The race for President of the European Commission has got under way. According to the rules which are questioned by many in the European Union but have so far enjoyed majority support in the European Parliament, the new head of the “executive branch” of the European Union will be elected from among the “top candidates” (Spitzenkandidat) – those nominated by European parties which have factions in the European Parliament. A candidate will finally become President of the European Commission after he receives support from EU leaders in the European Council (the Council is currently headed by former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, known for his paranoic attitude towards Russia) – this procedure should be over in June. A formal approval by the European Parliament should come next.
So who has the biggest chances and what are the political platforms of potential winners?
Judging by arithmetics, the leader of the European People’s Party (former Democratic Christians) faction in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, is in the lead. His faction remains the largest, albeit smaller in number than before, in Parliament – 180 members. A Bavarian, Weber is 46 years old, and is considered to have been promoted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He seems to be at odds with his patroness Merkel, who supports the Nord Stream – 2 project. Last year he spoke out strongly against this project, which envisages the transportation of Russian gas to Western Europe across the bottom of the Baltic Sea: “I am against this project. It does not meet the interests of the European Union,” – he said on April 23, 2018, in an interview with the Polska Times newspaper which was quickly picked up by news agencies.
However, analysts do not rule out a certain discrepancy of conduct on the part of Merkel, who continue to support Weber’s candidacy even after the above statement. Apparently, Merkel has no intention of becoming the one responsible for “burying” the Nord Stream, which is so profitable for the German business. However, if this project is ruined by the head of the European Commission nominated by her, she will be able to get out of it safe. She would explain such a result by a “clash of opinions that is natural for democracy”. Nord Stream-2 is the only project which the United States doesn’t approve but which Merkel supports in words. (Normally, in matters of principle, Angela Merkel does not tolerate any differences of opinion within the ruling team in the Federal Republic of Germany.)
However, as remarked by the EU Observer website, close to the Brussels-based globalist elite, Merkel may refuse to back Weber at the last moment – two Germans will not be allowed to occupy the two key positions in the EU – head of the European Commission and chairman of the European Central Bank. Moreover, Merkel wants to put Jens Weidman, the current head of the Central Bank of Germany, in charge of the European Central Bank.
The second most likely candidate is Margrethe Vestager of the Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) party. The party’s faction, which has 109 members after the elections, is the third most powerful and is known for its anti-Russian position. The leader of the ALDE faction, Belgian Guy Verhofstadt, who is officially the main “spin doctor” of Mrs. Vestager, made a statement unacceptable from the diplomatic point of view on the global Internet resource Project Syndicate before the recent elections to the European Parliament. He accused his colleagues in the European Parliament – representatives of a number of sovereign European countries (Italy, Great Britain, Hungary) – of being the “fifth column” of Russia in the EU. He said: “Just like the illiberalism of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the partnership between the European right and Vladimir Putin has been going on for too long.”
Vestager is the European Commissioner for Competition, who has been dubbed “Tax Lady” by President Trump, for her relentless pursuit of alleged monopolies in Europe. Simultaneously, Vestager calls for the extension of sanctions against Russia and for measures against Russian “energy monopolies” in Europe (what is implied by these words is easy to guess – the long demonized by European mass media Gazprom). For these views, Mrs. Vestager is openly admired by the British magazine The Economist, which came out on May 28, 2019 with the headline: “The Iron Lady of Politics from Denmark should lead the European Commission.”
Nevertheless, even Mrs. Vestager’s admirers admit in this issue of the magazine, as well as in other European media that she is unpopular in her home country, in Denmark. At home, Vestager’s candidacy for the highest post in the European Commission was publicly supported only by the leader of a “related” party – the head of the Danish Liberals Lars Lokke Rasmussen. Even Liberals and Social Democrats acknowledge that the EU was unable to protect Denmark from illegal migration, so since 2016, Copenhagen has maintained “temporary” control on the border with countries of the Schengen zone. Naturally, a lady representing the “ineffective” EU is unlikely to be loved at home.
Nevertheless, the structure of the current European Union does not require politicians to be popular at home in order to get a high-powered and financially attractive job in the European Commission. What presents interest in this regard is the opinion of Marlene Vind, a professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen: “The head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, just recently pointed out the need for gender balance in the EU, and this is a strong support for Vestager,” – Wind says. “Besides, you can be 100% sure that not a single Danish prime minister will say no if EU leaders offer a Danish woman such an important position in the EU.”
The third likely candidate with strong chances for success is Dutch Social Democrat, France Timmermans. A representative of the Labor Party of the Netherlands,former foreign minister of the Netherlands, and at present the first vice-president of the European Commission, he is known for his initiatives on sanctions against the Polish “retrogrades” from the “Law and Justice” Party. Timmermans can count on the support of 146 MPs from the Socialists and Democrats. In the early 1990s, he worked at the Dutch Embassy in Moscow, disseminating the “light of democracy” in Russia. Afterward he represented the Netherlands during an inquiry into the crash of the MH-17 aircraft over the Donetsk region in 2014.
From a foreign policy point of view, Timmermans represents the most exotic ideological trend in the European Union – he is dreading an “union of Putin and Trump,” which, along with the “rise of nationalist forces in Europe,” could destroy the EU.
In February 2017, already holding the post of European Commissioner Timmermans declared: “We are witnessing a hybrid war, we see it in Ukraine. Will the Baltic countries be next? We bear witness to the return of the threat of a nuclear war. …. And just imagine the Cuban missile crisis played out on Twitter between Presidents Trump and Putin,” – Timmermans said, addressing the Future Force conference. It is unlikely that anyone could have imagined it, but we could attribute it to the speaker’s wild fantasy.
The reverse of Timmermans’paranoic attitude towards Russia is the praise of the European Union, which he glorifies as a kind of unique “ecosystem” of the most civilized and peaceful nations of the planet. Probably, Mr. Timmermans forgot the “civilized” destruction of Yugoslavia by the “peaceful nations” of Europe.
This blend of “green” demagogy and the new “democratic” racism of the forces that won in the last Euro elections (they say Western Europeans are above other nations thanks to “exclusively” European democratic institutions) is an ideology that is totally hostile to Russia.
The other candidates – Frenchman Michel Barnier, Czech Jan Zahradil and “green” German Ska Keller – have few chances due to lack of strong factions in the European Parliament.
As it happens, in its relations with the EU Russia should not expect Brussels to change its position in the near future. But, as they say, eternity in politics does not last long.
From our partner International Affairs
The Name of the Rose: De-evolution of Europe
“He who does not wish to speak of capitalism should remain forever silent about Nazism” – Max Horkheimer famously said. It was a clear and often repeated line of this chief architect from the Frankfurt school of Philosophy – one of the most influential centres of thought in the XX century. This school of thought was tolerant and rather forgiving towards Western societies. Most importantly, the Frankfurters were for sure physically closest one to the post-WWII ideological and geopolitical default lines.
Even the Heideggerian run-away, Herbert Marcuse agreed. His “repressive tolerance” was probably the best indication of the possible self-entrapment of the western society, if someone in future ever attempts a dangerous and a historical equitation between Nazism and anything else, least with Communism. Regrettably enough, that future of de-evolution started pouring in by 1990s:It was this very same notion which Umberto Eco will name ur-fascism in 1995, sensing cold winds from the eastern flank of the EU and highly cynical silence of tacit approval from the central Europe.
Silence of the La(m)bs
“No one governs innocently” is a legendary diagnosis of Simone de Beauvoir about a true (Machiavellian) nature of political conduct. However, Nazi culprit; the calmly programmed concentrations camps, ruthless invasions and unprecedented scale of all-Europe suffering does not fall under this category. And will never be. This colossal evil needs its own name, its own category and our clear immortal reference to it.
Hence, the one who is not ready to talk about the imperialism of (primarily) Atlantic-Central Europe, colonialism, as well as about racism which usually justified the first two, should not talk about the ‘true’ European values. Or, for that matter, teach any lesson Europe’s East and Southeast.
Bottom line, before any contemplation for equitation, we should openly speak up about France in Algeria and Indochina, Italy in Libya and Eritrea, Dutch in Indonesia, Spain in Latin America (and home with Franco), Germany in Namibia and repeatedly all over Europe, Britain at so many places and at so many times, etc.
More than that, the only (i) organised and (ii) permanent resistance in Europe, occupied by Nazis,before and during the WWII was made by the communists. This irrefutable fact many to the EU’s East today perceive as inconvenient truth, which – by anti/intellectual acrobatics and central EU complicit silence– should be hidden under the carpet.
That antifascist struggle does not include Soviet Union and Yugoslavia only – two countries taking up by far the heaviest burden of pan-European resistance and liberation – but other patriotic movements as well; French, Greek, Italian and Spanish communists, too. Of course, the only two counties that solely freed themselves from Nazism without any external help were the two Eastern European, and at the same time two predominantly Slavic countries, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia.
So, the equitation of Communism with Nazism deeply insults all victims, but more over it negates very antifascist fundaments of modern Europe, while being at the same time deeply anti-Slavic. Clearly, negations of Nazi horrors – and any equitation is a beginning of such a historical and racist negation – committed in camps and elsewhere in occupied Europe, is not only anti-Semitic. It is first and most of all anti-Slavic!!
It isn’t freedom From. It’s freedom To
Sadly enough, most of the popular Atlantist literature and movies elaborating on topics of the WWII are biased and misleading on the role of the Red Army, and are generally disrespectful towards the enormous suffering of the Soviet and Yugoslav peoples at that time.
Some of the constantly implied fallacies is that the US and UK equally shared the burden of WWII with the Soviets. Even the British WWII ambassador in Moscow, Sir Stafford Cripps accused – in many cables he sent – his government of fatalistic defeatism, lack of bravery and of shirking any fight. As it happens, Stalin himself shouted at Churchill when the British PM went to Moscow to meet him in August 1942: “We’re losing 10,000 soldiers a day (1 per 8 seconds!!, rem.aut.)… Are you going to let us do all the fighting?”
Relative to the 1939 size of state territory and incumbent population within, the top WWII fatalities were suffered by Poland– 18%, the Soviet Union– 15%, Yugoslavia 12%, III Reich/Germany+Austria– 10%. For a sake of comparison, the Atlantic rim suffered as follows: France– 1,3%, UK–0,9%, the US– 0,3%. In casulties, it is: 36 millions to the East(mostly civilian), versus only 1,2 of the Atlantic Europe including the US soldiers.
Indeed, Russian and Yugoslav front – as only two fronts of permanently organized military resistance on the Continent – faced nearly 90% of the total German forces deployed in Europe. Promising to open the second, western front ever since 1941, the Anglo-American army eventually managed its landing on Sicily (oddly helped – out of his prison cell – by an Italian village Don turned the US mafia boss, Lucky Luciano) but only as late as September 1943.
By that time, Tito’s Partisans already managed most of their critical offensives, while Russians won over in the biggest and bloodiest battles of the WWII. All of them were fought on the very Soviet soil; that of Moscow, of Stalingrad, of Leningrad, and of Kursk – with the last one representing the biggest battle ever recorded in history of mankind.
Also indigenously, Italian anti-fascists – organized by progressive patriots and gathered in Garibaldi brigades – significantly knocked down the Duce’s rule in Italy.
Conversely, the Anglo-American blitzkrieg up the Italian ‘boot’ turned into a blamage. German forces quickly replaced capitulating Italy’s Fascists phalanges, and easily repelled the Allies. The Western combined army will reach Rome only in June 1944. Eventually, by the time of the Normandy invasion in summer 1944, the fate of Nazism in Europe was already decided by Eastern and Russophone Europe.
Trying to answer why the so-called Anglo-American antifascist intervention in Greece and Italy was so slow, anemic and late, many scholars argue that it was never meant to fight Nazis, but to disturb the strong indigenous leftist antifascist forces and to divert them to the desired ideological orientation and Atlantist geopolitical course.
The name of the Rose? Well, it is Red.
Sorry, but this is how it is. Eco just recorded echo.
Republika Srpska preparing Brexit
The precedence of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union naturally allows other European organizations and individual countries to contemplate the previously inconceivable exit option. While at the EU level there are no indications of any other member states planning to follow in London’s footsteps any time soon, in the Balkans, Bosnia and Herzegovina, which since the 1990s has been touted as a “window of international peacekeeping,” might by weighing a similar option. In an appeal to members of the republican parliament, Milorad Dodik, who sits on the collective Presidium of this former Yugoslav republic as a representative of the Serb-led entity in Bosnia, Republika Srpska (RS), called on his fellow citizens to prepare for secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He argued that the terms of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement, which cemented the country’s current state system, had stopped being implemented.
Deliberately speaking in English, Milorad Dodik said: “Farewell to
Bosnia and Herzegovina. Welcome exit!” He added that his call had been prompted
by a a recent ruling by the Bosnian Constitutional Court, which rejected a
regulation passed in Republika Srpska on farmland that used to belong to the
Yugoslav state as unconstitutional.
The law, adopted late last year, declared such land as property of Republika Srpska, but the court ruled that the state of Bosnia was the owner.
“With its decision on farmland, the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina went too far,” Dodik said. Emphasizing that the Dayton peace accord “has ceased to be respected,” he accused the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina of trying to “destroy the Serbian identity of Republika Srpska.”
Earlier, Milorad Dodik said that Republika Srpska “has embarked on the course of leaving Bosnia and Herzegovina and this course is irreversible.” The first step in this direction was the Bosnian Serb representatives’ refusal to work in government at the republican level.
All this being said, there is still no reason to talk about any final decision having been made in Banja Luka to withdraw from Bosnia and Herzegovina as the Bosnian Serb leaders try to leave the doors open for a possible compromise. For example, the RS lawmakers decided to ask the central government in Sarajevo to reconsider the Constitutional Court’s decision and reshuffle its lineup (three out of nine of which happen to be foreigners).
Still, the eventual breakup of Bosnia and Herzegovina looks like a pretty real scenario, primarily due to the West’s stubborn wish to draw this former Yugoslav republic into the orbit of the Euro-Atlantic partnership, against the will and interests of many of its citizens, above all the Bosnian Serbs. As frankly admitted by Avangarda, a leading Sarajevo-based publication, “Bosnia and Herzegovina’s movement into NATO is not exclusively its internal affair. This is one of the priorities of US-British policy and most of the countries of the European Union, led by Germany. Therefore, the most powerful countries of our time, primarily the United States of America, are interested in bringing Bosnia and Herzegovina closer to NATO.”
“The political structures in Bosnia and Herzegovina who oppose this process will face [these powerful countries’] uncompromising pushback, and any attempt to prevent the country from joining NATO will be suppressed and punished,” the authors warn.
All this means that the Sarajevo authorities are capable of deliberately destabilizing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina to provoke an internal conflict and urge the United States and the North Atlantic Alliance to intervene. This also means that the Bosnian Serbs may really have no other choice but to declare their self-determination and turn to other states for support – first of all, to Serbia.
From our partner International Affairs
‘Westlessness’: Shaping Anew the EU’s Power
The endurance of a political order cannot be permanently measured in the absence of any instrument, neither can it be substantially responded to at any given point and time. Similarly, the collapse of a system does not require any clear or prolonged warning. The world has experienced a relatively stable bi-polar system for several decades in the post-Cold War era, gradually replaced by the US dominated neoliberal post-Cold War era which is now being succeeded by a multi-polar world. This is accompanied with shifting alignments.
In the same vein, the debates at the 2020 Munich Security Conference (MSC) provided new insights into the shifts currently underway within the EU.In the most expansive sense of that term: ‘Westlessness’ reigned throughout the MSC despite the fact that it had played a vital role in world affairs after World War II. Earlier, marking the seventy fifth anniversary of the end of the World War II, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Germany, warned that the erosion of international cooperation was evident in the US’s growing interest in Asia at the expense of its transatlantic relations. Will Europe come up more integrated in this shifted paradigm? How would a more sovereign Europe become a better partner to a more socially equal United States on global problems? The technological giants have also disrupted major economies, societies, and political systems.
Historically, Germany as a core EU country has been the largest and most successful economy with a gdp of almost $4 trillion under Angela Merkel, since 2005. Germany sends the most members to the European Parliament. It has efficaciously maintained stability during the euro crisis, the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in 2014 and her open-door policy of 2015, in which over 1 million refugees were given shelter in Germany, was built on those premises. Germany provided an example of how to deal with a difficult past. However, using the legacy of the Holocaust, Germany has craftily absolved itself from the responsibility of security, defense, and leadership precisely. Will it continue to be the same in the post-Brexit paradigm? Steinmeier warned that, “if the European project fails, the lessons of German history will be called into question.”
Merkel’s Germany is already being criticized for not being able to provide international leadership. The objective of an integrated economic and political Europe is similarly unclear. Merkel has also not been able to fend off criticism that Germany has failed to meet the NATO commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, although it is already spending about 1.36 per cent of its GDP.
Within Germany, the ever-growing popularity of the far-right, anti-immigration, and anti-Semitic Alternative for Germany (AfD) has remained increasingly cumbersome for Angela Merkel. It is creating a leadership crisis for Germany. On February 10, 2020, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, as Merkel’s designated successor has also resigned as a leader of the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. This leadership crisis has emerged at xenophobic times of nationalism and populism espoused with the state of anomie, in Europe. The strains in the transatlantic relations and the rise in China’s global role have afflicted this specter further afield.
Speaking pronouncedly, the French President Emmanuel Macron also talks about the need for a more integrated Europe by exercising responsibility for Europe’s future. “This united Europe will only survive if we regard it as the most concrete repository for German responsibility . . . of all the dangers I sense facing Germany, I see none greater than that our German narrative of the future dispenses with the united Europe, whether as a result of a lack of insight, because of indifference, or in some people’s eyes even through intent.”
The panacea lies in strengthening European security and defense policy as suggested by Steinmeier. He however, distinctively speculated that it would be opposed by the Central and Eastern Europeans. Besides, the fear is that Europe is no longer relevant for the US in great power competition. “Only a Europe that can and wants to protect itself credibly will be able to keep the U.S. in the alliance,” was a major concern of Steinmeier.
The French President Emmanuel Macron was yet another person at the MSC who supported and rejected the idea of subordination to America in its new role. He even suggested a smaller “core” group of EU nations moving towards a military union. Macron even raised the prospect of France helping this military union by sharing its own nuclear weapons. He suggested ending the dependence of several countries on the US nuclear umbrella and recommended to think in a European way as well. Macron even invited Germany for talks on the subject of nuclear weapons with France. The French leader had earlier asked Merkel for a financial and military contribution to a joint anti-‘jihadist regional force’ under the rubric of G5 Sahel made up of forces from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.
Already, the “Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy” presented by HR/VP Mogherini in June 2016, had laid down the foundations for a comprehensive package of measures in the areas of security and defence. It consists of three major pillars:
New political goals and ambitions for Europeans to take more responsibility for their own security and defence.
New financial tools to help Member States and the European defence industry to develop defence capabilities (“European Defence Action Plan”).
Set of concrete actions as a follow up to the EU-NATO Joint Declaration while identifying areas of cooperation.
Though, this siding of Macron with Germany by indicating the emergence of two blocs – the German led block vs the US led Britain, Australia and New Zealand bloc, shows an obvious lineage in global power trends. The objectives of the two are opposing while the NATO from which France benefitted the most, is almost obsolete for France. Similarly, the time of US-Europe cooperation against Russia also appears to be over.
Notwithstanding, apart from Macron’s closer alliance with Germany, he is also encouraging Europe’s oldest institution: the Roman Catholic Church. Would it mean the Resurrection of the Roman Empire and hence, the church states in the backdrop of rising Islamophobia? This certainly leads to several more questions.
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