Mali: EU-ECOWAS democratic dogmatism

Brussels, 20.09.2020 Anna van Densky, OPINION: An extraordinary pressure on Mali officers to transfer power to civilians without delay paves the way to one more failed state on the map of the world. During the anti-government protests, which led to the coup d’état, ousting of President Keita, there has been no single political force able to offer a comprehensive programme to reform the Sahel country and direct it firmly to the democratic future. Moreover, there is not such a clear path to democracy for Malians, plagued by extremism, sectarian conflict, ethnic divisions, and endemic corruption.

The European Union (EU)- the avid supporter of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) efforts in Mali- actively promotes a model of the democratic institutions, run by the civilians, without any consideration of the context, and previous failures of the similar kind – the state-building in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in Libya. Nowadays the ECOWAS, flanked by the European diplomacy, is pushing Malians towards pro-forma return to the “Constitutional” order, denouncing the idea of the country run by the military for the next 18 months. However the energetic push is performed in absence of a coherent strategy in dealing with corrupt and ineffective state structures, and detached local communities doomed to isolation in absence of adequate infrastructures. Last, but not least is the factor of the general instability in the region, aggravated by rise of Islamists in Sahel, affiliated with Al-Qaeda and Islamic State aiming to restore the legendary Caliphate of Sokoto.

Sadly the list of problems does not end here, the Tuareg dream of creation of an independent state in the north of Mali – Azawad – has never faded, but retreated for time being under pressure of the overwhelming French army, while the experts unanimously admitted that there is no military solution to the ethnic conflict, and invited the belligerent parties to resolve the conflict at the negotiation table defining the region future status within Malian state. So far in vain.
Back in 2012, while declaring the independence, Azawad leaders claimed that Mali was an “anarchic state”, and Tuareg liberation movement has opted for a military transition period, to ensure the protection of their land and conducting the transition to the democratic institutions. The massacre (2014) of the Tuareg civilians by Fulani-Islamists has been too recent to be forgotten. Not least are the tensions between Tuareg and Chadians, caused by massacres of the civilians by Chadian army in the North of Mali in the region of Kidal.
In short, not only a clear path to democracy is absent, but also there is no path in view for national unity, allowing to construct a functional political system producing a corruption-free credible government, leading way to economic recovery, and well-being of regular Malians.
Struck by multiple systemic conflicts, causing a permanent state of crises, Malians are not able to rise out of poverty, in spite of the remarkable natural wealth.
The profound misunderstanding of capacities of a new born protest movement of 5 June (M5) to become a constructive political force over night will result in further turmoil in political life, and cause even more resent of the citizens, searching for responses to their justified claims. Being the prime victims of the ECOWAS blockade, the regular Malians will turn to an available alternative, finding warm welcome by the anti-Occident militant groups, and the extremists will rise again, feasting on poverty, and frustrations of communities.
The five thousand strong French military corps, fulfilling the counter-terrorist operation Barkhane in Sahel region has limited capacity to deal with the consequences of the ongoing failed state drama in Mali, and it would be too naive to expect them to defeat jihad, in absence of the state-building process.
The EU is a major donor of assistance in Mali, providing more than €350 million in humanitarian aid in the country since the beginning of the crisis in 2012, adding to €23 million in 2020. However the Europeans contribute without any pragmatic plans for the future of the country, preferring in the current crisis to support the ECOWAS blindly, joining the pro forma claims of civilian government, without any consideration of its notoriously poor quality, leading to the current state of affairs, while under President Keita 40% of state purse vanished in pockets of corrupt civil servants.
The ECOWAS-EU strategy of pressure on the Malian army by imposing border and financial transactions blockade, will destroy the relations with Malian patriotic officers, and cause further impoverishment of Malians, pushing them into the arms of extremists of various calibre.
Mali is far too significant to the West Africa to allow the Europeans to leave it alone, watching it’s descending to chaos, but it is far too big as a challenge to resolve the complex of state-building and security problems, through simplified linear punitive measures.
Recent Ursula von der Leyen sanctions policy concept will create nothing but remorse and discontent among Malians, who today still regard Europe as a friend. The enduring threat of Islamic extremism requires elaborate and flexible European diplomacy, navigating the country to effective forms of governance. Further escalation of tensions in name of democracy and “Constitutional order” will produce exactly the opposite effect – an explosion. An explosion, throwing Malians into hands of kleptocratic clans of war-lords, descending into chaos.
Instead of fearing of a hypothetical dictatorship led by Colonel Hassimi Goita as deviation from the imaginary path to democracy, the EU should embrace the co-operation with the patriotic and secular Malian army as the constructive force in disposal of capabilities to introduce reform, and allowing the political process to thrive towards the meaningful free and fair elections concluding the suggested transition period.
Let us not forget that Kemal Ataturk, and General de Gaulle were military man, however their remarkable contribution to democracy is ways more significant, than of many other statesmen in civilian suits. Rejection of enthusiasm of young generation of Mali officers, aiming at reforming their country and nation-building will end in one more fiasco, making Mali to follow the path of the other failed states. It is clear there are not simple answers to Malian crisis, and the obsession with the civilian rule, achieved by imposing de facto sanctions, will result in a huge bill for the European tax-payer for the humanitarian aid, and ever-growing burden for the French army, combating extremism in Sahel, transforming into another Afghanistan.
The EU diplomacy, led by Josep Borrell needs to regard the context, abandoning dogmatism in promoting of democracy and rule of law in Mali, and become flexible and adaptive, formulating short, medium and long-term goals, working on achievement of them in stages, with a focus on long-term stability of both Mali and Sahel.
Moreover, the EU needs to built genuine partnership with the Malian armed forces, investing in development of their capabilities to defend Malian state, and combat extremism. The essential element of the EU success in promotion of the democracy, is the demonstration of a genuine interest in problems of Malians, and readiness to compromise in search for attaining long-lasting common goals, as stability, prosperity and lasting peace.

However, today, when the Malian state is in a profound crisis, and its future is in peril, nothing is so detrimental to promotion of the European values in Sahel, as dogmatism and forceful imposition of European concepts within fragile Sahel context. Mali is on the crossroads, it is up to the EU to decide if it wishes to contribute to the push of the Malians down the slope, following Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, direction of the failed state, fanatically exporting European concepts to vast spaces of African Savannah.
Will the EU diplomacy in Mali adapt or become obsolete? The ability of the bloc to change, adapt and experiment will become far more significant in Sahel, than the capacity to punish and sanction. Above all, it makes little sense from the EU behalf to appeal to legality and return to the constitutional order – “Necessitas non habet legem” – Necessity has no law.

Mali political crisis

Mali’s political crisis deepened further when the opposition M5-RFP rejected the Charter negociated by the officers led by Colonal Assimi Goita and the ECOWAS. The stalemate is about than whether a civilian or a soldier should lead the transition. What looks like a crisis of confidence, in reality is a wrestling for power, while interests of Malians go begging. The country is suffering from block of the borders, and freezing of financial transations as a reaction of Mali neigbours to coup d’etat of August 18. Here is my comment for the Eye on Africa TV.

EU «wahsed hands» of Belarus

#Belarus #Lukahsenko #BelarusProtests
Anna van Densky OPINION Today, on August 19, an extraordinary meeting of the Council of the EU on the situation in Belarus took place by teleconferencing.

The feeble answer has surprised many. The EU leaders have not pronounced the name of the genuine elections winner Svetlana Tikhanovskaya even once (!)While being so ardent about Ukraine integration into the bloc, why showing so little engagement towards dramatic events in Belarus?

First of all the context has entirely changed for the Europenan Union as an internationl organisation, transcending a profound systemic crisis itself. The bloc is in a difficult economic and financial situation because of the pandemic and because of the Brexit. The UK, the second largest contributor to the EU’s coffers, has left the organization and there is no trade agreement yet, and most likely will be none, which will create a considerable number of the economic problems in short, medium and long term.

At present the economy of Belarus is integrated into Russian and it is also orientated to the former Republics of the USSR, exporting there machinery. What is especially lucrative is the export of agricultural products to Russia, while it would be not easy to find the replacement for clients at the EU market, which has a surplus of agricultural products to an extend that the farmers receive funds not to produce, and not to develop the arable lands.

The dependency of Belarus on Russian hydrocarbons (Yamal gaz pipline) is a common place, and does not need any additional clarifications; the machinery, produced for former Republics either.

Regarding political transition to democracy from Lukashenko authoritarian rule, the major riddle is how to integrate the country into the EU politically, while it’s economic foundation is firmly intertwined with Russian Federation, and former Soviet bloc.

The defence issue is not less problematic: joining the CSTO, Belarus became a military ally of Russia. Certainly it can cancel the CSTO membership, but the maximum of what can be achieved afterwards from the army and the people is military neutrality. Due to its history, the country will opt for neutrality policy, since the people do not sympathise with NATO and, unlike Ukraine and Georgia, there has never been any talk of joining the North Atlantic Alliance for Belarus.

And here the geopolitical level of the issue is reached: there is no point in integrating a country into the EU which will not host military bases of the United States, and even less so joining the the North Atlantic Alliance. If the Belarussians keep Lukashenko in disdain, it does not mean that they are ready to join the “belt of infidelity” and serve Western interest, regarding Russia as a foe, as Ukrainians and Georgians are eagerly doing.

Taking into consideration mentioned above one should not expect active political support and financial assistance to Belarus from the EU similar the one they offer to Ukraine and Georgia.

A policy of sanctions against Lukashenko’s entourage has already been chosen by the EU, which is related to the policy of sanctions againstRussia and will be further harmonized with it. De facto, what looks like support to Belarussians will be an additional package of sanctions against Russian economy.

Subsequently further retention of Lukashenko in power by allies in Moscow is not only meaningless, but frankly detrimental to the economic interests of Russia, because they will be used by the West as a tool for expanding sanctions. Lukashenko life-long presidency will also significantly deteriorate image of Vladimir Putin in domestic politics, and deepening of the Belarussian crisis will have a negative impact on the entire range of Russian interests at home and abroad.

In their best interest Russians shouldn’t hold on to the political corpse of Lukashenko, but should arrange his swift and humble funeral and turn their attention to the other contemporary political players preferred by Belarus people:

The king is dead! Long live the king!”.

Inauguration of incumbent President Lukashenko one more time will take place in two month, Russian TASS new agency reported. He has been Belarus authoritarian ruler for 26 years, who came to power as a “new type of leader” in last millenium and stayed due to his “clinch” with power for almost three decades, erasing smallest signs of dissent.

Belarus future and EU aid

Anna Van Densky OPINION #Belarus #Minsk #Lukashenko #BelarusProtests #Tikhanovskaya

The proposal to facilitate the engagement into “political dialogue” between the discredited Lukashenko regime and people of Belarus the EU has announced, looks like a stillbirth already, because the entire crisis is created by the blunt refusal of compromise between the authoritarian model, and democratic pluralism. Moreover it is impossible for Lukashenko to accept any compromise, because it will mean the definitive dismantling of his rusty “last dictatorship of Europe”.

Reacting upon the political crisis the president of the EU Council Charles Michel delcrared the start of the work on creating of the sanctions lists of the leading figures from the government responsible for repressions of the protestors, however they will remain a higly symbolical gesture in absence of the real political process of democratic transformaiton of Belarus.

The stubborn refusal of Lukahsnko to leave, his clinch with power, creates new, but predictable trubles, and a substantial challenge to the EU diplomacy, claiming ambition of being a global player.

However there are effective ways for the EU to promote democracy and political pluralism in Belarus instead of focusing on the punitive symbolism of sanctions. While the opposition leader, and the major challenger of the incumbent President Lukashenko, Svetalana Tikhanovskaya expressed her readiness to become a national leader in the transition period in order to organize new free and fair elections, the EU could give an unequivocal political support to her plan.

The proposal of leading the country towards new elections means that Svetlana Tikhanovaksya submits her personal victory in order to create opportunities for Belarus political Renaissance, opening the way of participation to all political prisoners and other candidates who were barred from the elections process at the intent of Lukashenko, who was announced an absolute victor of the elections, with the 80% of vote. The result has been widely considered considered as falsified not only by Belarus people, but also by the EU foreign ministers.

The question is if the European Union will support Svetlana Tikhanovakaya the same way as they supported Roza Otunbayeva, the President of the transition period in former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan 10 years ago, after they overthrew of their dictaror. Then the top EU diplomat Baroness Ashton proposed to support Kyrgyzstan “politically, financially, technically” in order to ensure fundamental rights and freedoms to Kyrgyz people.

The role of the EU insitutions will be crucial in overcoming the political crisis and conducting democratic reforms in Belarus, establishing genuine pluralist political system, representing broad spectrum of interest and arbitation. The void, the absence of meaningful offer for practical aid from the behalf of the international community, reducing the EU role to the punitive measures as sanctions, will certainly allow the crisis to become protracted, and costly in all the senses to Belarussian people.
Moreover it might deteriorate further, creating conditions for chronic confrontation between people and Lukahsnko apparatchiks, and part of the police and military, still defending the discredited regime. This will lead to general fatigue, and loss of opportunities for promotion of genuine democracy. (Formally Belarus Republic is a democratic state).

In this context plagued by refusal of the authoritarian Lukahshenko regime to accept the justified demands of the people of Belarus, the EU aid to opposition, led by Tikhanovskaya and supported by the majority of citizens, is becoming pivotal in introduction of the democratic change to ensure definitive collapse of the last dictatorship of Europe. However the time is crucial to avoid new victims in the ongoing struggle between antipodes without any perspective of compromise. Instead of attempting to reconcile irreconcilable in the best interest of Europe is to invest in Belarus progress without delay.

Hagia Sophia: Turkey move towards Sultanate

Anna van Densky OPINION Today visit of the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell to Ankara would be also highly emblematic, demonstrating the capacity of the bloc to stand for the European values, namely the human rights and freedom of religion. The wish of the President Erdogan to transform the emblematic Byzantine temple into mosque, caused vivid concerns of 300 million of Orthodox believers across the world, who consider their rights to be violated in case the building to be converted to a place of worship.

City of Istanbul Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) monument has rich, centuries long history, but nowadays it has also an immense political significance for both the East and the West, symbolising the crossroads of two civilisations. The situation of cultrual balance has changed recently, when an association started pursuing the cancellation of the 1935 decision that transformed the emblematic temple into a museum, and demanded the re-establishing of the Muslim cult, and group prayers. Not without sympathy of the President Erdogan himself, who said it is an internal issue, and any expression of an opinion from outside would be considered as attack on Turkey “sovereignty“.

A court decision is expected within fortnight mid-July.

The former Orthodox Byzantine cathedral, later converted to mosque is at the center of a modern dispute between Turkey’s secular Ataturk heritage, and President Erdogan attempts to include religion into basement of his autocratic rule. The argument that surfaced at court in reality reflects the entire process in Turkish society, representing two Turkeys, one looking inwards, and the other outwards. The opportunity to pray in the UNESCO World Heritage monument is more that an argument between a possibility to convert a museum into mosque, it is a historic battle between secularism and striving for the EU membership urban part of Turkish society from one hand, and from the other hand religious conservatism, shifting the country further and further away from the European values.

The Council of State – the highest legal authority – listened to arguments of lawyers for the Association for the Protection of Historic Monuments and the Environment on July 2, the group claiming for the Hagia Sophia to be transformed to mosque.

If the court decides in the NGO’s favor, it will impose the entire transformation of the historic building of Byzantine times, which has been a symbol of the city’s status as a meeting point between the East and the West, and the Muslim and the Christian worlds.

Constructed as a temple, after it was completed in 537 the Hagia Sophia was immediately central to early Christianity and its vast cathedral dome was admired by generations as a marvel. In 1453, when the Ottomans conquered the city previously known as Constantinople, it became a mosque by force. However 500 years later it was converted into a museum soon after the choice of the Turkish society for of modern and secular state was made.

Constructed as a Byzantine architectural masterpiece, Hagia Sophia was completed in 537. Today, it is one of the world’s most popular attractions, and UNESCO World Heritage, with millions visiting every year, the magnet of the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. At present there is no clarity on how this monument would function in case transformed into place of Muslim worship.

Lately hardline President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made Islam an integral part of his political agenda, has set his sights on the building. In a campaign speech ahead of local elections last year, he said it had been a “very big mistake” to turn it into a museum.

However Hagia Sophia’s mixture of religion belongings made it so symbolic for Turkey, predominantly Muslim, but founded in the early 20th century on secular ideas of separating religion and state.

Erdogan, and the Turkish association in the court case, certainly have many supporters, especially in the country-side.

Some experts presumed that the there should be shields, covering Byzantine Christian mosaics which are not compatible with the Islam cult. The other big issue is the building maintenance, and monitoring of the artefacts by specialists. In case it becomes the worship place, the jurisdiction would change, creating uncertainty for the restauration specialists examining the site to ensure its conversation.

However there is little doubt what the Court decision will be, after last month announcement President Erdogan made, while meeting ruling party officials:

“Allah willing, after the decision by the council state, we will pray in the Hagia Sophia”.

The European Commission, the guarding of the treaties, and the counterpart of Ankara in accession talks considers that the monument should be regarded as UNESCO World Heritage, the emblematic place for tolerance and dialogue.

Sultan Erdogan’s Libya conquest

Anna van Densky OPINION The considerable efforts of the European diplomacy to resolve the ongoing conflict in Libya ended up in an unpleasant revelation of the successful colonisation of the oil-rich country by Sultan Erdogan, who has found in Fayez Al-Sarraj (pictured) – the head of the Tripoli administration, – utmost loyal vassal, who effectively misuses his international mandate to empower Ankara.

The Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between Tripoli administration and Turkish government appeared as a fuit of devotion of Al-Sarraj to “his people”, re-constructing the Ottoman Empire and enriching them with Libyan natural wealth.

Although being from Tripoli, Sarraj was born to a prosperous Turkish family of merchants, and landowners. His father Mostafa Al-Sarraj served as a minister to Libyan Monarchy. Certified architect, Al-Fayez continued family tradition, leading Housing Ministry under Gaddafi régime. However his appearance at international area is associated with the Skhirat Agreement, upgrading his status to the chairmanship of the reconciliation government. Apparently the position he used extensively to promote dear to him Turkish interest in Libya and the Mediterranean.

The EU blind trust in Government of National Accord (GNA) as the only recognised executive power in Libya, opened unlimited number of possibilities to Al-Sarraj to serve his remote patrons in Ankara, including Muslim Brotherhood, which is often falsely accused of keeping him hostage. No they are not – Al Sarraj is not their hostage but adept!

The MoU is not just a document, but a strategic choice, and political declaration of loyalty, replacing Gaddfi dictatorship era with perspective for Libyans to become a colony of Ottoman Empire, and all that in the context of full passiveness of the EU, which is surrendering to Erdogan, at all fronts, pretending Turkey is still the EU candidate country, willing to pursue the way of reform towards European integration.

The MoU is also a crossed red line, the abuse of office by Al-Sarraj, who has been given international support and mandate to gain confidence of Libyan people to establish lasting peace, but not to seal shady deals with foreign powers,

Considering the abuse, it is time for the EU to assess the status of Tripoli administration objectively – it is unconstitutional, because its mandate has been issued by Skhirat agreement (17 December 2015) for one year, with a possibility for renewal for one year only, on condition of the Parliament approval, which has expired a long time ago. And now the EU has to deal with the illegal administration promoting Turkish colonisation of Libya. How moreabsurd European diplomacy can go?

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Interim Government of Libya AbdulHadi Lahweej statement as read by the Chaiman of the European Parliament delegation to the Meditarranean MEP Costas MAVRIDES on 18 December 2019 in Strasbourg:

First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting me to attend this important i meeting in beautiful city of Strasbourg, I would like to inform you that I was unable to come due to cancelation of flights and the pressure on Benina Benghazi Airport, because of attacks on our airport by Al-Sarrajs Militia who they destroyed the planes and now we only have one plane which was hijacked by Misurat city

“The Turkish incursion into the countries of the region in general and in the Mediterranean basin specially basin has now become clear to the general public after signing with the unconstitutional of Al-Wefaq government two memoranda of understanding:

the first one on demarcation of maritime borders،
and the second memo on security and military cooperation

These two agreements are rejected by the Libyan parliament and the interim government in addition to National Libyan Army , we reject these memoranda of understanding،: for several reasons، the most important are legal reasons:

“Al-Wefaq government is unconstitutional،, which did not gain confidence from the Libyan parliament،, and rulings were issued against it by the Libyan courts that invalidated all decisions issued by them.
According to the Skhirat Agreement, which did not guarantee who else is also for the constitutional declaration, the first article / fourth paragraph states that the mandate of the reconciliation government is for one year only since it was given confidence by the Libyan parliament and renewed automatically for one year only, therefore the mandate of the reconciliation government has expired For a long time ago, this government can no longer conclude any treaties and agreements that bear any international obligations on Libya
The Memorandum of Understanding violates the Law of the Sea signed in Jamaica in 1982 between two countries that do not have common borders and, more seriously, threatens our friendly relations between neighboring countries of Libya (Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt)
Accordingly, the two memoranda of understanding are canceled and have not entered Into effect. In view of one of its parties, Libya has not completed its required legal
procedures.”

Nomandy Four: «winners and losers»

Anna van Densky OPINION Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said it is inappropriate to assess the outcome of the Normandy Four Summit in Paris in terms of the “winners and losers“.

Everyone pursued the same objective, that is, to resume the work of the Normandy format after a long break and revive real efforts to find a solution to the conflict in southeastern Ukraine” he explained.

Certain steps, important steps in that direction have been taken, but much more remains to be done,Peskov underlined.

It is inappropriate to say here who was the winner and who was the loser at that Summit,” Peskov concluded.

However Peskov is wrong, because not everyone pursues the “same objective“, and the Normandy Summit projects on the broader political context, where there are “winners and losers” in the protracted Donbass conflict, and their numbers multiply each single day.

Zelensky presidency and Kiev government to deal directly with people of Donbass, whom they formally consider their citizens, but the same time also “separatists” or “occupants“, creates a toxic atmosphere, affecting all spheres of life, including investment climate. However it is mass migration that damages Ukraine the most, forcing the active and skilled population to flee instability, and search for jobs outside the country. During last five years of Poroshneko mandate the figures of departures mounted up to 100 000 people a year. Will Zelensky be able to renverse the trend?

When electing Zelensky, the voters massively rejected the belligerent politics of his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, who ascended power by the violence coup d’état, and launched offensive against the Russian-speaking est of the country, calling the operation a “counter-terrorist” raid. The Ukrainian electorate expects from Zelensky the Donbass conflict resolution without delay. In many cases falsely presented as a conflict between Ukrainian pro-Europeans and pro-Putinites, it is about the respect of the fundamental rights of minorities in Ukraine.

“After Viktor Youchenko attributed a statuts of hero of Ukraine (2010) to Nazi criminal and Holocaust ideologist and active participant Stepan Bandera, the assimilation firmly replaced the respect of minority rights.

If later Petro Poroshenko initiated the inclusion in the Constitution of Ukraine the clause on EU integration, the claim stayed totally nominal, while the EU has 60 regional languages, Kiev marched the opposite direction. The European Union was established as a project of peace, while Ukraine decides arguments with artillery.

Suffocated by chauvinism and corruption, the Ukrainian society is in perpetual conflict with all the national minorities who are denied of the elementary individual and linguistic rights.

The slow motion for the implementation of Minks agreements, also projects on the degradation of relations between the ethnic communities within the Ukrainian society, while they realise that reluctance of Kiev to grant Donbass a special status means a denial of their identity as well. Meanwhile the notorious language law, voted by Rada and endorsed by President Porkoshenko causes concerns of the Venice Commission, making a conclusion that it strips ethnic minorities of use of their mother tongue, violating their fundamental rights.

“The language law, breaching international laws and commitments of Ukraine, is a bad omen for Donbass people, and all the other minorities in the country, but it would be naïve to think that it does not rub off the credibility of Zelensky. Silently agreeing to serve as a blunt instrument of the West to deter Russia, through repressing Russian minority in Donbass, he is undermining his own leadership in eyes of around hundred other minorities living on the territory of modern Ukraine.

While the West is cheering Zelensky, encouraging him to oppose President Putin in a Cold War syndrome style, refusing fundamental rights to Russian ethnic group in Donbass, the entire complex of minority rights in Ukraine are sacrificed, overlooked as collaterals in the crusade against Kremlin. However, hostage to Ukrainian radial nationalists with their agenda of total “Ukrainisation” of population, Zelensky‘s target of “de-occupation” of Donbass creates a self-destructive narrative, betraying his own electorate demanding peace, and surrendering further grounds to nationalists, hailing Bandera, the true winners of protracted Donbass conflict.

Paris to host Ukraine Summit

The Presidency of France announced Ukraine Summit in December in Paris with participation of both Presidents – Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky on December, 9.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that all conditions for the meeting of the Normandy four were fulfilled, and the date of the summit is now being agreed upon.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel confirmed her participation in the Ukraine Summit of the Normandy Four countries on December 9 in Paris.

NATO: Macron follows de Gaulle footsteps

Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on NATO “brain death” have caused shock waves around the globe, exempting those who are aware of the Gaullist foreign policy traditions of the V Republic. (Image: archive).

The state funeral of the President Jacques Chirac confirmed the sentiment of the nation, highly praising the politician who stood tall against American invasion of Iraq, conducting independent foreign policy.

Long queues of people waiting patiently to pass by the coffin of their leader, paying tribute, indicated without ambiguity the direction of the policy to achieve the status of a “great” President of France – the rejection to bent to American whims.

It is highly likely that at the funeral of Jacques Chirac incumbent President Macron felt the state of mind of the nation, and rejected the perspective of entering the history as the “poodle” of President Trump. However may be this time U.S. President is not looking for a “poodele’. Actually he does not have high esteem for NATO himself. During the election campaign Trump assessed NATO as “obsolete”, and afterwards on many occasions promised to pull out the American military from the wars that seem “never end”.

President Trump has already raised questions why the U.S. should continue offering to Europeans “free ride”, requesting the Allies to invest a fair share into their own defense.

Six European allies now are above the threshold sought by US President Donald Trump — Estonia, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK were estimated to have met the 2% defence budget goal.

However the NATO burial concept derives from a few sold reasons: the Alliance task was fulfilled by the collapse of the USSR, ending Cold War; unfair distribution of financial burden within the Alliance or European “free-ride”; the nature of threats has become different, and they can not be addressed by military means. The latter is evident in failure to defeat terrorism in Afghanistan, where on average 55 people are killed daily fighting with Taliban.

The other element, contributing the degradation of NATO is the belligerent strategy of Turkish President Erdogan, representing grave concern for the Alliance in case of the retaliation attack of the Syrian leader Al Assad: the Article 5 of collective defense obliges the entire block to enter the conflict. Article 5 – the milestone of collective defence is becoming increasingly dangerous in modern world, overwhelmed by conflicts.

“I understand what you’re saying; I’ve asked the same question,” President Trump said during FoxNews programme while commenting on a young American to be obliged to defend Montenegro. “You know, Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III.” After all, Macron is not so original, suggesting that NATO brain is dead.

Brexit extension “flex”

The length of Brexit extension is a priority subject in the EU, considering how long should be a new timetable for the UK departure from the bloc.

There are three major suggestions in the air: three months, six months and one year, the last one is propelled by those who hope for the second referendum and derailing Brexit as such.

However Brexit Party leader and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage insists on six month extension, explaining that winter months are interrupted by holidays, and six month extension give sufficient time to organise general elections – the only way out of parliamentary Brexit crisis.

Foreign minister of the Republic of Ireland Simon Coveney said that Britain will be offered a flexible extension that could trigger Brexit well ahead of the new deadline but that the opinions of all EU member states were first needed.

“I think that extension will be a flexible one, that will allow the United Kingdom to leave the EU – if they can get a deal done – well in advance of the end of that extension period which looks like it will be the end of January,Simon Coveney told an audience in Belfast on Wednesday.