Lavrov birthday and birth of Politburo II

Anna van Densky OPINION Amid coronavirus pandemic drama a few noticed a remarkable milestone date, defining the future of Russian Federation for next couple of decades: the birth of the second grand “Politburo” with life-long members. (Image above: Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov).

On March 21 Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Russia became de facto a “member of Politburo” to stay most probably as long as one of his great predecessors – Andrey Gromyko who led Soviet diplomacy for 28 years (1957-1985). This perspective is especially real in the context of change of Russian Constitution, breaking the time limits for Vladimir Putin to become life-long President.

Before crushing Russian Constitution to dust to establish dictatorship, rooted in methodically consturcted “cult of personality” during last 20 years, Vladimir Putin signed Federal Law No. 143-FZ of May 23, 2016, which provided for a phased increase in the old-age retirement for people who fill government positions in the Russian Federation and positions in constituent entities, as well as those who hold state and municipal services.

The age limit for civil service became 65 years. Previously this age level was 60 years old (Part 1 of Article 25.1 of the Federal Law of July 27, 2004 No. 79-FZ “On the State Civil Service of the Russian Federation”).

Extension of the service remains possible, but only for civil servants filling the posts of the category “assistants (advisers)”, established to assist the person filling the public position. The term of extension will not change for them – until the end of the term of office. But the rest of the civil servants, who can be extended to 65 years today, will lose the possibility of further extension.

For the top figures of public service the term can be extended to 70 years. But for them, the procedure for agreeing on such an extension has changed. Before the signature of the law it was decided by the President, then after the amendments enter into force, further service by such persons should be extended by the Federal state body that appointed them to the position or by the corresponding official.

The new rules came into effect on January 1, 2017, however Minister Lavrov has successfully ignored them to stay “forever” top diplomat of Russian Federation, illustrating the predominant culture of contempt to laws, that is so typical for post-Soviet period. None of the official instances clarified the legal basis for the permission to Lavrov to stay beyond legally established age.

However this episode facilites the shaping of Western policies vis-à-vis Russia, returning to the déjà vu pattern of Soviet era of Brezhnev stagnation, ending in biological change of power after him and his Politburo passing away.

Nowadays with the significant achievments of medicine visible on example of “eternal‘ President of Cameroon Paul Biya (87), Putin and his “Politburo” reign togehter with the five year period of Politburoostentatious” funerals can last easerly up to 2040, until Death do us part. Amen!

Putin myth in Western politics

Anna van Densky OPINION It is a seductive idea to explain personal failures with exterior factors, declining any responsibility, pointing to the extraordinary powers of deities. This impulse is as old as the world. They heroes of Iliad, waging Troy war were also explaining the misfortunes of military operations by interferences of gods and goddesses. Greeks even promoted a chance to divinity, depicting her as as a running woman with short hair, reducing an opportunity to stop her, when she passed by. (Image below: social media, happy tourists next Elgin marbles, British Museum).

However the influences of the incumbent Russian President are depicted as far more grande, than just momentum services of the goddess of Chance, passing by. In modern Western discours Vladimir Putin has received the central place on the Olympus, representing powers of Zeus (Jupiter) himself, overthrowing and making kings.

The so called Russianmeddling in elections“, appeared after the failure of the American Democrats to win the third presidential mandate in a raw, and was presented to broader public as an explanation of this political loss, in a desperate attempt to “save face“. In the beginning the concept was received with a lot of scepticism and even irony, but after a huge investment into promotion, it was firmly integrated into political environment. Subsequently Trump era in politics is characterised not only by return of nation state as a major entity in political process, and its antagonism with globalists, but also by an unprecedented magnitude of invasion of mythology into politics.

As a result of adventurism and opportunism, modern political process is plagued by mythology, flooding public information space with legends and images deriving from archaic concepts. Explaining every political failure with supranatural powers of Putin-Jupiter is intoxicating, and discrediting the democratic political culture by imposing the idea of divinity, demoralising electorate and impacting negatively people’s creativity. It is also catastrophic for future of democracies, preventing entire societies from analysing and correcting human errors.

The continuation of attributing Brexit to influence of PutinDeity” will cause further decline of the EU27, derailing rational and imposing mythological into politics, averting scientific process of examination of phenomena of Euro scepticism, while imposing fatalism and paralysis in face of supranatural powers, leading to immobility and total collapse of the bloc.

EU Enlargement or “perpetuum mobile” curse

The sound of the UK clacking the door has been still in the ears, when the EU re-launched the process of accession for Albania and Northern Macedonia, bending the rules under label of “new methodology“, creating a fast track for Western Balkan countries, making the membership possible just in six years.

With this new approach the EU firmly abandoned Copenhagen criteria (1993), as q compass, replacing it by fast-track “simplified” enlargement rules – absolute triumph of political volunatirsm & geopolitics. Inclusion of Western Balkans into block is the ultimate goal, to be achieved by bending rules accordingly.

The EU new “methodology” for #Enlargement will open fast track for accession of Western Balkans. In practical terms “cluster system” means whole process can take as little as six years, the Members of the European Parliament concluded, while discussing the issue with Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi (pictured).

The new EU Enlargement policy proposes two tracks: fast-track for desirable candidates as Albania & Northern Macedonia, and continuation of old-style rules for those for those who are already in process, like Turkey. However it is not a bitter irony of double standards, but geopolitical thinking in action!

Just in five days after Brexit, the EU felt sufficient absorption capacity” to accelerate the accession process of the Western Balkan countries, namely Albania and Northern Macedonia in first ranks. In the enlargement enthusiasm the EU has already allocated €28M and €50M to the counties, ignoring the systemic economic and social problems, caused by endemic corruption and criminality.

The fast-track accession procedure to Albania dabbed as “Colombia of Europe“, the pariah, notorious for organised crime, considered world top heroin “narco-state”, successfully operating also in cocaine and cannabis traffic, represents a serious existential threat to the EU in different areas. The experts say that yearly the Albanian and Italian costal guard intercept from 5% to 10% of the huge drugs flows, allowing to receive sufficient profit to mafia to maintain their European networks. But not only, because the wealth translates into party financing and accessing political power, and not least the erosion of the judiciary, nourishing corruption at the highest levels.

Praising Northern Macedonia for changing the name after decades of pressure from Athens, the perspective of six years EU accession talks looks like an indulgence for all mortal sins in one.

Transparency International warns about degrading situation in Northern Macedonia with overall corruption, including political “manifested through instances of abuse of power, conflict of interest and dubious practices of financing political parties and election campaigns is widespread, while political interference in all spheres of governance seriously hampers the implementation of anti-corruption reforms”.

Poor score indicating to the general toxic climate of deviation from democratic norms and standards by no means explains the bubbly enthusiasm of Commissioner
Oliver Varhelyi towards both countries accession to the familiy of the European democracies.

The are two major reasons for this phenomena, difficult for understanding from the common sense point of view.

First of all it is an emotional reaction to the UK departure, causing the EU apparatchiks energetic attempts to create an illusion of attractiveness of the bloc, and subsequently falling into trap of undiscriminating. An obsession with dynamics, a trompe d’œil of perpetum mobile of the European project, the idea of movement as proof of live and even vivacity.

The other aspect of this move is the genuine belief of the EU mandarines in their healing powers, bestowing progress and civility upon humanity. This particular belief, as any other is unjustified irrational sentiment, has been transferring the idea of European project into a modern cult. As any cult it requires ardeur of conviction, often denying the realities of physical world around: Greece has not completed land register since joining the EU in 1981 (!), and continues to avoid it in spite of Troika ultimatums during debt crisis in 2015. A little illustration of the huge discrepancy between EU imaginary powers of transformation, and valid capacities. However Greek experience did not discourage EU bureaucracy to roll red carpet for Albania, the second and the only country outside the EU in Europe without the land register.

The other level for Albania & Northern Macedonia accession is explained by geopolitics: and here the EU has to bow to the United States, as the major provider for defence of European continent under NATO umbrella. The clear trend of imposing maximum Alliance members onto the European bloc perfectly serves the American long term interest to prevent development of Common European defence, (once upon a time derailed by French National Assembly, but experiencing resurrection under President Macron). Flooding the EU with NATO allies will prevent Europe from growing muscle, constructing its own independent from the USA defence system. From that point of view inclusion of ensemble of Balkan allies, will secure NATO’s monopoly for the future in a completely democratic way – by voting in the European Council – the “legalised abortion” of European defence. Trojan Horses of the European project.

Farewell to Juncker era

Anna van Densky OPINION President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker concluded his mandate in his unique ‘cool‘ style in an informal PR event, with a lot of applause and a few mediocre questions from Brussels press corps, which is definitely not his fault.

I have always said that me and euro are the only survivors of the Maastricht Treaty, but after my departure only euro (currency) will stay, Juncker said with a good dose of humour in exchange with journalists. “I am happy to leave the “most difficult job in the world””, he confessed , mentioning successes and regrets, he did not specify.

From the behalf of the Brussels International Press Association (API-IPA) Italian ANSA correspondent read a short thank you speech, without any assessment of the Juncker Commission achievements, explaining there would be a broad divergence of opinions on the subject.

However there was a sadness in the air from saying good-bye to a generation of European politicians – the dreamers of a grand project of the United States of Europe, conceived by Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet, the believers in European Union as a family of nations. Looking back on five years of Juncker Commission, one can recognise his attempt to create an informal atmosphere of friendliness, togetherness, and genuine multiculutralism in spite of multiple systemic crises, eroding the EU project.

Juncker era is definitely over…

His heiress, German Ursula von der Leyen has already imosed the style of her upcoming mandate, taking the decision to stay in Berlaymont building at all times, using permanently the adjacent 25 square meter appartement designed as “personal retreat” in the same building on the 13th floor.

Her main residence remains in Hannover, Germany, where her husband lives and works. Does she expect everyone to follow, introducing Japanese sleeping at work place culture INEMURI in European Commission, when in absence of adjacent appartements the European civil servants will spend long hours in offices, falling asleep at their tables?

However this von der Leyen decision has further reaching consequences, ending the story of Brussels as modern “melting pot”, and reducing it to headquaters of EU management, shaped by staunchly tribalismafter the intense week of work inemuri style, everyone will return to the relevant national communities. Good-bye, Brussels Babylon tower dream…

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.

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 forever!

Nothing is so permanent as temporary. From now onward this wisdom can be fully applied to Brexit process. The United Kingdom’s Supreme Court ruled on September 24 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision for Parliament prorogation while approaching Brexit was unlawful.

The Court decision will certainly influence the departure process, blocking the way to leave without the Withdrawal Agreement, widely known as “the deal”. The prediction of Theresa May is coming true: it may be that referendum result will be never honoured, and Brexit will not be delivered at all.

From today the EU has two special candidats: one, Turkey, is “eternally” attempting to enter, while the other is permanently at the threshold, intending to leave. As Pisa Tower – forever falling, and still there. Brexit Forever!

Memorial to Strasbourg Grand Synagogue

Modern IT technologies will help to give a second life to a destroyed by Nazi Grand Synagogue, this time in a form of a bronze monument, established at the original place at Quai Kléber. The Jewish community, IT scientists, historians, and lovers of history have  collected a significant amount of information, allowing to restore the exact model of the demolished building.

DSCN9824[1]
IT reconstruction model of Grand Synagogue Quai Kléber
On 18th of September, during the European Parliament Plenary week the Jewish Consistory of Bas-Rhin invited to the Synagogue of Peace  Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and Strasbourg politicians to celebrate in a cultural event the upcoming Rosh Hashana (New Year) festivities. The excursion in the building of New Synagogue preceded the assembly.

DSCN9833[1]
Rabbin Mendel Samama (right) and Thierry Roos of Consistoire israélite du Bas-Rhin (left)
The collection of the artefacts and historic objects exposed as precious pieces of mosaic restore the picture of the spiritual past of the  Jewish Community in Alsace  – one of the most ancient in Europe, traced to the Middle Ages.

DSCN9826[1]
Grand Synagogue de la Paix historic objects collection on display

After the World War II  the Jews who survived the Holocaust, reformed the Jewish community of Strasbourg, meeting in the Holiday Palace until 1948, because the Grand Synagogue, situated at Place Klèber was destroyed.

Levi horn
Rosh Hashana sound of Shoffar Image: courtesy of Levi Matusof (pictured).

Following the talks with the city of Strasbourg in 1948, the Jewish community agreed to exchange the grounds of the old Synagogue against the site of Contades area, where the new monumental building was erected, by the  architect Claude Meyer-Lévy. The synagogue, called “Peace” replicating its location Rue de la Paix,, and was inaugurated in March 1958.

DSCN9834[1]

The new synagogue also includes the Judaica radio headquarters, a youth center, and the headquarters of several movements, in addition to the four oratories.

G7: Tusk waywardness in Juncker absence

Anna van Densky OPINION The clumsy attempts of the president of the European Council Donald Tusk to influence the decision of British Prime minister Boris Johnson determined to depart from the EU on time with or without agreement, dabbing him “Mr.No-Deal”, look like an agony of the bloc, paying high price for its rusty mechanics unable to adapt to changing context. Teasing has never been an effective method in international politics.

G7 Summit in Biarritz (France) opens an opportunity to built bridges, however the representative of the EU prefers to burn them with provocative information war style public pressure, attempting to challenge Boris Johnson, instead of engaging in dialog with him. War of words with the UK is not what the European citizens wish, concerned by economic consequences of ‘no-deal’.

While American President Trump is actively using G7 platform for rapprochement with the UK, promising mutually beneficial trade deal, the EU has no other message, that insisting of the document that is already ‘dead’. The useless promotion of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which was the EU miscarriage, is aggravated by the contrasting surrealist proposal of Tusk to invite heavily indebted and plagued by ongoing armed conflict Ukraine to G7 ranks. While the oldest European democracy, and second net contributor to the EU purse is abandoning the EU, Tusk has nothing better to offer instead than to promote rapprochement with Ukraine one of 10 most corrupt nations in the world.

Just a week ago President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker was hospitalized saving the EU from one more embarrassment, caused by his physical condition. However in comparison with Tusk intellectual inability, and primitive ways of conducting international politics, varying from schoolboy teasing, to lobbying of Polish regional interests promoting Ukraine in a blunt gesture of tribalism, – all of those, evoke nostaliga for Juncker‘s clarity of thinking. Cogito, ergo sum!

Europarl: Ann Widdecombe furore

Anna van Densky OPINION The passionate speech of British MEP Ann Widdecombe had a highly unpleasant  novelty for the European Union: the doyen of Brexit party political group associated the protracted process of exiting from the EU with national liberation movement. She openly threw into face of Guy Verhofstad – the European Parliament representative for Brexit talks – the accusation of treating the UK as “colony“.

Guy Verhofstadt answered in via his Twitter micro blog, regarding Widdecombe as a “clown”. It means he failed again to understand souverainist’s influence on public opinion, and the interaction between Brexit party (former UKIP) and larger groups of electorate, initially perceived as “marginal“, but in reality numerous enough to impose Brexit referendum, and win its outcome. Verhofstadt did not answer to in a meaningful way to Widdecombe criticism of democratic deficit in EU procedures either. He also didn’t answer to her criticism of protracted withdrawal process, comparing Brussels to metropole, reluctant to give away rip on its rich colony.  However the strategy of brushing off criticism of Brexiteers is in essence myopic because it allows their vision to hover high, and spread around engaging new groups, and not only from UK electorate, but the other old EU member states.

The feeble attempt of BBC journalist to argue Ms.Widdecombe’s point of  view through pointing at her high MEP salary incomparable with “slave” status looked like faux pas.

BBC did not manage to address the issue, and attempt, dabbed by the MEP as “silly”, just re-enforcing her speech, demonstrating absence of meaningful counter-argument.