Ukraine: triumph of tele-guided democracy

Anna van Densky, OPINION Election of Vladimir Zelensky demonstrates huge disappointment of the Ukrainians with their political class, even more, than their hopes for a meaningful change of the malfunctioning system. Ukrainian politics, run by a group of oligarchs has been a vaudeville for sufficiently long time to make a comedian look appropriate in the President’s office.

The decadence hit a new low, indicating there is a complete loss of confidence in the establishment, unable to produce any leader with a relevant background convincing enough to be worthy of dropping a ballot. Zelensky wins not because his programme opens new perspectives, but because the Ukrainians wish to trash their political Pantheon, plagued by corruption, and indulging in demagogy.

However change from Poroshenko to Zelensky perceived by many as a revolution, is nothing more than a change of head on Emperor‘s sculpture in times of declining Rome: they succeeded too often, leaving insufficient time to carve the entire figure in marble, and the clever local governors  in provinces adapted by removing the detached heads.

In particular case of showman Zelensky elections, one can conclude the Ukraine is true to itself: predictable in is instability, grotesque, and volatile.

Ascending to presidency due to his popularity as an actor, Zelensky has no political force behind him, – a convenient disposition for clans at power, who are content with a President starring in TV sequel, while they continue business as usual, enriching themselves in reality.

Considered by experts as the ninth most corrupt nation in the world, with almost $50 billion gross external debt, and public debt around 70% of  GDP, Ukrainian kleptocracy is comfortable with a comedian as a head of state – weaker is the president easier is to continue their own way.  Ukraine ‘Semper idem‘ – always the same…

Nevertheless the change is coming,  but not due to the new President of Ukraine, but the context: both the US, and the EU have to revise their foreign policy vis-à-vis Kiev, although for different reasons. While Europe is growing increasingly Euro skeptic, demanding from Brussels to put the EU citizens interests first, before pursuing the Enlargement, and poring  billions on integration of neighboring states. The US has to resolve the problem of contribution to NATO of the European allies: among 29 members, just five meet 2% GDP defence spending target: Greece, Estonia, the UK, Latvia, and the US. 

Without any perspective to enter the EU or NATO, immense debts, endemic corruption, ongoing conflict in Donbass, protracted argument with Russia over gas transit, huge migration rising up to one million a year leaving the country – plagued with multiple setbacks, Ukraine slides into further decline, searching for refuge in a world of illusory – voting a man, who incarnated their dream of an honest president in a TV sequel.  Zelensky victory – is a triumph of tele-guided democracy, fusion of reality and fiction, dreams and frustrations, a political jest, an idle tale. A human comedy…

Video below: Vladimir Zelensky dancing in a show:

 

 

 

 

Brexit by defalut looming

There are no reasons for optimism in Brussels, where the heads of states and governments are meeting for the European Union Summit on March 21-22: there is hardly anyone who believes that the Westminster will endorse Theresa May‘s Article 50 Agreement.

In absence of any changes in the text of the negotiated for two years deal itself, it is only context that changes, the perception of losses endorsing the deal, or preferring no-deal damages.However it is unlikely the MPs will change their minds, vote for the Agreement they have rejected two times already.

On the Brexit, we need to be clear about ourselves, our British friends and our peoples. The withdrawal agreement cannot be renegotiated. In case of a British negative vote, we would go to a no-deal” explains Emmanuel Macron. At his arrival to the #EUCO the President ensured that France is ready for no-deal scenario, and will support enterprises, especially small businesses, but also fishery.

However in case the Westminster decides to accept May’s deal next week, the EU is ready to extend the Brexit deadline to 22 May, a day before the European elections vote will start. The top EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said, while arriving to the Council, that a short extension can be only “conditional”.

#Utrecht attack: three dead and nine injured

Three people were killed and nine others injured in a shooting in a tram in  Dutch University city of #Utrecht, the mayor said, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported.

Police said they were looking for a 37-year-old man of Turkish origin identified as Gokmen Tanis.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission expressed his solidarity with Dutch people during this difficult times in a telephone conversation with Prime minister Mark Rutte.

AMENDED:  Five injured, but not nine, Utrecht police informed via Twitter micro blog.

Brexit delay might need EU Court

After the Article 50 deal was voted done, the entire Brexit situation entered ‘uncharted waters‘ exactly the way British Prime Minister Theresa May warned, and the latest Westminster request for departure delay made the it even more complicated.

From the legal point of view the delay could be granted by the EU until the day of the European elections: in case the UK is still a member-state of the bloc, it is oblige to participate, because the Treaty clearly stipulates the right of citizens to elect and be elected to the European Parliament. Being de jure a member-state Britain would be forced by the power of its international obligations to enter the process. There is also concern about “hijacking” the elections, and intoxicating the European debate with UK protracted political argument.

There is also a word in Brussels corridors of power, that Italy might decline the long-term delay out of solidarity with the Brexiteers, and French President Emmanuel Macron wouldn’t sacrifice his ‘Renaissance‘ big plan, leaving Europe hostage to Westminster ongoing polemics

However in case of the rejection of the delay the British government can appeal to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), winning time while the CURIA interprets the EU law, and settles a legal dispute between national government and the EU Council.

And nobody said that the Brexiteers will sit and cry, looking how their chances to have a ‘neat break’ from the EU evaporate.

Regarding the fact that CURIA can be addressed by individuals, companies or organisations to take action against a EU institution (s), if they presume it has infringed their rights, the Brexiteers also have right to appeal to the judges, looking for realization of their government promises.

It looks CURIA will be not short of work in both cases: if Brexit stays, or if it deciedes to lave.

 

 

 

 

#Brexit: pessimism reigns in Europarl

Anna van Densky OPINION The European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy VERHOFSTADT (Belgium, ALDE) cancelled his press-conference, so did his major ally – Esteban GONZALES-PONS (Spain EPP). There are no traces of optimism in the corridors of power in spite of British Prime Minister Theresa MAY the last minute spontaneous visit to Strasbourg, attempting to obtain compromises on the Article 50 Agreement.

However the legally-binding interpretations of Brexit deal will be hardly enough to convince the Westminster to accept it in tonight’s vote.

In case of voting down the Article 50 Agreement the relations between the EU and UK will be entering the uncharted waters, as Prime Minister May has stated already. The extension of the deadline (March 29) is possible in the framework of the agreed Brexit only to avoid legal vacuum. The Remainers already threaten to sue their government in the European Court (CURIA) for breaching the Article 50, which clearly describes the timetable, and does not foresee any prolongations.

Originally there were two fixed deadlines: Brexit date on March 29, and the latest date of its possible extension on May 24 (European elections), before which the UK should leave, or it is obliged to participate, according to the Treaties to ensure the right of the citizens to elect their representatives to the European Parliament. In any case the status of the incumbent MEPs could not be extended beyond July 2, when the newly elected Parliament will be constituted.

However there are very few politicians eager to model possible developments in case tonight of House of Commons will vote down the deal. It will be not only the downfall for Theresa May, and her government, but also considered as a major failure for the EU27 to secure orderly Brexit, preserving from blow economies, jobs, and citizens rights. The  failure will certainly reflect on upcoming European elections disfavoring predominant political forces, unable to preserve mutually beneficial relations with one of major European economies.

 

France: Mutilation of democracy

Anna van Densky OPINION The images of a Yellow Vest protester with a ripped off hand agonizing in arms of street medics, attempting to deliver first aid, is hundred times more shocking, because of the place of the incident – the National Assembly of France – the parliament, the democratic institution, representing citizens.

If such an image had come from Venezuela there would have been an immediate call for a Security Council meeting for discussing the violations with human rights there, and most probably to make the resolution more convincing, the Americans would sent there a couple of missiles, just to be sure the warning is taken seriously.

However if the events are taking place in a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and founding member of the European Unionthere is nobody to remind the French government about the respect of human rights. Equally silent is the European Union, proudly celebrating the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (10.12.1948) at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.

While Europe is celebrating the Declaration, it is also carefully watching the compliance, but mainly in oil-rich countries, like Venezuela, where you have to be careful with human rights, or you are risking to lose everything like it happened with the leaders of Iraq or Libya after the riot in Benghazi…

Benghazi. The most striking is the silence of the leading French human rights defenders like Bernard-Henry Lévy, known as BHL, who was promoting the intervention to Libya without the UN resolution, insisting the international organisations are far too slow to react adequately on ongoing human tragedy there. But nowadays who from famous French human rights defenders is  standing against mutilation of citizens, manifesting their indignation with the government’s policies?..

Mid-January the LCI TV channel has revealed statistics pointing at 1700 wounded, among them around 100 people with serious injuries.

Among grave injuries the most common were head wounds,  and often with serious consequences, leaving people with lifelong disabilities: 13 have lost an eye since the beginning of the movement as a result of police shooting. There were are 9 (+1) hand injuries caused by grenades; 5 in the leg, one in the reproductive organs, and one in the foot. The wounded are mostly men. There are 10 women out of 93 cases, according to BFMTV assembling data mid-January.

Nevertheless the numbers of injured and mutilated don’t motivate international organisations, obliged to defend human rights, to say a word on French government repressions, reducing the human rights to a tool of foreign policy, a reason to interfere in home affairs of the other countries, especially those which are oil-rich…

GJ target

INF funeral revives nuclear war threat

Russia‘s defense minister Sergey Shoygu announced the  intention to build mid-range, nuclear-capable missiles a week after the President Trump has decided to abandon INF Treaty, which is considered to be one of the biggest achievement of humanity, closing the chapter of  the Cold War. The world is pushed back full force into the situation of the imminent risk of the World war III, triggered by will or by an accident. The dangerous perception of possibility to wage and win a nuclear war is back.

It would be very naive to think that technology is perfect: in 1983 Soviet officer on duty has prevented the nuclear war just because of his exceptional capacity for analysis, assuming the information he received from computers was erroneous – an episode of Cold War known as “false nuclear attack“.

The humanity was exceptionally lucky, that Stanislav Petrov was on duty on September 26, 1983 to identify the missile attack warnings as “false alarm“. His personal decision to disobey the rules is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack based on erroneous signals on the United States and its NATO allies missiles, which could have resulted in immediate escalation to the full-scaled nuclear war. Now we, as humanity are back to the situation when our survival depends on decision of an officer on duty, watching the monitor.

Last five years both the Americans and Russians blamed each other the violation of the INF, however it was NATO rapidly expanding.

Kremlin accuses the U.S. of violating the INF by the deployment of Aegis missile defence system in Romania and Poland, indicating that the launchers used in that system for defensive interceptors could be adapted to fire offensive cruise missiles.

In return Washington accused Russians of employment mystery missile  9M729  for Iskander launchers being more powerful than declared (480 km).  Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov acknowledged its existence but firmly denied it was capable to hit targets between 500 -5,500 km away, strictly compliant with the INF.

The problems accumulating in the US-Russia relations have created a toxic mass within a new political and military context, caused by NATO galloping enlargement with a subsequent advancing of the military infrastructure to Russian borders: after including the East European countries, belonging to the Warsaw Pact the moment of the INF signature between Reagan and Gorbachev. nowadays the Alliance moved further to the East opening its door for Georgia and Ukraine. The perspective of installing Aegis there will create a vulnerability for Moscow, impossible to neglect.

However existing problems of relations between superpowers do not give a right to cancel the greatest achievement of the past, reversing progress, and pushing humanity to the brink of a fatal nuclear conflict, of which Europe is becoming a hostage. The American ambition for the hegemony has price too high to pay – the extinction of our civilization.