KIEW/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEW/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin is threatening a boycott because of the continued detention of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko, a longtime ally of the West, has been convicted of abuse of power and is facing other criminal charges. She is complaining of torture and insufficient medical care in prison. The German government, which has been silent about accusations of torture and denial of medical attention in Ukrainian prisons, while Tymoshenko was Prime Minister of that country, is now declaring, "penal law" should "not be abused to curtail democracy and prevent opposition." This must be seen in the context of power struggles focusing on the country's future foreign policy orientation now taking place in Kiev. Berlin is worried that the Ukraine could ally itself too closely with Moscow, if important pro-western forces, such as Tymoshenko, have no role to play. According to voices in Berlin, a boycott of the forthcoming European Soccer Championships could be a means for pressuring Kiev, if it does not comply. more…

BRUNEI/BANGKOK/BERLIN |

BRUNEI/BANGKOK/BERLIN (Own report) - The German foreign minister hopes to use his visit to Southeast Asia to reinforce Berlin's standing with countries on the periphery of China. Over the past few years, a booming People's Republic of China has significantly enhanced its political power and its economic influence in the ASEAN Alliance countries. The United States, which, like Europe, is economically losing ground, seeks to better its position through military cooperation with countries, like Vietnam and the Philippines. According to voices in Washington, an "American Pacific Century" is in the making, meaning the focus of US global political orientation is being shifted to Asia for a power struggle with China. Not to be sidelined, Berlin and Brussels are also focusing on closer relations with ASEAN. The agenda of today's EU-ASEAN foreign minister summit, also attended by the German foreign minister, is focusing on the intensification of cooperation in "security policy." EU measures for interventions in armed conflicts in Southern Thailand and the Philippines are under consideration. Military contacts are also being strengthened at national levels. The Bundeswehr is broadening its training programs for Southeast Asian soldiers and German arms producers are exporting more combat material to the region. more…

BERLIN/MADRID/ATHENS | | griechenland

BERLIN/MADRID/ATHENS (Own report) - The German austerity dictate is leading to new economic and social turbulence in the indebted counties of the southern Euro-zone. Spain, compelled in late March to make financial cutbacks totaling 27 billion Euros, must extend its austerity program to a total of 37 billion Euros. An increasing number of debtors cannot repay their credits on time. With their backlog of 143,8 billion Euros, the country's banks, in fact, can only refinance themselves through the European Central Bank. Italy is also slipping into the downward spin of cutbacks, growing unemployment, decreasing purchasing power and increasing social spending and, like Greece a few years ago, must already readjust its savings goals. Greece has been fully drawn into this development. Last year, 68,000 enterprises went bankrupt - the volume of incoming orders has dramatically shrunk. A high number of bankruptcies is also expected this year. This offers German enterprises good opportunities for acquiring the fillet morsels of state enterprises at rock-bottom prices. more…

KHARTOUM/JUBA/BERLIN | | sudan

KHARTOUM/JUBA/BERLIN (Own report) - South Sudan, which, with German support, seceded from Sudan, is provoking a new war. A few days ago, troops from the South Sudanese regime in Juba occupied an oil field, belonging, according to a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, to Khartoum. The oil field accounting for about half of Sudan's total oil production is vital, because the country has already lost approx. three-quarters of its oil reserves to secessionist South Sudan. Khartoum is counter-attacking to retake control of the oilfield. The fighting threatens to escalate into full-scale warfare. This is significant for Germany, not only because German soldiers are stationed in South Sudan, but also because Berlin, for years, has been pushing to establish a functioning South Sudanese state. The objective is to also link South Sudan, with its enormous deposits of oil and other natural resources, to Kenya and Uganda, which, unlike Sudan, are considered fundamentally pro-western and easier to control. more…

PARIS/BERLIN | | frankreich

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) - France's recent defeat at the hands of Germany in the struggle for hegemony over the EU is shaping the current presidential election campaign in France. This has been confirmed by the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in a recently published analysis. Conservative circles of the Paris establishment, according to this publication, feel impelled to imitate in France, the austerity measures ("Hartz IV"), imposed on Germany under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, to safeguard the French economy from the overwhelming German competition – at the expense of growing impoverishment of the French population. The DGAP hardly sees any alternatives, once the struggle for a demand-oriented solution to the crisis in the EU was lost to Germany. The president’s party, the UMP, which wrote its electoral platform with the collaboration of the German CDU, is promoting the austerity policy as a "German model." Following initial protests, the opposing Parti Socialist (PS) is warning against "anti-German sentiments." Analyzing the EU's development over the past few years under the German austerity dictate, a Swiss research institute has concluded that France has become the "junior partner" of the "undisputed EU leader, Germany." more…

BERLIN/ATHENS | | griechenland

BERLIN/ATHENS (Own report) - German government agencies and the Deutsche Bank are pushing for the privatization of public property in the southern European crisis countries. In Greece, the state-owned foreign trade promotion agency "Germany Trade and Invest" (GTAI) acts as a "consultant" for the "Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund" (HRADF) which, since the end of March, has all the property titles on Greek state assets and is preparing their sales. The HRADF is patterned after the German Treuhand (Trust Fund), which is accused of having squandered the national wealth of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the aftermath of 1990. It is benefiting from the "German experience in the privatization and restructuring process of the newly formed German states," according to the German Ministry of Economics. The GTAI agency, which, in the search for new investors, is collaborating with its Greek counterpart "Investment in Greece" sees "attractive investment opportunities" in real estate and natural resources, in water supply, in infrastructure and in the OPAP, the largest betting and gambling company in Europe and Greece's third largest enterprise. The Deutsche Bank is participating in OPAP's privatization. The bank has assisted in similar processes in other countries and according to its research team, comprehensive privatizations need to be carried out all over Europe. more…

DAMASCUS/BERLIN | | syrien

DAMASCUS/BERLIN (Own report) - German government advisors' new war threats are accompanying the fragile ceasefire in Syria. If the civil war in the country continues, Western states would either have to accept "the limits of their influence" or decide military intervention, writes an expert for "security policy" of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). An array of gradual intervention options could be conceivable, ranging from arms supplies and training programs for the Syrian insurgent militias, via partial occupation of Syrian territory ("creation of safe areas") to western invasion. According to the government advisor, this last option is improbable, but German participation should be assured in any case. Human rights organizations are deploring that Western supported militias (often Sunnites), fighting against the Assad regime, are also committing serious crimes. Experts are warning that Islamist forces could take power in Syria with the support of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary regimes in the Arab world. Their regime could become just as repressive as the Assad regime. Libya's development could serve as an example. more…