Uniting democracies has been the key international political trend of the last hundred years. Understanding this trend and enabling it to continue is the key to world political development.
New Book by Streit Council Advisory Board Member Kenneth Weisbrode
In Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers, historian Kenneth Weisbrode asserts that Old Diplomacyis not really that old—many of its concepts and methods date to the mid-nineteenth century—while the practices of New Diplomacy emerged only a couple of generations later. Moreover, "Diplomacy 2.0" and other variants of the post-Cold War era do not depart significantly from their twentieth-century predecessor: their forms, particularly in technology, have changed, but their substance has not. In this succinct overview, Weisbrode reminds us that to understand diplomatic transformations and their relevance to international affairs is to see diplomacy as an entrepreneurial art—and that, like most arts, it is adapted and re-adapted with reference to earlier forms. Diplomatic practice is always changing, and always continuous. To read more about this book, click here.
Kenneth Weisbrode, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is an Assistant Professor of History at Bilkent University, Turkey and has written and edited several books, including Old Diplomacy Revisited: A Study in the Modern History of Diplomatic Transformers; Churchill and the King: The Wartime Alliance of Winston Churchill and George VI; and The Atlantic Century: Four Generations of Extraordinary Diplomats who Forged America's Vital Alliance with Europe. He is also the co-founder of the Toynbee Prize Foundation's Network for the New Diplomatic History, and holds a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.
New Book by Streit Council Board Member Richard Rosecrance
In The Resurgence of the West: How a Transatlantic Union Can Prevent War and Restore the United States and Europe, Richard Rosecrance calls for the United States to join forces with the European Union and create a transatlantic economic union. A U.S.-Europe community would unblock arteries of trade and investment, rejuvenate the West, and enable Western countries to deal with East Asian challenges from a position of unity and economic strength. Through this great merger the author offers a positive vision of the future in which members of a tightly knit Western alliance regain economic health and attract Eastern nations to join a new and worldwide international order. To read more about this book, click here.
At the Washington D.C. Summit on Cross Continental Cooperation, held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy from November 4-7, Streit Council President Richard Conn Henry reviewed the history of the Streit Council, starting with Clarence K. Streit's self-publication of Union Now just prior to World War II, and continuing with the passing of the Atlantic Union Resolution in 1964. Henry also expounded his idea on a possible Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that, if adopted, would lead to a federal union with the European Union. His proposal can be found here.
Brendan Simms, Ph.D., joins the Streit Council's Advisory Board. He is a Professor of the History of European International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and is the founder and Chairman of the Board of the think tank Project on Democratic Union, which supports a full political union of the Eurozone. He also founded and is the President of the Henry Jackson Society, a think tank dedicated to fostering a strong British and European commitment to liberty; constitutional democracy; human rights; governmental and institutional reform; a robust foreign, security, and defense policy; and the transatlantic alliance. His publications include Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire 1714-1783 (2008) and Unfinest Hour: Britain and the Destruction of Bosnia (2001).
Transatlantic Relations and Global Governance News
Ukraine peace talks aborted as civilians die in Donetsk
30 January 2015 – Reuters
Envoys from Donetsk and Luhansk arrived in Minsk for the peace talks scheduled for Friday, January 30th, however they informed reporters that the talks had been canceled. In Donetsk, a cultural center was hit by shells, resulting in the deaths of at least five civilians; volunteers were distributing humanitarian aid at the time of the attack. A trolleybus nearby was also hit by a shell, leaving one more dead. Ukrainian officials have accused the separatists of the shelling, used as a tactic to sabotage the scheduled peace talks. As fighting continued in Debaltseve and Vuhlehirsk, there were reports from Ukrainian officials of seven civilian and five military deaths, as well as 30 wounded.
Eurozone deflation gathers pace
30 January 2015 – BBC News
Eurozone prices are 0.6% less than they were this time last year. In December, annual deflation was at 0.2%. Oil prices are 60% less than they were last summer, and energy prices, which fell 8.9% this month, have greatly aided in the decline in Eurozone prices. Excluding energy and food prices, Eurozone prices inflated by 0.7% and 0.5% in December and January. The European Central Bank announced a massive quantitative easing program last week to prevent deflation. Prices fell for most of 2014 in Spain; however, the economy grew at 0.7% in the last quarter, demonstrating that economies can grow in spite of deflation.
Russia cuts interest rates from 17% to 15%
30 January 2015 – BBC News
The Central Bank of Russia has slashed its main interest rate from 17% to 15%, triggering a 2.4% decline in the ruble against the dollar. The dollar is now worth 70 rubles. The bank defended the cut by saying that high inflation was becoming more stable and that the economy was worsening. This week the bank announced it would invest at least 2.34 trillion rubles in the economy in an attempt to stave off impending crisis. Western sanctions imposed on the country because of its annexation of the Crimea and continuing aid to rebels in eastern Ukraine have, along with a drastic fall in global energy prices, taken a heavy toll on the Russian economy. Russia raised its interest rate significantly last year to stave off high inflation—which was 11.4% in 2014—but higher interest rates also slowed the economy at a time when it was already deteriorating. The IMF expects the economy to contract by 3% this year and 1% in 2016.
The Fed’s not ready to act yet
29 January 2014 — PBS
The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee voted unanimously Wednesday to remain “patient” on raising short-term interest rates since inflation is still below its two percent target. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen clarified at her December press conference that being “patient” meant waiting at least two FOMC meetings before raising rates. If that remains the case, the next opportunity for a rate hike would be the committee’s June 16-17 meeting.
Is China’s Periphery Becoming the Core of Its International Relations?
29 January 2014 — The Diplomat
An op-ed published on 13 January in China’s Global Times by leading Chinese international relations scholar Yan Xuetong, Dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, entitled “Holistic ‘Periphery.” He argues that China’s rise will be more effectively achieved by fostering friendly ties with neighboring countries, rather than focusing on improving U.S.-China relations in order to reduce “American resistance,” asserting that the “inevitable course” of rising powers over world history has been to first become a regional power and then a global power. Yan defines China’s “periphery” as East Asia, Russia, Central Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, contending that “[f]aced with the reality that China is stronger than they are, neighboring countries must choose whether they support or obstruct China’s rise.
Getting around Uncle Sam
29 January 2014 — The Economist
In 2010, IMF members agreed to expand the IMF’s lending power and alter its voting rights. But because the U.S. Congress has not approved America’s contribution to the proposed increase in capital, the reforms have yet to take effect. In December, Congress once again passed a budget without paying up. The IMF’s capital has been steadily shrinking relative to the world economy: its clout is half what it was in 2000. Moreover, Brazil, China and India have only 8% of the voting rights, even though they account for 19% of global output. On January 15th Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s boss, expressed her “profound disappointment” with America and resolved to explore “interim solutions.”
Is Europe on board for a new trade deal with the U.S.?
29 January 2015 – Pew Research Center
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement currently being negotiated by the U.S. and European Union, has encountered significant criticism and opposition. A survey conducted by Pew in March 2014 found that 53% of Americans thought stronger business and trade ties would be beneficial for their country. 58% of Europeans back an EU-U.S. trade pact according to a poll conducted by TNS for the European Commission. In 25 of the EU’s 28 member states, a majority of the populace backs a trade deal. Only 39% of the public back a deal in Germany and Austria, and 40% of Luxembourgians support an agreement. Support for the TTIP is strong in Eastern Europe, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Ireland. With 79% in favor, Lithuania is the country that most firmly backs the TTIP. However, many Europeans and Americans believe increased trade could lead to job losses and undermine wages.
Pentagon official urges NATO to focus on innovative weapons
29 January 2015 - Reuters
Amid calls for NATO allies to develop more innovative weaponry, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work announced the new Pentagon "Defense Innovation Initiative." This new plan comes as part of the Pentagon's budget plan for 2016 that is set to exceed Congressional budget caps due to concerns about a lack of advances by allied militaries. Increased investments by countries such as China and Russia in modern weapons technology have sparked these recent concerns. Many NATO members have been spending less than the expected 2 percent of GDP on defense, leading many to call for new approaches and increased involvement in defense initiatives.
Gorbachev: Ukraine could explode into "hot war" between Russia and the West
29 January 2015 – Christian Science Monitor
Ex-USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev has expressed fear over the escalation of tensions between Russia and the West. This comes as relations between the two is the lowest it has been since the Cold War. He blames both sides for the crisis, criticizing Western sanctions and the involvement of both sides in the Ukraine conflict for violation human rights and using lethal weaponry. Gorbachev's ominous remarks come after a five month ceasefire in the Ukraine conflict, that Gorbachev also claims both sides violated.
Russia warns West support for Kiev could lead to “catastrophe”
29 January 2015 - Reuters
Interfax reported Thursday on a message by the Russian OCSE envoy to stop supporting what it calls Ukraine's "party of war." He appealed to primarily the U.S., stating that Ukraine's actions are unacceptable and inhuman. Russia denies involvement in the Ukraine conflict, and blames the U.S. and NATO for the escalation in violence in the country.
European Central Bank QE Could Cause “Competitive Depreciation:” China
29 January 2015 – India Times
The European Central Bank's new quantitative easing (QE) measures could trigger "competitive depreciation" of currencies around the world, China's commerce ministry warned Thursday. "The European QE may worsen the competitive depreciation of currencies of various countries, further increasing the uncertainties in international cross-border capital flows," said China's commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang. "The QE will push the euro to further depreciate, which is likely to lead Chinese companies expanding imports from Europe and lowering their investment costs in Europe.” According to Chinese data, two-way shipments increased 9.9 percent year-on-year to $615.1 billion in 2014, with China in surplus to the tune of $126.6 billion.
Denmark’s Central Bank Cuts Rates Further into Negative Territory
29 January 2015 – The Financial Times
Denmark cut its interest rates to a record low for the third time in 10 days as its defense of its peg against the euro became increasingly aggressive. Nationalbanken cut its deposit rate by 15 basis points to minus 0.5 percent after selling krone in an effort to keep the Danish currency close to its peg of 7.46 per euro. The Swiss central bank’s decision earlier in January to abandon its defense of the franc has focused global attention on Denmark, the only country to enforce a strict peg with the euro. Tina Mortensen of Citi Bank wrote: “We reckon the [Danish central bank] will be forced to continue intervening in the forex market and likely could be forced to cut the [deposit] rate deeper into negative territory.” The Danish krone is meant to trade within 2.25 percent of 7.46 per euro but the central bank has in effect enforced a narrower band of about 0.5 percent either side of its target.
Russia pulling out of PACE until end of 2015 – delegation head Pushkov
29 January 2015 – Interfax
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) suspended voting rights for the Russian delegation, as well as its right to representation on some of PACE’s governing bodies. Head of the Russian delegation to PACE Alexei Pushkov said that Russia will withdraw from all sessions and will cease contact with PACE until the end of the year.
Why the Eurozone May Need to Sacrifice Greece to Save Spain
28 January 2015 – The Wall Street Journal
Since taking office, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has adopted more of a confrontational than compromising tone with the EU. Perhaps in response to early Syriza moves, markets have registered the rising risk that Greece may exit the Eurozone, with three-year government bond yields surging to about 17% and the shares of its top banks collapsing by more than 25% on Wednesday. Conservative governments fear the French and Italian left’s readiness to compromise with Athens may send Mr. Tsipras the wrong signals. Madrid, representing now perhaps the state most vulnerable to a leftist election victory, is clear that any deal with the Greece must be based on reform commitments at least as tough as those demanded of former Prime Minister Samaras. Anything less would represent a win for Mr. Tsipras and fuel support for Spain’s own leftist party, Podemos. Madrid believes that it would be in Spain’s and the Eurozone’s best interests to allow Greece to crash out of the Eurozone rather than boost support for Podemos and risk its nascent recovery, according to a source familiar with its thinking.
Ukraine separatists claim key new victory is within grasp as they surround key railway hub
28 January 2015 – U.S. News & World Report
Rebel forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region claim to have Ukrainian forces almost completely surrounded in Debaltseve; Ukrainian officials deny the rebel claims as exaggerated. Debaltseve is strategic as a logistics and transportation hub due to its railway station linking Donetsk and Luhansk.
Why the alleged Russian spy ring matters
28 January 2015 – CNN
The U.S. Department of Justice issued an affidavit that accused three Russians as spies for the Russian foreign intelligence agency, the SVR. While two of them, Victor Podobnyy and Igor Sporyshev, were a part of the Russian delegation to the UN and therefore covered by diplomatic protection, the third, Evgeny Buryakov, was arrested. Buryakov was working as a Russian banker in New York City and is accused of gathering economic intelligence. The discovery of Russian spies operating in the U.S at a moment of high tension between the U.S. and Russia will not help to defuse the situation, and provides further “evidence of a comprehensive Russian espionage program.”
IMF urges control of commercial property inflation
28 January 2014 – Irish Times
The International Monetary Fund has warned that central bank interventions may yet be required to tackle “strong developments” in the commercial property market. In a report which welcomed central bank measures to contain the rapid advance of the residential property market, the Washington-based institution said prices were rising quickly in the commercial sector. The IMF report pointed out losses on commercial property accounted for more than half bank capital needs in the wake of the crash.
North Korea may be trying to restart nuclear reactor: U.S. think tank
28 January 2014 – Reuters
An analysis issued by 38 North, a North Korea monitoring project at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, said that North Korea may be trying to restart a nuclear reactor that can yield plutonium for atomic bombs, but that it is too early to reach a definitive explanation for signs of activity at the Yongbyon reactor, including steam and indications that snow had melted on the reactor roof. There are clear differences between the latest 2014-1015 imagery and that from more than a year earlier when the reactor was known to have been operating. Imagery from December 2013 showed snow had melted off the roofs of all the buildings related to the reactor and foam could be seen at the end of the turbine building’s steam and wastewater drainpipe. The absence of the foam in recent images could be related to the installation of new piping.
Bank of England's Carney Urges Europe to Take Plunge on Fiscal Union
28 January 2015 – Reuters
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney urged the Eurozone to take the controversial step of turning its currency area into a fiscal union in order to escape its slow-growth debt trap - a call likely to be rebuffed by Germany. Carney applauded the ECB’s launch of quantitative easing for the Eurozone, but added that more still needs to be done, including enacting reforms to make the Eurozone more like the United States, where government transfers can insulate certain areas of the Union from crises. Proposals of this type have been criticized in the past by certain countries, particularly Germany, for fears of having to routinely subsidize fiscal profligacy in other states. In a speech highlighting his goals for his desired reforms, Carney said "Europe needs a comprehensive, coherent plan to anchor expectations, build confidence and escape its debt trap.” Specific options for sharing fiscal risks ranged from a transfer union – or a partial sharing of spending among member states – to a pooled employment insurance mechanism.
Fed, ECB Encourage Return to Emerging Markets in January – IIF
28 January 2015 – Reuters
Foreign money flows into emerging markets bounced back in January, buoyed by the ECB starting quantitative easing and by the receding prospect of a U.S. rate hike, the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said. Following the sharpest outflows in 18 months in December, portfolio inflows in January were expected to tally $18 billion, with bond investment rising to $14 billion and $4 billion going into stocks. "Investor interest in emerging markets has benefited from the further scaling back of market expectations for Fed policy rate hikes and by the ECB's announcement of an expanded, open-ended quantitative easing program," IIF chief economist Charles Collyns said. IIF data showed the rebound did not reach all regions. The recovery was at its strongest in Latin America, followed by Asia, while foreign portfolio capital flowed out of emerging Europe for a second straight month.
Irish and U.S. Trade Unions Sign Historic Agreement
27 January 2015 – Irish Times
An Irish trade union has signed a historic agreement with one of America’s largest unions that will lead to training for Irish workers in additional skills that will help them secure new employment prospects. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez spoke about the critical role of apprenticeships as a route to prosperity for the lower and middle classes, echoing President Obama’s recent words in his State of the Union address. The U.S. could learn from Ireland on how to increase the level of trade union membership in the private sector, he added. Richard Trumka, president of the powerful AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor union, who was present at the signing of the agreement, expressed some concerns about the TTIP agreement’s potential impact on labor and other standards in the two countries.
Nearly a Quarter of Eurozone Government Bonds Offer Negative Yields
28 January 2015 – Reuters
Nearly a quarter of all Eurozone government bonds offer negative yields, data from Tradeweb shows, a consequence of ECB strategies designed to channel money into the most credit-starved corners of the bloc's weak economy. This in effect means that investors are paying to lend to countries, exposing them to potential losses. Electronic marketplace Tradeweb's calculations, based on data taken just before markets closed on Monday, show that 23 percent of all euro-denominated government bonds have bid yields below zero. Yields across the bloc made their latest charge lower after the ECB announced last week it would start buying bonds, including government debt, at a rate of 60 billion euros a month starting in March.
Greek election “severe blow to Cameron’s hopes of EU treaty change”
28 January 2015 – The Guardian
Bygone Swedish Premier Carl Bildt noted that Syriza’s triumph in the Greek election will hinder British Prime Minister David Cameron’s attempts to renegotiate the EU’s constitutional treaties, as it would encourage Syriza to press for changes to the way the single currency operates. “If you open up treaty change you haven’t clue what they [the new Greek government] will put on the table,” Bildt said. Cameron plans to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU in 2017 if he wins the election outright in May. In the intervening time, he hopes to reform the EU to persuade the electorate to vote to remain in the EU.
U.S. to Push Russia on Ukraine as EU Wrangles on Sanctions
28 January 2015 - Bloomberg
The U.S. and the EU are both preparing to increase the pressure on Russia. The U.S. is set to provide the Ukrainian government with as much as $2 billion in U.S. loan guarantees on top of the $1 billion given last year. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew stated that the Obama administration would be willing to raise greater pressure on Russia in order to end the conflict in Ukraine. The EU will consider adding more names to their black list of Russian and Ukrainian separatists, as well as extending the duration of current individuals and organizations on the list. Recent attempts by the EU to add sanctions to Russia have failed amid resistance from most notably Greece, represented by its new government. The U.S. and EU are considering adding sanctions to Russia in technology, energy, defense and banking amid the crisis in Ukraine, while Russia denies involvement.
Juncker plan will create two million jobs, says ILO
28 January 2015 – The Guardian
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan to invest €315 billion may create two million new jobs. Juncker was received skeptically last year when he first proposed a €21 billion public investment to trigger about €300 billion in private investment. Research Director Raymond Torres said the plan will “complement the monetary measures recently announced by the European Central Bank, by encouraging enterprise investment, growth and job creation.” The ILO said the plan would require a lot of private investment and must be targeted at the most affected countries to significantly decrease unemployment. “It is crucial for the plan to be accompanied by a longer-term employment strategy that focuses on quality jobs and balanced reforms,” the Geneva-based organization said.
U.S. provides more aid to Ukraine, threatens to step up sanctions on Russia
28 January 2015 – Reuters
The U.S. and Ukraine have reached an agreement in which the U.S. will provide Ukraine with $2 billion in loan guarantees for “near-term social spending.” U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew also indicated that the U.S. was “prepared to do more if necessary. To that end we will continue to work with our allies to increase the pressure on Russia.” The loans are contingent on Ukraine meeting benchmarks stipulated in its IMF loan agreements, as well as implementing “fiscal and anti-corruption reforms.” The IMF is also in the process of negotiating a $17 billion bailout. Ukraine is on the verge of default due to “crippling external debt repayments” and the conflict in the Donbas.
TTIP: Vince Cable clashes with David Cameron over controversial international trade deal
27 January 2015 – The Independent
During a cabinet meeting today, Liberal Democrat MP and Business Secretary Vince Cable called for provisions to prevent corporations from exploiting a trade deal currently being negotiated between the EU and U.S. known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The secretary’s remarks may signal a growing rift of opinion between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on the TTIP. Opponents of the TTIP argue that the deal would empower corporations at the expense of national governments and weaken consumer and environmental standards. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the trade agreement would add £10 billion to the economy.
Republicans Defend Obama's Trade Pact While Pressing To Deregulate Banks
27 January 2015 – Huffington Post
Senate Republicans offered to help President Barack Obama pass a sweeping trade package, while pressing for measures to deregulate finance and potentially raise the price of prescription drugs. Labor unions, environmental groups, open Internet advocates and public health experts have steadfastly opposed Obama's trade priorities out of concern they will exacerbate income inequality and undermine regulations. Republican leaders in Congress and lobbyists with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, have said the policies will boost corporate profits and economic growth. While Republicans generally backed top trade official Michael Froman on Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested that Obama currently does not have the votes to clear a fast-track bill through the Senate.
ECB Bond-Buying Plan to Boost Italian Growth - Bank Of Italy
27 January 2015 – Reuters
The European Central Bank's bond-buying program will lift Italian growth over the next two years, making it easier for the government to make badly-needed economic reforms, an Italian central bank official said on Tuesday. Italy's biggest employers' group, Confindustria, said on Saturday the ECB plan could raise Italian gross domestic product by 0.8 percent this year and by a further 1 percent in 2016 by weakening the euro exchange rate, thus boosting exports, and by lowering long-term interest rates. Italy has been the Eurozone’s most sluggish economy over the last decade and has not posted a single quarter of growth since the middle of 2011.
Swiss Central Bank Ready to Intervene: Official
27 January 2015 – Market Watch
The Swiss franc fell on Tuesday after a senior official at the Swiss National Bank was quoted as saying the central bank was still prepared to intervene to keep the currency relatively weak. SNB Vice President Jean-Pierre Danthine noted that the central bank had no choice but to abandon its 3 1/2-year-old cap, as the common currency was no longer a suitable reference for the franc. The Swiss central bank's move to scrap the franc cap came as upward pressure on the currency had forced it to intervene increasingly in the currency markets, and the volume of interventions could have reached 100 billion francs ($166.26 billion) in January, Mr. Danthine was quoted as saying.
Germans Bash Juncker Offer of Votes at Investment Fund
27 January 2015 – Bloomberg Business
Germany, supported by the Netherlands and Portugal, criticized the European Commission’s plan to let national governments buy votes on investment strategy at President Jean-Claude Juncker’s flagship growth fund. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said during public debate in Brussels on Tuesday that Juncker’s 315 billion-euro ($358 billion) initiative should not allow nations to acquire voting rights by chipping in extra cash. Under Juncker’s proposal, nations or outside investors would be able to join the steering committee for the European Fund for Strategic Investments if they add to the 21 billion euros in seed money provided by the European Investment Bank and the Brussels-based commission. No nation has so far offered to augment Juncker’s investment plan, which must be approved by governments and the EU Parliament to move forward. Concerns were also raised regarding the plan’s state-aid rules, which require the EU to approve large government subsidies to make sure they do not not give any one company an unfair advantage over its rivals.
IMF's Lagarde warns African economies of headwinds from China, U.S.
27 January 2014 – Reuters
International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde has warned that African economies could be hurt by a slowdown in China's economy and an imminent hike in United States interest rates. Lagarde, speaking on Tuesday on a visit to Rwanda, said IMF's global economic forecasts have been revised down over the past few months despite a huge fall in oil prices. African countries such as Nigeria and South Sudan depend on oil for the majority of their revenues. A Reuters poll in January showed China's economic growth was expected to slip to 7 percent this year before dipping to 6.8 percent next year.
UN moves swiftly to help people in south-eastern Ukraine forced to flee deadly weekend blast
27 January 2014 – UN News Centre
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has provided aid to people affected by rocket fire in the town of Mariupol. UNHCR distributed on Saturday and Sunday enough sheeting to help more than 1,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed when the strategically important port town came under fire, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens. In the coming days, UNHCR plans to deliver roofing materials to families whose homes have been damaged in Mariupol, as well as the villages of Sartana and Talakivka. As it stands now, construction materials are in short supply and the sheeting can be used to create a makeshift shelter and cover holes. Fighting between the Ukrainian armed forces and anti-government combatants has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. A ceasefire was agreed on in September, but, says the agency, the conflict has flared up again and has been intense in parts of the east in recent days.
How America Can Unleash India’s Massive Economic Potential
27 January 2014 – Foreign Policy
During the summit between United States President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi, Modi underlined this point when he said the U.S.-India partnership would be instrumental in “shaping the character of this century.” He said that India, after decades of sitting on the sidelines of global politics, would now assume its “responsibility” within an Indo-U.S. “global partnership.” Modi and Obama discussed the possibility of Washington working with New Delhi to move India towards accession to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which would require substantial liberalization of the Indian economy and benefit India even more than it would APEC. New Delhi’s record of obstructionism in trade liberalization talks at the World Trade Organization, and its exclusion from the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, otherwise risk isolating it from the world’s most productive trade arrangements. Unlike in 1980, when imports and exports constituted about 15 percent of India’s GDP, today trade makes up almost half its economy.
Hostage crisis trips up Japan as it seeks global security role
27 January 2014 – Reuters
Tokyo knew for months that Islamic State militants were holding two Japanese men captive, but appeared ill-prepared when the group set a ransom deadline and purportedly killed one of them, according to officials involved in the crisis in the past week. The biggest foreign policy test of Prime Minister's Shinzo Abe's two years in office may have blindsided an administration that has pushed for Japan to take a stronger line on global security, according to the accounts of officials speaking to Reuters on condition they not be named. As Abe prepared for a five-day trip to the Middle East where he would announce $200 million in humanitarian aid to counter Islamic State, he convened a meeting of his national security advisers, said a person with knowledge of the proceedings.
International Monetary Fund set to continue support Greece after election
27 January 2014 – Reuters
The International Monetary Fund on Monday said it was prepared to continue its financial support of Greece, a day after an election swept in the leftist, anti-austerity party Syriza. The IMF has been a partner with the European Union in a multi-billion euro financial rescue of Greece since 2010. The opposition Syriza, which won a resounding victory in Sunday's general election, opposes the austerity program Greece accepted in exchange for the bailout, and plans to renegotiate the deal, including a possible renegotiation of the country's debt. Newly elected Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will govern in a coalition with the nationalist Independent Greeks party after securing 149 seats in the election, two short of the required majority in the 300-seat parliament.
After Ebola, World Bank Chief Proposes Global Insurance Program For Future Outbreaks
27 January 2014 — International Business Times
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim is proposing emerging nations, developed countries and global aid organizations participate in a kind of insurance system to help pay for health crises like West Africa's Ebola outbreak. Kim told an audience at Georgetown University on Tuesday that “[w]e must learn the lessons from the Ebola outbreak because there is no doubt we will be faced with other pandemics in the years to come.” He explained World Bank officials informally discussed the possibility of a “pandemic response facility” with the World Health Organization, United Nations and other international actors last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He continued that countries, companies and organizations could work together to prepare for future problems by developing stronger health system infrastructure, surveillance and fast-acting medical response teams, which would lower the “premium” they pay. While nothing is official yet, Kim said the World Bank may send proposals to world leaders in the next few months.
OSCE calls on Russia to close its border with Ukraine
27 January 2015 – United Press International
The OSCE urged Russia to close its border with Ukraine on Tuesday, January 27th. OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva said that this will “halt the flow of any weapons or fighters…which may be entering eastern Ukraine.” She further questioned the source of the weaponry and equipment utilized by the separatists due to its advanced nature, saying that it “is not appearing out of thin air.”
OSCE urges Armenia, Azerbaijan to stop clashes
27 January 2015 – Reuters
In a condemnation of the violence and deaths in Nagorno-Karabakh, OSCE Chairman and Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has called for Armenia and Azerbaijan to work together to “ensure a full ceasefire and cessation of hostilities.” There has been an increase in violence lately, with soldier deaths on both sides, although there are “conflicting death tolls.”
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