Foto: Nord Stream 2

Specialists on the laybarge Fortuna weld the last pipe of the two strings of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, September 6, 2021. The report lists two vessels and one Russia-linked entity, Transadria, involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, the US Department State Department said. “Consequently, I think the current round of sanctions are somewhat forced by Washington and designed to ensure that their threat remains credible. The US and Europe are also concerned as Russia builds up forces near the border and Ukraine has begun to warn publicly that an invasion could happen soon. The US State Department said the sanctions on November 22 are in line with the United States’ continuing opposition to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and the US Government’s continued compliance with PEESA. Even as the Biden Administration continues to oppose the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, including via US sanctions, Washington continues to work with Germany and other allies and partners to reduce the risks posed by the pipeline to Ukraine and frontline NATO and EU countries and to push back against harmful Russian activities, including in the energy sphere, the US State Department said. The US, Ukraine and several EU states, including Poland and the Baltic states, have opposed Nord Stream 2, arguing that the project increases Russia’s control over gas supplies to Europe and undermines the bloc’s energy security. NORD STREAM 2

Keeping Kyiv and the west off balance when it comes to his intentions in Ukraine is a top policy priority for Putin

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The United States on November 22 imposed new sanctions on the controversial Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Transadria will be sanctioned under PEESA, and its vessel, the Marlin, will be identified as blocked property. The Department of State said on November 22 it has submitted a report to Congress pursuant to the Protecting Europe’s Energy Security Act of 2019 (PEESA), as amended. The sanctions follow a decision by Germany’s Federal Network Agency (BnetzA) to suspend its certification of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline. Hilton stressed that keeping Kyiv and the west off balance when it comes to his intentions in Ukraine is a top policy priority for Putin that serves to advance his interests domestically by diverting attention from COVID 19 and externally by keeping Russia relevant on the global stage. Because the sanctions are not targeted at Gazprom, they lack any real persuasive punch and will not seriously influence (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin‘s decisions,” he added. “With today’s action, the Administration has now sanctioned 8 persons and identified 17 of their vessels as blocked property pursuant to PEESA in connection with Nord Stream 2,” the US State Department said. “CIA Director (William) Burns recently visited Moscow and warned the Kremlin of consequences should the situation escalate with Ukraine,” Hilton said. He noted that higher global energy prices only work to Russia’s advantage, especially with the new German coalition government being sworn in soon who are looking to achieve a quick win and bring prices down. GLOBSEC Defense and Security Fellow Roger Hilton told New Europe the US sanctions levied against Russia do not target Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, the Nord Stream 2 project company, but instead a Russian shipping company Transadria and its vessel which is important to distinguish. The pipe number 200,858 was subsequently lowered onto the seabed in German waters. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>New US sanctions against Nord Stream 2 to keep pressure on Russia

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Specialists on the laybarge Fortuna has welded the last pipe of the two strings of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline at (06.09.21).

NE: Do you think this change will have an impact on relations between the government and the local administrations? MH: Maintaining a special relationship with the federal government in Berlin is a Bavarian tradition. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Interview with Melanie Huml, Bavaria’s State Minister for European and International Affairs

By Federico Grandesso
Italian Editor, Journalist

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With the announcement Germany will be led by a new left-learning government, following two months of often tense negotiations and political horse-trading, New Europe spoke with Melanie Huml, the State Minister for European and International Affairs in the cabinet of Bavarian Minister-President Markus Söder since 2021. The situation is at a critical stage. New Europe (NE): Have you seen any changes from the government at the federal level? Furthermore, Bavaria is part of an international network of partner regions on four continents, together with Quebec, Georgia, Sao Paulo, Shandong, Western Cape and Upper Austria. MH: They are complementary to the federal government. It is the biggest consular location within Germany (after Berlin). The coalition that is currently forming on the federal level has made a significant alteration to the Infection Protection Act and has announced that the situation regarding the pandemic, at the national level, will not be prolonged by the Bundestag. For Bavaria, with its export-oriented economy, this is of particular importance. They offer no solutions for surging energy prices and carbon pricing, or how companies and individuals can financially handle the phasing out of subsidies. Some initiatives raise concerns as to whether these criteria have been observed properly, particularly on social matters, an area where the European Union has nearly no competencies. The German states also promote and deepen their own international relations. NE: Do you expect to see a shift in Germany’s COVID policies? After all, the EU is governed by the principle of subsidiarity, meaning that Brussels may act only if its members can’t possibly solve a problem on their own and have given the EU the power to act. They also appear to have compromised on even the lowest common denominators when it comes to energy, economic and tax policies. Are there some points where there’s tension on a specific topic? MH: Bavaria is situated in the heart of Europe, both emotionally and geographically. In one way or the other, the parties forming the federal-level future coalition are represented in all of the regional state governments, with the exception of Bavaria. MH: We have already seen a change. There are many global challenges to which the EU has to find long term solutions. Melanie Huml (MH): In my opinion, the future coalition lacks a clear focus: During this surge in COVID cases, they declared an end to the pandemic on the national level, which restricts the measures an individual state government can take. We believe that we still need this tool as the pandemic situation in Germany, and in Bavaria, is very serious at the moment. This is important because it is a legal instrument that is necessary to take action against the pandemic. Infection numbers and the allocation of ICU beds are higher than in any pandemic wave that we have had so far. We will continue to work with the federal government whenever they propose suitable measures, but we will also call them out whenever they make mistakes, if necessary. Huml, a politician of the Christian Social Union of Bavaria (CSU), discussed the new coalition, as well as relations between the federal government and the German states, relations with the EU and other foreign partners and the current Covid crisis that has battered Germany in recent weeks. This includes climate action, global competitiveness, a stable financial architecture, migration, law and order and our role in the world. We are committed to a strong and united European Union. It’s also a signal that is completely misleading. Our hospitals are running out of beds in the intensive care units. NE: How would you define your relations with the EU? Will the new government take a different approach to enforce restrictive protocols for its citizens and for other Europeans? The tendency to centralize all decisions in Brussels does not seem to be the best way to achieve this. NE: Which key areas does your ministry operate at the European and international levels? In addition, Bavaria has around 30 representative offices all over the globe. On the EU level, the German states have constitutional rights and obligations to take part in negotiations, form Germany’s position via the Bundesrat (the legislative body representing the states) and to maintain their own representations in Brussels. We need to act faster and more unified. The Bavarian State government, however, will play a truly special role under the next federal government. Bavaria hosts over 120 consular offices and Munich. We still don’t know when we will have reached the peak of the so-called ‘fourth wave’. In this setting, I have defined three priorities for Bavaria’s relations with the EU and the international community: 1) climate action and sustainability; 2) competitiveness and digitalisation; 3) strengthening European and international partnerships.

Several MEPs said too many countries are not ambitious enough in their plans to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, with several specifically highlighting China. In July 2021, the Commission presented the “Fit for 55 in 2030” package to enable the EU to reach the more ambitious 2030-target. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>COP26: call for more global climate action

By New Europe Online/KG

Parliament’s delegation to COP26 was headed by French MEP Pascal Canfin and German MEP Peter Liese. They said more action against climate change is needed across the globe, not least in the short run until 2030 where only the EU has a Climate Law and concrete plans to reach the targets. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said the EU helped deliver clear progress at COP26 that kept the Paris Agreement targets alive. The European Parliament has been pushing for more ambitious EU climate legislation, and declared a climate emergency on 28 November 2019. Before the start of COP26, Parliament had called for higher global ambitions to achieve a strong outcome at the meeting. He said the progress gave the world a chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as countries that do not have targets in line with this objective will have to come back with more ambitious national plans in 2022. Many MEPs described COP26 as an important step, while stressing for the urgency of more global climate action to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the European Parliament said in press release. It also increases the EU’s target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 40% to at least 55%, compared to 1990 levels. It transforms the European Green Deal’s political commitment to EU climate neutrality by 2050 into a binding obligation for the EU and its member states. In June 2021, the European Climate Law was adopted by Parliament. © EUROPEAN UNION 2021

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On November 24, Members of the European Parliament debated with Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, and the Council Presidency, the Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). While some MEPs described COP26’s outcome as a failure most, however, labelled it an important step in the right direction.   Mr Timmermans also called for the EU to adopt the “Fit for 55 in 2030” package before the COP27 scheduled for late 2022, to continue to demonstrate European leadership in the fight against climate change. There were also calls during the debate for the EU to further increase its 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target, as some MEPs do not believe the current target is in line with this ambition.

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At least four dinghies reached the shore at Dungeness in Kent on Sunday, carrying dozens of people desperate to reach Britain before worsening winter weather makes the crossing impossible. But as volatility continues to dominate Libya’s political climate, a new wave of migrants may soon be on their way. “Yet the list of candidates includes former ministers and officials, some war criminals… and some foreign-agenda-driven persons.”
Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh
Set to feature on the ballot paper is General Khalifa Haftar, a leading figure in the east of the country that has been accused of war crimes and mounted a year-long assault on Tripoli, making him next-to-impossible for those in the west of the country to accept. “It’s absolutely flat calm conditions and the weather is turning more unsettled next week so I expect they know they’ve got to make the most of this last weather window.”
Fleeing despair at home, many migrants embarking on this uncertain journey hail from countries plagued by conflicts, such as Yemen, Eritrea, and Sudan. The candidates are not the only problems plaguing Libya’s upcoming elections. Other candidates include Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the country’s former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. This fear is exacerbated by reports that Libya’s incumbent prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, has applied to run for the presidency. Illegal migrants from Libya attempt to cross into Italy’s territorial waters. Indeed, questions abound as to whether the Libyan authorities can hold free and fair elections at all. Indeed, since the fall of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has buckled under economic uncertainty, militia violence, foreign intervention, and a civil war that has fractured control of Libya into disparate centres of power. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Instability in Libya is set to exacerbate Europe’s migrant crisis

By Nicholas Waller
Managing Editor

As Libya’s premier, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, applies to run for the presidency, the country’s future stability is being called into question. Reconciliation and reunification of Libya will not happen unless elections go ahead as planned on December 24. This latest group of arrivals will add to the 24,700 migrants who have crossed the Channel in small boats already this year, triple the 8,404 who arrived in 2020. This follows concerns over Libya’s restrictive laws that undermine freedom of speech and association, as well as the presence of armed groups accused of intimidating, attacking, and detaining journalists and political activists. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that 1.3 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance, with more than 200,000 Libyans internally displaced. In light of Libya’s recent history, it is clear political stability and strong governance is needed now more than ever. With Libya facing a real risk of political instability, Europe must prepare for a new wave of Libyan migrants that feel they have little option but to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. Resulting in what has been described by Alessia Melcangi, a senior fellow at The Atlantic Council, as a “period of profound instability and chaos”, the conflict has left a heavy toll on Libya’s civilian population. The other candidates for the upcoming elections on December 24 offer Libya little prospect of political stability either. Indeed, concerns have been raised that the elections could risk a return to violence and further fragmentation in Libya should the country fail to fairly elect a leader entirely committed to delivering an inclusive country built on a robust institutional framework. Yet, all hope is not lost. Saif, who has spent the past decade out of public sight since his capture in 2011 by fighters in Zintan, is currently the subject of an ICC arrest warrant for crimes against humanity. His candidacy has been brought into question by a string of allegations that he is embroiled in corrupt practices, money laundering, and financing of Ideological Islamists. One of the most shocking allegations, revealed by a recent UN inquiry, is that Dbeibeh gained power after his supporters offered bribes as high as $200,000 to attract votes during the UN dialogue forum process. “There will be more on their way,” an eyewitness told The Sunday Times. As tribal regimes and political groups vied to fill the power vacuum created by Gaddafi’s death, a major conflict emerged between two groups: The Libyan National Army (LNA) led by the former army general Khalifa Haftar, and the Government of National Accord (GNA), a United Nations-led initiative. As questions continue to surround the legitimacy of the upcoming elections in December, fears mount that greater instability is on the horizon. “Libya is supposed to be heading toward a new democratic phase, where the people get to choose a president, a very important transition after 10 years of fragmentation,” said Abdulkader Assad, the chief editor of The Libya Observer and Libya Alahrar English. With the elections almost five weeks away, greater commitment from the international community to ensure the elections proceed under free and fair conditions would go a long way to safeguarding Libya’s future and preventing the impending humanitarian crisis. But many hold serious doubts that they will.

“We do have one power plant left in Esbjerg, in the western part of Denmark which we will shut down in 2023 and upon shutting that down we will phase out coal,” he said. “It’s a two-megawatt demonstration project to see how the wind turbines and the electrolyzers work together,” Orsted’s Michael Korsgaard told New Europe following a visit at the plant. GFDK needs a good biogenic CO2 source – for example. Orsted has wider ambitions on renewable hydrogen and renewable fuels. “The Avedore Power Plant is biomass mainly. “Right now, we produce power and electricity is used in electric cars so in that way you can say we are producing it for transport,” he said. Orsted plans to phase out coal by 2023. The two-megawatt H2RES project that will produce renewable hydrogen for road transport in the Copenhagen area so the hydrogen from that demonstration plant will be used in transport. The project would be in the same area and produce green fuels. The project aims to establish a 1.3 GW elctrolyzer in 2030 powered by 2- GW offshore wind from the Bornholm energy island, which holds the potential to replace >270000 tpa. “Hopefully, we are planning a larger plant out there which we call Green Fuels for Denmark which we plan to build in three phases and those phases are: 10 megawatts, 250 megawatts and 1300 megawatts,” Korsgaard explained. “There will be some learnings that we can use certainly in terms of what we learn from H2RES we can use in green fuels,” Korsgaard said. Renewable hydrogen and e-fuels are of critical importance to curb climate change, Orsted Vice President, Hydrogen, Anders Christian Nordstrom has said, adding, “Without them, it will be impossible to achieve full decarbonisation – and the clock is ticking”. Renewable energy can be sourced directly from onsite generation, by co-locating electrolysis with renewable assets. Korsgaard noted that the two turbines will produce renewable hydrogen in this small-scale project and if it’s successful then they will use it in larger scale. Making the switch away from coal, Avedore has become one of the cleanest plants in Denmark. The Green Fuels of Denmark (GFDK) brings together leading Danish companies representing the demand and supply side of sustainable e-fuels behind a vision to establish an ambitious sustainable fuels production facility. As of 2022, two of the three wind turbines on the nearby coast will be used to produce renewable hydrogen in a small-scale pilot project – one of the pioneering projects for renewable hydrogen production in Denmark. “It’s a combined heat and power plant so normally it’s mainly used to produce heat. “Because we use sustainable biomass the power plant is effectively carbon neutral when we produce heat and power with biomass because of the natural carbon cycle that relates to the growing of trees and electrolyzers and so on,” Korsgaard said. follow on twitter @energyinsider style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Orsted explores renewable hydrogen, green fuels in Denmark

By Kostis Geropoulos
Energy & Russian Affairs Editor, New Europe

Orsted’s demo renewable energy project at the Avedore Power Plant, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 22, 2011. Or it can be sourced from the grid, provided it can be assured the energy used is sourced from renewables. We produce more heat than we produce power but because of the rising power prices now we have been producing power with the power plant over the course of this past summer which we normally rarely do because there is no demand of heat,” Korsgaard said. biomass to energy plants. Avendore is primarily as heat plant but due to high energy prices and energy shortages it is also sometimes producing electricity. NE/KOSTIS GEROPOULOS

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COPENHAGEN – At the Orsted’s construction site at the Avedore Power Plant located just south of Copenhagen, the Danish multinational power company is currently constructing a demo renewable hydrogen production facility. “We need to get some kind of societal support, through that some kind of subsidy to make a final investment on that project so the success of H2RES is, of course, important to us but we need to see a bit more in terms of realizing that larger project,” he added. The Avedore Power Plant is a combined heat and power station runs on a wide variety of biomass fuels such as straw and wood pellets. High energy prices are also affecting this plant. of fossil fuel consumption in 2030, equivalent to a 1.77% reduction in Danish CO2 emissions. Renewable hydrogen – where energy for the electrolysis is from renewable generation, for example from wind or solar, comes with no CO2 emissions (0 kg CO2e per kg hydrogen). It will be renewable hydrogen, but it will also be e-fuels, methanol, and later e-kerosene. It used to be a coal-fired power plant,” he said. The Danish company is looking to produce energy for transport.

France has openly sided with the Kurds in the Syrian Civil War, a move that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan views as a major threat to Turkey and an affront to the Turks’ main ally in Syria, the Syrian National Army, a fighting force that the Turks, themselves, helped establish in 2017. A diplomatic row between Paris and Algeria has escalated after Algiers banned French military planes from flying over its airspace and comments from President Emmanuel Macron about the Algerian War of Independence. For well over a century, however, on a cultural, economic or military level, France has lagged far behind the world’s global powers – the United States, the UK, China, Japan or Russia. For Paris, the plan is worth considering even if the economies of many European are not what they need to be. The first countries to offer security support were fellow NATO members Estonia and the United Kingdom, not France. The current projections envisage a force of 50,000 troops that would act in full collaboration with NATO. After each global event where armed conflict becomes a possibility, the viability of a pan-European military force is discussed by the EU’s elite ad Infinitum. This will likely doom the project for a European defense force from the start as Paris and Berlin would be too preoccupied with internal battles for influence amongst themselves to have the time to challenge other real superpowers around the globe. Due to the fact that France cannot influence the global agenda the way it did at the height of its power in the 18th and 19th centuries, the French have had to play second-fiddle on most international affairs – areas where French decision-makers would, in fact, like to exert France’s power. As the architect of this project, France hopes to use its status in the EU to amplify its hoped-to-be-newly-acquired power globally. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The ‘European Army’ scheme is just a cover for France to get back into the big power game

By Cristian Rosu
A communications consultant and political analyst who has collaborated with several publications in Romania and abroad on issues in the fields on politics and international relations. Germany, Europe’s most powerful country, is far less enthusiastic about the idea, but in principle supports the general concept. Not a single Western European nation contributes 2% of its GDP to military expenditures, as called for in the NATO charter. De Gaulle, whose open disdain for the Anglophone world dated back to World War I, had hoped to turn a united Europe into a French-led military entity that would have a global reach. Macron has tried to boost France’s ties with Japan, India, and Australia. What’s more important from both Macron and France is that the project could position Macron as the leader of Europe now that Angela Merkel has retired as Germany’s chancellor. Additional military costs for training, exercises and logistics would be difficult for the populations of the EU’s 27 members to countenance due to the fact that most people in Europe are, in general, highly averse to military matters as a result of the Second World War, the Cold War and the multiple wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. France also appears to be on the retreat and losing its once-substantial political clout in Africa to the Chinese and Russians. In Libya, France and Turkey found themselves on opposite sides of that country’s civil wars. Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s Secretary-General, has highly criticized France’s European defense project, saying that it creates tensions within the EU and strains transatlantic relations. The Kremlin has made sure to keep this threat remains alive in the minds of Europe’s ex-Communist states. EPA-EFE/LEGNAN KOULA

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The idea of a so-called ‘European Army’ has come in and out of fashion in the Brussels bubble for about 20 years. The visit is expected to bolster economic ties with the former colony as well as focus on security issues within the region. In the Mediterranean, France believes it national interests will eventually clash with Turkey. President Macron is on a three-day official visit to Ivory Coast before visiting Niger. Furthermore, France’s status as the fourth-largest nuclear-armed nation in the world and its post-colonial spheres of influence in Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean guarantees that France continues to wield influence far beyond the country’s borders. Instead, Paris and Germany both publicly declared that they were still “analyzing” the situation. France has also joined Greece, Israel, Egypt and Cyprus in forming an alliance aimed at thwarting Erdogan’s increasingly outlandish territorial claims in the Eastern Mediterranean. A nation must be well off at home if it hopes to be a major power abroad. France’s plan goes against East European realities
On the surface, and in ideological terms, a common defense European project has some merit. Paris has not opted for a policy of direct confrontation with the Turks but has instead opted for a more nuanced chess match that has seen Paris build alliances with Turkey’s enemies. The nations of Europe, themselves, with the notable exception of France, are incapable of projecting military power for long periods of time. In reality, however, the issue is far more contentious and complicated because many European nations simply don’t trust French guarantees that it would be truly pan-European. The suggestion of creating a European army is closely tied to Macron’s hopes of being re-elected to a new five-year term in 2022. None of these former Warsaw Pact nations has shown any interest in wanting to be a part of two military alliances, simply because they could not afford it. France has little sway in the region and has been regarded as an afterthought by Washington and Beijing. Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states remain deeply pro- American and would never do anything to weaken the NATO alliance, regardless of Paris’ promises. Rather, the average percentage for defense spending in Europe amounted to just 1.6 percent for 2020. but the American-led Five Eyes project with the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zeeland, and more recently AUKUS (the trilateral military alliance between the US, the UK and Australia), as well as the loss of an enormous submarine contract with Australia after several delays and disagreements with Canberra over the vessels’ delivery have utterly overridden French interests in the Pacific. In the Central African Republic, Russian mercenaries have become major power brokers in the country’s internal conflicts, while in Mali the same members of the Russian soldiers-for-hire group Wagner have signed a security deal that shuts France out in terms of Paris’ influence with local officials. By profiting from Trump’s chaotic presidency, by the withdrawal performed by the USA in Afghanistan and by Brexit, Paris hopes that the rancour and bad blood that emerged between the US and Europe during the Trump presidency can be translated into a new sense of European solidarity, which can then be channelled to the questions of the EU’s defense capabilities. That list, to some extent, also includes Paris’ historic rival, on the Continent, Germany. That was a time when Paris could legitimately challenge other European powers on multiple levels of soft and hard power, and it remains true that present-day France remains a major player within the European Union and is still a permanent member of the UN’s National Security Council. Paris threw its support behind the supported the National Libyan Army, the main enemy of the Turkish-backed Government of National Accord. As no European country can no longer amass enough defense-spending resources to compete with the US, Russia or China, France has decided to spearhead the movement to create a pan-European military force. If the Americans had not shouldered so much of the financial and military burden, most European countries could not have remained in a place like Afghanistan for long, let alone for nearly 20 years. What complicates the situation is that France and Germany invest a great deal of time into maintaining a close relationship with Moscow. In the years since outgoing German Chancellor Angla Merkel began to make policy decisions for Germany that would de facto become EU policy, the process of further distancing Europe from the US has sped up. However, electoral plans are far from reality. The situation is just as bad, or worse, in the Asia-Pacific area. This discourse is aimed at underlining that this military effort wouldn’t compete with NATO. Armies cost money
A key tenet of the teachings of Sun Tzu in his The Art of War is that armies cost a lot of money. But even under such an umbrella, France and the rest of the members of the European Union are not ready for such a project. epa08085940 French President Emmanuel Macron addresses a joint news conference with Ivory Coast’s President Ouattara at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 21 December 2019. In Eastern Europe, the perceived real threat comes from Russia. This so-called “European Army” would not be designed to go toe-to-toe with the militaries that China, Turkey or Russia could put into the field, but it would have some tactical influence when it comes to certain regional conflicts. The country pushing most aggressively for this project is France. Merkel’s retirement should not be taken lightly, but Germany’s powerful lawmakers and even more powerful defense industry will fight to maintain Berlin’s leadership status. Only recently, Poland was reminded of this predicament when an illegal migrant crisis erupted on its border with Belarus. An EU defense force could present Macron with a face-saving project after the US and UK humiliated him over the Australian nuclear deal. Due to his low approval ratings in France, Macron’s re-election is, however, not a guarantee and his plans for a French-led European army will be hard to realize. France is trying to cling to the remnants of a long-dead empire
France is no longer the global great power that it was prior to the beginning of the First World War or even the Franco-Prussian War in the late 1870s. For France, the project for creating a pan-European military actually dates back to the time of former French president, Charles de Gaulle, a man who wanted to France into a fully independent military power that would make a clean break with the US and UK and would, instead, focus on Continental Europe. Donald Trump’s dangerous threats to unilaterally pull the United States out of NATO, followed by the Biden Administration’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan this past August and Washington’s decision to pivot American military might towards the Asia-Pacific region in order to blunt the increasingly aggressive expansionist policies of China’s hardline leader, Xi Jinping, has once again raised the question about the viability of a unified European military force. This is mainly tied to Berlin’s dependence on Russian gas and France’s historic cultural bond to the Russian elite.

Examples of projects from across Europe
According to the Commission, a major transnational project will restore degraded peatlands in Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands and Poland. We can only succeed if we work together, across sectors. A Bulgarian project team will protect breeding, wintering and migrating populations of bird species by reducing deaths from electricity infrastructure. This is the first batch of projects selected under the new programming period 2021-2027 which sees an increase of the funding by almost 60%. It has been running since 1992 and has co-financed more than 5,500 projects across the EU and countries outside the EU. LIFE has four new sub-programmes: nature and biodiversity, circular economy and quality of life, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and clean energy transition. “COP26 in Glasgow acknowledged the need to accelerate our actions still this decade. LIFE projects show how this can be done. Actions foreseen include restoring the carbon sink function of peatlands, contributing to the EU’s ambition to be climate-neutral by 2050. They will identify the riskiest medium-voltage power lines and replace overhead electricity lines with underground cables in the most important sections. Nearly €29 million of which will come from LIFE funds. The total budget is €13 million of which the EU is contributing more than €7 million. The projects approved on November 25 and the four sub-programmes will start receiving financing from 2022. These have a total budget of more than €19 million, of which the EU will contribute close to €11 million. The LIFE programme funding for the 2021 – 2027 period stands at €5.4 billion. With the European Green Deal, the European Union is working to reduce emissions, restore nature, and ensure sustainable use of resources. EUROPEAN UNION, 2020/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/PIERO CRUCIATTI

More than €290 million to help boost climate neutrality, biodiversity and green recovery

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The European Commission approved on November 25 an investment package of more than €290 million for 132 new projects under the LIFE programme for the environment and climate action. Moreover, 45 LIFE environment and resource efficiency projects will mobilise €162 million, of which the EU will provide €78 million. According to the Commission, 39 LIFE nature & biodiversity projects will support the implementation of the EU Birds and Habitats Directives as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. Finally, 6 LIFE climate governance and information projects will improve climate governance and inform the public and stakeholders about climate change. This project contributes among others to the Farm to Fork Strategy, the Circular Economy Action Plan and the Waste Framework Directive. Additionally, 8 LIFE environmental governance and information projects will raise awareness of environmental issues such as biodiversity loss and air pollution. They will also give public authorities the tools to promote, monitor and enforce compliance with EU environmental legislation. €55 million will be invested in 10 projects to reduce waste, contributing to the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan. For his part, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius stressed that currently the interconnected crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution are the defining challenges. “To address them, we need a profound transformation of our societies and economies, achieving a carbon-neutral future and learning to live within the boundaries of our planet. It is also investing more than €70 million in various climate change mitigation, adaptation, and governance and information projects. They have a total budget of €249 million, of which the EU will pay €134 million. This EU funding will mobilise a total investment of €562 million, with projects in almost all Member States, the Commission said, adding that the new LIFE projects will help Europe become a climate-neutral continent by 2050, put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030, and contribute to the EU green recovery post-Covid-19. The project will also raise groundwater levels and help conserve species and habitats protected under the EU Birds and Habitats Directives. Furthermore, 17 LIFE climate change mitigation projects will have funds of approximately €66 million, of which the EU will provide around €35 million. The LIFE programme is the EU’s funding instrument for the environment and climate action. Both projects support the EU Renovation Wave, launched in October last year. A Polish project will demonstrate the feasibility of using renewable energy for cooling public buildings and a project from France will set up an innovative system to optimise resource use and recover waste from local construction and public works. “The climate and biodiversity crises are truly existential crises and there is no time to lose,” EU Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. Project examples include promoting climate neutral farming as well as improving heat recovery in iron and steel manufacturing. With this new package, the Commission has earmarked some €223 million to projects on environment and resource efficiency, nature and biodiversity, and environmental governance and information. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Commission approves EU funding for nature, environment and climate action projects

By New Europe Online/KG

P-046554

The Toce river basin in the Italian Western Alps, Verbania, Italy. Also, 17 LIFE climate change adaptation projects will mobilise some €52 million. Projects include adapting forests to extreme weather events and boosting the climate adaptation capacities of Europe’s health infrastructure. They have a strong impact on the ground, showcasing the added value of European cooperation,” Sinkevicius said. This project contributes to the EU Birds Directive’s implementation on the ground. Another project will see Italian chefs promoting climate-smart, nutritious and affordable diets, reducing food waste through awareness-raising, communication and education campaigns, targeting customers, staff and others. LIFE projects are a perfect example: they bring citizens, public bodies, industry and NGOs together to work for the climate and environment,” he added. Another €50 million will fund 16 water quality projects.

A Notice of Sale for up to 18 million barrels of SPR crude oil will be announced no sooner than December 17, 2021. Exchange crude oil will be returned to the SPR in calendar years 2022, 2023, and 2024. Any company registered in the SPR’s Crude Oil Sales Offer Program is eligible to participate in the exchange and/or the upcoming Congressionally mandated sale, the DOE said, adding that other interested companies may register through the SPR website’s Crude Oil Sales Offer Program. Companies interested in receiving crude oil through the exchange must submit bids no later than 10:00 a.m. It is a critical tool that has a long history of protecting the economy and American livelihoods in times of economic challenge. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Tackling oil prices, US to release 50 mln barrels of crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

By New Europe Online/KG

At the direction of US President Joe Biden, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm authorized that 50 million barrels of crude oil from the U.S. As the global economy recovers from the pandemic, oil supply has failed to increase at a pace necessary to meet demand, the DOE said in a press release. Biden administration responds to rising gas prices ahead of the holiday season

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In response to the highest oil prices in seven years, the Biden administration has taken a decisive action to address lack of supply and lower prices for Americans at the pump by making available 50 million barrels of crude oil from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). Companies that receive SPR crude oil through the exchange agree to return the amount of crude oil received, as well as an additional amount that depends on how long they hold the oil. “This action underscores the President’s commitment to using the tools available to bring down costs for working families and to continue our economic recovery.”
According to the DOE, the exchange will be conducted with crude oil from all four SPR storage sites:  approximately 10 million barrels from Big Hill, TX; approximately 10 million barrels from Bryan Mound, TX; approximately 7 million barrels from West Hackberry, LA; approximately 5 million barrels from Bayou Choctaw, LA. The decision on November 23 is in response to the highest oil prices experienced in seven years and aims to ensure adequate supply as we exit the pandemic. US President Joe Biden told US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on November 23 to authorize the release of the crude. In response to the announcement on November 23, the DOE will make available up to 32 million barrels of SPR crude oil available through an exchange and accelerate the timeline for a sale of an additional 18 million barrels mandated by Congress in Section 30204 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-123). “As we come out of an unprecedented global economic shutdown, oil supply has not kept up with demand, forcing working families and businesses to pay the price,” Granholm said. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) be made available. The SPR is the world’s largest supply of emergency crude oil, and the federally owned oil stocks are stored in underground salt caverns at four storage sites in Texas and Louisiana. Central Time, December 6, 2021, and contracts will be awarded to successful offerors no later than December 14, 2021, the DOE said, adding that deliveries will take place January through April 2022, with early deliveries accepted in late December. The exchange creates a bridge from today’s high price environment to a period of lower prices, and automatically provides for restocking the SPR over time. The announcement was made is in parallel with other major energy consuming nations including China, India, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. An exchange is a mechanism specifically suited to the current economic environment, where markets expect future oil prices to be lower than they are today, the DOE said.

style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Qatar is forging its own path

By New Europe
The European political newspaper

A general view of the Qatari capital, Doha. Over the past two decades, the Pentagon has come to see the country as one of Washington’s most reliable partners in the Middle East. Its citizens, today numbering an estimated 2.9 million, have benefitted greatly. Though Doha is not a part of the Abraham Accords, which was signed by Israel and several other Arab nations in order to establish formal diplomatic ties, Qatar’s own dialogue with their Israeli counterparts dates back to 1996, when the two countries established important trade relations. The nation’s independent approach to foreign policy has even spilt over into the complicated issue of relations with Israel. The discovery of the world’s largest gas field in 1971 has led Qatar to account for 30 percent of the global market. The per capita GDP of the country is one of the highest in the world, over twice that of Saudi Arabia. Though that move irked some governments in the region, the relationship between Washinton and Doha has only further deepened. The company employs more than 43,000 people and is regularly lauded as one of the best air carriers in the world. Since the establishment of joint operations at the base, Doha has contributed an estimated $8 billion since 2003 toward developing the base and has hosted thousands of Afghan refugees since the August withdrawal.  
The country’s greatest global reach, thus far, has been through the highly influential Al Jazeera television network. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced earlier in November that Qatar will establish an American interest section within its embassy in Afghanistan to provide certain consular services and monitor the condition and security of American diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan. Strategically jutting out into the Persian Gulf, the country has, over the last several decades, emerged as one of the few Middle East’s rare success stories. The key to that has been the independent and ‘doing it its own way’ spirit that is deeply inculcated into Qatar’s DNA. Only recently, both the airline and its hub – Hamad International Airport – were given a five-star rating by the international air transport rating organization Skytrax for COVID safety. American universities Georgetown, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon and Texas A&M, all of which have branches in Qatar. The one exception to this overarching rule is the peninsular country of Qatar. Gas riches and a ‘go-its-own-way’ mindset within Qatari society and its government, including the nation’s royal family, has utterly transformed the country since the early 1970s. This has turned the capital, Doha, into a ‘Switzerland-on-the-Gulf’; a locale where rival factions from Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia and Lebanon, amongst others, have come to hash out peace deals and ceasefires that ended decades of conflicts in their respective countries. On the domestic social level, unlike the austere practices of Saudi Arabia, Qatari women have been able to drive and publicly socialize for decades and religious minorities, including Christians, are legally allowed to openly practice their faith. Following the American withdrawal from Afghanistan this past August. The Al Udeid Air Base, south of Doha, is home to US Central Command’s forward headquarters and the American military’s air operations center for the entire region. None of these could have been possible, however, without Qatar having been bold enough to take the time and to use its own resources to establish and cultivate its own international footprint. Instead, Qatar has emerged from that turmoil as a regional peacemaker. Having largely avoided the chaotic turmoil that resulted from the Arab Spring, and unlike Syria, Egypt and Libya, Qatar has not faced any of the immediate threats to its national security or its political stability, conditions that became commonplace for nearly every other Arab nation after the uprsings first began in 2011. Qatari citizens own some of the West’s most iconic brand names, including Harrods department store, a share in London’s Heathrow Airport, the Paris Saint-Germain football club and the Shard, western Europe’s tallest building, to name a few. A spirit of independence and self-determination has led the peninsular Gulf nation to emerge as a major geopolitical and economic player in the Middle East 

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A quick look at a map of the Near East and North Africa reveals two key facts: 1) The region is politically divided into sparsely populated, but geographically enormous nations on one side; smaller countries on the other, most of which are politically, economically and socially unstable.  
These societal building blocks have helped to shape Qatar’s branded image, one that highlights the country’s goal of being an indispensable promoter of peace in the region and a more than capable of hosting major international events that range from fashion weeks, cybersecurity conferences, an annual Formula 1 Grand Prix and the 2006 Asian Games, which laid the groundwork and provided much of the initial infrastructure for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. Regarded by the outside world for most of the 20th-century as an underdeveloped backwater whose livelihood revolved around pearl diving and camel herding, the Qataris lagged far behind their oil-rich Saudi neighbors for decades. The country’s national flag carrier, Qatar Airways, flies to over 150 international destinations around the world. Since 2003, the year the Americans’ invasion of Iraq first began, Qatar has hosted a vast US airbase. Since its launch in 1996, Al Jazeera has utterly transformed the concept of free speech in a region where independent or critical reports, outside of state-censored media outlets, is the norm, Al Jazeera’s willingness to broadcast unfiltered views and interviews with a wide array of both guests and commentators have sent shockwaves across the Arab States of Persian Gulf.

In the case of Armenia, this is an error. This welcome announcement followed a period of aggravated tensions between the two countries due to military clashes on their common yet undefined border. This would be the first time that such a meeting between the two heads will have occurred. Despite the arrest of two successive defence ministers for corruption and the installation of a new defence minister just a few days ago who is a Pashinyan loyalist, significant portions not only of the defence ministry but indeed of the army’s military formations themselves remain in the pocket of the Karabakh clan. There is a tendency, amongst analysts and observers in Europe and America, to regard Armenia as a “unitary” political actor and to reify its behavior in the person of its prime minister. Even military observers in Russia acknowledge that Armenia’s peaceful development is necessary for Russian security. This is an understandable shorthand that even informed journalists and professional political scientists employ for many states. It cooperates with Iran’s other clients in the Middle East, including such non-state terrorist actors as Hezbollah. He still has a long way to go, however. It is something that not even the OSCE’s Minsk Group have been able to arrange. It is impossible to gauge precisely its size overall. It is not sufficiently recognized or understood that Pashinyan is under continual domestic attack by a coalition that refuses to recognize the country’s loss of the Second Karabakh War. That meeting would have sought again to implement the ninth point of the trilateral declaration of November 10, 2020, concerning the opening up of communications and transportation links between the two countries. It is important today to understand that there is explicit cooperation amongst the Armenian diaspora, Iran’s IRGC and the Karabakh clan in domestic Armenian politics. This coalition, which extends beyond the territory of the Armenian state proper, indeed seeks to prepare a Third Karabakh War to retake the Azeri territories that were occupied for 30 years and to ethnically re-cleanse them of Azeris just as was done during the First Karabakh War in the early 1990s. The third component is the Armenian diaspora. Well over half the diaspora resides in three countries: France, Russia and the United States. For example, “Putin” is sometimes used as such a shorthand personification or place-holder (technically, a synecdoche, where a part stands for the whole) to signify Russia’s behavior in international energy geopolitics for the European Union. (It is less well known that Russia is no different in this respect.) The official diaspora organizations in the West are typically hyper-militant and maximalist in their program and demands, declaring outright that they do not want peace. A fair estimate is probably between six and seven million. It is possible to see unsettling similarities between the bellicose exhortations of certain diaspora organizations and the program of documented collaboration by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun, Sargsyan’s political party, under which banner Kocharyan ran for parliament in 2021) with Adolf Hitler and his national-socialist regime during World War II. Naturally, each side blamed the other for these new clashes. The first is the “Karabakh clan” comprising former presidents Robert Kocharyan (1998–2008) and Serzh Sargsyan (2008–2018) plus all of their followers, political clients and current state functionaries with whom they seeded the entirety of the Armenian state apparatus during the 20 years of their crushing political hegemony. This cooperation explains the recent military clashes that I mentioned at the beginning of this article, and in the following way. It would be helpful if it were well prepared if the leaders were accompanied by significant entourages capable of speaking frankly and extending the discussions as required. In the middle of November, the U.S. But war is the foreign policy of fascism. Cutler
Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. That is because a renewed war would only increase political instability in the South Caucasus, while also offering Iran more opportunities to use its ally Armenia so as to penetrate the region further in opposition to Russia’s interests. The Armenian lobby in Washington and its allies in both houses of the Congress pushed amendments to the NDAA seeking to deny various forms of aid and assistance from the U.S. Congress began final consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. Otherwise, the EU will be left in Armenia with a hollowed-out state that is hostage to a terrorist group, which is, in turn, beholden to Iran’s IRGC: like Lebanon. This diplomatic opportunity must not be wasted. It is extremely important that the meeting between Aliyev and Pashinyan in Brussels should not be a mere photo-op. The Karabakh clan and their associates in the Armenian military timed the clashes on the border with Azerbaijan for maximum effect upon this lobbying effort; they were successful. Pashinyan does not control the whole of the Armenian state apparatus. By provoking the recent armed clashes and at the same time stirring up the Armenian population against Azerbaijan, the “war party” in Yerevan—which as I have explained goes beyond Yerevan to Tehran and the Armenian diaspora in Moscow, Paris and Washington—made it impossible for Pashinyan to keep his commitment to attend that meeting in Moscow and finally kick off those peace-making processes. Perhaps most of all, the President of the European Council should consider inviting the two leaders to meet briefly with him before leaving them alone together in a one-on-one conversation for as long as they should wish to speak. Since his original election in 2018 and re-election in 2021, he has been succeeding little by little in installing people who are loyal to him to replace the clients of the Karabakh clan. On the agenda of that meeting was also the initiation of the process of the delimitation of the international border between the two countries, on the basis of Soviet military maps in the possession of the Russian Ministry of Defence. Armenia remains an ally of Iran and a client of Russia. The second component of this pro-war coalition is Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which achieved its “soft coup” against the theocratic elite or “mullahocracy” several years ago. Cooperation between the Armenian military-industrial complex and IRGC-related weapons systems producers has increased markedly in the last year, with the assistance of financial support from the Armenian diaspora. Facebook

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Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, announced on November 19 that in the margin of the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels on December 15, there would be a meeting between Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Europe’s chance for peace in the South Caucasus

By Robert M. He seems to have taken some control over the ministry of foreign affairs, also appointing new ambassadors; and the state security services appear by and large to be loyal to him. It is well known that the diaspora’s members have long been politically very influential in both France and the U.S. This is over twice the number of Armenians in Armenia itself. There are elements outside the region, however, that goes a long way toward explaining why they erupted at this particular time and the political dynamics behind them. If the Eastern Partnership—indeed, if the European Union—wants to make any difference at all, then it must recognize this reality and adopt really effective policies to promote peace in support of Pashinyan, and also Aliyev in equal measure, and against the danger that Armenia becomes a failed state. The result is contrary to European as well as American interests. The discussions between the two sides might continue elsewhere than in Brussels. Such a treaty would involve mutual recognition of territorial integrity and the delimitation of the international border. Estimates employing differing definitions and methodologies range from three to eleven million. In that way, signifying the end of Armenia’s territorial claims against Azerbaijan would severely complicate fund-raising by the diaspora’s official organizations for further war (and their own salaries). The coalition of (1) the official organizations and representatives of the Armenian diaspora, (2) Iran’s IRGC and (3) the Karabakh clan inside Armenia is the greatest threat to peace in the region. Pashinyan was forced by domestic political pressure to cancel a meeting in Moscow earlier this month that would have been mediated by the Russian side. The war party wants most of all to make a peace treaty impossible. Let me explain. government to Azerbaijan, even including non-military assistance. This pro-war coalition has three principal components. The number in Russia (estimated by Putin in 2020 at “over two million”) is about two times the number in France and the U.S., the latter two being roughly equal with one another.

And our soil strategy will allow soil to get healthy, be used sustainably and receive the legal protection it needs,” he added. Under the proposal, all EU companies that export waste outside the EU should ensure that the facilities receiving their waste are subject to an independent audit showing that they manage this waste in an environmentally sound manner. By promoting the consumption of ‘deforestation-free’ products and reducing the EU’s impact on global deforestation and forest degradation, the new rules are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. Finally, tackling deforestation and forest degradation will have positive impacts on local communities, including the most vulnerable people like indigenous peoples, who rely heavily on forest ecosystems. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Commission presents tools to curb EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation

By New Europe Online/KG

From the left, Frans Timmermans, Virginijus Sinkevičius

EU Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans (L) and Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius in Brussels, November 17, 2021. With the proposals on November 17, the Commission is presenting the tools to move to a circular economy, protect nature, and raise environmental standards in the European Union and in the world. Healthy soils are the foundation for 95% of the food we eat, they host more than 25% of the biodiversity in the world, and are the largest terrestrial carbon pool on the planet. The Regulation on waste shipments further strengthens action against waste trafficking, one of the most serious forms of environmental crime as illegal shipments potentially comprise up to 30% of waste shipments worth €9.5 billion annually. “Our deforestation regulation answers citizens’ calls to minimise the European contribution to deforestation and promote sustainable consumption. The main driver of these processes is agricultural expansion linked to the commodities soy, beef, palm oil, wood, cocoa and coffee, and some of their derived products. “The deforestation and waste shipment regulations we are putting on the table are the most ambitious legislative attempts to tackle these issues worldwide ever. We also put forward a ground-breaking EU soil strategy with a strong policy agenda that sets out to grant them the same level of protection as water, marine environment and air,” he said. The Commission said it will step up dialogue with other big consumer countries and engage multilaterally to join efforts. Waste shipments to OECD countries will be monitored and can be suspended if they generate serious environmental problems in the country of destination. The Strategy calls for ensuring the same level of protection to soil that exists for water, the marine environment and air in the EU, the Commission said, adding that this will be done through a proposal by 2023 for a new Soil Health Law, following an impact assessment and broad consultation of stakeholders and Member States. Under the revised Regulation on waste shipments, the Commission delivers on the circular economy and zero pollution ambitions by proposing stronger rules on waste exports, a more efficient system for the circulation of waste as a resource and determined action against waste trafficking. Within the EU, the Commission is proposing to simplify the established procedures considerably, facilitating waste to re-enter the circular economy, without lowering the necessary level of control. The Commission proposes a new Regulation to curb EU-driven deforestation and forest degradation. The Commission noted that the Regulation sets mandatory due diligence rules for companies which want to place these commodities on the EU market with the aim to ensure that only deforestation-free and legal products are allowed on the EU market. The Strategy also mobilises the necessary societal engagement and financial resources, shared knowledge, and promotes sustainable soil management practices and monitoring, supporting the EU ambition for global action on soil. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/CLAUDIO CENTONZE

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In the framework of the European Green Deal, the EU Commission adopted on November 17 three new initiatives to curb EU-driven deforestation, as well as new rules to facilitate intra-EU waste shipments to promote circular economy and tackle the export of illegal waste and waste challenges to third countries. The Commission will use a benchmarking system to assess countries and their level of risk of deforestation and forest degradation driven by the commodities in the scope of the regulation. The proposed new rules would guarantee that the products that EU citizens buy, use and consume on the EU market do not contribute to global deforestation and forest degradation. EU Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said if the expects more ambitious climate and environmental policies from partners, it should stop exporting pollution and supporting deforestation itself. The new rules are also bringing waste shipments to the digital era by introducing electronic exchange of documentation. The Commission also presented a new Soil strategy to have all European soils restored, resilient, and adequately protected by 2050. “To succeed in the global fight against the climate and biodiversity crises we must take the responsibility to act at home as well as abroad,” EU Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said. Waste exports to non-OECD countries will be restricted and only allowed if third countries are willing to receive certain wastes and are able to manage them sustainably. Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the enforcement regime includes setting up an EU Waste Shipment Enforcement Group, empowering the European Anti-Fraud Office OLAF to support transnational investigations by EU Member States on waste trafficking, and providing stronger rules on administrative penalties, the Commission said. New Soil Strategy
Finally, the Commission also presented on November 19 a new EU Soil Strategy – an important deliverable of the European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 for tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. Yet, 70% of soils in the EU are not in a good condition, the Commission said, adding that the Strategy sets a framework with concrete measures for the protection, restoration and sustainable use of soils and proposes a set of voluntary and legally binding measures. This strategy aims to increase the soil carbon in agricultural land, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, and ensure that by 2050, all soil ecosystems are in a healthy condition. Our new rules to govern waste shipments will boost the circular economy and ensure that waste exports do not harm the environment or human health elsewhere. Just counting from 1990 to 2020 the world has lost lost 420 million hectares of forest – an area larger than the European Union. With these proposals, we are taking our responsibility and walking the talk by lowering our global impact on pollution and biodiversity loss. This helps to reduce the EU’s dependence on primary raw materials and supports innovation and the decarbonisation of EU industry to meet the EU’s climate objectives.

The EU will allocate a grant of €30 million to cover programmes and projects to support the implementation of the Team Europe Initiative. The initiative, backed by an initial €30 million grant from the EU budget, will strengthen the EU’s partnership with the region in areas including climate action, environmental and biodiversity protection, clean energy transition, disaster resilience, prevention of illegal logging, wildlife trafficking and air pollution, the EU Commission said. This can demonstrate the transformative power of the European Green Deal and strengthen the EU partnerships with the region. To address this challenge, this Team Europe Initiative (TEI) offers a framework for a Green Initiative in South East Asia, seeking synergies between the European Green Deal and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, promoting the joint commitment to a lasting and sustainable transformation towards circular, climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable economies and resilient ecosystems. The Initiative will be implemented both at national and regional levels in the ASEAN region. Our Green Team Europe Initiative is a ground-breaking step going forward and I am very pleased to take this step with our partners in South-East Asia,” she added. “As strategic partners, the EU and ASEAN share a joint commitment to fostering a fairer, greener, and more sustainable future,” Urpilainen said. The TEI will help ensure the continuation and strengthening of relevant regional and bilateral EU initiatives (EU-ASEAN High-level dialogue (HLD) on Environment and Climate Change, FLEGT, ASEAN Catalytic Green Finance Facility (ACGF), etc.) and will be coordinated with all relevant Commission services and EU Delegations in the region. EUROPEAN UNION, 2021/EC – AUDIOVISUAL SERVICE/AURORE MARTIGNONI

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During the 3rd ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development, European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen launched on November 18 a Green Team Europe Initiative in partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)/South East Asia. In support of this initiative, the entire EU external action toolbox can be mobilised: diplomacy, policy dialogue, trade policies and development cooperation including budget support, blending (EFIs) and the investments fostered under the ESFD+. South-East Asia (SEA) is among the most vulnerable regions in the world to the impacts of climate change, with five of the 20 countries most affected by climate change in SEA. This regional TEI will aim to further strengthen the positive and already strong partnership with ASEAN and give momentum to the joint commitments to implement international agreements such as the Paris Agreement, including by promoting green economic policies fostering climate action. It requires rethinking our approach to development in the context of a rapidly warming and increasingly interconnected planet. As part of the EU’s overall Green Deal diplomacy, this initiative provides the framework for coordinated green action between participating Team Europe partners (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and Romania, as well as the European Investment Bank) and ASEAN and its Member States, seeking synergies between their respective political frameworks: in particular the European Green Deal and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. In December 2020, the EU and ASEAN elevated their relations to a Strategic Partnership with ASEAN. This is only a part of the funding that Team Europe partners will mobilise in the context of this Initiative. “Building back better is about supporting our economies and creating decent employment opportunities while also addressing climate change, tackling pollution, and protecting biodiversity. The Commission said it will allocate a grant of €30 million from the Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation (NDICI) – Global Europe to cover programmes and projects to support the implementation of the Team Europe Initiative, which will be defined in the coming months. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>EU, South East Asia launch Green Team Europe Initiative to protect the environment

By New Europe Online/KG

Ville Skinnari, Jutta Urpilainen

EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen in Brussels, Belgium, November 19, 2021.

It is important for the international community, in particular the European Union, to actively support the efforts of the federal government which is committed to a democratic process. Ethiopia’s northern neighbor Sudan has taken advantage of the chaotic situation to make a land grab for part of  Ethiopia’s territory on the frontier. But it is essential that the main protagonists need to commit to respecting the need to secure a solution through a democratic process, and not by force of arms. Facebook

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Civil war has been raging in Ethiopia for over a year now, between the National Defence Forces of the Ethiopian Government, and rebel militia numbering some 250,000 fighters from the northern region of Tigray, the “TPLF”. Key infrastructure to the Tigray region needs to be repaired, and the free movement of civil society, journalists, humanitarian aid organisations and other international actors must be restored. The wreckage of a Soviet-made tank belonging to Ethiopian government forces, near the town of Humera. The first priority should be to stop the fighting, and for all parties to stop military action and cease bickering in the media. Perhaps peaceful dialogue could be facilitated by international objective and unbiased civilian observers drawn from Ethiopia’s neighbours and from the wider international family of nations? style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>The case for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia

By James Wilson
Founding Director of the International Foundation for Better Governance, a not for profit organization dedicated to promote, protect and defend the fundamental rights of citizens, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. This has left a trail of death, hunger, destruction and humanitarian catastrophe in the country. The conflict has forced more than two million people from their homes, according to rough estimates 
100,000 fatalities both military and civilian. They should also condemn absolutely and without exception any attempts by the political forces involved to exploit belligerent methods which use the ammunition box rather than the ballot box to decide differences of opinion. The outcome of any dialogue about how to restructure the balance of power between the Federal Government and the regions should not be held hostage to negotiations. But once this step has been agreed upon by the protagonists, ending the civil war will require an inclusive national dialogue on how to restructure federalism in the country and resolve a dispute over sharing the political balance of power in controlling territories. This is not a question of apportioning blame or taking sides in the conflict, it is a fundamental principle that democratic governance has to take precedence in resolving the dispute. American and European efforts to bring pressure to bear on the respective parties and diplomatic manoeuvres involving the UN Security Council have failed. The ultimate losers in any civil war are the citizens of the entire country. The federal government has in fact announced plans to launch just such a dialogue. Military analysts have suggested that both parties are evenly matched in the field and that any armed confrontation is likely to end in a stalemate. They have also included former political detainees in the government structure following the June elections. Cities and territories have changed hands over the past year, as battlefield fortunes have swung first one way, then the other. The United Nations and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, a bloc of East African countries, have both called for an immediate ceasefire. Recently, the TPLF has ratcheted up its hostile rhetoric making it clear that they intend to continue to seek to use military means to achieve their goals, and to refuse any peaceful dialogue. The fighting started with a pre-emptive strike by the TPLF on federal armed forces on November 3, 2020, in an attempt to seize military weapons. Their role would be to coordinate peace and reconciliation initiatives and promote the efforts needed to reconstruct areas damaged by the war. Ethiopia has already suffered more than enough through this crisis, and it is time to call off the dogs of war and bring in the emissaries of peace and reconciliation. Realistically, if there is to be any resolution to the dispute, both sides need to be forced to the conference table
For its part, the national government declared a state of national emergency on November 2 for a period of 6 months, in order to enable them to bring the situation under control. The selection of this group would need to be agreed by the main political forces. The African Union and neighbouring African states have also increasingly called for peaceful resolution of the conflict, but proposals for peace are yet to emerge. This was promptly quashed by the Ethiopian national army, and controls were introduced on telecommunications and internet use in the Tigray region, making it difficult for international journalists to establish the facts about what has happened since. The hostilities have become a source of extreme concern with the international community, worried about regional security in the unstable Horn of Africa. In essence, the dispute concerns a contest over the balance of regional power, and the inability of both sides to make the necessary compromises for a peaceful negotiated settlement that eliminates their political differences.

The Kyiv Post will rise from the ashes like Phoenix. Since 2018, however, Kivan has tried hard to curry favor with the authorities. One of them, Olena Rotari, proclaimed herself the chief editor of this version without telling Bonner or anyone else from the Kyiv Post. Venediktova and Kivan denied the opening of such cases. All Ukrainian governments have tried to stifle free speech, and all of them failed. At that time, I was not fired only due to our chief editor Brian Bonner’s efforts to preserve our editorial independence. The Kyiv Post, Ukraine’s main English-language newspaper and one of the most independent media in the country – was shut down on November 8 by its owner, Adnan Kivan. At the Kyiv Post, we used to have cups with an Albert Camus quote that reflected our newspaper’s mission. After the Kyiv Post stopped running Venediktova op-eds and published another critical story about her in September 2021, the newspaper faced pressure again. The quote read: “A free press can be good or bad, but most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.”  All of its staff were fired immediately. Due to government pressure, in October Kivan came up with a plan to undermine the Kyiv Post’s independence. The Kyiv Post has been one of the most patriotic and anti-Kremlin media outlets in Ukraine, and now it has been destroyed after months of government pressure. After the September article, Venediktova also opened criminal cases against Kivan and then closed them, Bonner told the Ukrainian Weekly. He wants the media to lavish praise on his non-existent reforms and meager achievements. A silver lining 
The good news is that Ukraine is not Russia. He asked me to reduce my criticism of the government. He was nervous and sarcastic, ridiculing our editorial independence. In 2020, the Kyiv Post also ran a critical story about Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova, and she summoned Bonner to her office. I refused, saying that I believe in the absolute freedom of speech. Crackdown on media
The Kyiv Post’s abrupt closure and firing of all of its staff was the culmination of a trend that started in early 2021. This plan included launching a Ukrainian-language version of the Kyiv Post run by Kivan proteges. We were not against expanding the Kyiv Post or launching a Ukrainian version as long as all new hires would be independent and professional journalists. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Ukrainian president seeks total control over media

By Oleg Sukhov
Independent Journalist/Political Commentator

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has had two options since he was elected in 2019: either to improve the reality that he faced or to create a fake one. The new publication will continue to speak truth to power and to hold everyone, including Ukrainian officials, oligarchs and the Kremlin, to account. After Kivan took over, Sergey Leshchenko, a staunch supporter of Zelensky’s administration, became a paid columnist for the Kyiv Post. The National Television and Radio Council also filed a motion on November 4 with a court to strip Nash, another TV channel critical of the government, of its license. Although there is no sufficient evidence that the government ordered the closure, it is a fact that the Kyiv Post has faced increasing pressure from the government due to its independence stance. He has simultaneously worked as a paid board member at the state railway company, Ukrzaliznytsya. I wrote that even the most pro-Western, independent and objective media, including the Kyiv Post, could be unlawfully shut down in the future. Pressure on the Kyiv Post 
The pressure on the Kyiv Post fits perfectly into Zelensky’s wholesale crackdown on free speech. This is exactly what has happened. Most of the editorial team is launching a new newspaper that will keep the professionalism and independence of the old Kyiv Post. He has opted for the latter: to silence independent voices and try to brainwash the populace through puppet media. I warned at the time that the extrajudicial and unlawful closure of the propagandist channels set a very dangerous precedent for most media. In August, Zelensky also blocked strana.ua, a popular news site that heavily criticized the government, and the media outlet run by Anatoly Shariy, a fugitive Ukrainian blogger with a substantial following. Previously Shariy had also been charged with treason for his videos. Instead of creating a business-friendly environment and introducing the rule of law, Zelensky has decided to stifle the media that report on corruption, lawlessness and poverty. This approach is strikingly similar to the one chosen by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. She was trying to pressure him at that meeting, threatening to file a lawsuit. After that the Kyiv Post published op-eds authored by Venediktova to give her the right to respond. But Kivan wanted to have his own way and decided to get rid of us. In February, Zelensky closed three pro-Russian television channels – NewsOne, ZIK and 112 Ukraine – without any legal grounds. There was no court ruling, and neither evidence nor clear explanations were provided for the claim that they threatened national security. Other anti-Kremlin journalists – such as the Suspilne and Pryamy television channels and Savik Shuster’s Freedom of Speech show – have also complained about pressure by the authorities in recent months. Now he is planning to launch a new puppet media outlet using the Kyiv Post brand under his total editorial control. Kivan came to the Kyiv Post’s office and said that, by criticizing Venediktova, we were hurting both ourselves and him. The idea was to dilute its independent staff with his own loyalists and hire people who would do his bidding. In 2018, Kivan complained to me that the administration of then-President Petro Poroshenko was pressuring him due to the Kyiv Post’s critical coverage. I strongly believe that it will outlive Zelensky’s presidency. Many Ukrainians welcomed the move because it is indeed true that the channels had often allowed their speakers to voice pro-Russian opinions and spread Kremlin narratives. For me, as a Kyiv Post journalist, Kivan’s intentions were clear from the very beginning.  
Both Shariy and strana.ua are admittedly pro-Russian but the real reason for the crackdown on them was their criticism of Zelensky.

Despite that, a dialogue between the EU and Russia must be restarted. Despite not possessing the legal right to cross into the Schengen Zone, the migrants then attacked the Polish border guards with stones and whatever else they could use. These were tightened again after a state-sponsored hijacking of a passenger plane last spring. Lukashenko ordered the Belarussian Air Force to intercept and force a Ryanair flight flying from Athens to Vilnius to land in order to arrest an opposition member that was on board the flight. By Otmar Lahodynsky
Ex-President of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) and former European Editor of the Profil news magazine in Austria

epa08200835 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko arrives for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, 07 February 2020. The migrants were subsequently turned back with water cannons, tear gas and batons. Morawiecki demanded that the new German government immediately stop the Nord Stream 2 Baltic Sea gas pipeline as part of a response to the hybrid war that is being carried out against Europe. Facebook

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One can hardly imagine the misery of the refugees at the border between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. Just prior to the outbreak of the migrant crisis, the EU’s highest court imposed a €1 million daily fine on Warsaw in an attempt to persuade the Poles to abolish its new disciplinary chamber. This time, however, Lukashenko’s patron in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin, did not agree. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke twice on the phone with Lukashenko this week. The Belarussian national airline Belavia, along with Turkish Airlines, allegedly chartered flights and brought the people to the Belarussian capital Minsk. He may also be worried that control of the situation on the border with Poland and Lithuania could slip from his grasp. A correspondent from Switzerland’s Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Ivo Mijnssen, was in the area of the border zone and reported: “The misery is indescribable. She could be saved for the time being.” 
Polish military vehicles usually take such migrants back to the border with Belarus soon after initial treatment. We found a woman with 5 children who had a body temperature of only 25 degrees and took her to a hospital. The Polish authorities do not allow journalists to reach the border and have sealed off a three-kilometre-wide strip as a prohibited zone. A few hundred managed to cross the green border at first, then to Germany. In the meantime, however, Lukashenko seems to be trying to de-escalate the situation: Apparently, he fears that several thousand migrants could remain in Belarus permanently. A first plane did indeed take over 400 of the migrants on November 18, all of which had agreed to be sent back to Iraq. style=”font-size:40px; line-height: 1.3em; font-weight: 800; padding:7px;”>Is Lukashenko setting a new trap for Europe? Lukashenko, for his part, threatened to cut off a natural gas pipeline running through his country, which would limit the supply of Russian gas to Europe. Furthermore, he deliberately chose the timing, as Germany has yet to form a new government after their federal elections in October. I was in the forests with a delegation of doctors. Belarus’ dictator is deliberately using migrants to blackmail the EU
Lukashenko’s actions are part of his reaction to sanctions that were imposed by the EU after last year’s rigged presidential election. Reports have indicated that the new round embargoes would have included cutting the country off from international payments. Poland’s government has refused to let officials from the EU border protection agency Frontex – which is based in Warsaw – to the border and has rejected offers of help from other countries. Lukashenko is perhaps now afraid that he will lose control of the border conflict that he artificially caused and that the migrants could stay in Belarus for a long time. Putin must fear that the conflict could postpone the completion and bringing on line of the new Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea to Germany. Poland’s right-wing government is itself in conflict with Brussels over political interference in the Polish judiciary. Contradictory signals from Minsk should lead to talks between the EU and Putin on Belarus. This has made direct reports from the border rare. Near the border with Poland, an old warehouse has been converted to accommodate the migrants, who are now no longer allowed to approach the border strip. Lukashenko, himself, now actually seems interested in da e-escalation. The fact that Putin has called on Lukashenko to enter into a dialogue with members of the opposition in Belarus is a good sign. The EU should now quickly start talks with Lukashenko’s patrons in the Kremlin. Requests for asylum are not accepted. And they all have only one goal – they want to enter the EU, with most of them wanting to reach Germany. The Polish army then built a tight cordon along the 400 km long border with barbed wire and soldiers. The Belarussian opposition, which is supposed to meet for a conference in Vienna on November 22, has nothing against a representative of Russia taking part and acting as a mediator. The ill-fated visit by Europe Foreign Affairs chief, Josep Borrell, in March marked a low point in relations between Moscow and Brussels. As a precondition, however, political prisoners should be released and acts of violence stopped, according to a spokesman for the leader of the opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya. At that meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov utterly embarrassed Borrell. Or, in the worst-case scenario, he may want to set a new trap for the EU. Lukashenko, however, will only agree to this if more pressure is applied by the Kremlin. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL KLIMENTYEV / SPUTNIK / KREMLIN POOL MANDATORY CREDIT

Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko. To that end, even a real war can no longer be excluded. The European Commission has so far strictly rejected negotiations with Minsk. They all have been lured by the dictator of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is on a working visit to Russia to discuss aspect of the Russia-Belarus cooperation, including oil and gas cooperation which is on the top on the agenda talks. According to information from Minsk, a deal was negotiated: The EU would take in 2,000 refugees, and Lukashenko would repatriate the remainder, about 5,000 people, back to the Middle East. “We are defending the EU border here in Poland. Sadly, the EU also acted in a rather clueless and uncoordinated manner, and has done so since the beginning of the crisis. Lukashenko has upped the stakes in his ongoing war with the West by trying to force thousands of illegal migrants to cross Poland’s – and the EU’s – borders. According to Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Germany, in particular, should have a special interest in protecting the EU’s external border. And when we talk about the bigger picture: Let’s work together for peace and not give Vladimir Putin extra money through energy payments so he can keep arming.”
The EU was reluctant to impose new, more severe, sanctions on Belarus. To be sure, Moscow has so far done everything to weaken and divide the EU. Thousands of people from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, many of them Kurds and Yazidis, are camping in the woods in freezing temperatures with little supplies and no medical care. From there they were taken by bus to the border with Poland and Lithuania. This is the only way to prevent further provocations by Lukashenko and thus further, and even greater, human suffering.