April 30, 2015

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GEOPOLITICS: Victoria Nuland & the Balkans

With regard to the production of geopolitical discourses, the field of critical geopolitics distinguishes between the "intellectuals of statecraft" and the "dissident intellectuals". The intellectuals of statecraft are those whose activities are directed toward the extending and deepening the power of the status quo, whereas the dissident intellectuals endeavor to demystify and deconstruct the existing networks of power and privilege.[1] The former are the creators of official manipulations and lies, while the latter seek to reveal the hidden truths behind them. While the latter write for Boiling Frogs Post on a voluntary basis, the former work for the government agencies for a lot of taxpayers' money. This article is about one such intellectual of statecraft and the little known aspect of her geopolitical activities.

Filip Kovacevic (Boiling Frogs Post) - Victoria Nuland attained global spotlight relatively recently in connection to the Euromaidan events in Ukraine in early 2014. Her expletive regarding the EU travelled around the globe within minutes of the appearance of the leaked telephone conversation between her and the US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt on Youtube.[2] The very day the conversation became public, I took part in the panel discussion on the geopolitical significance of the events in Ukraine at the Center for Civic Education in Podgorica, Montenegro.[3]

In my presentation, I stated that we would be able to judge as to whether there was any commitment to political accountability and sensible diplomacy in the US State Department by Nuland's subsequent professional fate. I claimed that if she did not resign after such an outrageous diplomatic scandal, it would mean that the moral decay and corruption, coupled with imperial and aggressive disregard for all differences in approach and opinion, took hold within the State Department and was now beyond repair. Not surprisingly, this is exactly what happened. Nuland held on to her post and her brand of "diplomacy" appears to have become the norm in the US relations with both the allies and the supposed opponents in Europe and beyond.

Even though Nuland became a high-level functionary of the State Department only about a year and a half ago (she was appointed assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs in September 2013), she has been active in the US foreign policy establishment for more than two decades.[4]

She began her career in the US embassies in Russia and Mongolia and later worked in the US Mission to NATO. From 2000 to 2003, she was the US deputy permanent representative to NATO, and she became the (18th) US permanent representative (ambassador) to NATO from 2005 to 2008. In between the two NATO stints, she advised (who else but) the imperial chief strategist, the US vice president Dick Cheney.

Obviously, she has been involved in formulating and implementing the expansionist geopolitical policies of NATO from the late 1990s. In this manner, she contributed a great deal to current political and economic instability on the European continent.

Together with her husband Robert Kagan, a well-known neoconservative author and one of the founders of the imperialist/globalist Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Nuland has been a member of the Washington inner circle of those who think that the US should make the entire planet serve its imperial interests. The government, professional, and academic networks of the Nuland-Kagan couple show that there is basically no distinction between the Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the goals of the imperial foreign policy.

In addition, just like some of the most powerful "intellectuals of statecraft" in the recent US history, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Madeleine Albright, Nuland has family roots in Eastern Europe (Odessa, Ukraine) and this may in part explain (but cannot justify) her distrustfully aggressive attitude toward Russia, its national interests and foreign policy goals. In fact, considering that the reductive anti-Russian worldview propelled the careers of both Brzezinski and Albright, the same could be anticipated in the case of Nuland as well. If the US foreign policy continues going down the current, ultimately destructive path, I would not be very surprised to see her appointed as the secretary of state in the next presidential administration.

While Nuland's geopolitical activities on the rimlands of Russia are well covered by the alternative and anti-imperial media (e.g. distributing monetary aid to the pro-imperial political forces in Ukraine and, more symbolically, cookies to the Maidan protesters),[5] not much has been written about her activities in the Balkans.

This article aims to remedy that significant lacuna. In my opinion, the US-NATO extensive involvement in the Balkans is just as important for the success of the overall imperial agenda as the heavily militarized engagement on the borders of Russia and its Central Asian allies.

Nuland in the Balkans

In her capacity as the assistant secretary of state, Victoria Nuland visited the Balkans for the first time in the mid-July 2014. The general aim of her mission was two-fold. First, to further the imperial goals of strengthening the US-NATO hold over the region, and, secondly, to oppose the historical Russian and the emerging Chinese influences, using all the means at her disposal (from open threats to promises to look the other way while the attacks on free thought and human rights are being perpetrated by the Balkan governments).

Nuland first landed in Croatia and took part in the Croatia Forum in Dubrovnik on July 11, 2014. The Croatia Forum is a decade-old annual gathering of the foreign ministers and other political dignitaries from Europe and beyond involved in the formulation of foreign policy. Considering that Croatia is a member of NATO since 2009, it is not surprising that Nuland called it "a fantastic ally".[6] However, on the issue of gas and oil industry, Nuland cautioned the Croatian allies to be careful and make "smart decisions".

This was an implicit reference to the talks going on at the time on the possible business deals between the Croatian oil and gas companies and the Russian Gazprom.[7] Also, at the time, the building of the South Stream oil pipeline was still in the cards and Nuland was concerned that Croatia's involvement in its future operations would lead to its developing tighter and mutually profitable economic links with Russia. As is known, the pipeline was later cancelled after the intense political pressure by the US and EU officials on the Bulgarian government.

Obviously, in this respect, Nuland got what she wanted, but this outcome will lead to the imposition of heavy economic costs on the ordinary citizens of the Balkans left without a source of cheap(er) energy.

Even though Nuland did not visit Bosnia-Herzegovina, she did not miss the opportunity to mention it in her Dubrovnik speech by calling for the strengthening of the country's unity, a code phrase for the revision of the 1995 Dayton Agreements which ended the civil war. She publicly contradicted her "fantastic ally", the Croatian prime minister Zoran Milanović who, at the same forum only a day earlier, said that the revision of the B-H constitution was "unrealistic".[8] However, Nuland's statement points to the existence of a policy disagreement between the "allies", and therefore we could expect more political and economic instability in B-H in the coming period in order to suit the US imperial "strategy of tension".

The next stop on the Nuland's Balkan tour was Podgorica, the capital city of Montenegro. Nuland met with all the top corrupt political dignitaries, the prime minister Milo Djukanović, a long-time CIA asset, the "president" Filip Vujanović, illegitimately elected in the rigged elections in April 2013, and the "usual puppets," the ministers of foreign affairs and defense, Igor Lukšić and Milica Pejanović-Djurišić.[9] She vexed ecstatic on the "political progress" in one of the most extensively mafia-controlled countries in the world and of course promised her help to get Montenegro an invitation to NATO membership by the end of 2015. Needless to say, Nuland also praised  Djukanović, who has been in power since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and is known to have been involved in the massive war crimes as well as many organized crime operations over the last 25 years.

From Podgorica, Nuland went to Tirana, the capital of Albania where she met with the top level Albanian officials, the prime minister Edi Rama, the president Bujar Nishani, and the speaker of the Parliament Ilir Meta. All three thanked Nuland on the continued US support, while Rama also mentioned the US support for "the Albanian people in the region".[10] This mention is of extreme relevance as it has to do with the relations between Albania and Kosovo, which have become very close since Kosovo's declaration of independence in 2008. In some circles, the increasing economic and political integration between the two conjures up the fear of a "Greater Albanian" state, the efforts on behalf of which by certain influential Albanian political elites (both in the region and in the US) could seriously destabilize the Balkans.

In Montenegro and Albania, Nuland also met with the leaders of the parliamentary opposition. These leaders brought up serious charges against both Djukanović and Rama, which were no doubt the source of cynical laughter among the US Embassy officials after the end of the meetings. In both countries, the US puppets are in power, and, no matter how corrupt they get, while they remain puppets, they will get all the support they need to keep holding on.

After Tirana, Nuland's next stop was Prishtina, the capital of Kosovo, which many have called a "NATO state", considering that Kosovo's separation from Serbia was heavily supported by the US and its NATO allies. However, it is important to point out that not even all the NATO states have recognized Kosovo, which shows to what extent its recognition by other states (close to 110 at this point) was the result of the US imperial arm-twisting and not based on international law and relevant procedures. Is it surprising then that Nuland was herself lavished with praise from the Kosovo political leaders, including the suspected war criminals, Ramush Haradinaj and Hashim Thaçi? The president of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga thanked Nuland on the US support for Kosovo's "broad Euro-Atlantic integrations", which is a code phrase for the close cooperation with NATO military and intelligence networks.[11]

On July 13, 2015, Nuland visited Belgrade and met with the Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić as well as with the foreign minister Ivica Dačić. Nikolić stressed that Serbia wants to have good relations with both "the West and the East", which is definitely not what Nuland wanted to hear.[12] The US imperial interests demand that the Balkan countries cut off all good and mutually beneficial relations with the East. At the end of the day (unless, in the meantime, there is the End of the World), this will no doubt turn out to be a Quixotic quest on the part of the US, but not before much more economic and political instability is imported into the region as the preferred weapon of imperial control.

In contrast to Nikolić, Dačić, the close ally of the former Serbian authoritarian leader, Slobodan Milošević, was - perhaps due to the past sins in the US eyes - more amenable to Nuland's rhetoric. He talked about the strengthening and extending the relations with the US on various economic and security issues. Nuland returned the "compliment" and asserted that she was "impressed" with the progress of Serbia and the "ambitious reform plan of the Serbian government". Is it necessary to point out that the ambition of this plan consists only in further applying the neoliberal austerity measures on the already heavily impoverished population of Serbia?

The last segment of Nuland's Balkan trip was in Skopje, FYROM. She met both with the president George Ivanov and the prime minister Nikola Gruevski. Predictably, the topics of discussion included the "Euro-Atlantic" integrations and the implementation of neoliberal economic policies.[13] Not much was mentioned about the prevailing corruption and human rights abuses in the country, but Nuland stressed that more needed to be done by the FYROManian government to alleviate the concerns of the "Albanian regions". This emphasis should be enough to explain the praise Nuland received both in Albania and Kosovo for the continued US support. No doubt the location of one of the newest and biggest US military bases in Europe (the Camp Bondsteel) in Kosovo, not far the FYROManian border, has something to do with it.

Nuland has not visited the Balkans since July 2014, but there are some indications that she will visit again this summer.[14] However, since her visit, she often met with the Balkan leaders either in Washington, DC or at the margins of various international political gatherings, such as, for instance, the Munich Security Forum. This means that the two-fold Cold War agenda of keeping the US-NATO Empire in, and all the others (including the autonomous populist forces) out, is in the full swing at this time.

However, if we take into consideration the political events in Greece since SYRIZA's coming to power, this agenda has hardly any long-term viability.

Filip Kovacevic is a Boiling Frogs Post contributing author and analyst, a geopolitical author, university professor and the chairman of the Movement for Neutrality of Montenegro. He received his BA and PhD in political science in the US and was a visiting professor at St. Petersburg State University in Russia for two years. He is the author of seven books, dozens of academic articles. He has been invited to lecture throughout the EU, Balkans, ex-USSR and the US. He currently resides in San Francisco, and can be contacted at


  • [1] See for instance Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Simon Dalby, and Paul Routledge (eds.). The Geopolitics Reader. New York: Routledge, 1998, especially Tuathail's "Introduction", pp. 1-14. This geopolitics reader is incomplete as it does not include the classic and contemporary writings of the Russian (Eurasian) geopolitical school.
  • [2]
  • [3]
  • [4]
  • [5]
  • [6]
  • [7]
  • [8] http :// /66/articleType /ArticleView/articleId/ 250853/Default.aspx
  • [9]
  • [10]
  • [11]
  • [12]
  • [13]
  • [14]

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CUCKOO - Skopje Professor says on 9th day God created the FYROManians (VIDEO)

The following clip shows Aristotel Tentov, FYROM professor of engineering, who gained “fame” in nationalist circles by performing pseudo-archaeological and pseudo-historic research which explains the emergence of the FYROManian people as a Divine work, superior in all aspects from the rest of humankind. This is a part of his recent interview on a talk-show on the channel of extremely pro-Gruevski television station SITEL in which Tentov postulates a Divine cosmogony which elevates “Makedonci” people of FYROM as a special creation, hierarchically over all other humans.

For many FYROM citizens, especially among the younger generation, the “new reading of history” is a basic fuel of nationalism and suprematism which is cultivated through pseudo-history in a very energetic manner since the onset of Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE rule since 2006.

Soros has worked his magic here indeed.

Editor's Note: Silly you and you thought God only created Adam and Eve and the world in seven days. Thankfully this man enlightened us. Truth is... We have no words, even science does not have an explanation about his condition.

Moody’s downgrades Greek credit rating to ‘Caa2’ over uncertainty

The Moody's Ratings Agency said in an announcement on Thursday that it downgraded Greece’s from “Caa1” to “Caa2”, while also assigning it a “negative outlook”, in response to the political and financial uncertainty. According to the announcement, the short-term review has not been affected and remains “not prime”, while review prospects are also negative. It also said that the latest downgrade concludes a review that began on February 6th.

Moody’s said that the main reasons for this development is that there is major uncertainty as to whether the Greek government is going to reach an agreement with its creditors so that it can in return cover its needs. Furthermore, with a week economy and fragile political situation, there are high risks in the implementation of a midterm program.


Flampouraris: Greek citizens will support Gov't "if we go to referendum”

Speaking to MEGA Tv, Minister of State, Alekos Flampouraris expressed optimism that the government is going to arrive at an agreement with its creditors. When asked about the possibility of a referendum, Flampouraris said that if Greece's lenders throw the “Hardouvelis email” set of reforms on the table, then SYRIΖΑ will be forced to hold a referendum, since it cannot take such decisions without a mandate from the Greek people.

While pointing to recent opinion polls where SYRIZA clearly holds a lead over the main opposition New Democracy party, Flampouraris estimated that citizens would side with the government should a referendum be called. He said citizens appear to trust Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the negotiation efforts that are being made with the country's lenders.

When asked what the government would do, if it is faced with the dilemma of either paying wages and pensions or the next IMF loan payment, he underlined that the government will chose to first pay wages and pensions.

He said that at some point the government intends to implement its election promises, but noted that the controversial ENFIA real estate tax may be preserved for six months and that the Christmas bonus pension will be paid out, even if this is delayed. He also argued that the people are going to experience major changes, as soon as Greece's liquidity crisis is resolved.

Turning to the formation of the political negotiation team and the allegations that claim that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was side-lined, Flampouraris noted that the Varoufakis has held onto all of the powers he had prior to this development. He was unable to confirm whether he would be accompanied by Government VP Yannis Dragasakis or someone else at the upcoming Eurogroup session.

In his opinion, the agreement made on February 20th was a success, as it revised the requirement for a primary surplus and essentially “ended” the fifth review of the bailout program, nonetheless he admitted that the government made a “mistake” in overestimating “the democratic, transparent and social attitude" of its partners.

Gov't withdraws tax on hotel stays

Greece's Ministry of Finance has apparently withdrawn plans of taxing overnight stays at hotels, because it conflicts with constitutional provisions. Some may recall that the plan was to introduce a 3, 4 and 5 percent overnight stays tax for 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels, respectively. The bill, that also includes measures aimed at curbing the illicit trade in tobacco, alcohol and fuel, would be discussed in detail at the Ministerial Council meeting on Thursday.

On the other hand, a 10 percent tax is going to be imposed on all vehicles with an engine larger than 1.9 liters.

Presently there is a 5 percent tax on automobiles with 1.9 to 2.5 liter engines, while larger vehicles are now set to be taxed with a 10 percent rate. The luxury tax is not going to apply to vehicles over ten years old.

With the new tax, the government aims to generate more than 20 million euros, however there were thoughts of raising the existing 5 and 10 percent rates to 6.5 and 13 percent, respectively.


New Poll Shows SYRIZA 14.8-point lead over New Democracy

The ruling SYRIZA party has a 14.-8 point lead over the main opposition party New Democracy party, according to a new survey that was conducted by MARC for ALPHA Tv. When participants were asked which party they would vote for if elections were called, they responded as follows:

  •     SYRIZA – 35.6% (40.2%)
  •     New Democracy – 20.8% (21%)
  •     The River – 5.8% (4.3%)
  •     Golden Dawn – 5.3% (4.8%)
  •     KKE – 5.1% (4.9%)
  •     Independent Greeks – 4.2% (4.5%)
  •     PASOK – 2.8% (2.5%)
  •     Centrists’ Union – 1.5% (1.8%)
  •     Movement of Democrats Socialists – 1.4% (1.8%)
  •     Other party – 3.8% (3.3%)
  •     Undecided – 13.7%

(Figures in parentheses are results from a survey conducted on the March 18)

British Airways: New direct flights from London to Herakleio & Corfu

British Airways is going to launch direct flights to Herakleio, Crete as well as to Corfu this tourist season. The new flights will be added to the already existing Greek island destinations currently operated by the airline, such as Kos, Rhodes, Mykonos and Santorini.

With the addition of the new flights, BA is planning to offer direct flights from London tothe following Greek destinations until the end of the tourist season (late October):

  • Kos - Tuesday, Saturday
  • Rhodes - Wednesday, Saturday
  • Herakleio, Crete - Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday
  • Corfu - Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday
  • Mykonos - Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, Monday
  • Santorini - Tuesday, Thursday 

April 29, 2015


PROVOCATION: Report Says Greek Sovereignty Questioned if IMF Debts Cannot be Paid

A study that was just released and which is addressed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raises the sensitive issue of  national sovereignty, suggesting that countries that cannot pay off their debts on time to the IMF, should have their national sovereignty revoked.

The document (picture above) is signed by James M. Boughton, a former executive of IMF.

A report in claims that in the document, Boughton, who was working for the IMF between 1981 to 2012, analyses the exact measures that should be taken in case a state cannot pay off its financial obligations.

The way the financial crisis in Greece has been handled demonstrated that the financial system has some ‘holes’, Boughton says.


(Editor's Note: M@laka Giorgaki... If it wasn't for you Greece would never be in this situation. Nonetheless we are hopeful that Tsipras will keep his word -forget about all the silly rhetoric that his party is grinding in the mind of Greeks- and be prompt with its payments to these reserve-war-mongering buffoons. If not... Molon Lave m@lakes.)

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SOCAR “losing interest” in DESFA - European Commission blocks deal

The state Azeri natural gas company SOCAR is now losing interest in the perspective sale of 66% shares of Greece’s natural gas system operator DESFA. According to ?Greek press reports the European Commission has apparently blocked the deal while it investigates an alleged violation of European legislation (even though the tender is active and an advance payment of 400 million euros has been pending since November).

In recent comments, SOCAR’s CEO Rovnag Abdullayev said that he was prepared to cooperate with the EC investigation, and at the same time announced that the deadline has been expanded to the end of 2015. The result is obvious; the completion of the privatization is becoming increasingly difficult.

During his interview to enikos on Monday evening, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras noted the importance of the sale to SOCAR and how it is going to be one of the first successful privatizations that his government will make.


Supreme Court rejects Germanos' petition against Siemens trial indictment

The Supreme Court Prosecutor has rejected a petition by businessman Panos Germanos, the owner of the Greek 'Germanos' electronic goods chain store, against his indictment to stand trial over the Siemens kickbacks scandal. Germanos is among 32 defendants facing charges in connection with a kickbacks and money-laundering case linked to the purchase of German submarines by the Hellenic Navy.

According to a dispatch from the state news agency, other names up on charges include prominent ship owner, Michael Matantos, businessman Alexandros Avataggelos, former ministry officials, former executives at Siemens and in banks, associates of former minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and a former head of the Hellenic Shipyards at Skaramangas.

Since the Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis rejected Germanos' petition, all 32 are expected to stand trial in the case.


To get a better understanding about this controversial case and all other issues related to Siemens scandals, HellasFrappe suggests that you also read:

Forgiving Siemens And German Corruption in Greece

SIEMENS Scandal - Ex-PASOK MP To Return Bribe So He Can Reduce Possible Sentence

BUSTED - Prosecutor indicts 64 people in Siemens bribe scandal

An Introduction And Analysis Of The Siemens and Ferrostaal Scandals

Mantelis Appears In Court Over Siemens Kickback Scandal But Trial Suspended Until Nov. 25th

Authorities Question Lavrentiadis Involvement With Siemens

SCANDAL - New Int'l Arrest Warrents Against ex-Siemens Exec's for Bribery

164 MPs Ratifiy Scandalous Settlement Agreement With Siemens


Olympiakos President To Appear Before Corruption Magistrate in June

Olympiakos Pireaus club president Vangelis Marinakis is expected to appear before a Corruption Magistrate on a set of serious charges including match-fixing and running a criminal organisation in early June, a report from the state news agency said this week. Marinakis was given a deadline earlier this week in order to prepare his testimony, via the lawyer representing him.

The testimony concerning the case was handed over to the Corruption Magistrate by major Levadiakos club shareholder Yiannis Kobotis, who also faces a charge of bribery. He was then released on condition that he has no involvement in any sporting events or club activities.

The magistrate also gave early June deadlines to former Hellenic Soccer Federation legal consultant Theodoros Kouridis and HFF board member Aristidis Stathopoulos, in order to prepare their testimony.

In other related news, Deputy Minister of Sport Stavros Kontonis has arranged to meet with UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, in order to discuss the possibility of a solution that will avoid the possibility of a “football Grexit”.

A separate report from To Vima claims that over the past few days Kontonis has implemented changes to a sports bill that is being debated in Parliament and which is then set to be put to a vote. The main problem that the Greek Minister is faced with concerns a provision to abolish the autonomy of the Hellenic Soccer Federation (EPO), which conflicts with FIFA and UEFA’s rules.

Failure to comply with those regulations could signal the immediate expulsion of Greek national teams and clubs from all international competitions, which in turn would have an unprecedented financial catastrophe on professional sport in Greece.

In order to placate FIFA and UEFA, Kontonis expanded the controversial clause, by including a clarification that EPO must operate within the framework of the law and Constitution, as well as the rules and regulations of FIFA and UEFA.

In Kontonis's view, the ball is now in UEFA and FIFA’s court, since the changes safeguard the requirement of EPO’s independent operation.

(Sources: ANA-MPA, To Vima)


Anarchists Attack Yianis Varoufakis in Exarchia

Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis and his wife Danae Stratou were verbally assaulted by a group of anarchists while dining at a restaurant in the Exarchia district on Tuesday evening. Following the attack, Varoufakis said he believed that the attack was not part of an organized plan intended to injure and/or provoke him, and said he didn't believe that it was part “of the overall efforts towards [his] political deconstruction” either.

According to him, while he was having dinner with his wife, a group of anarchists entered the establishment and began yelling obscenities at him while simultaneously throwing glass objects in the couple’s direction so as to force them to leave the area. After the situation calmed down and the restaurant was emptied, the anarchists continued to be abusive towards the Greek Finance Minister as he and his wife began making their way out of the restaurant.

Varoufakis told reporters that it was at this point that he decided to talk to the group (about 5,6 angry ones) and following a lengthy non-violent discussion, he left without any threats. Varoufakis, who reportedly lived in this area in the early 2000s, noted that “the response to the anger and violent acts of these people cannot and must not be disorderly retreat or violent suppression”.

Varoufakis said that when some of the group moved in a threatening manner against him, his wife embraced him so that the potential attackers could not get at him without hitting her first.

Greek reports said that as many as 10 people, who had their faces covered, verbally abused him and his wife.


Ferry crashes into Igoumenitsa port - 11 passengers injured

The Ano Chora II ferry boat, which had departed from Corfu, reportedly crashed into the port of Igoumenitsa during the docking process, early on Wednesday morning (or at about 10:45 local time).

As a result, at least eleven passengers were reported to have been injured, including six children and the two teachers who were accompanying them. The same reports claim that one child, a woman and an elderly man were also immediately hospitalized for further treatment.

Aside from the damages on the boat, the crash also caused damages to one bus and five cars that were parked on the pier.

Source and photo: epirusgate

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Commissioner Dimitri Avramopoulos presents EU agenda on security

EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos presented on Tuesday the European Agenda on Security at European Parliament in Strasbourg:


I am particularly happy to present to you here in the European Parliament the Agenda, as adopted by the Commission just a while ago.

The European Citizens expect from all of us that we work together, in a coordinated way in order to ensure their security and protect their rights and freedom. They expect from us that we trust each other, share information and effectively work together to coordinate concrete actions and operations. Because new and complex security threats have emerged, that are increasingly cross-border and cross-sectorial in nature, we cannot but face them together. This is the meaning of the shared Agenda that we put into your and to Member States consideration.

It’s a common Agenda based on principles and priorities, on which we should all (Parliament, Member States, the Commission and its Agencies) play our role in ensuring our Citizens Security. That’s why we are asking you to evaluate and endorse this agenda.

We will have the opportunity of debating and working together on each specific element of this Agenda in the next five years but today I think it is important to agree on a COMMON European Agenda on Security in order to meet citizens' expectations.

The Agenda sets out five key principles that should guide EU action on security:

  • full compliance with fundamental rights.
  • transparency, accountability and democratic control for citizens' confidence. The European Parliament plays a key role in this.
  • better application and implementation of existing instruments (as this House has as well requested many times) before assessing whether additional EU tools are necessary, in full compliance with the principles of necessity and proportionality.
  • full use of EU agencies and all EU policies that contribute – directly or indirectly – to security.
  • to bring together all internal and external dimensions of security with a targeted coordination of our internal and foreign policies. For instance, we will present a consistent EU approach for all future PNR requests from third countries.

The Agenda sets out concrete actions to turn these key principles into a practical reality.

For example: In December last year, the European Parliament has adopted a Resolution on what it considered being the necessary elements of an EU strategy on internal security and you made clear that the utmost priority was to use better the existing instruments, both at legislative and operational level.

We have listened very carefully and put this principle in action in the Agenda. Look for example to our proposal for enhancing the existing capacities of Europol. It is not a question to create new information networks but to make sure that all information already available in the Member States is also put at disposal of Europol, under its strict framework for data protection. The Centre would therefore assemble in one single structure the functions already existing in the Agency on terrorist financing, illicit trafficking of firearms and foreign terrorist fighters, as well as on detection of violent extremist content online. Eurojust will also be associated to the Centre.

This new capacity will support more effectively the action of Member States in their investigations and prosecutions of terrorist cases.

This is our main goal: to make sure that the Agency is able to fully implement its mandate.

Three main priorities will be addressed in the next 5 years:

  1. Tackling terrorism: as you will see, we won't only work on repressive measures but we will also focus on prevention. Social cohesion policy, education, employment, justice but also the cooperation with key third countries are crucial for the EU response to address the root causes of extremism and radicalisation. The Commission will set up a Centre of Excellence to collect and disseminate expertise on anti-radicalisation, building upon the Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN). This will strengthen the exchange of experience among practitioners directly engaged in preventing radicalisation and violent extremism at local level. We plan to update the Framework Decision on Terrorism: to provide a more coherent legal framework to deal with the foreign fighter phenomenon. This will allow for intensified cooperation with third countries on this issue. We will also launch an EU Forum with major IT companies to counter terrorist propaganda on the internet and in social media.
  2. Disrupting organised crime: we go through various forms of organised crime linked by one principle: Cutting the financing of criminals. The cooperation between competent authorities in Europe (in particular national Financial Intelligence Units, which will be connected to EUROPOL) will be strengthened while we will assess the necessity of new legislation to counter terrorist financing and improve confiscations of property derived from criminal activities. We plan to strength the legal framework on firearms to address the illegal trafficking and reactivation of weapons, to establish common standards, share more information and boost cooperation with third countries. And I cannot today not to mention our priority to fight the organised criminals exploiting the need of some people for protection and better life perspectives: smugglers and traffickers.
  3. Fighting cybercrime: One of our priorities is to assess whether the current tools for the law-enforcement Authorities are sufficient to address on-line investigations notably on issues of competent jurisdiction and rules on access to Internet-based evidence and information These three areas are interlinked and have a strong cross-border crime. It is here where EU action can make a real difference for ensuring security.

The Agenda also proposes steps to strengthen the pillars of EU action on internal security:

  1. better information exchange;
  2. increased operational cooperation;
  3. more targeted support through training, funding, research and innovation. It is through these actions that the EU gives added value to the work of Member States.

These three pillars are the ones based on which this Agenda can evolve in course of 5 years to adapt to new threats and challenges.

Dear Honourable Members, this was just a brief presentation of the European Agenda on Security adopted by the Commission today.

I want to stress again: this Agenda it is not just the response to the recent tragic events. This Agenda has been a priority for President Juncker and this Commission and defines the Union's approach to internal security that is based on our common values, including the rule of law and fundamental rights. It also has to be seen in conjunction with the future Agenda on Migration which will further develop issues of border management and smuggling of migrants.

I will be very pleased to discuss the Agenda with you in more detail over the coming weeks, as your house will be a crucial partner in its implementation. For now, I look forward to your immediate reactions.


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Greece-Cyprus-Egypt hold talks in Nicosia, Develop ties further

UPDATE - The premier said that they agreed to proceed with the delimitation of  exclusive economic zones (EEZ), where it is necessary, according to international law and the law of the sea. He noted, however, that this process will not only be in the interest of the three countries, but it will also be a challenge for other countries in the region to cooperate and delimitate their maritime zones on the basis of all principles of international law. Tsipras spoke of further deepening cooperation between Greece and Egypt, stressing that "economic, commercial and energy cooperation contribute effectively and are prerequisites for the consolidation of prosperity but also peace and stability in the region."

On his part, the Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said that the alarming developments in other countries of the region, such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen, intensify the need for joint action by the international community in addressing the challenges that transcend national borders. The president of Egypt Abdul Fattah El Sisi said that "the second summit between the three countries in just six months reflects the willingness to deepen our cooperation," noting that this would shape a future based on tolerance, peace, stability, social justice.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met with Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Nicosia on Wednesday at a trilateral summit between Greece, Cyprus and Egypt that aims to further develop the economic, political, energy and diplomatic ties between the three countries.

It was only expected that the meeting would generate international interest, as it is the sole established diplomatic cooperation initiative in the Mediterranean, which could help balance the turbulent situation in the greater region. At first the three leaders held bilateral meetings, and then a trilateral meeting was held to address common issues.

It should be noted that Wednesday’s meeting follows the summit that took place in Cairo last November, when all three countries decided to further strengthen their ties, while inviting other nations to join them in their initiative.

According to reports, the main topics on the agenda are energy cooperation, establishing EEZ, tackling terrorism and the jihadist threat, trade and political dialog. The Cypriot dispute may also be discussed, in light of the recent “elections” in the Turkish-occupied north portion of the island nation.

The three leaders would also highlight the need for stability in the region and that their trilateral partnership may contribute towards this goal.

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US ambassador Intervenes Following Tsipras' Interview On

A recent statement by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on notorious November 17 terrorist Savvas Xiros apparently caused the intervention of US Ambassador to Athens David Pearce.

It should be recalled that on Monday night and while speaking on and journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou, Tsipras denied that the law abolishing high security prisons, which included a provision which would allow convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros to serve the rest of his multiple life sentence from his home, has affected the relations between Greece and the U.S.

Asked whether the law which was approved by Parliament and prompted the angry reaction of the U.S. government was a mistake which could affect Greek negotiations, he said:
     "This friction, the intense disagreement [with the U.S.] which took place has not influenced the negotiations." During the interview Tsipras said Greece had been convicted by the European Court of Human Rights for detaining Xiros who is severely disabled.
Following Tsipras statement, and while replying to a tweet by Financial Times journalist Peter Spiegel, who uploaded the relevant video, Pearce said that ‘Xiros should not set foot out of prison before his sentences are served’.

Read background to this article and watch the interview (with English translation) on enikos by clicking HERE


Varoufakis encourages Greeks to declare overseas bank deposits or face repercussions

Greek Minister of Finance Yanis Varoufakis and Minister of State Panagiotis Nikoloudis met with a delegation from Switzerland on Tuesday which was headed by Deputy Minister for International Financial Affairs Jacques de Watteville. According to various press reports, the meeting was held to discuss the exchange of banking information, in relation to tax evasion and other criminal activities.

The Minister of Finance said that Greece is prepared to introduce legislation to make it easier for overseas account-holders to voluntarily declare the fund they have outside of Greece. According to one report in the To Vima newspaper, the government plans on taxing “hidden funds” with a 15% rate and allowing the account-holders to keep the funds abroad, however, should depositors decide to return the funds to Greece, then the tax rate will be less.

(Common sense and reasonable)

There are going to be repercussions, however, to all of those who do not respond to the government’s call to voluntarily reveal what funds they have in overseas (or even domestic) accounts, since they will be faced with a full-fledged audit.

Fines Imposed By HCMC On Investors for Naked Short Selling

The Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC) said in an announcement this week that it imposed approximately 1.6 million euros worth of fines on foreign investors for naked short selling. The fines concern the period April and May of 2014, when the systemic bank capital increase were reported to have occurred. One thing is certain, they are probably just a drop in the bucket to other periods when short-selling once again occurred (Specifically during George Papandreou's reign in power).

According to Greek press reports some of the companies that were fined include:

  • Burlington Global Capital Investments was fined 460,000 euros for the naked short selling of National Bank stock
  • MCI Services Ltd was fined 400,000 euros for the naked short selling of National Bank stock
  • Quantum Partners L.P. was fined 65,000 euros for the naked short selling of National Bank stock
  • Aptus Global Financials Fund was fined 80,000 euros for the naked short selling of Eurobank stock
  • GFS Map Trust Macrosynergy was fined 10,000 euros for the naked short selling of Alpha Bank stock
  • J.P. Morgan Securities PLC was fined 10,000 euros for the naked short selling of Alpha Bank stock

April 28, 2015

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Tsipras Certain Greece Will Reach Agreement With Lenders - (VIDEOS in English)

Wages and pensions are the government's priority, according to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras whether Greece reaches an agreement with its lenders or not. In an interview on the "" news talks show late on Monday night which was broadcasted on STAR Tv, (the interview began at 11:30 p.m. and ended at little after 2:36 a.m. on Tuesday morning,) Tsipras took questions from a small audience and even responded to messages from the social networks on a wide range of topics.

Tsipras admitted that his party made many mistakes in negotiations on account of its inexperience, and at the same time supported Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis who he said has become a target of Greece’s international creditors in an effort to debilitate their opponent in negotiations. The Greek premier also left it to be understood that he wants the Greek people’s mandate, but not via elections, thus suggesting that a referendum may be held.

Any potential break with the European Union will be decided on by the Greek people, he said, adding, however, that he’s confident it won’t come to that and that a deal will be reached.
     “A Greek default and a rupture would be a failure for Europe, for Merkel and for Greece itself,” he said. “The German Chancellor is willing to find a solution for Greece. My vision is not Greece outside the European Union, I want to ensure Greece as an equal partner in Europe."
He said that Greece has intrinsic problems that are difficult to be resolved and noted that although he is not the type of person that believes "foreigners are to blame" for all of Greece's dilemmas, the memorandums did nothing to improve Greece's financial woes, but had the direct opposite effect. He said that reforms such as these may have helped economies in Latin America and/or Asia, but they didn't work in Greece.

The interview comes at a time when the Greek government is struggling to find the funds to pay pensions and state employees’ wages by the end of the month. Greece is counting on deposits of local governments, and/or other funds, to make the payments of over 1.5 billion euros (US $1.62 billion) after euro-area finance ministers said last Friday that they were not going to disburse any more aid to Greece until the bailout terms were met. What is worse, state coffers are going to be further strained on May 6th, when the SYRIZA-ANEL government needs to find 200 million euros for a payment due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

If negotiations with Greece's lenders reach a deadlock the government will hold a referendum, Tsipras said. Asked if he intends to cause a rift with the country's lenders or to compromise if he's faced with the choice, he said:
     "If I find myself in a difficult position, with a deal which pushes me outside the boundaries [the government has set], the people will decide; obviously not through elections."
Tsipras noted, however, that this is a highly hypothetical scenario, because he believes an agreement will be reached.

Tsipras said that if no agreement is achieved between Greece and its lenders, it will be regarded as a failure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
     "A failure, a non-desirable development, or a bankruptcy would be a failure for Merkel, for Europe," Tsipras said, adding that the German leader has failed to accept that the policies followed in the past five years have failed. 
He also said Merkel is handling simultaneously two serious issues; the Minsk agreement and the agreement with Greece.

He said that the Greek government is at a difficult point of the negotiations with its lenders but it has nothing to hide and it's not bluffing,

Tsipras said Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is an "asset" for the country, but that negotiations don't belong to one person. Asked about the apparent sidelining of the finance minister following a mini reshuffle of the Greek negotiating team, Tsipras said:
     "Varoufakis is an asset for the country. He has annoyed them because he speaks their language better than they do. He insists on his opinion. But the negotiations do not belong to one person, the prime minister has the overall responsibility." 
He also said the negative climate against the finance minister is part of the negotiating practice.

Tsipras said the country's creditors continue to request the return of 'troika' officials.
     "We'll tell the truth here. They are still demanding the return of the troika," he said, adding that the government managed to stop the "humiliating" visits of troika officials to ministries. We no longer have this pillage and interrogation of ministers by the troika," he noted. 
Tsipras said the European Central Bank's decision to lower the funding available to Greek banks on February 18 was "politically unorthodox".
     "On February 18, the ECB took a decision which was politically and ethically unorthodox."
Tsipras also said the government was "blackmailed" through economic asphyxiation.

He also said that ECB head Mario Draghi has changed his initial supportive stance towards Greece to achieve agreement with EU heavyweights on his quantitative easing (QE) programme.
     "Draghi either identifies with the policies of impoverishment, or he has changed his stance in the last few months." 
The Greek PM said he believed the central banker changed his stance to secure the approval of key countries for his QE programme.

Tsipras said that the gas deal discussed with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a pipeline which would cross Greece was a "great success" could turn Greece into an energy hub and provide revenues.
     "We achieved a great success in Russia... If the deal to construct the gas pipeline goes through, it could turn Greece into an energy hub which would provide gas to all of Europe."
      "If the pipeline project becomes reality, it will provide cheap energy...this project will be funded by the EU and Russia and will be built by Greek companies."
He also said that if the pipeline is constructed, it could potentially pump 47 million cubic metres of gas through Greece.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is "organised and diligent" and it's no accident she's governed Germany for so long, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.
     "Now that I met Angela Merkel up close, I have the sense that it's no accident she has been a Chancellor for so many years. She's from Eastern Europe, very organised and diligent, she doesn't let anything left to chance," he said and continued to sing her praises noting that she "has done her homework and she wants to be told the truth."
Asked to comment about German reparations, he said the issue was not so much monetary as ethical.
     "What drives me crazy is that some people accuse us that we are not paying our debts four years now, but those who owe us are wagging a finger at us."
He added that the government would not put the issue to rest.
     "The German people have a sense of justice... the yellow press has done a good job of making us (look poorly)... it needs two to tango, and Siemens played a great role in corruption in Greece."
When asked which privatisations will go through, he revealed that the government will renegotiate the sale of the old Athens airport of Hellinikon and of Piraeus Port (OLP), the PM said.
     "There can be revenues from the sale of real estate, DESFA (to SOCAR), ODIE, the hotel of Asteras. The [Hellinikon] airport and Piraeus port need to be renegotiated,"
adding that those sales will take place only if Greece achieves a deal.

The Premier noted that the government's priority in May will be to pay wages and pensions instead of repaying the IMF as Greece's cash reserves run low. He did, however, add that he will not have to choose because an agreement will be achieved by May 9.

Asked by journalist Nikos Chatzinikolaou how the government will prioritise its debt repayments towards the IMF versus the payment of salaries in May, he said:
     "There's an issue of liquidity which we are handling.... Our priority will be to pay wages and pensions." 
He continued to say that it will not come to this, as "by May 9 we will have agreed with our lenders."

Tsipras heralded changes in the social security system, saying that the government will have to tackle the issue, "with or without the troika".
     "We'll be faced with the [problems of the] social insurance system in the near future, with or without the troika." 
Tsipras denied that the law abolishing high security prisons, which included a provision which would allow convicted terrorist Savvas Xiros to serve the rest of his multiple life sentence from his home, has affected the relations between Greece and the U.S.

Asked whether the law which was approved by Parliament and prompted the angry reaction of the U.S. government was a mistake which could affect Greek negotiations, he said:
     "This friction, thie intense disagreement [with the U.S.] which took place has not influenced the negotiations."
During the interview Tsipras said Greece had been convicted by the European Court of Human Rights for detaining Xiros who is severely disabled.


Sources:, YouTube

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OPINION: It's not only Tsipras who has taken over from Varoufakis, so has Merkel over Schauble

By John Ward  (The Slog) - Although the news media are largely ignoring a major new development in the Greek debt crisis – and most of the Greek media are playing it straight as a demotion for Greek Finance Minister Yianis Varoufakis – the truth is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has played a bold power-stroke. She has affirmed that she alone will finalise whatever deal emerges from the Troika/Athens negotiations direct with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras... in much the same way as she moved to direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine debacle.

Ekathimerini on Monday wrote of anger in the SYRIZA camp at Varoufakis’s return from Riga empty-handed, but the truth is as usual more complicated. At Riga, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble openly orchestrated concerted attacks upon Varoufakis…. who is, in my view, a self-important man prone to monologues – but more of an economist than any of the soi-disant ‘finmins’ who were in the room with him. At the same time, they wanted his total capitulation, and Yanis simply did not (quite rightly) have either the mandate or the desire to do any such thing.

The reality is that Alexis Tsipras has pulled off a major coup in getting Merkel’s undivided attention, whereas Wolfgang Schauble is now politically isolated from real power in Merkel’s Chancellery circle.

The German leader has been giving the Eurogroupe a hard time about its obdurate stance for several weeks but it seems that two events convinced her to have the final say.:

  • first - advice from senior media and CDU intimates that Schauble was storing up bitterness for the future sufficient to kill the whole European project; 
  • second: his plotting in Riga… which gave the finmins their day in the sun, but disgusted some of the diplomats involved.

The geopolitical ripples outwards from this move were being felt everywhere from Luxembourg via Paris to Washington on Monday afternoon.

Jean-Claude Juncker (whose EC power-base had been threatened by the naked power-plays of Jeroan Dijesselbleom) has always counted Frau Merkel as an ally, and he now seems to have been vindicated in that view. He too favours a more conciliatory tone towards Greece, having demonstrated public solidarity with Tsipras. So this is a victory for the Commission, but it is also a severe poke in the eye for Mario Draghi and the ECB.

It’s important to remember who the late February bushwhackers were that ambushed Yanis Varoufakis on Fateful Friday: Wolfgang Schauble, Mario Draghi, Jeroan Dijesselbleom and a somewhat discomfited Pierre Muscovici of France.

The Slog posted in the past about Merkel’s profound distrust of Draghi’s motives, whom she (and I, and many others) suspect answers to masters 7,000 miles away: certainly, he has insinuated himself into a position of having no masters at all in Europe.

It is also, let’s be real here, a major victory for the Bankfurters in general – few of whom wanted QE – and Jens Weidmann in particular, who has been Draghi’s implacable enemy at the ECB since the Italian took over. The power of the Frankfurt banking community has been a line of mine since the far-off days of the Bankfurt Maulwurf (now vanished without trace). The Maulwurf and his mates were without doubt a catalyst for Merkel’s fears about what exactly a Draghi-run ECB might be up to.

There is also dismay, among the French Parti Socialiste led by Francois Hollande, about the outcome for Muscovici. Having shown initial courage in backing the shuttle-supremo Varoufakis during his honeymoon, France’s finance minister bottled out when he could have scored many brownie points by sticking to his guns. Many heads were shaking in Paris.

Last but not least, there remains the vexed question of missing German gold, and the increasingly bonkers behaviour of the US State Department. By so obviously snubbing Draghi’s Unconditional Surrender approach to Greek debt, Angela Merkel is also challenging the Wall Street/State version of events that led to the crisis.

Merkel developed an excellent rapport with President Obama over the Ukraine question, but she knows only too well that his most likely successor at the moment is Hillary Clinton – a Secretary of State who took the hardest of hegemonous lines when in charge of US foreign policy.

They do not get on.

In that same context, of course, Merkel is not exactly giving Christine Lagarde a vote of confidence. Neither she nor Schauble wanted the IMF involved in eurozone bailouts in the first place (Geli knows perfectly well that Lagarde is a closet American); by taking this bold step now – having snubbed all the key players over the initial Tsipras visit to Berlin – she is basically saying, “You’re on your own, lady”.

Something agreed among all the sources I contacted was that while Yanis Varoufakis is a Premier Division economist, Alexis Tsipras has shown himself to be a wily politician. I don’t know for anywhere near certain, but something in my gut tells me that he sensed a desire for a sensible, civilised solution during his meetings with Merkel to date… and has backed that hunch.

From the start of all this pointless nonsense in 2009, The Slog has tried repeatedly to stress that the main media commentariat was sitting an inch away from the canvas, and thus seeing little beyond blurred daubings.

I’m a political historian and media persuasion analyst by training, and it has always seemed clear to me that three things were in play: first, the flawed social anthropology and non-sovereignty of the euro concept; second, the endemic corruption within a European Union dominated by its unelected Commission; and third, the Berlin/Frankfurt desire for (respectively) political and fiscal domination of Europe… free from the ever-present claws reaching out from the other side of the Atlantic.

The belief of myself and many others is that – gradually, sometimes painfully slowly – these elements are becoming ever more apparent. But more rapidly now, it’s equally clear that any one of these factors carry with them, on the journey into the future, enormous geopolitical dangers – and the distinct possibility of a Europe descending into bitter anarchy.

Angela Merkel will use her access to Alexis Tsipras as a means of assessing whether this is a bloke with whom she can do business…. as she has with Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. Such will, one suspects, inform her decision about which horse to ride in the radically new world we’re approaching. Her choices are stark: stay in the euro and take the hit from a ClubMed area in deep doodoo, an unreformed France, and a recalcitrant Britain. Or break free from US influence and side with those who would much prefer to have a currency and socio-economic model free from American commercial colonialism… and an inflexible currency union.

My money still says Germany will leave the eurozone before Greece does. On verra. In the meantime, I remain a communitarian mutualist sort of chap: make of that what you will.

The Slog would like to pay grateful tribute to those supporters in Washington, New York, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Greece and Madrid who both inspired and informed this piece. Also to Skype – without whose invention I would now be bankrupt.

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