VILNUS/BERLIN/MOSCOW | | litauenrussische-foederation

VILNUS/BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German-Russian nuclear energy intrigues are provoking protests in Lithuania. In Vilnius the Minister of Energy is complaining that in contravention of the terms of the contract and in spite of billions in financial outlays, the dismantling of the Ignalina nuclear power plant is stalled. The contract was accorded the German Nukem company, which at the time, was a subsidiary of the German RWE Corp. but was bought last year by the Russian Atomstroyexport company. The delay in dismantling the Ignalina plant is of particular significance, because it also postpones the construction of the new Lithuanian power plant, at the same time enhancing Russia's prospects of making Lithuania - and eventually Poland - dependent on energy from Russia's new "Baltic Nuclear Power Plant" now being constructed in Kaliningrad. The Kaliningrad power station is destined to deliver nuclear produced electricity also to Germany, thereby intensifying the German-Russian energy cooperation. The German Siemens Corp. is being considered by Kaliningrad's project organizer to be a possible partner. Last year, Siemens had agreed to enter long-term cooperation with the Russian atomic energy administration, Rosatom. The further elaboration of the European-Russian relations in the energy sector is on the agenda of the EU-Russian Summit, which begins today. Berlin and Moscow will be the ones to profit most from this relationship. more…

MOGADISHU/BERLIN | | somalia

MOGADISHU/BERLIN (Own report) - The scandal caused by the planned dispatching of more than 100 German mercenaries to Somalia, is further evidence of the expansion of German private security companies. The CEO of the Asgaard German Security Group (based in Telgte, close to Muenster in North Rhine Westphalia) has confirmed that the company plans to dispatch a triple-digit sized group of armed personnel to Somalia to support a local warlord, who has declared himself the country's president. Whereas the German foreign ministry dissociates itself from the action, demands are growing in the West that alternatives be sought considering the policies of the EU and the USA toward Somalia to be fruitless. Activities of security companies, such as Asgaard, are intensifying abroad. They are cooperating on a regular basis with several foreign business associations, such as the German-Africa Business Association or the German-Iraqi Business Association (MIDAN), protecting German personnel in war and crisis zones. Berlin's Federal College for Security Studies is closely observing the development of this private industry of repression, which, according to its president, allows interventions that are "much less noticeable" than the usual military deployments. more…

OLDENBURG |

OLDENBURG (Own report) - A research group at the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Oldenburg has developed strategies for Western military interventions in developing countries. According to the researchers, the internationally recognized principle of national sovereignty has been "laid to rest" a long time ago, which is why its violations can be considered "legitimate". They describe western military interventions, such as in Afghanistan, to be large scale "projects of social reform." To be successful, the occupying powers must, on the one hand, demonstrate a certain level of "sensitivity toward cultural factors" and, on the other, achieve the rigid "imposition of a monopoly over the use of force" - even at the expense of civilian casualties. In this context, Germans have a certain "amount of catching up to do in knowledge that former colonial powers still have on hand," according to the researchers. more…

BANGKOK/BERLIN | | thailand

BANGKOK/BERLIN (Own report) - Following last weekend's bloodbath, the government in Thailand - led by long-time partners of the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FDP) - is threatening to continue its use of military force against mass protests in Bangkok. As observers note, the escalating confrontation between demonstrators demanding new elections and the army is bringing Thailand "to the brink of civil war". The country's old elite - made up of the military, big industry and the royal dynasty - fear that the growing democratic movement will restrict their predominance. Some in the old elite, particularly the Democrat Party of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, have for years already been cooperating with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. Alone since Mai 14, they are responsible for the deaths of at least 36 protesters. The Naumann Foundation had shown sympathy toward a putsch by the traditional elite in 2006 and the subsequent, heavily contested outlawing of a popular party, because "it could not have been done democratically". The assistant, who was responsible for the Naumann Foundation's activities at the time and for the support of the traditional elites from 2007 to 2009, is today head of the Asia department in the German Ministry for Development. more…

BERLIN/SINGAPORE |

BERLIN/SINGAPORE (Own report) - Despite the Euro crisis, leading German industrial circles are currently holding an "Asia Pacific Conference" in Singapore to explore new possibilities for investments in and exports to Southeast Asian countries. Whereas the economy in Europe and the USA will still need quite some time to recover, the Asian market has already overcome the economic crisis and is again booming, according to the executive directress of the German Asia-Pacific Business Association (OAV). It is therefore absolutely essential to expand German business relations in Asia. German exports to the Asian Pacific region have already increased by one third in the first two months of this year in comparison to last year's volume. 16 percent of Germany's exports are to Asia, gaining therefore in importance in relation to exports within the Eurozone. The current Asia-Pacific Conference is focusing on China's Southeast Asian neighbors, with whom Germany is cooperating to thwart the growth of Beijing's influence. more…

Stefan de Vylder | STOCKHOLM |
(Stefan de Vylder)

STOCKHOLM german-foreign-policy.com spoke with the well known economist Dr. Stefan de Vylder about the Euro crisis and Germany's possible leaving the Euro zone. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Following the passage of the 750 billion Euro bailout package, the debate on Germany's leaving the monetary union has become more intense. Business representatives confirm that German industry, which exports heavily to other countries within the Euro zone, has up to now greatly benefited from the common currency. If an austerity program can be successfully imposed on Southern Europe, establishing a pan-European economic "model" patterned on Germany, the Euro will remain advantageous for Germany. But strong resistance is expected from Greece and other countries. If expensive transfer payments cannot be avoided, it may become necessary "to think the unthinkable" of Germany "leaving the monetary union" writes the business press. In the long run, Germany's withdrawal from the Euro zone is, in fact, highly probable, the Swedish economics scholar Stefan de Vylder tells german-foreign-policy.com. The first insinuations about the probable consequences indicate that serious tensions can be expected in Europe. more…

Greywashed

OXFORD/HAMBURG | | grossbritannien

OXFORD/HAMBURG (Own report) - 65 years after Europe's liberation from Nazi fascism, the debate around one of the influential supporters of German expansion still continues: the businessman from Hamburg, Alfred Toepfer who died in 1993 and the foundation he created, the Alfred Toepfer Foundation FVS. In the 1930s, this foundation sought to enhance Nazi Germany's influence with cultural policy throughout Europe. Protests are growing louder in Great Britain against this foundation and its activities. Oxford University is discussing whether, in light of new information about Toepfer's post-war activities, the Toepfer sponsored scholarships for British students going to Germany, should continue to be accepted. According to new research by the historian Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, in the aftermath of World War II, Toepfer had supported Nazi war criminals to a much larger extent than had been previously known. The Foundation and the German media are taking Toepfer's defense against Pinto-Duschinsky’s accusations. Since the 1990s, critics have been complaining that it is unacceptable that a foundation whose founder supported Nazi expansion is again in his name engaged in cultural lobbying in those countries that were invaded by Germany. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Preparations for the German government's new "Africa Concept" are being met with heavy criticism. Governmental authorities dealing with Africa are supposed to decide on the concept next summer. The drafts that so far have become known, point to a "fundamental change in policy", a shift from the so-called development policy to open "business development", according to VENRO, the Association of German Development NGOs. VENRO is calling instead for an Africa policy oriented on the basic needs of the populations on that poverty stricken continent. The new Africa Concept however aims to coordinate the work of all ministries concerned to enhance German influence. The government's strategy is therefore aimed at aiding German business expansion with the focus particularly on West African energy resources. Since taking office, the minister for development has been emphasizing that his ministry should serve German business more than in the past. The new Africa concept is designed accordingly. more…