Tag Archives: France

Syria and «assadization» of G20

After he canceled bilateral talks with Russian counterpart (and remained with two days off on the presidential agenda), Barack Obama seems to be very interested in relations with the Northern countries. So en route to G20 Summit (Sankt Petersburg, Russia), he is doing a stopover in Stockholm (Sweden), where the leader of the White House will meet with PM Fredrik Reinfeldt and King Carl XVI Gustav and will get dinner with leaders of the Northern countries from Western EuropeNorway, Iceland, Finland and Denmark.

This visit comes as a follow of last week, when Obama met in Washington with the heads of the Northern countries from Eastern Europe – Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. Of course, from discussions in Washington did not miss the conflict in Syria, as it probably will not miss to the meetings in Stockholm, although on the official agenda we can to find: the challenges arising by climate change (it is known that the northern European states are on the top list of the ‘greenest countries’ in the world!), regional security and development of bilateral trade. I don’t know which are the final results (in the medium and long term) connected with this new diplomatic approach and the strategic vision of Washington regarding  the Northern states. However, (in the short term) Obama seems trying to prepare for his diplomatic offensive at the G20 Summit.

782290660Assad’s fate will warm up the atmosphere of the meeting in the northern and cold capital of Russia, St. Petersburg, where Obama – willing or not – will meet with the “repudiated” leader of Russia, Vladimir Putin; also with the leader of China, Xi Jinping; the both countries actively oppose to the foreign intervention in Syria, but also Obama will meet with David Cameron, British Prime Minister, who washed his hands like Pontius Pilate, and passed the decision to support military intervention in Syria to the British Parliament, parliament which, despite arguments delivered for several hours by the chief of executive in London, gave negative vote.

If on these three cases things seem somewhat clear (though American leader has provided a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping) and extraordinary changes are difficult to predict (except if Obama will “pleasantly” surprise the Kremlin leader and will put on the table of world heavyweight undeniable evidence that incriminates the Assad regime), however, the U.S. leader has the chance even to keep solidarity of France and Germany ( in last case only one rather declarative and quite elusive). And to obtain declarative consent of other leaders – argument can be put forward to the United Nations. Well, I say keep because president Hollande has just spoke yesterday that he could ask the French parliament, a declaration that, associated with the deprivation of principal ally, Great Britain and the step back made by Obama himself who will request advisory agreement of US Congress, seems rather a step in retreat. Germany, which is in full Bundestag election campaign, most likely will still choose a moderate way and will try to be as low voice on this issue.

When hosting an international event of such importance, Russia knows every time to catch a large part of the benefits in terms of image and external perceptions, and it is easy to predict that this time will not be different. Regard the signals from the Kremlin, Barack Obama is right to expect an offensive campaign of the Russian leader, who recently, slightly ironical, said that “was surprised” that the Western community no longer runs “without comment” everything that Washington decides. Last public appearances of Vladimir Putin (including Channel One Russia tv & AP interview in the preamble G20 Summit that was published today) shows that (even if regarding domestic policy, things not look pretty good) when is about foreign policy, Russian president feels excellent in his skin and knows that he is not an opponent easy to overcome. Most likely Putin will try to convince the leaders attending to the Summit that by sending in ridiculous a conference where the both sides of the Syrian conflict to sit at the same table was a mistake and that a diplomatic solution is better than a military intervention against Assad (however limited it may be), with small chances of removing the Syrian leader from power but with big chances of turning into a regional conflict.

Even if on the official agenda of the 8-th meeting of the G20 is not found Syrian issue, it certainly will dominate the formal&informal discussions to the detriment fo economic priorities. Which also are not few, and are not unimportant (but we’re talking about in the coming days). Leaders of emerging economies have already a list with the important topics that they would like/need to be addressed, and political saturation of event can be rather counterproductive for both leaders, of the Kremlin and the White House. We will see whether the two leaders will be able to avoid as a major economic summit –  with (uncommon but necessary) a major political stake – to become a battle of vanities with null result or not.

Published by PPW partner – Eurasia Review

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What will do Iran with E3+3 proposal ?

During two days (26 -27 February) in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in a new round of talks on the Iranian nuclear file, the so-called P5-plus-1 group offered to slightly ease economic sanctions if Tehran halts production of near-weapons-grade uranium fuel.

Iran in talks on nuclear programAs is well known, the powers — China, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and the United States — fear Iran is seeking the ability to make nuclear bombs, an intent it denies by authorities in Tehran. So, what happened in Almaty, by the rule and line ?

The world powers have proposed allowing Iran to trade in gold and some other precious metals, a change that would ease the sanctions that have largely severed Iran from the world banking system. They also offered to ease sanctions on petrochemical sales and relax some banking restrictions. In exchange, Iran would have to stop producing so-called medium-enriched uranium at its underground plant at Fordow.

At the end of the meeting, Foreign Minister of UK, William Hague said on his Twitter account that: ”Iran talks in Almaty were a useful first step.We look to Iran to respond positively to E3+3 proposal at next meeting in March.” Also, Michael Mann, chief spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is diplomatic point person for the six powers, described the meetings as “useful”. Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili described the Almaty meeting as “positive”. In change, a State Department spokesman in Washington declined to comment on whether there had been progress in the talks. There is good to know that Secretary of State John F. Kerry implied this week that time was running out and that Washington could yet turn to military action to prevent Tehran from acquiring a bomb. Israel has also threatened military action.

The parties agreed to hold an experts meeting in Istanbul on March 18, followed by a political directors meeting, again in Almaty, Kazakhstan on April 5-6, negotiators from the P5+1 and Iran announced in a joint statement at the conclusion of talks Wednesday.

So, what will do Iran with such an offer ? Western diplomats say that their expectations are modest (also the expectations about Almaty meeting were minimal !) and that the most they might achieve from the talks is an agreement to have several lower-level follow-up meetings in the next several months. Iran is an year with presidential election. Serious negotiations or an Iranian decision until the fall (when will enter the power next president are unlikely (the election will be held in June, but the new president will not be in office until August). Until then, the parties involved (but mainly Iran, U.S. and Israel) will re-evaluate their options, strategies, ”jokers” and ”aces in the hole”. And, not least, the international community’s increasing concerns about weapons nuclear program in North Korea could change somewhat top of international agenda.

France Presidential Election: A socialist at Elysee Palace…most likely – became certainty

French citizens are voting on Sunday in a crucial runoff that could see a Socialist win the presidential poll for the first time since 1988. On Saturday, as the polling stations opened in France’s overseas territories, starting in the tiny islands of Saint Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland.

The two candidates competing in the second round are François Hollande, an opposition leader of the French Socialist Party, and Nicolas Sarkozy, incumbent president and leader of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement. The first round of the presidential race in France ended on April 22. Under Sarkozy, France pledged to rein in its spending while the rest of 17 countries that use the euro embark on a strict period of belt-tightening. The rating agency Standard & Poor’s this year downgraded France’s triple-A credit rating, citing in part its over-high state spending for straining public finances. Both Hollande, a moderate from the centre ground of the Socialist party, and Sarkozy have promised to balance the books – France hasn’t had a balanced budget for more than 30 years. Hollande has promised to renegotiate Europe’s fiscal pact on austerity and shift the focus to growth measures.

According WSJ, Hollande will wait for the announcement of election results in his native city Tulle. Sarkozy will be in Paris and is expected to deliver a speech to his supporters and journalists at the election headquarters after the name of the winner is known.

Update: Leading Brussels paper reporting Socialists claiming Hollande has won 53% to 47%. French voter participation at 5pm local time: 71.96% (more than in the 22 April first round) – according French Minister of Interior. An exemplary mobilization suggesting that the French have understood the importance their presence at the polls.

Update_2: Au revoir, Sarko ! Exit polls: Hollande – 51,9%; Sarkozy – 48,1%

  The Socialist Left are back in power in the Elysee Palace. Francoise Hollande is the 24th president of France. He is first Socialist president since François Mitterrand’s re-election in 1988. BBC Live footage of the crowds outside Socialist headquarters in Paris (Place de la Bastille) shows people cheering, waving flags, hoisting children into the air, one man pumping the air with his fist. Sarkozy has accepted the victory of Hollande. He phoned Mr Hollande to wish him “good luck”. Voice strained, Sarkozy thanks cheering supporters at his party headquarters in Paris (Place de la Concorde), saying it was an honour to have served France. Re-gaining the presidency is a triumph for the Socialists but the story is not over there: a new parliament is to be elected on 10-17 June in the country which made famous/notorious the term “cohabitation”. More, the new president will have no state of grace, leading a country crippled by public debt and in economic crisis, with unemployment nudging a record 10%, a gaping trade-deficit, stuttering growth and declining industry. France’s public debt is so high that interest repayments alone account for the second highest state expenditure after education.