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All the EU Gaffs and Bluffs: Why the Russia’s warning should be taken seriously?

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If there were those in today’s generation of grandparents (and grandmothers, of course), and this author firmly believes that he was not the only one, who in their youth followed the events on the international scene, some may recall the time when the People’s Republic of China published almost on a daily basis, “serious warnings” to the United States. It was a time when Washington was pursuing a policy that could be reduced to the formula “Taiwan (Formosa) is China, and the People’s Republic of China is – nothing.” But Washington knew very well that this “nothing,” which would only be recognized as a state during Richard Nixon’s tenure, is a reality that must be reckoned with. And as such real calculations were made primarily by Cold War proponents, because this “war” was not limited to US-Soviet relations, and by generals, the United States provoked Beijing every now and then militarily, knowing quite well that the Chinese could not and did not want to engage in armed conflict. And so the Americans were provoking, and the Chinese issuing “serious warnings” – hundreds. For years.

Nowadays, an observer of world events who is not from yesterday, had to remember those Chinese “serious warnings” when he heard Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov telling the European Union that Russia is ready to sever relations with it, if the Union reaches for a new package of sanctions against Moscow, all related to the famous “Navalny case”. There is, however, one important difference. What Lavrov said was really the first warning, but it would be the last of its kind.

For years, Russia is faced not only with charges of aggressive intentions towards certain members of NATO, which is rapidly expanding towards its borders, despite a promise given verbally to Mikhail Gorbachev that after German reunification this will not happen. But it did happen and it is still happening. With this goes the sanctioning of Russia, primarily in economic field, for years, with the sanctions proclaimed not by the United Nations (therefore illegitimate) – as “punishment” for alleged military interference in Ukraine, because – and again alleged – annexation of Crimea, because of – for the third time alleged – poisoning of politically undesirable persons, such as the former intelligence officer Skripal and his daughter and – most recently – blogger and activist Alexei Navalni, predestined by the West as the future president of Russia. Not to mention anything else.

 Assertiveness of the fading one

It may be boring, but we have to repeat; if for no other reason, than because the Western propaganda uses the method of constant repetition, thus converting lies and half-truths in generally accepted and incontrovertible truth. In Ukraine, legal and legitimate President Yanukoviych (regardless of how one might asses him) was overthrown by violent street riots in which the West did not hide its involvement at all. He was overthrown only because he asked for a postponement (not cancellation, but a postponement!) of the signing of a cooperation agreement with the European Union, which was offered to him in the form of: either the Union or Russia, while Yanukoviych considered it his country’s interest to maintain and develop relations with both the European Union and the Russian Federation. The statement of Victoria Nuland, now the second ranking person in the US State Department, that “$ 5 billion has been invested in the development of democracy in Ukraine” (read: in the change of regime) is remembered from that time, as well as her vulgar response to the remark that the EU does not look just with sympathy the profile of people who appear as holders of the new government in Ukraine: “Fuck the EU”.

The eastern part of Ukraine, inhabited mainly by Russians, did not accept the changes in Kiev, the increasingly obvious anti-Russian course of the new authorities who, among other things, hurried to declare the infamous collaborator with the Nazi occupiers, Stepan Bandera, a national hero, resulting in rebellion and secession. Russia did not intervene directly, but hardly anyone can doubt that it helped the rebels militarily; although it never acknowledged their declaration of secession from Ukraine, let alone accept those parts of the Ukrainian east as parts of Russia. There were very likely “volunteers” from Russia on the side of the Ukrainian rebels, just as it is certain (proven) that on the side of the government forces from Kiev was a colorful group of volunteers, mercenaries and right-wing adventurers from a number of European countries. The situation is still tense today, the rebels control “their” part of Ukraine, the government in Kiev does not show much readiness for negotiations, and even less for any concessions. Indeed, the anti-Russian hysteria goes so far as to ban the use of the Russian language in Ukraine under threat of punishment and that Ukraine – so far the only country in the world – has officially banned the use of the Russian vaccine against covid19 (meaning Ukraine is not only not ordering this vaccine, it is prohibiting its use) .

The Crimea is a different story. Crimea is important to Russia for strategic reasons. Historically seen it had more ties to Russia than to Ukraine. If anyone doesn’t know: Crimea was part of Russia during the Soviet era, until Nikita Khrushchev, the first man of the Soviet party, a Ukrainian, did not with a stroke of a pen “give” it to Ukraine (which was not particularly important during the Soviet era). And in 1989., a little more than 67% of all inhabitants of Crimea were Russians, while in “Ukrainian” Crimea in 2001. this percentage was 65.2%. Enough for anybody thinking with his/her own head. But where are such smart people today?

At the time of the violent change of government in Kiev, Russia took control of Crimea with its troops stationed there (in unmarked uniforms). No riots, no unrests, no dead and wounded. Then a referendum was organized in which a convincing majority, as one could have expected, opted for the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Moscow accepted this. The West did not and still does not want to. Since then sanctions against Russia started, it is worth repeating: not by the United Nations, who only have the right to impose sanctions in international relations. Since then, the stories started about how Russia is dangerous for Europe (and NATO regularly sends contingents from its member countries on the border with Russia), from then stories started of how sanctions are breaking the Russian economy (which is not true), how Russia is isolated on the international scene (which is also not true), and how Putin has nobody to talk with in the world (and again – untrue ). The only thing the West should understand after years of the ineffective sanctions it is that Russia is a reality and that Vladimir Putin is a reality too.

West does not lead, it self-isolates itself

Unfortunately, the West – still intoxicated by its own view of the collapse of socialism in which it sees itself as a  winner – either does not want to, or, blinded by its own lies, can neither see nor understand this. And the pressure continues. The new sanctions were introduced after a rather murky case of poisoning in Britain of the former Soviet spy Skripal and his daughter. Promptly the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin himself were accused, it was disclosed that the Skripal’s were poisoned with Novicok, a very lethal means from the Soviet arsenal of chemical weapons. There was no solid evidence, no “smoking gun”. Still, the accusation was not changed even after the president of the Czech Republic publicly said that Novicok was produced in his country too (that is, not only in Russia!). Nothing was changed even after the “to death poisoned” Skripal’s survived, gave several interviews and simply – vanished, even after nobody in the small town where the poisoning took place showed the slightest signs of contamination. The accusations were uphold and the imposed sanctions were not lifted.

 Europe is now threatening new sanctions over an almost identical case of Alexei Navalny’s poisoning. And here is a lot of obscurity too, from the fact that the German authorities do not want to give laboratory findings that confirm poisoning (and again with Novicok!) to the Russians (who claim that their findings, because Navalny fell ill in Russia, do not confirm poisoning ), to the fact that Navalny who was supposedly recovering from a severe poisoning in a Berlin hospital, was traveling around Germany and working on a film in the Freiburg film studio to “disclose” Putin’s secret super-luxury residence (which the Russians quite credibly presented as a forgery).

And now Moscow has clearly warned that it will sever relations with the European Union if new sanctions are imposed on it, which will affect “sensitive segments of the economy.” If there was a little common sense, instead of victorious euphoria and self-love in its own superiority, in Western capitals they would realize that they had brought Russia to this position. The fact that Russia has so far largely failed to respond to sanctions, that it has persistently maintained a position of readiness for talks and agreements (despite the fact that Donald Trump in his own rude way broke key bilateral arms control agreements), has begun to erode Putin’s popularity. And to strengthen the camp of those who advocated an energetic response and objected to “indulgence” to the West .

So Lavrov’s warning should be taken seriously and not written off as a “new Russian threat” . Yes, it is the first such warning, but most certainly the last one too. If this is not understood in Brussels, but also in Paris, Berlin and Rome (small EU members will anyhow follow the big ones), if it is not understood that it is  in the interest of Europe and peace in Europe, but world peace too, to cooperate with Russia (which they cannot erase, no matter how much they disliked it), but also to talk to Putin (no matter how much they disliked him too), the result can be only one: destabilization of Europe, but also of the world, because Russia will be pushed to the end in an alliance with China. And the Russian-Chinese alliance is something the West, both economically, militarily and politically, should fear, especially as long as Western politics consists of confrontation only.

And, finally, for those who might say: so what, why should we be concerned by all this, a short answer: it does concern all of us, no matter where we are and what we are, because we live in an interconnected and interdependent world (today it was common to say: globalized ). That is why, to reiterate, Sergey Lavrov’s warning should be taken very seriously and those big ones in the EU (those little ones and smaller ones riding on the wave of antirussism are already lost and there is no point in explaining to them anything) should be helped to understand this. While there is still time. And time is running out.

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Europe tells Biden “no way” to Cold War with China

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Amidst the first big transatlantic tensions for the Biden Administration, a new poll shows that the majority of Europeans see a new Cold War happening between the United States and China, but they don’t see themselves as a part of it.

Overwhelmingly, 62% of Europeans believe that the US is engaged in a new Cold War against China, a new poll just released by the European Council on Foreign Relations found. Just yesterday US President Joe Biden claimed before the UN General Assembly that there is no such thing and the US is not engaging in a new Cold War. So, Europeans see Biden’s bluff and call him on it.

The study was released on Wednesday by Mark Leonard and Ivan Krastev at the European Council on Foreign Relations and found that Europeans don’t see themselves as direct participants in the US-China Cold War. This viewpoint is most pronounced in Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Italy, according to the study. The prevailing view, in each of the 12 surveyed EU member states, is one of irrelevance – with respondents in Hungary (91%), Bulgaria (80%), Portugal (79%), and Austria (78%) saying that their country is not in a conflict with Beijing.

Only 15% of Europeans believe that the EU is engaged in a Cold War against China. The percentage is so low that one wonders if there should even be such a question. It is not only not a priority, it is not even a question on the agenda for Europeans. Even at the highest point of EU “hawkishness”, only 33% of Swedes hold the view that their country is currently in a Cold War with China.  Leonard and Krastev warn that if Washington and Brussels are preparing for an all-in generational struggle against China, this runs against the grain of opinion in Europe, and leaders in Washington and Brussels will quickly discover that they “do not have a societal consensus behind them”.

“The European public thinks there is a new cold war – but they don’t want to have anything to do with it. Our polling reveals that a “cold war” framing risks alienating European voters”, Mark Leonard said.

The EU doesn’t have the backing of its citizens to follow the US in its new Cold War pursuit. But unlike the views of the authors of the study, my view is that this is not a transatlantic rift that we actually have to be trying to fix. Biden’s China policy won’t be Europe’s China policy, and that’s that, despite US efforts to persuade Europe to follow, as I’ve argued months ago for the Brussels Report and in Modern Diplomacy.

In March this year, Gallup released a poll that showed that 45% of Americans see China as the greatest US enemy. The poll did not frame the question as Cold War but it can be argued that Joe Biden has some mandate derived from the opinion of American people. That is not the case for Europe at all, to the extent that most of us don’t see “China as an enemy” even as a relevant question.

The US’s China pursuit is already giving horrible for the US results in Europe, as French President Macron withdrew the French Ambassador to the US. The US made a deal already in June, as a part of the trilateral partnership with the UK and Australia, and stabbed France in the back months ago to Macron’s last-minute surprise last week. Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations argues that it is Macron that is actually arrogant to expect that commitments and deals should mean something: “Back in February, Macron rejected the idea of a U.S.-E.U. common front against China. Now he complains when America pursues its own strategy against China. What’s French for chutzpah?” What Boot does get right is that indeed, there won’t be a joint US-EU front on China, and European citizens also don’t want this, as the recent poll has made clear.

The US saying Europe should follow the US into a Cold War with China over human rights is the same thing as China saying that Europe should start a Cold War with the US over the bad US human rights record. It’s not going to happen. You have to understand that this is how ridiculous the proposition sounds to us, Europeans. Leonard and Krastev urge the EU leadership to “make the case for more assertive policies” towards China around European and national interests rather than a Cold War logic, so that they can sell a strong, united, and compelling case for the future of the Atlantic alliance to European citizens.

I am not sure that I agree, as “more assertive policies” and “cold war” is probably the same thing in the mind of most Europeans and I don’t think that the nuance helps here or matters at all. Leaders like Biden argue anyway that the US is not really pursuing a Cold War. The authors caution EU leaders against adopting a “cold war” framing. You say “framing”, I say “spin”. Should we be in engaging in spins at all to sell unnecessary conflict to EU citizens only to please the US?

Unlike during the first cold war, [Europeans] do not see an immediate, existential threat”, Leonard clarified. European politicians can no longer rely on tensions with China to convince the electorate of the value of transatlantic relations. “Instead, they need to make the case from European interests, showing how a rebalanced alliance can empower and restore sovereignty to European citizens in a dangerous world”, Mark Leonard added. The study shows that there is a growing “disconnect” between the policy ambitions of those in Brussels and how Europeans think. EU citizens should stick to their sentiments and not be convinced to look for conflict where it doesn’t exist, or change what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears in favor of elusive things like the transatlantic partnership, which the US itself doesn’t believe in anyways. And the last thing that should be done is to scare Europeans by convincing them they live in a “dangerous world” and China is the biggest threat or concern.

What the study makes clear is that a Cold War framing against China is likely to repel more EU voters than it attracts, and if there is one thing that politicians know it is that you have to listen to the polls in what your people are telling you instead of engaging in spins. Those that don’t listen in advance get the signs eventually. At the end of the day it’s not important what Biden wants.

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Germany and its Neo-imperial quest

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In January 2021, eight months ago, when rumours about the possibility of appointment of Christian Schmidt as the High Representative in Bosnia occurred for the first time, I published the text under the title ‘Has Germany Lost Its NATO Compass?’. In this text I announced that Schmidt was appointed to help Dragan Čović, the leader of the Croatian HDZ party, to disrupt the constitutional structure of Bosnia-Herzegovina and create precoditions for secession of the Serb- and Croatian-held territories in Bosnia and the country’s final dissolution. I can hardly add anything new to it, except for the fact that Schmidt’s recent statements at the conference of Deutsche Atlantische Gesellschaft have fully confirmed my claims that his role in Bosnia is to act as Čović’s ally in the latter’s attempts to carve up the Bosnian Constitution.

Schmidt is a person with a heavy burden, the burden of a man who has continuously been promoting Croatian interests, for which the Croatian state decorated him with the medal of “Ante Starčević”, which, in his own words, he “proudly wears” and shares with several Croatian convicted war criminals who participated in the 1992-1995 aggression on Bosnia, whom Schmidt obviously perceives as his ideological brethren. The question is, then, why Germany appointed him as the High Representative in Bosnia? 

Germany’s policy towards Bosnia, exercised mostly through the institutions of the European Union, has continuously been based on the concept of Bosnia’s ethnic partition. The phrases that we can occassionaly hear from the EU, on inviolability of state boundaries in the Balkans, is just a rhetoric adapted to the demands by the United States to keep these boundaries intact. So far, these boundaries have remained intact mainly due to the US efforts to preserve them. However, from the notorious Lisbon Conference in February 1992 to the present day, the European Union has always officially stood behind the idea that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be partitioned along ethnic lines. At the Lisbon Conference, Lord Carrington and Jose Cutileiro, the official representatives of the then European Community, which has in the meantime been rebranded as the European Union, drew the maps with lines of ethnic partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, along which the ethnic cleansing was committed, with 100.000 killed and 1,000.000 expelled, so as to make its territory compatible with their maps. Neither Germany nor the European Union have ever distanced themselves from the idea they promoted and imposed at the Lisbon Conference as ‘the only possible solution’ for Bosnia, despite the grave consequences that followed. Nor has this idea ever stopped being a must within their foreign policy circles, as it has recently been demonstrated by the so-called Janša Non-Paper, launched a couple of months ago, which also advocates the final partition and dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such a plan is probably a product of the powerful right-wing circles in the European institutions, such as Schmidt’s CSU, rather than a homework of Janez Janša, the current Prime Minister of Slovenia, whose party is a part of these circles, albeit a minor one. To be sure, Germany is not the original author of the idea of Bosnia’s partition, this author is Great Britain, which launched it directly through Lord Carrington at the Lisbon Conference. Yet, Germany has never shown a will to distance itself from this idea, nor has it done the European Union. Moreover, the appointment of Schmidt, as a member of those political circles which promote ethnic partition as the only solution for multiethnic countries, testifies to the fact that Germany has decided to fully apply this idea and act as its chief promoter.

In this process, the neighbouring countries, Serbia and Croatia, with their extreme nationalist policies, can only act as the EU’s proxies, in charge for the physical implemenation of Bosnia’s pre-meditated disappearance. All the crimes that Serbia and Croatia committed on the Bosnian soil – from the military aggression, over war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide, up to the 30 year-long efforts to undermine Bosnia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – have always had a direct approval and absolute support of the leading EU countries. During the war and in its aftermath, Great Britain and France were the leaders of the initiatives to impose ethnic partition on the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and now Germany has taken up their role. In such a context, the increasing aggressiveness of Serbia and Croatia can only be interpreted as a consequence of the EU’s intention to finish with Bosnia for good, and Schmidt has arrived to Bosnia to facilitate that process. Therefore, it is high time for the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina to abandon any ilussions about the true intentions of the European Union and reject its Trojan Horse in the form of the current High Representative.  

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Should there be an age limit to be President?

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The presidential elections in Bulgaria are nearing in November 2021 and I would like to run for President of Bulgaria, but the issue is the age limit.

To run for President in Bulgaria a candidate needs to be at least 40 years old and I am 37. I am not the first to raise the question: should there be an age limit to run for President, and generally for office, and isn’t an age limit actually age discrimination?

Under the international human rights law standard, putting an age limit is allowed in the context of political participation under the right to vote and the right to run to be elected. Human Rights Committee General Comment No.25 interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that an age limit has to be based on objective and reasonable criteria, adding that it is reasonable to have a higher age requirement for certain offices. As it stands, the law says that having an age limit for president is not age discrimination, but is 40 actually a reasonable cut-off? National legislations can change. We need to lower the age limit and rethink what’s a reasonable age for President, and not do away with all age limits.

We have seen strong leaders emerge as heads of state and government who are below 40 years of age. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, became Prime Minister at 34. Sebastrian Kurz, the Prime Minister of Austria, was elected at 31. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, assumed her position at 37. So perhaps it is time to rethink age limits for the highest offices.

The US has plenty of examples where elected Senators and Congressmen actually beat the age limit and made it despite the convention. The age limit for Senator in the US is 30 years old. Rush Holt was elected to the US Senate at 29. In South Carolina, two State Senators were elected at 24 years old and they were seated anyways. The age limit for US president is 35 years old.

In Argentina, the age cut-off is 30. In India, it is 35. In Pakistan, it is 45 years old. In Turkey, it is 40 years old. Iceland says 35 years old. In France, it is 18.

Generally, democracies set lower age limits. More conservative countries set the age limit higher in line with stereotypes rather than any real world evidence that a 45 year-old or 55 year-old person would be more effective and better suited to the job. Liberal countries tend to set lower age limits.

40 years old to be a President of Bulgaria seems to be an arbitrary line drawn. And while it is legal to have some age limits, 40 years old seems to be last century. Changing the age limit for president of Bulgaria could be a task for the next Bulgarian Parliament for which Bulgarians will also vote on the same date as they vote for President.

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