BEIJING/BERLIN | | china

BEIJING/BERLIN (Own report) - Disputes over US military provocations are accompanying the German chancellor's current visit to China. After a US Navy destroyer transited through the maritime waters claimed by Beijing near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, the Chinese government summoned the US ambassador. German government sources have confirmed that this conflict will play a role in the talks, Angela Merkel will hold today in Beijing, and expect discord. Berlin is already in a difficult position. The transformation of China's economy from an investment-driven to a consumer- and service-driven growth model will be of disadvantage to the German industry. "German capital goods and automobiles" will most likely "no longer enjoy the same levels of demand growth in China as previously," according to Sebastian Heilmann, Director of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin. Because of the structural transformation of China's economy, the "country’s demand for access to finance and currency markets, as well as general demand for service-related know-how" has increased massively. In this respect, Great Britain "is much better positioned than Germany." A "strategic shift is taking place in European-Chinese relations" - away from Berlin and towards London. more…

MOSCOW/BERLIN | | russische-foederation

MOSCOW/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin has announced a "German-Russian Youth Year" for 2016/2017. As former Head of the Federal Chancellery Ronald Pofalla (CDU) declared last week at the conclusion of a German-Russian Cooperation Meeting ("Petersburg Dialogue"), cooperation between German and Russian civil societies are "more important than ever." Therefore, the German government's efforts to intensify the German-Russian student exchange program must be supported. Already at the beginning of the Petersburg Dialogue, which has restarted, following a year's interruption, Chancellor Merkel explained that Germany is "interested in a reliable partnership with Russia." Business functionaries are concluding that willingness to cooperate, which had waned due to the Ukraine conflict, is again growing "on both sides." Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, foresees a "diplomatic process" under Berlin's leadership that will lead to a further rapprochement during Germany's OSCE chair - beginning January 1, 2016. Ischinger explicitly points to similarities to the cold war's so-called détente policy, from which the West emerged the winner. more…

BERLIN/YAOUNDÉ | | kamerun

BERLIN/YAOUNDÉ (Own report) - The EU's Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Cameroon, soon to be implemented, will drive this African country deeper into poverty, Yvonne Takang, Executive Secretary of the Cameroonian civic organization ACDIC explained in an interview with german-foreign-policy.com. The Economic Partnership Agreement, ratified under pressure from Brussels last year in a hush-hush operation, will endanger Cameroon's "agriculture and regional integration," warned Takang, and hamper the country's industrialization. She also signaled resistance to the agreement's implementation. Since 2002, the EU has been seeking to conclude EPAs with former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) regions to open markets for European businesses, create attractive investment opportunities, and secure imports of cheap raw materials. The planned deregulation will leave the weaker national economies in Africa unprotected. A well known example of the negative consequences is the local chicken production in Ghana, which virtually collapsed after this West African country opened its markets to European - including German - poultry exports. German slaughterhouses, on the other hand, benefitted, significantly increasing their chicken exports and profits. more…

BERLIN/NIENBURG (WESER) |

BERLIN/NIENBURG (WESER) (Own report) - The German Bundeswehr is holding another exercise oriented on "Civil-Military Cooperation" (CIMIC) in the context of military interventions. The "Joint Cooperation" exercise will take place in Nienburg County (Lower Saxony) at the end of the month primarily with the participation of soldiers from NATO member countries, and with troops from countries, officially claiming neutrality, such as Austria and Sweden. According to the scenario of the exercise, which has been drawn up in all details, so-called CIMIC forces will operate in a fictitious country at the Horn of Africa that has become the scene of a bloody civil war provoked by a neighboring nation. The unit specialized in "civil-military cooperation" must "assess" the war zone population's situation, to provide the military command the "necessary information" for its "operational planning." The scenario shows a number of parallels to NATO's current large-scale "Trident Juncture" exercise, which also focuses on combating an "aggressor nation," covertly supporting one party to the civil war in the neighboring country. Reference to the situation in Ukraine is explicitly desired. more…

JAKARTA/BONN/PULLACH |

JAKARTA/BONN/PULLACH (Own report) - Germany's Federal Intelligence Service (BND) has been heavily involved in the 1965 murderous putsch in Indonesia - the guest nation of this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. This was confirmed in secret documents from the Bundestag, the German Parliament. According to BND President at the time, Gerhard Wessel's manuscript for a talk he delivered to a session of the Bundestag's "Confidential Committee" in June 1968, the BND did more than merely support the Indonesian military in their blood-soaked "liquidation of the CPI" (Communist Party of Indonesia) - resulting in the murder of hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions - with advisors, equipment and finances. Suharto, who subsequently took power, had even attributed a "large part ... of the success" of the operation to the BND. Up to now, mainly the US-American assistance to the putsch has been known. The putsch, and the more than 30 year-long dictatorship that followed - which also had been reliably promoted by West Germany - are important themes being presented by Indonesian writers at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. To this day, the German government has refused to allow an investigation of the BND's support for the putsch and the Indonesian military's excessive brutality. more…

MINSK/BERLIN | | belarus

MINSK/BERLIN (Own report) - At Berlin's insistence, the EU foreign ministers decided, Monday, to temporarily suspend EU sanctions on Belarus, at least for the next four months. Because of the Ukrainian conflict, Minsk is confronting grave economic and foreign policy difficulties. Because of Russia's economic crisis, Belarusian imports have been drastically reduced and Minsk is forced to seek alternate markets. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is also worried that Russia's overwhelming power could threaten Belarus' independence and therefore, is actively intensifying his own foreign policy initiatives. To acquire alternate markets and maintain its independence, Minsk cannot avoid reinforcing its relations to the West. Berlin's political establishment is closely monitoring these developments. There is an opportunity for "successfully implementing structural changes" in Belarus, as experts declared just before Sunday's presidential elections. In the hope of weakening Minsk's ties to Moscow and strengthening its bonds to the western hegemonic sphere, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier made a plea for suspending the sanctions. Berlin's political PR is ill at ease with this year's Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Svetlana Alexievich's warning to maintain sanctions - in conformity with EU policy until now. more…

TEHERAN/HANOVER/MUNICH | | iran

TEHERAN/HANOVER/MUNICH (Own report) - Now that the sanctions are coming to a close, German enterprises are initiating major investments in Iran and multibillion-dollar gas deals with Teheran. Over the past few weeks, several business delegations have already visited Iran. The state of Bavaria will soon open a business representation in the Iranian capital. On the one hand, German business circles have their eye on the Middle East market, because Iran "is the ventricle of an economic zone comprising a cross-border population of 400 million people." With car sales in Iran, Volkswagen would like to compensate for the slump it is suffering on other major markets, particularly China and Brazil. On the other hand, Berlin and Brussels are trying to acquire access to Iranian natural gas. The EU Commission estimates that by 2030, Iran should be annually selling 25 to 35 billion cubic meters - probably liquid - gas to the EU. BASF natural gas subsidiary Wintershall has also shown interest. During his recent visit in Teheran, Lower Saxony's Minister of the Economy proposed the construction of a LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven as a German-Iranian joint venture. This is all happening at a time, when the conflict over Syria - with Iran and Russia on the one side and the West on the other - is escalating. more…

DAMASCUS/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON/BERLIN | | syrienrussische-foederation

DAMASCUS/MOSCOW/WASHINGTON/BERLIN (Own report) - Berlin has sharply criticized Russian bombing raids in Syria. In a joint declaration with governments of several allied countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the German government claims the Russian Air Force did not target the "Islamic State" (IS) but the "Syrian opposition and civilians," and calls on Moscow to "immediately cease" these attacks. Russian bombers, however, have not only hit bases of the IS and other jihadi militias, but also the facilities of western-armed combatants, participating in the al-Nusra Front's offensive. Al-Nusra is the Syrian branch of al Qaeda, the primary target in the West's post 9/11 "War on Terror." The Russian air raids highlight a significant increase of Moscow's influence in the Middle East and the growing influence of non-Western powers in world affairs. They are another blow to western global hegemony. more…