistaken. His speech was predicated upon the assumption that America and its allies were standing at the end of history and would collectively face any new threat. Yet history tells us that victorious coalition’s never last as circumstances change, national interests reassert themselves and defeated enemies refuse to play their part. No order is permanent.

    With this in mind an important diplomatic meeting took place in Poland last week as 14 Central and East European leaders met for the 70th anniversary of the beginning of World War II. The presence of three of these leaders, Vladimir Putin of Russia, Angela Merkel of Germany and Donald Tusk of Poland was highly significant. Their changing relationships and the decisions they make in the next few years could transform the European order.

    This is particularly important as we witness a new strategic confrontation breaking out between the global hegemon, the United States of America and the successor-state to the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation.

    At the anniversary Vladimir Putin was continuing to reassert Russia on the global stage and trying to shape perceptions of modern Russia. Putin’s ability to reassert Russia has been possible due to high oil prices, the consolidation of control under Putin and the centralisation of key strategic sectors. Most importantly American military power has become bogged down in the Middle East opening up a ‘window of opportunity’ for Russia to act.

    During a conference in Munich in 2007 Putin chose his moment to denounce American unipolarity and begin the geopolitical resurgence of Russia. He had set the scene for this as far back as 2000 when he signalled he was open to conciliation with the United States but was preparing for confrontation if that failed.

    Russia’s resurgence has been designed to show the states of the former Soviet Union and parts of Europe that the balance of power has changed in the region and that Russia cannot be ignored on security matters. It has achieved this by using Russia’s massive energy resources to play energy politics and through the use of military power, most notably during its 2008 invasion of the pro-US state of Georgia.
    Ultimately, these efforts have been designed to force America to agree to a ‘Grand Bargain’ where Russia would be recognised as a ‘Great Power’ with an attendant ‘sphere of influence’ stretching across the former Soviet Union. In this bargain Georgia and Ukraine’s bids for NATO membership would be thrown out and missile defence installations not deployed in Poland. In exchange Russia would help in forcing Iran to come to the negotiating table and acquiesce to American global hegemony.

    Russia’s resurgence is not only a symptom of the changing balance power around its periphery but a response to a series of American moves: the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders; the ‘colour’ revolutions in the former Soviet Union; Western recognition of Kosovo’s independence; the American abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the subsequent decision to deploy missile defence installations in Poland and the Czech Republic which will have a ‘kinematic’ capability to intercept Russian missiles.

    Most strikingly, Russia fears that the missile defence system is a ‘Trojan horse’ through which America will eventually weaponise space. Furthermore, America has already shown its ability to use missile defence systems in an offensive manner.

    In-line with these efforts the American Department of Defence released an important document in 2000 called ‘Joint Vision 2020’ whereby it embraced the doctrine of ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’. This is to ensure the continued domination by American military forces over all domains of the earth – its oceans, land areas, airspace, cyberspace and outer space. This married to the policy of dissuasion which calls for American power to be sufficient to ‘dissuade’ any nation, or alliance of nations, from challenging its global dominance.

    Russia believes the above to be part of a concerted effort to strategically cripple it and ensure a unipolar world order. In response Russia has said it will have to deploy its own orbital weapons in space, is developing new missiles capable of evading missile defences and will target parts of Europe with nuclear missiles if America goes through with its plans.

    So far the Obama administration has been unwilling to enter into a deal with Putin. In response Putin is turning his attention to Europe, seeing an opportunity to change the political configuration of the region.
    With America distracted the rest of Europe – particularly Poland – is worried by the deepening relationship between Russia and Germany, who appear to be creating an economic and political partnership.

    Drifting Apart: America and Germany
    In recent years Germany and Russia have been growing closer. Initially this was put down to ‘personalities’ - that former German Premier Gerhard Schroeder’s warm relationship with Putin was due to their ‘common chemistry’ and that his decision to keep Germany out of the US-led invasion of Iraq was a symptom of his centre-left tendencies.

    With the election of the more conservative Angela Merkel in 2005 it was expected that Germany would revert to a pro-US stance and might even begin to distance itself from Putin’s increasingly authoritarian rule. Yet Merkel’s entrance upon the world stage has not resulted in a rehabilitation of the American-German relationship. Relations continue to sour as Merkel rejects US requests to increase Germany’s troop levels in Afghanistan and has significant differences over how to combat the world’s current economic problems.

    All of this is politically uncomfortable for Obama since one of the central planks of his presidential campaign was that he would repair European relations that suffered during the Bush administration.

    But there are other reasons for the continued drift.

    During the Cold War Germany was the only European state to be split between the two superpower alliances: the American-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. During this time both East and West Germany were almost entirely beholden to their superpower patrons and unable to have independent foreign or military policies.

    With the end of the Cold War Germany has slowly been finding its feat and is now the fourth largest global economy and the world’s leading exporter. Sitting at the heart of Europe and acting as its economic and industrial superpower Germany expects to be able to make its own foreign policy decisions and enter into strategic relationships independent of Washington’s interests.

    As such it is not prepared to stand on the front lines of a new Cold War between Russia and America. After all, it was expected that the first shots of WWIII would be fired over Berlin - so why would it choose to put itself in that position once again?

    Instead, Russian-German relations are improving as the process of ‘interconnecting’ their economies gathers pace.

    Russia and Germany’s Strategic Partnership
    The two European powerhouses are engaging in a sweeping series of new economic projects, strategic sectors are beginning ‘structural integration’ and Russian companies prepare to buy up major German companies. They have also agreed to jointly take over GM’s European empire while technology transfers will upgrade Russia’s massive railroad network. Energy co-operation is also expanding as Germany buys up Russian gas fields and a new major pipeline will take gas from Russia directly to Germany.

    These deals are evidence of a burgeoning relationship between Moscow and Berlin which is resulting in a new political alignment.

    For a start, Germany offered almost no criticism of Russia during and after the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and tried to minimise NATO’s reaction. It has been the most vehement opponent of Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO and remained cool to the idea of missile defence. It has even gone so far to veto a plan for a European energy market which could reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.


    Click to enlarge
    Merkel and Medvedev at the 34th G8 Summit


    Merkel and Medvedev have also met three times already over the past year. Notably, each meeting has taken place after their individual meetings with Barack Obama which suggests they are comparing notes and aligning strategies.

    Although makes sense for Germany to remain in NATO it does not make economic or geopolitical sense for it to be part of an effort to re-contain Russia. Problematically that is exactly the role NATO is now being asked to play. If these two goals become mutually incompatible Germany will have to make a choice – one of which could tear NATO apart.

    Unsurprisingly, Poland and other parts of Europe are watching the deepening level of German-Russian co-operation with suspicion. There is good reason for this: the last time these two powers aligned in 1939 they tore Poland apart and kicked off WWII.

    Poland’s Historic Fear
    Hitler’s invasion was met a few days later when the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the East, fulfilling its side of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Not only did Poland see this as a betrayal by the Soviet Union but it was forced to live under Communist rule for the next 50 years.

    With the end of the Cold War Poland emerged independent and democratic. For its security it opted to enmesh itself in the NATO alliance while following an anti-Russian foreign policy.

    In light of the inability of NATO to come to Georgia’s aid during the 2008 war, and with Russian-German co-operation increasing Poland has reassessed its position and is unsure whether being part of NATO will guarantee its security in the long term.

    As such its leaders have showed a keen willingness to see the US deploy parts of its controversial missile defence system on its soil. It is no coincidence that a deal was signed just one week after the Russian invasion of Georgia. As Polish President Donald Tusk would state: "the events in the Caucasus show clearly that such security guarantees are indispensable."

    Poland believes that US interceptors in Poland will signal a concrete security commitment from the US. Russia aggressively rejects this, calling it ‘a step back’ to the Cold war and that for America it is another opportunity “...to expand its military presence across the world...”

    Although Obama says he is still committed to the idea of basing interceptors in Poland he has been noticeably cooler on the idea than Bush. He stated during his presidential bid that he would “... cut unproven missile defence systems” and has initiated a review of the plans. Furthermore, pro-missile defence lobbyists are openly declaring the plan to base installations in Central Europe to be dead in the water.

    In light of concerns about Germany’s commitment to their defence and NATO’s ability to stand up to Russia, a group of 22 former leaders from Central and Eastern European states recently wrote a letter to Obama imploring him not to abandon them.

    They stated that 'storm clouds are starting to gather on the foreign policy horizon' and that 'Central and Eastern Europe is at a political crossroads and today there is a growing sense of nervousness in the region.' This has been heightened since the 'Atlantic alliance stood by' as Russia 'violated the... territorial integrity of a country that was a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace and the Euroatlantic Partnership Council' during its invasion of Georgia.’

    The letter specifically referred to the U.S. plans to build ballistic missile defence (BMD) installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, stating that cancelling the program “can undermine the credibility of the United States across the whole region.”

    With this in mind Poland had to rethink its approach to Russia. Quite simply, Poland is coming under enormous pressure – it does not want to proceed with an anti-Russian foreign policy if it is about to be abandoned by the United States.

    Donald Tusk called the anniversary last week an opportunity for Warsaw and Moscow to repair their relationship. In response to Tusk’s outreach Putin reciprocated stating that the Soviet Unions’ oppression of Poland during the Cold War was ‘warped’ by Stalin’s totalitarianism (HP) and that the Soviet-Nazi nonaggression treaty that came just a few days before Hitler invaded Poland was ‘immoral’. He also struck a conciliatory note on the 1940 massacre by Soviet secret police of Polish military officers and intellectuals in Russia's Katyn forest.

    Finally, he stated that as a result of their shared suffering during WWII they should engage in common grief and forgiveness. He also noted that the reversal of former hostile relationships between European powers, like Russia and Germany, has allowed the formation of what he called ‘Greater Europe’, signalling that he is open to such a change in Russian-Polish relations.

    Russians Perceptions and American Dominance
    Putin’s audience was also the world. He does not want Russia to be seen as a state intent upon territorial expansion and global conquest. This happened at the dawn of the Cold War and helped America build an international coalition hostile to Moscow in order to ‘contain’ it.

    If anything American foreign policy over the past 9 years has done most of the work for Putin already. George W. Bush embraced many of the central tenets of a group known as the ‘neoconservatives’ – many of whom came to power with his administration.

    They argued that not only was American pre-eminence good for the world but that it should use its power to promote – with force if necessary – American values around the world. Some even spoke of the need for America to cultivate an empire and act as a ‘benevolent global hegemon’.

    In 1997 the neoconservatives created a think-tank called ‘The Project for a New American Century’ (PNAC) where they argued that the 21st century could be shaped by America if it embraced a ‘Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity’.

    To them America’s unrivalled position of power was a tool to be used and should not need to restrained by multilateral institutions and treaties.

    The neoconservatives believed that military power was transformative. In a famous exchange one top Bush administration official told Ron Suskind that he lived: ''in what we call the reality-based community” and that ''That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality... We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

    One of their primary goals was to force regime change upon states like Iraq and initiate democratic transformations. Some prominent neoconservatives like Michael Leeden openly called themselves ‘democratic revolutionaries’.

    In 2002 the Bush Administration’s National Security Strategy of the United States drew from the Neocon playbook, stating that there was “a single sustainable model for national success: freedom, democracy, and free enterprise.” This document also enunciated for the first time a radical doctrine of pre-emptive or preventive war whereby America would not wait for threats to materialise but would strike them first.

    Seizing upon the call for moral clarity, Bush declared in his 2002 state of the union address that nations like Iraq, Iran and North Korea constituted an ‘axis of evil’ that threatened the peace of the world. This led to the invasion of Iraq, which in Bush’s words was “a watershed event in the global democratic revolution."

    This hubris and aggressiveness angered much of the world, while the invasion of Iraq resulted in the biggest anti-war protests in history. As a consequence global public opinion polls show that anti-Americanism is at an all time high. Barack Obama has thus sought to address this by declaring that reason and pragmatism, rather than ideology, will dictate his foreign policy.

    Despite this he has called for America to maintain its global dominance and announced the largest military budget in world history. Furthermore his foreign policy is almost entirely consistent with the foreign policies of his predecessor, suggesting that there is little substance behind his mantra of ‘change’.

    A Dangerous Game of Brinkmanship
    Although the current order is not about to collapse tectonic shifts are taking place under the surface. Russia has re-emerged as a global power and is not happy with the status-quo. It has made this clear and is now seeking to roll back the spread of American influence across East and Central Europe.

    Furthermore Germany is once again united and strong and is forging a new partnership with Russia. We should remember that the leaders in power in Germany today did not choose to be a part of the NATO alliance – they inherited it and the circumstances that exist today are far different than those that existed when it was born.

    In the long term if Germany’s slow drift away from America continues it could tear apart the most successful military coalition in history – NATO. This would result in a historic power shift in Europe.

    Washington cannot be oblivious to all this but it is used to a compliant Germany that falls in line with U.S. interests, not one that forges its own foreign policy independent of Washington.

    Although tearing NATO apart could be considered a massive victory for Russia it may not be a necessary one. A few years ago Putin called for a continent-wide European security system that would include Russia. At the time his statement passed with little comment from the West. But with Russian power resurging he again echoed his call in Poland last week, insisting that the legacy of World War II served as an example of the importance of including Moscow. Furthermore Putin has also stated that he is willing to co-operate with America on its missile defence shield and proposed for an agreement to ban weapons in space. So far the Americans have rejected these advances.

    Obama’s inability or unwillingness to engage the Russians may be political rather than pragmatic. He may feel constrained by internal forces or have some ‘grand plan’ the rest of us are not privy to.
    But Obama’s almost wholesale embrace of Bush’s foreign policy displays a curious amount of faith in decisions that many now consider to be some of the worst in history.

    This belies the notion that he is an ‘agent of change’ and is extremely worrying for those of us who expected him to chart a new course away from global militarism and power politics.

    A dangerous game of brinkmanship is unfolding. Eventually Obama will be forced to respond and if he chooses to play by the neoconservative playbook we can expect another escalation in the emerging confrontation between Russia and America.

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    Germany and Russia Move Closer
    June 22, 2010

    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle will brief French and Polish officials on a joint proposal for Russian-European “cooperation on security,” according to a statement from Westerwelle’s spokesman on Monday. The proposal emerged out of talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev earlier in June and is based on a draft Russia drew up in 2008. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will be present at the meeting. Andreas Peschke said, “We want to further elaborate and discuss it within the triangle [i.e., France, Germany and Poland] in the presence of the Russian foreign minister.”

    On the surface, the proposal developed by Merkel and Medvedev appears primarily structural. It raises security discussions about specific trouble spots to the ministerial level rather than the ambassadorial level, with a committee being formed consisting of EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Russia’s foreign minister.

    All of this seems rather mild until we consider three things. First, proposals for deepening the relationship between Russia and the European Union have been on the table for several years without much progress. Second, the Germans have taken this initiative at a time when German foreign policy is in a state of flux. And third, the decision to take this deal to France and Poland indicates that the Germans are extremely sensitive to the geopolitical issues involved, which are significant and complex.

    Reconsidering Basic Strategy


    The economic crisis in Europe has caused the Germans, among others, to reconsider their basic strategy. Ever since World War II, the Germans have pursued two national imperatives. The first was to maintain close relations with the French — along with the rest of Europe — to eliminate the threat of war. Germany had fought three wars with France since 1870, and its primary goal was not fighting another one. Its second goal was prosperity. Germany’s memory of the Great Depression plus its desire to avoid militarism made it obsessed with economic development and creating a society focused on prosperity. It saw the creation of an integrated economic structure in Europe as achieving both ends, tying Germany into an unbreakable relationship with France and at the same time creating a trading bloc that would ensure prosperity.

    Events since the financial crisis of 2008 have shaken German confidence in the European Union as an instrument of prosperity, however. Until 2008, Europe had undergone an extraordinary period of prosperity, in which West Germany could simultaneously integrate with East Germany and maintain its long-term economic growth. The European Union appeared to be a miraculous machine that automatically generated prosperity and political stability alongside it.

    After 2008, this perception changed, and the sense of insecurity accelerated with the current crisis in Greece and among the Mediterranean members of the European Union. The Germans found themselves underwriting what they regarded as Greek profligacy to protect the euro and the European economy. This not only generated significant opposition among the German public, it raised questions in the German government. The purpose of the European Union was to ensure German prosperity. If the future of Europe was Germany shoring up Europe — in other words, transferring wealth from Germany to Europe — then the rationale for European integration became problematic.

    The Germans were certainly not prepared to abandon European integration, which had given Germany 65 years of peace. At the same time, the Germans were prepared to consider adjustments to the framework in which Europe was operating, particular from an economic standpoint. A Europe in which German prosperity is at risk from the budgeting practices of Greece needed adjustment.

    The Pull of Russia


    In looking at their real economic interests, the Germans were inevitably drawn to their relationship with Russia. Russia supplies Germany with nearly 40 percent of the natural gas Germany uses. Without Russian energy, Germany’s economy is in trouble. At the same time, Russia needs technology and expertise to develop its economy away from being simply an exporter of primary commodities. Moreover, the Germans already have thousands of enterprises that have invested in Russia. Finally, in the long run, Germany’s population is declining below the level needed to maintain its economy. It does not want to increase immigration into Germany because of fears of social instability. Russia’s population is also falling, but it still has surplus population relative to its economic needs and will continue to have one for quite a while. German investment in Russia allows Germany to get the labor it needs without resorting to immigration by moving production facilities east to Russia.

    The Germans have been developing economic relations with Russia since before the Soviet collapse, but the Greek crisis forced them to reconsider their relationship with Russia. If the European Union was becoming a trap in which Germany was going to consistently subsidize the rest of Europe, and a self-contained economy is impossible, then another strategy would be needed. This consisted of two parts. The first was insisting on a restructuring of the European Union to protect Germany from the domestic policies of other countries. Second, if Europe was heading toward a long period of stagnation, then Germany, heavily dependent on exports and needing labor, needed to find an additional partner — if not a new one.

    At the same time, a German-Russian alignment is a security issue as well as an economic issue. Between 1871 and 1941 there was a three-player game in continental Europe — France, Germany and Russia. The three shifted alliances with each other, with each shift increasing the chance of war. In 1871, Prussia was allied with Russia when it attacked France. In 1914, The French and Russians were allied against Germany. In 1940, Germany was allied with Russia when it attacked France. The three-player game played itself out in various ways with a constant outcome: war.

    The last thing Berlin wants is to return to that dynamic. Instead, its hope is to integrate Russia into the European security system, or at least give it a sufficient stake in the European economic system that Russia does not seek to challenge the European security system. This immediately affects French relations with Russia. For Paris, partnership with Germany is the foundation of France’s security policy and economy. If Germany moves into a close security and economic relationship with Russia, France must calculate the effect this will have on France. There has never been a time when a tripartite alliance of France, Germany and Russia has worked because it has always left France as the junior partner. Therefore, it is vital for the Germans to present this not as a three-way relationship but as the inclusion of Russia into Europe, and to focus on security measures rather than economic measures. Nevertheless, the Germans have to be enormously careful in managing their relationship with France.

    Even more delicate is the question of Poland. Poland is caught between Russia and Germany. Its history has been that of division between these two countries or conquest by one. This is a burning issue in the Polish psyche. A closer relationship between Germany and Russia inevitably will generate primordial fears of disaster in Poland.

    Therefore, Wednesday’s meeting with the so-called triangular group is essential. Both the French and the Poles, and the Poles with great intensity, must understand what is happening. The issue is partly the extent to which this affects German commitments to the European Union, and the other part — crucial to Poland —is what this does to Germany’s NATO commitments.

    The NATO Angle


    It is noteworthy the Russians emphasized that what is happening poses no threat to NATO. Russia is trying to calm not only Poland, but also the United States. The problem, however, is this: If Germany and Europe have a security relationship that requires prior consultation and cooperation, then Russia inevitably has a hand in NATO. If the Russians oppose a NATO action, Germany and other European states will be faced with a choice between Russia and NATO.

    To put it more bluntly, if Germany enters into a cooperative security arrangement with Russia (forgetting the rest of Europe for the moment), then how does it handle its relationship with the United States when the Russians and Americans are at loggerheads in countries like Georgia? The Germans and Russians both view the United States as constantly and inconveniently pressuring them both to take risks in areas where they feel they have no interest. NATO may not be functional in any real sense, but U.S. pressure is ever-present. The Germans and Russians acting together would be in a better position to deflect this pressure than standing alone.

    Intriguingly, part of the German-Russian talks relate to a specific security matter — the issue of Moldova and Transdniestria. Moldova is a region between Romania and Ukraine (which adjoins Russia and has re-entered the Russian sphere of influence) that at various times has been part of both. It became independent after the collapse of communism, but Moldova’s eastern region, Transdniestria, broke away from Moldova under Russian sponsorship. Following a change in government in 2009, Moldova sees itself as pro-Western while Transdniestria is pro-Russian. The Russians have supported Transdniestria’s status as a breakaway area (and have troops stationed there), while Moldova has insisted on its return.

    The memorandum between Merkel and Medvedev specifically pointed to the impact a joint security relationship might have on this dispute. The kind of solution that may be considered is unclear, but if the issue goes forward, the outcome will give the first indication of what a German-Russian security relationship will look like. The Poles will be particularly interested, as any effort in Moldova will automatically impact both Romania and Ukraine — two states key to determining Russian strength in the region. Whatever way the solution tilts will define the power relationship among the three.

    It should be remembered that the Germans are proposing a Russian security relationship with Europe, not a Russian security relationship with Germany alone. At the same time, it should be remembered that it is the Germans taking the initiative to open the talks by unilaterally negotiating with the Russians and taking their agreements to other European countries. It is also important to note that they have not taken this to all the European countries but to France and Poland first — with French President Nicolas Sarkozy voicing his initial approval on June 19 — and equally important, that they have not publicly brought it to the United States. Nor is it clear what the Germans might do if the French and Poles reject the relationship, which is not inconceivable.

    The Germans do not want to lose the European concept. At the same time, they are trying to redefine it more to their advantage. From the German point of view, bringing Russia into the relationship would help achieve this. But the Germans still have to explain what their relationship is with the rest of Europe, particularly their financial obligation to troubled economies in the eurozone. They also have to define their relationship to NATO, and more important, to the United States.

    Like any country, Germany can have many things, but it can’t have everything. The idea that it will meld the European Union, NATO and Russia into one system of relationships without alienating at least some of their partners — some intensely — is naive. The Germans are not naive. They know that the Poles will be terrified and the French uneasy. The southern Europeans will feel increasingly abandoned as Germany focuses on the North European Plain. And the United States, watching Germany and Russia draw closer, will be seeing an alliance of enormous weight developing that might threaten its global interests.

    With this proposal, the Germans are looking to change the game significantly. They are moving slowly and with plenty of room for retreat, but they are moving. It will be interesting to hear what the Poles and French say on Wednesday. Their public support should not be taken for anything more than not wanting to alienate the Germans or Russians until they have talked to the Americans. It will also be interesting to see what the Obama administration has to say about this.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Nord Stream lays down natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany

    Thursday, May 5, 2011, 10:07[IST]

    Nord Stream will complete its first gas pipeline that will deliver natural gas from Russia to Germany, on Thursday, with a transfer to commercial operations still on schedule for October. The next stage of the work is to connect, test, clean and dry the 1200 kilometre long pipeline.

    Ruurd Hoekstra, the project's deputy director of construction, said, "We will finish laying pipeline number one within the next 24 hours, following one year of work.” He also added that once the pipeline's three zones had been tied-up by divers and tested, it would gradually be filled with gas over four weeks, and would become commercially viable in October.

    The Nord Stream project is 51 per cent owned by Russian Energy Company Gazprom and E.ON Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall hold 15.5 per cent stake each.

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    BP Welcomes Rosneft as New Partner in German Refining Joint Venture

    WEBWIRE – Thursday, May 05, 2011

    BP today welcomed Rosneft as its new partner in its German refining jointventure, Ruhr Oel GmbH (ROG).

    This follows the completion of the deal announced last October in which BP’s existing partner, PdVSA of Venezuela, agreed to sell its 50 per cent interest in the joint venture to Rosneft.

    The deal became effective from 1 May 2011.

    Welcoming Rosneft as BP’s new partner, Bob Dudley BP group chief executive, said: “I am very pleased to see the completion of this complex transaction, further strengthening our relationship with Rosneft.”
    Through the 50:50 joint venture both companies co-own the following assets:

    Gelsenkirchen Refinery (100% ROG)
    PCK Schwedt Refinery (37.5% ROG share)
    Bayernoil Refinery (25% ROG share)
    MiRO Refinery (24% ROG share)
    Notes to editors:

    Ruhr Oel GmbH (ROG)
    ROG was established in 1983 as a 50/50 JV between Veba Oel GmbH and PdVSA, and has continued to operate successfully since BP’s acquisition of Veba Oel GmbH in 2002.

    ROG owns refining and petrochemical assets in Germany, including the Gelsenkirchen refining & petrochemicals site as well as shares in PCK Schwedt, Mineralölraffinerie Oberrhein in Karlsruhe and Bayernoil in Neustadt.

    In addition to these refineries, ROG owns DHC Solvent Chemie, one of Europe‘s leading manufacturers of solvents and other speciality products from oil. Finally ROG holds shares in various pipeline companies which transport crude oil to these refineries.

    The ROG joint venture is operated by BP, and is a major contributor to the manufacture and supply of transport fuels and base petrochemicals in Germany. It owns more than 19 per cent of German refining capacity and 5 per cent of the ethylene production capacity in Northwest Europe. The ROG refineries produce most of the fuel sold by BP via its Aral branded service stations.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Nord Stream gas pipeline opened by Merkel and Medvedev

    European leaders welcomed the opening of the Nord Stream pipeline at a ceremony on the Baltic Sea
    Continue reading the main story Related Stories




    Gas has begun to flow along a major new pipeline connecting Russia and the EU.

    The Nord Stream project was formally opened at a ceremony in Germany attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev.

    The pipeline allows Siberian gas to flow directly to Germany, via twin pipelines under the Baltic Sea.

    The new route means Russia can bypass traditional transit countries such as Ukraine and Poland, which have strained relations with Moscow.

    The pipeline's opening ceremy took place in the Geman town of Lubmin, where heads of state involved in the project opened a tap to release the first of the gas into the European grid.

    Energy milestone

    Chanceller Merkel described the project as a "milestone in energy cooperation" and the "basis of a reliable partnership" between Russia and Europe.

    Although the project will only reach full capacity next year, it is already politically sensitive. Russia is Europe's primary energy supplier, and the new pipeline is likely to increase that dependence.

    The new route also has strategic implications for Moscow.

    At present, 80% of Russian gas exports to the EU flow through pipelines across Ukrainian soil, a source of ongoing tension. In 2009, disputes between Moscow and Kiev over the status of this network led Russia to cut off gas to Ukraine during winter.

    Poland, another transit country for Russian pipelines, is also in dispute with Moscow over gas. On 7 November, Polish gas monopoly PGNiG filed an arbitration procedure against Russia gas giant Gazprom to demand a discount on gas imports.

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    “You Americans are so gullible.
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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Germany Helped Prep Russia for War, U.S. Sources Say

    04.22.14



    Over the past few years, NATO countries have helped Russia revolutionize its armed forces. Now questions are arising about a German defense contractor that trained the Russian military.

    The world was shocked when Russian special operations forces invaded Crimea with advanced technology, drastically improved operations, and with so much operational security that even agencies in the U.S. intelligence community didn’t see it coming. In Washington, government and congressional leaders are wondering how the Russian special operations forces got so good, so fast, without anyone noticing. Some are wondering how much help Russia had from the West.

    In 2011, for example, the German defense contractor Rheinmetall signed a $140 million contract to build a combat simulation training center in Mulino, in southwest Russia, that would train 30,000 Russian combat troops per year. While the facility wasn't officially scheduled to be completed until later this year, U.S. officials believe that Germany has been training Russian forces for years.

    Rheinmetall defended the project even after the invasion of Crimea, up until the German government finally shut it down late last month. But many tracking the issue within the U.S. government were not happy with Germany's handling of the Russian contract, and worry that some of the training may have gone to the kind of special operations forces now operating in and around Ukraine.

    “It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine,” one senior Senate aide told The Daily Beast. “The U.S. government should call on our NATO allies to suspend all military connections with Russia at this point, until the Russians leave Ukraine, including Crimea.”

    According to the Congressional Research Service, Rheinmetall’s partner in the deal was the Russian state-owned Oboronservis (“Defense Service”) firm. The training center, modeled after one used by the German Bundeswehr, was to be “the most advanced system of its kind worldwide.” Reinmetall saw the contract as a precursor to several more projects “in light of the plans to modernize the equipment of the Russian armed forces.”

    U.S. officials, now looking back, are privately expressing anger and frustration about the German work with the Russian military. While definitive proof is hard to come by, these officials look at the radical upgrade of Moscow’s forces–especially its special operations forces–experienced since they last saw major action in 2008's invasion of Georgia. The U.S. officials believe that some of the German training over the last few years was given to the GRU Spetsnaz, the special operations forces that moved unmarked into Crimea and who can now be found stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine.

    “People are pissed,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. “The chatter inside the Pentagon is that the training they were providing was going to Spetznaz.”

    Rheinmetall did not respond to a request for comment.

    Russia maintains close economic ties with many NATO states–especially Germany. By some estimates, the country exported nearly $50 billion in goods to Russia in 2013. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of German jobs depend on Russian trade.

    The armed forces of NATO members have also been working with their counterparts in the Russian military, on and off, for years. Russia has held joint military exercises with both Germany and the U.S., for example. America has bought Russian helicopters to use in Afghanistan. And Moscow allows NATO equipment to pass through Russian territory as the gear comes into and out of the war zone.
    “It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine.”
    To the Congressional Research Service, “Rheinmetall’s construction of an army training center could be viewed in the context of the broader bilateral defense cooperation between Germany and Russia,” the service writes in its report. “The German… government’s approval of the contract to construct a training center also appears to be in line with long-standing German policy to promote military training and joint exercises with partner countries.”

    But some on Capitol Hill see the Rheimetall contract as only one example of the folly of several NATO countries that rushed to sign lucrative defense contracts with Russia after President Obama declared a new “reset” policy with the Russian Federation. Lawmakers have tried to halt the French sale of the Mistral, an amphibious warship, to the Russian Navy. Some are also unhappy about the Italian sale of Lynx armored personnel carriers to Russia.

    A Senate aide said that one of Rheinmetall’s contributions was to help the Russian army and GRU Spetznaz upgrade their gear. Reports show that the Russian military units both inside Ukraine and amassed on its eastern border are sporting brand new communications equipment, body armor, personal weapons, and ammunition. Taken together, it gives them a huge tactical advantage over the beleaguered Ukrainian armed forces.

    Top defense officials are now acknowledging that Russia’s military has been revolutionized in recent years. This month, Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, the director for strategic plans and policy for the military’s joint chiefs of staff, told Congress in open testimony that in recent years Russia has created regional commands that “coordinate and synchronize planning, joint service integration, force movement, intelligence support, and the tactical employment of units” in what he deemed “snap exercises,” or military training missions that can be ordered at a moment’s notice.

    In the testimony, Pandolfe also said Russia has placed greater emphasis on the use of Special Operations Forces as well as information and cyber warfare. Experts said that Russian military doctrine was dramatically updated in the past few years and clearly set out Russia’s plans for modernization and a focus on highly trained rapid reaction special forces. But in the West, the papers were not well read, much less understood.

    The Russians also changed their doctrine to reflect that they viewed the threat as not coming from a conventional war, but from the need to protect Russian populations in unstable states facing what they deemed to be Western aggression.

    “This wasn’t just about implementing lessons learned from [the 2008 invasion of] Georgia, it was about giving them a basis for a different kind of operations,” said Fiona Hill, a former top intelligence official on Russia, now with the Brookings Institution. “We should have been paying more attention to this. There have been these signals for a long time, but we have been misreading them.”



    JR Nyquist explains why the NSA was monitoring Merkel



    Published on Apr 17, 2014

    Jeffrey R. Nyquist, author of the book, Origins of the Fourth World War, cites evidence that German Chancellor Minister Angela Merkel is a Russian agent. No wonder the NSA was listening to her telephone conversations. But Nyquist says the Russians themselves want freedom FROM Putin and deserve our support. So will the U.S. act on behalf of an anti-communist world revolution that could sweep Putin out of power? Go to www.usasurvival.org for on-going coverage and subscribe to "World Revolution Report."

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Quote Originally Posted by vector7 View Post
    Germany Helped Prep Russia for War, U.S. Sources Say

    04.22.14



    Over the past few years, NATO countries have helped Russia revolutionize its armed forces. Now questions are arising about a German defense contractor that trained the Russian military.

    The world was shocked when Russian special operations forces invaded Crimea with advanced technology, drastically improved operations, and with so much operational security that even agencies in the U.S. intelligence community didn’t see it coming. In Washington, government and congressional leaders are wondering how the Russian special operations forces got so good, so fast, without anyone noticing. Some are wondering how much help Russia had from the West.

    In 2011, for example, the German defense contractor Rheinmetall signed a $140 million contract to build a combat simulation training center in Mulino, in southwest Russia, that would train 30,000 Russian combat troops per year. While the facility wasn't officially scheduled to be completed until later this year, U.S. officials believe that Germany has been training Russian forces for years.

    Rheinmetall defended the project even after the invasion of Crimea, up until the German government finally shut it down late last month. But many tracking the issue within the U.S. government were not happy with Germany's handling of the Russian contract, and worry that some of the training may have gone to the kind of special operations forces now operating in and around Ukraine.

    “It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine,” one senior Senate aide told The Daily Beast. “The U.S. government should call on our NATO allies to suspend all military connections with Russia at this point, until the Russians leave Ukraine, including Crimea.”

    According to the Congressional Research Service, Rheinmetall’s partner in the deal was the Russian state-owned Oboronservis (“Defense Service”) firm. The training center, modeled after one used by the German Bundeswehr, was to be “the most advanced system of its kind worldwide.” Reinmetall saw the contract as a precursor to several more projects “in light of the plans to modernize the equipment of the Russian armed forces.”

    U.S. officials, now looking back, are privately expressing anger and frustration about the German work with the Russian military. While definitive proof is hard to come by, these officials look at the radical upgrade of Moscow’s forces–especially its special operations forces–experienced since they last saw major action in 2008's invasion of Georgia. The U.S. officials believe that some of the German training over the last few years was given to the GRU Spetsnaz, the special operations forces that moved unmarked into Crimea and who can now be found stirring up trouble in eastern Ukraine.

    “People are pissed,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. “The chatter inside the Pentagon is that the training they were providing was going to Spetznaz.”

    Rheinmetall did not respond to a request for comment.

    Russia maintains close economic ties with many NATO states–especially Germany. By some estimates, the country exported nearly $50 billion in goods to Russia in 2013. Tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of German jobs depend on Russian trade.

    The armed forces of NATO members have also been working with their counterparts in the Russian military, on and off, for years. Russia has held joint military exercises with both Germany and the U.S., for example. America has bought Russian helicopters to use in Afghanistan. And Moscow allows NATO equipment to pass through Russian territory as the gear comes into and out of the war zone.
    “It’s unfortunate that German companies were directly supporting and training Russia’s military even during the attacks against Ukraine.”
    To the Congressional Research Service, “Rheinmetall’s construction of an army training center could be viewed in the context of the broader bilateral defense cooperation between Germany and Russia,” the service writes in its report. “The German… government’s approval of the contract to construct a training center also appears to be in line with long-standing German policy to promote military training and joint exercises with partner countries.”

    But some on Capitol Hill see the Rheimetall contract as only one example of the folly of several NATO countries that rushed to sign lucrative defense contracts with Russia after President Obama declared a new “reset” policy with the Russian Federation. Lawmakers have tried to halt the French sale of the Mistral, an amphibious warship, to the Russian Navy. Some are also unhappy about the Italian sale of Lynx armored personnel carriers to Russia.

    A Senate aide said that one of Rheinmetall’s contributions was to help the Russian army and GRU Spetznaz upgrade their gear. Reports show that the Russian military units both inside Ukraine and amassed on its eastern border are sporting brand new communications equipment, body armor, personal weapons, and ammunition. Taken together, it gives them a huge tactical advantage over the beleaguered Ukrainian armed forces.

    Top defense officials are now acknowledging that Russia’s military has been revolutionized in recent years. This month, Vice Admiral Frank Pandolfe, the director for strategic plans and policy for the military’s joint chiefs of staff, told Congress in open testimony that in recent years Russia has created regional commands that “coordinate and synchronize planning, joint service integration, force movement, intelligence support, and the tactical employment of units” in what he deemed “snap exercises,” or military training missions that can be ordered at a moment’s notice.

    In the testimony, Pandolfe also said Russia has placed greater emphasis on the use of Special Operations Forces as well as information and cyber warfare. Experts said that Russian military doctrine was dramatically updated in the past few years and clearly set out Russia’s plans for modernization and a focus on highly trained rapid reaction special forces. But in the West, the papers were not well read, much less understood.

    The Russians also changed their doctrine to reflect that they viewed the threat as not coming from a conventional war, but from the need to protect Russian populations in unstable states facing what they deemed to be Western aggression.

    “This wasn’t just about implementing lessons learned from [the 2008 invasion of] Georgia, it was about giving them a basis for a different kind of operations,” said Fiona Hill, a former top intelligence official on Russia, now with the Brookings Institution. “We should have been paying more attention to this. There have been these signals for a long time, but we have been misreading them.”



    JR Nyquist explains why the NSA was monitoring Merkel



    Published on Apr 17, 2014

    Jeffrey R. Nyquist, author of the book, Origins of the Fourth World War, cites evidence that German Chancellor Minister Angela Merkel is a Russian agent. No wonder the NSA was listening to her telephone conversations. But Nyquist says the Russians themselves want freedom FROM Putin and deserve our support. So will the U.S. act on behalf of an anti-communist world revolution that could sweep Putin out of power? Go to www.usasurvival.org for on-going coverage and subscribe to "World Revolution Report."
    Germany has been helping and being helped by the Communists in Russia since the Treaty of Rapallo in 1922. Or before that, when they sent Lenin by armored rail car from Switzerland back to Russia in 1917, in order to begin the Bolshevik Revolution on schedule.

    And yes, Russians want real freedom like no other people on earth, but it seems like one of the tasks of the Obama Administration is to help prevent that.
    "God's an old hand at miracles, he brings us from nonexistence to life. And surely he will resurrect all human flesh on the last day in the twinkling of an eye. But who can comprehend this? For God is this: he creates the new and renews the old. Glory be to him in all things!" Archpriest Avvakum

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Gerhard Schroeder's birthday party with Vladimir Putin angers Germany

    Germany distances itself from Gerhard Schroeder, the former Chancellor, after pictures of 70th birthday celebrations with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in St Petersburg


    Publication of the picture of Schroeder in a warm embrace with Putin comes at a time of high tension between the West and Russia Photo: EPA

    By Tony Paterson in Berlin

    1:30PM BST 29 Apr 2014

    Gerhard Schroeder faced a barrage of domestic criticism on Tuesday after celebrating his 70th birthday with his friend President Vladimir Putin at a lavish party held in the Russian city of St Petersburg.

    Photographs published online and in the German media showed the former Social Democrat chancellor embracing Mr Putin and smiling broadly as the two met on the steps of St Petersburg’s Jussupov palace, where Mr Schroder celebrated his birthday on Monday evening.

    But the ex-chancellor’s party with Mr Putin, provoked a predictably angry response from members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government that has blamed the Russian president for the deepening crisis in Ukraine.



    Gerhard Schroeder and Vladimir Putin pictured in2005 (REUTERS)

    Related Articles





    Christoph Strasser, Mrs Merkel’s Social Democrat human rights spokesman accused Mr Schroeder of cynicism: “Right now this demonstrative shoulder rubbing with Mr Putin is a provocation. For anyone fighting for human rights and against Putin’s aggressive politics, this seems cynical,” he insisted.

    Andreas Scheuer, the general secretary of the Bavarian conservative party in Ms Merkel’s coalition said it was galling for Mr Schroder to be partying with Mr Putin while German army officer serving as diplomatic observers where being held hostage in Ukraine by pro-Russian activists.

    “Our boys are on bread and water in prison and Schroeder is celebrating with Champagne and Caviar in a palace,” he said. “Even as a former Chancellor, he bears a great responsibility for the maintenance of peace and freedom,” he added.

    Andreas Schockenhoff, the deputy chief whip of Ms Merkels' ruling Christian Democratic Party descibed Mr Schroeder's behaviour as "completely irresponsible". He added: "The pictures from St Petersburg play into Putin's propaganda machine. Mr Schroeder knows that and he must take responsibility for it."

    A spokesman for Mrs Merkel’s coalition of Christian and Social Democrats stressed that Mr Schroeder’s activities in St Petersburg had “nothing to do” with the German government.

    Mr Schroeder was Germany’s Social Democrat leader from 1998 until 2005. He is a personal friend of Vladimir Putin and once described the Russian President as a “flawless democrat”. He joined the board of the Russian energy giant Gazprom after losing Germany’s 2005 election and has defended Russia’s response to the crisis in Ukraine on several occasions.

    Gazprom warned on Tuesday that if Kiev failed meet the outstanding $2.2 billion gas bill its owes the energy concern, gas supplies to Ukraine and the rest of Europe could be cut.

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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Will It Be America or Russia?

    Germany's Choice







    07/10/2014 05:48 PM

    By Markus Feldenkirchen, Christiane Hoffmann and René Pfister

    For decades, Germany's position in the West remained unquestioned. Following the NSA spying and other political scandals, many Germans want greater independence from the US. But does that mean getting closer to Moscow?

    John Emerson never stops smiling. On the evening of Friday, July 4 -- Independence Day -- the United States ambassador shook hands on the red carpet at a reception given by his embassy at Berlin's former Tempelhof Airport, which has since been transformed into a park. Emerson greeted his guests with a diplomat's practiced joviality. He faced an endless line of businesspeople, German government officials and celebrities, and although he could be seen sweating, his smile remained unbroken, as if to convey the message that all was still well in the world.

    It's been a common scene at recent encounters between American and German officials. But behind the perfect façade, relations are cracking. Even as workers were decorating Tempelhof Field with pennants and small flags last Friday, a report was making the rounds in the German capital that could very well drag relations between Washington and Berlin to a new low.

    During questioning, an employee of Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), told German authorities he had sold secret documents to the Americans. Given that special encryption technology was found during a raid of his apartment, it seems highly unlikely that selling the classified information was his idea.

    This Wednesday, the spying scandal took on a new dimension when investigators with the Federal Criminal Police Office raided the home and offices of a Defense Ministry employee whom officials also suspect may have spied for the Americans.

    The developments are only the latest tussle in a relationship between Germany and the United States that has suffered in recent years. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already abandoned hope that the United States will come to its senses and rein in its intelligence agencies. During Merkel's last visit to Washington, US President Barack Obama wasn't even willing to commit to a no-spy agreement guaranteeing Germany a modicum of security.

    Merkel Fears Growing Anti-American Sentiment

    The chancellor did, however, expect the Americans to at least refrain from involving her in any further embarrassing incidents -- she has no interest in seeing a continued rise in anti-US sentiment in Germany, a development that would ultimately offer her no choice but to distance herself from the Americans once again. But that point may have already been reached.

    As of the end of last week, the BND had not yet fully investigated the spy scandal. But if the story turns out to be true, it will mean that the Americans paid a mole to copy documents for them, some of which were even intended for the German parliamentary committee set up to investigate the NSA's activities in Germany. It would represent a new level of audacity.

    The initial reports alone were enough to enrage key members of Germany's coalition government composed of Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats and the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) -- so much so that some now feel US intelligence agencies are capable of anything.

    "If it is confirmed that the spying activities against the BND also targeted the work of the NSA investigative committee, it will be an unprecedented assault on the parliament and our democratic institutions," said Thomas Oppermann, parliamentary leader of the SPD. By Wednesday of this week, with fresh suspicions of spying at the Defense Ministry, Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, indicated a German-American relations had hit a new nadir and spoke for the first time of "profound differences of opinion" between Berlin and Washington.

    The German Foreign Ministry summoned Ambassador Emerson on Friday afternoon, before the Fourth of July festivities began. Employees at the German Chancellery were instructed to restrict their communications with the United States to essential matters. Some in the German government have even considered setting an example and expelling an American diplomat. And nearly a week later, on Thursday, the government in Berlin asked the CIA's station chief in Germany to leave the country. Although less serious than a formal expulsion, the action is still tantamount to a diplomatic kick in the knees.

    Is Germany Caught Between East and West?

    Of course, this isn't really what the chancellor wants. She would prefer to see the Germans remain firmly rooted in the Western alliance and loyal to their American partners. But she has also noticed how much anti-American sentiment the NSA scandal has stirred up among Germans. The Körber Foundation recently commissioned a study on Germans' attitudes toward German foreign policy. With which country should Germany cooperate in the future, respondents were asked? In a near-tie between East and West, close to 56 percent named the United States while 53 percent named Russia.

    Therein lies the deeper tension. On the one hand, Germans are disappointed by the Americans and their unceasing surveillance activities. At the same time, they have demonstrated a surprising level of sympathy for the Russians and their president, Vladimir Putin, in the Ukraine crisis. This raises the fundamental question of Germany's national identity. In the long run, Germans will have to decide which side they prefer.

    In the 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the issue had become less of a priority because the contrast between East and West, and the polarization between the United States and Russia, seemed to have been eliminated. Germany didn't have to choose sides because there was no real dividing line. But the Ukraine crisis and the NSA scandal have put an end to this comfortable phase, and now that antagonism between the West and Russia has erupted once again, Germany can no longer avoid the question of which side it supports.

    According to a SPIEGEL poll, 57 percent of Germans feel that their country should become more independent of the United States when it comes to foreign policy. Uncomfortable questions are also being raised, including whether Berlin's close relationship with the West was merely a transitional phenomenon.

    Embassies Reflect a Nation's Image

    If embassy buildings are meant to project the psyche of a nation, the US Embassy in Berlin is an effective symbol. The exterior consists of an inviting light-colored sandstone structure with an American flag flying above the entrance's curved glass roof. At second glance, however, the building at Pariser Platz 2 also resembles a fortress protected by barriers, surveillance cameras and bullet-proof glass.

    Ambassador Emerson's office is on the fifth floor. Visitors are required to leave their mobile phones in the reception area downstairs and must then pass through three security checkpoints. Even Emerson's press secretary has to deposit her cell phone in a small wooden box before entering the ambassador's floor. His office is secured with a steel door, and the glass windows looking out on Tiergarten Park and Brandenburg Gate are so thick that they would probably withstand a nuclear strike.

    Emerson's ebullience stands in stark contrast to the security paranoia surrounding him. He is a jovial former attorney and investment banker from Chicago, who raised millions of dollars for Obama's election campaigns and now, at the end of his career, has been given an attractive ambassadorship in Europe. Emerson, like many of his predecessors, hardly speaks a word of German.

    For many years, this wasn't an issue. American ambassadors in the past had no need to vie for the affections of Germans, because it was a matter of course. Konrad Adenauer, the country's first postwar chancellor, opted for the young republic's integration into the West, which culminated in West Germany's accession to NATO in 1955.

    As a result of Adenauer's decision, the question of which side Germany belonged to remained off the table for decades. Even after German reunification in 1990, which then US President George Bush passionately supported, the German-American partnership was not fundamentally questioned.

    A Sea-Change in Relations

    The presidency of George W. Bush was a turning point in the Germans' relationship with America. When then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) openly opposed the White House's decision to invade Iraq twelve years ago, it marked a sea change. Bush justified the Iraq war with a lie and cemented the image of a superpower that believes it is no longer required to abide by rules and laws.

    Emerson is not in an easy position. His predecessor had to grapple with the WikiLeaks scandal, in which American embassy cables describing senior German politicians in less than flattering terms were leaked to the public. The excitement had just subsided when it was revealed that the NSA was listening in on Merkel's mobile phone. At the time, Emerson had only been in his position in Berlin for a few weeks.

    During a visit in late May, Emerson had no illusions about the public mood in Germany. Anti-Americanism is not a new phenomenon -- many of those who demonstrated against the Vietnam War in the late 1960s or NATO's 1970s missile policy weren't only motivated by a desire for peace. Even back then, members of the German left were determined to send a message opposing the evil empire across the Atlantic. "I'm afraid of your fantasies and your ambition, America, oh America," German musician Herbert Grönemeyer sang on his album "Bochum," released in 1984. His words captured the mood of an entire generation.

    This time there is more at play than the usual resentments, given all that has happened in recent years: the Iraq war, Guantanamo, the use of drones for targeted executions, the financial crisis, the NSA and fears of Google. The Germans feel they have every reason to mistrust the United States, an erstwhile friend whom many now see as sinister.

    Failed Hopes for Obama

    For a time, it seemed as if Obama could close the divide between the two nations. For Germans, he was the presidential candidate they had always wished for: powerfully eloquent and charismatic, sophisticated and not nearly as ordinary and rough around the edges as George W. Bush, the trigger-happy cowboy from Texas.

    But to the Germans' chagrin, Obama didn't transform the White House into the United Nations headquarters, not even when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in a rush of euphoria only 11 months after his inauguration in 2009. He neither closed Guantanamo nor eliminated the death penalty. And instead of American Special Forces killing foreigners, drone pilots in air-conditioned barracks were checking off names on execution lists signed by Obama.

    During an interview in his heavily secured office, Ambassador Emerson says he comes from the financial industry, an industry in which a rule applies that is also valid in politics: "Satisfaction is expectations minus results." Emerson's apparent implication is that Obama was already fighting a losing battle when he came into office -- the Germans' expectations were simply too high.

    Emerson doesn't deny that a few things have gone wrong in recent years. But at the end of the day, he adds, the decision to maintain close ties between Germany and the West should be obvious. Which country has a free press? The United States or Russia? Which president takes a stand and is willing to discuss the limits of intelligence activity with the entire country? Obama or Putin? "We share the same values," Emerson says, and that must be emphasized again and again.

    The Last Straw?

    This may be true in theory, but in practice Europe and America are drifting farther and farther apart. This is even evident to people like Friedrich Merz, whose job description includes keeping the divide as narrow as possible. Merz is the chairman of the Atlantic Bridge, a group that has promoted friendship between Germany and the United States for more than 50 years. At the moment, Merz is busy promoting the trans-Atlantic free trade agreement. "The agreement would be a sign that Western democracies are sticking together," he says.

    But even a conservative advocate of the market economy like Merz is often baffled by what is happening in the United States. Merz welcomes all forms of political debate, but when he sees how deep the ideological divides are in the United States, he is pleased over Europe's well-tempered form of democracy. Responding to the new spying allegations last Friday, he said: "If this turns out to be true, it's time for this to stop."

    America Has Become Unattractive

    To put it differently, it has become uncool to view America as a cool place. Only a few years ago, for example, the post of head of the German-US Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Bundestag was a highly coveted one, filled by such respectable politicians as former Hamburg Mayor Hans-Ulrich Klose. Today it is less desirable. After the most recent parliamentary election, Philipp Missfelder, the head of the youth organization of Germany's conservative sister parties, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Bavaria's Christian Social Union (CSU), decided to resign from his post Coordinator of Trans-Atlantic Cooperation and assume the position of CDU treasurer in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia instead.

    For Missfelder, managing party finances took a priority over a once attractive trans-Atlantic post.

    He was eventually succeeded by Jürgen Hardt, an affable man who has had little contact with the United States in the past: Before becoming a member of the German parliament, the Bundestag, in 2009, he was head of corporate communications for vacuum cleaner-maker Vorwerk. At least he has experience selling relatively unglamorous products.

    Hardt plans to launch a marketing offensive in the United States soon. "I'm still searching for a way to reach as many people as possible," he says. He envisions interviews in American regional newspapers to promote the trans-Atlantic alliance, in an echo of Adenauer's decision to announce Germany's willingness to engage in rearmament in the Cleveland Plain Dealer rather than the Washington Post. After that, Hardt intends to embark on a marketing tour across the United States.

    Do Germans Suffer from an Excess Dose of Morality?

    It's a necessary effort. Many Americans view the Germans the way parents treat an adult son who still lives at home and is reluctant to venture out into the harsh, real world.

    The United States bore the largest burden in the Afghanistan war, it must rein in rising superpower China and it accounts for more than 70 percent of the military spending of all NATO countries. The glaring paradox of West Germany's former pacifism was that it was only made possible by the American nuclear umbrella. Now that the Cold War is over, the United States would have no objection to the Europeans taking on greater responsibilities, at least in their own neighborhood.

    But this is precisely where the problem begins, at least according to Gary Smith, head of the American Academy in Berlin. Smith, who has lived in Germany for more than 20 years, feels that Germans suffer from one thing above all: an excess dose of morality. He can certainly understand why Germans are upset over the NSA spying on Merkel's mobile phone, he says. On the other hand, he adds, the United States is the only democratic world power, and it faces rivals like China and Russia, which have few scruples when deploying their intelligence agencies. "The Germans are completely obsessed with Merkel's mobile phone, but they don't see the big picture," says Smith.

    This is what the big picture looks like for Smith: On the one hand, the Germans are always quick to criticize the minute the Americans apply their military muscle or give their NSA technologists their marching orders. On the other hand, they have a tendency to back off when the situation becomes serious on the global political stage, most recently during the West's military mission in Libya. And who, Smith asks, is expected to stop Putin if he feels the urge, once again, to swallow up parts of other countries?

    Germans 'Closer To Russian' Than any other Europeans

    Unlike the Americans' fortress, the Russian Embassy embodies a nation filled with longing: longing for greatness, longing to be respected and admired and longing to impress and please others. But it has no apparent need for security.

    Anyone arriving at the Russian Embassy for an appointment merely has to press a doorbell and state his or her name. Then a buzzer rings, the door opens and the visitor is allowed to enter the building. There is no identification check, bags are not inspected and there are no security checkpoints. Visitors are not asked to leave their mobile phones, recording devices and pocketknives at the front desk. Security checks could be interpreted as a sign of mistrust of visitors -- and that would be impolite.

    The interior is spacious, vast and empty, like Russia. A female staff member accompanies visitors up an enormous black marble staircase, which, as she explains, Finnish Marshall Carl Gustaf Mannheim gave Hitler to be used in a victory monument in Moscow. Sound reverberates in the Cathedral-like domed hall, where daylight faintly filters through a glass mosaic depicting the Spasskaya Tower of the Kremlin. Everything is oversized and slightly gloomy, the kind of architecture that gives the visitor the sense of being in the midst of a religious service.

    Ambassador Vladimir Mikhailovich Grinin walks out to meet his guests through a gigantic banquet room. The rooms are furnished in precious wood, heavy materials and splendid chandeliers -- old-fashioned but tasteful.

    Grinin greets his guests in polished German -- the only sign that it isn't his first language is a slight Russian accent. He embodies the close relationship between Germany and Russia, which he invokes during our conversation. Grinin's father and father-in-law fought on the front during World War II. This is his third diplomatic posting in Germany. He was in Bonn in the 1970s and in East Berlin during the period surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall. He is very familiar with Germany and has kept a close eye on today's top politicians, in some cases for decades. "The Germans," he says, "are closer to the Russians than any other nation in Europe."

    For the Russian ambassador, there is no contradiction between East and West. He views the relationship between Russia and the West as a triangle consisting of the United States, Russia and the European Union. And the EU, he says, consists mainly of Germany. "It would be good if the Germans would use their special situation to achieve greater understanding within the triangle," says Grinin. Germany, which understands both the Russians and the Americans better than anyone else, should play the role of an intermediary, so as to ensure "that everyone can find a common language."

    'Never Another War against Russia'

    During his chancellorship, Gerhard Schröder saw this as Germany's destiny. He believed that the country's geographic location in the heart of Europe gave it a special responsibility.

    "Germany, as a country in the middle of Europe, was always on both sides; it was always its task to overcome Europe's civilizational tension," says political scientist Herfried Münkler.

    For many Germans, the close relationship with Russia that Ambassador Grinin invokes is part of an identity that has developed over time -- and not just in the eastern part of the country. The phrase "never another war" has become part of German DNA. But there is also another version of the phrase: "Never another war against Russia." But Germans' unique understanding of Russia doesn't merely stem from radical pacifism and Germany's post-1945 aversion to conflict.

    Russendisko, or "Russian Disco," a dance club held in Berlin's Mitte district for the last 15 years, is usually an indulgent event where the alcohol flows freely. Its founder, best-selling author Vladimir Kaminer, who writes humorous books about Germany written from a foreigner's perspective, is eating a salad with goat meat and says that Russia has always been a dream for the Germans.

    He quotes German historian Karl Schlögel, who said: "Germans see spirituality in the Siberian landscape," and notes that there is something to Schlögel's words. Why, Kaminer asks with a smile, do German television networks always broadcast major stories from Siberia every year after Christmas? According to Kaminer, no other country in the world offers as much TV coverage of Siberia as Germany.

    Kaminer came to Berlin from Moscow in 1990, at the age of 23, and stayed. One of the reasons his books are so popular is that he is so adept at getting to the heart of the German-Russian relationship. Although his prose seems almost childishly clumsy, it is far cleverer and trenchant than many academic treatises.

    "For the Germans, the United States is the evil father who ought to be slugged in the face. Russia, on the other hand, is like a little brother to the Germans, one that has to be coddled."

    The Germans and the Russians, says Kaminer, are "all sitting in the same kitchen. We have a shared history and we have made serious mistakes repeatedly." He points out that Czar Peter the Great asked the Germans to help Russia modernize. "Germany and Russia, as neighbors of sorts, will always be dependent on one another."

    He has always benefited from the Germans' affection for the Russians, says Kaminer. In addition to his traditional monthly Russendisko in Berlin, he also takes the event to other German cities. He has wanted to give up his role as party host for a long time. "I simply can't listen to the music anymore," says Kaminer. "But the Germans happen to like it." They love these evenings, when the vodka flows, the polkas are loud, the dancing is more exuberant than at other parties and the kissing is less inhibited.

    Kaminer believes that the pedantic Germans, who are always thinking of the future, have an underlying yearning for the Russian present, for the art of forgetting tomorrow, and for the wild and unruly character of his fellow Russians. "At Russendisko, you don't need insurance to get up onto the tables," says Kaminer.

    Germans Divided over Russia

    In recent years, it's been easy to believe in a good Russia. There was no reason to be fearful: Germany was grateful for unification, economic ties expanded, and it seemed as though Moscow was being incorporated into Western structures through the G-8 and the NATO-Russia Council. And despite various difficulties, Russia appeared on the path to a democratic future. Many believed that divisions within Europe had been overcome.

    But the Ukraine crisis has called everything into question. "Currently, Russia is not a partner," German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen recently told SPIEGEL. Now Berlin finds itself having to build bridges to a Russia that is increasingly the source of anti-Western and nationalist rhetoric, is intolerant of national, religious and sexual minorities and is motivated by the desire to regain its former significance.

    Germans are divided over their relationship with Russia. Those who have always mistrusted Russia now feel fully vindicated, while those who have advocated sympathy for Russian positions are now calling for even greater understanding. In the SPIEGEL poll, three-quarters of Germans indicate it is "more likely" their trust in Russia has "declined." Nevertheless, some 40 percent of respondents said that they would like to see Germany cooperate more closely with Russia in the future.

    For German foreign policy, which has prided itself on a special closeness with Russia, Moscow has become unpredictable. No one knows what Putin's true intentions are. Is he trying to prevent NATO and the EU from expanding farther eastward? Or does he want to rebuild the Soviet Union, the decline of which he once described as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century?"

    This difficult new Russia was on display in Berlin in mid-May, when Russian official and Putin confidant Vladimir Yakunin attended a meeting of the German-Russian Forum, a lobbying organization similar to the Atlantic Bridge.

    The event was titled "Europe: Lost in Translation?" Yakunin, a tall, bulky man with a large, bulky head, portrayed himself as a representative of the new Russian nationalism. "I am Russian," his speech began, "and I'm proud of it." But the kind of Western values he wants Russia and Europe to share aren't the kind that most people in enlightened Christian societies would like to see: anti-Americanism, homophobia and narrow-mindedness.

    "The Americans don't even know where Crimea is," he scoffed, calling upon the Europeans to join Russian in a common fight against "totalitarian liberalism." "The essence of democracy," said Yakunin, in a reference to the Eurovision Song Contest and its 2014 winner, Austrian singer and drag persona Conchita Wurst, "is not bearded women, but the rule of the people."

    Can Russia be democratic? This question always remains in the background when Germany considers its relationship with Moscow. Hardly any statement in recent years has attracted more attention and notoriety than former Chancellor Schröder's characterization of Putin as a "flawless democrat," seemingly denying his authoritarian tendencies. Pro-Russian Germans are also often seen as having authoritarian tendencies. In a SPIEGEL essay, historian Heinrich August Winkler even accused them of being intellectually akin to the Nazis and their propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels.

    This is flat-out wrong. Germany can be the country that understands Russia better than others without jeopardizing its establishment in the West. It is not a question of having to maintain equidistance to both the West and Russia, and certainly not one of democracy versus autocracy. Embracing a policy that arises from Germany's central geographic location is not the same as embracing a central ideological position.

    Sociologist and philosopher Jürgen Habermas recently warned that Germany is slipping back into a "highly dangerous, semi-hegemonic position." But his concerns aren't justified. Germany no longer has to be afraid of itself. According to international polls, many now view Germany as world's most popular country. The calls for Germany to assume more responsibility are nearly unanimous abroad. During the euro crisis, Germany assumed a greater burden in fiscal and economic policy, and, like any leading power, was attacked for doing so. This simply comes with the territory.

    Extracting itself from the Western alliance is not an option for Germany. NATO membership has brought Germany more than half a century of security and peace, and three-quarters of Germans are convinced that it is still necessary now that Cold War is over. The overwhelming majority of Germans do not question their country's ties to the West.

    A Special Role for Germany

    Still, Germany can make itself more independent of the United States. Schröder's refusal to become involved in the Iraq war was the right decision -- it was a signal that Germany, while remaining true to its alliances, is not willing to participate in a deluded policy based on lies that, as is evident today, has plunged an entire region into chaos. Obama has abandoned Bush's war policy, but not his intelligence-gathering methods.

    Merkel could make it unmistakably clear to the United States that she is not willing to accept the NSA's machinations. So far, the chancellor's mild admonitions have not made an impression on Obama, as the latest spy scandal apparently indicates. This is why it would be correct to grant asylum to whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    Of course, this comes with a price. It will mean that relations with Washington will become very frosty for a while. But Germany can only credibly criticize Putin's policies if it points to the flaws in the Western alliance. At the moment, German sympathy for Putin is partly derived from the sense that the United States isn't much better, and that it is prepared to violate international law if it happens to further its political ends.

    Germany has spread its wings in the last 20 years. It can no longer hide behind others. Instead, Germany can lead Europe to an independent political role. It must offer an outlook to Russia in its yearning to become part of the West. But it must also set clear boundaries if Moscow reintroduces violence as a political tool and threatens allies. For America, a Germany that assumes this role may not be a convenient partner, but in the end, may be a source of relief.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    It Has Begun- Germany to Break From US/UK, Join Russia/China Alliance!

    July 20, 2014 By The Doc 127 Comments



    It is finally happening in full view
    , in unmistakable manner, in a way that the awake, the aware, and the conscious can perceive in alarming stunning terms.
    The central force of Europe, the industrial juggernaut, the stable core, has begun to pivot East.

    The Germans have had enough, fed up with destructive US activities of all kinds. For the last few months, they have been laying out their indictment, their justification, their reasons to abandon the corrupt US-UK crowd. The bank wreckage, the market rigging, the endless wars, the sanctions which backfire, the sham monetary policy, the economic sabotage, the spying, the gold gimmicks, it has finally reached a critical level.

    Germany has begun to move East in full view. Only the deaf dumb and blind cannot notice, and they will probably never notice. They are fodder.
    The awaited signals seen by the Jackass have finally arrived.

    Berlin is outraged by clear USGovt spying, and in process of conducting a Gold audit among their population. Germany is building motives to split from the Euro Monetary Union (common Euro currency) by forging stronger open ties with Russia & China. The justification is becoming plainly laid out, in four perceived indictment charges.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Doh!


    Oh, wait... we all saw this coming didn't we?
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Germany begins spying on Britain and America for the first time since 1945



    Government responds to a series of spy scandals which began last year with revelations that the NSA had bugged Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone

    Tony Paterson

    berlin

    Thursday 24 July 2014

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    Chancellor Angela Merkel has ordered her counter-espionage services to begin surveillance of British and American intelligence gathering in Germany for the first time since 1945 in response to a series of US spy scandals which have badly soured relations between Berlin and Washington.

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung and two-state funded German TV channels, WDR and NDR, quoted an unnamed Berlin government source who said Ms Merkel’s Chancellery and her interior and foreign ministries had agreed to launch counter-espionage measures against Britain and the US for the first time.

    “Right now we need to send a strong signal,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung quoted the source as saying. The extraordinary measures are a direct response to a series of embarrassing US and British spying scandals in Germany which began last year with revelations that the US National Security Agency had bugged Ms Merkel’s mobile phone.

    The Chancellor protested on several occasions that she was “not amused” by the disclosures

    The Independent subsequently revealed that like the Americans, Britain was operating a secret GCHQ listening post from the top of its Berlin embassy. A similar listening post on the roof of the US embassy in Berlin was almost certainly used to eavesdrop on Ms Merkel’s phone.

    The spying scandal came to a head earlier this month with further revelations that a German intelligence double agent had sold secrets to the CIA after being recruited by officials from Berlin’s US embassy and allegations that a German defence ministry employee had also passed on confidential information to US intelligence.

    Ms Merkel’s government responded by taking the unprecedented step of ordering the CIA’s station chief in Germany to leave the country. The move underlined her coalition’s increasing exasperation over Washington’s reluctance to curb its spying activities or offer any explanation.

    News of Germany’s new counter-espionage offensive against Britain and the US comes only two days after officials from Washington and Berlin held so-called “restorative talks” in an attempt to dispel the mutual rancour caused by the spying scandals.

    Both sides were said to have set up “ guiding principles” governing the relationship between their respective intelligence agencies although the German side was obliged to accept that the US flatly ruled out any “no spy” agreement.

    Revelations about uncontrolled US and British intelligence gathering have struck a nerve in Germany where spying is associated with Hitler’s Gestapo and the former Communist Stasi secret police.

    Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine argued in a recent article that GCHQ was “more unscrupulous than the NSA” and suggested that Britain suffered from a “James Bond problem”.

    But fear of NSA spying has prompted MPs to call for a reintroduction of typewriters at parliamentary committee meetings discussing US espionage. During one session classical music was played to deter potential US eavesdroppers.

    Earlier this month the German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere, said Germany needed a “360-degree view” of foreign intelligence gathering to prevent new scandals.

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    Default Re: Russia and Germany restart their special partnership

    Germany to Kill Canada-EU Trade Agreement, May Axe US-EU Deal Too



    by M.E. Synon 27 Jul 2014 58 post a comment

    Germany is to scupper a free trade agreement between the European Union and Canada because the clauses giving legal protection to investors would give them too much power, according to a report in a leading Germany newspaper.

    The Canada deal is considered a template for the United States-EU free trade agreement, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which is still under negotiation. If Germany rejects the Canada agreement, then the American deal looks likely to fail, too.

    A senior European Commission official in Brussels told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung: “The free trade treaty with Canada is a test for the agreement with the United States.” If the one with Canada is rejected, “then the one with the United States is also dead.”

    German diplomats in Brussels confirmed to the newspaper that the Berlin government would not sign the agreement “as it has been negotiated now.” The chapter on legal protection for investors is “problematic.”

    This is likely to refer to the text of an “investment chapter” leaked in February by the Trade Justice Network and reported by Euractiv which indicated that “multinationals will have wide-ranging powers to sue EU states that enact health or environmental laws breaching their ‘legitimate expectations’ of profit.”

    According to Euractiv, the Canada-EU investment chapter proposes a definition of the kind of “fair and equitable treatment” for investors which has sparked multi-million dollar lawsuits, such as one by Lone Pine Resources, a company incorporated in the American state of Delaware, which challenged a shale drilling ban by the Canadian state of Quebec.

    Lone Pine sued under a provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) after Quebec called a moratorium on hydraulic fracking after the American company had spent millions of dollars to obtain exploration permits.

    Pia Eberhardt, a spokeswoman for the Corporate Europe Observatory campaign group which tracks lobbying in Brussels, told EurActiv that, as the text stands: “Canadian investors will be able to use the excessive corporate rights in CETA [Canada- EU trade agreement] to sue European governments for millions of Euros in compensation for legislation to protect the public interest. And US companies with a subsidiary in Canada will be able to do the same.”

    Asked by Reuters about the report that Germany would reject the Canada deal, a spokesman for Germany's Economy Ministry referred to correspondence from Deputy Economy Minister Stefan Kapferer which outlined Germany's concerns about investor protection in talks with both countries: “The German government does not view as necessary stipulations on investor protection, including on arbitration cases between investors and the state with states that guarantee a resilient legal system and sufficient legal protection from independent national courts.”

    In June Kapferer took a similar position on investor protection clauses in the TTIP agreement with the US.

    EU officials insist that without these clauses, companies from Canada – and, it follows, from America -- will not invest in Europe.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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