Saturday, October 30, 2010
Key evolutions of a warning:
Oct 3 - The United States and Britain warned their citizens of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe, with Washington saying al Qaeda might target transport infrastructure. Western intelligence sources said militants in hide-outs in northwest Pakistan had been plotting coordinated attacks on European cities.
Oct 5 - French police arrested 12 people in early morning raids the interior minister said were directly linked to a campaign to counter an elevated terrorism threat in Europe. France was on high alert after seven hostages, including five French citizens, were kidnapped by the North African wing of al Qaeda last month.
Oct 5 - The French government warned citizens travelling to Britain to exercise caution due to a very high risk of terrorist action in the country that could target public transport and tourist sites.
Oct 6 - Suspected al Qaeda militants attacked two Western targets in Yemen, firing a rocket at a senior British diplomat's car and killing a Frenchman at a gas and oil installation.
Oct 17 - French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said France had been warned by Saudi Arabia that al Qaeda was targeting Europe and especially France.
Oct 27 - A Virginia man who allegedly believed he was helping al Qaeda plan bombings at Washington area Metrorail stations was arrested, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Oct 28 - Britain's top spy, in the first public speech by a serving UK espionage chief, said terrorists might hit the West again "at huge human cost" but nuclear proliferation by states was a more far-reaching danger.
The Jewish organizations in the area and from the US are under alert.
Several high level meetings are expecting to be held today, analyzing the impact and the emergency measures to be taken immediately.
Friday, October 29, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Monday, October 18, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
The French seaside resort of Deauville came to prominence in the late 19th century – a time of grand hotels and swanky casinos. It was also a time when Europe was divided up between great powers who each jealously guarded their own little patch of Europe, with individual spheres of influence scratching up against each other. It is therefore a fitting location for a summit meeting involving three of the continents’ perennial great powers – Germany, Russia and France (Monday 18th October) – at a time when Europe is once again becoming a multipolar continent.
Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy are reaching out to Russia because they believe European security is no longer a matter for NATO or the EU alone. They are correct. The United States has signalled that it is less interested in European internal security – not least when President Obama declined to turn up for the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The current order is also dysfunctional, failing to deal with wars in Kosovo and Georgia, recent instability in Kyrgyzstan or several so-called frozen conflicts dotted around the continent. The grand project of expanding EU membership eastwards has faltered of late. Even when – as we at the European Council on Foreign Relations strongly hope – Turkey and the Western Balkans become members of the EU, it is clear that NATO and the EU will never be the main security institutions in Europe, covering all European states. There is therefore a pressing need for Europeans to start rethinking their security. But while the summit has the right agenda, it has the wrong participants.
Russia needs to be at the table. It never accepted the post-Cold War order, and is now strong enough to openly challenge it. It is, however, also open to engagement, and Medvedev himself suggested working towards a new European security treaty a couple of years ago.
Another seat at the table must be given to Turkey, an emerging pole on the European continent. As the country’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, puts it, his country is an actor, not an issue. The Turkish sphere of influence ranges from Central Asia, through the Caucasus, Middle East and into the Western Balkans. European influence and interests in this contested neighbourhood, just as with the areas that Russia considers its own Near Abroad, requires either competition or engagement.
The EU must be there but many member states cavil at the idea that Paris and Berlin represent them. It would make more sense for the member states to mandate Baroness Ashton as their representative instead. This would both be a response to the Lisbon Treaty while allowing the EU to end the anomaly where the EU – one of the most important suppliers of European security – is not represented in any of the continent’s security institutions.
Rather than trying to tinker with the existing institutions, the idea would be to re-invigorate them from the bottom up. By involving Russia in the US-initiated missile defence shield, NATO can build on Obama’s ‘reset’ to cement a continent-wide security identity, focusing minds on external threats to Europe. But alongside this, the EU needs to engage its neighbours in advancing security within Europe. It needs to build trust between Europe’s powers and challenge them demonstrate resolve – by engaging Russia in solving frozen conflicts such as Transnistria, for instance, or supporting Turkish involvement in Bosnia. A regular informal trialogue could bring together the EU, Russia and Turkey to work on these issues, alongside other interested states.
The Deauville meeting, and November’s NATO summit looking at the new NATO Strategic Concept, support the feeling that the time is ripe for rethinking European security. The EU has spent much of the last decade defending a European order that no longer functions while hoping for a global multilateral order than will probably never come. ‘The spectre of a multipolar Europe’, which has just been published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, calls for a creative and mature response to a shifting environment, and the demands of Russia and Turkey to be taken seriously as credible actors. To paraphrase Lord Ismay, the goal of rethinking security should be to keep the EU united, Russia post-imperial and Turkey European.
A version of this article first appeared in Open Democracy
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death", Elie Wiesel
We have a couple of naked facts and figures: "Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause
80% of diseases and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. Children are especially vulnerable, as their bodies aren't strong enough to fight diarrhea, dysentery and other illnesses. 90% of the 42,000 deaths that occur every week from unsafe water and unhygienic living conditions are to children under five years old. Many of these diseases are preventable. The UN predicts that one tenth of the global disease burden can be prevented simply by improving water supply and sanitation".
The UN Millenium Development Goals (UNMDG) set the following targets: "By 2015, reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water", starting from the basic reality: "One billion people lack access to safe drinking water, 2.4 billion to adequate sanitation. To achieve this target, an additional 1.5 billion people will require access to some form of improved water supply by 2015, that is an additional 100 million people each year (or 274,000/day) until 2015".
The same UNMDG outlines: "The main indicators for progress towards this goal are:
- Proportion of population (urban and rural) with sustainable access to an improved water source".
One of the advantages of living in the 21st century is the extended possibilities that we, as individual citizens of the world, have to share ideas, actions and global awareness campaign all over the world. The Internet, with a limited usage in the regions more affected by global poverty and water shortages, is one of the most powerful weapons we have for creating the proper environment for action. Twitter, Facebook, youtube and other opportunities we have at our disposal through social media constitute a valuable tool in pushing new ideas and calling for action. It creates visibility and global conversations, pushing ideas right on the table of the world decision makers.
On the other hand, the possibilities for a valuable change and for targeted decisions from the part of the global players are still limited. In the last decade, many campaigns started in the virtual world were not able to get translated into real policies and purposive actions. Beyond data and statistics are real people, with real needs, and the 2.0 might be only the first step from a long-term strategy aimed to reverse our usual indifference. For a real success we have to believe that our case is a good one and we have to be aware that every human being counts. We have to think about this every time we are sipping or wasting a drop of water. It is called global responsibility of individual citizens.
I wish we'll have good luck!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday elected Germany, India, South Africa and Colombia to two-year seats on the U.N. Security Council, while Canada and Portugal went to a second round of voting.
Either Canada or Portugal will join the other four countries to serve two-year terms beginning in January 2011 and ending in December 2012 as non-veto-holding members of the 15-nation body, the powerhouse of the United Nations with the authority to impose sanctions and deploy peacekeeping forces.
The results of the second-round vote to decide whether Canada, which has served six terms on the council and never lost a bid for a seat, or Portugal, which has been on the council twice, has received the requisite two-thirds majority in the 192-nation General Assembly will be known shortly.
In the first round of voting, only Germany managed to cross the 127-vote threshold in the category known as "Western Europe and Others." India, South Africa and Colombia were all uncontested in their respective geographic groups.
There are five veto-holding permanent members of the Security Council -- the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China, the victors of World War Two -- and 10 temporary elected members without vetoes.
But the elected members have some power because a council resolution needs nine votes in favor as well as no vetoes.
The five rotating members serving on the council until the end of 2011 are Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria. The five nations leaving the council at the end of this year are Austria, Turkey, Mexico, Japan and Uganda.
Germany is one of the top contributors to the United Nations and one of several countries, along with India, Japan and Brazil, that are considered prime candidates for permanent seats on the council if U.N. member states can ever agree on a formula for expanding it.
Over a decade of talks on a possible expansion of the Security Council to better reflect the nature of the world have failed to yield a consensus.