Merkel plays by the rules of Trump

German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to increase Germany’s defense spending in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Merkel said the challenges for NATO had changed drastically in recent years, following the Russian annexation of Crimea peninsula and Moscow’s support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. It means that it is necessary for NATO to focus more on defending the alliance.
“To do that we have to make necessary arrangements, for example through a presence in central and Eastern European countries,” she said.
But I think that this decision was not made because of the situation in Ukraine which has not changed for several years. Earlier, US President Donald Trump had criticized Germany and other NATO allies for not spending enough on their own defense and called for an increase in NATO military budget.
And just a few days later, the Chancellor says that Germany will increase its military spending to 2 percent of GDP to show NATO allies that Germany remains a reliable country. And, first of all, it has to prove it to the United States.
Although in her statement to the Bundeswehr officials Merkel criticized again the unilateral US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, we see that Angela Merkel continues to depend on US military support and acts in accordance with the plans of the US leader.
I hope that Trump does not continue to rule Europe, imposing his point of view and will on the European allies.

Boycott of the Russia World Cup comes to an end

In an interview with the national media, Swedish Foreign minister Margot Wallström said that Stockholm had refused to boycott the 2018 FIFA World Cup due to the success of the Swedish national team. Members of the government plan to attend the game of the 1/8 finals between Switzerland and Sweden, which will be held in St. Petersburg on July 3. Previously, Stockholm supported the initiative of Great Britain to boycott the World Cup in Russia by officials with regard to the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Representatives of Australia, Iceland, Poland and Lithuania supported the Swedish decision.
However, solidarity did not last long. In her defense, Margot Wallström says that the boycott extended only to the opening match. And now, the Swedish leadership considers it important to support the Swedish team, and this decision was made after consulting with colleagues from Denmark. By the way, the Danish Minister of Culture has already visited the game of the national team with Croatia in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday. And the President of the Republic of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, kept her company.
The Swedish don’t have to long drive. The game with the participation of the national team will take place in the native town of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who destroys European integrity and safety by his actions. But Europe forgets it. It is possible that the residence of the Swedish delegation will be paid by the host country.
And if the Swedish participation in the 1/8 finals is already a success, then up to what stage the British should come that their leadership will come to Russia? Let’s imagine… Theoretically, England and Russia can meet in the semifinal.
Let’s say that it happened, and the Russian president gives the command to his team to lose this match. This is quite real, taking into account the degree of authoritarianism in Russia. And the Englishmen, who consider themselves the ancestors of football, and who became world champions only once in 1966, are on the verge of triumph! But where?! On the territory of the state, whose leadership has repeatedly been criticized by the highest-ranking officials from London. Moreover, during the world football forum, the British media are full of articles about racism and Russian football hooligans. But they likely have to go. And it can be assumed that Boris Johnson himself or even Teresa May will go to Moscow, forgetting about the boycott. By the way, in 1966 the national team of England obtained the championship with the help of the Russians. Line judge Tofiq Bahramov, who counted a very controversial goal, represented the USSR.
All this reminds once again the gradual collapse of European stability, unity and the existence of double standards, to ordinary Europeans. When politicians need something, they will be able to turn any statements and actions in their favor.
P.S. If Denmark beat Croatia and passes to play a game with Russia, the issue with Nord Stream-2 would be resolved …

Roses for the German national football team

Very soon we will witnesses a grand sporting event: the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia! Remembering the Olympic Games in Sochi, there is no doubt that everything will be done as successfully as possible. Petrodollars will allow to arrange a memorable show with a high level of comfort for guests and participants. Returning to the issue of the Olympic Games in Sochi, you can recall that many athletes in the Olympic Village took the opportunity to cure their teeth totally free. At the World Cup will not be worse.
And nobody has already remembered that the World Championship will be held on the territory of the country, which has recently annexed a part of the neighboring state and actively supports separatists there. Only a few European publications recall that their football players will play in a country where the doping program was developed at the state level and covered by special services.
Everything is forgotten. Everything becomes history. And someone with a smile receives a bouquet of roses. Why is this happening?
No matter how hard we oppose it, the financial and economic interests of individual EU countries that put themselves above others, prevail over democratic values, allied commitments and support for the needy.
Four years have passed since the introduction of the first sanctions against Russia, and Germany declares the importance of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Most recently, the Bulgarian president, whose country presides over the EU, said that his country needed its own gas pipeline with Russia. In 2014, Sofia, under pressure from the United States and the EU, refused to lay South Stream and lost millions of euros. And there are a number of countries that are ready to join the oil and gas Russian pipe.
Undoubtedly, there are those who continue to support the earlier initiated actions in relation to the Kremlin. But most importantly, unity has disappeared in this issue, and economic benefits overshadow all other important things. Germany seems very peculiar country. It was Berlin that was one of the initiators of the economic blockade of Moscow, but now, after counting the losses and using its dominant position in the European Union, it seeks to replenish its budget through the transit of Russian gas. And Mrs. Merkel flooded Europe with immigrants from the Middle East and Africa. And now it makes all countries participate in this show, distributing quotas.
It’s time to stop pretending that financial preferences do not mean anything. It’s sad, but we have to admit that the European Union can not stand it. Gradually, it’s time to reformatting and select a new vector of movement. Maybe it’s not so bad. It remains to decide in what composition, when, where, with whom, around whom?
It should be noted that the European community does not benefit from the actions of Mr. Trump. The US president is doing everything to alienate the European partners. And, accordingly, deprive Europe of its ally.
What it takes to the way out of the deal on the Iranian nuclear program. Washington’s attitude to European capitals as its own vassals does not contribute to the formation of close partnership relations and in the future can negatively affect the interaction of the parties in solving key international issues.

P.S. It’s a pity that the US football team did not go to the World Cup and did not get into the same group with Iran. It could be nuclear football!

 

Amnesty International: actions of guarantors of democracy have led to the destruction of respect for the human rights

“As we enter the year in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, it is abundantly clear that none of us can take our human rights for granted.”
SALIL SHETTY, SECRETARY GENERAL

The international human rights organization Amnesty International published an annual report on the state of the human rights in the world in 2017 on February 22, 2018. Human rights activists stated that 2017 demonstrated the destruction of the system of human rights protection. And this is not surprising. Since for the first time in a long time serious problems in this sphere have appeared in those countries that have always called themselves guarantors of democracy and legality: the USA, Australia and Western European countries.
According to the organization, the policy of President Donald Trump has a great impact on human rights. “Trump moved from the illegal rhetoric of discrimination and xenophobia into concrete actions threatening a major rollback on justice and freedom”. The efforts of US President Donald Trump to ban entry to all citizens of several Muslim-majority countries based on their nationality was a transparently hateful move. Among other American problems, human rights activists noted attacks on the press, disregard for women’s rights, attempts to deprive millions of people of access to health care. In addition, the United States continued frequent attacks using firearms, and death sentences continue to be carried out. We may recall public statements by representatives of the administration of Donald Trump in support of torture of terror suspects.
The main problem of 2017 was the migration crisis. This is confirmed by the terrible situation of refugees in Libya. In addition, this issue was actively used for pre-election purposes in various European countries. In Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands, some candidates sought to transpose social and economic anxieties into fear and blame, especially against migrants, refugees and religious minorities.
A vivid example of society’s hatred of minorities was the monstrous military campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya people in Myanmar. Almost 700 thousand people were forced to leave the country, fleeing violence and murder. It was the fastest-growing refugee crisis of 2017.
In Ukraine, the organization noted further regress in respect of human rights. The main reason for the opinion of human rights activists: the pressure from the authorities and ultra-right groups to criticize the government, journalists and non-profit organizations.
The growth of hatred has also affected Russia, where we witnessed a monstrous campaign of kidnapping, torturing and killing gays in Chechnya. According to human rights activists, another serious problem is the situation of Crimean Tatar activists. The report says that any disagreement with the position of the Crimean authorities is suppressed, people are arrested, fined, and their homes are searched.
Unfortunately, the organization also pointed to a number of violations in my native Spain. Amnesty International noted that the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of Catalan independence supporters were disproportionally restricted. Dozens of people were prosecuted for “glorification of terrorism” and “humiliation of victims” on social media. Spain relocated fewer asylum-seekers than it had pledged to under the EU relocation scheme, and resettled fewer refugees than it had committed to.
Taking into account all the above-mentioned serious problems, we should also mention remarkable achievements in the struggle for human rights that were achieved in 2017. For example, in Chile, a complete ban on abortion was lifted, Taiwan came close to recognizing same-sex marriages, in Angola, the law restricting the activities of NGOs was abolished, and residents of the Nigeria achieved a landmark victory in the fight against forced evictions.
The greatest surprise and rejection is the deterioration of the human rights situation in the United States. With the current leadership, the US gradually ceases to be guarantors of democratic rights and freedoms of its own citizens. So in the very near future Washington will lose the moral right to advise its partners how they need to act in the development of democracy. I hope that this year will enable the guarantors of democracy and legality to confirm their commitment to the idea of ​​human rights and change their attitude to this problem. Continue reading “Amnesty International: actions of guarantors of democracy have led to the destruction of respect for the human rights”

Olive branch: how the USA betrayed its Kurdish allies

On January 21, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has announced the beginning of the military intervention in Syria against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units ­(YPG) and the Women’s ProtectioNATn Units (YPJ) who are members of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in the Syrian Afrin. This military operation is called ‘Olive Branch’.
The decision of the Turkish leadership was made after the USA announced its intention to create a border unit of 30 thousand of the Syrian Kurds that are outside the Government’s control and that would control the tetrritories in the northern part of Syria. It gave the Kurds an added boost of confidence. And even there isn’t any reason for concern after the retraction of this information. The Kurdish Army has always received military and other assistance from the United States and was the main US ally in the region. That is why despite the contradictory statements they continued relaying on their trans-Atlantic allies.
At the same time, the Kurds had to make sure how the Americans kept their word but they are likely to get more lumps to take the right position in this conflict. The example of a flourishing Iraqi Kurdistan that now lost its territories and major part of the economic potential seems to have taught them nothing.
The Pentagon does not care about the interests of the Kurds. It pursues only its own interests in Syria. The Kurds won’t receive any assistance from it. It turns out that after declarations about the border unit the US side has provoked that Ankara begins hostilities against the Kurds. Maybe it was planned and the Kurds don’t need Washington?
Another important issue that the US and Turkey are NATO members, that is, from one military bloc, and that Turkey has the second-strength NATO Army. That is why, the USA don’t make sense to argue with strong ally because of the Kurds.
Russia that for a long time guaranteed the Kurds security and conducted joint operations with them against ISIS, could also stop Ankara but didn’t do it. The Kurds reacted extremely negatively to such actions affirming the Moscow’s betrayal. It’s interesting that on January 19, Gazprom received a permission to build the second line of the Turkish Stream. Maybe the Kurds had become a bargaining chip in the Russian and Turkish gas deal?
I think that during this military operation, the Kurds will finally be able to see whether they will be protected by US military advisers and whether they have an excuse to remain in the pro-American coalition. Let me remind you that I’ve already written in my article about the unreliability of the American side towards its allies. For example, the case at the airbase in Lithuania.
Do not forget that the Kurds can build an effective defense, which is very difficult to overcome. It was, for example, during an operation near the town of Tell Rifaat in October 2016: then the assault of Turkish troops and allied militias failed. In addition, the Kurds in Afrin have 10 thousand fighters. Making this huge grouping surrender is almost impossible, there have not been such precedents for the whole time of the civil war in Syria …

#Cyberspace #security as a guarantee of #Spanish integrity

Spain approved a new Security Strategy which replaced the earlier Strategy 2013. The fundamental difference is the key element nowadays is countering disinformation.
It is symbolic that this document was approved only a few days before the official start of the election campaign in Catalonia. The authors of this Strategy refer to the “regime of posttruth” – a phenomenon in which objective facts in the formation of public opinion pale into insignificance, giving way to the dominant role of emotions.
The Spanish government declared that there was a hybrid war in the world and nowadays any attempts to influence public conscience cannot be considered as one-time actions. Intervention in elections through the media and social networks, as they say in the document, is combined with cyber attacks, economic pressure and traditional use of force. The consequences of this “hybrid war” the Strategy authors call the victory of Donald Trump in the US elections and “Brexit”.
It is not pronounced officially, but most experts are confident that it is about protection against Russian “hackers”. Let me remind you that on November 10, Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis  stated that he had “quite conflicting information” that a group of Russian hackers using fake accounts in social networks is actively working to “destabilize” the situation in Spain and the EU as a whole. The next day, El Pais published the results of a study by the University of George Washington (USA). Its authors conclude that RT and Sputnik used thousands of accounts in social networks to create a negative image of Spain before and after the independence referendum held in Catalonia on October 1. For example, almost half of the news of autonomy concerned the brutality of the Spanish police during this period.
As a first step in the context of this Strategy, the Spanish Defense Minister María Dolores de Cospedal invited the Security Commission in the Lower House of Parliament to create a working group consisting of deputies and editors.
No specific evidence of Russian interference in the Catalan referendum was presented. However, this does not mean that it was not. Expressing my own opinion, I want to note that this measure is correct and the Spanish government must protect the population of its country from external influence. Maybe, it should have been done earlier. After all, let’s not forget that apart from the Catalan separatism there is a Basque separatism. And there is an opinion that from the French Basques there is a certain influence on the Spanish Basques in order to create an unified state as a result.