Anna van Densky On Sunday May 26 Europeans vote in an election expected to further erode traditional Eurocentric parties and boost the nationalist movements across the continent, resulting in a drastically different and difficult composition of the European Parliament – once a champion of compromise, – effecting the entire range of politics. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg).
Polls opened at 7 A.M. (0400 GMT) in the east of Europe and will finally close at 11 P.M. (2100 GMT) in Italy. Seven states have already voted, with 21 joining in on Sunday in what is the world’s biggest democratic exercise after India.
Many feel it is odd, that three years after the referendum, Britonsare back to the European Parliament, and there are certain fears, that the entire EU political agenda will be “hijacked” by Brexit.
However it is universally understood, that after Brexitthe EUproject will never be the same. Departure of the oldest European parliamentary democracy feels like an amputation.
EU in transit. Tempora mutantur – times are changed, we also are changed with them.
Anna van Densky from EP, Brussels. The Members of European Parliament (MEP) raise concerns about perspective of the UK remaining for upcoming European elections, being “one foot in, one foot out”, as Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, Belgium)said.
We cannot risk giving the keys of the EU’s future to a Boris Johnson, or a Michael Gove, the architects of this #Brexit disaster. A long extension would do exactly that. pic.twitter.com/TyFX2lepic
The perspective of electing even more Brexiteers is definitely not inspiring MEPs, open to endorse additional political declarations, if necessary, however standing firmly by the EU Commission, and Council, refusing the revision of the endorsed deal.
Si le Royaume-Uni est en mesure d'approuver l'accord de retrait avec une majorité viable d'ici au 12 avril, alors l'Union européenne devrait accepter une prorogation jusqu’au 22 mai.
While the attempting to convince Westminsterto endorse the deal the European Commission PresidentJean-Claude Juncker repeated the UK can have one more extension on condition of the Article 50 Agreement (Withdrawal Agreement) endorsement, and proposing clear plans of moving forward with the implementation. The prolongation of uncertainty is not an option.
The tone of the EU top executive was dead, and while he was offering more political declarations. Juncker’s glances were gloomy, while he switched to the part of speech, describing damages to EU, and even more so to British economy if the no-deal scenario takes place by default. He admitted to read the speech first time during his intervention in Europarliament, because “every word is important“.
“If the UK is able to approve the withdrawal agreement with a viable majority by 12 April, then the European Union should accept an extension until 22 May“, Juncker concluded.
Responding to the worst fears of MEPs, Gerard Batten(UKIP, UK)called Britons to vote massively for UKIP in case the country participates in European elections in May.
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 MinisterTheresa 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 Mayhas 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: Brexitdate on March 29, and the latest date of its possible extension on May24 (European elections), before which the UKshould 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 Europeanelections disfavoring predominant political forces, unable to preserve mutually beneficial relations with one of major European economies.
Anna van Densky OPINION All new political parties and movements, who have not yet declared their intentions are categorised as “other” in the first chart of the European Parliament projection for the composition of the upcoming in May 2019 assembly. The Movement of the President of FranceEmmanuel MacronLaRemis among “others” – the political entities, who have not decided upon their political family 100 days before the European elections.
Monsieur Macron has an ambition to lead Europe, but he is not able to decide his political color?... An identity crisis or “felix culpa”?
However Macron’s LaREM “En Marche”is not the only”amorphous” European political entity: the other indecisive congregation is the Italian Five Star Movement (M5S) also labeled with grey color on the chart. However one should not conclude that the grey color in Europe is a disadvantage: Europeans have a penchant for grey since it was noted once upon a time by Marquis de Custine. And even within grey they are able to distinguish many sophisticated shades:)
Undoubtedly there will be voters dropping ballots for amorphous entities, which allow them to stay in grey zone of comfort, avoiding clear choice between classical political right and left, but in the end with the UK leaving the bloc, the identity crisis of the President of France political party is not a major challenge for the EU27. The turn out will be the major indicator for the life expectancy of the bloc. Will it stay or decline? Up to the European to decide.
Anna van Densky OPINION It would be utmost naive to believe Spanish Socialist Prime MinisterPedro Sanchez is eager to enter history books as a man, who derailed Article 50 deal, and destroyed the the EU27 collective effort to avoid ‘hard Brexit’ over such a ‘eternal‘ issue as Gibraltar ceded to British crown in 1713. Even more so, the derailing of Brexit deal would be senseless facing the solid support of the leadership of territory unequivocally given to British government both by the Chief Minister and opposition.
After my conversation with Theresa May, our positions remain far away. My Government will always defend the interests of Spain. If there are no changes, we will veto Brexit.
However Spanish veto threats hanging as Damocles sword over the final draft deal to be presented for endorsement on the EU Brexit Summit just in a day is an ideal opportunity for Sanchez to raise his own stakes politically in Europe and gain a considerable capital at home, boosting his own popularity. Virtuoso of public relations, formed in Brussels institutions, Sanchez mastered modern communication strategies and has no intention to miss an opportunity Brexit offers.
In profound need of electoral support, Sanchez, whose ascension to power happened though elaborate parliamentary chess combination, but not the citizen’s vote, finds himself in a need of political capital, and voters sympathies, he has been chronically missing. The struggle for Gibraltar status is a ideal subject to raise media and public attention in Spainto gain so much needed for the Socialists popularity.
The other paramount issue is the Spain‘s shattered image within the EU over the Catalan referendum oppression – the last minute compromise Sanchez will offer to the bloc will be undoubtedly presented as an ultimate sacrifice on the alter of collective Europeangood to be exchanged in the future on ‘carte blanche‘ in some sensitive issues and benefits for Spain to obtain from Brussels.
Pedro Sanchez will definitely not bloc the EU27Brexit deal, and destroy the fruit of Michel Barnierelaborate arrangement to be delivered at the historic EUSummit, however there is a price for Spanish generosity the Brussels will discover later when leaders gather for the final say. Meanwhile the Article 50 game of nerves will go on, reminiscent of classic ‘Chandelier Bid‘, in order to create the appearance of greater demand or to extend bidding momentum for a piece on offer – #Gibraltar, whose inhabitants have already twice in referendums supported status quo.
This Millenium Gibraltar sovereignty referendum was held on 7 November 2002 within the British overseas territory on a proposal by London to share the sovereignty of the territory between Spain and the United Kingdom. The result was a rejection of the proposal by a landslide majority, with only just over one per cent of the electorate in favour.
Anna van Densky. OPINION. This week Brussels institutional freedom of speech reached a new low, when the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has been confronted with the demands of withdrawing his comments on corruption in Italy. During a public exchange of views, the top EU executive referred to corruption and insufficient efforts as the key obstacles, blocking the development of the poorest regions in the south of Apennines peninsula.
“Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy. That means more work; less corruption; seriousness,” Junckersaid. “We will help them as we always did. But don’t play this game of loading with responsibility the EU. A country is a country, a nation is a nation. Countries first, Europe second”. These words caused the whirlwind of emotions from newly endorsed vice-prime minister Matteo Salvini, numerous political personalities, and even the president of the European Parliament (from Italian origin) Antonio Tajani, – all of them indignant about Juncker referring to the well-established facts. Yes, objectively speaking, there is a huge problem of corruption in Italy, regarded as plague first of all by the Italians themselves.
According to the official statistics corruption, including political one, remains a major challenge, particularly in southern Italy, affecting Calabria, Campina, and Sicily, where citizens suffer from its consequences at most. Transparency International annual reports indicate Italy has been consistently assessed as one of the most corrupt countries in the Eurozone. While 2017 Corruption Perception Index ranks Italy 54th place out of 180 countries. Scoring on a par with Montenegro, Senegal and South Africa. Yearly the crime of corruption causes Italians a damage of €60 billion .
However an attempt to smother Juncker with ‘politically correct’ banning from public debate the tensions in eurozone is not a unique episode in European political life, it is a chronic syndrome. A year ago then the chair of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem came under the fire for his criticism of abuse of solidarity by heavily indebted countries of the EU south. The degree of indignation had amounted to demands of resignation put forward by Spainand Portugal. However the most striking in rude tone was the comment from Italy: “He has missed a perfect opportunity to shut up,” former Italian Socialist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi wrote in a Facebook post. “The sooner he goes, the better.”
The entire calamity was caused by the Dutchman remarks to a German newspaper: “As a social democrat, I think that solidarity is extremely important. But whoever benefits also has duties,” he added. “I can’t spend all my money on booze and women and then ask for your support.” It was the allegory implied to illustrate the role of corruption and tax evasion in ongoing Greek financial crisis that caused the indignation, not the depressing reality. The Transparency International estimated Greek tax evasion figures between €11 – €16 billion per annum ‘not collectable’, and the corruption also played ‘massive role’ in an outbreak of financial crisis. Dijsselbloem survived the criticism, so did his corrupt foes.
One year later the situation of tensions between the north and south of eurozone reflected in Dijsselbloem polemics has not improved in a meaningful way, but instead of fighting grim realities of corruption, the Italian politicians almost unanimously prefer to put some makeup on a face touched by leprosy, while the northern societies reject to accept the trick, requesting accountability. Dijsselbloem then, and Juncker now said what millions of taxpayers in the north of Europe know and think, and silencing them one guarantees the rising pressure of their discontent, because they are the ones to endorse the checks.
Obviously, the expected contemporary modus operandi of the presidents of European institutions, reserving them a role of modern royals – smiling to cameras and shaking hands, plus signing big checks for charity – will not please the EU taxpayers from the northern countries. Being the donors to the southern economies, where a portion of their transfers is systematically disappearing in the pockets of the corrupt, they are increasingly concerned about the profile of the recipients of their funds.
With the upcoming departure of the UK, the second net contributor to the EU budget, the monitoring of funds transferred from donors to recipients in the bloc will be much more keen. It is possible to smother the heads of the EU institutions by ‘politically correct’ reserving them a public role of mute modern royals, but it will hit back, undermining the trust in EU institutions, unable to defend the European values.
“Sans la liberté de blâmer, il n’est pas d’éloge flatteur”, Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (“Where there is no freedom of blaming, there can be no genuine praise”).
The omitted factors in presumption of Moscow deliberate assault on a former KGB Colonel Sergei Skripal with Cold War mass-destruction chemical weapon Novichok reduce the blame of Prime Minister Theresa May to a highly subjective hypothesis.
Challenging the official conclusions, different episodes from Novichok sinister legend frame the official British version as endogenous, thus serving the political strategy of accusing Kremlin, but not pursuing the search of the truth, which goes begging…
The narrative of Novichok is deeply rooted in Cold War, when the USSR was flaunting its military might. The Communist party was so proud of a possession of such a powerful chemical weapon, that honoured both inventors of Novichok – Vladimir Ouglev (Владимир Углев) and Vil Mirzayanov (Виль Мирзаянов) with Lenin Prize (1991) for a break-thought in science. The special achievements of this new generation of nerve agents were it is unprecedented might – with one liter of liquid a population of multi-million city could be destroyed without a chance of recovery. The other characteristic was in method of application – in unremarkable composing elements, which represent no danger to humans if kept apart, will produce a lethal effect when assembled.
“Scripals are practically dead”, said the Vil Mirzayanov, an immigrant in the USA since collapse of the Soviet Empire. “And even if they survive, they will never recover”, he added. There is not antidote to Novichok.
Tragically Skirpals attacked with nerve agent were not the only victims who came to public attention. The sinister story of Russian banker Ivan Kivelidi (1995) assassinated by application of chemical weapon to a telephone in his office, shocked Russians. His secretary (30) and coroner (40) who performed autopsy on Kivelidi’s body also lost their lives – the poison was so powerful, that continued the devastation in derivatives.
After this sequence of suspicious deaths the investigation led to an employer of the scientific laboratory in the institute where the chemical was invented, and his wealthy client, who purchased the formula, – a businessman and former victim’s partner – Vladimir Khutsishvili. Both men arrested and sentenced. It is useful to mention that Kivelidi was not just “a” banker, but a chair of a club of bankers, with a pronounced interest in politics.
However it was unclear then how the former partner managed to insert the nerve agent in the telephone membrane – one should have special costume, triple layer gloves and gas mask to survive the manipulation, but the accused Vladimir Khutsishvili entered the office of the victim in tenue de ville…
At present one of two Novichok inventors lives in the USA, Mirzaynov claims that he revealed the formula of the chemical in his book, and at collapse of the USSR warned Americans about this secret Russian weapon, that should have been included in the list of prohibited substances. Russian expert at United Nations Igor Nikulin confirmed that the formula of Novichok was known by the potential foes after collapse of the USSR.
At present Russians instantly deny the possession of Novichok – in 1997 Kremlin ratified the Convention of prohibition of chemical weapons, and subsequently President Putin received report of a complete destruction of the entire Soviet arsenal in Russian Federation. But Igor Nikulin added that Novichok samples could have been kept in any of the former Soviet Republics after collapse of the Communist system. In the USSR one of the leading production laboratories of chemical weapons was situated in Noukous, in Uzbekistan, outside Russian jurisdiction, where the government worked closely with the USA in destruction of its arsenal.
Considering these omitted in public debate factors – the leak of Novichok formula from laboratory in 90th, and migration of its inventor Vil Mirzayanov to the USA, the access to production and samples in Soviet Republics, which became independent states, – the circle of potential holders of the nerve agent formula is significantly larger than Lubyanka secret service office in Moscow.
Beyond mentioned above, there are too many inexplicable elements in the assassination of Sripals: why father and daughter collapsed at the same moment? If she was the one who brought poison in her luggage from Moscow, and was exposed to it first, logically there should have been a time difference in their collapse, but there was not. If the suitcase was contaminated with such a powerful nerve agent as British media reports claim, all workers along the air transport chain should have been dead by now, but fortunately there are no reports of any ‘suspicious deaths’ so far. But was it Novichok, or some other nerve agent?.. Only an independent international inquiry can establish the truth, until independent experts have an access to the information, the accusations would remains in the realm of hypothesis, serving political concept of demonizing Russians, and dragging the world backward into Cold War era, where Skirpal belongs.
Recruited by MI6 while serving as a military attaché of Russian Embassy in Spain, Skripal sold 20 000 pages of secret documents, receiving more than £100 000 in 10 years before his arrest in 2004, and subsequent sentence for 13 years.
The former double agent was pardoned five years later in a swap operation between Moscow and Washington. Freed, the disgraced Colonel installed in a small English town of Salisbury, not far from his recruiter, where he led low profile lifestyle, until the spectacular assassination, worth masterpieces of Bondiana, when Skripal’s name stormed the headlines of media worldwide, and ascended to UN debate.