Second, should a return to pre-war realities even be contemplated? The solution to the war, or at least its starting point, must begin with Russia’s international isolation and not with some whimsical reaction that “rewards” its genocidal and geopolitical gambling tendency. “Normal” relations with a perpetrator of genocide are untenable. It assumes the validity of the Russian Empire and neglects to accept the fact of Ukrainian national sovereignty. Those proposing any “solution” to the present state of affairs must be required to present a case that answers this one fundamental question: can the international order accept Russia’s genocidal behavior in Ukraine as a basis for normal relations? Genocidal behavior on European soil, cannot be allowed to stand. If the civilized world, but especially its values, such as human dignity, the rule of law, the predominance of free and competitive markets, are to be realized, Putin’s Russia must be isolated. It should not even be coerced to consider such a “solution” considering the catastrophic losses that it has endured as a result of Russia’s military aggression. The criminal actions of Russia against Ukraine makes its status within Europe’s security framework and international institutional structures unacceptable. In its very formulation, it assumes Russia’s supposed “right” to determine the fate of a nation within the outdated notion of its “sphere of influence”. Western democracies must not react to Russia’s propaganda and selfish geo-political manuevers, but must conceive of an approach that ultimately transcends a Putin-led Russia. Its isolation affirmed by the international community. There can be no order, nor a justifiable pursuit of peace if a process of accountability is not established and pursued. Facebook

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Vladimir Putin does not want, nor can he conceive, of Ukraine as part of the European world order. Facts are facts, and any resolution to Russia’s war on Ukraine must, from now on, be seen through the prism of genocide and unprovoked criminal acts committed against a distinct culture and its people. In its illegal aggression, Russia has revealed that it neither shares, nor are informed by the values, that have governed international order for over half a century. What is unfortunate is the simple fact that Kissinger is still listened to because there yet remains a black hole for what a new security framework could look like. Ukraine’s aspiration to affirm its nationhood is an inconvenient truth for those still trying to argue for a world order framed in the language of “empires” and that only developed empires can provide world stability. At the same time, it may undermine the support for Ukraine in its cause for resistance against Russia’s authoritarian and imperial ambitions. The questions facing western leaders are quite straightforward: can normal relations exist after Russia’s genocidal behavior in Ukraine? For this, he, and the entire nation of Russia must be condemned, regulated to pariah status and forced into international isolation. As a society, the whole of the Russian nation has shown that it is both philosophically and psychologically unreasonable and an irrational partner does nothing to contribute to European security and stability. It would force it into a national reflection of itself – especially its people- who, must come to terms with the crimes committed by its political leadership. Any potential for European peace and security must be based on a solid and uncompromising pursuit of the affirmation of international rule of law and the demand for national accountability within this framework. For Ukraine to cede land to Moscow is a preposterous notion. Based on its actions, and should thus be treated as such. This will take time, effort, ingenuity and sacrifice by Ukraine’s Western partners, but it would be worth it for a new partner that has suffered genocide, destruction, and a massive dislocation of its citizens, as it fights for its freedom and those in Europe who want to continue to live in liberty. Ukraine cannot be forced to accept peace without justice. The pursuit of peace must take place within the context of national and individual justice. There can be no civilized order, let alone security, that denies Russia’s behavior in Ukraine and the need for it to be held accountable. Western security and stability, along with Russia’s, will only be assured on the reaffirmation of a world order based on the proclamation and pursuit of a rules-based order. This should be done not for the purpose of humiliating Russia, but to chasten it for its behavior. It is only the blind who thinks that Russia shares its values or wants to pursue mutual goals. Even worse, it essentially denies that Russia is attempting to destroy Ukraine through genocidal actions. It has, instead, shown itself to be a pariah. Western democratic nations must not react to Russia’s arrogant ways with fear and thus allow Putin to sue for peace on the Kremlin’s own terms and within the framework they suggest. A Western secular mind wouldn’t fully understand the meaning and the relevance of repentance, but the Russian mind does. Suggesting such a pursuit is not an act of forced humiliation. Moscow’s isolation would be a form of quarantine which would not only limit its effects on the international body politic, but would act at limiting its spread. Russia does not have the right to dictate that Ukraine become and exist as a neutral buffer state. Because of Russia’s morally unacceptable and morally reprehensible crimes in Ukraine, its participation in international bodies must be suspended, if not, ultimately be terminated. Proof of this has not only been his continual rhetorical doubting of Ukraine’s right to nation status, but his illegal and criminally aggressive war whose strategic end is Ukraine’s destruction, for it to cease to exist as a functioning nation and culture. Isolating Russia would signal its rejection by the world order. It simply doesn’t make any sense. Has the civilized world learned nothing from recent European history, or has it forgotten these lessons? There can be no doubt that the framework and assumptions of western relations with Russia must be changed. Ukraine has the right to decide who its security partners should be. This means that Russia must be subjected to international criminal courts, not only for its aggressive war in contravention of international law, but for its multiple war crimes committed against the Ukrainian people. This will not lead to a just solution, nor contribute to the long-term security of its people or the rest of the European continent. Russia’s war with Ukraine is the cause of destabilization. No civilized nation which purports to support the primacy of international law and fundamental human rights can, in good conscience, support the normalization of relations with Russia. This is both a transformational and transitional time, requiring visionary thinking and leadership which cannot seek ‘solutions’ that assume an expired and no longer valid world view based on the prominence of empire thinking. New Europe's Ukraine correspondent. However, only in establishing a stable security framework based on proven idealistic principles such as human dignity, the respect for the sovereignty and the independence of nation-states, within an accountable framework inspired by the rule of law, will a sound and secure foundation be rebuilt to ensure a true peace. Have we become so blind that we cannot accept the fact that such diverse approaches to the dignity of human life and the pre-eminence of the rule of law can coexist? Ukrainian investigators began documenting Russian war crimes from the outset of Moscow’s invasion on February 24. There can be no doubt that Putin has employed genocidal actions to reach this strategic end. Lack of action by the world’s democracies will only be perceived by Russia as weakness and a lack of resolve to both protect and fight for fundamental human and national rights. It would be like doing “business” with the Nazis in the midst of its “extermination” of Europe’s Jews. Russian “values” are a verifiable disease in the international body politic. Ukraine’s freedom and democratic rhetoric coupled with its prowess on the battlefield directly challenges these imperial assumptions of these purveyors of an old world. The Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine  is a result of deliberate decisions to not follow international norms of civil behavior. And yet, Henry Kissinger’s latest pronouncement at the recent Davos World Economic that Ukraine cede land to an imperial Russia, and French President Emmanuel Macron’s efforts to pursue such a tactic, strongly suggests that is not for the purpose of a just peace, but for the promulgation of an outdated European order based on the assumption that historic empires are the basis for peace, European security and stability. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Why Russia needs to be isolated

By Yuri Polakiwsky
Canadian-born political analyst. For Ukraine, such a move is unacceptable because better than anyone else, it understands Russia. Kissinger’s pronouncement at Davos that Ukraine must cede parts of its territory to placate and prevent Russia’s humiliation does not guarantee the cessation of its hostilities against Ukraine or any other nation that wishes to break away from Moscow’s imperial orbit, nor is it a precursor for peace. Kissinger’s proposal shows his total disrespect for Ukraine’s aspiration for national sovereignty and its desire to become a modern democratic nation. And, like the Germans, potentially lead the Russian people towards a national repentance – a deliberate and conscious act of admitting regret and expressing remorse for the perpetration of such heinous crimes done in their name. For if a secure, stable and long-term relationship is to be re-established, Russia must be held accountable for its criminal actions and genocidal practices in Ukraine. Severodonetsk, in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, after a Russian bombardment. For how can criminal behavior be rewarded, as suggested by Kissinger, by those who aspire to the principles of the rule of law? The result of its own actions, cannot, and should not be rewarded.

In turn, he demonstrated the United States’ commitment by arming Ukraine with lethal weapons, launching Operation Atlantic Resolve, reassuring Baltic nations by rotating greater forces to Poland, and, sent a signal to the Russians by robustly defeating Islamic State terrorists and bombing the Russian-Syrian co-conspirators for their continued use of chemical weapons and human rights abuses in Syria. Zeitenwende has reached Sweden and Finland with their embrace of NATO. The full transatlantic partnership must also recognize that it’s essential that we have resilient supply chains for essential medical, pharmaceutical, strategic minerals and energy. French Hill
An American congressman currently serving in the House of Representatives for the state of Arkansas's 2nd congressional district. Throughout 2021 – as well as during last autumn’s buildup of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, in preparation for the brutal invasion that has left tens of thousands dead – only nine of the 30 NATO members met the 2% objective and only 24 met the 20% benchmark for spending on major equipment. Finally, six decades after Kennedy’s complaint, a new wind of change is blowing on the continent of Europe. In his recent speech on February 27th to the German Parliament, the new Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz, announced the policy of zeitenwende or “turning point.” He formally abandoned his predecessor’s feeble “peace through commerce” strategy. Trump’s message resonated loud and clear. American and Polish troops prepare for exercises as part of NATO’s ongoing reinforcement mission to shore up the alliance’s eastern flank in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump, but was in fact, President John F. Scholz’s predecessor, Angela Merkel, oversaw a failed strategy for the better part of 15 years that left Germany, Europe’s largest economy and the fourth-largest in the world, as a hostage that has become addicted to a steady fix of gas from the neighborhood “pusher” – the Russian Federation. Facebook

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An American president once told his National Security Council:  “We cannot continue to pay for the military protection of Europe while the North Atlantic Treaty Organization states are not paying their fair share and living off the ‘fat of the land.’” That president was not Donald J. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin. The American people stand ready to lead the way. For decades American presidents have urged our transatlantic partners to step up and demonstrate commitment to their own robust defense of free markets, democracy, and personal liberties. That goal was formalized in 2014, and that year only three countries met that objective. Recent geopolitical events, a lack of capacity in the developing world, and energy infrastructure failures in Germany and California are a wake-up call. Zeitenwende has reached the mandarins in Brussels and discussions of an EU-wide ban on energy dependence from tsars, thugs, and ayatollahs are underway. Hill has served on several committees, including as a ranking member of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy. Kennedy at an NSC meeting on January 22, 1963. Former President Trump made this a principal plank in his effort to awaken the sleeping Europeans. Vladimir Putin’s two decades of thuggish brutality helped as well. As Europe weans itself off Russian oil and gas, the United States should step in and help fill the void. The current push to cripple US oil and gas production is a foolish policy, especially as competitive battery storage, grid enhancement, and reliable renewable energy production remain years away from supplanting oil and gas. The United States should provide a lifeline to our allies in Europe while also working to transition to a less carbon-dependent future, including boosting domestic nuclear power and exporting our clean energy technology to the world. The United States must successfully negotiate updated free trade arrangements with the United Kingdom and with the European Union. In 2006, NATO informally agreed not to spend less than 2% of Gross Domestic Product on defense, of which at least 20% be invested in major equipment. But there is more that can, and should, be done. Chancellor Scholz committed to energy diversification, ending the corrupt Nordstrom-2 gas pipeline and fully meeting the 2% NATO objective. His leadership prompted allies like Italy and Spain to announce they would follow suit over the next several years. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Europe’s “turning point” finally arrives after Russia’s sadistic invasion of Ukraine

By Rep. During his tenure in Congress, Rep. Trump called on our allies to step up.

This has led to the overt politicization of the judiciary, which has deeply alarmed European observers. There’s increasing pushback against these seemingly politically-motivated prosecutions. As political interference in judiciaries has spread across Europe’s eastern half, staunch opposition to the practice has also grown, raising hopes that politicians tempted to settle their political feuds in the courtroom may soon deem the costs too high. Like in Poland, this pressure takes various forms—for example, OLaNO party leader Igor Matovic recently proposed setting up quotas for how much speaking time politicians would be allocated on TV in order to limit the coverage given to popular opposition figures, a suggestion which one of his own coalition partners likened to Cuban or Venezuelan censorship. Zurek was removed as the spokesperson for Poland’s National Council of the Judiciary, the body in charge of appointing judges in Poland, after criticizing PiS’s controversial judicial reforms. Georgia: Judicial failings remain roadblock toward a European path
If political interference in the judiciary may spell the end for OLaNO’s tenure in government and has sparked lingering strain between Poland and European institutions, the phenomenon may prove particularly damaging for EU-hopeful Georgia. Most recently, this has included ambiguous statements from Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili that all but declared Georgia’s neutrality over Russia’s ruthless invasion and its ongoing war against Ukraine, which has been a historical ally of Tbilisi’s in their mutual struggle against Russia’s imperial ambitions. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Europe’s patience running thin for politicized judiciaries

By Nicholas Waller
Managing Editor

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After years of criticism over its rule of law violations, Poland has enjoyed a recent reprieve as the war in Ukraine caused the EU to cut Warsaw some slack, unlocking Poland’s COVID-19 recovery funds despite enduring concerns over the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s interference with the judiciary. In late May, prominent pro-opposition journalist Nika Gvaramia was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison, a conviction that international rights groups and MEPs have dubbed politically motivated. Under the guidance of its founder, the country’s lone billionaire – Bidzina Ivanishvili, the increasingly reactionary Georgian Dream, or GD, has pivoted Georgia’s foreign and domestic policies towards a decidedly more pro-Russian tilt since it came to power in 2012. The respite, however, may be over—Warsaw’s erosion of judicial independence is back in the spotlight following a June 17 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. The failed attempt to arrest Fico has plunged the coalition into even-deeper turmoil, and with polls showing that Slovaks are increasingly placing their trust in opposition figures like Fico while rejecting OLaNO politicians, the politicization of the judiciary may be the final nail in the coffin of Slovakia’s current coalition. Chief among these concerns is the across-the-board political polarization of nearly every legislative initiative and social issue in the South Caucasus nation of 3 million. Disastrous management of the pandemic, a plagiarism scandal, a lack of clear policy priorities, and bitter infighting have left the coalition struggling to pass vital measures, such as a package to alleviate the rising cost of living crisis. Slovak prosecutors recently dropped corruption charges against former Finance Minister Peter Kazimir after one of the key witnesses who had testified against him was charged themselves, while MPs— including from coalition parties— recently refused to lift the parliamentary immunity of opposition leader Robert Fico. The GD leadership alleges that Zurabishvili’s recent diplomatic trips to Brussels and Paris, which she hoped would help open the door to EU membership and allow her to publicly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, exceeded her remit. Leaning on dubious evidence apparently obtained through psychological pressure, Slovak prosecutors have brought corruption charges against ever-more important opposition figures, while OLaNO policymakers’ open glee at the indictments has raised fears that the coalition is using Slovakia’s judiciary as a political weapon. The aggressive courtroom maneuvring has likely cost Tbilisi its chance at fast-tracked EU negotiations alongside Ukraine and Moldova. Pro-Western Moldova may ride the coattails of sympathy for Ukraine, earning itself a green light to begin negotiations alongside its war-torn neighbor. The Georgian Dream also blocked a charter plane of Georgian volunteers from flying to Ukraine and prevented several Russian dissidents who oppose the war and Vladimir Putin from entering the country. The party has gone so far as to even sue Salome Zurabishvili, the French-born former diplomat who once worked at France’s embassy in Washington and who was handpicked by the Georgian Dream in 2018 to serve as Georgia’s current president. However, much of the apparent campaign against the opposition is playing out in courtrooms. The ECHR found that the dismissal, along with other steps taken against Zurek including an audit of his financial declarations and an inspection of his work, were part of a concerted campaign to intimidate Zurek and prevent him from speaking out against the government. The ruling Georgian Dream party and leaders of the opposition United National Movement have proven unable to abide by a political agreement brokered last year by European Council president Charles Michel, with the Georgian Dream doubling down on the attacks in recent weeks. The Zurek ruling is particularly notable, however, both due to Zurek’s high-profile figure and the fact that it was the first case in which the ECHR addressed the issue of the penalisation of judges who have critiqued Law and Justice reforms. Waldemar Zurek
The court held that this premature removal without judicial review violated Zurek’s right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The case has brought renewed focus on the worrying trend of politicized judiciaries which has spread across Eastern Europe in recent years—a pattern which decision-makers and voters alike are increasingly losing patience with. Since coming to power in February 2020, the OLaNO government has taken ding after ding to its credibility. After years of reluctance to seriously consider further enlargement of the European bloc, the conflict in Ukraine has awakened new enthusiasm in Brussels for eastward expansion. Garibashvili announced in early March that Georgia would not join the international sanctions imposed against Russia, which prompted Kyiv to recall its ambassador to Tbilisi. Asked about the likely international blowback against this curtailing of media freedom, Matovic declared “I could not care less”.  
The decision is only the latest ruling by a European court against PiS’s attempts to weaponize the judiciary against political opponents. A courtroom in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. It’s a group that Tbilisi hoped to join—but European decision-makers are already proving more reticent on the Georgian front, with senior officials acknowledging that Georgia will be left behind until critical issues are addressed. This is a particular problem in Slovakia, where the coalition government led by the Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO) party is on the verge of collapse. Stuck in the polling doldrums and desperate to stave off snap elections, Slovakia’s coalition government appears to have taken a leaf from Warsaw’s book, putting pressure on its major political opponents. The Strasbourg court, or ECHR, awarded Polish Judge Waldemar Zurek, dubbed “one of the most important figures of the judicial community in Poland”, damages to the tune of €25,000. Slovakia: Corruption crackdown hijacked by coalition running out of road
Though Poland’s rule of law travails have been a perpetual thorn in Brussels’ side since Law and Justice came to power, it’s far from the only European country where legal cases are taking on a political tinge. In a favorable response to the Georgian Dream’s positions, Moscow did not include Georgia in a list of countries that the Kremlin considers ‘unfriendly’.

Security Council Resolution 2231 expires in 2025. Already struggling to pull together and muster the political energy necessary to deter Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine, thanks in no small part to the nefarious ideological sympathies of rogue member states such as Viktor Orban’s Hungary, the EU would do well to follow suit. Such a clear and uncompromising position is the best hope we have of making Iran yield to serious concessions that can stand the test of time. unilaterally, but requires the commitment and solidarity of the entire international community, Europe included. Indeed things appear only to be getting worse with regards to Iran’s human rights abuses. A year of soft diplomacy has done nothing to ameliorate their situation. There should be no sanctions relief merely to reward negotiating; the West must see results first. The revived deal is set to retain this dangerous timeline, giving Iran a short, clear, and legal pathway to a nuclear bomb. The idea that the West should roll the de-listing of the IRGC into an already flawed deal, that has such glaring blindspots, is repugnant. The JCPOA, as currently constituted, does nothing to restrain Tehran’s inhuman policy of hostage diplomacy. Germany, France, the United Kingdom and the United States seem to have recognised the hopelessness of the current situation after co-authoring a draft censure resolution to formally rebuke Iran for failing to answer long-standing questions by the International Atomic Energy Agency on uranium traces at undeclared nuclear sites. These individuals have suffered unspeakably at the hands of the regime, often being subjected to humiliating show trials, before being isolated, tortured, and starved for long periods of time. This is not a sanctions regime that can be implemented by the U.S. In other words,  the victims will have rocks hurled at their heads while trapped in sand. As the Islamic Republic’s premier military institution, answerable only to the Supreme Leader and possessing enormous influence over Iranian political and economic life, de-listing the IRGC is a top priority for Tehran. Meanwhile, Iran is exploiting this stolen time to creep ever closer to developing a nuclear weapons capability, which would make any future deal toothless. The case for re-entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), aka the 2015 nuclear agreement, is even weaker now than when it was first entered into. Since then, the regime has announced plans to execute the Swedish-Iranian doctor Ahmadreza Djalali. It should by now be clear that no amount of soft diplomacy will convince the Iranian regime to abandon its nuclear programme wholesale. But world powers are all too aware of the nefarious influence that the IRGC wields, both in terms of domestic oppression and foreign meddling. The best we can hope to do is work deliberately and diligently to deprive them of the resources they require to advance that programme and their other non-nuclear malign activities in an imminent timeframe. presidential election. Facebook

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Negotiations to restore the Iran nuclear deal have reached a complete standstill. After fifteen months of diplomatic back and forth, Iran is refusing to sign on to any agreement that does not also include the delisting of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation. The Islamic Republic, which sees Putin’s regime as a partner of convenience, lies poised to trade with Russia if and when its own sanctions regime is dismantled. Rather than continue to push for a deal that would be unworkable in practice and which neither side can even agree to in principle, it is time that we reprioritise our geopolitical commitments and abandon negotiations until such a time as Tehran is ready to become a responsible member of the international community. The snapback sanctions mechanism under U.N. Washington, London, and Brussels are rightly wary of removing the IRGC’s terror-label. Last week a shocking trove of classified records revealed that Iran has sentenced 51 people to death by stoning for adultery. The truth is that only tough new multilateral measures of the type inflicted against Putin’s regime are likely to bring Iran to the point of making serious concessions. As many as two dozen dual-national citizens, including 15 Europeans, remain in captivity in Iranian prisons, in total violation of international law. The Iranian regime must be subjected, with immediate effect, to the most robust international sanctions possible. Nazanin Zaghgari Ratcliffe, detained for 6 years, was only released in May, following enormous concessions from the UK government and after the British-Iranian dual citizen was forced to sign a final humiliating and false confession. In the meantime, so long as we remain committed to these intractable negotiations, innocent people will continue to suffer. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Why the West must ditch the JCPOA and instead focus on its critical diplomatic objectives

By Giulio Terzi
Former Italian Foreign Minister, Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador to the United States. In the meantime, ditching the deal will provide a much-needed reset to transatlantic Iran policy, which has been paralyzed by a desperation to save a deal which will be at grave risk of collapsing again after the next U.S. Importantly, the sunset clauses embedded in the original agreement that time-limited restrictions to Iran’s nuclear programme are already elapsing and scheduled to lift gradually over the next few years. Lifting sanctions on Iran at this time would only play into Putin’s hand and alleviate pressure on the Russian economy, as the Kremlin will seek to use Iran as a sanctions evasion hub. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions regime that has been rapidly erected to punish Moscow means that Putin is desperately casting around for allies. The wider geopolitical context has also drastically changed since 2015. The JCPOA does nothing to address these appalling human rights abuses.

By December, the country was in possession of more than half the global grain supply, and according to data provided by the U.S. In 2000, the global population stood at around 6.1 billion, whereas today it is 7.9 billion. As the second-largest wheat producer in the world, India’s decision added another blow to the insecurity surrounding global food markets. Last year marked a record high of almost 193 million people facing acute food insecurity across 53 countries and territories, according to the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC). Imports will therefore become steadily more vital for the growing number of countries unable to meet their food needs through domestic production. Ruehl
An Australian-American journalist living in Washington, D.C., Ruehl is a contributing editor to Strategic Policy and a contributor to several other foreign affairs publications. Introduced in 2019 to curb and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, the sidelining of the Green Deal has underscored the severity of the situation. With more mouths to feed, global food security has also been threatened by the loss of arable land due to erosion, pollution, climate change, and increasing water shortages over the last few decades. But though the war has certainly exacerbated the global food crisis, it was preceded by the food price hikes of 2007 and 2011, in addition to the hike witnessed due to COVID-19, after decades of falling costs in real prices of food items. Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated on April 1 that food exports were a “quiet but ominous” weapon that Russia intended to use. In an effort to offset U.S. In 2021, data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) showed more massive increases in meat, dairy, cereals, vegetable oils, and sugar prices that exceeded the previous spike witnessed in 2007 and 2011. With the global food crisis approaching a new phase, increasing Ukrainian exports, encouraging international cooperation, and developing additional agricultural initiatives will be vital to overcoming it. Having endured an economic crisis in 2019, the pandemic, and rising food and energy costs as a result of the war in Ukraine, Sri Lanka defaulted on its debt for the first time in history in May. agriculture’s dependence on Russia, President Joe Biden committed $2.1 billion on June 1 to strengthen the nation’s food system. The situation has highlighted the decreasing levels of food self-sufficiency around the world, which the FAO defines as “the extent to which a country can satisfy its food needs from its own domestic production.” Food self-sufficiency has declined globally since the 1960s, particularly in Africa, but also in countries like Japan. High obesity rates, formerly limited to Europe and North America, are now prevalent around the world. But food insecurity is also rising and will likely get worse. But even net exporters like Russia are in trouble, with the Kremlin announcing in March that it would “suspend exports of wheat, meslin, rye, barley, and corn to the Eurasian Economic Union” (EAEU)—the economic bloc led by Russia—until August 31 in order to secure its own domestic food supply. In March, the European Union committed up to €1.5 billion to help support the bloc’s farming sectors, and also loosened regulations on the European Green Deal, including restrictions on the land available for farming. He is currently finishing a book on Russia to be published in 2022. Other economically unstable countries risk meeting a similar fate, with Sri Lanka also experiencing violent protests. In 2021, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa enacted a ban on synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and weedkillers to turn the country’s agricultural sector completely organic by 2030. India has provided Sri Lanka with billions of dollars in loans since its economic crisis began, as well as emergency food deliveries. imported more than $1 billion worth of fertilizer from Russia in 2021. Amid claims that the ban was merely an attempt to reduce imports and maintain Sri Lanka’s foreign currency reserves, this move eventually decimated domestic food production. The effects of the war in Ukraine have brought much of the world’s attention to energy prices. While richer countries that have grown less self-sufficient in food production have been able to shoulder the increasing costs of imports before, food shortages are now also affecting them as well. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian war, prices of food items have skyrocketed further. As food prices began to rise quickly in 2021, China was accused of hoarding grain supplies. Global food habits have also changed, with meat consumption per capita having increased substantially over the last 20 years. Russia is also the world’s top exporter of fertilizer, and so the global food system faces the simultaneous challenges of Western sanctions on Russia and steeper costs of both growing and importing food. Even before the invasion of Ukraine, a growing number of people around the world were undernourished. The Arab region typically receives between 40 percent and 50 percent of its food imports from Ukraine and Russia, indicating that the region is particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Aside from the war in Ukraine and disruption to global supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, other factors have also exacerbated these stresses. But the rising volatility in food prices since 2007 has tested the affordability and competency of this system. Food security, the ability to meet food demand through domestic production and imports, has also fallen around the world in recent years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has also warned against increasing cyberattacks and potential sabotage of agricultural and food plants in the United States. The Russian military has also prevented Ukraine from accessing its ports on the Black Sea recently, leaving Ukraine essentially landlocked, and unable to export its food products to the international markets. More than a dozen countries have banned certain or all food exports until the end of this year or into next year, and these measures are unlikely to be the last. The chaotic consequences of the rising cost of food were already visible more than a decade ago. Facebook

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With some of the world’s most fertile land, Ukraine’s nickname as the breadbasket of Europe is an understatement of its agricultural potential. The food crisis has instigated other countries to make greater efforts to shore up their positions to secure the food supply systems. The war in Ukraine, however, has sent these problems into overdrive. Together with Russia, the two countries account for roughly 14 percent of global corn exports, 22 percent of rapeseed/canola exports, 27 percent of wheat exports, and 30 percent of barley exports, as well as almost 70 percent of the world’s sunflower oil exports. In addition to stifling Ukraine’s ability to export, Russia has significantly reduced food and agricultural exports to “unfriendly countries” in the wake of sanctions, cutting off the supply of most of the food products it exported to the Western world, as well as to Japan and South Korea. Though the food crisis has instigated governments to adopt nationalist policies to protect themselves, there have been some examples of international cooperation. Since February, Russia has seized some of Ukraine’s most vital agricultural regions in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country. Faced with the fact that food insecurity is one of the major sources of leverage for Russian President Vladimir Putin against the West, he can be expected to double down on ensuring that the current food crisis continues. Alongside the millions of Ukrainians who will require food aid this year, underwhelming harvests and conflicts in other parts of the world have meant countries such as Yemen, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, Somalia, and South Sudan are also high-risk countries, in addition to countries harder hit by increasing food costs. Based on current trends, only 14 percent of countries are projected to be food self-sufficient by the end of the century, according to an article in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Affordability of food was a major contributing factor to the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2010, which saw protests, toppled governments, and led to civil wars. These issues were partially offset by increased efficiencies in food production and globalization, which allowed countries to sell excess food products in a competitive market. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Global food Insecurity is being exacerbated by the war in Ukraine

By John P. More drastic effects are being felt in Sri Lanka. The most recent jump in wheat prices, which have gone up by more than 40 percent since January, followed India’s announcement that it would ban exports following a heat wave that destroyed crops in the country. Department of Agriculture, during the first half of 2022, China was predicted to have half of global wheat supplies, 60 percent of rice supplies, and roughly 70 percent of maize supplies. The U.S. European states are, meanwhile, attempting to develop alternative transit routes for Ukrainian food products away from Russia-controlled Black Sea ports, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Turkey on June 8 for discussions that included creating a Black Sea corridor to allow Ukrainian grain to reach the world markets. This article was produced by Globetrotter. But like energy, food has also served as a weapon of foreign policy.

Keosayan hinted that the government should “look carefully at what is happening in Ukraine”, which was interpreted as a thinly veiled threat against the Kazakh state. I think we should seriously consider the prospects of introducing the principles of a circular economy. Each group and confession enjoys equal rights and Russian is constitutionally a co-official language alongside Kazakh, with the former serving as the lingua franca for much of the country’s population. “I am grateful to Vladimir Putin, who today has comprehensively set out the position of the top leadership (in) the Kremlin in relation to Kazakhstan, and other countries, but especially to my country.”
Tokayev’s comments were directed at several prominent members of the Russian Duma and some of the Kremlin’s most-favored journalists. The process of reformatting traditional economic models and trade routes is accelerating. “But I want to stress that we continue working with the Russian government, I would say in an intensified manner, and reach necessary agreements while not violating the sanctions,” he said. Globalization has been replaced by an era of regionalization, with all its virtues and inherent flaws. Since the start of the war, Tokayev has held conversations with Putin and has urged him to find a peaceful compromise with Ukraine. We are working on reducing the energy intensity of GDP, expanding the renewable energy sector and reducing transit losses in this sector,” Tokayev added. Kazakhstan, which has followed a multi-vector foreign policy under Tokayev, who has tried to maintain a delicate balance between the West and Russia, said his government would not recognize Donetsk and Luhansk, the two eastern Ukrainian regions that are mostly under the control of Russia’s occupying forces, as independent republics. Another priority, Tokayev said, was further expansion of trade and economic cooperation with third countries…Therefore, Tokayev did not rule out the prospect that in the coming decade traditionally friendly countries such as China, India, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, may become major investors in the economies of the region. In a recent tirade by Kremlin-backed journalist Tigran Keosayan, Kazakhstan was accused of being ungrateful to Russia after it cancelled a May 9 Victory Day parade. Naturally, it would be chaos. “I believe that these are totally unjustified arguments that are far from reality … Indeed, we do not have any issues that can be agitated in one way or another and which sows discord between our peoples and causes damage to our people and to the Russian Federation. Six days after Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine began on February 24, Tokayev offered to mediate peace talks. Kazakhstan is roughly the same size as Europe and is home to close to 19 million people from dozens of different nationalities, nearly 30% of which are not ethnic Kazakhs. While sharing the St. I do not really understand these statements. But, two principles of the UN came into contradiction – the territorial integrity of the state and the right of a nation to self-determination. The two countries agreed to increase and strengthen mutual trade, and boost economic cooperation in transport, logistics, manufacturing, and agriculture, and expand cultural and humanitarian ties. Kazakh farmers suffered from drought last year due to low rainfall and shallow rivers. Petersburg stage with Putin at the plenary session on June 17, Tokayev slammed a number of Russian lawmakers, noting that they made “absolutely incorrect statements about Kazakhstan, inaccurate statements from, so to speak, journalists and even artists”. Prior to the start of the invasion, the Kazakh government refused to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as the Donbass, as independent states and ruled out the possibility of deploying peacekeeping forces, despite Russia’s stern demand that Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, follow Moscow’s orders. Deepening multilateral cooperation with China is an extremely important task for our country.”
Green Investments
Turning to climate change, Tokayev said there are opportunities to expand growth of green investments and to solve environmental problems, according to Qazaq Green Association. I don’t really understand why these individuals, who in some strange way, comment on the decisions made by the Kazakh leadership or the events taking place in our country,” Tokayev stressed. If the right of nations to self-determination were actually implemented across the globe, then instead of the 193 states that now make up the UN, there would be more than 500 or 600 states on Earth. “Global shocks associated with the pandemic and increasing geopolitical tensions have led to a new reality. “In Russia, some people (have) distorted this whole situation, asserting that Russia supposedly ‘saved’ Kazakhstan, and we should now eternally ‘serve and bow down to the feet’ of Russia,” Tokayev commented to Russian news outlet Rossiya 24. Tokayev noted that environmental problems have a global nature and have affected almost every country in the world, including Kazakhstan. Since these principles contradict each other, there are different interpretations of them. Kazakhstan’s ongoing large-scale political and economic reforms are aimed at revamping the country’s public administration in an effort to push for economic growth and improve the overall well-being of its citizens. Tokayev also stressed that Kazakhstan will still adhere to its duties as an ally of Russia, including through membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Moscow’s answer to the European Union and NATO. Petersburg forum

By Nicholas Waller
Managing Editor

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Calls for expanding trade and economic cooperation with the Eurasian Union and third countries

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While speaking at the 25th St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke out against the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine and the Kremlin’s support for pro-Moscow separatist movements in several former Soviet republics. Since becoming president in 2019, Tokayev has pushed for sustainable development, as well as deepening Kazakhstan’s trade and economic relations through the opening of new production facilities and promoting the creation of conditions for growth in both human capital and innovations. He acknowledged that the forum is taking place in a situation of increased political and economic turbulence. Keosayan, who is the husband of Margarita Simonyan, the sanctioned pro-Kremlin firebrand and chief editor of RT (formerly Russia Today), suggested that Kazakhstan was ungrateful to Russia after Moscow sent troops to the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan as part of a Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSO) contingent under efforts to quell violent riots in January. Kazakhstan joined the 2015 Paris Agreement on August 2, 2016, and pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan’s Tokayev defends countries’ territorial integrity at St. He later explained that Kazakhstan could not put itself into a situation whereby it would officially recognize similar breakaway regions, including Taiwan and Kosovo, as well as Georgia’s regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which have been occupied by Russia since the early 1990s. “We plan to consistently expand opportunities for the growth of green investments and implementation of the relevant projects,” he said. “I believe that such long-term challenges to the sustainable development of our states should be addressed together. Instead of counter-sanctions, which are unlikely to be productive, we should pursue a more active and flexible trade policy with a wide coverage of Asian and Middle Eastern markets,” he said while adding that Kazakhstan has no intention of breaking the Western sanctions that were imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly asked Kazakhstan to join the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine, but Kazakhstan flatly refused. Echoing Putin’s irredentist statements about Ukraine’s internationally-recognized independence, Russian pundits have regularly and openly questioned the validity of Kazakhstan’s own nationhood, including making baseless neo-imperialist territorial claims against the country and spreading false rumors that the government of Kazakhstan discriminates against Russian speakers; the same cliched accusation that Russia’s state-run propaganda levies against any former ex-Soviet state that formulates a policy that differs from Moscow’s. The world is changing rapidly. Unfortunately, in most cases, not for the better.”
Immediately after leaving the former Russian imperial capital, Tokayev visited Tehran where he held talks with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. New Kazakhstan
Earlier at the St. “In my opinion, it would be appropriate and useful to work out a new trade strategy within the EAEU taking into account the new reality. Tokayev recalled the critical condition of the Ural (Zhaiyk) River basin ecosystem, which traverses Kazakhstan and Russia. Petersburg Economic Forum, Tokayev also referred to a state-wide referendum where most of the citizens of Kazakhstan approved the adoption of amendments to the country’s constitution, a move that most observers believe will determine the future of the Central Asian country. “Modern international law is the UN Charter. Regional cooperation and trade
Tokayev called the strengthening of the potential of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) an urgent task. “China has already become Kazakhstan’s main economic and foreign trade partner. “We cannot violate them, especially because we receive warnings about possible so-called secondary sanctions against our economy from the West if we did violate the sanctions,” Tokayev added. This country has already invested over $22 billion in our economy over the past 15 years. … In all likelihood, this principle will be applied to quasi-states, which, in our opinion, include Luhansk and Donetsk.” said Tokayev.

This initiative was putting together experiences by:people coming from many different countries: Africa, the middle east and Asia, but also Italian born sons of immigrants that experienced a difficult life here in Italy. What we miss not is a structure able to put together everybody, we can be the third political party in this country. It is not easy here in Padova, you have to know the different culture of each country but there are points of convergence. How is it possible integrate immigrants communities that here in Padova are divided? From here I saw the need to answer to different needs and try to solve problems that were growing day by day, this group was founded not only by me but by many other people. SELM:In Padova now there are 18.000 citizens then in the future they could be three times more. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interview:A Palestinian candidate mayor in Padova

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

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New Europe spoke during the electoral campaign for the administrative election with Salim El Maoued, candidate mayor of Padova with an independent civic list. NE:We see that in your list of candidates there are also Italians, why? NE:If you are going to have seats in the city council which are the most interesting political areas for you? And how many in the next years? SELM:I didn’t want to reduce all this political project only to immigrants, I think that insert also Italians was very important because in my vision for the future, a meaningful politics must be inclusive, all together we have to work in order to create something important. We are fighting for young citizens without a political representation and I hope to find citizens in other cities and hopefully we could work together. NE: Are you from the left or from the right? I also hope that there will be the possibility to develop some projects financed by the European Union, it would be nice to create a cultural centre designed for the second generation of Italians open to all, we need multicultural places where people can meet. Salim El Maoued:My political engagement starts many years ago with my support for the Palestinian cause then five years ago after seeing what was going on at local, national and also international level regarding people in need and mostly immigrants I founded an association called “Stella Polare”. During this period we discussed about many issues and not only topics related to immigration, we treated problems and topics peculiar to the city of Padova then we decided to create a civic, completely independent list in order to implement the plans that we started to discuss five years ago. NE:You travelled a lot during these years, what is according to you the most important element to create integration? For me it is easier to work with them than to collaborate with groups or realities from Padova. El Maoued, who speaks Arabic, Italian and English, was born in Palestine and studied medicine in Padova, he then got a job as “family doctor” in the northern city. SELM:There is not integration without knowledge not only from the linguistic point of view, when immigrants gets the citizenship they don’t do a cultural path. Among the political proposals in his program El Maoued wants to create a “ survival income “ for people earning less that 1000 Euros per month, this measure could help among others: families in need and business owners hit by the crisis. We have to re-establish certain values, they have to be more attached to the values of the hosting country. New Europe:What was the starting point of your political career and how you decided to put in place a list and run for mayor here in Padova? SELM:At Padova level for sure the suburbs, the real problem is there especially from the economic and social point of view, we have to work more on integration. Even if Padova is governed by a centre-left coalition, I think there is a lack of interest in Padova on these important issues, I have never seen a mayor here who was engaged in a serious dialogue with the foreign communities, this also means going to the different celebrations and ceremonies. In the suburbs we can really change the city and do something important. I hope that that one day Padova could accept this inclusive projects, may be now the time is not ready, maybe in the future. This political project is different because we have different needs and we manage the problems of our city in a different way. NE:Talking now about numbers, how many immigrant we have here with vote power? We experienced that immigrants families in the suburbs are asking for more security but we need concrete solutions. NE: Did you meet in Italy with other “non-italian” politicians during this period? I see clearly the will to do something positive for Padova, what is lacking is a true structure that keep all these different energies together. There are a lot of issues but politics in Padova is very far from the real problems of families without an adequate health assistance for example. The issue is that I never saw elsewhere a so relevant and independent political project and this is our real strength here. The active electoral force of the immigrants in the next years is going to be very strong, they are young and they have a strong motivation to work hard to create a better society. The name of his list is “ Padova di Tutti “ which is composed by trade unionists, women and members of associations and foreign communities. SELM:We are a new political project, this has the potential to be a real structured political party but we should work with a bigger community, from the political point of view we will never be from center-right of center-left because the “classical” party still didn’t understand this change that it is going on now in front of us. SELM:In these years I was in contact with lots of politicians from different origin: Africans, Syrians, Moroccans, Egyptian, they were in Rome, Treviso, Vicenza, Bergamo, Milano and Sicily. This never happened before, Padova is not a “easy” city to manage then even if we have one of the oldest university in there world there is still a sort of diffidence for people coming from outside, in the past it was regarding immigrants coming from the south of Italy. On the other hand from the immigrants and second generation Italian born citizens to talk about left and right doesn’t make sense, they don’t have our political references because they are coming from other political contexts. Immigrants need more cultural and linguistic mediators for example in the hospitals, we need professionals able to speak different languages in order to help others, the problem is that the funds were cut to support an efficient assistance strategy also with trainings to help immigrants. For sure this is a city with a lot of sons of immigrants who is also mutating, it has different cultures and it is not a static city and also the political future will be multi-ethnic.

Regime Propaganda Collapsing 
According to no less an authority than Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, the initial uprising was largely attributable to the MEK, which had “planned for months” to facilitate simultaneous protests in all major cities. Quite to the contrary, some of the leading perpetrators have steadily risen through the ranks of the Iranian regime over the past three decades, thereby reinforcing the regime’s vendetta against MEK activists. This figure was initially reported by the MEK and its affiliates and was later confirmed by a Reuters’ report that cited multiple sources from inside the Ministry of Interior. This was made all the more remarkable by the fact that the protests came only two months after another nationwide uprising during which the IRGC was the foremost perpetrator of a nearly unprecedented crackdown on dissent. It is common sense that if the operation was successful, it would have at least short-term diplomatic backlash for Tehran. Rajavi. Recent and ongoing developments inside the Islamic Republic have made it abundantly clear that inattention to the Iranian Resistance and what it represents is a serious missing factor in American and European approaches to Iran policy. But Raisi has already failed. But remarks from then-Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on July 1, 2018, revealed that Tehran had hoped to depict this as an inside job and a false flag operation. (I headed the Italian delegation). The November 2019 uprising was sparked by the government’s decision to deliberately raise gasoline prices, for an already beleaguered population. At the same time, these phenomena are only underscored by the circumstances that surrounded that appointment and effectively deprived both the Raisi administration and the entire regime of any claim to legitimacy. It is estimated that some 30,000 political prisoners were killed in this fashion, easily qualifying the massacre as a crime against humanity. “He is the president of the Ayatollah.  
The dimensions of that problem became more evident in 2002 when the country’s leading pro-democracy opposition group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), first revealed details of the regime’s secret nuclear weapons program. Simply put, Iran is too big and too pressing to be ignored.  
Throughout the past four decades, I have personally witnessed the challenges faced by policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic, in terms of understanding the utterly perplexing Iranian political situation and how to respond to it. Iranian state media had long dismissed the MEK as a “cult” and a “grouplet” lacking any meaningful support among the general public. Each of these outlets has played host, in recent months, to the now-familiar call for “death to the dictator”, and excerpts of speeches from both Mrs. This sets them apart from prior large-scale protests like the 2009 protests, which were dominated by middle-class activists in Tehran. Her Ten-Point Plan for the Future of Iran will ensure freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom for every Iranian to choose their elected leaders.” 
Mrs. Although Western policymakers have frequently expressed optimism about the possible softening of that identity, the overall trend has actually been in the opposite direction, especially in recent years. But some aspects of the regime’s conduct also worsened after then-President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018. The outraged population only targeted government centers and repressive centers and the slogans of the protesters throughout Iran were almost identical, targeting the regime in its entirety. Assadollah Assadi, Tehran’s Third Counselor in Vienna who was a veteran MOIS officer and coordinator of the MOIS activities in Europe, was assigned to carry out the operation. Iran had attempted to retaliate against the killing by launching a volley of missiles at Iraqi military bases housing US forces, but in the pursuing hours, the IRGC shot down a commercial Ukrainian airliner, killing all 176 people onboard.  
To achieve this goal, it is needed a no longer deferrable commitment by EU and US institutions in order to assure a Transatlantic stance that openly supports and legitimizes the organized opposition movement now leading the country’s transition to democracy. Since then they have brought down several government ministry websites, and have used public address systems at busy public markets. Longstanding Commitment to Violent Repression 
While shocking in its own right, the sheer scale of the November 2019 crackdown came as little surprise to persons familiar with the regime’s repressive history. The severity of the November 2019 crackdown is perhaps attributable in part to this phenomenon. No such strategy has been forthcoming in the past four decades, because Western policymakers have overwhelmingly been caught in a false dilemma, believing that their only options were to accept the current composition of the Iranian government or to remove it by force of arms and accept the chaos that comes of leaving a country leaderless. The regime’s response to the November 2019 uprising was a dramatic escalation from its response to the initial uprising in January 2018, which nevertheless killed dozens and resulted in lengthy prison sentences for many others. The bomb was in the trunk of their car. If the plot was not foiled, it could have been one of the deadliest terror cases in the recent history of Europe. There have been at least eight protests since December 2017 that were large enough in scale to qualify as nationwide uprisings, including the most recent ones. One of the top priorities of the Iranian regime’s diplomatic apparatus has been neutralizing and marginalizing the MEK on the international scene. His mission is clear: inflict pain, frighten, continue to loot and plunder. It may be possible to say that activities by the organized resistance movement have escalated at a faster pace than the regime’s efforts to suppress them. Normalizing Calls for Regime Change 
As of this writing, the Islamic Republic is three weeks into what may reasonably be termed a nationwide uprising, first brought on by public outrage over the government’s decision to remove subsidies on essential foodstuffs. The primary target was Maryam Rajavi. This has grown increasingly unmistakable in recent months as the activities in question have become notably more sophisticated and more frequent. In that case, initial protests over economic conditions began in the country’s second-largest city of Mashhad, and then spread to well over 100 other localities.  
An October 2019 photo taken on the Esplanade des Invalides in Paris shows a member of the Iranian opposition erecting images of political prisoners who were executed in 1988 by the regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Actually, following the November 2019 uprising, which pushed the regime to the precipice of being overthrown, Khamenei made it abundantly clear that his main priority is to stem the growing tide. Its fear of the MEK was never more apparent than in 1988, at the end of eight-year Iran-Iraq War, when the regime’s weakened state made it especially vulnerable to a surge of popular dissent. Protests immediately spread to some 200 cities in all 31 provinces. This is not to say that the MEK is without support in the West. This was a strategic decision by Khamenei which entailed axing even some of the most loyal figures and factions of the regime that had the least rift with the supreme leader. The impact of that decision included an immediate spike of roughly 400 percent in the price of cooking oil, and similarly catastrophic increases for chicken, eggs, dairy, bread, and pasta. This fact only makes Khamenei’s statements about recent uprisings more ironic, insofar as those statements threaten to undermine his own regime’s success in downplaying the power and influence of the MEK. As with each of the prior uprisings, the ongoing demonstrations in Khuzestan and elsewhere have evolved to include calls for regime change alongside their original expressions of economic grievance. On January 27, the Resistance Units interrupted the broadcast of 25 Iranian state TV and Radio channels, showing crossed-out images of Supreme Leader Khamenei, pictures of Maryam and Massoud Rajavi and excerpts of their speeches. Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).  
Thanks to the vigilance and close cooperation of security services of several European countries – including Belgium, France, and Germany – the plot was foiled. In the face of dramatic public outrage at that time, authorities cut off internet access for much of the country, in an effort to simultaneously impede organizing efforts and slow the spread of news regarding mass shootings and mass arrests. One perpetrator of that crime, a former official at Gohardasht Prison named Hamid Noury, is currently awaiting a verdict following his prosecution in a Swedish court, but apart from this, no official involved in the massacre has faced meaningful consequences. Raisi’s role in the 2019 crackdown soon proved to be a stepping stone toward even greater power over domestic affairs. and Mr. That year, the regime’s founder and first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa declaring all members of the MEK guilty of “enmity against God”, a capital offense.  
The Wall Street Journal revealed on May 8, 2008, “Iranian officials have urged suppression of the MEK in negotiations with Western governments over Tehran’s nuclear program and other issues, according to several diplomats who were involved in those talks.” 
With the progress that the MEK has made in recent years, the Iranian authorities decided to decapitate the opposition at any cost and as such planned the bombing of the massive international gathering in support of the Iranian Resistance in Paris on June 30, 2018. Consequently, those governments have maintained inadequate policies while ignoring the pivotal factor of the Iranian people and the role of the opposition PMOI/ MEK. Between March 2019 and March 2020, the regime broadcast more than 300 movies and documentary series on the MEK, and within that same period, two separate court rulings in Germany ordered news outlets to pay damages and revise articles because it was determined that their claims about the MEK could ultimately be traced back to Iranian intelligence. Those who failed to disavow the MEK or prove their loyalty to the regime were summarily executed and typically buried in secret mass graves. Attacks on the MEK are incessant within Iranian state media, and many of those attacks have bled into the international press. Rajavi is an inspiration to the world. Now as then, the anti-government message was promoted in advance by “Resistance Units” affiliated with the MEK – activist collectives that are also known for acts of targeting symbols of the mullahs’ rule, as well as the public display and projection of images of leaders of the resistance, namely Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and Massoud Rajavi, the historical leader of the MEK. Assadi was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 20 years in jail and his three agents were sentenced to 17 and 18 years of imprisonment.  
What has compounded the problem is the geopolitical significance and importance of Iran and its impact on the region and the global order. Those assumptions have arguably held back Western policymakers from exploring their full range of options for confronting the Iranian regime or engaging with the Iranian people. Since Raisi’s appointment, that awareness has spread via the traditional efforts of MEK affiliated Resistance Units. “Raisi is not the president of the people of Iran,” Pompeo said. The catastrophe was the direct result of rampant corruption and nepotism contributing to sub-standard construction.  
But the terror and demonization campaign provide less vivid examples of that phenomenon than the regime’s various crackdowns on dissent, dating back to the earliest days of the Islamic Republic. It has many high-profile backers in the fields of parliamentarians, government, security, intelligence, and academia, but their support has yet to translate into comparable attention from the actual leadership of the United States, the European Union, or its member states. But of course, this description cannot be reconciled with the regime’s more recent acknowledgement that vast swaths of the national population have followed the MEK’s lead in staging multiple nationwide uprisings.  
In June 2021, Khamenei installed Raisi as president of the Islamic Republic following a tightly controlled election in which he was the only viable candidate to appear on the ballot. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently commented upon this situation while visiting Ashraf 3, the community established by the MEK in Albania following the relocation of 3,000 of their members from Camp Liberty in Iraq.  
For supporters of the MEK, such stories are confirmation of the Iranian regime’s often single-minded focus on that group as a threat to its hold on power.  
The timing of the planned attack was very telling. The cases involving Der Spiegel and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung were unfortunately not unique, because the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security has spent a considerable amount of time developing a network of friendly journalists, sometimes even directing its own agents to ply their trade in the guise of academic or journalistic roles. Tehran’s calculation was that given the surge in the activities of the opposition, a serious blow to the organized resistance and its leader would have outweighed the short-term diplomatic loss. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Recurrence of uprisings in Iran highlights missing factor in Western policy

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The Islamic Republic of Iran has been a uniquely difficult area for American and European foreign policy since the Islamist dictatorship was established in the wake of the 1979 revolution.  All that indicated the role of an organized resistance in leading the protests. The MEK is committed to democracy, human rights and freedom for every citizen of Iran, and it’s led by an extraordinary woman. In his remarks to residents, Pompeo also addressed Raisi’s repressive mandate and his role in undermining that mandate by stoking the people’s economic discontent. Assadi, who was overseeing the operation while on “holiday” in Germany, was arrested near the Austrian border on July 1. Following more than two years of investigation, Belgian investigators and the court concluded that this was the work of a state. On January 5, the Resistance Units burned a statue of Qassem Soleimani, the eliminated commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force in the provincial capital of Shahr-e kord in western Iran just a few hours after the unveiling. At the time, the nation’s judiciary was led by Ebrahim Raisi, who therefore oversaw the torture campaign that followed the IRGC’s mass shootings. After the regime tried unsuccessfully to cover up the incident, protests began to emerge on university campuses and in public spaces spanning at least a dozen provinces. Resolving a False Dilemma 
Mike Pence, the former US Vice President said on October 28 in Washington “One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold the world is that there’s no alternative to the status quo.  
By appointing Raisi, Khamenei had chosen to impose an even more repressive environment throughout the country, step up support for terror groups in the region, intensify belligerence in the region, and further defy the international community on the nuclear program. The escalation was surely related to the narratives that emerged from regime officials and state media outlets after calls for regime change fully entered the mainstream. In 1988, Raisi was one of four officials to serve on the Tehran death commission, which was responsible for the largest single share of the 30,000 executions. But there is a clear lesson to be taken from the eight uprisings against the regime of the last four and a half years: the Islamic Republic of Iran is now ripe for a regime change. But there is an alternative – a well-organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative called the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). What may be needed, therefore, is an altogether new strategy in line with the growing new reality on the ground – one that recognizes regime change by the Iranians as a more viable solution to problems emanating from Tehran, and one that formally acknowledges the forces pushing for that outcome from inside the Islamic Republic. In light of Raisi’s reputation as the “butcher of 1988”, his presidential appointment makes the most sense if understood as a reaction to the growing discontent. Tehran amplified that effect through its decades-long campaign to both downplay and demonize the MEK and any other pro-democracy voices that sought international support for their efforts to overthrow the clerical regime and establish a system of self-governance for the Iranian people. Anti-government protests continued subsequent to the collapse of a 10-story building in the city of Abadan (South-West Iran), which killed dozens and injured dozens more. The current uprising followed the same basic pattern as one that began in December 2017, continued through much of January 2018, and marked an apparent turning point in longstanding conflicts between the Iranian people and the Iranian regime.  
The couple, Iranians with Belgium citizenship, were arrested in Brussels on June 30 on their way to the gathering in the suburbs of Paris. It was only a few months after the 2018 uprising in which Khamenei had explicitly underscored the role of the MEK and several regime’s senior officials, including IRGC Admiral Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, had vowed that the MEK would receive a serious blow where it was least expected. The same slogans, including “death to the dictator” “down with Khamenei (the supreme leader), and “death to the oppressor, whether the shah or the mullahs,” have been heard in countless protests over the ensuing four and a half years. Rajavi’s plan also calls for secular governance, safeguards on the rights of women and minorities, and disavowal of the belligerent foreign policy that is so essential to the current regime’s identity. Another agent, who was also Iranian with Belgium citizenship, was arrested at the venue of the major gathering the same evening. The eight uprisings which have taken place over the past four and a half years are notable not only for their scale or for the fact that they were invariably preceded by public appeals from MEK Resistance Units, but also for their geographic and demographic diversity. But by that time, other issues such as a penchant for hostage-taking and the support of various international terrorist groups had already been firmly established as demanding Western attention.  
Aspects of this disinformation campaign were revealed in a particularly intimate fashion in February 2021 when an individual by the name of Hadi Sani-Kani sent a letter to officials with the United Nations detailing how he had collaborated with the Ministry in writing false stories about the MEK after defecting from the group. The decision by the Supreme National Security Council (the highest decision-making body in Tehran on national security matters) was relegated to the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Foreign Ministry that were chosen to carry out the operation. Assadi brought the highly sophisticated bomb from Tehran on a commercial flight to Vienna and subsequently handed it over to two of his agents in Luxembourg on June 28, 2018. In that case, approximately 1,500 peaceful protesters were killed by gunmen who were mostly members of the IRGC. The November 2019 crackdown stands out as an example of the regime’s willingness to utilize broad-ranging political violence to maintain its hold on power. As a result, “death commissions” were empaneled in prisons across the country to interrogate political prisoners over their views and affiliations. He has failed to crush uprisings in Iran or break the noble spirit of dissent within the Iranian people.” 
That failure is more specifically a failure to tamp down public awareness of the MEK as a viable alternative to the theocratic regime. Thus, it also undermines longstanding assumptions that poor, rural Iranians represent a stronghold of support for the theocratic regime. In any event, it is reasonable to conclude that the MEK represents an increasingly salient threat to the clerical regime’s hold on power, and thus an aspect of Iranian affairs that European and American policymakers must consider.  
At the first glance, it defies logic that Tehran assigned one of its Europe-based diplomats to carry out the operation at a time when Tehran was seeking Europe’s assistance to break the sanctions. Several Iran observers pointed to a roughly 40 percent increase in the rate of executions during the months immediately following Raisi’s “election”. The same recent and ongoing developments clarify the importance of those policies not only to Western interests and the interests of regional allies, but also to the welfare and long-term governance prospects of the Iranian people themselves. This is ironic in light of the fact that the MEK is hardly mentioned in Western discussions of Iran policy, much less included in the strategies that emerge from those discussions. When the supreme leader and his subordinates began warning about the power and influence of an organized Resistance movement, they contradicted their own preexisting narratives which claimed no such movement existed. In fact, Khamenei ultimately blamed the uprising on a “triangle of enemies” comprised of the MEK, Western governments, and Iran’s regional adversaries. Paradoxically, even though the nuclear revelations strongly influenced international perspectives about the threats posed by the Iranian regime, they did not seem to change the false perception that Western governments could change the regime’s behavior by offering concessions. As with prior demonstrations against the state of the economy, the targeted public condemnation of the January 2020 missile strike, soon turned political against the regime. As they did so, they carried provocative anti-government slogans that seemingly normalized public calls for regime change.  
Some 100,000 people including thousands of European citizens and hundreds of dignitaries took part in the rally. Additionally, thousands of participants in that uprising were arrested alongside other known activists, and many were subjected to a campaign of systematic torture that progressed for months and was detailed in an Amnesty International report titled “Trampling Humanity”.  
Soleimani was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq two years earlier.  
On May 25, in a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in an exchange with the Chairman of the Committee, Democratic Senator, Bob Menendez, United States Special Representative for Iran Robert Malley acknowledged that Tehran’s conduct grew worse in areas such as missile proliferation and support of international terrorism during the period when the 2015 Iran nuclear deal was still in effect. Demonstrations began on May 6, primarily in Khuzestan Province, and since then they have spread to at least a dozen others. Mrs.  
Escalating Repression, Escalating Resistance 
The longstanding activity of the Resistance Units underscores the fact that Iran’s regime is facing challenges not just from a loose collection of aggrieved citizens but from an organized opposition movement with a specific plan for the future of the country.

Precision farming is one of the most promising techniques, using a wide range of technologies – sensors, data analytics tools, GPS mapping software, and drones – to identify the treatments needed to protect crops and manage the fields. Being able to correctly identify pests also enables them to use far smaller quantities of pesticides, while the use of data can also save on the use of fertilizer. For instance, these innovations have already been used by farmers to successfully identify pests, which enables them to use the most effective treatment in a targeted way. But to fully maximize the production capacity of its limited fertile lands, Europe should couple the adoption of precision agriculture with the planting of optimized crops that have a better yield, a development which could significantly increase food production, as evidence from around the world has illustrated. Embracing agricultural innovations would enable Europe to play its part, by alleviating rising global demand and cooling the surging food prices. It’s not surprising that a new report adopted by MEPs in April conspicuously left out the ambitious target set last year by the Commission of seeing 25% of agricultural land farmed organically by 2025. Pandemic-related labour shortages and supply chain disruptions had all taken their toll, while extreme weather events caused by climate change are slowly undermining the world’s ability to produce food. A study conducted last year, for instance, found that the use of drought-tolerant and optimized hybrid crops in South Africa created around 4.6 million extra white maize rations. Europe, less likely to face acute shortages, though increasing prices are straining household budgets, now has a moral duty to help alleviate the growing food insecurity gripping poorer countries by increasing its agricultural output. At the same time, embracing agricultural innovations could trigger a more profound and long-term transition for European farms, making them more productive and environmentally friendly. Time to walk the talk
Historically reticent to approve these kinds of crops, European institutions are warming up to their potential, with the European Commission suggesting that New Genomic Techniques (NGTs) can contribute to building a more sustainable food system and authorizing two new genetically modified crops just last week. Nevertheless, progress continues to be hampered by political wrangling. Despite the appeal of organic farming, eschewing modern agrochemicals—which thanks to chemical innovation are 98% less toxic than in the past—requires either clearing more land or seeing crop output drop sharply.  
If Europe is serious about delivering upon its Green Deal priorities and protecting food security while reducing the climate footprint of European agriculture, Brussels must take a decisive stand in favour of agricultural innovations. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Europe must back agricultural innovation to help alleviate looming food crisis

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Leading officials including UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres are sounding the alarm over the alarming state of global food security. Learning lessons from Sri Lanka
The urgent need to ramp up European food production to offset losses due to climate change and the war in Ukraine casts a fresh spotlight on how the EU must hit on the right approach to augment yields without sharply increasing land use. In drawing the world’s attention to the stark realities of the developing food crisis, Secretary-General Guterres made it clear that widespread shortages can still be averted “if we act together”. As a result, it currently takes several years for new agricultural innovations to receive authorisation by the European Union, with the average timeline being five to six times longer than that foreseen in law. In order to sustainably boost agricultural production, these traditional plant science tools which enabled the Green Revolution of the mid-20th century need to be coupled with the latest agricultural innovations. When it comes to authorising advances in genetically modified or hybrid crops, for instance, the European Commission’s efforts to streamline the approval process have been systematically frustrated by opposition coming from the Parliament. Europe’s role in a mounting food crisis
Indeed, even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced food workers to abandon the country’s fields just as spring crops needed to be planted, the outlook for global food security was grim. In order to balance this necessary increase in production with the EU’s long-standing commitment to protecting the environment, Europe must take decisive action to embrace both traditional plant science tools as well as increasingly sophisticated agricultural innovations and technology, boosting yields while reducing the environmental impact of farming. His appeal for unity, however, is not only directed at nation-states. Given the gravity of the unfolding crisis, it is just as important to search for avenues for cross-industry collaborations and synergies that can tie academia, NGOs and the private sector together in search of solutions to the critical food supply challenges. By leveraging precision agriculture, farmers are able to produce more while using fewer resources, as well as reducing the environmental impact of food production. Indeed, the humanitarian crisis which Sri Lanka is now facing after abruptly banning artificial fertilisers, pesticides and weedicides sent crop yields plummeting has shed an international spotlight on the risks of a too-hasty shift to completely organic farming. Europe has an international responsibility to harness the latest agricultural innovations to address the dual scourges of food insecurity and environmental degradation. The war in Ukraine, Guterres recently highlighted, risks tipping “tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity, followed by malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years”. Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of staple crops, and the conflict in the country has caused sharp rises in wheat and fertiliser prices around the world, exacerbating factors already undermining global food security and threatening to push the most vulnerable countries over the edge. The targeted approach at the centre of precision agriculture allows farmers to use less water and land, thereby reducing deforestation. Offering agricultural innovations and technology a viable path towards approval and commercialisation, while continuing to enforce the bloc’s rigorous safety protocols and standards, could have a deeply positive, transformative effect on Europe’s farms. Just this month, for instance, an unprecedented heat wave in India is set to cause a 10-15% loss in wheat production, a devastating blow to developing countries’ food supply.

MEPs also called for the EU to provide, as soon as possible, all the necessary human and budgetary resources and administrative, investigative and logistical support needed to establish this tribunal. MEPs welcomed the joint investigative team being set up by Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, which is coordinated by the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation Eurojust, and in which the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC will participate, and encourage other member states to join this team. European Union, 2022/EC – Audiovisual Service/Christophe Licoppe

Calls for a special international tribunal for crimes of aggression

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The special international tribunal should investigate Russian leaders and military commanders and their allies for the crime of aggression against Ukraine, Members of the European Parliament said in the resolution adopted on May 19. MEPs called on the European Union to take all necessary action in international proceedings and courts to support the prosecution of the Russian and Belarussian regimes for war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression. They expressed their full support for the investigation by the ICC Prosecutor and the work of the Commission of Inquiry of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as independent civil society organisations and Ukrainian authorities working to collect evidence. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>MEPs want perpetrators of war crimes in Ukraine to be brought to justice

By New Europe Online/KG

Ursula von der Leyen

A general session of the European Parliament. The EU must support setting up a special international tribunal to punish the crime of aggression committed against Ukraine, for which the International Criminal Court (ICC) has no jurisdiction and hold Russian political leaders and military commanders and those of its allies to account, MEPs said. Swift action is of crucial importance
MEPs stressed that the EU must take action swiftly, since there is a grave risk that, due to the ongoing hostilities, evidence related to war crimes is being destroyed. They may qualify as war crimes, MEPs said, stressing that all of them have so far gone unprosecuted. According to the European Parliament, reported atrocities such as indiscriminate shelling of cities and towns, forced deportations, use of banned ammunition, attacks against civilians fleeing via pre-agreed humanitarian corridors, executions and sexual violence amount to violations of international humanitarian law. Just talking about Russian aggression is no longer enough, action is required. These investigations and consequent prosecutions should also apply to all Russian armed forces personnel and government officials involved in war crimes, MEPs asked. Don’t become numb to the alleged atrocities the Kremlin is perpetuating in Ukraine and against the Ukrainian people.

Some of the countries in Central Asia are CSTO members such as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Right now, the challenge is to convince the people that this is the chance for the people to vote on the future of their country,” the deputy foreign minister said. It has to do with tariffs, it has to do with provision of rolling stock, of locomotives, of scheduling, et cetera. Secondly, we want to expand trade between our region and Central Asia and this is where the EU Global Gateway program is handy or the EU Strategy on Central Asia is useful,” Vassilenko said. “But at the regional assembly level the breakdown is going even further towards strengthening the connection with the electorate, meaning that 50% of those seats will be filled through the party lists and 50% will be filled through direct vote and even at the lower level the election will be fully made through the individual constituencies, without party lists,” he added. Strengthening local self-government
“As part of these reforms we are talking about the strengthening of the Mazhilis (lower house) of Parliament and its powers and beginning with the way the Mazhilis is created. We are working together to make it a reality”. Since 2018, such a dialogue has been launched at a very high level. “National railway companies pledged to work together to strengthen this cooperation. There is a very successful example that we already have of having similar arrangements with the Russian and Belarussian railway companies under the United Transport and Logistics Company with Kazakhstan. Another area is the green energy and there are several projects supported by the European Union but implemented by European companies to develop renewable energy sources in Kazakhstan as well as to produce green hydrogen, he said. “Our neighbors in Central Asia stand for very limited trade volume between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan and other countries in Central Asia. “In Central Asia proper, we have always advocated for stronger regional dialogue between the five countries. So, we have a lot of potential not just in batteries and critical raw materials but in producing green hydrogen. Vassilenko noted Kazakhstan has quite a good number of deposits and it can be partners for the European Battery Alliance and European Raw Materials Alliance, and there is potential for great cooperation in this area. According to Vassilenko, the local assemblies in regions will now have a choice between the two options offered by Kazakhstan’s President as head of the region. “I would say that the referendum comes as a logical step for President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev who has put forward four packages of political reforms from 2019 since he became president and who put forward very wide-ranging reform proposals in his state-of-the-nation address in mid-March. So, again, our idea is to continue with this dialogue among the five countries of Central Asia,” Vassilenko said. It requires a lot of effort, a lot of investment but this is something that is already being worked on,” he said. They always exist, we have a big challenge with managing water resources which are becoming increasingly scarce in our region, for example. We have two ports, Aktau and Kuryk, on the Caspian Sea; their throughput capacity is 27 million tons, but it has not been used in full. Turning to the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister said, “That’s one of the issues that is being discussed right now on how to strengthen and expand this cooperation between logistics companies, national transportation companies of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey”. Others are not. “The expectations are that the people would, of course, debate this offer from the president. Up to know it’s a 100% party list proportional system,” Vassilenko said. Also, on Kazakhstan’s priority list is to increase and improve the conditions for people’s mobility. “Under our law, a minimum of 50% of the voter turnout is required for the referendum to become valid. Kazakhstan has invited international observers from numerous organizations including Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Organization of Turkic States, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, as well as the Office of democratic institutions and human rights (ODIHR) of the Organization of Security and Co-operation of Europe (OSCE). “Happiness is having multiple options for transporting your goods. When it was all put together, it became clear the proposed amendments have to do with the 30% plus of the articles of the Constitution, meaning that one third of the Constitution needs to be changed,” Vassilenko told New Europe in a video interview during his visit to Brussels on May 16. It has been used only maybe up to 20%-25% of its capacity. Now we would like to see some progress on the visa facilitation for Kazakh citizens to the European Union. There is also the option to transport cargo across the Caspian Sea. With Japan or South Korea, they are much more established and has been in existence much longer. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Kazakhstan reaffirms strategic partnership with EU, accelerates political reforms

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko (L) meets with Austrian MEP Christian Sagartz during the Kazakh delegations visit to Brussels for the 9th High-Level Political and Security Dialogue between the countries of Central Asia and the EU on May 16-17, 2022. Three such meetings of the leaders of five countries took place beginning with the one in Astana in 2018. So, we want to expand trade within Central Asia because there is great potential, and this trade has not lived up to its full potential in the 30 years of our independent life where we sought commercial partners, investment partners beyond the region. So, there is potential to use and expand these opportunities and have more options to export goods,” he said. “It covers 29 areas of cooperation but in recent months especially the top priority, top attention by all officials is given to connectivity, to transportation, to finding many alternative routes to transport goods between Central Asia, between China and then Central Asia and Europe,” he said. “Unfortunately, this Charter is not open for joining by countries that are not members of the Council of Europe but there is a possibility to apply the provisions, the principles outlined in this charter in our national legislation, and the work is being done to do just that,” Vassilenko said. According to him, there is a sense that these amendments are liked by the people, that people would want to support that. “Up until now they basically vote on just one individual that is proposed by the president, but this will change and they will have a genuine choice between the two options thus again having a bigger say in how the regions in which these assemblies are created are run. For example, EU-Central Asia dialogue or Central Asia Plus One, meaning the United States, or Central Asia Plus South Korea or Central Asia Plus India or Central Asia Plus China or Central Asia Plus Russia. Right now, there are six categories of taxes that are collected by local authorities and spent locally. I should also mention the OSCE, but I should also mention the Collective Security Treaty Organization. “So, the president then decided the most democratic way to get his proposals approved would be to put them for a vote to the people. Further amendments to this Constitution were introduced through parliament but again this time the president’s decision was that these amendments were so wide ranging and deep that they require the consent of the entire electorate,” Vassilenko said. Central Asia cooperation
Asked about security issues in Central Asia, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister said his country has always been of the position that multilateral diplomacy especially is the way to prevent problems from happening and then resolve them if they exist. MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF KAZAKHSTAN

Interview with Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko

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Kazakhstan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vassilenko talked to New Europe in an exclusive interview about a state-wide referendum on June 5 on the adoption of amendments to the Constitution that will determine the future of the Central Asian country, areas of strategic cooperation between the European Union and Kazakhstan, energy security, transport corridors as well strengthening cooperation within Central Asia and expanding the region’s cooperation with outside partners. He noted that there is a challenge that there might be some complacency and some people may decide that there is no point in going and voting because there is such a wide support for the amendments, and they will supposedly pass anyway. The previous referendum in Kazakhstan took place in 1995 when the Constitution under which we lived for 27 years had been approved. We would like to replicate that with the Middle Corridor,” Vassilenko said. He added, “So, there is framework, there is a political focus in the EU about how to expand its cooperation with Central Asia. In other words, these are the formats where outside partners of the five countries want to engage with the region as a region, and we welcome these platforms because they have different angles, different focuses depending on the international partner, and different scopes, different history, some are rather new such as the ones with China and Russia, others such as with the United States, is now six years old, with the European Union it is much older, much more established. The whole package is put forward for the people to vote on,” he said, explaining that it’s a yes or no vote. “We, of course, are interested in further expanding this cooperation through the Horizon 2020 program,” he said. On March 31, four countries – Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkey and Kazakhstan – signed a quadrilateral statement on the development of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor, aimed at strengthening cooperation and increasing the transit potential of the countries along the corridor. According to the proposed reform, 70% of the Mazhilis will be elected through the party lists and 30% of the seats will be filled through single vote constituencies. “We also support various dialogue formats between the five countries of Central Asia and other international actors. We’re now looking at a much more ambitious plan of cooperation between the five countries. Moreover, education is always a priority. We do not ask for visa free travel, but we ask for some facilitating arrangements for issuing the visas, and this is a priority for Kazakhstan,” Vassilenko said. For us, the main idea, the main goal is to strengthen across the board cooperation among five countries – economic, trade, political – so that we resolve these problems that exist between the countries. Asked how Kazakhstan can contribute to EU energy security, Vassilenko told New Europe there is a German-Swedish company Svevind which is planning to build solar and wind power stations to produce about 45 MW of electricity. “Furthermore, they are looking at a much more ambitious project, and their goal is to produce from this electricity green hydrogen and then export it to Europe. Under our law, it would be possible to pass these amendments in parliament, but the president decided that they are so wide ranging, deep and meaningful that they require the consent of the entire electorate. Also, a minimum of 50% and above is required for the decision of the referendum to be legitimate. This will increase to 13 categories of taxes that the local authorities will collect and use the money collected locally without sending to central government,” he said. “As of the beginning of this year, we restored the visa free travel for citizens of all EU member states which was suspended during the two years of the pandemic. He noted that interestingly the EU is the largest trading partner as a bloc not just for Kazakhstan but also for other countries in Central Asia. It includes cooperation in various areas, but the security cooperation is dealt through other institutions which I mentioned already such as Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and CICA. Three railway companies established a joint company and for the past 9 years it worked very well to transport cargo from China, from Central Asia across Kazakhstan, across Russia and Belarus into Poland, and then further to Germany and other destinations. There is a lot of work that needs to be done to synchronize the efforts. He reminded that Kazakhstan is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) which now brings together 27 countries. Another important area of growing cooperation is critical raw materials. “We hope all these organizations observe the referendum, help us improve the electoral process thought their observations, through their recommendations so when we come up to the next round of the elections, we can take them into account,” Vassilenko said. There is also a greater effort to devolve more responsibility for collecting and using the taxes. “So, the complacency is basically the opponent of the referendum, and we need to, as a government, as a state to explain the meaning of these amendments, the importance of these amendments for the people and the importance of the vote for the referendum,” Vassilenko said. To sum up, first we want to strengthen cooperation in Central Asia, within Central Asia and then we want to strengthen cooperation of Central Asia with outside partners,” Vassilenko said. Asked if Kazakhstan is looking at the EU model, Vassilenko reminded that Tokayev, in his state of the nation address on March 16, put forward a proposal for Kazakhstan to consider joining the European Charter of Local Self-Government. This is an area which is provided for in Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) which states that the EU and Kazakhstan will support greater people’s mobility. EU-Kazakhstan strategic cooperation
Turning to EU-Kazakhstan cooperation, Vassilenko said the foundation for relations between Brussels and Nur-Sultan is the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which entered into full force on March 2, 2020.

REPowerEU plans to transform Europe’s energy system. The Commission proposed to make targeted amendments to the RRF Regulation to integrate dedicated REPowerEU chapters in Member States’ existing recovery and resilience plans (RRPs), in addition to the large number of relevant reforms and investments which are already in the RRPs. Energy savings are the quickest and cheapest way to address the current energy crisis and reduce bills, the Commission said, proposing to enhance long-term energy efficiency measures, including an increase from 9% to 13% of the binding Energy Efficiency Target under the Fit for 55 package of European Green Deal legislation. The Platform will also enable joint purchasing of renewable hydrogen,” the press release read. “In the face of Russia’s aggression, the EU will support Ukraine, Moldova, the Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries, as well as our most vulnerable partners. Moreover, the EU has been working with international partners to diversify supplies for several months and has secured record levels of liquified natural gas (LNG) imports and higher pipeline gas deliveries. The EU has repeatedly said that the bloc’s dependency on Russian energy supplies allows Moscow to use them as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers nearly €100 billion per year. The Commission will also consider legislative measures to require diversification of gas supply over time by Member States. The country-specific recommendations in the 2022 European Semester cycle will feed into this process. Member States are also encouraged to use fiscal measures to encourage energy savings, such as reduced VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems, building insulation and appliances and products. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>REPowerEU strives to end dependence on Russian energy, tackle climate crisis

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Frans Timmermans, on the left, and Kadri Simson

Sets out contingency measures in case of severe supply disruption

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Responding to the hardships and global energy market disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission presented on May 18 the REPowerEU Plan, striving to end the EU’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and tackling the climate crisis. The EU Save Energy Communication published on May 18 details short-term behavioural changes which could cut gas and oil demand by 5% and encouraging Member States to start specific communication campaigns targeting households and industry. The Commission proposed to increase the headline 2030 target for renewables from 40% to 45% under the Fit for 55 package,” the Commission said. In line with the Global Gateway, the Strategy prioritises the EU’s commitment to the global green and just energy transition, increasing energy savings and efficiency to reduce the pressure on prices, boosting the development of renewables and hydrogen, and stepping up energy diplomacy. With Ukraine we will continue to work together to ensure security of supply and a functioning energy sector, while paving the way for future electricity and renewable hydrogen trade, as well as rebuilding the energy system under the REPowerUkraine initiative,” the Commission said. The EU’s executive arm also called for reducing fossil fuel consumption in industry and transport. “A massive scaling-up and speeding-up of renewable energy in power generation, industry, buildings, and transport will accelerate our independence, give a boost to the green transition, and reduce prices over time. The measures in the REPowerEU Plan can respond to this ambition, through energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy to replace fossil fuels in homes, industry and power generation, the EU Commission said in a press release. The newly created EU Energy Platform, supported by regional task forces, will enable voluntary common purchases of gas, LNG and hydrogen by pooling demand, optimising infrastructure use and coordinating outreach to suppliers, the Commission said. The EU External Energy Strategy adopted on May 18 will facilitate energy diversification and building long-term partnerships with suppliers, including cooperation on hydrogen or other green technologies, the Commission said. It also called for accelerating the rollout of renewables. The green transformation will strengthen economic growth, security, and climate action for Europe and our partners, the Commission said, adding that the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is at the heart of the REPowerEU Plan, supporting coordinated planning and financing of cross-border and national infrastructure as well as energy projects and reforms. “As a next step, and replicating the ambition of the common vaccine purchasing programme, the Commission will consider the development of a ‘joint purchasing mechanism’ which will negotiate and contract gas purchases on behalf of participating Member States. By acting as a Union, Europe can phase out its dependency on Russian fossil fuels faster, the Commission said, adding that 85% of Europeans believe that the EU should reduce its dependency on Russian gas and oil as soon as possible to support Ukraine. “Saving energy now will help us to prepare for the potential challenges of next winter,” the Commission said. In the Mediterranean and North Sea, major hydrogen corridors will be developed. The Commission also set out contingency measures in case of severe supply disruption, and will issue guidance on prioritisation criteria for customers and facilitate a coordinated EU demand reduction plan.

While the former has fostered the twin green and digital transition, the impact of the latter on net-zero targets is still unclear. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic looks at battery research experiment during his tour of the The Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL), California, US, March 17, 2022. The new GLOBSEC report titled “Slovakia Automotive Industry 2.0: The Time is Now to Retool for the E-Mobility Era” comes out at this critical historical moment. EUROPEAN UNION, 2022/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/PETER DASILVA

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The 2020s started with a pandemic and a war on the European continent. GLOBSEC Vice Chairman Board of Directors Vazil Hudak, said, “One of the greatest challenges for the automotive in Slovakia will be to transform its economic anchor and national identity – the passenger vehicle – to meet the global mobility demands of the future”. Hence, the EU will have a competitive advantage on sustainability, not price, where the starting position is better than the US and China. Total employment could drop by 4.5% when compared to 2020 levels. The challenge of switching from ICEs to EVs production requires investments, expertise, knowledge transfer, and especially the political will. Preparing a plan for batteries’ recycling and waste management. Adopting a strategy to secure raw materials, factoring in lessons learned from past and ongoing disruptions. For the EU to capitalise on its advantage and foster EV production, several concrete steps are needed as soon as possible:

Developing an EU-wide battery regulation. If such a challenge was properly met, opportunities in the medium to long term would surpass the difficulties and losses at both the national and EU level. The country should do its utmost to send a signal that it is willing to invest in building gigafactories, reskilling and upskilling the workforce, and developing low-carbon energy solutions to capitalise on this transformative opportunity. Recently, Globsec hosted the study launch event, bringing together policymakers, experts from the private and public sectors, and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the pressing challenges and opportunities emanating from the transformative wave in the automotive sector. European Commission Vice President for Inter-institutional Relations Maros Sefcovic opened the meeting with a clear statement, “Action is needed quickly. Investment in the electrical industry in Europe is 2.5 times greater than in China, although there is a larger market. The automotive sector has felt the hit of both crises. On a broader level, it is worth noticing that the EU currently holds a favourable position in electromobility. Introducing a strategy to reskill or upskill workers throughout Europe to support the transition from low-skilled to high-skilled tasks. He also added, that “this will be increasingly important from the point of view of the current events”. The research also highlights that inability to adapt to the new circumstances, in the worst-case scenario, may lead to a drop in national GDP to a level 10% lower than in the best-case scenario. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Moving EV manufacturing into the fast lane

By Federica Prandin
Globesec Sustainability Program Manager and Research Fellow

European Commission Vice-President Sefcovic looks at battery research experiment during his tour of the The Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) Thursday 17 March 2022 in Berkeley, CALIFORNIA. In this context, Slovakia needs to act now. This will be key to putting the concept of competitive sustainability into practice. Many countries are moving by leaps and bounds and it will be difficult to catch up today”. While further disruptions are expected in both global EV and combustion engine vehicle manufacturing due to the shortage of crucial raw materials mined in Russia and Ukraine, the climate emergency has not vanished and the transition to net-zero emissions needs to progress. The Commissioner also underlined that the battery market alone will amount to €250 billion per year, with the added value of the battery industry standing at €625 billion per year. Slovakia needs to send a clear political signal that the country needs, wants, and will work on battery investment, as it considers it crucial for the future of its economy. Against the background of trade and supply disruptions, it outlines the factors that could contribute to leveraging the Slovak capacity to move toward EVs production by 2040 and beyond. What will make a difference is that each battery manufactured in Europe will have a digital passport, which will specify the minerals’ origin, what is their carbon footprint, etcetera. With 74% of Slovakia’s key export markets announcing bans on ICE vehicles sales by 2035, the Slovak automotive industry will need to adapt to new circumstances. The Russian war on Ukraine further exacerbated the trade and production pressures stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. Among others, it aggravated the huge shortage of semiconductor chips, which already in 2021 cut the industry’s output by 8 million vehicles globally. While Poland, Hungary, and Sweden have already secured gigafactories, Germany, France, Spain, and the Czech Republic are getting ready to construct their own. However, as the US has a strong industry and innovation capital, they are expected to progress very quickly.

This is not to mention China’s self-proclaimed “state-capitalist” system, which by design alienates trading partners by always placing China’s narrow interests ahead of global free trade. The World Health Organization’s role in covering up for China during the Covid-19 pandemic is the most recent example. How far they’ve strayed from the purpose for which they were founded reveals either incompetence or malice—both to be handled with care. In addition, a stricter set of rules is required on multinational tech companies that have cashed in on the Chinese model with no repercussions at home, fiscally or otherwise. No wonder the trust on which the WTO functions has markedly faded as a result. China’s case should precisely instruct against that idea. If we fail to act quickly and keep on letting China rig global trade, we shouldn’t then hypocritically fault those countries that worry about the survival of their economies in the face of China’s neo-colonialism. Especially not when the second isn’t free at all. The larger idea that the WTO can accommodate a variety of economic and political systems ought to be outright discarded. If it does not, no amount of boxes ticked will stand in the way of an increasingly more totalitarian China emerging victorious. First, China’s membership in the WTO ought to be viewed as a policy mistake because the hopes that informed the West’s support for that membership—that welcoming China would create some sort of “path dependence” to political openness and transparent trade relations—have clearly failed to materialize. Today, however, we should lament that accession for three particularly important reasons that were highlighted in a recent report by the Fundación Disenso, Spain’s leading conservative think-tank, and our Uruguayan partner CESCOS. The reason why is obvious: China has made them immensely rich. In practical terms, the institution has functioned as an “institutional umbrella” that whitewashes China’s practices vis-à-vis the international community. During that time, the Chinese Communist Party has had the ability to co-opt the resources of the post-Cold War liberal world order and has been met with feckless indifference and neutrality from most of the Democratic world’s key players. Are two decades of unfair trade not enough? Many believed then—and some still do now—that China’s accession to the world’s trading forum was the concluding salvo in a long journey launched by Deng Xiaoping’s liberalizing domestic reforms of the 1970s. We have been blinded to—or chosen not to see—how Beijing has seized upon the growth and prosperity flowing from unprecedentedly open economic relations with the West to build the most technologically sophisticated and repressive regime in human history. Was it even liberal? Meanwhile, the goal of moulding China into the West’s standards and values has reaped the opposite result. This should merely work as a temporary fix whilst China transforms its political system. Whether it came to trust China out of naïveté or stupidity, the West is also to blame, especially since putting an end to this infiltration of critical international institutions is still well within grasp. The WTO and the Bretton Woods institutions, meanwhile, should stay vigilant, raise the bar for new applicant countries and enforce their directives and regulations. The WTO has ended up importing some of China’s protectionist rulemaking, which has severely undermined the institution’s core mission to advance open trade. But since the WTO itself needs to put its own house in order, consider one final avenue of reform – the WTO’s implicit legal customs and practices should be translated into explicit treaty language that binds China. Not while China stays in it without any repentance or penance. There are other options. In today’s world, we can either have free markets or free trade—but not both. In addition to being opaque, China’s track record as a WTO member is one of consistent maneuvering against the WTO’s very rules and the interests of fellow member states. According to British historian Niall Ferguson, that world order was never truly global in the first place, but was instead regional and not very orderly. The WTO bureaucracy claims the solution resides in enforcing the “rules of the game”. No matter how many boxes China ticks to appease the WTO’s qualms, the institution will remain hijacked unless and until Beijing renounces its autocratic regime. It is high time the West wakes up, learns from its mistakes and commits to putting an end to China’s abuses within the WTO. The long game is to demand that China abandons its current political regime, with all the economic implications that this may pose. American tech giants, along with the billionaires in Wall Street and Silicon Valley who invest in them, have consistently pressured into a pliant posture successive US administrations that were otherwise committed to containing the Chinese regime. Yet China was welcomed in 2001 under those very rules, so that approach seems insufficient. There’s a good case that it wasn’t since the institutions that form the system’s backbone have often deployed rather illiberal means to achieve liberal ends. How many feckless warnings will the West issue before China comes to completely take over the system? style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>How China took over the WTO behind the West’s back

By Jorge Martin Frias
Executive director of Fundación Disenso

By Juan A Soto
International director at Fundación Disenso. This is the most important geopolitical development of the past 20 years. Facebook

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Last year marked the 20th anniversary of China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, a result that followed 15 arduous years of negotiations. That these institutions have been hijacked by illiberal members is why they shouldn’t be trusted to deliver on their mission. And who has benefited? In other words, ‘democratizing’ should be imperative. Lastly—and most importantly—, China’s hijacking of international institutions threatens to plunge the world order into a structural crisis. What is at stake is not only the displacement of Western hegemony by China, but the very survival of the liberal international order, however imperfect it may be. This, by no means, would be considered a final compromise between the West and China, or any other non-democratic political regime.

For once, it’s a sensible move, and the initiative to include both countries under the UK’s defence remit is the sort of flexible thinking that has been severely lacking over the last twenty years – a shame it has taken a catastrophic war to bring back minor innovation. Not only does this consolidate the West’s increasingly shaky footing in the South Caucasus (and that BTC pipeline looks like it’ll be more important than ever fairly soon), but it is also finally a signal to the flagging Georgian authorities that the West will live up to its continually delayed promises. And now, of course, they have collectively realised that when there’s a lunatic on your borders with nuclear weapons, it might be a good idea to seek safety in an alliance that was formed to guard against the aforementioned lunatic’s country. I am facetiously referring to their collective history of Viking raids in antiquity, tolerance of Nazism in World War II, and thinking that unchecked Middle Eastern immigration is just the sort of thing that works in liberal European countries. Applying it across a broader spectrum would be clever, and wouldn’t constitute a greater risk than has already been taken. The Tbilisi government can fairly be accused of incompetence, stupidity, covert pro-Russian sympathies and childish vindictiveness, but the West has – partially – caused them to be this way. If those troops – and all other forces in the west of the country – were able to hand over security to foreign forces, they would be free to move and reinforce their comrades in the east. For its part, while Ukraine would probably be disappointed that NATO troops are not about to join the fight in support of their own, Ukrainian commanders would at least be free to move those forces which have been pinned in the west. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>NATO’s new Nordic members gives the alliance previously unthinkable flexibility

By Timothy Ogden
A UK-based freelance journalist focusing on defence matters

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To paraphrase Churchill on the Americans, you can always expect the Scandinavians to get it right – but only after they’ve tried everything else first. For instance, although Odessa is no longer likely to be at risk of being assaulted, a sizeable Ukrainian garrison remains in the city – which suits Putin admirably and was doubtless the intent of the explosive theatrics in Transnistria some weeks ago. To begin with, I’d offer a similar defence guarantee to Georgia. NATO – or at least soldiers in reassuringly UN-blue helmets – could declare the western half of Ukraine to be under its protection, with no fighting permitted in the established zones; if all movements of international forces are relayed directly to the Russian authorities, Moscow will hardly be about to honk about secret Western activity. Also, while I might – fairly – be dubbed a hawkish jingoist, I would justify myself only by stating that my suggestions here will hardly make matters worse. Finland and Sweden are set to join NATO on a fast-track membership scheme, an offer that has not been extended to other aspirant nations elsewhere on the continent. There’s been far too much Western insistence on box-checking in recent years, but that’s what happens when you delegate politics and defence to practices that seem founded on the principles of HR Departments. The West’s position on Ukraine has been to help it hold the line; now it must be flexible enough to help Kyiv to not just survive, but to win. They have seen no reason to abide by Western standards when they have received no Western rewards, a result which must at least be acknowledged and understood without being condoned. Additionally, until the two countries have their NATO Club Cards approved and laminated, they have signed a separate defence pact with the United Kingdom, effectively putting themselves under Britain’s nuclear shield and benefiting from Boris Johnson’s pledge to increase the UK’s regional military presence. I would then attempt to turn the Ukrainian war into something more like a boxing match (or perhaps a cage fight). There was never going to be a no-fly zone over Ukrainian skies, but now that Russia has been safely booted out of the north and west, half of the country is relatively safe. Providing no Western troops are deployed in overwhelming force – being composed of units large enough only for defensive operations – Russia can hardly complain that NATO is preparing an offensive with hordes of troops and fields of hardware and ordnance. Flexibility wins wars and leads to major diplomatic coups. Indeed, it should even satisfy the Kremlin up to a point: Putin will never swallow his pride to the point where he’d admit a defeat, but Russia has quite publicly abandoned its ambitions beyond Ukraine’s east.