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BERLIN/BEIJING |

BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) - At this week's Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels, the EU will introduce a new "connectivity strategy" to counter China's "New Silk Road." As outlined by the EU's head of foreign policy in September, the strategy is aimed at improving transportation infrastructure as well as digital and energy networks linking Asia and Europe. Beijing is also active in these domains in connection with its Silk Road initiative. Recently, Germany's Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched an initial thrust in this project. At the time, Minister of State Niels Annen (SPD) declared in Uzbekistan that social standards and human rights are "priorities" for Brussels. "This is what makes our offer different from China's Belt and Road initiative." For years, Germany had supported - even with military assistance - the Uzbek regime that was applying torture. Washington has also launched a new infrastructure initiative in Asia, to which US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that the USA is committed to "honest accords" and would "never seek dominance over the Indo-Pacific." more…

No New London

LONDON/FRANKFURT ON THE MAIN | | grossbritannien

LONDON/FRANKFURT ON THE MAIN (Own report) - Berlin seeks the relocation of numerous banks from London to Frankfurt on the Main and the promotion of the Hessian metropolis to Europe's strongest banking center. With five and a half months left until the ultimate British exit from the EU, this has still to materialize. Initially, the German financial sector had hoped that with the Brexit, financial institutes located in London would relocate a large number - up to 5-digits - of their employees to Frankfurt. In fact, recent studies have disclosed that only 630 financial jobs have left London for the continent. Although Frankfurt has risen to the rank of the tenth global finance market, it lags insurmountably far behind London. According to insiders, the attempt to compel other financial institutions to move to the continent is linked to the EU's refusal to take precautions for cross-border financial affairs, against the possibility of a "hard" Brexit. Brussels is taking a risk of losing dozens of trillions of euros and jeopardizing Europe's financial stability. more…

BERLIN/JUBA |

BERLIN/JUBA (Own report) - Seven years after its secession - with Berlin's resolute support - South Sudan is sinking deeper into one of the most murderous wars of our time. Since the end of 2013, the South Sudanese Civil War has cost the lives of nearly 400,000 people, almost as many as in the war in Syria, according to a recent study published by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. Observers had already warned that this could develop from a secession of this territory from Sudan. The secession will "end up like in Somalia," one oppositional politician in Juba had predicted. In 2011, Berlin, along with other western powers, had coerced the secession - for geostrategic reasons. The intention was to weaken the central government in Khartoum through the deprivation of the resources-rich south of the country, because it was uncooperative with the West. Initially, the Bundeswehr was stationed in South Sudan as part of a UN force to accompany the secession of the region. Today, it is tasked with protecting the civilian population. Berlin has dispatched 14 soldiers for this task. more…

BERLIN/PRISTINA | | jugoslawien

BERLIN/PRISTINA (Own report) - The EU is discussing redrawing borders in Southeast Europe. The Kosovo leadership could thus cede control over its Serbian-speaking North to Belgrade, in exchange for the Albanian-speaking Preševo valley of Southern Serbia. Obviously backed by France, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, is promoting this exchange, against Germany's rejection. The plan, in fact, is redrawing borders in accordance with the ethnic criteria pursued by the German government in Southeast Europe, in particular during in the 1990s and early 2000s. After having been stationed in Kosovo for nearly 20 years, the Bundeswehr is preparing a major withdrawal. Its focus will now be on training and arming Kosovo's armed forces, which have begun cooperating with NATO, while Kosovo's population continues to languish in poverty, after nearly two decades of western occupation. It is the second poorest region in Europe. Only military cooperation with NATO is flourishing. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has once again reaffirmed that the German government insists on continuing with the highly controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Despite persistent pressure from Washington, there will be no interference in the construction of the pipeline - which has long since begun - reiterated Maas at this years annual UN General Assembly in New York. At the same time, US efforts to promote the sale of US liquefied gas to Germany are stagnating. If the liquefied gas would be priced closer to the currently much cheaper pipeline gas, it could certainly be considered, according to the Uniper company (formerly EON). Uniper is currently contemplating the construction of a liquefied gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven. However, it would not even have one-fifth of the import capacity of Nord Stream 2. Plans for constructing a terminal in Brunsbüttel, which currently have the best chances of implementation, envisage the importation of only half as much LNG - primarily to fuel ships and trucks. more…

BERLIN/ANKARA | | tuerkei

BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) - Turkish President Recep Tayyig Erdoğan's arrival in Berlin on a state visit amid media reports of arms cooperation with his country and of state-sponsored denunciation, using a smartphone app of those - also in Germany - critical of his government. Erdoğan will be received with all protocolary state honors, since the German government wants to strengthen its ties to Ankara at all costs. There is a growing risk that Ankara will turn its back on the West. Germany seeks to strengthen these ties because of Turkey's contribution to warding off refugees and particularly for geostrategic motives. Turkey is regarded as the indispensable isthmus to Germany gaining the much-coveted influence in Central Asia and the Middle East. Ankara is also facilitating the participation of Berlin in achieving an alignment in Syria, together with Moscow - but with the exclusion of Washington. Expansion of German-Turkish cooperation involves contracts in the billions for German companies and German participation in the development of Turkey's own arms industry. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The extreme right in Germany is celebrating the promotion of Hans-Georg Maaßen, the outgoing President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) - the domestic intelligence agency - to become State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior as a new success. Maaßen had sought to shield right-wing demonstrators by relativizing racist attacks on migrants. He had already manifested a certain affinity toward parliamentarians of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party. Maaßen's promotion comes at a time, when a growing number of sectors of the German establishment - in politics, business, and the media - are undergoing a shift to the right. The AfD party is the most prominent example, whose group in the Bundestag is chaired by a former head of the state chancellery in Hesse alongside a former Goldman Sachs employee. Other examples include elite organizations - such as the Friedrich A. von Hayek Foundation - under the leadership of ultra-rightwing forces. Already in 2010, an influential government advisor reported that there were discussions about "a bit of dictatorship" however, "no constitutional organ" was prepared to take the necessary steps. more…

BERLIN/ROME |

BERLIN/ROME (Own report) -The German government's remarkable decision to establish diplomatic relations with a religious order will have its first anniversary in the next few days. During its last session prior to last year's parliamentary elections, the German cabinet chose to establish diplomatic relations with the Sovereign Order of Malta, thereby ostensibly valorizing this Catholic organization. The Order disposes of no genuine sovereign territory, is seen as an archconservative association of aristocrats, and has been repeatedly suspected of involvement in dubious financial transactions in Germany and elsewhere. It has proven, however, to be a useful tool for Berlin's foreign policy - with its medical emergency missions accompanying NATO operations or in regions of German interests, such as Syria and Northern Iraq. Within the Order, which is active on a global scale, the German Association has systematically risen in status over the past few years to assume leadership of the organization today. more…