Showing posts with label SRBIJA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SRBIJA. Show all posts

Sunday, June 11

SCANDALO PER LA PALESTINA E SUOI RIFUGIATI

è un collaboratore molto vicino a Muhammad Dahlanconsiderato l'uomo che ha aperto la strada agli investimenti arabi in Serbia e MontenegroE' lui ad aver creato i legami tra i primi ministri Aleksandar Vučić e Milo Đukanović con la famiglia reale al-NahyanI media arabi hanno pubblicato una fotografia che vede ritratti, assieme Mohamed Dahlan, Aleksandar Vučić e Milo Đukanović, scattata nella casa a Belgrado del Primo ministro serbo.

Quando al-Fatah controllava senza problemi l'Autorità palestinese, Muhammad Dahlan era uno degli uomini più potenti di Gaza. Dopo l'arrivo di Hamas al potere ha dovuto lasciare la Palestina. E' entrato in conflitto col suo vecchio alleato politico, Muhmoud Abbas, attuale presidente palestinese ed è stato espulso da Fatah nel 2011. E' anch'egli accusato di aver sottratto risorse ai fondi pubblici.

Muhammad Dahlan è inoltre considerato vicino alla CIA ed è stato pubblicamente accusato in Palestina di traffico d'armi a favore di Israele. Mahmoud Abbas ha recentemente accusato Muhammad Dahlan di aver fatto imprigionare Yasser Arafat e di aver rubato 300 milioni di dollari di aiuti americani.

Questo denaro è stato ripulito in Montenegro, come affermano i media arabi? Secondo un articolo pubblicato la scorsa estate da Middle east eye, Mohammed Dahlan ha utilizzato il Montenegro per riciclare denaro guadagnato illegalmente negli Emirati arabi uniti

Muhammad Dahlan è titolare di due società registrate a Podgorica la cui attività è piuttosto oscura. Numerose fonti confermano che Muhammad Rashid sarebbe l'uomo di Muhammad Dahlan in Montenegro.

Nello stesso momento in cui Muhammad Rashid è ricercato dalle autorità palestinesi, le sue quattro società registrate in Montenegro hanno ottenuto un prestito di 12,8 milioni di euro dalla Prva Banka, banca di proprietà dei fratelli Đukanović, senza lasciare alcuna traccia su quale sia stata l'attività finanziata con quel denaro.

Per quanto riguarda la società Monte-Mena Investment, quest'ultima ha ottenuto invece un finanziamento di 5 milioni di euro da Hipo Banka, controllata da Petar Ivanović, ex-ministro dell'Agricoltura. 

Petar Ivanović sta attualmente gestendo un altro progetto di Milo Đukanović e dei suoi partner arabi: numerose decine di milioni di euro provenienti dagli Emirati Arabi Uniti che l'ex-ministro  ha presentato come un prestito di un Fondo di sviluppo di Abu Dabi (ADFD) che però non sono ancora arrivati agli agricoltori montenegrini. Il governo non avrebbe ancora firmato il contratto o un altro documento che definisca i dettagli dell'affare.

I fondatori della società Monte-Mena Investment, con sede a Panama, sono Muhammad Rashid, Samih Saviris – che ha costruito il complesso di Luštica – e alcuni collaboratori di Milo Đukanović: Veselin Vukotić e Vojin Vlahović.
L’Associated Press ha pubblicato un articolo nel quale si afferma che le Autorità Palestinesi avevano ufficialmente richiesto al Montenegro, alla Giordania, all'Iraq, agli Emirati arabi uniti e all'Egitto di congelare i beni di Mohammed Rashid

Muhammad Rashid ha acquistato altro terreno per 42 milioni di euro nel 2007, mentre il valore stimato attualmente dell'area va dai 10 ai 14 milioni di euro. Non è la prima volta che l'uomo investe in Montenegro senza alcuna logica economica apparente. Ha ad esempio acquistato un terreno municipale a Budva per 3,2 milioni di euro, tre volte più del suo valore di mercato.In Montenegro la richiesta non ha avuto seguito.

Numerose fonti indicano che il terreno di Kraljičina plaža è stato venduto a Muhammad Dahlan. Secondo il quotidiano Vijesti, quest'ultimo controllerebbe alcune società del gruppo Royal, che ha annunciato un investimento di 180 milioni di euro nel complesso turistico che dovrebbe essere costruito. L'opposizione e una parte della società civile considerano il progetto come pericoloso e contrario alla legge vigente.

La rete per l'affermazione del settore non-governativo – MANS – ha invitato il governo a bloccare il progetto e il parlamento nazionale a proteggere l'interesse pubblico. “Le disposizioni del contratto sottoscritto prevedono che il futuro acquirente avrà agevolazioni che non sono mai stata accordate ad alcuna azienda in Montenegro. 

Alcune parti del testo del contratto sono in violazione di leggi esistenti. Noi riteniamo che contratti del genere non sarebbero possibili senza elementi di corruzione all'interno del governo o, più precisamente, all'interno dell'DPS (Partito di Milo Đukanović, ndr)”, sottolinea Dejan Milovac di MANS.

Se le promesse fatte dal governo e da alcuni investitori arabi fossero state rispettate la costruzione di un complesso turistico nella area di Skočiđevojka, nei pressi di Sveti Stefan, avrebbe già trasformato il Montenegro in una Monte Carlo! Un progetto faraonico, con 220 camere, 23 ville, un casinò, un club per mega yacht, un centro commerciale, una spa e ristoranti su una superficie complessiva di 66.000 m2. 

Il tutto doveva essere pronto da anni, almeno secondo quanto dichiarato dagli investitori, la Joud Real Estate Fond e la Monte-Mena, società appartenente al palestinese Muhammad Rashid, partner d'affari del controverso ex-primo ministro montenegrino. Nella realtà nulla è stato fatto

Mentre Muhammad Rashid acquistava terreni in Montenegro, strapagandoli per poi lasciarli fermi, è divenuto oggetto di un mandato d'arresto internazionale. Le autorità palestinesi lo ricercano accusandolo di sottrazione di ingenti fondi pubblici. 

Secondo l'Associated Press la Giustizia palestinese lo ha condannato nel 2012 a 25 anni di prigione per aver sottratto 33,5 milioni di dollari da un Fondo di Investimento palestinese.

READE HERE PREVIOUS REPORT

Thursday, June 8

THE BALKANS WILL BE U.E. PROBLEM, SAYS DONALD TRUMP

BalkanInSight:. Not everything about Donald Trump is unpredictable. At least towards the Balkans, his policy so far has be­en entirely consistent in its general indifference.

Not only is the region irrelevant to his political programme, it’s also of marginal interest to the country he leads. No doubt Trump wants the best for the Balkans. But as the EU’s backyard, he would no doubt argue it’s a place where Europeans must take the lead.

So Florian Bieber shouldn’t be surprised that American policy toward the Balkans has not changed discernibly since Trump took office.

It’s business as usual on the ground as ambassadors press ahead with their civilising mission bringing democracy, justice and prosperity to the natives, guiding the region towards the sunlit uplands of the European Union, and clamping down on the nationalists who threaten to return the region to barbarity.

However, it would be wrong to conclude from all this that American policy towards the Balkans is set in stone. On the contrary, an important debate is beginning in the media and the political institutions about the United States’ approach to the region.

Bieber cites dissenting comments by the congressman and Chairman of the House’s Europe, Subcommittee Dana Rohrabacher and the security analyst John R. Schindler. He could have added those of the former Deputy Chief of the CIA’s Balkan Task Force, Steven Meyer. 

In my own country, the UK, an ex-ambassador to Belgrade, Ivor Roberts, has suggested a land swap between Serbia and Kosovo and another, Charles Crawford, has written about the ‘existential instability’ of the current regional settlement.

These comments have received extensive scrutiny from defenders of the current policy, generating a loud and vigorous online discussion.

The debate is also taking place outside the media glare. Various think tanks have been holding seminars that invite ‘blue skies’ thinking about international policy towards the Balkans. 

And after setting out my views in Foreign Affairs, I received a plethora of mail from individuals in the US who question its approach.

Florian Bieber dismisses those who advocate a change in policy as pipe-dreamers. But to do so is to misunderstand how foreign policy evolves over time.

As I discovered during my time as a diplomat, there is no document lying in a drawer which permanently defines a government’s policy towards the Balkans or any other region. 

Instead, policy is the product of a continuous dialogue within a specialist community encompassing officials, special advisers, intelligence analysts, parliamentarians, academics, think tankers, journalists and lobbyists who are actively monitoring and responding to events on the ground.

When the dialogue between these people begins to change, so, eventually, does the policy. Why, then, is the dialogue now changing?

It is not, I would suggest, because of the ‘void of no discernible Balkan policy’ created by Trump. In the absence of new instructions, the institutions are continuing to run with the policy from the Obama era: nationalist politicians have been sanctioned and sidelined, Montenegro has joined NATO, and so on. 

More precisely, the debate about the Balkans is changing because it’s increasingly clear to many observers that Western policy towards the region is just not working.

In its simplest form, the West has tried to nurture a durable peace in the Balkans by offering it the prospect of integration with NATO and the EU. This, it was hoped, would stabilise the region by guaranteeing its security and prosperity, and allowing divided nations to be reunited in a borderless Europe.

Twenty years on, however, reality falls far short of this ideal. Sometime during the last decade, the basic goal of peace in the region got lost as the EU insisted that weak and economically handicapped states meet an impossible number of political and technical conditions before they could be accepted as members.

Now the politics have turned against enlargement as the EU languishes in a state of apparently permanent crisis created by the intractable contradictions of the euro zone, differences over migration policy, and much more besides. In most EU countries, public opinion is hostile to further enlargement into the Balkans, whose problems can only add to the EU’s own.

This is having perverse effects in the region, where the failure of ‘Europeanisation’ is plunging almost every state into a political crisis of some kind, manifest in institutional paralysis, unrest on the streets, alienation from the political process and growing cynicism towards Western officials who appear to support any local leader who endorses Euro-Atlantic integration, regardless of their fitness for office.

As the promise of EU membership dies, people are instead investing their hopes and dreams in the nation, encouraged by corrupt politicians who are happy to champion nationalism to stay in power. Albanian leaders talk openly about the possibility of unifying their territory if they cannot join the EU. Macedonian protestors demonstrate against enhanced Albanian rights. 

A Serbian president threatens to go to war in Kosovo. Croatian politicians sing songs to Herzeg Bosnia.

Those who know the recent history of the Balkans should not be surprised by any of this. In different circumstances, the region is simply replaying the events of the 1980s when the failure of another ideological project, Titoist-style socialism, encouraged people to take refuge in the nation.

Not everyone, of course, has abandoned the European dream. Significant numbers still believe – in a triumph of hope over experience - that the mechanism of European integration can yet be made to work, just as many in the eighties believed that socialism could be revitalised.

But this belief relies on so much changing – a revival of the EU and eastward enlargement, an unprecedented drive at reform in the region, a decisive re-engagement by the United States and Russia’s willingness to stay out of the Balkans – that the chances of success are severely limited.

Since the existing policy is not working, and because the actual consequences are an uncontrolled rise in nationalism and civil unrest, various commentators are naturally coming forward with new suggestions for upholding stability in the Balkans that get beyond European integration.

For many, that means revisiting the question of borders. This is not because borders are the only problem in the region but because illegitimate borders - and everything that follows from them in terms of power, security, rights and opportunities - are the casus belli for any renewed inter-ethnic violence.

My own view is that the West should recognise the inevitability of a collapse of the ‘Post-Yugoslav settlement’ and switch its focus from trying to uphold something that cannot be preserved to managing its orderly undoing, with the end goal of establishing legitimate nation states.

This doesn’t mean the United States should charge in and carve up ostensibly peaceful countries in the manner of a nineteenth-century colonialist.

But it does mean that Western policymakers should generally support demands by minorities for greater devolution along national lines; accept closer cross-border cooperation between national kin; and stop promoting the ‘principle’ of multi-ethnicity, the main beneficiaries of which are opportunistic politicians who enrich themselves on the backs of people’s fears of what another national group will do to them.

Of course, nothing sufficiently dramatic has happened in the Balkans since Donald Trump came to power to compel the White House to take up these suggestions.

As I stated at the outset, policy continues to be run by local ambassadors who promote a theoretical process of European integration and leverage this to involve themselves in the nooks and crannies of their host countries’ domestic politics.

When things get out of control, as they did recently in Albania when the opposition boycotted the elections, or in Macedonia, where the president refused to give a mandate to a winning coalition, their superiors from the State Department fly in to bang local heads together.

All this is broadly in the American interest. For as long as these ambassadors and officials can keep a lid on things in the Balkans, they free up the president and the Secretary of State to focus on more urgent international problems such as Syria and North Korea.

However, this approach will be difficult to sustain into the next decade given the breakdown of the process of EU enlargement – the lynchpin of Western policy towards the Balkans – and growing instability in the region.

Whether a Serbian annexation of northern Kosovo or the de facto secession of minority groups like the Macedonian Albanians or Bosnian Serbs, some crisis will eventually become unmanageable by means of illusory enticements and emergency diplomacy.

At that point, unless the White House is willing to risk renewed conflict, it will be forced to re-engage with the Balkans, to think again about what the US is trying to achieve and how best to achieve it.

Will it insist forever on the preservation of arbitrary borders determined decades ago by a communist dictator in the face of profound local resistance? Or will it use its immense resources and diplomatic clout to engineer a durable solution that reflects demographic realities on the ground?

For the moment, all this is a matter of abstract debate within foreign policy circles. But the old assumptions about what the Balkans must and mustn’t be are now being scrutinised and re-examined from first principles, changing the intellectual environment in which policy is formulated.

Events will eventually force senior American policymakers to devise a new approach that catches up with political reality. While that may not be for some years, a debate about how to prevent a relapse into violence is already under way. As this debate progresses, it will lay the groundwork for that eventual check with reality to happen.

Monday, March 27


From BalkanInsite: Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic met Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, when the Russian President wished him every success in the April 2 presidential election, which he is tipped to win.

"We are certain the election will be held according to highest standards. We wish the current government success," Putin said at the start of the meeting in the Kremlin. [Vucic heads the current government in Serbia as Prime Minister.

The endorsement came hours after Kremlin spokesperson Dimitry Peskov said Russia had no intention of interfering in the upcoming election.
"I wish to thank you and your country for your support of Serbia's territorial integrity," Vucic told his host, referring to Russia's refusal to recognize the independence of Serbia's former province of Kosovo.

Vucic was accompanied to Moscow by the Minister of Defence, Zoran Djordjevic, and by the Minister of Labour, Aleksandar Vulin.
The official purpose of the visit was to talk about improving economic relations and defence cooperation.

Last year, Russia donated six MiG 29 aircraft to Serbia and their delivery was one of the topics of the meeting.

Vucic has been busy using ties with world leaders in his presidential campaign. He flaunted his relations with the Russian President, a popular figure in Serbia, when he told Serbia's national broadcaster, RTS, that he had met Putin "more than all others [the other candidates] combined”.

The visit takes place days before the April 2 presidential election in Serbia. It was the third time Vucic had gone to Moscow just before or after an election in Serbia.

He visisted Russia a month after the 2016 parliamentary election, officially for medical check-ups.

While he was there, he met Putin who said Russia counted on the Serbian government including as ministers "people who will pay serious attention to the development of relations" between the two states.

Vucic also visited Russia five days after his party won the general election in March 2014, again reportedly for a medical check-up, though it remains unknown whether Vucic had any contacts with Russian officials during that visit. 

Vucic also met Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on March 14, after which a rival presidential candidate, Sasa Jankovic, accused him of abusing such high-level meetings to score political points

Tuesday, December 13

RUSSIAN AND SERBIAN RELATIONSHIP

Serijoza Lavrova i Ivica Dacica
Balkan Insight:"The foreign ministers of Serbia and Russia, Ivica Dacic and Sergey Lavrov, on Monday said an arms deal should be finalized on December 21 when Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is in Moscow".

“Serbia has asked Russia to donate arms, including MiG 29 planes. Since we have asked for them as donations, Serbia will pay only for the adaptation of those arms for Serbia's needs,” Dacic said, adding that adverse reactions from the European Union concerning the deal with Russia did not worry him.

When Croatia get donations [of weapons] from NATO there is no reaction. Who do they [the EU] think Croatia would use those launchers against? Rome, Budapest or Vienna? No, they are for Serbia,” 

Dacic repeated that Serbia had a firm, steady relationship with Russia and that Serbia’s first address in case of a crisis was Moscow, not America.

“I would love to address to US Secretary of State John Kerry. But how could I when Victoria Nuland said the US has been investing in Kosovo's independence for the last 20 years,” Dacic said, referring to the Assistance Secretary of State for European and Eurasian affairs.

Serbia never was nor will be an anti-Russian country like some countries have become. We will not join to sanctions or any measures against Russia,” Dacic continued.

Asked about deteriorating relations with Croatia, and whether Zagreb could block the EU from opening Chapter 26, the next chapter in Serbia's membership negotiations, Dacic said it was absurd for Croatia to be in such a position.

“If Croatia is the one to decide about Serbia’s EU accession, then I must say, my interest in the EU suddenly dropped down,” the minister said.

Lavrov will continue his visit to Serbia on Tuesday and will take part in a session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization that will be held in Belgrade.


The visit comes after late in October Russian Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev came to Serbia and called for closer cooperation between the countries' respective intelligence agencies.

That visit took place claims that a number of Russians had been were expelled from Serbia for involvement in illegal actions in neighbouring Montenegro, where the authorities claimed they forestalled an anti-Western coup on October 16, election day.

LIES:According to the Serbian daily newspaper Danas, Serbia recently expelled several Russians for alleged involvement in illegal activities in neighbouring Montenegro. Two Russian citizens have been accused of involvement in the alleged coup attempt aimed at overthrowing the country’s government. 

Serbia has denied any involvement in this affair but some experts in Belgrade claim Russian intelligence still has a strong influence on Serbia’s intelligence agencies.

Belgrade maintains close political and military relations with Russia and notably refused to join EU sanctions imposed on Moscow over Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its perceived role in the separatist armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Wednesday, July 27

FROM BALKAN WITH BOMBS AND FIRE

FOUR BILLIONS USD OF WEAPONS FLOWING FROM BALKAN TO SYRIA. Jabhat al-Nusra fighters carry assault rifles as they move towards their positions during those last years' offensive. AK47s, machine guns, explosives and more travel along new arms pipeline from Balkans to countries known to supply Syria

Since the escalation of the Syrian conflict in 2012, weapons have been pouring into four countries who supply arms to ongoing conflicts in Syria and Yemen: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey.

Reporters for the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) found that since 2012 exports of weapons and ammunition worth at least 1.2 billion euros have been agreed by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Serbia, and Romania [link to regional story].

The bulk of the deals, totalling 829 million euros, were made with Saudi Arabia.

The source countries have granted the arms export licences despite ample evidence that many weapons are ending up in Syria, with armed opposition as well as Islamist groups accused of widespread abuses.

Arms trade and human rights experts said the diversion of these weapons and their use by groups suspected of committing war crimes raised questions about the legality of the trade.

Patrick Wilcken, an arms trade researcher for Amnesty International, believes the evidence uncovered by BIRN and the OCCRP points to the “systematic diversion of weapons to armed groups accused of committing serious human rights violations”.


A flawed system

The global arms trade is regulated by three layers of interconnected legislation -- national, European Union (EU) and international – but there are no formal mechanisms to punish those who break the law.

Beyond the blanket ban on exports to embargoed countries, each licence request is dealt with individually. As a result, the lawfulness of the approval hinges on whether countries have carried out due diligence on a range of issues, including the likelihood of the arms being diverted and the impact the export will have on peace and stability.

Roy Isbister, an expert on arms trade laws with the London-based NGO Saferworld, stresses due diligence entails more than simply ticking off a document checklist.

"Due diligence obliges states to not only collect paperwork, but to assess that paperwork. And, in turn, assessing paperwork is itself only part of a proper export risk assessment,” he said.

“States that rely on end-use certificates and the like as sufficient justification for issuing licences are not meeting their legal obligations.”


Member states of the EU are also governed by the legally-binding 2008 Common Position on arms exports, requiring each country to take into account eight criteria when accessing arms exports licence applications, including whether the country respects international human rights, the preservation of “regional peace, security and stability” and the risk of diversion.

As part of their efforts to join the EU, BiH, Serbia and Montenegro have already accepted the measures and amending their national law.

In May 2013, an EU arms embargo on exports to Syria was lifted, under pressure from the governments of France and the UK, to allow supplies to reach the Syrian opposition. However, all three layers of law remained in force, requiring countries to go beyond just checking the paperwork.

Weapons exports are initially assessed based on an end-user certificate, a key document issued by the government of the importing country which guarantees who will use the weapons and that the arms are not intended for re-export.

Authorities in Central and Eastern Europe told BIRN and the OCCRP that they also inserted a clause which requires the buyer to seek approval if they later want to export the goods.

Beyond these initial checks, countries are required to carry out a range of other risk assessments, although conversations with, and statements from, authorities revealed little evidence of that.

Diversions to Syria

A large number of arms exports to the Middle Easter are being diverted to Syria, according to evidence collected by BIRN and the OCCRP from contracts, UN reports, and social media postings showing Eastern-European-made weapons in heavy use in the conflict [link to regional story].

Reporters for BIRN and the OCCRP obtained Saudi contracts and end-user certificates with Serbian and Slovakian arms brokers detailing requests for vast amounts of old Soviet, Warsaw-Pact and Yugoslav era weaponry.


Article 11 of the ATT covers diversion of weapons from their intended recipient, and requires countries to take a series of measures to prevent this.

Although the Treaty suggests that countries may stop the export based on the risk of diversion, it does not clearly state that they must do so. States that discover their exports have been diverted must take “appropriate measures” according to national and international law, although this is not explained further.

The EU Common Position is clearer, however, and dictates that exporters must assess the “existence of a risk that the military technology or equipment will be diverted within the buyer country or re-exported under undesirable conditions”.

Bodil Valero, a Swedish Green Party Member of the European Parliament who was rapporteur for the last EU arms export report, believes this risk assessment is not being carried our properly. “Countries selling arms to Saudi Arabia or the MENA[Middle East-North Africa] region are not carrying out good risk assessments and, as a result, are in breach of EU and national law,” she explained.

Licensing authorities for Croatia, Slovakia and Montenegro all indicated to BIRN and OCCRP that they rely largely on verifying documents such as end-user certificates when approving an exports.

Only the Czech Foreign Ministry directly addressed the issues of human rights violations and diversion of weapons, pointing out that some licences had been turned down on that basis.
In November 2013, Serbia blocked the export of weapons and ammunition worth 20 million euros to Saudi Arabia amid widespread concerns that it would not be used by that country’s expensively-equipped security forces but would, instead, end up in Syria, according to a confidential report from Serbia's Ministry of Defence obtained by BIRN and the OCCRP.

The documents also reveal fears were raised that Belgrade's path to EU membership could be stymied and its relationship with long-time ally Russia damaged if the deal went ahead.

Yet just over a year later, and after the adoption of the ATT, Serbia approved exports of arms and ammunition worth 135 million euros to Saudi Arabia.

Asked about Serbia’s volte-face on the exports, Stevan Nikcevic, the state secretary at the Ministry of Trade responsible for approving arms export licences, said that the ministries that had blocked the earlier sale “didn’t have the same concerns” now.

The arms export licences to Saudi Arabia were approved because they would have a “positive impact” on the “operation of Serbia’s defence industry”, said the Serbian Ministry of Defence, one of the ministries consulted as part of the licensing process, in a written response to BIRN and the OCCRP.

While economic factors cannot be taken in consideration, Swedish MEP Valero believes they weigh heavily on the decisions made by countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

“They want to have people working in the arms industry with jobs, of course,” she said.

A UN Human Rights report, published in March 2015, also noted that Croatia, despite its international obligations, was showing “a disturbing lack of concern about the re-transfer and end use of weapons to countries including Syria and Iraq.”

Darko Kihalic, the head of the arms licensing department at the Croatian Ministry of the Economy, told BIRN and the OCCRP that there is little more that Croatia can do apart from checking the paperwork.

Saudi Arabia is not a “blacklisted” country, he said, adding: “Are there misuses? There probably are.”

Valero, however, underlined: “In the end it is always the [exporting] government that has responsibility. They take the decision and they have to be accountable for these decisions.”

Trail of atrocities

Under Article 6 of the ATT, the sale of weapons or ammunition is prohibited if the exporter has prior “knowledge” these will be used in war crimes or attacks directed against civilians.

A legal opinion on the sale of UK weapons to Saudi Arabia, prepared by London’s Matrix Chambers in December 2015, looked at what “knowledge” meant in this circumstance. It found that the ATT’s Article 6 would be breached if the exporter “was aware, or should normally have been aware” that they would be used in attacks directed against “civilians/civilian objects or in the commission of war crimes”.

Article 7 requires governments to assess the risk of the arms being used to commit or facilitate a serious breach of international humanitarian law or terrorist act and whether they “would undermine peace and security”.

If, despite mitigating measures, there is an “overriding risk of any of the negative consequences” the sale must be blocked.

While forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and the Islamic State are acknowledged by groups such as a Human Rights Watch to have committed by far the most widespread atrocities, other moderate and Islamist opposition groups supported by the US and Gulf states have also been the subject of serious allegations, including claims of perpetrating war crimes.

Saudi Arabia-backed Jaysh Al-Islam, a powerful Islamist group, is alleged to have carried out executions, chemical weapon attacks and to have used caged prisoners as human shields, according to credible press reports and cases documented by Human Rights Watch

In May 2016, Amnesty International accused Fatah Halab, an alliance of fighters in Aleppo including western-backed moderates and Saudi-supported Islamists that recently received Serbian heavy machine guns, of "repeated indiscriminate attacks that may amount to war crimes” against a Kurdish neighbourhood.

Magdalena Mughrabi, of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa programme, called on Turkey, the Gulf states and “other backers” to halt weapons transfers to rebels.

Moderate forces under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) umbrella, which have received military equipment from the US, have been implicated in human rights abuses, including shelling civilian areas and targeting civilian offices with a Yugoslav M79 rocket-launcher, according to Human Rights Watch.The targeting civilian areas and property are both reasons to block an arms export deal under Article 6 of the ATT.

This type of weapon was part of a batch of arms transported to Jordan in 2012 and 2013 and later transferred to Syria.

“I don't think anyone is fighting clean in Syria at the moment,” said Hadeel Al-Shalchi, a researcher and expert on the Syrian conflict at Human Rights Watch.

“On the government side [there are] airstrikes on hospitals, on marketplaces, on large civilian infrastructure areas. And from the armed opposition groups, what they do is fire mortars, locally made rockets, artillery ... into environments like Aleppo city.”

Amnesty’s Mughrabi added: “The international community must not turn a blind eye to the mounting evidence of war crimes by armed opposition groups in Syria. The fact that the scale of war crimes by government forces is far greater is no excuse for tolerating serious violations by the opposition.”

Way forward

While no formal sanctions mechanism exists to punish countries that flout their international obligations, Valero argues that non-governmental organisations and individuals can take legal action against governments if they believe that arms export laws are being broken.

In England, the Campaign Against Arms Trade has launched a judicial review against the British government for its continued exports to Saudi Arabia.

It alleges that the UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills broke national, EU and ATT arms export laws as there is a clear risk these arms could be used by Saudi forces in Yemen in breach of international humanitarian law.

The British government argues that its weapons exports system is among the most robust in the world. The case is ongoing.

MEP Valero said that if action in national courts fails, other options exist.

“I think these [Central and Eastern European] countries could be taken to the European Court of Justice,” she said.

In March of this year, the Netherlands became the first EU country to stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia, citing mass executions and civilian deaths in Yemen.

Sunday, October 11

"GENOCIDE OR DEMOCRACY"ARE FAKES' N.A.T.O. PRETEST

Organizers and participants in the “Creating a Workable World” conference (held this weekend at the University of Minnesota) are undoubtedly sincere. No one wants to live in an unworkable world. 

The sponsoring World Federalist Movement has historically exercised a strong attraction on progressives, appealing to their generous sentiments and wish for world peace, as Coleen Rowley and Diana Johnstone, describe.

“Human rights” organizations have become purveyors of bloody chaos as they advocate Western big-power military attacks on weak countries in the name of “responsibility to protect” – one of several purportedly well- intentioned strategies gone awry such a grand, overarching ideal as world federalism or global democracy must be evaluated in light of current circumstances and its track record.

At the end of World War II, it was widely believed that nationalism was the main cause of the horrors that had just devastated much of the world. It was easy to imagine that abolishing nation states would be a step toward ending wars by removing their cause. 

This sentiment was particularly strong in Western Europe, forming the ideological foundation of the movement that led to European integration, now embodied in the European Union. In that same period, there was a historic movement going in the opposite direction: the national liberation movements in various colonized countries of the Third World

The political drive for national liberation from European powers —Britain, France, the Netherlands— contributed to establishing national sovereignty as the foundation of world peace, by outlawing aggression

Newly liberated Third World countries felt protected by the principle of national sovereignty, seeing it as essential to independence and even to survival. But today, 70 years after the end of World War II, experience has provided lessons in the practice of these two contrary ideals: supranational governance and national sovereignty

Not surprisingly, the official voices of the hegemonic world power and its allies tend to cite internal conflicts, especially in weaker Third World countries, as proof that national sovereignty must be violated in order to defend “human rights” and bring democracy. The danger from “genocide” has even become an official U.S.-NATO pretext for advocating and launching military intervention. With disastrous results

It’s therefore not surprising that Workable World’s keynote speaker, W. Andy Knight, was a supporter of the infamous regime-change war that virtually destroyed Libya, under the guise, paradoxically, of the U.S. and NATO’sresponsibility to protect.” 

That is not just a side issue: It signals the dirty business of wars and regime-change intrigues currently underway behind the scholarly façade of “global governance”. We fear that opposing arguments in favor of national sovereignty will probably not be discussed much during this conference. 

And yet, the European Union has served as an experimental laboratory testing what happens when a large and growing number (now 28) of sovereign states turns over a major part of their rights to supranational governance. Unified institutionally, the weaker members find themselves dominated by the powerful

Despite decades of speeches proclaiming that “we are all Europeans,” when it comes to the crunch, people revert radically to their national identity. Germans resent Greeks for being debtors; Greeks resent Germans for keeping them in debt

All the more so in that there is no way out. Elections are increasingly meaningless within the member states, because major economic decisions are taken essentially in Brussels, by the E.U. institutionsThis is causing increasing disillusionment and de-politicization in Europe

Europeans take virtually no interest in the European Parliament. They do not feel represented by it, and indeed they are not. Democracy works best in small circumscriptions: Greek city states, Iceland, villages. 

The bigger it gets, the less “democratic” it can be. Half a century ago, the functioning ideal was to bring eternal peace to Europe through unity. Today, that institutional unity is creating new divisions and hostility

To put it simply, experience is in the process of killing the ideal and showing why “worldwide parliamentary democracy” may bring more harm than good, at least in the real world as it exists today and will for some time to come.

Wednesday, August 26

GERMANIA E FRANCIA NON VOGLIONO IL MONTENEGRO

Eliseo Bertolasi scrive che "Il controllo della NATO sull’Europa orientale è quasi completo. Fuori dall’Alleanza sono rimasti solo pochi paesi, tra questi: la Serbia, il Montenegro, la Macedonia.

Tutti tre questi paesi sono accumunati dal fatto: d’essere slavi, ortodossi, e di provare forti simpatie per la Russia. Mentre Montenegro e Macedonia hanno da tempo espresso il loro desiderio di diventare membri della NATO, la Serbia ha dimostrato di essere più refrattaria.

I serbi non hanno dimenticato la guerra con la NATO del 1999 che provocò la morte di tanti civili innocenti. L’opinione pubblica non ha mai mostrato simpatie per la NATO, pertanto Belgrado in passato ha dichiarato la sua neutralità e il rifiuto d’aderire ad alleanze militari. 

Ora in Serbia le posizioni non sono così univoche e chiare e l’orientamento di una parte considerevole della sua classe politica non sembra coincidere con una fetta importante dell’opinione pubblica.

Del resto l’Occidente, con Stati Uniti in testa, ambisce a “strappare” il Paese dall’influenza russa esercitando pressioni molto forti. Washington, fiduciosa che il Paese entrerà nella NATO, sottolinea costantemente che per la Serbia le porte dell’Alleanza Atlantica sono già aperte.

Specie dopo l’avvicinamento progressivo alla UE che rafforza la tendenza a perseguire aspirazioni euro-atlantiche.

L’attuale leadership serba sembra mantenersi in un difficile equilibrio tra il desiderio di compiacere l’Occidente e gli umori dell’opinione pubblica del Paese non senza il rischio di ambiguità.  

Se la situazione in Serbia appare però ancora incerta, non è altrettanto incerta in Montenegro. La NATO, definendolo “candidato perfetto” è già pronta a includere il Montenegro al suo interno.

Podgorica ha intrapreso il cammino di adesione verso la NATO già dal 2010, per ottenere subito dopo lo status di “paese candidato” ed è probabile che riceverà l’invito ufficiale d’adesione nel mese di dicembre 2015 alla riunione dei ministri degli Esteri dell’UE.

Tuttavia, non va dimenticato che solo l’anno scorso il Montenegro declinò l’invito d’entrare nell’Alleanza: innanzi tutto non aveva ancora terminato la riforma del settore difesa, in secondo luogo, nell’opinione pubblica prevalevano ancora gli oppositori verso l’adesione. 

Le autorità montenegrine sperano che l’eventuale entrata nell’Alleanza non influenzerà le loro relazioni con la Russia. 

Mosca, a tal proposito, invece, si è già pronunciata esprimendo il proprio dissenso; il rappresentante permanente della Russia presso la NATO Alexander Gruško nel corso di una videoconferenza organizzata da “Rossija Segodnja” ha dichiarato: “In modo univoco questo è un passo negativo per la Sicurezza europea e per le nostre relazioni con il Montenegro, perché, palesemente, si tratta di un Paese a noi strettamente legato da legami storici, comunanza spirituale, relazioni umane… che aderisce a un’organizzazione, per usare un eufemismo, ostile nei rapporti con la Russia”.

La questione principale rimane però aperta, ossia, la possibilità che il territorio montenegrino arrivi presto a ospitare basi militari NATO.

In Russia su questo tema i pareri sono discordanti. Il vice direttore dell’Istituto di analisi politica e militare Aleksandr Chramčichin, senza destare allarmismo, sostiene:  “Se anche queste basi dovessero mai comparire, saranno comunque abbastanza lontane”.

Altri esperti ritengono che l’entrata del Montenegro nella NATO rappresenti persino una condizione favorevole per la Russia, dal momento che nell’Alleanza ci sarà un Paese di più, in buoni rapporti con Mosca.

Non tutti però in Russia sono d’accordo con queste posizioni ottimistiche. Il vice direttore della commissione per gli affari internazionali della Duma Leonid Kalašnikov ritiene che tale mossa sia invece finalizzata a isolare la forte influenza della Serbia su Podgorica


Secondo questa prospettiva che giustifica un certo allarmismo, il Montenegro potrebbe presto trasformarsi in un’importante testa di ponte per gli americani in una zona geopoliticamente delicata come lo scacchiere mediterraneo

Al di là delle varie prospettive è indiscutibile che l’adesione del Montenegro all’Alleanza influenzerà gli equilibri tra NATO e Russia. Ma cosa dovrà aspettarsi la Russia da questo passo? Ci saranno minacce nei suoi confronti? 

A queste domande Konstantin Sivkov , membro-corrispondente dell’Accademia russa delle scienze missilistiche e d’artiglieria, abbozza una risposta: “Per valutare il significato dell’entrata del Montenegro nella NATO, è sufficiente dare un’occhiata a una mappa: il Paese ha uno sbocco sul Mar Adriatico, in altre parole, potrà ospitare una base militare navale. Oggi la NATO è più indispensabile agli Stati Uniti di quanto non lo sia per l’Europa”.


Tuttavia, in Europa esiste anche un’opposizione patriottica, ci sono diversi partiti e movimenti che si muovono a favore del ripristino della sovranità dei Paesi europei. 

Germania e Francia, in molti casi, non hanno approvato la strategia di Washington sulla scena internazionale.

È stato evidente nel 2003 con la guerra in Iraq. Nonostante questi Paesi siano ormai delle palesi marionette americane, ci sono comunque buone probabilità che altre forze politiche arriveranno al potere

Queste non seguiranno la corrente della politica americana in modo univoco, ma, soprattutto, porteranno avanti una propria linea, in forte contrasto con gli interessi statunitensi.

Gli Stati Uniti all’interno della NATO hanno rafforzato la propria influenza nei Paesi dell’Europa orientale guidati da governi decisamente filo-americani, pronti ad accettare la presenza di truppe americane e tra questi vi è il Montenegro

Tutte le operazioni militari nel teatro del Mediterraneo occupano una posizione sicuramente importante. Per gli Stati Uniti, il Montenegro potrebbe fungere questo da  “aeroporto di riserva” qualora ci fossero tensioni con l’Italia.

Il Montenegro non è mai stato un partner cruciale per la Russia e di reali legami economici, fatta eccezione per il turismo, c’è ne sono sempre stati pochi. La sua adesione alla NATO non condizionerà il turismo e sotto l’aspetto economico l’adesione è irrilevante.

Ma se in Serbia e in altri Paesi balcanici prenderà corpo un sentimento anti-americano, allora in questo caso il Montenegro diventerà un importante punto d’appoggio, dal quale gli Stati Uniti potranno reprimere questi dissensi con la loro forza militare”.

Sempre Sivkov è del parere che siano stati gli ultimi eventi in Grecia a determinare la spinta definitiva per la convergenza del Montenegro verso la NATO, sostiene infatti: “se la Grecia dovesse lasciare la zona euro sarebbe elevato anche il rischio di una sua uscita dall’UE". 

Rifiutando il diktat dei funzionari di Bruxelles per il suo sviluppo economico, ad Atene non rimarrà altro che orientarsi verso Mosca e Pechino, poiché non avrà più senso contare sull’aiuto da parte di Washington e Bruxelles (creditori). 

La Grecia diventerà un anello debole nella NATO, quindi, in prospettiva, si può ipotizzare una sua possibile uscita dall’Alleanza. In tal caso verrebbe danneggiato il fianco sud della NATO, con la Turchia in isolamento geopolitico.

È per tal ragione che gli americani hanno ora bisogno di un nuovo punto d’appoggio in Montenegro, in particolare per rafforzare il blocco della NATO nel sud. 

Saturday, May 16

MACEDONIA's TROUBLES WILL INFECT MONTENEGRO

Macedonia's foreign minister on Friday dismissed allegations that a recent battle between ethnic Albanian gunmen and police forces was linked with one of the deepest political crises the country has faced in its 24 years of independence.

However, the presence of an armed group in the border town of Kumanovo shows the country's northern border with Kosovo is vulnerable, Nikola Poposki told The Associated Press in an interview. He found the European Union at fault for the country's current predicament for staving off the country's accession to the 28-member bloc.

Macedonia has been an EU candidate since 2005 and was invited to join NATO in 2008. But its progress has been blocked in part by neighboring Greece, which objects to its use of the name Macedonia, which is also the name of a northern Greek province.

"The amount of frustration that has been caused in Macedonian society is obvious," Poposki said. "Some of the conclusion that should be deducted from the current situation is that if you (do) not secure the credible part on the euro-Atlantic integration for the countries in the region, the consequences are obvious."

Prosecutors revised the casualty figures from the clashes, which began last Saturday, saying eight police and 10 fighters had been killed rather than the originally announced 14 fighters. 

That brings the total number killed to 18 instead of 22, while another 37 special police officers were wounded. Authorities said they had launched an operation on a house used by the gunmen to prevent an attack

Some among the group wore insignia of now-disbanded ethnic Albanian rebel groups that fought against Serb and Macedonian forces in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

"It is not the first time that we have conspiracy theories in this part of the world," Poposki said, referring to suggestions made by some politicians that the gunbattle was instigated by those wanting to divert attention from the political crisis triggered by a massive wiretapping scandal.

The opposition claims Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is behind the illegal wiretapping of 20,000 people, and opposition head Zoran Zaev has been releasing a series of damning leaks of the recorded conversations. The government denies the allegations and counters that Zaev is plotting a coup.

"The fact on the ground is dramatic," Poposki said about the weekend fighting. He said that on one side, the police operation successfully dealt with the threat without any civilian casualties. 

"The other side of it is that it has shown that there are vulnerable parts of our border and ultimately people that would like to seize these sort of opportunities to spread terror and destabilize the country," he added.

The minister said radical extremists were still located in the area, and some — which he said included those who had fought in Kumanovo — had a "bigger agenda." 

Some politicians in the Balkans claim that the idea of a "Greater Albania" that would unite Albanian-speaking populations in Kosovo, Albania and parts of southern Monenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, are still high on the agenda of radical groups.

"The facts are that we have a serious, probably the most serious security situation that we faced since independence," Poposki said. In 2001, ethnic Albanian rebels who took up arms against government forces demanding greater rights for the minority community. 

The brief conflict left more than 80 people dead and ended with an internationally brokered ceasefire and the arrival of foreign peacekeepers.

It is still unclear how this weekend's clashes began. The government said police forces mounted an operation after tracking an armed group of about 50 men to a house in Kumanovo. 

Last month, Macedonian police said a smaller group attacked a border watchtower, briefly taking two Macedonian border guards hostage before releasing them unharmed.

Poposki said that "the most important thing" for Macedonia was to not allow any kind of inter-ethnic tensions to spread, and he described cooperation with authorities in neighboring Kosovo, from where most of the gunmen are believed to have come, as "very open and direct."

He added that Macedonia needed to "focus the energy now on dealing with the political crisis inside, not providing any ground to (a) radical group that would like to use or abuse the situation of uncertainty."