Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek and former U.S. Representative Vin Weber, R-Minn., will lead a discussion on strengthening democracy and human rights globally at the National Press Club on Tuesday, June 29 at 2:30 pm. Maria Leissner, Sweden’s ambassador for democracy, and Ana Palacio, former foreign minister of Spain, will also participate in the discussion. Katty Kay, Washington correspondent for BBC World News America, will moderate.
The event is part of a transatlantic dialogue program involving a broad array of policymakers from the United States, Europe and Canada who are working to develop recommendations for bolstering cooperation on democracy support between the European Union, the United States and the broader transatlantic community. Participants in the dialogue will meet June 28 and 29 in Washington and again in early 2011 to develop the policy recommendations.
The dialogue is being organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with primary support from the EU Delegation to the United States. Co-chairs are Albright, Buzek, Weber and Javier Solana, former EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy.
Through a series of conferences and working groups, the dialogue will engage senior U.S. and European policymakers who are knowledgeable on democracy support, including current and former members of Congress and the European Parliament, EU and U.S. administration officials, as well as experts from think tanks, academia, and the broader democracy support and transatlantic policy communities.
The dialogue receives additional support from the National Endowment for Democracy and the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Other organizations engaged in the dialogue include the Atlantic Council, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Centre for European Policy Studies, the European Network of Political Foundations, the European Partnership for Democracy and Fundación para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Diálogo Exterior (FRIDE)."
"On Monday, Jerzy Buzek, opened the conference and took part in a panel discussion on prospects for further promotion of democracy by the EU following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the importance of promoting democracy by strengthening development aid and compliance with the principles of sustainable development and the integration of democracy and human rights into the broader agenda of on foreign policy.
On Tuesday will take part together with Madeleine Albright and Vin Weber of high-level panel discussion at the headquarters of the National Press Club in Washington. He will also meet with managing director of the International Monetary Fund Mr. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, and Congressman Bart Gordon, Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology." Link
"The U.S. House Energy Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and, the Internet is a subcommittee within the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Juristiction: Interstate and foreign telecommunications including, but not limited to all telecommunication and information transmission by broadcast, radio, wire, microwave, satellite, or other mode; and, Homeland security-related aspects of the foregoing, including cybersecurity." Link
"Cyber security was identified as a security issue in the report on the implementation of the European Security Strategy (ESS) submitted by SG/HR Javier Solana to the European Council in December 2008". Link
To this topic see also my last article.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
"EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - You see it in the movies: fighting has broken out somewhere in the former Soviet Union, the US president walks into his situation room, monitors are showing satellite images, security advisors are shouting at each other, the president is given a briefing note and sends an agent to gather intelligence. Now, the EU's foreign relations chief, Catherine Ashton, is to get a situation room of her own.
Ms Ashton will not have an army or a "European Intelligence Service" to send into action. The centre-left British politician, a former activist in the anti-nuclear CND group, is said to distrust military types and her first priority is the kitchen-sink construction of the European External Action Service (EEAS).
But she has already told EU leaders that she wants a "single crisis response centre" under her direct command and internal discussion on the Ashton situation room is at an advanced stage.
One scenario under consideration is a crisis department run by a director general and situated close to Ms Ashton's office in the EEAS headquarters, most likely in the so-called "Triangle" building facing the EU Council in the heart of the EU quarter in Brussels. It would have a staff of some 160 people and a modest budget of €10 to €20 million a year.
The situation room itself would have a conference table and banks of monitors showing breaking news and commercial satellite pictures of hotspots.In the back-rooms, the crisis department would have a team of IT experts, scientists and tacticians sifting open source data in search of conflict threats.
Ms Ashton's private intelligence would come from officials manning 24/7 hotlines to the EU's 136 foreign delegations and 14 civilian and military missions. Another unit would send people to crisis zones at short notice to hunt for information. A cell of secret-service agents seconded from key EU states would pass Ms Ashton's queries to spy agencies such as the UK's MI6 or France's DGSE and file replies.
The European Commission's existing Crisis Room and the EU Council's Joint Situation Centre (SitCen) are to form the backbone of the crisis department. SitCen already sends people into the field. When war broke out in Georgia in 2008 it dispatched two analysts to "re-inforce the EUSR [the EU special envoy to the South Caucasus] with reporting," a contact familiar with SitCen operations told this website.
In an insight into the opaque bureau's work, the source added: "These are fairly normal people who have perhaps in their lives had some experience of being out in the field in a place less comfortable than Washington. They are not spooks by any means. We avoid anybody who even looks like one. They are people who can write reports. Who do not mind not staying in five star hotels. Who know how to take precautions when they go out at night."
The new set-up is to see Ms Ashton pick up the phone or walk down the hall and "task" people herself to go overseas or to query EU countries' secret services. Current bureaucracy means that 27 EU ambassadors in the Political and Security Committee first hold a debate before tasking SitCen.
The idea is to give the EU foreign relations chief a powerful asset when she asks EU foreign ministers to deploy an EU battle-group or if she decides to send an EEAS diplomat, or even a prominent MEP, on a peace mission.
"Today, if you go through the normal channels to make a threat assessment in Kosovo, for example, by the time the [SitCen] officer gets to Pristina, it's all over," one PSC ambassador told this website.
"Imagine how effective the high representative could be if the new SitCen was to function like her shadow cabinet," a contact in the EU institutions said. "Member states are afraid to give away power. But this could be the new mega-commodity in Brussels."
Wider or deeper?
One question is whether the crisis response centre will handle man-made conflicts only, or natural disasters and pandemics also.
The wider portfolio could spark turf wars between Ms Ashton and aid and development commissioners Kristalina Georgieva and Andris Piebalgs. It could also dilute EEAS resources, perpetuating the phenomenon of forgotten conflicts and threats, such as plans by UK private security firm Saracen International to build a pirate-fighting base in Somalia.
But the big question is: who will be Ms Ashton's right-hand man?
Former UK soldier and diplomat William Shapcott, who built SitCen, walked away in June to a new post in the EU Council administration, creating a risk that his successor might take a minimalist approach to the job.
One candidate for the job is French diplomat Patrice Bergamini, who worked close to Ms Ashton's predecessor, Javier Solana, and helped draft the EU's first security strategy in 2003.
The appointment could give France a monopoly on the EEAS security side, however. French diplomat Christine Roger is to be the new PSC president. French official Claude-France Arnould is the new head of the EU Council's civilian-military crisis planning office. A French secret service agent runs SitCen's intelligence-sharing cell. And French diplomat Pierre Vimont is tipped to become EEAS secretary general, in charge of the body's internal security structures.
"It would be good to have a German appointment to make sure that Germany is engaged at the highest levels. Somebody with a diplomatic and a security or intelligence background," the source in the EU institutions said.
"Nationality can be overplayed. Intel is sensitive, so in that sense you do not want to play up the [director's] national connections," the contact familiar with SitCen's work said." Link
Last week the Council of EU Ministers has approved the new European Digital Agenda, an action plan that envisages the creation of a Digital Single Market and increased confidence of European consumers in cyberspace.
Tomorrow, 2010, June 28:
Friday, June 25, 2010
At the SDA’s Annual Advisory Board and Members’ lunch today, former NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, inaugurated the presidency of the Brussels-based think-tank with an outline of the key areas the SDA should be focusing on.
‘We need to tackle the growing disconnect between the political elite and the people’ said Mr de Hoop Scheffer. He went on to outline some of the political areas where the SDA’s activities would be making a contribution in the next year:
• Connecting NATO with the public
• Relations with Russia
• The financing of NATO
• EU and NATO relations with the Middle East " (from Link above)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
The Euro is on the verge of a collapse that could drag Europe into conflict, billionaire financier George Soros warned yesterday.
“German policy is a danger for Europe. Unfortunately, a collapse of theeuro and the European project cannot be ruled out.
“That would be tragic because then Europe would be threatened by the sort of conflicts between states that have shaped European history.”
Mr Soros added his voice to suggestions that Germany might do better to abandon the troubled eurozone, which is struggling to survive the Greek debt crisis and speculation about the economic health of other members, including Spain.
The German government aims to save about 80 billion euros (£66.5billion) between next year and 2014 by slashing welfare spending, cutting the public sector workforce and reducing subsidies.
But Hungarian-born Mr Soros warned: “The Germans are dragging their neighbours into deflation, which threatens a long phase of stagnation.
“That leads to nationalism, social unrest and xenophobia. Democracy itself could be at risk.”
see also my post on June 6, where I had written:
"crisis of leadership and with notfunctioning democratical structures the institutions will get restructured... They will be confronted with a long period of depression/stagnation or little ups and downs following each other, while the elite is changing their economical models...such social tensions will get more intense, energy and resource prizes will also rise, bank loans will get limited or very expensive and the allowed state deficits get more restricted. Investment in R+D instead of Consumer goods. This is a learning program during its course the man on the street "has to learn" how not to spend less as there is nothing left for him anyway. Additionally they will introduce a "moral culture", where the little citizen is kept submissive through the acceptance of moral and global rules under the elites close surveillance and can feel honoured and fine with nothing in his hand to feed his children." Link