BERLIN/MUNICH |

BERLIN/MUNICH (Own report) - Just before the Munich Security Conference opened, Germany's Foreign and Defense Ministers have suggested the possibility of expanding EU military interventions. It is "rightfully expected that we will become involved" declared Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Military means must not "be banned from consideration." Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen had just declared, "Europe makes no progress in the global power play," without military means. These declarations perpetuate a PR campaign, which began immediately following the German parliamentary elections in September, aimed at domestically dampening opposition to more military interventions, Berlin is evidently contemplating. The Chair of the Munich Security Conference considers EU military activities an "act of liberation." Military officials are pushing for EU battle groups to finally be allowed to enter combat. These combat units have been on stand-by since 2007, but never sent into action. The next targets for interventions are African countries. The German Foreign Minister mentioned clearing out Libyan weapons depots. more…

Anthony Coughlan | DUBLIN | | irland
(Anthony Coughlan)

DUBLIN Interview with Anthony Coughlan, Professor Emeritus in Social Policy at Dublin University (Trinity College Dublin), Director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, writer and commentator on EU affairs. more…

DUBLIN/BERLIN | | irland

DUBLIN/BERLIN (Own report) - Opposition to the expansion of the German-European military policy appear to be growing in Ireland. EU operations in Africa, which are to be reinforced, as Berlin has announced, are primarily serving to protect the interests of former colonial powers, declared representatives of the opposition last week in the Irish parliament, demanding that Irish troops not be sent to participate. Military neutrality has deep roots in Ireland and is still supported by an overwhelming majority of the Irish population - according to a poll, by nearly 80 percent. Because austerity dictates are still in effect, even after the troika's departure, criticism of the Berlin/EU crisis policy has not abated among Irish citizens. The social situation is deteriorating and, under the weight of the crisis, the country has the highest emigration rate in Europe. The Irish are "well aware" that German banks are the principal beneficiaries of the EU crisis policy, confirmed Anthony Coughlan, Professor Emeritus in Social Policy at Dublin University (Trinity College Dublin), Director of the National Platform EU Research and Information Centre, in his conversation with german-foreign-policy.com. more…

MUNICH | | frankreich

MUNICH (Own report) - In the run-up to the Munich Security Conference, prominent German foreign policy specialists are calling for "German Leadership" in the EU's foreign and military policy activities. It is "the responsibility of the powerful, ... to insure Europe's ability to act," wrote the former German Minster of Defense, Volker Rühe recently in a newspaper column: "Germany must lead." As the Security Conference's Director, Wolfgang Ischinger, explained, Germany "must massively bring to bear its foreign policy in Europe." Since the beginning of the crisis, "Germany's clout" has grown in the EU, and "so have the world's expectations on German leadership." The prerequisites for a German-European global policy seem favorable, since the German government laid the groundwork for integrating France into its foreign policy, last week. As both countries' foreign ministers announced, in the future, they will coordinate closely with one another and even take joint trips abroad. In this cooperation, Berlin is operating from a position of strength vis à vis Paris - seriously weakened by the crisis - and can presume that it will largely pursue its interests in the framework of this alleged cooperation. more…

KIEV/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - Following the escalation of the violent protests in Kiev, Berlin's favorite, Vitaly Klitschko, is threatening to launch a new "offensive" against the government. The offensive would begin, Klitschko announced on Wednesday, should President Yanukovych not resign by yesterday evening. The deadline passed without resignation. Tensions are rising. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has "various contacts" within the Ukrainian opposition, explained Chancellor Merkel, mounting pressure on the Ukrainian government by demanding that the government protect "the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly." Last weekend's surge in violence - which preceded the brutal police repression - was sparked by ultra rightwing activists, who had been participating in the "Euromaidan" protests from the very beginning and who, according to observers, are winning growing acceptance. "Progressive activists" have to fight "on two fronts" in Kiev today: "against the regime that supports police violence" but also "against extremist nationalism." Ultra rightwing leaders are already threatening civil war. more…

BERLIN/PARIS/BANGUI/BAMAKO | | malifrankreich

BERLIN/PARIS/BANGUI/BAMAKO (Own report) - The EU has announced a military intervention into the Central African Republic. Last Monday, EU foreign ministers in Brussels decided to soon send soldiers from several EU countries to Bangui to support French troops in that country. The Bundeswehr will most likely participate with transport aircraft and a MedEvac Airbus. The German Foreign Minster has also suggested the possibility of expanding the deployment of German military in Mali. This is where the Franco-German Brigade is due to make its first major deployment. But the power struggle between Germany and France continues to loom in the background. Berlin wants to use the mission in Mali to break France's exclusive influence in the West African francophone countries. Members of the Bundeswehr have announced that "over the next few years" Germany will have "to deal with Africa, particularly its north and center." Even before ending its (partial) withdrawal from Afghanistan, Germany is already focusing on a new intervention - in line with the global offensive Berlin's foreign policy establishment has been pushing for with growing intensity since last autumn. more…

PARIS/BERLIN | | frankreich

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin is loudly applauding French President François Hollande's adaptation of Germany's model of austerity. His announcement of a cutback in public expenditures to clearly favor business, could "only be seen as good news," declared Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. German media point to the fact that Hollande has announced measures that - in certain aspects - are modeled on Germany's "Agenda 2010," which had been developed by the Federal Chancellery under the auspices of Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at the time, Federal Chancellery Chief of Staff under Gerhard Schröder. It had enabled Berlin to consolidate its economic predominance over Europe. Whether Paris will be able to imitate the German austerity policy is unsure. Hollande's predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy had tried, but he lost the presidential elections in the spring of 2012. Notwithstanding, in Berlin further steps to cut back on social welfare achievements are again in discussion. Yesterday, German President Joachim Gauck complained that the term "neo-liberal" has a negative connotation, which must be changed. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The periodical of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) has published a survey on this years' ten possibly most dangerous conflicts. As author, Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, writes, her list covers ten countries / regions of conflict, where a range of factors have led or could lead to escalation: For example, these include "organized crime," "political competition," "authoritarian rule." The author does not mention western interventions as a cause of the desolate situations in a whole series of countries, even though she lists Libya as one example of the "top ten" conflicts. Libya was crushed by the 2011 NATO aggression and has been unable to recover since. Her list, published by the DGAP, does not mention South Sudan - a product of a geostrategically motivated western secessionist policy, which, last December, has erupted into bloody battles. Louise Arbour anticipates the aggravation of conflicts particularly in Russia's northern Caucasus. Severe conflicts in that region could seriously weaken Russia. more…

BERLIN/JUBA |

BERLIN/JUBA (Own report) - Vicious combat has turned the Berlin supported national secessionist project, into a catastrophe in South Sudan. According to recent estimates, approximately 10,000 people have been killed in the military conflict since mid-December. Aimed at weakening Sudan, the German government had vigorously supported the secession of South Sudan - not only politically but also with concrete programs for "establishing a state." Sudan was considered to be among the more anti-western segments of the Arab world. Three-fourths of Sudan's oil reserves are located in South Sudan, which has already established close ties with the pro-western East African countries of Kenya and Uganda. The German government had promoted the geostrategically motivated secessionist project, even though observers had been warning against the renewal of violence in South Sudan. Already in the 1990s, rival forces had been engaged in brutal combat. Observers warned that this combat could resurge, once Juba decides over the distribution of national resources. And this is exactly what has happened. more…

KIEV/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - Because the German government-backed attempt to overthrow the government in Kiev has not taken place, foreign policy experts in Berlin are now discussing cautious changes of course in Germany's policy toward the Ukraine. Retrospective analyses are now admitting that, had the Ukraine signed the EU Association Agreement, serious economic and social damage would have been inflicted on that country. The foreign policy establishment continues to assert that Berlin should bring the Ukraine into its sphere of hegemonic influence. This therefore places Berlin in an "integration rivalry with Moscow." To integrate the Ukraine, new proposals call for either bypassing elite circles by fostering contacts to "civil society" or by compelling integration with targeted economic interventions. In any case, the rightwing extremist Svoboda Party has been able to enhance its position within the protest movement during the recent demonstrations. It could benefit from the cooperation also with German diplomats during the agitation against the current Ukrainian government. more…