Connect with us

Global Affairs

Merkel Snubbed Biden by Allowing Nord Stream 2 to Be Finished, Bloomberg Op-Ed Claims

Voice Of EU

Published

on

World

Get short URL

The opinion piece suggests that the German chancellor’s visit to the US will be partly devoted to ironing out disagreements in the relations between Washington and Berlin, not only over the Russian-European gas pipeline, but also over Germany’s support for the Chinese grand investment deal with the EU.

As the end of her long service as German chancellor draws near, Angela Merkel has managed to “snub” US President Joe Biden twice as Washington and Berlin started working on repairing their ties following Trump’s presidency, Bloomberg columnist Andreas Kluth has claimed in his latest op-ed.

According to him, Merkel undertook two steps that greatly disappointed Washington – she pushed forward a Chinese-European investment deal and refused to stop the construction of the joint European-Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Kluth calls the latter “worse”, as Merkel refused “to move even an inch” toward demands from the US.

“The geopolitical threat posed by Nord Stream 2 seems blatant enough for Poland, the Baltic republics, France, the European Union and other allies […] Nonetheless, the Germans keep burying their heads in the sand like geo-strategic ostriches”, the columnist said.

Kluth insists that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a “strategic goal long pursued” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The columnist claims that Moscow wants to “blackmail” the Ukrainian government by threatening to cut it out of the gas transit to Europe and leave it without transit payments, even though Putin has pledged to keep the transit contract alive in the coming years and promised that the transit through Ukraine will continue as long as it remains economically viable.

These assurances, however, have had no effect on demands of American lawmakers to impose new sanctions against Nord Stream 2 in order to stop its construction. A new round of economic measures was only stopped by Biden, who argued it was too late to try to stop the project, which is 98% complete. Germany, for its part, has always defended the pipeline, built jointly by Russia’s Gazprom and a number of EU energy giants. Berlin has also long insisted that it is an economic project that will benefit Europe, and that it has nothing to do with politics.

Fixing ‘Geopolitical Mess’

The US explains its opposition to the Nord Stream 2 by claiming it will increase the EU’s dependency on Russian gas, while putting Ukraine’s gas transit payments at risk. At the same time, Washington has proposed an alternative to Russian pipeline gas – buying more expensive liquefied natural gas (LNG), for example, from the US itself. The EU was hesitant to accept Washington’s offer, while noting that its gas supply sources are diverse enough. Germany, in turn, strongly condemned the US’ extraterritorial use of sanctions that targeted the project, which is important for Berlin’s energy supplies.

The Bloomberg columnist claims, however, that Merkel will now try to offer suggestions to US President Joe Biden during the upcoming meeting on how to solve “the geopolitical mess” she supposedly caused by ignoring Washington’s demands to stop Nord Stream 2’s construction.

“The reality is that Merkel’s obstinate defence of Nord Stream 2 will count as a stain on her otherwise expansive and nuanced legacy, and be a liability to her successor. It alienates both the U.S. and European partners by showing the hypocrisy of a country that claims to act in the interest of the EU when in fact it cares only about its own”, Kluth claims.

The meeting will take place ahead of a new request expected from American lawmakers in August to impose new sanctions against Nord Stream 2, which is scheduled to be finished by that time. The previous round of sanctions against contractors working on the project only managed to briefly stall progress. POTUS and the German chancellor’s meeting also comes ahead of the September election in Germany, which will determine not only the new political layout of the country, but also the person who will replace Angela Merkel in her post.



Source link

Global Affairs

Norway killings ‘appeared to be’ Islamist ‘terrorism’

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Wednesday’s murders “appeared … to be an act of terrorism” Norway’s ‘PST’ intelligence service said Thursday, noting that the killer, Danish national Espen Andersen, had been a “known” threat. Andersen was a Muslim convert and extremist, but might also have had psychiatric problems, Norwegian police said. Norway’s terrorism-threat level was “moderate”, the PST added, while monitoring the risk of “follow-up actions, revenge actions” by either “extreme Islamists” or “right-wing extremists”.

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

UN quizzed over role in prison-like island camp for Rohingya refugees | Global development

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) is facing questions over whether it is helping to detain Rohingya refugees in prison-like conditions by providing services on a controversial island camp.

Over the past year, Bangladesh has relocated almost 20,000 refugees to Bhasan Char, an island formed of silt deposits in the Bay of Bengal thought to be vulnerable to cyclones, which the refugees are unable to leave.

About 700 refugees have reportedly attempted to flee the island but Bangladesh hopes that the UNHCR’s cooperation will ensure better services for the refugees and is now planning to increase the island’s population by 80,000 over the next three months.

Refugees International, a global advocacy organisation, said there were “serious questions” about whether it was safe and possible to move such numbers to the island from the Cox’s Bazar refugee camps, which are the world’s largest, hosting about 890,000 refugees.

“Most concerning is whether any relocations of Rohingya refugees to the island will be truly voluntary, evidenced by the fact that hundreds of refugees relocated there have already tried to flee,” said Daniel Sullivan, Refugees International’s senior advocate for human rights.

“As Refugees International has warned in the past, failure to properly assess conditions and inform refugees about the move will result in policies more akin to detention than refuge.”

The Geneva-based Global Detention Project tweeted: “In signing a new memorandum of understanding with the Bangladesh government, is the UNHCR assisting in the detention of Rohingya refugees on Bhasan Char island? Are refugees free to move on and off the island? Are they moving there truly voluntarily?”

Rohingya prepare to sail to Bhasan Char
Rohingya prepare to sail to Bhasan Char. Human rights groups have reported that refugees have been misled about conditions on the island. Photograph: Rajib Raihan/AP

Human Rights Watch reported in June that the government had misled refugees about conditions on the island and that some had been relocated without informed consent. It also reported that, despite promises from the government of good living conditions, they did not have access to work or education and were unable to leave.

In May, during a visit by senior UNHCR officials to inspect the island, thousands of refugees defied orders to remain in their shelters to protest at the living conditions. The UNHCR later said it was “deeply concerned” that refugees were injured during the protest.

A Rohingya teacher living in the Cox’s Bazar camps said they opposed the UNHCR’s cooperation with the government because they did not believe the island was fit to live on.

“There is not any freedom for the Rohingya people in Bhasan Char. People who have gone there thought life would be comfortable for them, as the government said they would be provided with everything they need,” said the teacher, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions. “There is a lady in Bhasan Char – she sometimes talks with her mother and I heard from her mother that people in Bhasan Char are living as if in prison there.

“At least the government could consider free movement for the people who are in Bhasan Char, so they could travel to see their relatives.”

A leaked copy of the agreement offers no guarantee that refugees will be able to move freely to the mainland, Reuters reported on Friday.

Bangladesh has justified relocating refugees to the island by arguing that conditions are better than the overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar, which have witnessed devastating floods and fires this year.

Concrete houses at the Bhasan Char refugee camp in Bangladesh
Concrete houses at the Bhasan Char camp. The UN has said its services will help the refugees lead ‘decent lives on the island’. Photograph: Mohammad Ponir Hossain/Reuters

The UN said, after the agreement with the government was announced last weekend, that its presence on Bhasan Char would “help support the refugees to lead decent lives on the island” by ensuring protection, education, healthcare and livelihoods.

Former UNHCR official Jeff Crisp questioned why the agreement between Bangladesh and UNHCR had not been published and whether it failed to ensure freedom of movement for the refugees, which could amount to it becoming a prison island.

He also questioned what the long-term plan was for the island, as little progress had been made towards ensuring the Rohingya can return safely to Myanmar, which several generations of refugees have fled after repeated military operations.

“I don’t know what strategy the Bangladeshi government is working on. What is the endgame? Do they assume people can live happily on Bhasan Char?” said Crisp. “They’re talking about 80,000 moving in the next three months. Are that number of people going to volunteer to go and, if they do, can you move that many people and give proper attention to settling them properly?”



Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

China’s Xi to snub UK climate summit

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Chinese prime minister Xi Jinping will not personally attend the ‘COP26’ climate summit in Scotland, UK prime minister Boris Johnson has been informed, British newspaper The Times reported Thursday. The no-show might mean China would not submit a ‘nationally defined contribution’ (NDC) on CO2-cuts either, British officials feared. Just half of the world’s ‘G20’ wealthiest countries have filed NDCs so far, amid a supply crunch in oil and gas markets.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!