Analiza publicata pe blogul stelian-tanase.ro
Text+analiza+grafica+sursa informationala: Stratfor.com
Autor: Marco Papic
Europe continues to be engulfed by economic crisis. The global focus returns to Athens on June 28 as Greek parliamentarians debate austerity measures imposed on them by eurozone partners. If the Greeks vote down these measures, Athens will not receive its second bailout, which could create an even worse crisis in Europe and the world.
It is important to understand that the crisis is not fundamentally about Greece or even about the indebtedness of the entire currency bloc. After all, Greece represents only 2.5 percent of the eurozone’s gross domestic product (GDP), and the bloc’s fiscal numbers are not that bad when looked at in the aggregate. Its overall deficit and debt figures are in a better shape than those of the United States — the U.S. budget deficit stood at 10.6 percent of GDP in 2010, compared to 6.4 percent for the European Union — yet the focus continues to be on Europe.
That is because the real crisis is the more fundamental question of how the European continent is to be ruled in the 21st century. Europe has emerged from its subservience during the Cold War, when it was the geopolitical chessboard for the Soviet Union and the United States. It won its independence by default as the superpowers retreated: Russia withdrawing to its Soviet sphere of influence and the United States switching its focus to the Middle East after 9/11. Since the 1990s, Europe has dabbled with institutional reform but has left the fundamental question of political integration off the table, even as it integrated economically. This is ultimately the source of the current sovereign debt crisis, the lack of political oversight over economic integration gone wrong.
The eurozone’s economic crisis brought this question of Europe’s political fate into focus, but it is a recurring issue. Roughly every 100 years, Europe confronts this dilemma. The Continent suffers from overpopulation — of nations, not people. Europe has the largest concentration of independent nation-states per square foot than any other continent. While Africa is larger and has more countries, no continent has as many rich and relatively powerful countries as Europe does. This is because, geographically, the Continent is riddled with features that prevent the formation of a single political entity. Mountain ranges, peninsulas and islands limit the ability of large powers to dominate or conquer the smaller ones. No single river forms a unifying river valley that can dominate the rest of the Continent. The Danube comes close, but it drains into the practically landlocked Black Sea, the only exit from which is another practically landlocked sea, the Mediterranean. This limits Europe’s ability to produce an independent entity capable of global power projection.
However, Europe does have plenty of rivers, convenient transportation routes and well-sheltered harbors. This allows for capital generation at a number of points on the Continent, such as Vienna, Paris, London, Frankfurt, Rotterdam, Milan, Turin and Hamburg. Thus, while large armies have trouble physically pushing through the Continent and subverting various nations under one rule, ideas, capital, goods and services do not. This makes Europe rich (the Continent has at least the equivalent GDP of the United States, and it could be larger depending how one calculates it).
What makes Europe rich, however, also makes it fragmented. The current political and security architectures of Europe — the EU and NATO — were encouraged by the United States in order to unify the Continent so that it could present a somewhat united front against the Soviet Union. They did not grow organically out of the Continent. This is a problem because Moscow is no longer a threat for all European countries, Germany and France see Russia as a business partner and European states are facing their first true challenge to Continental governance, with fragmentation and suspicion returning in full force. Closer unification and the creation of some sort of United States of Europe seems like the obvious solution to the problems posed by the eurozone sovereign debt crisis — although the eurozone’s problems are many and not easily solved just by integration, and Europe’s geography and history favor fragmentation.
The European Union is a confederation of states that outsources day-to-day management of many policy spheres to a bureaucratic arm (the European Commission) and monetary policy to the European Central Bank. The important policy issues, such as defense, foreign policy and taxation, remain the sole prerogatives of the states. The states still meet in various formats to deal with these problems. Solutions to the Greek, Irish and Portuguese fiscal problems are agreed upon by all eurozone states on an ad hoc basis, as is participation in the Libyan military campaign within the context of the European Union. Every important decision requires that the states meet and reach a mutually acceptable solution, often producing non-optimal outcomes that are products of compromise.
The best analogy for the contemporary European Union is found not in European history but in American history. This is the period between the successful Revolutionary War in 1783 and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1788. Within that five-year period, the United States was governed by a set of laws drawn up in the Articles of the Confederation. The country had no executive, no government, no real army and no foreign policy. States retained their own armies and many had minor coastal navies. They conducted foreign and trade policy independent of the wishes of the Continental Congress, a supranational body that had less power than even the European Parliament of today (this despite Article VI of the Articles of Confederation, which stipulated that states would not be able to conduct independent foreign policy without the consent of Congress). Congress was supposed to raise funds from the states to fund such things as a Continental Army, pay benefits to the veterans of the Revolutionary War and pay back loans that European powers gave Americans during the war against the British. States, however, refused to give Congress money, and there was nothing anybody could do about it. Congress was forced to print money, causing the Confederation’s currency to become worthless.
With such a loose confederation set-up, the costs of the Revolutionary War were ultimately unbearable for the fledgling nation. The reality of the international system, which pitted the new nation against aggressive European powers looking to subvert America’s independence, soon engulfed the ideals of states’ independence and limited government. Social, economic and security burdens proved too great for individual states to contain and a powerless Congress to address.
Nothing brought this reality home more than a rebellion in Western Massachusetts led by Daniel Shays in 1787. Shays’ Rebellion was, at its heart, an economic crisis. Burdened by European lenders calling for repayment of America’s war debt, the states’ economies collapsed and with them the livelihoods of many rural farmers, many of whom were veterans of the Revolutionary War who had been promised benefits. Austerity measures — often in the form of land confiscation — were imposed on the rural poor to pay off the European creditors. Shays’ Rebellion was put down without the help of the Continental Congress essentially by a local Massachusetts militia acting without any real federal oversight. The rebellion was defeated, but America’s impotence was apparent for all to see, both foreign and domestic.
An economic crisis, domestic insecurity and constant fear of a British counterattack — Britain had not demobilized forts it held on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes — impressed upon the independent-minded states that a “more perfect union” was necessary. Thus the United States of America, as we know it today, was formed. States gave up their rights to conduct foreign policy, to set trade policies independent of each other and to withhold funds from the federal government. The United States set up an executive branch with powers to wage war and conduct foreign policy, as well as a legislature that could no longer be ignored. In 1794, the government’s response to the so-called Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania showed the strength of the federal arrangement, in stark contrast to the Continental Congress’ handling of Shays’ Rebellion. Washington dispatched an army of more than 10,000 men to suppress a few hundred distillers refusing to pay a new whiskey tax to fund the national debt, thereby sending a clear message of the new government’s overwhelming fiscal, political and military power.
When examining the evolution of the American Confederation into the United States of America, one can find many parallels with the European Union, among others a weak center, independent states, economic crisis and over-indebtedness. The most substantial difference between the United States in the late 18th century and Europe in the 21st century is the level of external threat. In 1787, Shays’ Rebellion impressed upon many Americans — particularly George Washington, who was irked by the crisis — just how weak the country was. If a band of farmers could threaten one of the strongest states in the union, what would the British forces still garrisoned on American soil and in Quebec to the north be able to do? States could independently muddle through the economic crisis, but they could not prevent a British counterattack or protect their merchant fleet against Barbary pirates. America could not survive another such mishap and such a wanton display of military and political impotence.
To America’s advantage, the states all shared similar geography as well as similar culture and language. Although they had different economic policies and interests, all of them ultimately depended upon seaborne Atlantic trade. The threat that such trade would be choked off by a superior naval force — or even by North African pirates — was a clear and present danger. The threat of British counterattack from the north may not have been an existential threat to the southern states, but they realized that if New York, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania were lost, the South might preserve some nominal independence but would quickly revert to de facto colonial status.
In Europe, there is no such clarity of what constitutes a threat. Even though there is a general sense — at least among the governing elites — that Europeans share economic interests, it is very clear that their security interests are not complementary. There is no agreed-upon perception of an external threat. For Central European states that only recently became European Union and NATO members, Russia still poses a threat. They have asked NATO (and even the European Union) to refocus on the European continent and for the alliance to reassure them of its commitment to their security. In return, they have seen France selling advanced helicopter carriers to Russia and Germany building an advanced military training center in Russia.
The eurozone crisis — which is engulfing EU member states using the euro but is symbolically important for the entire European Union — is therefore a crisis of trust. Do the current political and security arrangements in Europe — the European Union and NATO — capture the right mix of nation-state interests? Do the member states of those organizations truly feel that they share the same fundamental fate? Are they willing, as the American colonies were at the end of the 18th century, to give up their independence in order to create a common front against political, economic and security concerns? And if the answer to these questions is no, then what are the alternative arrangements that do capture complementary nation-state interests?
On the security front, we already have our answer: the regionalization of European security organizations. NATO has ceased to effectively respond to the national security interests of European states. Germany and France have pursued an accommodationist attitude toward Russia, to the chagrin of the Baltic States and Central Europe. As a response, these Central European states have begun to arrange alternatives. The four Central European states that make up the regional Visegrad Group — Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary — have used the forum as the mold in which to create a Central European battle group. Baltic States, threatened by Russia’s general resurgence, have looked to expand military and security cooperation with the Nordic countries, with Lithuania set to join the Nordic Battlegroup, of which Estonia is already a member. France and the United Kingdom have decided to enhance cooperation with an expansive military agreement at the end of 2010, and London has also expressed an interest in becoming close to the developing Baltic-Nordic cooperative military ventures.
Regionalization is currently most evident in security matters, but it is only a matter of time before it begins to manifest itself in political and economic matters as well. For example, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been forthcoming about wanting Poland and the Czech Republic to speed up their efforts to enter the eurozone. Recently, both indicated that they had cooled on the idea of eurozone entry. The decision, of course, has a lot to do with the euro being in a state of crisis, but we cannot underestimate the underlying sense in Warsaw that Berlin is not committed to Poland’s security. Central Europeans may not currently be in the eurozone (save for Estonia, Slovenia and Slovakia), but the future of the eurozone is intertwined in its appeal to the rest of Europe as both an economic and political bloc. All EU member states are contractually obligated to enter the eurozone (save for Denmark and the United Kingdom, which negotiated opt-outs). From Germany’s perspective, membership of the Czech Republic and Poland is more important than that of peripheral Europe. Germany’s trade with Poland and the Czech Republic alone is greater than its trade with Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined.
The security regionalization of Europe is not a good sign for the future of the eurozone. A monetary union cannot be grafted onto security disunion, especially if the solution to the eurozone crisis becomes more integration. Warsaw is not going to give Berlin veto power over its budget spending if the two are not in agreement over what constitutes a security threat. This argument may seem simple, and it is cogent precisely because it is. Taxation is one of the most basic forms of state sovereignty, and one does not share it with countries that do not share one’s political, economic and security fate.
This goes for any country, not just Poland. If the solution to the eurozone crisis is greater integration, then the interests of the integrating states have to be closely aligned on more than just economic matters. The U.S. example from the late 18th century is particularly instructive, as one could make a cogent argument that American states had more divergent economic interests than European states do today, and yet their security concerns brought them together. In fact, the moment the external threat diminished in the mid-19th century due to Europe’s exhaustion from the Napoleonic Wars, American unity was shaken by the Civil War. America’s economic and cultural bifurcation, which existed even during the Revolutionary War, erupted in conflagration the moment the external threat was removed.
The bottom line is that Europeans have to agree on more than just a 3 percent budget-deficit threshold as the foundation for closer integration. Control over budgets goes to the very heart of sovereignty, and European nations will not give up that control unless they know their security and political interests will be taken seriously by their neighbors.
We therefore see Europe evolving into a set of regionalized groupings. These organizations may have different ideas about security and economic matters, one country may even belong to more than one grouping, but for the most part membership will largely be based on location on the Continent. This will not happen overnight. Germany, France and other core economies have a vested interest in preserving the eurozone in its current form for the short-term — perhaps as long as another decade — since the economic contagion from Greece is an existential concern for the moment. In the long-term, however, regional organizations of like-minded blocs is the path that seems to be evolving in Europe, especially if Germany decides that its relationship with core eurozone countries and Central Europe is more important than its relationship with the periphery.
We can separate the blocs into four main fledgling groupings, which are not mutually exclusive, as a sort of model to depict the evolving relationships among countries in Europe:
And then there are France and the United Kingdom. These countries do not really belong to any bloc. This is London’s traditional posture with regard to continental Europe, although it has recently begun to establish a relationship with the Nordic-Baltic group. France, meanwhile, could be considered part of the German sphere of influence. Paris is attempting to hold onto its leadership role in the eurozone and is revamping its labor-market rules and social benefits to sustain its connection to the German-dominated currency bloc, a painful process. However, France traditionally is also a Mediterranean country and has considered Central European alliances in order to surround Germany. It also recently entered into a new bilateral military relationship with the United Kingdom, in part as a hedge against its close relationship with Germany. If France decides to exit its partnership with Germany, it could quickly gain control of its normal sphere of influence in the Mediterranean, probably with enthusiastic backing from a host of other powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom. In fact, its discussion of a Mediterranean Union was a political hedge, an insurance policy, for exactly such a future.
The alternative to the regionalization of Europe is clear German leadership that underwrites — economically and politically — greater European integration. If Berlin can overcome the anti-euro populism that is feeding on bailout fatigue in the eurozone core, it could continue to support the periphery and prove its commitment to the eurozone and the European Union. Germany is also trying to show Central Europe that its relationship with Russia is a net positive by using its negotiations with Moscow over Moldova as an example of German political clout.
Central Europeans, however, are already putting Germany’s leadership and commitment to the test. Poland assumes the EU presidency July 1 and has made the union’s commitment to increase funding for new EU member states, as well as EU defense cooperation, its main initiatives. Both policies are a test for Germany and an offer for it to reverse the ongoing security regionalization. If Berlin says no to new money for the newer EU member states — at stake is the union’s cohesion-policy funding, which in the 2007-2013 budget period totaled 177 billion euros — and no to EU-wide security/defense arrangements, then Warsaw, Prague and other Central European capitals have their answer. The question is whether Germany is serious about being a leader of Europe and paying the price to be the hegemon of a united Europe, which would not only mean funding bailouts but also standing up to Russia. If it places its relationship with Russia over its alliance with Central Europe, then it will be difficult for Central Europeans to follow Berlin. This will mean that the regionalization of Europe’s security architecture — via the Visegrad Group and Nordic-Baltic battle groups — makes sense. It will also mean that Central Europeans will have to find new ways to draw the United States into the region for security.
Common security perception is about states understanding that they share the same fate. American states understood this at the end of the 18th century, which is why they gave up their independence, setting the United States on the path toward superpower status. Europeans — at least at present — do not see their situation (or the world) in the same light. Bailouts are enacted not because Greeks share the same fate as Germans but because German bankers share the same fate as German taxpayers. This is a sign that integration has progressed to a point where economic fate is shared, but this is an inadequate baseline on which to build a common political union.
Bailing out Greece is seen as an affront to the German taxpayer, even though that same German taxpayer has benefited disproportionally from the eurozone’s creation. The German government understands the benefits of preserving the eurozone — which is why it continues bailing out the peripheral countries — but there has been no national debate in Germany to explain this logic to the populace. Germany is still waiting to have an open conversation with itself about its role and its future, and especially what price it is willing to pay for regional hegemony and remaining relevant in a world fast becoming dominated by powers capable of harnessing the resources of entire continents.
Without a coherent understanding in Europe that its states all share the same fate, the Greek crisis has little chance of being Europe’s Shays’ Rebellion, triggering deeper unification. Instead of a United States of Europe, its fate will be ongoing regionalization.
La 12 mai s-a infiintat blocul militar V4, care cuprinde Polonia, Ungaria, Cehia si Slovacia. Acest grup militar isi propune realizarea unei aliante militare care se va intinde de la Marea Nordului la Marea Neagra. Comandamentul militar se afla in mana generalilor polonezi.
Visegrad: A New Europe Military Force
Text + grafica + analiza + sursa informationala: Stratfor.com
Autor: George Friedman
With the Palestinians demonstrating and the International Monetary Fund in turmoil, it would seem odd to focus this week on something called the Visegrad Group. But this is not a frivolous choice. What the Visegrad Group decided to do last week will, I think, resonate for years, long after the alleged attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn is forgotten and long before the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved. The obscurity of the decision to most people outside the region should not be allowed to obscure its importance.
The region is Europe — more precisely, the states that had been dominated by the Soviet Union. The Visegrad Group, or V4, consists of four countries — Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary — and is named after two 14th century meetings held in Visegrad Castle in present-day Hungary of leaders of the medieval kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. The group was reconstituted in 1991 in post-Cold War Europe as the Visegrad Three (at that time, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were one). The goal was to create a regional framework after the fall of Communism. This week the group took an interesting new turn.
On May 12, the Visegrad Group announced the formation of a “battle group” under the command of Poland. The battle group would be in place by 2016 as an independent force and would not be part of NATO command. In addition, starting in 2013, the four countries would begin military exercises together under the auspices of the NATO Response Force.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the primary focus of all of the Visegrad nations had been membership in the European Union and NATO. Their evaluation of their strategic position was threefold. First, they felt that the Russian threat had declined if not dissipated following the fall of the Soviet Union. Second, they felt that their economic future was with the European Union. Third, they believed that membership in NATO, with strong U.S. involvement, would protect their strategic interests. Of late, their analysis has clearly been shifting.
First, Russia has changed dramatically since the Yeltsin years. It has increased its power in the former Soviet sphere of influence substantially, and in 2008 it carried out an effective campaign against Georgia. Since then it has also extended its influence in other former Soviet states. The Visegrad members’ underlying fear of Russia, built on powerful historical recollection, has become more intense. They are both the front line to the former Soviet Union and the countries that have the least confidence that the Cold War is simply an old memory.
Second, the infatuation with Europe, while not gone, has frayed. The ongoing economic crisis, now focused again on Greece, has raised two questions: whether Europe as an entity is viable and whether the reforms proposed to stabilize Europe represent a solution for them or primarily for the Germans. It is not, by any means, that they have given up the desire to be Europeans, nor that they have completely lost faith in the European Union as an institution and an idea. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to expect that these countries would not be uneasy about the direction that Europe was taking. If one wants evidence, look no further than the unease with which Warsaw and Prague are deflecting questions about the eventual date of their entry into the Eurozone. Both are the strongest economies in Central Europe, and neither is enthusiastic about the euro.
Finally, there are severe questions as to whether NATO provides a genuine umbrella of security to the region and its members. The NATO strategic concept, which was drawn up in November 2010, generated substantial concern on two scores. First, there was the question of the degree of American commitment to the region, considering that the document sought to expand the alliance’s role in non-European theaters of operation. For example, the Americans pledged a total of one brigade to the defense of Poland in the event of a conflict, far below what Poland thought necessary to protect the North European Plain. Second, the general weakness of European militaries meant that, willingness aside, the ability of the Europeans to participate in defending the region was questionable. Certainly, events in Libya, where NATO had neither a singular political will nor the military participation of most of its members, had to raise doubts. It was not so much the wisdom of going to war but the inability to create a coherent strategy and deploy adequate resources that raised questions of whether NATO would be any more effective in protecting the Visegrad nations.
There is another consideration. Germany’s commitment to both NATO and the EU has been fraying. The Germans and the French split on the Libya question, with Germany finally conceding politically but unwilling to send forces. Libya might well be remembered less for the fate of Moammar Gadhafi than for the fact that this was the first significant strategic break between Germany and France in decades. German national strategy has been to remain closely aligned with France in order to create European solidarity and to avoid Franco-German tensions that had roiled Europe since 1871. This had been a centerpiece of German foreign policy, and it was suspended, at least temporarily.
The Germans obviously are struggling to shore up the European Union and questioning precisely how far they are prepared to go in doing so. There are strong political forces in Germany questioning the value of the EU to Germany, and with every new wave of financial crises requiring German money, that sentiment becomes stronger. In the meantime, German relations with Russia have become more important to Germany. Apart from German dependence on Russian energy, Germany has investment opportunities in Russia. The relationship with Russia is becoming more attractive to Germany at the same time that the relationship to NATO and the EU has become more problematic.
For all of the Visegrad countries, any sense of a growing German alienation from Europe and of a growing German-Russian economic relationship generates warning bells. Before the Belarusian elections there was hope in Poland that pro-Western elements would defeat the least unreformed regime in the former Soviet Union. This didn’t happen. Moreover, pro-Western elements have done nothing to solidify in Moldova or break the now pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Uncertainty about European institutions and NATO, coupled with uncertainty about Germany’s attention, has caused a strategic reconsideration — not to abandon NATO or the EU, of course, nor to confront the Russians, but to prepare for all eventualities.
It is in this context that the decision to form a Visegradian battle group must be viewed. Such an independent force, a concept generated by the European Union as a European defense plan, has not generated much enthusiasm or been widely implemented. The only truly robust example of an effective battle group is the Nordic Battle Group, but then that is not surprising. The Nordic countries share the same concerns as the Visegrad countries — the future course of Russian power, the cohesiveness of Europe and the commitment of the United States.
In the past, the Visegrad countries would have been loath to undertake anything that felt like a unilateral defense policy. Therefore, the decision to do this is significant in and of itself. It represents a sense of how these countries evaluate the status of NATO, the U.S. attention span, European coherence and Russian power. It is not the battle group itself that is significant but the strategic decision of these powers to form a sub-alliance, if you will, and begin taking responsibility for their own national security. It is not what they expected or wanted to do, but it is significant that they felt compelled to begin moving in this direction.
Just as significant is the willingness of Poland to lead this military formation and to take the lead in the grouping as a whole. Poland is the largest of these countries by far and in the least advantageous geographical position. The Poles are trapped between the Germans and the Russians. Historically, when Germany gets close to Russia, Poland tends to suffer. It is not at that extreme point yet, but the Poles do understand the possibilities. In July, the Poles will be assuming the EU presidency in one of the union’s six-month rotations. The Poles have made clear that one of their main priorities will be Europe’s military power. Obviously, little can happen in Europe in six months, but this clearly indicates where Poland’s focus is.
The militarization of the V4 runs counter to its original intent but is in keeping with the geopolitical trends in the region. Some will say this is over-reading on my part or an overreaction on the part of the V4, but it is neither. For the V4, the battle group is a modest response to emerging patterns in the region, which STRATFOR had outlined in its 2011 Annual Forecast. As for my reading, I regard the new patterns not as a minor diversion from the main pattern but as a definitive break in the patterns of the post-Cold War world. In my view, the post-Cold War world ended in 2008, with the financial crisis and the Russo-Georgian war. We are in a new era, as yet unnamed, and we are seeing the first breaks in the post-Cold War pattern.
I have argued in previous articles and books that there is a divergent interest between the European countries on the periphery of Russia and those farther west, particularly Germany. For the countries on the periphery, there is a perpetual sense of insecurity, generated not only by Russian power compared to their own but also by uncertainty as to whether the rest of Europe would be prepared to defend them in the event of Russian actions. The V4 and the other countries south of them are not as sanguine about Russian intentions as others farther away are. Perhaps they should be, but geopolitical realities drive consciousness and insecurity and distrust defines this region.
I had also argued that an alliance only of the four northernmost countries is insufficient. I used the concept “Intermarium,” which had first been raised after World War I by a Polish leader, Joseph Pilsudski, who understood that Germany and the Soviet Union would not be permanently weak and that Poland and the countries liberated from the Hapsburg Empire would have to be able to defend themselves and not have to rely on France or Britain.
Pilsudski proposed an alliance stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and encompassing the countries to the west of the Carpathians — Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In some formulations, this would include Yugoslavia, Finland and the Baltics. The point was that Poland had to have allies, that no one could predict German and Soviet strength and intentions, and that the French and English were too far away to help. The only help Poland could have would be an alliance of geography — countries with no choice.
It follows from this that the logical evolution here is the extension of the Visegrad coalition. At the May 12 defense ministers’ meeting, there was discussion of inviting Ukraine to join in. Twenty or even 10 years ago, that would have been a viable option. Ukraine had room to maneuver. But the very thing that makes the V4 battle group necessary — Russian power — limits what Ukraine can do. The Russians are prepared to give Ukraine substantial freedom to maneuver, but that does not include a military alliance with the Visegrad countries.
===>An alliance with Ukraine would provide significant strategic depth. It is unlikely to happen. That means that the alliance must stretch south, to include Romania and Bulgaria. The low-level tension between Hungary and Romania over the status of Hungarians in Romania makes that difficult, but if the Hungarians can live with the Slovaks, they can live with the Romanians. Ultimately, the interesting question is whether Turkey can be persuaded to participate in this, but that is a question far removed from Turkish thinking now. History will have to evolve quite a bit for this to take place. For now, the question is Romania and Bulgaria.<===
But the decision of the V4 to even propose a battle group commanded by Poles is one of those small events that I think will be regarded as a significant turning point. However we might try to trivialize it and place it in a familiar context, it doesn’t fit. It represents a new level of concern over an evolving reality — the power of Russia, the weakness of Europe and the fragmentation of NATO. This is the last thing the Visegrad countries wanted to do, but they have now done the last thing they wanted to do. That is what is significant.
Events in the Middle East and Europe’s economy are significant and of immediate importance. However, sometimes it is necessary to recognize things that are not significant yet but will be in 10 years. I believe this is one of those events. It is a punctuation mark in European history.
Autor: Principele Radu al Romaniei
Sursa informationala: ACUM
Componenta diplomatică a regalității a fost mereu o constantă, o fațetă importantă a instituției monarhice, în toate timpurile. În programul săptămânal al Familiilor Regale, reprezentarea, ospitalitatea și diplomația sunt fundamente ale activității publice. A fost așa și va rămâne mereu așa. Fiindcă ambientul, cadrul în care Familia Regală trăiește și muncește este dătător de inspirație, mândrie, încredere, confort identitar. Ritualul de zi cu zi al primirilor și vizitelor regale este un prilej de a face națiunea mai bine înțeleasă în lume, el este un fel de carte de vizită vie a unei țări.
În Familia Regală română acest aspect a fost valabil mereu, chiar și în anii exilului. Nenumărate au fost vizitele Regelui Mihai și ale Reginei Ana, ale Reginei-mamă Elena, apoi ale Principeselor în lume, pentru a reprezenta cum se cuvine țara din care veneau. În ultimii douăzeci de ani aceste eforturi de reprezentare externă nu au făcut decât să crească.
Urmând tradiția Reginei Maria, Principesa Moștenitoare a fost reprezentanta Familiei cea mai activă în plan extern. Dacă ar fi să numărărăm deplasările ei externe, din Elveția sau, după 2001, din România, am ajunge la cifre remarcabile.
În iunie 2009 și aprilie 2010 am fost oaspeții Regelui Juan Carlos I și ai Regine Sofia la Madrid. În cea de-a doua vizită, Regele Mihai I și Regina Ana au luat, de asemenea, parte la slujba de Înviere din Piața Columb, în prezența a mii de români. Principele și Principesa de Asturia au fost prezenți la întâlnirea din aprilie 2010.
Regina Elisabeta a II-a și Ducele de Edinburg au fost gazdele noastre în noiembrie 2008, la Palatul Buckigham. Au fost prezenți Principele de Wales și Ducesa de Cornwall. Cu aceeași ocazie, ne-am întâlnit cu Președintele Hamid Karzai al Afganistanului, cu Regele Abdullah II al Iordaniei, cu Emirul Qatarului și cu Regele Bahrainului. Au fost, de asemenea, prezenți majoritatea regilor și reginelor Europei. În noiembrie 2009, Regina Elisabeta II ne-a primit din nou, pe Principesa Moștenitoare și pe mine, la Palatul Buckingham. În anul 2007, am fost oaspeții Principelui de Wales la Clarence House. În mai 2010, Principele Charles a dorit să vină la Palatul Elisabeta, pentru a sărbători alături de noi cei cincizeci de ani ai mei, și numai un detaliu neprevăzut din program l-a împiedicat să o facă.
În noiembrie 2009 am efectuat prima noastră vizită în Statul Qatar, ca oaspeți ai Alteței Sale Emirului.
În aprilie 2010 am fost oaspeții Regelui Abdullah II, în Iordania. Cu acea ocazie ne-am întâlnit cu Principesa Muna, mama Suveranului, și cu Principele El Hassan.
În patru ocazii, în ultimii ani, am fost oaspeții Marelui Duce și ai Marei Ducese de Luxemburg. Cum Luxemburg este, alături de Bruxelles și de Strasbourg, una dintre capitalele Uniunii Europene, vizitele au fost un prilej de a avea contacte cu înalți oficiali europeni.
La Bruxellles, în ultimii ani am fost primiți de Regele Albert II și de Regina Paola, ne-am întâlnit cu Principele Moștenitor Philippe și Principesa Moștenitoare Mathilde, cu Regina Fabiola, cu Principesa Astrid și Principele Lorenz. De asemenea, Principesa Moștenitoare și cu mine ne-am întâlnit cu președintele Parlamentului European, Hans-Gert Pöttering și cu președintele Comisiei Europene, José Manuel Barosso și cu doamna Margarida Barosso.
În anul 2006, Principesa Moștenitoare și cu mine am reprezentat România și Familia Regală la Stockholm, invitați de Regele Carl XVI Gustaf și Regina Silvia, cu ocazia ceremoniilor de Stat prilejuite de jubileul de 60 de ani ai Regelui. În iunie 2010, amândoi am reprezentat Familia Regală română la căsătoria Principesei Moștenitoare Victoria cu Principele Daniel.
În anul 2007 am efectuat o vizită în Senegal, în cursul căreia m-m-am întâlnit cu oficiali parlamentari, guvernamentali și militari, la Dakar și Saint-Louis. De asemenea, am fost oaspetele Primei Doamne a Senegalului, Viviane Wade, la Palatul Prezidențial.
În Turneele Prieteniei din SUA, Principesa și cu mine am fost primiți de Guvernatorii statelor Illinos, Ohio și Nevada.
La Moscova, în mai 2005, Regele Mihai și Regina Ana, însoțiți de mine, am fost prezenți la comemorarea împlinirii a 60 de ani de la încheierea celui de-al doilea război mondial. Atunci am întâlnit pe Președintele Vladimir Putin. Cu ocazia comemorării a 65 de ani de la aelași eveniment, în mai 2010, Regele Mihai, însoțit de mine, a fost din nou prezent la Moscova, unde s-a întâlnit cu Președintele Dmitri Medvedev.
Regele Mihai și Regina Ana, însoțiți de mine, s-au întâlnit cu Președintele Slovaciei și cu Prima Doamnă a Cehiei, Livia Klausova, în mai 2005, la Bratislava și Praga. O nouă vizită la Praga este programată pentru noiembrie 2010.
În anul 2005, am fost primit la Tbilisi, în cadrul primei mele vizite în Georgia, de Președintele Mihail Saakașvili.
La Paris, Prima Doamnă a Franței, Bernadette Chirac, a onorat cu prezența sa Gala Fundației Principesa Margareta a României, în anul 2006.
Regele Mihai și Regina Ana au fost primiți în audiență privată la Vatican, de Papa Ioan Paul al II-lea, în anul 1999. Principesa Mpoștenitoare și cu mine am fost primiți în audiență generală, în aprilie 2003. Regele Mihai a participat la funeraliile Papei Ioan Paul al II-lea.
În diverse ocazii oficiale, am întâlnit în capitale ale Europei înalte personalități statale: Principele Moștenitor Naruhito al Japoniei la Madrid în anul 2004, Principesa Sirindhorn a Thailandei la Luxemburg în 2006, Regina Beatrix a Olandei în 2006, 2007 și 2008, pe Regele Harald V la Londra în 2008, pe Președintele Stipe Mesici la Zagreb în 2004 și la Moscova în 2005 și 2010.
La rândul nostru, am fost gazde la București sau Săvârșin în multe ocazii. Principele Felipe și Principesa Letiția ai Spaniei în 2009, Prima doamnă a Cehiei în 2006, Prima doamnă a Senegalului în 2008, Marele Duce Henri și Marea Ducesă Maria Tereza ai Luxemburgului în 2005, Regele Carl XVI Gustaf și Regina Silvia ai Suediei în 2003, Regele Juan Carlos și Regina Sofia ai Spaniei în 2003, Regele Simeon și Regina Margarita ai Bulgariei în 2006, 2008 și 2009, Arhiducele Otto al Austriei în 2007, Principele Suveran al Ordinului de Malta în 2003, ocazie cu care Principesa Margareta a primit Marea Cruce a Ordinului, Principesa Astrid și Principele Lorenz în anul 2006, Regele Constantin II și Regina Anne-Marie ai Greciei în 2008, Președintele Parlamentului Filipinelor în anul 2006, Principele El Hassan al Iordaniei în 2006 și 2008.
Cu ocazia evenimentului anual numit “România, o călătorie regală”, mulți alți membri ai Familiilor Regale ale lumii, miniștri, parlamentari, politicieni și reprezentanți ai organizațiilor internaționale au trecut pragul Palatului Elisabeta. În fiecare an, la Palatul Elisabeta are loc o seară dedicată Corpului Diplomatic acreditat la București, în luna noiembrie sau decembrie. Este o tradiție pornită în secolul XIX de Regele Carol I și urmată de fiecare generație regală.
Continuăm să susținem, în fiecare an, un număr de angajamente externe, fiind convinși de importanța demersului nostru. De asemenea, suntem convinși de utilitatea lui, de complementaritatea efortului regal față de cel politic, guvernamental sau parlamentar. România are nevoie să câștige încrederea și respectul celorlalți, iar odată câștigate, are nevoie să și le consolideze.
Sursa informationala: Stratfor.com
Autor: George Friedman
Distinct interests sparked the European involvement in Libya. The United Kingdom and France have issued vociferous calls for intervention in Libya for the past month, ultimately managing to convince the rest of Europe — with some notable exceptions — to join in military action, the Arab League to offer its initial support, and global powers China and Russia to abstain from voting at the U.N. Security Council.
U.S. President Barack Obama said March 21 that the leadership of the U.S.-European coalition against Libya would be transitioned to the European allies “in a matter of days.” While the United States would retain the lead during Operation Odyssey Dawn — intended to incapacitate Tripoli’s command and control, stationary air defenses and airfields — Obama explained that Odyssey Dawn would create the “conditions for our European allies and Arab partners to carry out the measures authorized by the U.N. Security Council resolution.” While Obama pointed out that the U.S.-European intervention in Libya is very much Europe’s war, French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R91) and Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi (551) arrived in waters near Libya, giving Europeans a valuable asset from which to increase European air sortie generation rates and time on station.
Before analyzing the disparate interests of European nations in Libya, one must first take stock of this coalition in terms of its stated military and political goals.
The Military Response to the ‘Arab Spring’
The intervention in Libya thus far has been restricted to the enforcement of a no-fly zone and to limited attacks against ground troops loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the open. However, the often-understated but implied political goal seems to be the end of the Gadhafi regime. (Some French and British leaders certainly have not shied from stressing that point.)
Europeans are not united in their perceptions of the operation’s goals — or on how to wage the operation. The one thing the Europeans share is a seeming lack of an exit strategy from a struggle originally marketed as a no-fly zone akin to that imposed on Iraq in 1997 to a struggle that is actually being waged as an airstrike campaign along the lines of the 1999 campaign against Serbia, with the goal of regime change mirroring that of the 2001 Afghan and 2003 Iraq campaigns.
Underlying Europeans’ willingness to pursue military action in Libya are two perceptions. The first is that Europeans did not adequately support the initial pro-democratic protests across the Arab world, a charge frequently coupled with accusations that many European governments failed to respond because they actively supported the regimes being challenged. The second perception is that the Arab world is in fact seeing a groundswell of pro-democratic sentiment.
The first charge particularly applies to France — the country now most committed to the Libyan intervention — where Former French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie vacationed in Tunisia a few weeks before the revolution, using the private jet owned by a businessman close to the regime, and offered then-Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali the services of French security forces to suppress the rebellion. Though an extreme example, the French case highlights the close business, energy and often personal relationships Europeans had with Middle Eastern leaders.
In fact, EU states have sold Gadhafi 1.1 billion euros ($1.56 billion) worth of arms between 2004, when they lifted their arms embargo, and 2011, and were looking forward to much more in the future. Paris and Rome, which had lobbied hardest for an end to the embargo, were particularly active in this trade. As recently as 2010, France was in talks with Libya for the sale of 14 Dassault Mirage fighter jets and the modernization of some of Tripoli’s aircraft. Rome, on the other hand, was in the middle of negotiating a further 1 billion euros worth of deals prior to the unrest. British media meanwhile had charged the previous British government with kowtowing to Gadhafi by releasing Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, a Libyan held for the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. According to widespread reports, the United Kingdom’s Labour government released al-Megrahi so that British energy supermajor BP would receive favorable energy concessions in Libya.
The second perception is the now-established narrative in the West that the ongoing protests in the Middle East are truly an outburst of pro-democratic sentiment in the Western sense. From this, there arises a public perception in Europe that Arab regimes must be put on notice that severe crackdowns will not be tolerated since the protests are the beginning of a new era of democracy in the region.
These two perceptions have created a context under which Gadhafi’s crackdown against protesters is simply unacceptable to Paris and London and unacceptable to domestic public opinion in Europe. Not only would tolerating Tripoli’s crackdown confirm European leaderships’ multi-decade fraternization with unsavory Arab regimes, but the eastern Libyan rebels’ fight against Gadhafi has been grafted on to the narrative of Arab pro-democracy movements seeking to overthrow brutal regimes — even though it is unclear who the eastern rebels are or what their intentions are for a post-Gadhafi Libya.
According to U.N. Security Council resolution 1973, the military objective of the intervention is to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya and to protect civilians from harm across all of Libya. The problem is that the first goal in no way achieves the second. A no-fly zone does little to stop Gadhafi’s troops on the ground. In the first salvo of the campaign — even before suppression of enemy air defenses operations — French aircraft attacked Libyan ground troops around Benghazi. The attack — which was not coordinated with the rest of the coalition, according to some reports — was meant to signal two things: that the French were in the lead and that the intervention would seek to protect civilians in a broader mandate than just establishing a no-fly zone.
Going beyond the enforcement of the no-fly zone, however, has created rifts in Europe, with both NATO and the European Union failing to back the intervention politically. Germany, which broke with its European allies and voted to abstain from resolution 1973, has argued that mission creep could force the coalition to get involved in a drawn-out war. Central and Eastern Europeans, led by Poland, have been cautious in providing support because it yet again draws NATO further from its core mission of European territorial defense and the theater they are mostly concerned about: the Russian sphere of influence. Meanwhile, the Arab League, which initially offered its support for a no-fly zone, seemed to renege as it became clear that Libya in 2011 was far more like Serbia 1999 than Iraq in 1997 — airstrikes against ground troops and installations, not just a no-fly zone. Italy, a critical country because of its air bases close to the Libyan theater, has even suggested that if some consensus is not found regarding NATO’s involvement it would withdraw its offer of air bases so that “someone else’s action did not rebound on us,” according to Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. In reality, Rome is concerned that the Franco-British alliance is going to either reduce Italy’s interests in a post-Ghadafi Libya or fail to finish the operation, leaving Italy to deal with chaos a few hundred miles across the Mediterranean.
Ultimately, enforcing a humanitarian mandate across the whole of Libya via air power alone will be impossible. It is unclear how Gadhafi would be dislodged from power from 15,000 feet in the sky. And while Europeans have largely toed the line in the last couple of days that regime change is not the explicit goal of the intervention, French and British leaders continue to caveat that “there is no decent future for Libya with Gadhafi in power,” as British Prime Minister David Cameron stated March 21, virtually mirroring a statement by Obama. But wishing Gadhafi gone will not make it so.
With the precise mission of the intervention unclear and exact command and control structures yet to be decided (though the intervention itself is already begun, a summit in London on March 29 will supposedly hash out the details) it is no surprise that Europeans seem to lack a consensus as to what the exit strategies are. Ultimately some sort of NATO command structure will be enacted, even if it is possible that NATO never gives its political consent to the intervention and is merely “subcontracted” by the coalition to make coordination between different air forces possible. Europe’s Libya Intervention: Special Series
U.S. military officials, on the other hand, have signaled that a divided Libya between the Gadhafi-controlled west and the rebel-controlled east is palatable if attacks against civilians stop. Resolution 1973 certainly does not preclude such an end to the intervention. But politically, it is unclear if either the United States or Europe could accept that scenario. Aside from the normative issues the European public may have with a resolution that leaves a now-thoroughly vilified Gadhafi in power, European governments would have to wonder whether Gadhafi would be content ruling Tripolitania, a pared-down version of Libya, given that the bulk of the country’s oil fields and export facilities are located in the east.
Gadhafi could seek non-European allies for arms and support and/or plot a reconquest of the east. Either way, such a scenario could necessitate a drawn-out enforcement of the no-fly zone over Libya — testing already war-weary European publics’ patience, not to mention government pocketbooks. It would also require continuous maritime patrols to prevent Gadhafi from unleashing migrants en masse, a possibility that is of great concern for Rome. Now that Europe has launched a war against Gadhafi, it has raised the costs of allowing a Gadhafi regime to remain lodged in North Africa. That the costs are not the same for all participating European countries — especially for Italy, which has the most to lose if Gadhafi retains power — is the biggest problem for creating European unity.
The problem, however, is that an alternative endgame scenario where Gadhafi is removed would necessitate a commitment of ground troops. It is unclear that the eastern rebels could play the role of the Afghan Northern Alliance, whose forces had considerable combat experience such that only modest special operations forces and air support were needed to dislodge the Taliban (or, rather, force them to retreat) in late 2001 through early 2002. Thus, Europe would have to provide the troops — highly unlikely, unless Gadhafi becomes thoroughly suicidal and unleashes asymmetrical terrorist attacks against Europe — or enlist the support of an Arab state, such as Egypt, to conduct ground operations in its stead. The latter scenario seems far-fetched as well, in part because Libyans historically have as much animosity toward Egyptians as they do toward Europeans.
What ultimately will transpire in Libya probably lies somewhere in between the extreme scenarios. A temporary truce is likely once Gadhafi has been sufficiently neutralized from the air, giving the West and Egypt sufficient time to arm, train and support the rebels for their long march to Tripoli (though it is far from clear that they are capable of this, even with considerable support in terms of airpower, basic training, organization and military competencies). The idea that Gadhafi, his sons and inner circle would simply wait to be rolled over by a rebel force is unlikely. After all, Gadhafi has not ruled Libya for 42 years because he has accepted his fate with resignation — a notion that should worry Europe’s governments now looking to end his rule.
Next: France and the United Kingdom have led the charge on the intervention in Libya. Our next installment in this series examines their role in the crisis there.
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