BERLIN/WASHINGTON/DAMASCUS | | syrien

BERLIN/WASHINGTON/DAMASCUS (Own report) - German-US-American plans for Syria's transformation along the lines of the Western model are already meeting resistance, even before the possible overthrow of the Assad regime. For months, German government advisors from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) have been working on measures to be immediately implemented following an overthrow of the government in Damascus. These plans are being forged in the German capital in collaboration with the state financed United States Institute for Peace (USIP) and about 45 Syrian opponents, with the objective of installing a pro-western regime in Damascus as soon as possible. Inside Syria, however, it is becoming more and more apparent that influential insurgent militias will not submit to the West and will insist on their independence, according to a study, focused on the example of one military rebel unit near Aleppo. The Islamist oriented forces among the militias would have to be given more influence in Syria's transformation. An enhanced role of Islamist forces in Syria is also among the plans developed by SWP and USIP in Berlin, which, if successful, could end Syria's alliance with Iran for the foreseeable future, further isolating Teheran. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - A European think tank, with ties to Germany, is calling for the establishment of an EU controlled "Grand Area" stretching from the Arctic, through Central Asia, the Middle East to North Africa. With this "Grand Area," the "Group on Grand Strategy" (GoGS) seeks to create a power base for a European Federal State, it considers necessary to establish. This "Grand Area" should also serve European interests in resources and deter foreign powers from meddling. This concept, which corresponds, in many ways to German interests, also includes the establishment within the "Grand Area" of a network of "European" military bases, which therefore would be outside any national control. The Bertelsmann Foundation, one of the most influential German think tanks, also has a representative on the GoGS Advisory Board. Within the Foundation, that political scientist's work is centered on the theme, "Europe's future." more…

BERLIN/TUNIS | | tunesien

BERLIN/TUNIS (Own report) - The German Ministry of Development (BMZ) has announced new measures for adapting Tunisia's tourism sector to German business needs. The German TUI tourism company is the ministry's cooperation partner on this project. The measures were announced July 10 in Tunisia, by the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Development, Gudrun Kopp, during her visit to the country. The objective is to train Tunisian hotel employees to match German expectations and integrate the regional "arts and crafts" into TUI tourism offers. Financing will be equally shared between the BMZ and TUI, but the yields resulting from this upgrade of TUI's business conditions will go solely to the German company. Tunisia's tourism branch is generally known for its employees' precarious working conditions and low salaries, which will also enhance the German tourism company's profit margin. more…

BERLIN | | vae

BERLIN (Own report) - The CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) is promoting the expansion of German and EU cooperation with the dictatorships of the Arabian Peninsular. The foundation announced that its "Regional Program Gulf States" has initiated a project, along with other organizations from Europe and the Arabian Peninsular, aimed at proposing a more comprehensive cooperation between the EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The Adenauer Foundation is also continuing its lobbying in the Gulf dictatorships, even though it recently had been evicted from the United Arab Emirates, where it had maintained a regional office. As the Adenauer Foundation explains, its cooperation efforts contribute not only to the economic significance, but also to the rapidly growing significance of the GCC countries' "security policy." It is explicitly seeking to make "regionally relevant security policy" issues themes of discussion at the Gulf. Several of the GCC member states, particularly Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have not only proven to be close partisans of the West in the conflict with Iran, they, in providing military support to the rebels in Libya and Syria, have also developed into useful allies for Germany, the EU and the USA for the overthrow of reprehensible regimes. According to experts, they are currently "the driving force in the Arab World." more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - The southern German energy company EnBW has sealed a landmark deal with a Russian natural gas supplier. EnBW did not name the company, with which it concluded a 600 billion Euro gas supply contract, but business circles confirmed that the deal has been made with Novatek, which is the second largest Russian gas producer, after Gazprom and hitherto almost unknown in the West. Novatek's main shareholder, Gennady Timchenko, is said to be a close companion of President Vladimir Putin and a member of the president's inner circle. Observers view EnBW partner Novatek's rapid rise to be the outcome of power struggles within the Russian establishment and Putin's closest companion's striving to secure a larger share of the yields from the sales of resources. At the same time, serious allegations of corruption have been raised against EnBW. According to a former business partner, the German energy company, had made false accounts of at least 130 million Euros to "foster relationships" in Russia. This had become necessary after he had to call off an initial Russian natural gas deal in 2002 under pressure of EnBW shareholder Electricité de France (EDF). more…

BERLIN | | algerien

BERLIN (Own report) - According to media reports, the German Ministry of Economics seeks to facilitate exports of the German arms industry. It was reported that two ministerial draft bills are pleading to "purge" foreign trade legislation to increase exports of German military material. A coordination meeting with business associations has been scheduled for Wednesday. For a few years, Germany has ranked third largest arms exporter in the world, after the USA and Russia. Germany assumes nearly one-tenth of all global arms exports. Its customers include despotic regimes and countries in regions of crisis. On foreign visits, the chancellor and her ministers personally represent the sales interests of the arms industry. Most recently, Defense Minister de Maizière tried to sell 60 Eurofighters during visit to the United Arab Emirates. The export of weaponry to regions of conflict is systematic. Allies are having their weaponry upgraded, for example in the case of Persian Gulf dictatorships, in preparation for a possible war against Iran, and in the case of Libya and Algeria to fortify their borders or strengthen ties to a regional power. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Foreign policy experts in the German capital are demanding that Berlin obtain access to the deposits of Arctic natural resources through close cooperation with Greenland and Canada. According to these experts, "rich mineral deposits" for example, rare earth and other important resources, can be found in the High North. At the same time, global climatic changes have accelerated the melting of the polar cap, opening the larger Arctic region to greater access for the mining industry. The German government has initiated numerous projects to consolidate information on the presence of raw materials in the Arctic and to assist German companies in their activities in the region, according to the specialized periodical "Internationale Politik" in Berlin. Greenland is seen as a particularly promising supplier of raw materials, because it is anxious to have cooperation partners, to reduce its dependence on Denmark. In addition, according to the German Mineral Resources Agency, Greenland has at its command a "very extensive natural resources potential" even on the global level. As a future natural resources exporter, Greenland could be in a league with South Africa or Russia, according to the agency, which has studied the entire Arctic region for its natural resources' economic potential for German industry, to help orient expansion policy decisions. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - Germany is extending its leading role in the trade of microcredits to impoverished populations in the so-called developing countries. The German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is currently creating, together with the German Development Bank (KfW), a "Debt Fund" of up to US $100 million. The fund is to provide credits to microfinance institutions (MFI) in Asia. These MFI will use them to make loans to local impoverished populations - usually at horrendous interest rates. Whereas in Berlin, microcredits are praised as an effective instrument for fighting impoverishment, a "capacity building" measure, they, in fact, force the large majority of the recipients into a spiral of debt, often leading to the elimination of all means of subsistence. But, for the prosperous loan creditor, they are profitable. more…

ULM |

ULM (Own report) - Accompanied by "Danube Celebrations" in numerous Southeast European countries, Brussels is accelerating the implementation of its Southern Germany initiated EU Danube Strategy. Last week, on his five-day visit to seven Danube region countries, EU Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn pushed for the rapid implementation of projects included in the strategy paper, adopted last year. The strategy aims at creating conditions in the Southeast European countries favoring the profitable economic exploitation of the region. German enterprises are already among the main profiteers of business with Southeastern Europe. Germany is the most important trade partner of most of the region’s countries and one of the largest foreign investors. Brussels is pressing ahead, due to a lack of determination in the implementation of the Danube Strategy. A major stimulus came from the city of Ulm in southern Germany: By organizing a major cultural event (the "Danube Festival") in 1988, the city kicked off the Danube Strategy. As one of the protagonists at the time reported, culture was used as a "door opener" for a broader agenda. At the end of this week, the eighth "Danube Festival" will be inaugurated in Ulm. Among the sponsors is a weapons company with operations in Southeastern Europe. more…

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - At the EU summit meeting at the end of last week, Berlin failed to impose its austerity demands for the first time since the Euro crisis began. An alliance, comprised primarily of France, Italy and Spain, succeeded in wresting concessions from the German government. In particular, future European financial aid for the crisis-stricken countries will not necessarily be coupled to a renunciation of the country's sovereignty. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble was also unable to take the place of the current Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker. At least, "a battle has been won," writes the Spanish press. This partial victory in the battle against the German austerity dictate could only be accomplished under the imminent threat that the Euro zone could collapse. Berlin had already announced that it does not intend to cede any further ground. The ESM "bailout funds" will certainly not be permitted to become "a self-service shop," declared the chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group. Paris will now fulfill one of Berlin's principal demands: The French president has announced his intentions to have France ratify the Fiscal Stability Treaty - without renegotiations, as the precondition he had insisted upon during his electoral campaign. more…