BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - Berlin and Brussels are weighing countermeasures to the Trump administration's growing number of extraterritorial sanctions. The US government is seeking to globally enforce its unilaterally imposed sanctions to bind other countries, including allies, to its foreign policy course. The sanctions against Iran are the most prominent example. They also made German business with Iran largely impossible. Washington first implemented extraterritorial sanctions in the mid-1990s, but finally reached agreement with the EU not to enforce them against European companies. This was changed during the Obama administration, when it amassed billions in fines from banks in the EU. The Trump administration has expanded the extraterritorial sanctions to include Russia and Cuba. Following the failure of the INSTEX financial vehicle, German government advisors are proposing that legal action be taken in US courts. Now, “asymmetric countermeasures” are also being discussed. more…

BERLIN/TRIPOLI/ABU DHABI | | vaelibyen

BERLIN/TRIPOLI/ABU DHABI (Own report) - Despite the UN arms embargo, German military equipment is being deployed in the Libyan war. According to reports, this includes military trucks, produced jointly by the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall arms manufacturer and the VW subsidiary MAN, which serve as carriers for a Russian air defense system. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) purportedly redeployed these trucks in to Libya in support of the warlord Khalifa Haftar. The Emirates also use German arms in the war in Yemen. This is no coincidence: The Gulf state, one of German arms manufacturers' major customers, is increasingly pursuing an offensive foreign policy, which includes a military component, as in cases such as Libya and Yemen. Abu Dhabi is also supporting German efforts to control the Sahel and has begun establishing military bases at the Horn of Africa. Germany maintains a "strategic partnership" with the UAE. more…

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - Yesterday, following fierce power struggles, the EU heads of states and governments nominated Germany's Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen to become the next President of the EU Commission. The most influential position in Brussels' bureaucracy would thus be going to a German politician. Prior to this nomination, also high-ranking politicians from other EU countries had remarked that it is "difficult to explain" that a German should head the Commission, "given the power" Germany exercises in the EU. In fact, not only is EU policy increasingly being shaped by Berlin, but Germans also preside in a growing number of leadership positions within EU administrations, particularly those in the field of finance, but also in the EU-parliament - especially where legislative work is coordinated - and in the field of foreign policy. According to a renowned French EU expert, Germany remains "European" oriented, "because it has created a 'German Europe' solely serving German interests." more…

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/BRASÍLIA | | brasilien

BERLIN/BRUSSELS/BRASÍLIA (Own report) - The German export industry hails the free trade agreement between the EU and South America's Mercosur trade block. The agreement concluded at the end of last week, following 20 years of negotiations, will drastically lower the tariffs that have been protecting the industries of the four Mercosur member nations, including Brazil. Exporters from the EU will thus obtain access to these countries. According to the EU Commission, this will save €4 billion in tariffs benefiting, largely, German enterprises, the EU's major Mercosur suppliers. Conversely, the agreement opens the EU's agricultural markets to the South American agro-industry - to the detriment, in particular, of French and Irish farmers. In fact, Berlin has imposed the agreement in spite of resistance from Paris. Protest is also being raised in South America, with trade unions warning that it could be a "death sentence" for the local industry, reducing Mercosur to a colonial status of raw materials supplier for the EU and sales market for European companies. more…

BERLIN/BEIJING/WASHINGTON | | chinausa

BERLIN/BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Own report) - A leading German economist is warning there could be a military escalation of the US economic war. "The trade war could lead to an arms race," according to Gabriel Felbermayr, President of the Institute for the World Economy, in Kiel. His assessment is based on the Trump administration's escalating aggression. Last week, the administration expanded its embargo against Huawei to five other high-tech companies from the People's Republic and is now considering whether it should force its EU 5G suppliers to dismantle their Chinese subsidiaries. German companies, such as the Munich based Infineon, which, in the meantime, has partially joined the US boycott, are also being targeted. Therefore, Beijing could add its name to the list of companies causing damage to China for political reasons and thus threaten them with countermeasures. Experts are warning that the USA is merely driving the Chinese high-tech industry into becoming independent which, in the long run, would make it a very powerful competitor. more…

BERLIN/PARIS | | frankreich

BERLIN/PARIS (Own report) - In the arms industry, tensions between Berlin and Paris are growing as new steps are made to develop the next-generation of EU aerial combat systems. The signing of new agreements concerning the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) on Monday in Paris was overshadowed by warnings from the German Bundestag that companies from Germany must be granted at least 50 percent of the contracts for the development and construction of the FCAS. At the same time, Berlin is seeking to shift the balance of forces involved in the development and construction of a new Franco-German battle tank to Germany's advantage. The battle tank is conceived to be part of the future Main Ground Combat Systems (MGCS), which - like the FCAS - should operate in close conjunction with other weapons including unmanned systems. While the German government is aiming to establish the Franco-German combat systems as a standard within the EU, to channel as much profit as possible to Germany, Great Britain, excluded from the German - French project, is developing its own rival combat aircraft. more…

BERLIN/CHISINAU | | moldawien

BERLIN/CHISINAU (Own report) - Germany's Foreign Minster Heiko Maas (SPD) is praising and offering German "assistance" to the new government of the Republic of Moldova, which has come to power following fierce power struggles. Last week, the second constitutional crisis in 5 years has shaken up the small landlocked country located between Romania and Ukraine. Forces, once allied with Germany, who are close to the country's richest oligarch, Vladimir Plahotniuc, had formed a counter-government controlling the police and important government bodies. Initially, the new government that came into office in accordance with the constitution had little power in the country - in spite of rapid international recognition, including Germany's. After the counter-government resigned on Friday, the liberal politician Maia Sandu became the uncontested prime minister. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European People's Party (EPP) had already supported Sandu during the 2016 presidential election campaign, which she ultimately lost. She promotes Moldova's EU association. more…

BERLIN/KHARTUM |

BERLIN/KHARTUM (Own report) - Serious allegations are being raised in Sudan concerning one of Berlin and the EU's partners in warding off refugees. According to doctors in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, more than 100 people have been killed and at least 70, raped during the brutal suppression of last week's mass protests, carried out mainly by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF militia, which had already been accused of atrocities during the civil war in Darfur, has been looting and murdering in Khartoum for more than a week. Its leader is considered to be the real strongman in Sudan, since the longtime President Omar al-Bashir and his regime were ousted by the population after a month-long struggle on April 11. Berlin and the EU had not only been operating closely with al-Bashir to halt the flow of refugees. Fully aware of its blood-thirsty violence against refugees, they had also relied on the, now rampaging in Khartoum, RSF, to seal off the Sudanese borders. Berlin and the EU are also cooperating with murderous militias in Libya. more…

TEHRAN/BERLIN | | iran

TEHRAN/BERLIN (Own report) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) is threatening Tehran with international isolation. Maas met with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran yesterday to discuss options for salvaging the nuclear deal. Zarif, whose country has been complying with the agreement, is demanding that the West do the same and halt the sanctions: "The only way to ease tensions and de-escalate is to end the economic war." Under the weight of US sanctions, the Iranian economy is indeed collapsing and the population is suffering from dramatically increased food prices and a noticeable lack of medicines. In its effort to salvage the nuclear deal, Berlin is mainly concerned with serving the German economy's expansionist interests and with its own profile as a global player vis-à-vis the United States. Maas conceded yesterday that the INSTEX financial vehicle Berlin helped to create could not provide an adequate substitute for the losses inflicted by the sanctions. Now, he is reverting to threats. more…

ATHENS/BERLIN | | griechenland

ATHENS/BERLIN (Own report) - Athens has formally requested reparations negotiations with Berlin for the devastation the German occupiers had inflicted on Greece during World War II. The Greek Ambassador handed over a confidential note verbale to the competent authorities in Berlin, confirmed the German foreign ministry, yesterday. According to a Greek parliamentary commission, the reparations debt amounts to €288 billion, at current value. The German government categorically rejects payments. As a spokesperson for the German foreign ministry confirmed, "the issue has been settled legally and politically." For a long time, the Federal Republic of Germany has, in fact, linked its reparation obligations, stipulated in a 1946 Agreement, to a peace treaty concluded sometime in the future. When the issue arose in 1990, Germany concluded the Two-Plus-Four-Agreement "instead of" a peace treaty and unilaterally declared the "reparations issue … settled." Internal documents from 1990 expose Bonn's bag of tricks. more…