PARIS/BERLIN | | frankreich

PARIS/BERLIN (Own report) - Today, numerous parliamentarians in France's Assemblé Nationale are planning to vote in favor of a program of dramatic austerity measures, in defiance of massive protests. This package of budget cuts had been inspired by Germany. The program is supposed to cut up to 50 billion Euros between 2015 and 2017, of which 21 billion will be from social services alone - and, 10 billion of this from health services. These measures are laying the groundwork for between 30 and 40 billion Euros in benefits for the industry. The redistribution from the middle and lower income strata of society to the industry is following Germany's example - the "Agenda 2010" and "Hartz IV." Within the framework of the Euro crisis, Germany has been imposing that other countries within the Euro zone imitate these measures. Paris is under massive pressure. German industry's exports are pushing its French competitors further in retreat. The French foreign trade deficit has reached new heights and the French industry is sinking deeper into a crisis. The latest manifestation of this decline is the looming sale of France's traditional Alstom, which Siemens, is competing with General Electric to become the majority shareholder. General Electric is seeking a "European presence" as a stepping stone to become the global market leader. more…

BERLIN/KIEV | | ukraine

BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) - Many contradictions have appeared over the case of the captured German military observers in Slavyansk. Contrary to persisting misinformation, a leading OSCE functionary has confirmed that the military observers were not on an OSCE mission in the Ukraine, but rather on a German Bundeswehr mission at the request of the putsch regime in Kiev. Even before the incident in Slavyansk, the Bundeswehr considered the activities of this partisan unit - which officially claims to be acting on the authority of "the Vienna Document" arms control agreement - to be "unusual" and "unprecedented in this form." In fact, the Bundeswehr personnel were not only involved in a dangerous conflict; they were also engaged on the territory of a successor state of the Soviet Union. To maintain the military balance in Europe, the West had once promised Moscow not to station any military in these countries. Last week, one of the detained Germans had publicly declared that his delegation was exclusively monitoring Ukrainian security forces; their mission statement did not allow anything else. more…

BERLIN/PRETORIA | | suedafrika

BERLIN/PRETORIA (Own report) - Twenty years after South Africa held its first free elections (April 27, 1994), German corporations have definitively eluded demands to pay damages to the victims of the apartheid regime, they had supported. Whereas, a court in New York ruled last week that lawsuits against two US companies, for complicity in apartheid's institutions of repression, cannot be thrown out, similar lawsuits brought against German companies have been dismissed. The German government had also intervened in favor of dismissal of the reparations lawsuits. West German companies had been a mainstay of support for the apartheid regime. Daimler, for example, was "a vital partner of the South African war industry," according to an international anti-apartheid activist. West German companies had even expanded their businesses, when companies from other western countries were beginning to withdraw due to mounting international pressure. In South Africa, German companies have been able to maintain their strong standing, established also through collaboration with the apartheid regime, even after the collapse of the system of apartheid. The social legacy of apartheid, which these companies help maintain, characterizes the South African society to this day, confirmed the long-time managing executive of the West German Anti-Apartheid Movement, Ingeborg Wick, in her conversation with german-foreign-policy.com. more…

BERLIN/KIEV | | ukraine

BERLIN/KIEV (Own report) - A prominent German jurist has sharply criticized the German government's anti-Russian declarations concerning the Crimea Crisis. As Reinhard Merkel, a law professor at the University of Hamburg, explains, the allegation of Russia having "annexed" the Crimea or having made a "land grab" must be unambiguously refuted. These allegations are not only false, from the standpoint of international law; they are also extremely dangerous, because annexation usually engenders war as a response. Merkel explicitly advocates being very skeptical of "official government vocatives insisted on from Berlin to Washington" concerning the Crimea Crisis. Simultaneously, the situation in Ukraine has further escalated. The government that illegally seized power has begun a "lustration" ("purge"), with the objective of removing all supporters of the party of the overthrown President Yanukovych from public office. This is said to affect "thousands." At the same time, Ukrainian oligarchs, against whose methods of reign the earlier Maidan demonstrations had been protesting, are being given new posts. The ex-boxer Vitaly Klitschko's, "Made in Germany," UDAR party has chosen a billionaire as its presidential candidate, rather than its hopeless leader. Fascist forces are positioning themselves to move against the increasingly marginalized pro-Russian segments of the population. The Berlin-supported Maidan opposition had effectively used the fascists' potential for violence to overthrow Yanukovych. more…

BERLIN/ACCRA | | ghana

BERLIN/ACCRA (Own report) - The German Navy will participate in a large-scale maneuver in the Gulf of Guinea. The maneuver "Obangame Express 2014" is scheduled for mid-April and is aimed at warding off pirates, active off the West African coast. According to the German government, the maneuver will serve to strengthen military "cooperation" among the coastal states. This operation conforms fully with Berlin's strategy of arming "partner countries" in Africa with its weapons exports and training their troops, to avoid the costly intervention of German troops. An arms fair for the "total surveillance" of coastal areas has recently taken place in Ghana's capital Accra. The participating German arms manufacturers see Ghana as a lucrative potential market. The oil deposits off the Ghanaian coast are to be protected against enemy exploitation, but rather than use these resources to fight poverty within the country, the foreign exchange revenue from their sales are to purchase arms from western industries. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The German League of Expellees (BdV) has announced that the German Chancellor will attend their annual reception on Wednesday. Angela Merkel's repeated attendance at the League's events is testimony "of her close ties to the expellees," declared BdV President, Erika Steinbach. Over the past few years, Steinbach and her organization have repeatedly been the focus of controversy for their historical revisionist declarations. Steinbach, herself, had alleged that the Eastern and Southeastern European countries liberated from Nazi terror "had for many years - even after the war -been a gigantic region of slave holders." BdV functionaries and some of its component organizations have been accused of negating exclusive German responsibility for the Second World War. In his talk in front of "Expellee" functionaries last year, a prominent publicist said, it is "indecent" for "Germans to still let themselves be blackmailed with the mention of Hitler's incomparable crimes." The Germans had, "in many respects, been the most peaceful people in Europe." The "Expellees" associations, in which this sort of allegation is applauded, are supporting German efforts to enhance influence in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. This is why they are being honored with the Chancellor's presence. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - At the EU - Africa summit, beginning today, Berlin and Brussels are pressing forward with the expansion of their military and military policy activities on the African continent. Alongside resolutions on the EU intervention in the Central African Republic (CAR), the program will include negotiations on the further elaboration of EU supervised African security structures. African forces are supposed to apply these measures to implement what Berlin and Brussels consider "order." According to experts, for insuring one's influence, it is not necessary to send one's own combat troops into a "crisis area, to assume presence and supervision." Therefore, the Federal Republic of Germany supports the African Union (AU) in establishing military structures, and participates in "training missions" in Somalia and Mali. Other measures could be introduced to combat piracy in West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, in the foreseeable future, according to a discussion paper. Experts point out that German - European combat missions are intended in Africa, in spite of the African troops. The EU's military activities are aimed at shoring up Western influence on the continent - against China. more…