Voices from Russia

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Samaras Lets His Mask Slip

00 Carlos Latuff. Greece Under Occupation. 2010

Greece Under Occupation

Carlos Latuff

2010

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Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, of New Democracy, has been careful to project a reputation as a statesman standing above politics… at least, when it comes to his reputation abroad; at home, he’s better known as a bruiser. Therefore, it was remarkable that he used a joint news conference with José Manuel Durão Barroso, the President of the European Commission, for a scathing personal attack… in English… on Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist SYRIZA bloc. Asked by a Brussels-based reporter about the prospect of a SYRIZA victory in elections to the European Parliament this spring, Samaras accused Tsipras of being unpatriotic for staying away from the opening ceremony, and of being “anti-European, anti-Western, and anti-NATO“. If this is Samaras on his best behaviour, expect a tough election campaign.

Prime Minister Samaras told foreign reporters that the Greek government… a coalition between the neoliberal rightwing New Democracy with the centre-left PASOK… a party that’s all but imploded… is doing fine, saying, “This is a stable government and it’ll be stable until the next election, which I hope will come in 2016”. That message might’ve been less reassuring than Samaras intended, because it left open that there might be an early election… before 2016… which a break-up of the coalition would trigger. The coalition’s majority in parliament is only three seats.

Barroso rarely passes up an opportunity to speak, and so it was during the inauguration ceremony for Greece’s presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Samaras, a misty-eyed Barroso delivered an opening statement that was three times as long as Samaras’… he spoke for 16 minutes… and he did so again a couple of hours later at the Megaron concert hall, where he spoke for almost 14 minutes, with Greek President Karolos Papoulias and the highest state and church leaders in the audience (Herman Achille Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, took half that time for his address). Barroso seemed to say, “I told you so”, although exactly what it was that he’d been right about remained a little vague.

9 January 2014

Toby Vogel

European Voice

http://www.europeanvoice.com/page/3609.aspx?LG=1&&blogitemid=1827

Editor’s Note:

Is Greece ready to abandon the West, to ally itself with its Orthodox brother, Russia? As a harbinger of the future, Greece now buys rugged Russian military hardware, in preference to pricier (and less-reliable) Western items. Shall it abandon its “costly” alliance with the West to pursue a future with the Orthosphere states in the Eurasian Economic Community? Only time will tell us… but it’s true that Russian aid would carry fewer strings than that coming from the greedy tight-fisted Germans. First, it was Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan… now, its Armenia… shall Greece be next? As I said, only time will tell us…

God willing, Greece will free itself from domination by Western bankers and German occupiers (it’s economic, this time, not military, but it’s an occupation, all the same)… it CAN overturn the American-sponsored victory of rightist forces in 1949 (and the American-fomented coup against Ecumenical Patriarch Maximos Vaportzis in 1948)…

BMD

 

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Could the Next Pope of Rome Come from Africa?

Pope Benedict XVI 3

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With Pope of Rome Benedict XVI Ratzinger due to officially step down as the head of the Catholic Church on 28 February, speculations are mounting as to who may follow in his place. Already, bookmakers have started placing odds on Benedict’s successor, with some Vatican-watchers speculating it’s time for an African or a South American pope. Strong candidates could emerge from Southern Hemisphere regions with heavily-large Catholic populations. However, many experts are less enthusiastic. They think that supporters of Ghana‘s Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson or Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria won’t be able to rally around their candidatures quickly enough. Since many of the recently-appointed cardinals who’ll take part in the upcoming conclave come from Italy, odds are high that the next pope will also be Italian, per tradition, or at least European. The election of a Canadian or American pope could occur, but that’d still be historic.

Now that Pope Benedict XVI said that he‘d step down, experts now engage in guesswork as to who could succeed him. According to the BBC, they feel it’s highly likely that the next pope will be Latin American, since the region accounts for more than 40 percent of Catholics world-wide. Some of the more likely candidates are Archbishop Odilo Pedro Scherer of São Paulo in Brazil, and Archbishop Leonardo Sandri of Argentina {Sandri is Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Curial enforcer who cudgels the Uniates into line with the Vatican: editor}. However, there’s no clear frontrunner thus far among the candidates. On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI said that he’d resign on 28 February for health reasons. The papal conclave to elect a new Pope of Rome is due before the end of March.

On Monday, European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso and European Council President Herman Achille Van Rompuy expressed their understanding of Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign. A statement issued by the chairman of the EC said, “President Barroso highly appreciates the work done by Pope Benedict XVI, in his continued efforts to uphold ecumenical values, such as peace and human rights”. For his part, European Council President Van Rompuy said that the pontificate of Benedict XVI “was short but very difficult”. On Monday, the 85-year-old pontiff announced he could no longer lead the Catholic Church because of age and declining health. His official leave-taking will be on 28 February. This is the first case of a pope’s abdication in modern history. Despite the fact that rumours swirled concerning the pope’s ill-health, Benedict’s statement came as a surprise even for the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy.

The Vatican is confused… Pope Benedict XVI, 85, announced his abdication and plans to quit on 28 February, saying he’s stepping down, as he’s too weak to fulfil his duties. A voluntary papal resignation is rare, especially in recent centuries, so Russian experts speculated what’d happen to the Roman Catholic world. In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI became the 265th Pope of Rome; he was the oldest pontiff elected since the late 18th century.

In his resignation statement, given Monday at the ceremony of canonisation of the Martyrs of Otranto, Benedict said, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I’ve come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise”. Vatican expert Aleksei Bukalov told VOR, “The cardinals were caught by surprise with this announcement. As one of the cardinals put it, everyone was ‘very shaken by the unexpected news’. The announcement was a surprise, even though popes can resign, and some of them went to monasteries in the Middle Ages. But Benedict XVI was the first pope to leave voluntarily in six centuries”.

Some sceptics say the true reason for Benedict’s resignation were scandals in the Holy See, like numerous charges against paedophile priests or conflicts in the Curia after Benedict XVI gave the top post of Secretary of State to Cardinal Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone. Religious studies expert Aleksei Yudin has another version of situation, saying, “These scandals were very unlikely to affect the pope personally. They threatened no catastrophic aftermaths”. Another expert, Yuri Tabal, thinks that the pope’s ill-health has nothing to do with the resignation, noting, “No pope resigns voluntarily due to ill-health, as it’s a very honoured post, and popes, the same as secular rulers, leave it reluctantly. There are many questions surrounding Benedict XVI, especially taking into account his turbulent papacy. Maybe he had pressure from cardinals who favoured his predecessor John Paul II more”.

A conclave will elect the new pontiff in late March. Those cardinals eligible to vote would enter sequestration in Vatican City and take an oath of secrecy. The cardinal-electors burn the ballots after each round. White smoke signals that cardinals have chosen a new pope. Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the MP Department for External Church Relations, voiced optimism that Benedict’s successor would safeguard Christian values and contribute to the development of ties between Catholics and Orthodox.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters that the Curia could organise a conclave to choose a new pope within 15 or 20 days of Benedict’s departure on 28 February. On Monday, a Vatican spokesman said that a conclave would probably elect a new pope by the end of March, after Pope Benedict left his aides “incredulous” with his announcement that he’d resign because he was too weak to fulfil the duties of his office. Fr Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican that Benedict said that he’d step down on 28 February, and that he wouldn’t take part in the conclave to elect a new pope. After resigning, the former pope will move to his summer residence near Rome. Lombardi said that after that, he’d live in a former monastery within the Vatican State.

On Monday, Fr Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, told reporters that Pope Benedict XVI didn’t resign because of “difficulties in the papacy”. Lombardi told reporter, “In the last few months, he’s seen a decline in vigour, both of the body and spirit. It was his personal decision”. Lombardi added that the pope plans to pray and write books after his resignation takes effect on 28 February. Benedict XVI announced his resignation in a statement Monday. The name of the new pontiff will be revealed in March.

On Monday, Pope Benedict XVI said that he’d resign on 28 February because he can’t fulfil the duties of his office due to advanced age. According to a statement from the Vatican, he said, “For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, the Successor of St Peter”. The pope explained his decision to a meeting of cardinals, saying that his strength “deteriorated” in the last few months. He told the meeting, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I’ve come to the certainty that my strengths, due to advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. In order to govern the bark of St Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which, in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I’ve had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me”.

French President François Gérard Georges Nicolas Hollande described the pope’s decision to resign as “eminently respectable”. Meanwhile, Steffen Seibert, a German government spokesman (the pope’s home country) expressed “respect” and “gratitude” for the pope, saying, “The [German] federal government has the greatest possible respect for the Holy Father, for his accomplishments, for his life-long work for the Catholic Church”.

Pope Benedict XVI announced that he’s going to resign on 28 February. On Monday, a Vatican spokesman told reporters that Pope Benedict XVI announced that he’d resign on 28 February, which would make him the first pope to do so in centuries. The spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, said, “The pope announced that he’d leave his ministry at 20.00 CET (11.00 PST 14.00 EST 19.00 UTC 23.00 MSK 06.00 1 March AEST) on 28 February”.

Krzysztof Tomasik {is this a typo? The only person with this name that I could Google was a gay activist… certainly, not the same person!: editor}, the editor of the Catholic Information Agency in Warsaw, commented to VOR on the news of the resignation of Benedict XVI, saying, “It’s certainly a surprise, not only for Catholics, but also for the whole world. Nevertheless, I can say that one could expect such a decision from Benedict XVI. Two years ago, in an interview with a German journalist, Benedict XVI answered in the affirmative to the question on whether he considered the possibility of resigning as pope in case his physical strength wouldn’t allow him to perform his duties. Therefore, on the one hand, it took us by surprise, and, on the other hand, he conceded such a possibility. We should note that Benedict XVI hasn’t demonstrated aspiration for authority in the Church afterwards. His decision is rightly justified, especially if he is unable to perform his duties as pontiff for objective physical reasons”.

Ivica Maštruko, Yugoslavian Ambassador to the Holy See at the time of the Yugoslav collapse in 1992 {currently a Croatian MP of the People’s Party, a neoliberal “nationalist” anti-working class party: editor}, called the situation “very unusual and complicated”, telling VOR, “This happened for the first time in several centuries. The decision was quite groundbreaking in regard to Vatican”. He said that the pope must’ve decided to step down because he felt too drained in body and in mind to carry on. Benedict hinted at a possible resignation in his latest interviews, he pointed up. Maštruko said that the cardinals would gather on 28 February in conclave to choose Pope Benedict’s successor, noting, “It’s impossible to tell how long the meeting would last. A new pope might win election on the first, second, or even third ballot. In any case, we can expect to have a new pope by Catholic Easter in April”.

Jesús de las Heras, director of the religious magazine Ecclesia, told VOR, “The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation stunned me. I admire Pope Benedict XVI as a person and I’m deeply grateful and appreciative to him. I believe that he was a remarkable pontiff; this decision does him credit, as it was most obviously meant for the good of the Church. We’re about to witness quite a unique event in the Church’s history; it’s the first voluntary retirement [of a pope] in many centuries. It’s really normal in the course of events, quite similar to situations in any other sphere of life”.

Tiberio Graziani, President of the Institute of the Higher School of Geopolitics, editor of Geopolitica and former editor of Eurasia, Rivista di Studi Geopolitici in Italy, responded to the question whether the news of the pope’s resignation came as a bombshell to him, as well as to many Italian observers by saying, “No, I must say that to me this news wasn’t a total bombshell. The thing is, the current papacy has all the distinctive features of a papal transition period. That is, we can talk about the papacy for a certain period. What’s exactly is at issue? The fact is that all of us are experiencing a time of global changes, and very rapid changes at that. Therefore, with a high degree of probability, one can argue that the Church itself and the support groups of the future pope decided that the time came to bring into power a more flexible pope, who’s more open to the fundamental changes occurring in the world today than the current pontiff. Moreover, quite probably, in the opinion of the mentioned circles, Pope Ratzinger isn’t the person who meets the requirements of the changing times. Pope Benedict is more in line with a settled period, not a period of global shocks”. However, Graziani noted that we shouldn’t wait for radical changes in relations between the Vatican and the MP, saying, “The Vatican, with all its current problems, including the countries of the former third world, is in a very delicate phase. It’s very vulnerable. That is why, I believe, today, the Vatican can’t afford to fall out with the Moscow Patriarchate. It definitely can’t!”

Journalist Dimitri de Koshko said, “The issue of Benedict XVI’s successor isn’t currently on the agenda of the Catholic Church. According to the Archbishop of Paris, Monsignor André Armand Vingt-Trois, this issue isn’t on the agenda yet. Someone asked if he himself considered becoming pope. Of course, he confirmed that he’d take part in the conclave, but he said that so far, no one has discussed possible candidates. Perhaps, the new pope will be younger, as Benedict XVI has touched upon the issue of age and health, although this topic arose after the pontificate of John Paul II. During the latest appearances of Benedict XVI, the question arose if there’d be another pope in distress, as happened with John Paul II. Another reason for Benedict XVI’s resignation could be intrigues within the Roman Curia, but now the Pope is able to prepare his retirement and the transfer of the throne, although it’s difficult to say exactly”. De Koshko noted, “In my opinion, it’s too early to speak about a crisis of the Catholic Church. It’s not a crisis, but rather a ‘death’ of the pope. The pope is leaving; of course, after going through a psychological struggle, he decided, ‘I can no longer manage affairs, I’m too old’. He could be disappointed over intrigues within the Curia. He could’ve decided that his time has passed, that he lacks dynamism to invent new things, new approaches (in particular, taking into account the competition with Islam). However, that doesn’t permit us to speak about a crisis; Catholicism is just losing ground, especially, in Western Europe“.

12 February 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_12/Could-next-Pope-come-from-Africa/

Editor’s Note:

Here’s something to chew on… Benny intends living in Castel Gandolfo to “write books”. My ass… Benny intends to set the stage for the next pontificate as much as he can. He’s GERMAN… Germans PLAN… that doesn’t mean that their plans necessarily “come off”, but it DOES mean that they plan. He’s “not going to take part in the upcoming conclave”. My ass… if you believe that one, “I’ve got a lovely one-owner bridge on 59th Street… let me tell ya…” you catch my drift. Note the timing of the conclave… mid-March, right before Catholic Holy Week. Benny’s in a rush… is his health that bloody bad, or, has he smelt rebellion on the wind? I’d wager the latter. He’s a canny old Kraut… you’d best get up VERY EARLY in the morning if you wish to outwit him… he’s NOT senile or doddering in the least. Keep your ears opened and your eyes peeled… stuff is comin’ down…

BMD

Monday, 21 May 2012

Nikolić Backers in Belgrade Celebrate Election Victory

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Our RIA-Novosti correspondent reported that the Progressive Party backers of Tomislav Nikolić celebrated his victory in the presidential election by pouring into the streets. The final round of the presidential election was on Sunday. According to the electoral commission, after the counting of 40.67 percent of the ballots, Nikolić gained 50.21 percent of the vote, whilst his main opponent, incumbent President Boris Tadić, gathered only 46.77 percent. Tadić has already conceded defeat in the election. Shortly after Nikolić’s speech early Monday morning declaring victory, Progressive Party activists streamed out into the streets of Belgrade, Niš, Novi Sad, Kragujevac , Kosovska Mitrovica, and other cities. Columns of cars decorated with portraits of Nikolić and draped with Serbian and party flags circled around the main streets tooting their horns. In Belgrade, they briefly blocked traffic on main streets, and police had to redirect them onto the bypass road. Police reported no major breaches of order.

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The outcome of the presidential election in Serbia , the second round which was held on Sunday, refuted predictions made by academics and political analysts predicting a convincing victory for the “democratic” candidate, incumbent President Boris Tadić . Tomislav Nikolić, the leader of the opposition Progressive Party, who scored the election victory, has been one of the most popular politicians in Serbia, but twice suffered defeat against Tadić in the final round of the presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008. Pundits expected a Nikolić defeat this time, with Tadić’s plurality being as high as 16 percent. A few days before the election, bookies stopped taking bets on it, as the outcome of the election seemed obvious. However, as a Serbian political scientist so aptly put it, the election delivered an “electoral earthquake”. According to the electoral commission, after counting 75 percent of the ballots, Nikolić had 49.8 percent of the vote, whilst Tadić copped only 47 percent. The turnout at the election was relatively low, at 46.8 percent of those eligible to vote. Late Sunday night, Tadić conceded defeat and congratulated his rival on his victory.

The EU Anticipated a Stir

A few hours before the end of voting in the presidential election at 20.00 CET (22.00 MSK 19.00 UTC 14.00 EDT 11.00 PDT), the EU, through the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission President José Manuel Durão Barroso issued a message of congratulations to Tomislav Nikolić on the occasion of his victory. Soon afterwards, they withdrew the message as erroneous and premature, but this caused some to ask questions. For instance, did somebody in Brussels already know that Sunday afternoon something about the outcome of the Serbian elections, and, so, was there an accidental release of boilerplate greetings for Nikolić? If the EU had a hint of the outcome of the Serbian election, the grey faces of Serbian political scientists on the post-election night was a pitiful sight… hopping from one TV outlet to another, they had to find some words to explain the collapse of their forecasts. One bitterly criticised the fickleness of voters at some length, noting that Serbs ”vote for one thing one thing on one day and for another on the next day”.

However, most were inclined to believe that Serbs refused to vote for the favourite Tadić to express their dissatisfaction with the poor Serbian economy. As the foreign policy programmes of the candidates were similar (both are committed to the popular idea of Serbian accession to the EU), voters vented their anger against Tadić, blaming him for their skinny wallets. Today, the average salary in Serbia is less than 400 Euros per month. Inflation has risen significantly, in recent months, the Serbian Dinar has depreciated against the Euro at a record rate, unemployment rose to 22 percent (twice the EU average), and the GDP for the first quarter of this year fell by 1.3 percent. In particular, Serbian analyst Dušan Janjić stated that voters didn’t so much vote for Nikolić, as they voted against Tadić.

Candidates Must Keep Pre-Election Promises

Nikolić, speaking with those gathered at in his campaign headquarters, announced his intention to fulfil his campaign promises and deal with economic problems, crime, and corruption. However, what tools are at his disposal are unknown. After the parliamentary election of 6 May, the government formed came from a bloc of completely different political forces, a coalition between the Democrats (led by Tadić) and Socialists (headed by Ivica Dačić). Whether this arrangement would remain in force after Tadić’s defeat in the presidential election, will become clear in the next few weeks or months. In the opinion of experts, the future president will seek political and financial support from Russia. The West, from force of habit, still considers him a “nationalist”, viewing him with some suspicion. Nikolić himself said in an interview with RIA-Novosti that, if he came to power, Belgrade and Moscow would pursue a policy of closer cooperation, but he didn’t specify any details of what he meant. Everyone knows that, at the end of this week, United Russia invited him to speak at its Congress. At this point, Nikolić said that he desired to be at that event.

 21 May 2012

Nikolai Sokolov

RIA-Novosti

http://ria.ru/world/20120521/654081748.html

http://ria.ru/world/20120521/654120165.html

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