Comeback of South Stream?

August 29, 2015

grafik In my article Turkish, Greek And Tesla Streams Re-routing Energy Supply In Eastern Europe how new Turk(ish) Stream pipeline is re-routing the energy supply in whole Eastern Europe with Greek and Tesla [Balkan] Stream gas pipelines. South Stream, was cancelled last December (2014) after Bulgaria (influenced by the EU acting on behalf of the US) made it impossible to construct the pipeline through its territory. South Stream project was replaced with ‘Turkish Stream’, the Russian pipeline to Turkey’s Eastern Thrace region and from there with ‘Greek’, ‘Tesla’ (or ‘Balkan’) Streams intended to South Stream’s Serbian, Hungarian, and Austrian partners, but detouring through Greece and Macedonia to compensate for the exclusion of Bulgaria.

At the same time, several observers say that South Stream has a good chance of being revived. Since there’s been no official cancellation of the South Stream cooperation from Moscow, Bulgaria assumes that the project can still be saved. Speculation about a revival appears to have come from a source in Moscow. Russia needs the pipelines as a tool to assert political pressure. And Bulgaria could play a role in these plans. (Source: DW ).

European nations could buy gas from a terminal at the Greco-Turkish border, in what was interpreted as a vague hint that such purchases could either be LNG or possibly even the start of a brand new pipeline. Anyway with these plans Turk(ish) Stream and its follow-ups are according EU regulations. The obstacle of South Stream was the EU’s Third Energy Package (TEP). Under these rules, a single company cannot own the pipeline through which it also supplies gas.

Comeback of South Stream

Now though, according Deutsche Welle there’s a different tone between Moscow and Sofia. Earlier this week, Putin acknowledged that Bulgaria’s NATO membership is a done deal. “We have to respect the choice of the Bulgarian people and continue to work with Bulgaria, independently of all the difficult questions in connection with different projects, including South Stream,” he said. Putin added that Russia and Bulgaria have historically enjoyed close ties. In Bulgaria, his words have been taken as a “clear signal of reconciliation” and “a completely new tone in bilateral relations.”

According Natural Gas Europe Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova has announced new efforts to push forward with South Stream, recently telling local media the project still remains a major goal for the country. She also said that the country’s has never walked out of the South Stream project. Kiril Domuschiev, head of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, noted that pipework for South Stream could also be used for Turkish Stream or any other project involving both Bulgaria and Gazprom. He added that no one would stop Bulgaria from doing business with Russia.

No other country lying on the proposed route of the pipeline from Russia to central Europe is better prepared than Bulgaria in technical and organizational terms to start the construction works immediately, said Bulgaria’s former Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev who is deputy chairman of opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).  Another big advantage for Bulgaria is the availability of an agreed funding mechanism for the project which doesn’t involve budget spending and only needs to be activated, Stoynev said in comments after Putin’s earlier statement that Moscow will work closely with Bulgaria on the implementation of joint projects including those in the energy sector such as the South Stream gas pipeline. (Source: Novinite.com )

Energy expert Professor Atanas Tasev said in an interview for FOCUS News Agency , that “Both countries [Bulgaria, Russia] seem to have the intention. It remains Brussels to come out with a stance on the matter. Perhaps we will witness favourable processes in resolving the conflict in Ukraine,” “Many steps should follow from now on,” he added and stressed that the first official reaction from the Bulgaria came from Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova, who said that our country is ready.

“A problem can be solved only in the environment where it was created. Since it was the Russian President who created the problem, it is he who can solve it,” Prof Tasev, who has worked as a financial analyst for a number of deals in the Bulgarian energy sector, believes. He maintains that the route previously designated for South Stream is not “a result of some sentiments for the Bulgarian-Soviet fellowship” but is the most economically and technically viable solution. At the same time the professor notes that it is highly unlikely that South Stream is “reborn” with all of the four lines. He foresees that one of the pipes, with a capacity of 15.75 billion cubic meters of gas, might reach Europe via Turkey, while the others could be “redirected” to Bulgaria. (Source and more at Novinite.com )

Nine months after Russia loudly announced that it repeals the South Stream project, the Bulgarian government continues to carry out activities on construction of the pipeline. In addition the joint Bulgarian-Russian company South Stream Bulgaria, which had to build the pipeline on Bulgarian territory, continues to exist and accumulate costs. (Source: Radio Bulgaria )
turkish-stream-south-stream-karte

Nonetheless Greece, FYROM, Serbia, and Hungary are on the verge of signing a joint memorandum of cooperation on Turkish Stream and its Balkan route. Serbian media have already named part of the route as the “Tesla Pipeline” in an obvious attempt to “nationalize” the section that will pass through Serbia. Insiders suggest the Greek, Serbian, and Hungarian foreign ministers will meet in Belgrade in September to announce an agreement that will see the exact route formalized. It should be noted the foreign ministers, not energy ministers, have taken the lead on this file. (Source: Natural Gas Europe ) Latest developments with Tesla Stream wouldn’t have been possible had Macedonia not beaten back the Color Revolution attempt that aimed to sabotage the entire thing. (More in Terrorism in Macedonia Wasn’t An Isolated Act! ).

Eastring?

For Eastern Europe there is also a project called Eastring will bring gas from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Cyprus and Russia and will provide reverse deliveries from the gas hubs in Western Europe. This is actually a step towards the creation of a vertical gas corridor which is particularly valuable to Bulgaria.

Eastring would connect infrastructure in Slovakia to Romania and Bulgaria. Slovakia has taken the lead on the project and even suggested connecting to Turk Stream. Bratislava wants to be part of Gazprom’s plans to diversify transit options away from Ukraine because Slovakia is the critical link between pipelines in Ukraine and central Europe. The Slovakian company Eustream’s gas pipeline, expected to deliver gas to countries in the Balkans, and Gazprom’s Turkish Stream will be complementary projects, Eustream’s international development and public affairs head told RIA Novosti [on Feb. 2015]. Eustream’s Eastring pipeline will run from Bulgaria to Romania and then, via Hungary or Ukraine, to Slovakia. Its planned capacity will be from 20 billion to 40 billion cubic meters per year and project partners are Eustream, Transgaz and Bulgartransgaz.

Wider picture

Aside from production, the transportation of crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products is of paramount concern for oil-producing nations. For energy consumers, transit routes are necessary lifelines. A huge amount of the world’s energy is transited through pipelines, across the Eurasian landmass in particular. Natural gas has limited and expensive transport options. As a result, natural gas pipelines are constantly used as tool of the political pressure and bargaining. One of the most notable battlefields is the European continent, where Russia has exerted its influence through an intricate network of pipelines.

There is a strategic cooperation in the energy sector between EU and Russia as Russia is still the primary supplier of the EU’s hydrocarbon resources, providing 42% of its imported gas and 33% of its imported oil (2013). In addition due global warming the EU want to increase the share of renewable resources and natural gas in their consumption patterns. Russia’s bad relations with the West and Ukraine have created the need to Russia to rearrange its energy policy. From the Russia’s point of view Turkey, as a regional power with its independent policies, e.g. when deciding not to partake in the Western sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine Crisis, is a more reliable partner than other alternatives. Cooperation between these two regional powers on issues related to Caucasia and Central Asia would generate mutual benefits so indeed the Ukraine Crisis may have paved the way for a new form of cooperation in Russian-Turkish relations.

The Continent has also taken steps to build a regulatory environment conducive to the new energy market it envisions. The Third Energy Package has played a key role in coordinating the European energy market and eroding monopolistic tendencies plaguing the natural gas networks. Among other things, the package’s regulations prevent pipeline operators from supplying natural gas and prevent suppliers from operating the pipelines. These rules have blocked Gazprom from owning or heavily investing in any European pipelines, with a few notable exceptions, such as the Ostsee-Pipeline-Anbindungsleitung pipeline. Europe has applied equal scrutiny to deals involving non-Russian companies, including Azerbaijani national oil company SOCAR’s proposed purchase of Greek pipeline operator DESFA.

Interactive: Veins of Influence

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Interactive: Veins of Influence is republished with permission of Stratfor.”

 

Turk Stream update

The Gapzrom-led Turk(ish) Stream pipeline project has stalled as negotiations between Russia and Turkey on gas pricing have broken down. On July 2015 the Russian Energy Ministry sent to Ankara two versions of an intergovernmental agreement on the Turkish Stream gas pipeline, proposing to construct either one or all four planned strings.

The technical director of South Stream Transport B.V. Andrey Fick has been appointed as general director of the company in charge of construction of the Russia-owned Turkish Stream gas pipeline, Russian energy giant Gazprom announced in its statement, April 2015.

Related to The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), the Project benefits from the data available from the extensive surveying and approved EIA, and Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in accordance with international financing standards, conducted for the South Stream Offshore Pipeline project. The EIA and permitting process for the Turkish portion of the offshore pipeline is divided into two parts. South Stream Transport is conducting an EIA for the portion of the pipeline from the border of the Turkish and Bulgarian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to the Turkish coastline, with a length of approximately 275 km. For the remainder of the offshore route, the EIA was already approved in 2014 in the context of the South Stream Offshore Project.

map_route_turkey

Bottom line

Gazprom has asserted several times that it will cut off gas transits through Ukraine by the end of the decade. The current alternative routes (Nord Stream + Belarus), however, only present a capacity of 86.5 bcm per year. To maintain the current level of Russia’s exports (119 bcm in 2014) at least 35 bcm of additional pipeline capacity would be needed.

Turk Stream as well South Stream, would enhance the Continent’s energy security because it would enable natural gas flows to Europe to continue uninterrupted in the event of a fallout between Ukraine and Russia. The pipeline project would also incentivize European Union-based companies to invest in infrastructure in Southeastern Europe, integrating countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, into the more mature natural gas markets in Central Europe. New infrastructure for Turk Stream could also eventually carry Iranian or Central Asian natural gas to Europe. Due political reasons USA and EU probably are not very pleased nor active with Turk Stream, they maybe are tolerating the project so long as Russia adheres to the Third Energy Package and finalized Energy Union Package rules restricting Russian control over the Turk Stream project.

turkishstream (2)

 


Kidnapping the Truth – the Disappearance of Alexander Dorin

August 26, 2015

Alexander Dorin – my Facebook friend – is in government custody in Basel and that he has been there under an isolation regime for the last two months. This is exeptional in a country that considers itself to be an exemplary law abiding state. I therefore ask all my readers to act without delay and to send a message to the legal authorities in the Swiss city of Basel where Alexander Dorin (aka Boris Krljić) is apparently incarcerated, and to demand that he either be set free forthwith or that the Swiss government disclose the nature of the case against him, while affording him all the usual means to effectively defend himself.  You may send an email to the following address:    info.ug@jsd.bs.ch

In reblogged article

Kidnapping the Truth – the Disappearance of Alexander Dorin by Grey Carter

more about Alexander and his activity.


Hamas and Israel on Verge of the Deal

August 18, 2015

 

“This agreement is no longer just rumors or blabber, but will be signed any minute,” (Walid Awadh, a member of the political office of the Palestinian People’s Party in Gaza)

Israel-Palestine roadmap to peaceAccording to the Times of Israel, Hamas and Israel have essentially agreed on a long-term cease-fire. Hamas is about to sign a “comprehensive” agreement with Israel for the lifting of an eight-year blockade placed on the Gaza Strip in return for a long-term ceasefire The gist of the deal is that Israel will end the blockade and allow thousands of Palestinian day laborers to enter Israel. Gaza will import items through a Cyprus port overseen by NATO representatives (until a floating offshore port can be developed) and cease all rocket fire and tunneling for eight years. A prisoner swap may be in the works too.  Hamas-Israel Deal could pave way for the ‘Cold Peace Solution’

Israel Prime Minister’s Office gave following statement on 18th Aug. 2015: “Israel would like to officially clarify that it is not holding any meetings with Hamas, neither directly, nor via other countries, nor via intermediaries.” However – in addition to rumours described in my April 2015 article  Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystanderhamas-agreement-1 (2) – the original sources of last developments have been a Turkish official, few days earlier, it was a “knowledgeable source” in the Israeli defense establishment and before that, it was a U.S. State Department official. All confirmed that Israel and Hamas are discussing a long-term cease-fire deal. Already in April it was estimated that official representatives of the Israeli government and defense establishment have been holding a real dialogue even months with the Islamic terrorist group – Hamas – in a bid to reach a long-term calm on the Gaza border. These secret talks have been “partly direct” and partly through Qatari and European mediators. This information was based on an YNet article.

In April 2015 it was claimed that from the Israeli side the person pushing for talks with Hamas is the coordinator of the government’s activities in the territories (COGAT), in cooperation with new IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot , with assistance from the political leadership. The official Israel continues to conceal the dialogue with Hamas: It would have disrupted the elections, it’s not good for the image of a right-wing government, and it gets in the way of continuing to define Hamas as a terror organization in the world. (Source and more in Ynet)

The Hamas-Israel Deal

In an interview- according The Times of Israel – with Hamas daily al-Resalah, Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, said that Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal came to Ankara last week to update the Turkish leadership on the details of an agreement reached with Israel. According Israel Hayom [18th Aug. 2015] Hamas officials told Arab media outlets that significant progress had been made in recent talks in Qatar between Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and former Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair about the possibility of a long-term truce deal. Reports also cited a Turkish official as saying progress had been made toward such a deal between Israel and Hamas. According to the official, the deal would include the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. According to the reports, Gaza will be allowed to import merchandise through a “floating port” located 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) off the coast. An intermediary port will be established in Cyprus, where all Gaza-bound merchandise will be scrutinized by NATO representatives.

300px-gaza_strip_map2-svgMeanwhile, progress has been made in reconciliation talks between Israel and Turkey yet differences remain on several issues, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday. The report quoted a Turkish Foreign Ministry official as saying that Israel had agreed to significantly ease the blockade on Gaza — which has been one of Turkey’s demands in the reconciliation talks.

According to Hamas daily al-Resalah, Israel would like to see a larger package deal that would include the exchange of “live and dead Israeli prisoners” held by Hamas — likely a reference to Ethiopian-Israeli citizen Avraham Abere Mengistu and a Bedouin man who both entered the Gaza Strip voluntarily, as well as the remains of Israeli soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer — in return for Hamas prisoners jailed by Israel.

Israeli Arabic-language website al-Masdar reported on 16th Aug. 2015 that Hamas’s leadership held a meeting in Gaza on 14th Aug. 2015, specifying the deal’s details. According to al-Masdar’s unnamed Hamas source, Israel has also agreed to allow in thousands of Gazan day laborers through the Erez crossing in return for Hamas’s agreement to stop launching rockets into Israel and digging subterranean attack tunnels underneath the border for a period of at least eight years. Hamas’s Shura Council, the movement’s highest deliberative body, endorsed the agreement following a three-hour debate.

Fatah/PLO against

The reported agreement is opposed by the PLO because it wasn’t consulted, and because it would “eventually detach Gaza completely from the West Bank and Jerusalem,” said one Fatah figure. Hamas officials, headed by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, have been dispatched to Egypt, Qatar, and Turkey to discuss the deal. But the agreement is facing domestic opposition from without, as Palestinian factions consider it a potential danger to the political unity of Gaza and the West Bank as stipulated by the Oslo Accords.

no_solutionWalid Awadh, a member of the political office of the Palestinian People’s Party in Gaza, said that his party, like all other PLO factions, is opposed in principle to the deal reached between Hamas and Israel. The agreement, carried out unilaterally by Hamas without consulting the PA, strengthens the political divide with Fatah and will eventually detach Gaza completely from the West Bank and Jerusalem, he argued. “Gaza faces an unknown future,” he said. “This agreement leads us from political divide to [Gaza’s] secession, making it impossible for Gaza to be part of the future Palestinian state.”Awadh said the agreement is being finalized “far from the Gaza Strip” by Hamas’s overseas leadership in coordination with Qatar and Turkey. Notifying the PLO organizations in Gaza was only done in order to market the agreement and portray it as a result of local consensus. Most factions in Gaza support a ceasefire with Israel, Awadh stressed, but insist that it be the result of “unified Palestinian representation, tying the future of Gaza to that of the West Bank.”

Awadh’s dismay with Hamas was expressed even more bluntly by Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasmi over the weekend. “Why insist on a naval passageway to the entire world but the West Bank?” Qawasmi wondered in a press statement published on Fatah’s official website. “Why has the land corridor with the West Bank, known as the ‘safe passage,’ not been proposed before anything else, given that the PLO delegation raised the issue forcefully? Is Gaza a humanitarian issue [only] or is it part of the Palestinian homeland?”

Two Palestine?

The eight-year split between Fatah and Hamas aka the Islamic Resistance Movement has cut off Gaza and its 1.7 million people from the West Bank and e.g from negotiating efforts; instead Hamas has implemented few military campaigns against Israel and Gaza still suffers from the last conflict Summer 2014.

According Jerusalem Post Hamas in April 2015 was negotiating with Israel on Palestinian state in Gaza. The Palestinian officials have claimed that Hamas was negotiating with Israel about its plan to turn the Gaza Strip into a separate Palestinian entity. From point of view of Fatah/PLO Israel wants to divide the Palestinian people and turn the Palestinian territories into separate entities and cantons. The idea of establishing a Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip was first raised by late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1988; it is also claimed that the late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed the idea about 10 years ago, when he decided to withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

Hamas is consolidating its grip over the Gaza Strip and making plans to turn it into a separate state. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah consider the purported plan a “severe blow” to the two-state solution and unity among Palestinians. As the U.S. Administration and the international community continue to push for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas seems to be working toward establishing an independent state of its own in the Gaza Strip.

14374044578404767 (2)It might be that the international community must define their two-state solution with new content including two Palestinian state – one Islamist emirate in the Gaza Strip and an other Fatah-controlled wannabe state in the West Bank.

Earlier on April 2015 in my article Gaza State Under Construction, West Bank Remains Bystander I estimated that this possible deal between Hamas and Israel has a risk that internal disagreements between Hamas’ political and military wings could endanger it. Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades might take advantage of instability within the Hamas to carry out attacks on the border with Israel without getting a green light from Hamas’ political leaders. Struggle inside Hamas is not the only battlefield in Gaza. A group calling itself Supporters of the Islamic State in Jerusalem has continued to challenge the Gaza-ruling Palestinian entity Hamas.

Hamas-Israel Deal pave the way for Cold Peace Solution

23boundar_map-popup (2)I still consider a two-state solution be possible. The final status agreement has been very close at least since Beilin-Abu Mazen understandings / agreement / plan (1995) where nearly all issues were agreed. The Olmert proposal (2008) was probably the last serious try (both plans can be found from my document library ) If however it can’t be negotiated so there is possibilities to make regional solution; I for example have long propagated the idea of the “Three-State-(return) Option” ( e.g. in ”The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict” ). Also – if two-state solution is de facto cul-de-sac and if there is no readiness to regional solution so a unilateral ‘Cold Peace solution’ from my perspective is the best option especially if Hamas-Israel Deal will come true.

Israel could independently implement a ‘Cold Peace Solution’, a minimal level of peace relations,  to ensure its character as a Jewish and democratic state, by fixing a border between Israel and a future Palestinian state in the West Bank unilaterally. Creating a reality of two states for two peoples by separation into two nation states would be based on voluntary Israeli concession of territories outside of the large with Israel on the route of a permanent border on the basis of agreed-upon land swaps or independently in case negotiations does not take place. In the event that negotiations are not renewed, the temporary border will become permanent. As long as there is no agreement, the IDF and Israel would retain control of the outer borders and surrounding areas of the territories to be evacuated by Israelis who would be resettled within the state’s temporary borders. This kind of unilateral “cold peace” solution – that Israel annexes all Judea and Samaria (West-Bank) inside security fence and draws all outposts inside fence and Palestinians can do whatever they want in remaining territory – in my opinion might – in the course of years – develop to permanent state of affairs and thus end Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  An example could be the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed in 1979 which most Egyptians view as a cold peace;  retrospectively not so bad deal anyway.

Cold-Peace-Solution by Ari Rusila


New Israel Military Strategy

August 16, 2015

idflogoThe Israel Defense Force (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot published on 13th August 2015 a document outlining IDF strategy, including the threats facing Israel and plans to combat them. This is first time- in 60 years – since 1950s when Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion accepted military defense strategy of Israel.

In the introduction of the 33-page document, Eizenkot states the broad mission of the IDF – Securing the existence of the State of Israel, ensuring it is a democratic and Jewish home for the Jewish people, safeguarding a robust economy and society, and boosting Israel’s status throughout the world. Eizenkot says “The approach as consolidated in this document … will be the compass for deploying and developing force.”

The document details what can be expected from the IDF during three types of situations: Routine time, emergency situations and wartime. Based on this division, conflicts like Operation Protective Edge and Operation Pillar of Defense are considered confrontations limited in their scope and are therefore define as “emergency,” rather than “war.” This means these confrontations were meant to bring Israel “back to a situation of calm, without striving for an immediate strategic change,” so the IDF cannot be expected to bring down the Hamas regime in Gaza in such a military campaign, unless the political leadership tells it otherwise.

IDF_infographic_-_mainThe definition of the “enemy” has also been altered. As the threat of an all-out war against another state or several other states is on the decline, the document redefines the main threat as coming from military organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah or terror organizations that are not affiliated with any one country, like global jihad and the Islamic State. The Iranian nuclear threat, which is presented by the political leadership as the biggest existential threat Israel is facing, is not mentioned – possibly because the army’s strategy on that issue is too classified to appear in a public document, or because the agreement signed between Iran and world powers is seen as mitigating the threat.

Other changes which the document recommends are an improvement in the effectiveness of ground manoeuvres, diversifying operational capabilities in order to tackle specific operations rather than all-out war or conflict and the need to maintain intelligence, aerial and naval superiority in the region. Because of that, the IDF will favor fighting with smaller forces that can maneuver quickly and easily between different fronts, over large and stationary forces.

“The basic assumption is that the enemy cannot be defeated with defensive fighting, so an offense is required to achieve clear military results,” the document states.

Another important tier of the new strategy, put on paper officially for the first time, is the need to “reduce civilian, border-adjacent vulnerabilities,” in a manner that would see the IDF evacuate communities that would be placed under imminent danger by the fighting. It is believed the latter was one of the conclusions drawn from 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, during which there was no organized evacuation of the communities adjacent to the Israel-Gaza Strip border.

Setting clear priorities: Eizenkot’s document included a lengthy review of the military’s need and intent to diversify operational capabilities in the “campaign between the wars,” a concept describing the IDF and the intelligence community’s efforts to monitor and undermine the force-building capabilities of Israel’s enemies. CBW represents a series of clandestine military operations, both defensive and offensive, routinely carried out by the military. The document further details some of the military’s strategy when dealing with non-bordering nations, presumably including Iran. Dealing with such nations “is largely based on CBW … to the point of offensive efforts meant to undermine the enemy’s strength, limit its scope of operations and thwart its intentions and abilities.”

The last chapter of Eizenkot’s document focuses on human capital:

“The IDF has always drawn its strength from the quality of its personnel and the deep [public] understanding that the military guarantees Israel’s national existence. The IDF will spare no effort to defend and protect Israel under any circumstances, while exhausting the core characteristics of its commanders and soldiers: a fighting spirit, initiative and quality operation, and the uncompromising desire to achieve our objectives.”

Sources: BICOM, Israel Hayom ja Ynet 

Read the full document here (in Hebrew)

IDF Mission
To defend the existence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the
state of Israel. To protect the inhabitants of Israel and to combat all forms
of terrorism which threaten the daily life.

Appendix:

Untitled-16Cyber defense is  becoming increasingly important for the IDF’s Intelligence Corps. In order to prepare the next generation soldier for cyber warfare, the IDF has implemented programs to educate high school students in information technologies, computer science, and cyber defense.  Cyber defense plays a very significant role in Israeli society today because of the amount of cyber attacks against Israel in recent years. The IDF, along with many other Israeli institutions such as banks and government offices, are required by law to protect themselves from any attacks. The cyber defense course takes it a step further than just defense by training IDF soldiers to actively assess every and all situation. The course’s most recent graduates built a model city where they conduct complex missions in preparation for a large-scale cyber campaign.  Source: IDF

israel-hamas-cyberwar-477x600

 

 

Related materials

A previous outside analysis about Israeli military doctrine: Israel’s Strategic Doctrine – RAND Corporation

IDF’s public resume about peevious military doctrine: IDF Doctrine

A Slide show:


Instead of Gaza’s Reconstruction Donor Aid Finances Terrorism And Corruption

August 12, 2015


“Magen veLo Yera’e” [Motto of Shin Bet]

shin betIt was not a hallucination when Israelis living in Gaza border area were hearing some digging sounds. In July 2015 the Shin Bet [aka The Israel Security Agency/ISA aka Shabak] with Israeli Police arrested a Hamas operative Ibrahim Adel Shehadeh Shaer – a tunnel digger in the group’s armed wing. According Israel Hayom the man was detained for questioning and he proceeded to provide interrogators with valuable information about the terrorist organization’s extensive digging plans and the location of new tunnel access points. The Shin Bet said that Shaer provided significant details about Hamas’ tunnels in the Rafah area, including the areas where digging was taking place, the location of entrance and exit points to tunnels, the identities of other tunnel diggers and the routes of the tunnels.

Shaer also told interrogators that to sustain its military infrastructure, Hamas diverts resources and materials delivered to Gaza within the framework of rehabilitation efforts. According to Shaer, Hamas fighters store explosives in residential homes, in accordance with directives from the group’s commanders, who are concerned that traditional military warehouses will be bombed.

Tiimes-of-LondonThe Shin Bet said that beyond the routine issues pertaining to his main function as a tunnel digger, Shaer was also privy to the link between Iran and Hamas, in the form of military aid the Islamic republic transfers into Gaza to strengthen the terrorist organization. According to Shaer, Iran supports Hamas by transferring funds, advanced weapons systems and electronic equipment, such as devices for jamming radio waves, which are used in efforts to bring down Israeli drones flying over Gaza. In addition Shaer underwent combat and command training, learned how to operate advanced weapons systems and received demolition training. On July 31, an indictment was filed against Shaer in the Beersheba District Court for being a member of, and engaging in, activities with a banned organization, attempted murder, contact with a foreign enemy agent, illegal military training, and various firearms charges. Source: Israel Hayom

Slow reconstruction activities in Gaza is nothing new nor the fact that donor aid for reconstruction is misused e.g. for tunnels. This aspect was very well highlighted by Dr. Ibrahim Abrashin – ex-minister representing political wing in Hamas – in his recent article (more in Palestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity ) Today outrage spreads on social media due two documents leaked online detailing two attempts by Palestinian officials to misuse public funds, highlighting the corruption and mismanagement critics say remains rampant in the Palestinian Authority government. One document, by adviser to President Abbas, asks for $4 million for private building complex, another seeks funds for daughter’s private school. The core of comments is rampant corruption, mismanagement and nepotism in PA. Source: Israel Hayom ) A wider picture about non-existent skills of Palestinian authority to deliver international donor aid to beneficiaries one can find from my article Palestine – Placebo effect for people and society with 20 bn bucks

percap1

 

Some of my remarks related to news quoted above:

1)                         Shaer confirms suspicions made earlier that the donor aid for Gaza reconstruction activities is more or less used to dig [attack] tunnels. Western mainstream media has accused so far Israel and imaginary Gaza blockade about slow reconstruction process.

2)                         Hamas is still locating war materials in the middle of civilian buildings; if and when Israel during next Gaza conflict destroys these storages one can expect some civilian deaths and blaming only Israel for war crimes.

3)                         Despite of capasity building efforts for decades of Western international community to develop administration and facilities of dreamed Palestinian state is the outcome modest at best. In Western media many times Israel get the blame for this; a better address could be some inside aspects – such as corruption, misconduct and political elite making money at people’s expence – of Palestinian Authority.

4)                         As consequence tens of billions USD aid, which was intended to give good public services for people disappears on the way to beneficiaries.

5)                         The fact that Palestinian Authority can not make a negotiated peace deal with Israel might be caused by interests of the political elite of the PA and some donor agencies; chaotic situation has its benefits as the international aid flows with minimal transparency.

Appendix:

 

Palestinian Terrorism Industry: Salaries
 
The  Palestinian Authority [PA] pays high salaries and good benefits to convicted  terrorists in Israeli prisons. Much of money to reward terrorists comes from Western  tax dollars as the PA budget is heavily dependent on foreign aid. Donors gave  roughly $30 billion in international aid to the PA between 1993 and 2012; $7  billion came from the U.S. alone and $7 billion came from the EU; $10 billion
came from individual European countries, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
 
The  salaries are usually far higher than the West Bank average wage of $533/month  and sometimes higher than those of any other civil servants. The average  monthly salary paid to terrorists was 3,129 shekels ($850) in 2012 while the  average salary for civil servants was 2,882 shekels, ($783), and for  Palestinian military personnel it was 2,704 shekels ( $734).
 
In  2011, The PA announced the following wages and stipulated that they would be  linked to the cost of living index.
 
•All  security prisoners get a base salary of 1400 shekels ($400) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 3-5 years get 2,000 shekels ($560) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 5-10 years get 4,000 shekels ($1,100) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 10-15 years get 6,000 shekels ($1,690) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 15-20 years get 7,000 shekels ($2,000) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 20-25 years get 8,000 shekels ($2,250) per month.
•Terrorists  sentenced to 25-30 years get 10,000 shekels ($2,800) per month.
•The  worst offenders, those who commit mass murder, get the top wage of 12,000  shekels ($3,400) per month—up to 10 times more than the average pay.
•Released  prisoners receive the status of a deputy minister or the rank of  major-general in the PA security forces – both worth a monthly stipend of NIS  14,000 ($4,000).
•In  2013, four thousand released Palestinian prisoners received monthly salaries  although many of them were able-bodied men who could work.
 

Israel’s Investigation of Alleged Violations of the Law of Armed Conflict

August 12, 2015

Israel’s Investigation of Alleged Violations of the Law of Armed Conflict.


Israel-Iran Hostility Challenged At Grass Roots

August 9, 2015

images (6)Hostility between Israel and Iran — over the US-Iranian nuclear control agreement — has never been worse.  Israel has made an intensive lobby against the deal.  From Iranian side according to New York Post report, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is author of 416-page book advocating long-term, low-intensity warfare to wear down Israeli Jews and make them leave the country. Book also calls Holocaust a “propaganda ploy.”  However there has been also opposite phenomena at the grass roots. Latest was when an Israeli academic received a warm invitation from Iran as reported in Jerusalem Post on 9th August 2015:

Hebrew University of Jerusalem Chemistry Prof. Renata Reisfeld has been invited to become a member of the editorial board of the Tehran-based International Journal of Environment, Energy and Waste. Reisfeld happily accepted the offer. Reisfeld, the Enrique Berman Professor of Solar Energy at HU’s Institute of Chemistry, told The Jerusalem Post that Maryam Pazoki, assistant professor at the Faculty of Environment at the University of Tehran, sent her the official invitation. “The Iran Solid Waste Association (ISWA) is eager to promote academic, practical and simultaneous interdisciplinary research regarding technical, social, and cultural aspects of environment, energy, and waste.”

Therefore, “it has decided to set up a peer-reviewed, open-access International Journal of Environment, Energy and Waste (www.ijeew.com) available both in printed and electronic versions. On behalf of Prof. Omid Bozorg Haddad (the chief editor of the journal), I would like to invite you to join our elite group of managing editors and editorial board. It is my honor to have your name and support for participating in selection of editors occasionally. I am sure that with your support, we can make our ambitious goal a reality,” the Iranian academic wrote. Source: Jerusalem Post

The Hebrew University

Hebrew University

Earlier in July 2013, Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, an Iranian film maker and member of the Iranian political opposition who has won some 50 awards, visited Israel as a guest of honor at the Jerusalem Film Festival. He received an award for his efforts to promote freedom and democracy in Iran and hosted a film screening of his recent film The Gardener – a film that explores the Bahai community in Israel. The Gardener is the first Iranian film since the 1979 Iranian Revolution to be filmed within Israel. A number of his other films were also highlighted at the Jerusalem Film Festival. Crowds of Israelis honored him with standing ovations. Makhmalbaf was the first high-profile Iranian artist and former revolutionary to visit the Jewish state since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran.

In response to Makhmalbaf’s visit to Israel, Javad Shamghadri, one of the authorities of the cinema agency, ordered the withdrawal of all of Makhmalbaf’s works from Iran’s cinema museum. Also a group of Iranian scholars, artists, journalists and activists who are deeply concerned by the decision of Makhmalbaf to take part in the Jerusalem International Film Festival as they see that his participation directly violates the International call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) of the State of Israel campaign issued by Palestinian civil society in 2005, as well as the specific call for Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued in July 2004. On the other hand more than 80 Iranian scholars, opposition group members, and human rights activists openly declared their support of Mohsen Makhmalbaf‘s decision. More about case in my article  Iranians And Israeli Instead Of Israel Vs.Iran

images (7)Happily the Jerusalem Film Festival was not an isolated case. At grassroots there has been at least since 2012 a movement labelled as ”Israel loves Iran/Iran loves Israel”. It is a line of communication between the people of Israel and Iran – a bridge in the Middle East between the people. The mission of this mostly virtual group is to break the wall of fear, built a bridge of communication as war happens where there is no communication. ”And the only thing we can do…is communicate. Get the lines open. That’s hope…and that’s easy. Because of the internet” says in their mission statement. At grass-roots one of the activity was when 70 buses rode the streets of Tel Aviv carrying message for peace. Israel loves Iran Facebook community can be found from here!

P.S:

It could be mentioned that today the figure of Jews in Iran is some 8.000-25.000. There might be discrimination of Jews in Iran but on the other hand Jews in Iran are formally to be treated equally and free to practice their religion. Iran’s Jewish community is officially recognized as a religious minority group by the government, and there is even a seat in the Iranian parliament reserved for the representative of the Iranian Jews.

yusefabad_synagogue_tehran (2)

Yusef Abad synagogue in Tehran


Getting Russia right by Jonathan Power

August 8, 2015

430466_10150626190689386_872037105_nGetting Russia right by Jonathan Power

Lund, Sweden, August 7, 2015

Even today in many different ways the US and Russia remain close.

There is cooperation in space, not least the International Space Station. The US regularly hires Russian rockets to launch its crews to the Station and to launch satellites. Russia sells advanced rocket engines to the US. Russia allows war material en route to Afghanistan to pass through its territory on Russian trains.
Russia worked hand in glove with the US to successfully remove the large stocks of chemical weapons possessed by Syria. It shares intelligence on Muslim extremists including ISIS. Conceivably it could enter the battle against ISIS.
It has encouraged Western investment including joint oil exploration of the Artic. Recently it stood side by side with the US and the EU as they forged an agreement with Iran on its nuclear industry.

At the UN Security Council Russia and the US voted together for a resolution approving the agreement.

President Barack Obama phoned President Vladimir Putin to thank him.
US diplomats are now conceding that Russia’s claim that the neo-fascist so-called “Right Sector” in Ukraine is wrecking havoc is true.

The Right Sector in the eyes of many was a key – and violent – element in the success of last year’s Maidan demonstrations that toppled President Viktor Yanukovich.
When the Russian, French and German foreign ministers hammered out an agreement with the support of Ukraine’s parliamentary opposition for Yanukovich to step down at the next election the West totally “forgot” about it in the next few days as the Maidan demonstators drove Yanukovich into exile.

Washington and other Western capitals supported the “democratic revolution” rather than demanding the fulfillment of the agreement. No wonder Putin was livid.
What is now needed in Western capitals is an acknowledgement that they have not always got Russia and Putin right.
For example in the Ossetian war/Georgian war in 2008 Russia was accused of starting it.

In fact, as is now widely accepted in the West, it was Georgia’s bombing of the South Ossetian capital that triggered the war.
Today many Western observers believe that the degree of Russia’s intervention in the Donbass in eastern Ukraine is grossly overstated.

Not long ago the American commanding general in NATO warned that Russia was about to invade, an ill-informed or deceitful (depending on one’s perspective) viewpoint that was quickly shot down by the head of French intelligence.
Back in 1999 NATO’s bombing of Belgrade which led to an independent Kosovo went against international law – the illegality of invasion when the invaders were not themselves under threat.

Russia at the UN voted against this campaign, arguing that changing a country’s boundaries by force was illegal.

If the West had not waged its Kosovo campaign it is probable that Russia would never have taken over Crimea.
Russian paranoia was understandable when the second Russian-Chechen war broke out.

Many powerful Washington insiders ignored the jihadi nature of the Chechen invasion of neighbouring Dagestan, focusing only on Russian violations of human rights.

Yet today emirs, controlling perhaps as much as 80% of the Caucasus Emirate mujahedin, have declared their loyalty to ISIS.
In 2011 Russia abstained on a resolution at the UN Security Council which authorized a Western initiative to use its air forces to attack those pro the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi in order to save civilians from being massacred.

In fact the Western powers went far beyond their UN mandate and fought to bring down Qaddafi.

This led to the present chaos in Libya which is reducing the new “free” state to anarchy and seems to have no end in sight.

Russia felt it had been double-crossed which, indeed, it had.


Gordan Hahn, the Russian watcher, who once was a Senior Associate of Washington’s prestigious Center for Strategic and International Studies, writes: “All this demonstrates again the utter futility in expanding NATO into Russia’s fear of influence (breaking a solemn agreement made with Russia).

It undermines Western security in two respects. It has alienated Russia and transformed it into the West’s “greatest geo-political foe” that the Republican presidential candidates misconceptualize. Second, it runs directly contrary to the requirements of an effective global fight in the war against jihadism, which must include all major powers in a robustly institutionalized alliance.”
Of course Putin on occasion is boorish and heavy-handed but it is no surprise that Putin has overwhelming support in his confrontation with the West.

I believe the opinion polls which show him in the high 80% of approval.

In the last 9 months I have walked the streets of Russia on three visits doing my own amateur poll.
Russia responds to the policies and actions of the West.

It is always the West that makes the first move on the chessboard.

Russia has developed, writes Hahn, “carefully thought out plans designed to defeat the West, regardless of what the West may or may not do”.
© Jonathan Power

[ 820 words ]

Permanent link to this article

See also Jonathan Power’s review of Richard Sakwa’s pathbreaking analysis “Frontline Ukraine. Crisis in the Borderlands” –  Appallingly, we in the West have been more misled than the Russians.

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Palestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity

August 6, 2015

gatestone-logoPalestinians: A Rare Voice of Sanity

by Khaled Abu Toameh
July 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • While many in the international community and media hold Israel fully responsible for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abrash offers a completely different perspective.
  • Referring to widespread corruption under the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, the former Palestinian minister reveals that Palestinian academic institutions, including universities and colleges, have become “commercial projects for granting certificates that have no scientific value or content.”
  • This is a voice that is rarely given a platform in mainstream media outlets in the West, whose journalists continue to focus almost entirely on stories that reflect negatively on Israel. Western journalists based in the Middle East tend to ignore Palestinians who are critical of the PA or Hamas, because such criticism does not fit the narrative according to which Israel is solely responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Palestinians.
  • Abrash’s criticism of Hamas and the PA — whom he openly holds responsible for the suffering of their people — actually reflects the widespread sentiment among Palestinians. Over the past few years, a growing number of Palestinians have come to realize that their leaders have failed them again and again and are now aware that both Hamas and the PA, as corrupt as ever, are hindering efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

It is almost unheard of for a prominent Palestinian figure to hold the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas equally responsible for corruption and abuse of power.

Dr. Ibrahim Abrash, a former Palestinian Minister of Culture from the Gaza Strip, recently surprised many Palestinians by publishing an article that included a scathing attack on both the PA and Hamas, holding them responsible for the continued suffering of their people.

In his article, Dr. Abrash also holds the two Palestinian parties responsible for the delay in rebuilding thousands of houses that were destroyed or damaged in the Gaza Strip during last year’s military conflict between Israel and Hamas. He points out that Hamas and the PA have been holding each other responsible for the suffering of Palestinians. “Sometimes, they also put all the blame on Israel for all that is happening in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

Referring to the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which reached its peak with the violent takeover by Hamas of the entire Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007, Dr. Abrash accused the two rival parties of exploiting their dispute to cover up corruption in vital sectors of Palestinian society.

“In light of the division [between the PA-controlled West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza], corruption and absence of accountability have become widespread,” Dr. Abrash wrote. “This division has led to the collapse of the political system and the system of values, and an increase in corruption. This has also allowed many opportunists and hypocrites to reach important positions, where they do anything they want without being held accountable.”

And while many in the international community and media continue to hold Israel fully responsible for the plight of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Abrash offers a completely different perspective.

Noting that the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip have fallen victim to the power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, he says that no one today knows who is supposed to be helping the people living there.

“The interests of the people have been lost as result of the two parties’ rivalry,” Dr. Abrash said. “No one knows who is in charge of the people’s needs in the Gaza Strip — Hamas, which is the de facto authority in the Gaza Strip, or the Palestinian Authority and its national consensus government. Or is it UNRWA and the donors who are responsible? Or is it the sole responsibility of Israel as an occupation state? To whom should the people direct their complaints?”

Referring to widespread corruption under the PA in the West Bank, the former Palestinian minister reveals that Palestinian academic institutions, including universities and colleges, have become “commercial projects for granting certificates that have no scientific value or content.”

Dr. Abrash points out that no one knows whether universities and colleges in the Gaza Strip are subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Education in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

He also blasts the PA’s Ministry of Civilian Affairs for exploiting and extorting Palestinians who seek travel permits, especially those wishing to leave the Gaza Strip. He goes on to hold Hamas responsible for “harassing” Palestinians who wish to leave the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing (to Israel). Dr. Abrash claims that some Palestinians are forced to pay bribes to Palestinian officials to obtain a travel permit.

“Many people have been subjected to blackmail and procrastination [by Palestinian officials] after Israel eased travel restrictions at the Bet Hanoun [Erez] border crossing,” he said. “But the people are afraid to complain, out of fear that they would be denied travel permits in the future. What is happening at the border crossing has created favoritism and bribery.”

Dr. Abrash concludes his article with a rhetorical question: “Isn’t it shameful and irritating that while Israel has been issuing travel permits for those with special needs, some influential [Palestinian] officials are placing obstacles? Until when will they continue to manipulate and blackmail the people of the Gaza Strip?”

Dr. Abrash’s article represents a rare voice of sanity among Palestinians. This is a voice that does not blame all the miseries of Palestinians on Israel alone and holds the Palestinians leadership also responsible for the continued suffering of their people.

However, this is a voice that is rarely given a platform in mainstream media outlets in the West, whose journalists continue to focus almost entirely on stories that reflect negatively on Israel.

Western journalists based in the Middle East tend to ignore Palestinians who are critical of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. That is because such criticism does not fit the narrative according to which Israel is solely responsible for all the bad things that happen to the Palestinians.

Dr. Abrash’s criticism of Hamas and the PA — whom he openly holds responsible for the suffering of their people — actually reflects the widespread sentiment among Palestinians. Over the past few years, a growing number of Palestinians have come to realize that their leaders have failed them again and again. Today, many Palestinians are aware of the fact that both Hamas and the PA are responsible for hindering efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip and that the two parties are as corrupt as ever.

But when will the international community and media wake up and comprehend what many Palestinians came to understand years ago, namely that the real tragedy of the Palestinian people has been — and remains — bad and irresponsible leadership? Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen as long as the world continues to see Israel as the villain.


Willy Brandt followers call for a new European approach to the crisis in Ukraine

August 6, 2015

portait_02Hereby an exclusive English translation By OrientalReview of  an Open Letter of a group of influential German figures, the members of Willy Brandt Circle, to SPD (German Social-Democrats) Bundestag delegates and cabinet ministers urging them to abandon the confrontational course in relations with Russia. The authors reviewed the degrading EU-Russia ties in the context of Ukraine’s crisis which was the direct result of mutual misunderstandings and controversies.

***

Europe is experiencing the worst crisis since the end of the East-West conflict. Not only dealing with Greece and the thousands of refugees heighten tenses across the continent, but also the ceasefire negotiation process in Ukraine remains fragile. As long as the conflict over the future of Ukraine is unsolved, the real danger of escalation is on the table.

A comprehensive peace treaty for Europe, envisioned by the Charter of Paris 1990, is still needed. Europe has no interest in aggravating old controversy between the United States and the USSR, bringing Russia to its knees. There is a difference between the European and the American interests: pan-European problems cannot be solved without Russia or even against Russia. Recent history shows: Russia and the peoples of the Soviet Union contributed more than anyone to the liberation of Europe from fascism and later to the unification of Germany. Therefore, Germany has a special responsibility to win Russia as a negotiating partner in the European peace order.

In 1990 it seemed that the answer to these questions is found once and for all: Russia became a co-architect of the European integration. Russia, alongside with the USA, would naturally become an anchor and an equal partner. Since then Russia’s expectations have been deeply disappointed: EU and, what’s more important, NATO enlargement policy totally excluded the possibility of Russia’s membership. It was too difficult, as the country was too big. Moreover, some Eastern European states claimed that their quick accession to NATO membership was a military precaution against Russia. Having no perspective to join NATO itself, more and more patriotic Russia sees the expansion of the structures of the Western alliance as a threat. NATO expansion nourished Russia’s old fear of being surrounded and it was gradually forced to thinking in geopolitical categories and zones of influence.

The Ukrainian crisis is a reflection of a major conflict between Russia and the Euro-Atlantic structures. It may lead to a catastrophe if the ongoing arms race, military provocations and confrontational rhetoric is not stopped. We strongly appeal to all responsible politicians and peace-loving citizens but first and foremost directly to the SPD:

In this situation bold political initiative is needed comparable to the initiatives that helped to stop the conflict spiral during Berlin Wall and Cuban Missile Crisis. It was German social democracy that paved the way to the new Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik and the détente. In 2015 we require such courage and political wisdom to counter the threat of renewed confrontation and division of Europe. We call to stop the confrontation and restart our relations with Russia before it is too late for all of us.

  • The Ukraine crisis cannot be solved by political sanctions against Russia. The underlying causes of the Russian-European alienation should be discussed at EU-Russia summit talks. Lasting reconciliation of interests can only be achieved through dialogue and negotiation. The economic sanctions undermine the development of Europe as a common economic area. Cooperation is an engine of confidence building. Energy infrastructure that has already been affected by the current sharpening of contradictions is a vital part of our mutual interests and bilateral trade.
  • The European Union that is partially responsible for the roots of the crisis must contribute to its solution on the basis of consensus. The interaction of Germany, France and Poland with Ukraine and Russia in Minsk II Agreement is an innovative approach. Implementation of Minsk II may bridge the credibility gap. A wider European integration is needed. Germany must throw into the say its position as a future OSCE president and act in the spirit of dialogue.
  • The United States as the most important partner of the new Ukrainian government has also high responsibility to find a solution to the crisis. All available international fora should be used to bring Russia and the US together. In times of crisis we need to maintain close ties in order to communicate effectively. Therefore, G7 should involve Russia and the work of the NATO-Russia Council should continue as soon as possible. Essential ways to negotiate in crisis should not be limited but broadened.
  • The incorporation of the Crimea into Russia is a violation of international agreements. At the same time it is a political reality that cannot be undone against the will of the majority of Crimea’s voters. The status quo must not undermine the constructive cooperation with stakeholders of the common European interest.
  • Ukrainian crisis is also the result of a weak federal structure in a relatively new state. Only through a strong federal system the country can protect itself from ethnic strife and the threat of secession. The experience of other European countries with federal structure should be offered to Ukraine if needed.
  • NATO membership for Ukraine will not enhance Alliance’s security. It will fuel the flame of Russia’s fears about NATO objectives and increase the risks of unwanted military confrontation. The framework of the OSCE and the “Vienna Document” 2011 is vital in times of crisis and should be implemented to bring together political and military bodies of all European states.
  • The Ukraine crisis threatens the European arms control. Arms race, transfer of lethal military equipment and new troop deployments on both sides of the Russian border undermine the existing system of arms control treaties. The participation of German troops in the military training of the “intervention force” can trigger on the Russian side memories of the German invasion and aggravate tension, which is unnecessary. Disengagement of troops, non-proliferation and arms curbs are goals to be achieved as soon as possible.
  • During the Ukraine crisis we saw alarming rise of nuclear intent once again. There is a risk of rearming with medium range nuclear missiles in Europe as it happened in the 1980-es. Nuclear weapons must be finally outlawed. A matter of principle weapons of total annihilation should not be part of employable forces.
  • European peace order is not only an order of states. It is based on strong civil societies and, among other, international cooperation in the field of culture, media, sports and science. Restart of European youth exchange programs with Russia and Ukraine may help to overcome stereotyping and encourage better understanding of each other and, consequently, build better relations.

Europe needs Russia and Russia needs Europe. We stand at a tipping point. Either we enter a more or less Cold war with dim future or pave the way together the new common European peace order.

Now is the time to act!

Berlin, July, 21, 2015

Egon Bahr and Willy Brandt

Signers:

Prof. Egon Bahr was the creator of the “Ostpolitik” promoted by West German Chancellor Willy Brandt, for whom he served as Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office from 1969 until 1972. Between 1972 and 1990 he was an MP in the Bundestag.

Prof. Dr. Walther Stützle was the Deputy Minister of Defense in 1998-2002.

Dr. Christoph Zöpel is the SPD politician, Foreign Minister in 1999-2002.

Prof. Dr. Ingomar Hauchler, Bundestag MP (SPD) from 1983 to 1998.

Dr. Edelbert Richter is a Member of the European Parliament in 1991-1994, German Bundestag MP in 1994-2002, member of the Federation of German Scientists.

Dr. Hans Misselwitz is a functionary of the SPD and a founding member of the Institute Solidarity modernity.

Prof. Dr. Götz Neuneck is the Deputy Director of the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH) and Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Group Arms Control and Disarmament (IFAR).

Antje Vollmer, is a member of the German Green Party. From 1994 to 2005, she was one of the vice presidents of the Bundestag.

Wolfgang Schmidt is the Hamburg Commissioner to the Federal Government, the European Union and of Foreign Affairs; Member of the Committee of the Regions.

Prof. Dr. Dieter Klein is the Head of the Commission on the Future of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation and a member of its Board.

Prof. Dr. Gustav Horn is the Professor of Economics at the University of Flensburg, Scientific Director of the Institute of Macroeconomic Research in the Hans Böckler Foundation.

Dr. Rainer Land is the German social scientist and economist.

Axel Schmidt-Gödelitz is the Chairman of the East-West Forum.

Prof. Dr. Rolf Reissig is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.

Prof. Dr. Elmar Brähler, was the Professor of Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology at the University of Leipzig.

Prof. Dr. Peter Brandt is the German historian and retired Professor for Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Hagen.

Prof. Dr. Michael Schneider is the German political journalist and literary critic.

Prof. Klaus Staeck is a German lawyer and publisher.

Dr. Friedrich Dieckmann is the author of essays, reviews, stories and radio features.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Gießmann is the Executive Director of Berghof Foundation.

Prof. Dr. Lutz Götze, Professor Emeritus of the University of Saarland.

Dr. Enrico Heitzer, Researcher of the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation.

Gunter Hofmann is the German journalist working for Die Zeit.

Dr. Irina Mohr is the leader of Forum Berlin of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Dr. Friedrich Schorlemmer, is a German Protestant theologian, civil rights activist and member of the SPD.

Volker Braun is the prominent German writer living in Berlin.

Daniela Dahn is the writer, journalist and essayist.

Ingo Schulze is a German writer from Dresden.