HANOI/BERLIN | | vietnamchina

HANOI/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin has declared 2010 "Vietnam Year" and is currently intensifying its efforts to enhance its influence in this Southeast Asian nation. Following the German Development Minister's recent visit to Vietnam, an "Institute for German Law" will be founded in Hanoi, to support a rapprochement of the legal framework. A business symposium, featuring the former German Chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder as speaker, will also be held. A new "Alumniportal" will place Vietnamese German-speaking specialists, who have lived in Germany, at the disposal of German businesses. Germany is making these efforts not only because Vietnam's economy is growing in spite of the crisis, but also because of the legacy of rivalry between Vietnam and the People's Republic of China. Government advisors in Berlin consider that, in light of China's rise in power, China's southern neighbors were faced with the alternative: either submit to Beijing or form an alliance with another power, the latter being promoted by Berlin. more…

STRASBOURG/GERONA/BOLZANO | | frankreichspanienitalien

STRASBOURG/GERONA/BOLZANO (Own report) - Several German federal states and municipalities are using a new EU legal instrument to promote a fusion with German-speaking regions of neighboring western nations. That instrument (the European cross-border cooperation groupings - EGCC) allows regional authorities of various nations to consolidate into common administrative structures, enjoying a large measure of autonomy. With the help of such an EGCC, the greater Strasbourg urban community fused a few weeks ago with a German county. Saarland would like to fuse with Luxemburg to form an EGCC, North Rhine-Westphalia is courting the German-speaking regions of Belgium. An internet journal of EGCC Strasbourg-Ortenau proponents declared that at the Spanish-French border the "reunification of Catalonia" has been achieved in an EGCC after being "separated" for 350 years. Other EGCCs are fusing Hungarian-speaking Slovak residential areas that Budapest would like to influence, to Hungarian municipalities. This is how numerous EGCCs are promoting ethnic structures and in the long run, an ethnic oriented Europe. more…

PARIS/BERLIN | | frankreich

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) - Paris is protesting Germany's growing economic hegemony over the EU with unusual bluntness. France's finance minister declared in a newspaper interview that, for years, Berlin has been forcefully implementing its export offensive at the expense of other Euro countries. As can now be seen in Greece, this German trade surplus is pushing these countries into a crisis and may be unsustainable for them in the long run. After years of cutting wages and social welfare services, Berlin should consider boosting its domestic demand. The German government is resolutely rejecting these French demands, which are supported by other Euro countries and thereby exacerbating the dispute. When the German finance minister presented his plan for a European Monetary Fund in Brussels on Monday, which would pressure other Euro countries to follow the German example of austerity measures, he was met with resistance. With its austerity measures, Germany would like to be able to continue to economically compete with the world powers and forge itself a sufficient economic foundation to be a world power. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - German Navy circles are discussing US plans for the militarization of the Arctic. According to the latest edition of the German magazine "MarineForum", the US Navy is currently elaborating concrete scenarios for missions in the Arctic Ocean to develop arms programs for the next few years and is examining the possibility of establishing a permanent military presence in the High North. These US projects are not only important for Germany because Washington would like to coordinate them, at least to a certain extent, with its allies. In addition, the competent department director in the German Navy declared already last year that it must also be examined "to what extent ships, boats and aircraft already in service" would be capable of participating in "operations in the maritime regions of the High North." Berlin favors Iceland joining the EU, because it could provide a strategic base for Arctic missions and the EU is endorsing membership negotiations. Western authorities are suspiciously watching China’s recent efforts to use the opening of the Arctic. more…

BERLIN/PARIS/ATHENS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS/ATHENS (Own report) - The German government is seeking to obligate Eurozone nations to adhere to a rigorous government austerity program by establishing a European Monetary Fund (EMF), as revealed by aspects of a plan made public by the German Ministry of Finance a few days ago. According to this plan, countries threatened with bankruptcy may call for financial help from the EMF, but must, de facto, relinquish their budgetary sovereignty for a period of time. Countries, whose governments do not live up to the EU's financial regulations, will be threatened with painful sanctions, including exclusion from the Euro. With these EMF proposals, the German government is reacting to growing pressure, particularly from Western Europe, to finally establish a wide-ranging European financial and economic policy to confront the crisis. Berlin's proposals run counter, for example, to those of France and are being portrayed in the French press as "thoroughly Germanic". They are designed to enforce throughout Europe Germany's low-wage policy and strict austerity measures in social spending. more…

KABUL/WASHINGTON/BERLIN | | afghanistan

KABUL/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - Today, International Women's Day, Afghan women's rights activists are calling for the withdrawal of western troops from the Hindu Kush. The discrimination of women has remained catastrophic under the western occupation and the Karzai puppet regime the oldest and most prominent Afghan women's organization, RAWA has declared. RAWA's assessment has been confirmed by new reports of human rights organizations. While western propaganda still claims that the West seeks to protect Afghan women from the Taliban, in reality, the women's loss of previous rights can be attributed to western intervention. Since 1979, the USA and the Federal Republic of Germany supported the most reactionary forces in Afghanistan to run pro-Soviet circles from the government in Kabul. These reactionary forces introduced an unprecedented discrimination of women, when they took power in the early 1990s. Numerous warlords, who had become influential at the time, are among the West's preferred cooperation partners. One would "be in a better situation," says RAWA, "if the occupation wasn't shoveling billions of dollars to the most reactionary elements in society." more…

ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - In light of Greece's financial crisis, government advisors in Berlin are considering new limitations to EU member nations' sovereignty. Because of difficulties in bringing the situation in Greece under control, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) wrote in a recent analysis that it should be discussed "whether and how it could be possible to take drastic action more precociously on national fiscal policies". Yesterday, the government in Athens consented to Brussels' new reductions in pay and more tax increases, but it is uncertain whether these drastic measures will suffice to keep Germany from having to provide Greece with financial aid. Berlin has begun weighing the option of letting that country go bankrupt, the consequences being probably "just a bit more serious" than those of last year's insolvency of General Motors, writes the SWP. In Greece, since some time, protests have been raised against German economic dominance. The media is warning that "the Germans could take absolute control" of the Greek national budget. more…