Turkey in EURONEWS: qui prodest?

Brussels, 06.11.2020 Anna van Densky OPINION The strangling of Freedom of speech policy of increasingly authoritarian Turkey at home, in the European Union and across globe, preventing 400 million audience of the EURONEWS to receive an objective coverage of the events concerning Ankara actions, is paradoxically rooted in the EU public funds being abused by Turkish government and used for the purpose, opposite to its original concept.
Unfortunately, the European Commission continues to subsidise EURONEWS TV Channel in spite of the fact that Turkey is in all structures, aggressively opposing and blocking the adequate news coverage.

Even previously, in the 2019 report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has underlined that EURONEWS is “not a public service broadcaster in any member state”, and analysing a total of €122M of funding for the channel from 2014-2018, concluded that the Commission “does not have a system to verify whether EURONEWS is achieving the objectives agreed in the partnership agreements.”
Today the European Commission has confirmed the continuation of subsidising Euronews TV, regardless Ankara opposition of freedom of speech – core value of the EU, and the fact of incarceration of more than 200 Turkish journalists.
Apparently, following the answer of the European Commission spokesperson they had no mechanism foreseen to freeze the payments.

Needless to say, that being in EURONEWS editorial Turkish broadcaster TRT uses their right to veto all the unflattering information about their country, preventing the global audiences to access to the information of tremendous significance, alerting public about Turkish actions alike supporting Muslim Brotherhood, defined a terrorist organisation by the governments of Bahrain, Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

Not least crucial is information of transfer of 2 000 jihad fighters from Syria to Nagorno-Karabakh by Turkey, reported by some media, but denied by Ankara. However at present it is impossible to deliver objective coverage of conflict taking place in Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan in spite of the generous subvention to EURONEWS, because Turkish editorial is there to block it.

On top of using the channel to condemn the freedom of speech policy of the EU member-states in the articles of the Turkish editorial, Ankara earns from EURONEWS, being a shareholder, while the EU citizens pay tens of millions yearly to ensure the channel function, they supply profit to Turkish oppressive state which cashes on TV advertising.

Obviously when in February 2009, the Turkish public broadcaster TRT became a shareholder of the channel and joined its supervisory board, the context was different, and there were no major objection for Ankara to joint the team. The same year the TRT purchased 15.70% of the channel’s shares and became the fourth main partner after France Télévisions (23.93%), RAI (21.54%), and VGTRK (16.94%). Turkish was added as the ninth language service in January 2010 as a result of this purchase.

The EURONEWS TV channel was established in 1993 by ten European public broadcasters to “reinforce European identity and integration” and the EU has provided it with a generous financial support since then. In recent years, the channel has changed its ownership structure by acquiring private investors.

Continue reading “Turkey in EURONEWS: qui prodest?”

Erdogan anger amid fossil fuel decline

Brussels 26.10.2020 Anna van Densky OPINION Recent President Erdogan verbal attacks on France have many reasons rooted in frustrations, not least is the economic difficulty of Turkey, experiencing sharp decline of demand of fossil fuels on world markets. Related to COVID-19 pandemic reduction of demand has dropped to record 30%, however the experts explain that the trend is here to stay. Before the pandemic broke out Turkey has been gaining strength as an energy corridor, supplying oil and gas to Europe from oil-rich suppliers of the region. However now, in so rapidly changing world, will Ankara be able to preserve its plans, or following the hydrocarbons definite decline of demand, it will face the economic consequences of end of fossil fuel era?

In the beginning of the pandemic, China’s economy slowed down, impacting fossil fuel demand, subsequently the OPEC tried to negotiate with Russia the limitations of production, but failed, the price struggle erupted between Saudi Arabia and Russia, and oil prices collapsed. Moreover, end October crude oil prices sank after Libya’s National Oil Corp (NOC) announced the output would reach one (1) million barrels per day in four weeks. Futures in New York fell 2.3% to drop below $39 a barrel.

In this volatile context Turkey will begin to discuss the new long-term energy contacts with a number of suppliers – Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Algeria and Nigeria, of total 45 billion cubic meters of gas. Three of them are covering one third of the energy imports – with Russia, Azerbaijan and Nigeria – will expire next year. The Turkish state-owned crude oil and natural gas pipelines and trading company BOTAŞ and Russian Gazprom had to negotiate delivery of 8 billion cubic meters of gas; the contract with Azerbaijan is covering 6.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas and with Nigeria for 1.3 billion cubic meters of LNG will – all of them expire in 2021.

Till present Russia remains the largest gas supplier to Turkey – 33.6% of total imports, followed by Azerbaijan 21.2% and Iran 17.1%. The rest 28.1% is covered by the liquefied gas (LNG) from other sources. However fossil fuel companies have entered the state of “terminal decline”, and fossil fuel companies are set to face it because of falling demand and higher investment risks caused by competition from clean technologies and tougher government climate and energy security targets, according to climate finance analysts, because of falling demand accelerated by COVID-19 pandemic, and higher investment risks explained by competition from clean technologies and strict government climate and energy security targets.

In this contemporary context the belligerent rhetoric of Erdogan against President of France, reflects tensions in Turkish society, facing the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The government has no plan B to answer to the fossil fuel decline impact of the economy. According to official figures Turkey’s unemployment rate improved slightly to 12.8% in April despite the raging pandemic, while the alternative calculations indicate that more than 50% were jobless. These figures might grow sharply while fossil fuels demand is declining, and plans of President Erdogan to create Turkish energy hub became dim.

The exaltation of the crisis of the relations between Turkey and France did not come as a surprise: France had systematically criticised Turkey’s role in Syria and Libya, and nowadays the unfolding conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, defending human rights of the Armenian inhabitants there. This recent conflict has added to the other tactics of President Erdogan to deviate the attention of his compatriots from gravity of economic situation in Turkey to various conflicts and crisis he stirs in outside world.
But not only, the active Ankara political support of Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabach conflict, will certainly reflect on energy talks of next year expired contracts, the moment when Erdogan will attempt to convert his political influence into preferences and privileges enshrined in new energy energy agreements with Russia and Azerbaijan, allowing Turkey better gains from gas and oil transit.

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.