Voices from Russia

Monday, 16 June 2008

The EU Attempts to Save the Lisbon Treaty

Filed under: diplomacy,EU,politics — 01varvara @ 00.00

European Union foreign ministers gathered in Luxembourg to discuss the fate of the Lisbon Treaty. This is the first EU meeting at the ministerial level since the Irish No vote on the Lisbon Treaty. Over 53 percent of the Irish who went to the polls voted against the ratification of the treaty in Thursday’s referendum. Judicially, the Irish vote put an end to efforts aimed at granting European integration a constitutional form.

It is not mere chance that United Europe perceived the results as a set back, and the outcome provoked perplexity, said the head of the European security department of the Institute of Europe, Dmitri Danilov. “The EU has no stand-by plan of action in such a situation. Understandably, all 27 EU members must ratify the treaty for it to come into force. It’s unclear how Brussels will act. The only possibility is to persuade the Irish people to agree on holding a fresh referendum. But, this shall undoubtedly delay the ratification and the treaty coming into force. This is quite unpleasant for the EU”, Mr Danilov said.

Such a scenario has already been considered as the most probable move. Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the French State Secretary for European Affairs, said the only acceptable solution could be repeating the referendum by the Irish people at the earliest possible date. If Ireland rejects the treaty once again, according to experts, the European integration might have to be reformatted. This means a return to the old idea of “two speeds in Europe”. Moreover, the dividing lines in Europe are clearly visible. This was witnessed by the Schengen Agreement that embraces a group of countries in the euro-zone and several other moves.

However, the leading countries in Europe are pursuing a temporising policy. A joint statement by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nikolas Sakozy describes the treaty as a very important document for European integration and they called on Ireland to ratify it.

16 June 2008

Yevgeny Kryshkin

Voice of Russia World Service



Kosovo’s New Constitution May Plunge the Former Serbian Province into Crisis

Filed under: Kosovo,politics,Serbia,USA — 01varvara @ 00.00

Kosovo’s Serbs moved to form their own parliament, a body that will be formed in the Serb-controlled northern part of Kosovo. 28 June will see the calling of a new Assembly of Parliament composed of Serb representatives elected in recent local elections. Taking into consideration the fact that Kosovo’s new constitution came into force last Sunday, the new body, in fact, became the Serb response to the move by Albanian separatists. This is all the more important as the new Constitution is designed to put flesh onto the skeleton of the former Serbian province’s UDI issued earlier this year.

Like the other ethnic minorities in Kosovo, the Serbs are vehemently opposed to Kosovo’s independence and loath to recognise the Western-mediated governmental bodies established by the Albanians. Earlier, the Serbs refused to take part in drafting the Constitution and it is safe to assume that they currently look to stand aloof from the political farce performed by the Albanian leadership and its staunch Western allies. It is quite natural that the Serbs’ push for self-determination led to the creation of their own parliament, a step that logically follows from the latest political developments in Kosovo. One cannot help but consider this fact when assessing the situation in the former Serbian province.

“Kosovo may rightfully be called a stillbirth in terms of political formation”, said Yelena Guskova, a Moscow-based Balkans expert. “At the moment, the United States is keen to force the world community to recognise this state, which is unable to function on its own. Kosovo shall surely remain a protectorate and referring to the human-rights issue here is ridiculous. In endorsing Kosovo’s independence, Washington seems to have pursued some other goals”.

Justifying its policies in the Balkans, the White House has repeatedly appealed to the human-rights issue, a caveat that holds no water, to say the least. It is evident that Kosovo’s long-waited independence now clearly rides roughshod over the interests of the Serbs and other ethnic minorities living in the area. It certainly appears that Washington seeks to fulfil its own geopolitical objectives in the region and protecting human-rights and democracy there is just a convenient pretext for enhancing US political clout in Europe.

16 June 2008

Yevgeny Kryshkin

Voice of Russia World Service


Russia and the World Bank to Cooperate to Mitigate the Consequences of the Financial and Food Crises

Filed under: business,diplomacy,economy,politics,Russian — 01varvara @ 00.00

Russia might back some of the initiatives of the World Bank to mitigate the consequences of the financial and food crises. President Dmitri Medvedev met in the Kremlin today with World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who arrived in Russia from Osaka in Japan, where he was taking part in a meeting of G8 financiers. President Medvedev said the World Bank has demonstrated a fairly successful performance in acting for the interests of global development and he has witnessed favourable changes since Mr Zoellick took office. The Bank is currently focused on hitting its major targets, and Russia finds some of the initiatives fairly attractive.

As the world is faced with financial and food crises, President Medvedev said, the World Bank should respond quickly and appropriately. Russia sees a number of solutions to these problems, and is planning to discuss issues and programmes that have long been of mutual concern. In turn, Mr Zoellick spoke highly of the progress in Russia’s economic growth. Russia and the World Bank, he said, are due to cooperate in a large number of far-reaching projects and achieve mutually advantageous collaboration in new areas. The two have reached agreement on the World Bank granting Russia a 200 million dollar (4.735 billion roubles. 129.261 million euros. 101.76 million UK pounds) loan to restructure the housing sector. In the course of Mr Zoellick’s visit, the two sides are expected to sign a memorandum on mutual understanding between the World Bank Group and the Russian Vneshekonombank.

16 June 2008

Yelena Studneva


The Ukrainian Application for NATO Membership is running into New Barriers

Filed under: diplomacy,NATO,politics,Russian,the Ukraine,Viktor Yushchenko — 01varvara @ 00.00

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (1948- ), Secretary General of NATO

A delegation of NATO officials headed by Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is visiting the Ukraine today and tomorrow at the invitation of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko. NATO officials shall assess the measures taken by the Ukraine this year in the light of its bid to join the NATO membership action plan. The Ukraine failed to obtain an invitation to join the membership action plan at NATO’s session in Bucharest two months ago. Fully aware of Russian concerns about the alliance moving closer to its borders and in view of the political instability in the Ukraine, the representatives of some of NATO’s veteran members, Germany, France and the Netherlands, declared that Kiev is unprepared to enter NATO in the foreseeable future. They, however, lacked the courage to dot all the “i”s and remove the application from the agenda. Due to pressure from Washington and its followers amongst the newly-accepted members, the Ukraine stayed in the game.

Not one of the Ukrainian leaders bothered to calculate the consequences of such an action. According to Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, it shall largely affect bilateral trade, defence and production cooperation, and it shall inflict many difficulties on ordinary Russians and Ukrainians. “If the Ukraine joins NATO”, Mr Ivanov said, “Russia and the Ukraine would have to introduce a visa régime on travel, because NATO shall require that. After that, Russia shall have to respond appropriately”. Apparently, the current Ukrainian leadership is striving to please the overseas sponsors of the “Orange Revolution” and join NATO, regardless of the needs of ordinary Ukrainians, who, as a result of this, shall be needlessly detached from their Russian brothers.

16 June 2008

Aleksandr Vatutin

Voice of Russia World Service


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