January - June 2012

Rights Group Slams NATO, Others for Deaths at Sea
24 April 2012- News West
A top European rights watchdog has blamed NATO, Libyan authorities and smugglers for the deaths at sea of 63 people fleeing the Libyan war in March 2011 - a charge the military alliance is disputing.  The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said Tuesday that NATO in particular "failed to react to distress calls" from the boat carrying the refugees in part of the Mediterranean Sea under its control. According to PACE, search and rescue authorities, NATO, states with naval vessels in the area, Libyan authorities and human traffickers shared responsibility for the 63 deaths.  The boat, which left Tripoli with 72 people on board, washed up on the Libyan coast 15 days later with only nine people still alive, even though distress messages giving its last known position were regularly broadcast to all ships in the area.  (Read More)

EU, US Condemn Sudan's Attack of South, Call for Immediate Ceasefire
23 April 2012- RTT News
The US and the European Union have strongly condemned Sudan's military incursion into South Sudan, and called for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of all Sudanese armed militia.  It called on both governments to recommit to negotiations under the auspices of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel. Washington urged both parties to activate without delay the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism, including unarmed observers from both parties supported by UN observers. (Read More)

Ken Clarke ‘Hopeful’ of European Court of Human Rights Overhaul
19 April 2012 – BBC News
The 47 countries needed to overhaul the European Court of Human Rights are set to meet in Brighton, UK today. The UK is pushing to return powers of justice to individual nations, preventing the ECHR from overturning national decisions. The UK has witnessed several prominent cases recently where the ECHR has overturned UK court decisions such as the UK’s decision to prevent prisoners from voting and blocking the deportation of Abu Qatada. The Court has told the UK that ‘sometimes minority interests have to be secured against the view of the majority’. The conference at Brighton is hoped to end with the enshring of the principle of ‘subsidiarity’ in the Brighton Declaration. The declaration will require agreement by all 47 parliaments but the UK is positive of an agreement and verification in the coming years. However, some feel it will not resolve the main issue of ‘where does the buck stop?’ (Read More)

A Nation of Spoiled Brats
16 April 2012 – Foreign Policy – David Rothkopf
In an interview with Financial Times columnist Ed Luce, Foreign Policy’s David Rothkopf explores the American declinist argument Luce has debuted in a new book, Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent. Luce first cites the relative rise of the rest, other countries’ economies developing, as shrinking the US slice of the world economy. Income inequality is another piece of evidence cited by Luce. He also cites the US political system as by and large ineffective due to intense levels of partisanship which show no signs of decline. The Senate’s recent vote on the so called “Buffett rule” which is widely popular amongst all voters is clear evidence of how unresponsive and out of touch the legislative branch has become. While Luce hopes that the US will pull itself out of its current rut, it appears altogether unlikely thus far.  (Read More)

EU Launches Observer Mission Ahead of Algeria Election
17 April 2012 – The Daily Star
Ahead of Algeria’s election, the EU has launched an observer mission to monitor the results. This is the first time the EU has observed an Algerian election. All together some 500 election monitors will observe the Algerian elections. The election is seen as a test for the reforms the Algerian ruling party has implemented as a result of the Arab spring. Algeria is unlike its neighbors in that its government has largely stayed the same in that reform was carried out through rule of law. (Read More)

G8 Ministers Meet on Economic, Security Issues
11 April 2012- C-SPAN
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosts a meeting of the Group of Eight (G8) foreign ministers at the Blair House today. The U.S. holds the G8 Presidency for 2012 and will host the G8 Summit at Camp David on May 18 - 19. The G8 countries include: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Russia. North Korea's plans to launch a missile sometime this week will likely be one of the topics discussed by the foreign ministers who are gathering to work on economic and security issues. On Tuesday, Sec. Clinton warned North Korea that the missile launch would cause the U.S. to take "appropriate action" in the U.N. Security Council. (Read More)

IMF Notes Failures of US Foreclosure Programs
10 April 2012- Bloomberg Businessweek
The Obama administration's struggle to stem the U.S. foreclosure crisis illustrates how high household debt can slow recovery from a deep recession, according to the International Monetary Fund.  The global lending organization cited the failure of the administration's signature foreclosure-prevention program in a report it released Tuesday on household debt.  The report notes that HAMP gave lenders limited incentives and set tight eligibility criteria for borrowers. The IMF also says the program has not reduced monthly mortgage payments enough to restore affordability in many cases; only 11 percent of permanent modifications included principal reductions.  The IMF noted that the administration improved other assistance programs in February by broadening eligibility and increasing incentives for lenders to offer principal reductions. (Read More)

OECD Sees World Developed Economies Strengthening
10 April 2012- Voice of America
A new report says the world's developed economies appear headed for stronger growth in the coming months, with China advancing as well.  The Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday that its gauge of future economic growth in its 34 member nations edged up in February for the fourth straight month.  The OECD said the U.S., with the world's biggest economy, and Japan, with the third largest, are showing strong signs of advancing. The report said they had “regained momentum” in the aftermath of the global economic downturn in recent years.  In addition, the OECD said that Britain and Germany are experiencing a “positive change in momentum,” but that economic activity in Italy and France continues to be sluggish.  (Read More)

Dayton Agreement Favors Nationalists, Expert Says
5 April 2012 – B92
After almost twenty years after the Dayton Accords, the Center for Trans-Atlantic Relations’ Fellow Daniel Serwer argues that the divisions in Bosnia & Herzegovina (BiH) are not yet fully healed because of nationalistic tendencies fueled by ethnic divisions. Serwer is an expert on the region and served as a mediator for the Dayton Accords of 1995. He argues that BiH politicians continue to use ethnic divisions to advance their own agendas and careers. While European Union membership might prove attractive, there appears to be a lack of BiH will of leadership. This parallels neighboring Croatia’s situation in its unenthusiastic admittance into the European Union last year. He concludes that the EU would not provide nationalistic politicians much of a platform as an explanation for the lack of leadership will towards EU membership.  (Read More)

OSCE Calls for Inclusion of Roma Population
5 April 2012-B92 News
OSCE Mission to Serbia Head Ambassador Dimitrios Kypreos sent ahead congratulations to Serbia for International Roma Day and to highlight its progressive policies and attitudes towards integrating the Roma into Serbian society. Vojvodina Executive Council Chairman Bojan Pajtić has been particularly progressive on the issue and has received recognition from all corners of Europe.  His efforts have focused on education and breaking down of business barriers. The OSCE Mission will continue to support Serbian efforts towards full Roma integration. (Read More)

EU Court to Examine Global Copyright Pact
4 April 2012- Reuters
Europe's top court will determine whether a global trade agreement on copyright theft breaches citizens' fundamental rights including the freedom of expression, the European Commission said on Wednesday. The European Union executive said it had referred the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which is designed to tackle intellectual property theft, to the European Court of Justice for evaluation in response to concerns it could damage people's basic rights.  Its decision may complicate and delay the pact's entry into force across the EU. It is backed by the United States and others but many countries in the EU have yet to adopt it.  (Read More)

Japan Finance Minister: Hopes for Progress on IMF Funding by April 20
2 April 2012- Reuters
Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said on Tuesday he hoped to see progress on whether countries will contribute more to the International Monetary Fund by a summit on April 20, after Europe strengthened its defenses against its sovereign debt crisis.  European nations are pushing for bigger IMF contributions as a backstop in case its two-year old sovereign debt crisis worsens. Some countries say Europe has enough money to contain its crisis and have taken a dim view of pumping more money into the IMF. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda late on Monday, according to Japan's foreign ministry, after European finance ministers agreed on Friday to raise the combined lending capacity of their two bailout funds to 700 billion euros from 500 billion euros.  (Read More)

EU Poised to Ease Burma Sanctions
2 April 2012- Bangkok Post
The European Union on Monday held out the prospect of further easing sanctions on Burma this month as it congratulated the country after elections seen as a key test of reform efforts. ``I congratulate the government and people of Burma on the conduct of the by-elections on April 1. We will continue to support the ongoing reforms in Burma and look forward to developing a new and cooperative relationship as these go forward,''  said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is expected to visit the country later this month. The EU already lifted some sanctions on the regime this year to encourage reforms and foreign ministers will decide the next steps when they meet on April 23 in Luxembourg.  (Read More)

Senegal: Democracy is the Big Election Winner
27 March 2012 – Minneapolis Post – Nick Loomis
While democracy falters in another West African country, Mali, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade accepted his electoral defeat to Macky Sall. Wade was widely expected to dispute the results. Sall will be Senegal’s fourth president since its 1960 independence from France and will be the fourth to come to power by non-violent means. Wade surprised the West when he declared that he sought a third term even though he signed a law limiting the presidency to two terms in 2001. While the European Union electoral commission cited widespread vote buying by Wade’s party, it proved ultimately to be unsuccessful. Senegal youth’s was largely the deciding factor as Sall is 50 while Wade is 85. (Read More)

Turkey, OSCE Minsk Group Join Efforts to Resolve Karabakh Conflict – Erdogan
27 March 2012 – News.Az
In meeting with US President Barack Obama, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan volunteered his country and OSCE Minsk Group to assist towards finding a solution for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. While the conversation mostly focused on Syria, Erdogan also highlighted his country’s concern for the US Congress’ recent resolution reclassifying the Armenian genocide. While both leaders exchanged praise, Erdogan pushed for more US involvement towards resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. (Read More)

Nigeria: Why U.S., EU, CAN, Others Kick Against Govt, Boko Haram Dialogue
26 March 2012 –All Africa
The US, EU and Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have urged President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria to urge caution when he begins a dialogue with Boko Haram, an obscure terrorist group based in northern Nigeria. The US and EU argued that it would be difficult to negotiation with a group that does not have a unified, specific agenda, due its fractured nature. One church leader Ayo Oritsejafor even asked who is Boko Haram, citing the 26 Islamist groups operating  in Nigeria as Boko Haram according to the media. Boko Haram is not like the militants in the Niger delta who were lured to the bargaining table with offers of amnesty and legitimate resolution of grievances. (Read More)

EU, U.S. Refuse to Recognize Elections in South Ossetia
27 March 2012- Turkish Weekly
Both the European Union and the United States refuse to recognize as legitimate Sunday's presidential elections in South Ossetia, the EU and U.S. said in separate statements on Monday.  South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s and was recognized as an independent state by Russia and few other countries in 2008, held presidential elections on Sunday.   “This statement is to recall that the European Union does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which these elections have taken place,” the press service for Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement.  In turn, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland issued the following statement: "The United States does not recognize the de facto elections held in the Abkhazia region of Georgia on March 24th, nor do we recognize those that were held in South Ossetia on March 25th." (Read More)

Myanmar Invites EU, US Observers for By-Election
21 March 2012 – Gulf Today
For next month’s election, Myanmar has invited US and EU election observers to witness the vote. After more than forty years of voter oppression and rigged elections by the ruling military junta, this change, part of a recent loosing of oppressive laws and an opening of the political system, comes as pleasant relief. The main opposition, National League for Democracy (NLD) party led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, welcomes the observers as Suu Kyi stands for a parliamentary seat for the first time. The US Embassy lauded the move, but acknowledged that observers were just one step in ensuring the process is fair. Already, NLD has accused the government of including names of dead people on voter registration lists and forced some residents to attend a pro-government meeting.  (Read More)

UN Security Council Endorses Syria Peace Plan
21 March 2012 – Voice of America – Alejo Vidal-Quadras
After weeks of disagreement, the UN Security Council approved a non-binding resolution calling for the Syrian government and opposition to implement Kofi Annan’s proposals for resolving the conflict in Syria. If Annan’s six point peace plan is rejected, the UNSC will take unnamed steps against the Syrian government. The resolution is step forward as both China and Russia opposed previous resolutions condemning the Syrian government.   (Read More)

UN Security Council backs Annan Peace Plan
21 March 2012- Al Jazeera
The United Nations Security Council has adopted a statement backing joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's plan for ending the violence in Syria, as a government crackdown on opposition strongholds has continued.   The statement expressed the council's "full support" for Annan's efforts, and called upon both the government and the opposition "to work in good faith with the envoy towards a peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis" and to fully implement his six-point proposal.  The plan calls for a ceasefire to be established, as well as for both sides to engage in political dialogue and to allow humanitarian aid agencies access to areas where citizens have been caught up in an increasingly militarized conflict. It also calls for those detained during a government crackdown on protests to be released, and for restrictions on the freedom of movement of foreign journalists to be removed.  (Read More)

IMF Chief Warns Oil could Jump 30 Percent if Iran Flow Disrupted
21 March 2012- The Daily Star
The standoff between Iran, the world’s second-largest supplier of oil, and the West over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program is seen as a flashpoint that could sharply increase world crude prices.  The International Monetary Fund has calculated that an interruption in oil supplies from Iran could increase oil prices by 20 to 30 percent, said IMF Chief Christine Lagarde, who arrived in India at the weekend from neighboring China.  “A sudden and brutal rise in the price of oil” from Brent crude’s current levels of $125 a barrel “would have serious consequences on the global economy” until other oil-exporting nations were able to bridge the gap, she added. (Read More)

UN Refugee Agency Steps Up Assistance to Thousands Uprooted by Mali Conflict
20 March 2012- UN News Centre
The United Nations refugee agency is increasing its assistance to the tens of thousands of Malians who have been uprooted by the fighting between the army and Tuareg rebels, including providing shelter, clean water, and healthcare to camps in neighboring countries. UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Spokesperson Adrian Edwards told reporters in Geneva that UNHCR is also working on relocating refugees in various locations. Mr. Edwards also stressed that in addition to refugees in other countries, there are thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) mainly in Mali’s Gao province. “Refugees in neighboring countries and IDPs in Mali have told our teams that they are willing to return to their homes, but only when peace is restored,” Mr. Edwards said.  (Read More)

US Exempts Japan, 10 EU Nations From Iran Oil Sanctions
20 March 2012 – Bloomberg – Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
The US rewarded ten European Union countries and Japan for “significantly” reducing their oil purchases from Iran by exempting them from Iran oil sanctions. Other countries have another three months to accomplish the same according to a US law enacted at the end of last December. It is hoped that early recognition and its rapid reward will encourage South Korea, India, China, Turkey, South Africa and others to comply before the June 28 deadline. Saudi Arabia’s announcement yesterday of its intention to boost output to ensure that no shortages occur, not coincidental given the Sunni monarchy’s immense dislike of Shiite led Iran, caused oil prices to drop. (Read More)

 

Failing Iraq's Iranian Dissidents
20 March 2012 – European Voice – Alejo Vidal-Quadras
Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki extended his deadline for closing Camp Ashraf, the main home of almost 4,000 Iranians fleeing prosecution and oppression, it was only after a massive human rights campaign. He then signed an MoU with the UN to move the dissidents to Camp Liberty, a former US base, in order for UN Refugee Agency to interview the dissidents to determine refugee status and place the qualified refugees in third counties. Conditions at Camp Liberty do not meet UN standards, a fact compounded by wary Iraqi forces who even prevented US diplomats from entering a few times. Ultimately, the only choice for the UN is to accelerate interviews and move people to third countries, lessening the strain on the camp and removing the problem from Iraq.  (Read More)

Council of Europe adds to Hungary's Predicament
20 March 2012- EurActiv
The Venice Commission, a Council of Europe body specialized in constitutional matters, found yesterday (19 March) "numerous problematic elements" in the laws regulating Hungary's judicial system and even called for amending the country's new constitution.   The development is expected to play an important role for the decision of the European Commission, which is currently considering a treaty violation procedure against Hungary in relation to the independence of its judiciary. On 20-21 February 2012, two separate delegations of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe body on constitutional matters, visited Budapest. One of them examined the new legislation relating to the legal status and remuneration of judges and to the organization and administration of courts, and the second one a newly adopted Hungarian Law Act on religious freedoms. (Read More)

Russia to back Annan's Syria Peace Plan
20 March 2012- Al Jazeera
Russia says it is ready to support a UN resolution endorsing Kofi Annan's plan for settling the Syrian crisis. The statement calls on Assad and Syria's opposition to "implement fully and immediately" Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan. It says the council will "consider further measures" if nothing is done within seven days of any adoption. But Sergei Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, said on Tuesday that the resolution should not turn into an ultimatum to the Syrian government, which has set the stage for tough bargaining over the wording of the document at the UN Security Council. First talks on the statement will be held on Tuesday, and France's UN envoy Gerard Araud said he hoped it would be adopted the same day. (Read More)

India, China must Speed Reforms: IMF’s Lagarde
19 March 2012- Wall Street Journal
International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde mentions when visiting China and India that even as prospects for the global economy have begun to improve, both countries must press ahead on reforms, both to protect their financial markets and to help Western economies recover. “Today, we are seeing signs of stabilization” in both Europe and the United States, Lagarde said in a speech delivered in Beijing.  But financial systems remain fragile, and the rising price of oil is becoming a threat to global growth. Last month, the IMF warned that a recession in Europe, the largest destination for Chinese exports, could cut China’s growth in half. India, meanwhile, saw an exodus of foreign investments last year as turmoil from the European crisis kept investors at bay.  (Read More)

U.S. May Sanction India Over Level of Iran-Oil Imports
15 March 2012 – Bloomberg – Indira A.R. Lakshmanan and Pratish Narayanan
As US sanctions on Iran tighten, India may find itself caught in violation of new US law. The sanction law requires a significant reduction in either volume or revenue of oil imports from Iran. By law, the US could impose trade penalties on India if a significant reduction is not evident. Somewhat defiantly, the Indian Foreign Ministry has stated that while India is in fully compliance with UN sanctions, there is no direct legal obligation to do so beyond that of the UN. Ultimately, it is likely that, just as with Iran’s other major oil clients, India will simply use international pressure to negotiate lower prices which would lower revenue as that is the entire goal of the sanctions in the first.  (Read More)

Revised UN Convention Seeks to Encourage Investment, Combat Corporate Tax Evasion
14 March 2012- UN News
The United Nations announced today that it has updated a set of guidelines to prevent double taxation between countries, as well as to avoid tax evasion, which costs countries $3.1 trillion every year.  Double tax treaties are agreements to prevent taxing income twice by allocating taxing rights over this income between two countries. These types of treaties play a key role in encouraging investment and technology transfer, while allowing governments to retain taxing rights over the money that comes from those investments. (Read More)

Bailout Can Make Greek Debt Sustainable, but Risks Remain: EU/IMF
13 March 2012 - Reuters
An analysis, prepared by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund for euro zone finance ministers shows that Greek debt could fall to 116.5 percent of GDP in 2020 and 88 percent in 2030.  The restructuring of privately held Greek bonds would help to initially reduce debt, but that debt would spike up again to 164 percent of GDP in 2013 due to the shrinking economy and incomplete fiscal adjustment. The euro zone may also have to be prepared to lend even more money to Athens, the report said. It may take Greece much more time than assumed to identify and implement the necessary structural and fiscal reforms to improve the primary balance from -1 percent in 2012 to the required 4.5 percent of GDP. (Read More)

German Push for Transactions Tax Hits Resistance in Europe
13 March 2012 - Reuters
Germany's push to win backers for financial transactions tax met resistance on Tuesday among European Union ministers divided on the question of how to collect more money from banks blamed for the financial crisis. Having failed to win support for the measure from the United States and other members of the G20 leading economies, France and Germany are now making a drive to end more than two years of debate on the issue in Europe. The basis for the discussion is a European Commission blueprint for a tax that could raise up to 57 billion euros ($75 billion), with much of it coming from London, the region's biggest trading centre. Britain has said it will stop any such pan-European tax, fearing it would damage London's financial hub.  (Read More)

Commission Sets Sights on Including Shipping in ETS
8 March 2012 – European Voice– Dave Keating
In a move similar to the emissions trading scheme (ETS) imposed recently on aviation, the European Commission (EU) has proposed a scheme on all ships that utilize European ports. The EC is only compelled to act if no international action has been taken to reduce emissions and cites the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) failure to reach an agreement last week as the impetus for its own proposal. While the EC has introduced this idea, it is their hope that it prompts the IMO into action as the EC would prefer to avoid fallout similar to that of the aviation ETS. (Read More)

Iran: US: EU: Return to Dialogue with Tehran on Nuclear Power. Price of Oil Falls
8 March 2012 – Spero News
In response to recent international pressure, Iran has agreed to restart talks on its nuclear program with the 5+1 group of countries (China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany). Iran also gave the IAEA permission to visit Parchin military complex which where the IAEA suspend nuclear weapons are being produced. While the US and EU will launch new sanctions by July 1, successful talks could result in those as well as others being dropped in exchange for a nuclear program deal.  (Read More)

Obama: G8 Move Not About Security Concerns, Chicago Prepared For NATO Summits
7 March 2012- Huffington Post
G8 economic summit would be moved from Chicago to a presidential retreat at Camp David in Maryland. The idea of moving the G8 to Camp David was raised to the president a few weeks ago, a senior administration official said, adding that the president was intrigued by the novelty of the idea and asked staff whether they could pull off the change. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who personally lobbied President Barack Obama to host the NATO and G8 summits, was informed of the change only hours before the White House publicly made the announcement. "I always have confidence in Chicago being able to handle security issues," Obama said Tuesday, according to Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times. "We know how to deal with a crowd and I’m sure your new mayor will be quite attentive to detail in making sure everything goes off well." In a brief statement issued Monday, Mayor Emanuel's office said it wished "President Obama and other leaders well," and that the city looks "forward to hosting the NATO summit." (Read More)

As IMF Stumps for Funds, a Republican Backlash Brews Over Europe
6 March 2012- The Washington Post
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration helped negotiate a plan to give emerging economic powers increased say at the International Monetary Fund, while also having them contribute more to an enlarged pot of money for the fund. The dispute centers on Republican opposition to increasing the United States’ financial contributions to the agency, reflecting anger over IMF rescue programs in Europe that some GOP lawmakers argue have become too expensive and have put U.S. taxpayers at risk. Some of the money provided to the IMF is in the form of loans on which the United States earns interest. Still, opposition is growing to a permanent increase in U.S. government support for the IMF, as well as to a $100 billion credit line the United States provided in 2009 as part of an international move to help the IMF respond to the global financial crisis. (Read More)

G8 Summit Moved to Camp David Last-Minute
5 March 2012 – Christian Science Monitor – Julie Pace
With only about two months to go, the White House announced Monday that the G8 summit would be moved to Camp David from Chicago, the President’s hometown. The release cited the ability to have more intimate discussions with world leaders while stating that the move was not a response to the planned protests in Chicago. Chicago will still host a NATO summit scheduled to occur immediately after the G8 meeting.  (Read More)

Obama, Netanyahu Talk Unity, Underline Differences
6 March 2012 – Boston Globe/AP – Ben Feller
Meeting at the White House on Monday, President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel discussed each country’s position on the Iranian nuclear issue. Netanyahu highlighted the Israeli right of pre-emptive strike while the President urged diplomacy before military action. The meeting relieved some of the recent tension between the US and Israel. The President outlined his position that he would not stand for containing a nuclear armed Iran and that it was in the US’s best interest to resolve the issue while Netanyahu privately acknowledged a preference for diplomacy over force despite his recent, harsh rhetoric calling for use of force. Obama left Netanyahu with a takeaway line, that the US “will always have Israel's back…." (Read More)

Ukraine Denies OSCE Access to Jailed Ex-Premier for Third Time
5 March 2012 – Bloomberg – Kateryna Choursina and Daryna Krasnolutska
For the third time in several weeks, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) was stopped from meeting with Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine, who is currently serving a seven year sentence for activities carried out in the course of her duties in office. The OSCE called the action “unfortunate” and said it highlighted “the deficiencies in the rule of law and democracy in Ukraine.” As Ukraine increasingly ignores rule of law and democracy in its treatment of Tymoshenko, the EU has halted negotiations on an association agreement including a free trade pact until the situation can be resolved. (Read More)

G20 Alert to Rising Oil Prices Risks

28 February 2012- Arab Times
The world’s leading economies said on Sunday they were “alert to the risks of higher oil prices” and discussed at length the impact that sanctions on Iran will have on crude supplies and global growth.  Higher prices at the gas pump could undercut the US economic recovery, push Europe deeper into recession and stoke already-high inflation in many emerging economies. Brent crude prices rose to a nearly 10-month high of $125 a barrel on Friday as Europe and Asia cut back on buying Iranian oil and seek out supplies from elsewhere to enforce sanctions designed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on Sunday he had “encouraging conversations” with countries planning to cut Iranian oil imports and said he was also seeing cooperation to get banks to crack down on transactions with Iran. (Read More)

G20 to Europe: “Show Us the Money”
29 February 2012- Empowered News
Countries within the Euro zone pledged on Sunday at a Group 20 meeting of finance leaders to reconsider the strength of their bailout fund in March, which would encourage other G20 countries to give more funds to the International Monetary Fund.  Europe’s largest economy, Germany, met intense pressure to support enlarging the region’s war chest.  But facing political difficulties at home, it has sent conflicting signals over whether it was ready to move.  The G20 is trying to obtain massive international resources worth nearly $2 trillion – including existing and new funds – by late April.  (Read More)

IMF Releases €3bn in Loans to Ireland
28 February 2012- RTE News
The International Monetary Fund is releasing another €3bn in loans to Ireland following a review of the bailout program. The IMF said the release of the funds follows the completion of its fifth review of the bailout program for Ireland, and it will release another €3.23bn as part of the deal.  The disbursement of the latest loan brings the total loaned to Ireland by the IMF since the start of the bailout to more than €16bn.  The IMF also said the challenges Ireland faces have intensified since the start of the program, with growth expected to be only 0.5% this year. (Read More)

G20 says Bigger Euro Firewall Needed before More IMF Funds
28 February 2012- The International News
A statement released after a meeting of the group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers here said: “Euro area countries will reassess the strength of their support facilities in March. This will provide an essential input in our ongoing consideration to mobilize resources to the IMF.”  The Eurozone must put in place a bigger firewall to combat its debt crisis before other countries will help by giving more cash to the IMF, the G20 top and developing economies said Sunday.  At a crunch two-day summit in Brussels starting on Thursday, EU leaders will debate whether to combine their current firewall, the EFSF, with a permanent pot due to come into effect in July. This would give the debt-wracked 17-nation zone a total fund of some 750 billion euros ($1 trillion). (Read More)

Peru’s Vice President to Travel to Europe to Take Part in EU Parliament Hearing
27 February 2012- Andina News
The Peruvian Presidency of Council of Ministers (PCM) authorized on Monday the trip of Vice President Marisol Espinoza to Europe in order to take part in the First Preliminary Hearing in the approval process of a Multiparty Trade Agreement between Peru, Colombia and the European Union to be held in the city of Brussels (Belgium) on February 29. The first hearing in the approval process of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union will take place this Wednesday at the headquarters of the European Parliament.  (Read More)

EU Slaps New Sanctions on Syrian Regime
27 February 2012- Arab News
European foreign ministers increased the pressure yesterday on Syria's regime to stop its crackdown on opponents, freezing the assets of several Syrian government officials and imposing sanctions on the country's central bank
. They also banned the purchase of gold, precious metals and diamonds from the country, and banned Syrian cargo flights from the European Union.  The names of the Syrian officials sanctioned on February 26 will be made public February 27 in the EU's official journal. The new sanctions were adopted yesterday morning by the foreign ministers of the 27 EU countries, meeting in Brussels, said Maja Kocijancic, an EU spokeswoman. (Read More)

'NATO hijacking UN powers' – Putin
27 February 2012 – RT
As part of his bid for re-election, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized the United Nations and NATO for undermining the concept of sovereignty under the cover of humanitarian and human rights concerns, undoubtedly referring to the recent NATO intervention in Libya. He argued that the forceful imposition of democracy may actually result in an oppressive government. He went on to urge diplomacy instead of offensive military action or similar in the world hot spots of Syria and Iran, ironically arguing against intervention remarkably similar to Russia’s own interventions in the Caucasus and Georgia. He also highlighted Russia-China cooperation and its potential boon for the Russian economy. Importantly, he called for closer economic ties to Europe so that goods could easily flow from Lisbon to Vladivostok, Russia’s Pacific seaport. He concluded by expressing hope that closer economic ties between Russia and the West could help restore the Russo-American relationship. (Read More)

The Berlusconi Standard
27 February 2012 – Oxfam – Gawain Kripke
With less than three months to go before the G8 summit in Chicago, President Barack Obama has said little on what international agenda he will seek to promote. In addition to the current the current problems of the day, the host country usually attempts to promote an international agenda in support of a global issue such as poverty or HIV/AIDS. Even former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, launched the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative when he hosted the summit in 2009 although President Obama was reportedly the driving force behind it. Hopefully, the President will not squander this world stage spotlight with a less than well planned initiative. (Read More)

NATO, UN to Bolster Cooperation to Support Children Affected By Armed Conflicts
23 February 2012- RTT News
The NATO and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) partner nations have agreed to bolster cooperation with the United Nations to support children affected by armed conflicts.  Allied and ISAF partners' Ambassadors on Wednesday took stock of measures already put in action by NATO and received an update by U.N. Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, who briefed the North-Atlantic Council as part of her efforts to engage with regional organizations, including the EU and AU, on the issue NATO is also working with the U.N. at the strategic level.  NATO's Allied Command Transformation conducted a joint workshop with its U.N. counterparts to identify specific training needs to ensure that the issue of children affected by armed conflicts is incorporated more broadly in pre-deployment training for troops deploying to ISAF.  (Read More)

IMF Resources Talks Should Follow Europe Firewall, Brainard Says
23 February 2012- Bloomberg Businessweek
Group of 20 nations should discuss possible further resources for the International Monetary Fund after Europe decides on its financial firewall, the U.S. Treasury Department’s top international official said. Lael Brainard, the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, also said today that a “large share” of the funding to solve the euro-area crisis will come from the region itself.  “The IMF should continue to play a constructive role in Europe but IMF resources cannot substitute for a strong and credible European firewall in response,” Brainard told a news briefing in Washington. European finance ministers approved a 130 billion-euro ($172 billion) package for Greece yesterday by tapping into European Central Bank profits and convincing investors to provide more debt relief to the Mediterranean country.  (Read More)

G20 Foreign Ministers Conclude Mexico Meeting
22 February 2012- Monsters and Critics
Foreign ministers of the G20 group of world's 20 leading economies concluded a meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico urging improved efficiency in international institutions. The two-day informal event was the first time since the G20's founding in 1999 that it met at the foreign-minister level. The G20 summit is scheduled for June, also in Los Cabos, on the Baja California peninsula in western Mexico.  (Read More)

UN Nuclear Agency Laments Lack of Progress During Iran Visit
22 February 2012 – UN News Centre
The United Nations atomic energy watchdog has voiced disappointment at the lack of progress made during a two-day visit to Iran aimed at clarifying possible military dimensions to the country’s nuclear program. An expert team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) held talks with Iranian officials on 20 and 21 February, following previous discussions at the end of last month.  The agency had requested access to the military site at Parchin during both the first and second round of discussions. However, Iran did not grant permission for this visit to take place.  (Read More)

Greek Bailout Plan Now Moves to the IMF
21 February 2012 – Washington Post
Debate over the rescue plan for Greece now shifts to the International Monetary Fund, which must decide whether it is willing to risk more money on a new bailout effort that the fund’s own analysis shows has a strong possibility of failing. The willingness of the IMF to continue lending to Greece is a critical part of the new program, because these loans would reduce the amount of money that Greece’s European neighbors must provide. Public sentiment in several countries has been turning against the Greek bailout, and some European leaders say they have provided as much support as their domestic politics will allow. In a statement Tuesday morning, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said she would withhold any final decision on the loans until certain conditions are met. (Read More)

G20 Gathers in Mexico with Europe on Their Minds
20 February 2012- Market News International
Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's major economies will arrive in Mexico City this week for the Group of 20 meeting from Friday to Sunday.  The main focus will be on expanding funding to address the debt crisis in Europe.  A group of related meeting will also occur during the week. The Mexican Institute of Finance Executives (IMEF) holds its monthly press conference Wednesday, and Bank of Mexico Gov. Agustin Carstens and other key figures will be speaking at a Latin Finance conference Thursday, and Friday and Saturday.  Mexican Finance Secretary Jose Antonio Meade, the European Central Bank's Jens Weidmann, and Bank of Canada Gov. Mark Carney are also due to speak at the Institute of International Finance Conference.  (Read More)

UN: Mladic Trial Delayed Until May
15 February 2012- The Sofia Echo
The Yugoslav war crimes tribunal has announced a six-week delay in the trial of former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic to give the defense more time to prepare its case. The United Nations court said in a statement Wednesday that the trial will begin on May 14 instead of the original start date of March 27. Mladic has been accused of crimes against humanity, including planning the death of 8,000 Muslim men and boys over a six-day period in 1995. Mladic denies the charges. If convicted, Mladic could be sentenced to life in prison.  (Read More)

UN Nuclear Watchdog Set for High-Stakes Iran talks

15 February 2012 – Reuters – Fredrik Dahl
In an attempt to start next week’s diplomatic negotiations on the right foot, the International Atomic Energy Agency sent its Chief Yukiya Amano, and his two deputies to an event at the Iranian embassy in Vienna celebrating the 1979 revolution. Most Western diplomats did not attend. This may be an attempt to build upon Iran’s perceived readiness to address IAEA concerns, particularly as Amano seeks access to a large military complex south of Tehran. The outcome of next week’s talks will indicate whether the IAEA’s efforts worked.  (Read More)

General Assembly President Stresses Role of UN in Problem Solving
13 February 2012 - UN News Centre
The President of the General Assembly Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser today underlined the United Nations’ central role in building world peace through dialogue and consensus by bringing countries together to find common solutions for problems that face humanity.  “There is power in these collective commitments. They offer support to governments in developing policies. They also create space for sharing ideas and best practices. He also made reference to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a commitment made by world leaders at the UN World Summit in 2005 for States to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  (Read More)

World Bank President Zoellick to Step Down June 30th
15 February 2012 - World Bank News
World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick announced today he would step down at the end of a five-year term in which a transformed Bank played an historic role during the global economic crisis, using record replenishments to provide more than $247 billion to help developing countries boost growth and overcome poverty.  Zoellick said that through June 30 he will stay 100% focused on being Bank President and will continue to drive policy and programs at a heightened tempo.  For example, in late February, he will help unveil a joint groundbreaking World Bank-China study on the future structure of China’s growth model, drawing lessons for other middle-income countries. (Read More)

Portugal Waits for EU-IMF Review
14 February 2012- Nine MSN News
Officials from the 'troika' of the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund begin on Wednesday a two-week review of the economy.  Lisbon now waits to find out if it will get the next round of aid worth 14.9 billion euros as the pressure mounts on the government from popular unease.  Armenio Carlos, general secretary of the CGTP called the bailout conditions uder the IMF "a program of aggression against workers and against the national interest".  "Austerity does not create wealth. The country needs the rope around its neck to be removed so that it can breathe, live and work," he said. (Read More)

UN Rights Chief Slams 'Failure' on Syria
14 February 2012- Al Jazeera
Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated the UN Security Council's inability to pass a resolution on Syria has encouraged the government to step up its assault on the opposition and launch an "indiscriminate attack" on civilians in the city of Homs.  Russia and China vetoed a second UN Security Council resolution on Syria on February 4, the same day a military assault on the central city of Homs began.  Pillay expressed serious concern that the deliberate stirring of sectarian tensions could plunge Syria into civil war and appealed for Assad's government to be referred to the International Criminal Court. (Read More)

Migiro Urges Greater Role for Emerging Economies in Global Governance
13 February 2012- UN News Centre
In an address to the conference marking 10 years since the launch of the Helsinki Process on Globalization and Democracy, a joint initiative of Finland and Tanzania aiming to establish a set of commonly agreed rules to better manage globalization,  Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro today called for the wider inclusion of emerging economies in global governance mechanisms.  She noted that powerful decision-making bodies do not sufficiently reflect the growing impact of developing and new markets on the world economy.  The gap between old structures and new realities is causing divisions among groups of countries at different stages of development, she pointed out, stressing the need to strengthen ties among governments, civil society groups, the private sector and other international institutions. (Read More)

Diplomacy Falters in Maldives
13 February 2012 – Wall Street Journal– Tom Wright
The US and EU have attempted to restore stability in Maldives, a small country of Indian ocean atolls, through diplomacy, after President Mohamed Nasheed was coerced into resigning by an armed coup de tat. Robert Blake, U.S. assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Central Asia, is currently the highest ranking official working in Male, the capital, and in conjunction with the EU, called for a unity government and has been reluctant to call the events of last week a coup for fear of sabotaging negotiations. However, he went as far to call reports of violence by police against supporters of Nasheed, “quite serious violations of human rights.” While Maldives is small, its location in between India and southwest Asia is relatively strategic for the international shipping trade and as an impediment towards piracy. The US provided training to the country’s armed forces for the latter reason and has a concern about the potential for Islamic extremists as the country is almost entire Muslim. (Read More)

Gold Prices Dip as IMF Warns on China

7 February 2012 - International Business Times  
The gold price traded slightly lower Tuesday, falling $2.00 to $1.718 per ounce.  Strength in the U.S. dollar helped to pressure the price of gold, which posted its first three-session losing streak since mid-December.  Euro zone meetings to discuss the next tranche of financial aid to Greece were postponed due to disagreements over proposed austerity measures.  UniCredit Bank’s chief economist, Erik Nielsen, warned in a note to clients that “The Greek negotiations are getting down to the wire, with probably no more than one or two weeks left to get all the agreements in place if we are to avoid a messy default in March.” (Read More)


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