BERLIN/DAMASCUS/BAGHDAD | | iraksyrien

BERLIN/DAMASCUS/BAGHDAD (Own report) - In light of the western powers' possible massive loss of influence in the Middle East, German foreign policy-makers are intensifying their threats of sanctions on Moscow. Norbert Röttgen (CDU), Chair of the Foreign Policy Committee of the German parliament calls for economic punishment to be imposed for suspected or actual war crimes committed by the Russian military in East Aleppo. The renowned British Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, strongly criticizes the rampant propaganda campaign raging - also here in Germany - around the hard fought battle for East Aleppo. Fisk notes that it is remarkable that the militias in East Aleppo are being euphemized as "rebels," because one of the most powerful among them is an Al Qaeda subsidiary. After all, that embellishes and is protective toward those responsible for 9/11. Besides, the large number of civilian casualties caused by western air raids in the war against IS is being ignored. A renowned NGO source in the USA estimates currently more than 2,000 civilians killed. The notorious double standards of western propaganda are accompanying the US and European powers' unsuccessful efforts to thwart Russia's rising influence in the Middle East. more…

BERLIN |

BERLIN (Own report) - The EU will significantly increase the number of its military interventions. This was one the results of the EU heads of state and government summit meeting, held yesterday in Brussels. The member countries will also intensify cooperation of their armed forces. This coincides with demands repeatedly put forward by the German government during its campaign, launched last summer to promote the militarization of the EU. Recently, after the EU defense ministers, along with other bodies, including the European Parliament, passed several resolutions, the EU Commission published a "Defense Action Plan," which provides for annual expenditures from a "European Defense Fund" of half a billion Euros for weapons research, beginning in the early 2020s. Most recently, the European Parliament called for the EU to upgrade its military to be able to use "its full potential as a world power." The objective, according Hans-Peter Bartels (SPD), Parliamentary Commissioner for the German Armed Forces, is to establish an EU army. more…

BERLIN/MOSCOW | | russische-foederation

BERLIN/MOSCOW (Own report) - German business circles are discerning a clear reversal of trend in business with Russia, despite the EU's alleged prolongation of sanctions against Moscow. In the third quarter of 2016, German exports to Russia have increased for the first time since sanctions were imposed. German investments in Russia are again growing already reaching a volume of two billion Euros this year. The Daimler Group, for example, is currently planning to construct a plant worth 300 million Euros near Moscow. The gradual growth in business relations is flanked by negotiations at the state secretary level, with the preliminary groundwork being laid by leading think tanks. However, that President-elect Donald Trump, who, together with his designated Foreign Minister, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, intends to change course and cooperate more closely with Russia, at least on a punctual basis, is not seen very favorably from the German perspective. It would undermine the traditional division of labor among western countries in relationship to Russia that had been to Germany's advantage. While Washington was usually exerting massive pressure on Moscow, Berlin could often assume an advantageous mediator role - with a consensus on exerting pressure on Moscow to submit to western policy, while enhancing its own business relations. more…

THESSALONIKI/BERLIN/FLORENCE | | griechenlanditalien

THESSALONIKI/BERLIN/FLORENCE (Own report) - When the German foreign minister appeared in the synagogue in Thessaloniki (Greece), he was met with strong protest from prominent members of the Jewish community. In his speech at the synagogue on December 4, (published by the German Foreign Ministry) Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD) praised "our German hands to be used in the life of your community" - after Jewish life was eradicated under the Nazis. In his historical reflections, the German foreign minister alluded to the more than 50,000 Jewish Greeks, who, in 1943, had been forced to buy "Reichsbahn" tickets to Auschwitz, where they were murdered upon arrival. He did not utter a single word about the German receipts (89 million Euros) from those trips taking them to their death, or about Berlin's refusal to pay its debts. Neither did Steinmeier mention the reimbursement of the several million Euros in racist "ransoms" as the Jewish community demands. Prominent Jewish Greeks were outraged because Berlin's foreign policy is obviously undermining the legal claims of Nazi victims with moralist avowals and non-committal monetary hand-outs. Protests were also raised against Steinmeier's being offered "honorary membership" in Thessaloniki's synagogue. Steinmeier made similar appearances in relationship to Italian victims of Nazi mass crimes. more…

No Chance

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - Shortly after the conservative candidate in the French presidential elections was decided, Berlin began to apply pressure on François Fillon, who had won his party's nomination. Even though Berlin is applauding Fillon's neoliberal austerity measures - which include an increase in the value added tax and the firing of half a million civil servants - his foreign policy plans clearly run counter to Berlin's policy, according to experts. A fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), for example, criticizes the fact that Fillon "aims" to "retake France's sovereignty" and to have a cooperative relationship with Russia. Invoking "European civilization," Norbert Röttgen, chair of the German Bundestag's Committee on Foreign Affairs, declared with an air of an ultimatum that this "obviously must be discussed with François Fillon." Even France's experts are assuming that should Fillon win the presidential elections - according to polls a real possibility - he would not be able to pursue a policy toward Russia independent of Berlin's. more…

A Time Bomb

ROME/BERLIN | | italien

ROME/BERLIN (Own report) - Following Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi's defeat in Sunday's referendum, Berlin is urging Rome to quickly form a "capable government" and resume its adjustment to the German model of austerity. "The economic problems have to be tackled at the roots," said Jens Weidmann, head of Germany's central bank, yesterday. German financial experts are floating the idea of a cabinet of technocrats, modeled on the Mario Monti government. Monti ruled for a year and a half beginning in November 2011, without having been democratically elected and initiated an austerity program considered extremely harsh. Time is pressing: the bank crisis, caused, to a large extent, by bankruptcies due to German austerity dictates, which has been festering in Italy for a long time, is threatening to escalate. The Monte dei Paschi di Siena tradition bank's recapitalization planned this week is acutely endangered. It cannot be ruled out that its bank crisis could soon spread to other Italian credit institutions and to German banks. more…

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Recent media reports have, for the first time, disclosed US American interference in German business deals with recalcitrant countries. US authorities intervene directly, if German companies carry out financial transactions, for example, with Iran. Repeatedly, Washington has successfully blocked business deals - even though they had been legal in Germany - and had the respective employees and board members fired from their jobs, using the justification that (German) companies with sites in the USA are subject to US law. This also applies to bilateral US sanctions imposed, for example, on Iran. This means that Washington actually succeeds in transposing US domestic law onto other countries, including Germany. The most recent example: Washington is considering a veto on a Chinese company's taking over Aixtron, a German chip equipment manufacturer. President Obama is expected to announce his decision today, Friday. These US-practices have been disclosed at a time of political transition, as Berlin is reinforcing its efforts to create an EU armed forces, to achieve "strategic autonomy" and become a world power. This arrogant US interference in the German-European economy is a taboo that cannot be tolerated on the road toward the long anticipated "superpower Europe." more…