Near East and the
Nearer Brussles Euro(h)ope possible ?
Anis H. Bajrektarevic
is a claim constantly circulating the EU: ‘multiculturalism is
dead in Europe’. Dead or maybe d(r)ead?... That much comes from
a cluster of European nation-states that love to romanticize – in a
grand metanarrative of dogmatic universalism – their
appearance as of the coherent Union, as if they themselves lived a
long, cordial and credible history of multicul-turalism. Hence, this
claim and its resonating debate is of course false. It is also
cynical because it is purposely deceiving. No wonder, as the
conglomerate of nation-states/EU has silently handed over one of its
most important debates – that of European anti-fascistic identity,
or otherness – to the wing-parties. This was repeatedly followed by
the selective and contra-productive foreign policy actions of the
Union over the last two decades.
Twin Paris shootings and this fresh Brussels horror,
terrible beyond comprehension, will reload and overheat those
debates. However, these debates are ill conceived, resting from the
start on completely wrong and misleading premises. Terrorism,
terror, terrorism!! – But, terror is a tactics, not an ideology.
How can one conduct and win war on tactics? – it is an oxymoron. (In
that case, only to win are larger budgets for the homeland security
apparatus on expenses of our freedoms and liberties, like so many
The January assassins in the Parisian Satirical
Magazine, as well as those behind the bloody Paris Friday of
November, and those behind the Black Tuesday in Brussels (butchering
randomly selected victims) are labeled as the so-called
Islamofascists. The fact that these individuals are (again)
allegedly of Arab-Muslim origins and seemingly clero-indoctrinated
does not make them less fascists, less European, nor does it abolish
Europe from the main responsibility in this case. How do we define
that challenge will answer us whether we live the real democracy or
are blinded by the formal one.
Fascism and its evil twin, Nazism are 100% European
ideologies. Neo-Nazism also originates from and lately unchecked
blossoms, primarily in Europe. Many would dare say of today; an
über-economy in the center of continent, surrounded from all
sides by the recuperating neo-fascism.
How else to explain that the post-WWII
come-and-help-our-recovery slogan Gastarbeiter willkommen
became an Auslander Raus roar in a matter of only two
decades, or precisely since the triumph of the free will – fall of
the Berlin Wall. Suddenly, our national purifiers extensively shout
‘stop überfremdung of EU, we need de-ciganization’ of
our societies, as if it historically does not always end up in one
and only possible way– self-barbarization. In response, the socially
marginalized and ghettoized ‘foreigners’ are calling for the
creation of gastarbeiterpartie. Indeed, the first political
parties of foreigners are already created in Austria, with similar
calls in Germany, France and the Netherlands. Their natural
coalition partner would never be any of the main political parties.
We should know by now, how the diverting of the mounting
socio-economic discontent and generational disfranchising through
ethno engineering will end up, don’t we?
The Old continent tried to amortize its deepening
economic and demographic contraction by a constant interference on
its peripheries, especially meddling on the Balkans, Black Sea/Cau-casus
and MENA (Middle East–North Africa). What is now an epilogue? A
severe democratic recession. Whom to blame for this
structural, lasting civilizational retreat that Europe suffers? Is
it accurate or only convenient to accuse a bunch of useful idiots
for returning home with the combative behavior, equipped with the
European guns and homegrown anger of the misused?
* * * * *
My voice was just one of the many that included
notables like Umberto Eco, Bono Vox and Kishore Mahbubani –foster
moderation and dialogue, encourage forces of toleration, wisdom and
understanding, stop supporting and promoting ethno-fascism in the
former Yugoslavia and Ukraine. These advices were and are still
ridiculed and silenced, or in the best case, ignored. Conversely,
what the EU constantly nurtured and cherished with its councils,
boots and humanitarian aid starting from Bosnia 25 years ago, Middle
East, until the present day Ukraine was less of a constructive
strategic engagement and lasting-compromise, but more of a
history-rewriting, cult of death, destruction, partition, exclusion
and reverse drive to fascism.
Some of the most notorious regimes on this planet are
extensively advertised and glorified all throughout the EU–
including its biggest sports events and the most popular sports. No
matter, that one of these hereditary theocracies considers as a
serious criminal offence– brutally coercing like European Nazis did
in 1930s – if the prescribed state religion is not obeyed as the
only existing one. On the other side, European temple of
multiculturalism – Sarajevo, was barbarically sieged and bombed for
1,000 days – all that just a one-hour flight from Brussels. Still,
20 years after falling a victim of unthinkable genocide, Bosnia
remains the only UN member state in the world that does not exercise
its sovereignty. It is administratively occupied by the opaque and
retrograde international bureaucracy (that is out of any
institutionalized democratic control and verification) –
predominantly overpaid secondhand European apparatchiks that
institutionalized segregation in this, victimized then criminalized,
Illuminating cradles of millennial multiculturalism –
some of the brightest verticals of entire human civilization such as
Jerusalem, Bagdad and Damascus still suffer unbearable horrors of
externally induced, rather ahistorical destruction, hatred and
perpetuated purges. With such a dismal ‘export’ record, universal
claim of the European political system or even its historic
perspective does not hold water any longer, hardly appealing to
Europe still defies the obvious. There is no lasting
peace at home if the neighborhood remains restless. Ask Americans
living at the Mexican border, or Turks next to Syria. The horrific
double Paris massacre and this fresh Brussel’s shock is yet another
a painful reminder of how much the EU has already isolated itself.
For unreasonably long, Europe promoted in the Middle East and Africa
everything but the stability and prosperity of its own post-WWII
socio-economic model. No wonder that today, instead of blossoming
neighborhood, the EU is encircled by the ring of politico-military
instability and socio-economic despair – from Ukraine, Balkans to
MENA, and countless refuges pouring from there. (How many times is
history to repeat itself?
– The colonial overstretch/economic chauvinism,
yesterday abroad – means a moral overkill, today at home. In this
context, one should understand also the recently released Oxfam
study ‘Wealth: Having it All and Wanting More’, /January, 2016/. It
documents into a detail, all the enormous wealth accumulation on the
side of 1% over the last 25 years, as well as the further
acceleration of wealth gap. Rather mistakenly, many would consider
99% as a principal victim, although 99% themselves are primarily,
sustained and for years, responsible for this cleavage by ignoring
and silencing it.)
Hence, when there is no opportunity, give at least a
lame (Spring) hope. That is what Europe keenly helped with in
the Middle East: The very type of Islam Europe supported in the
Middle East yesterday, is the version of Islam (or better to say,
fascism), we are getting today in the Christian Europe as well as in
the Christian neighborhoods of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.
Thus, in response to the Balkans, MENA and Ukraine
crises, the EU repeatedly failed to keep up a broad, single-voiced
consolidated agenda and all-participatory basis with its strategic
neighborhood. The EU missed it all – although having institutions,
WWII-memory, interest credibility and ability to prevent mistakes.
The very same mistakes it did before at home; by silently handing
over one of its most important questions, that of European identity,
anti-fascism and otherness, to escapist anti-politics (politics in
retreat) dressed up in the Western European wing-parties.
(It leads the so-called western democracies into the deadlock of
perpetuated cycles of voters’ frustrations: elect and regret, vote
against and regret, re-elect and regret again… A path of an ongoing
trivialization of our socio-political contents and subsequent
formalization of substantive democracy.)
Eventually, the ‘last world’s cosmopolitan’ – as the
EU is often self-portrayed – compromised its own perspectives and
discredited its own transformative power’s principle. The
2012 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, EU did so by undermining its own
institutional framework: the Nurnberg principles and firm
antifascist legacy (UN and CoE), Barcelona Process as the
specialized segment of from-Morocco-to-Russia European
Neighborhood Policy (EU) and the Euro-Med partnership (OSCE).
The only direct involvement of the continent was
ranging between a selective diplomatic de-legitimization,
satanization in media, false-flag or proxy assaults, and punitive
military engagements via the Atlantic-Central Europe-led coalition
of the willing (the Balkans, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine).
This naturally results in a massive influx of
refugees, a consequence to which Europeans (with their inherited
low-tolerance of otherness) usually respond by criminalizing
migrations and penalising the immigrants’ way of life.
Confrontational nostalgia prevailed again over both that is
essential for any viable future: dialog (instruments) and consensus
The consequences are rather striking and worth of
stating once more: The sort of Islam that the EU supported (and the
means deployed to do so) in the Middle East yesterday, is the sort
of Islam (and the means it uses) that Europe gets today. Small
wonder, that Islam in Turkey (or in Kirgizstan and in Indonesia) is
broad, liberal and tolerant while the one in Atlantic-Central Europe
is a brutally dismissive, narrow and vindictively assertive.
Our urgent task – if we are any serious about Europe–
is denazification. Not a one-time event, but a lasting process.
Let’s start from Bosnia, Ukraine and Brussels at once.
Anis H. Bajrektarevic,
Author is chairperson and professor in
international law and global political studies, Vienna, Austria. He
authored three books: FB – Geopolitics of Technology
(published by the New York’s Addleton
Academic Publishers); Geopolitics –
Europe 100 years later
(DB, Europe), and the just released
Geopolitics – Energy – Technology
by the German publisher LAP. No
is his forthcoming book, scheduled for later this year.
Back in November 2011, reflecting on the tragic
events from Norway, I wrote for the Oslo’s Nordic Page the
following: “No doubt, just as the cyber-autistic McFB way of life is
the same in any European and Middle Eastern city, so are the
radical, wing politics! Have you spotted any critical difference
between the rhetoric of Norwegian serial killer Breivik and the Al
Qaida Wahhabi ‘Islamists’? ‘Just like Jihadi warriors are the
plum tree of Ummah, we will be the plum tree for Europe and for
Christianity’– many news agencies reported these as words allegedly
written by the Christian Jihadist Anders Behring.
The European (rightwing) parties opposing e.g. Muslim immigration
are nothing but the mirror image of the MENA’s Islamist parties. In
both cases, there are: (i) Socio-political outsiders (without much
of any coherence, integrity and autonomy) that are denouncing the
main, status quo, parties as a ‘corrupt establishment’; (ii)
Extensively exploiting domestic economic shortcomings (e.g.
unemployment, social inequalities, etc.), but they themselves do
nothing essential to reverse the trend; (iii) Making ethnic and
religious appeals (preaching the return to tradition), attacking
foreign influences in their societies and otherwise ‘culturally
purifying’ population; (iv) Generally doing better in local rather
than in national elections (the ‘Rightists’ win on the national
elections only when no other effective alternative exists to
challenge the governing party/coalition block); (v) More emotionally
charged populist movements than serious political parties of the
solid socio-economic and socio-political program (per definition,
these parties have very poor governing score).”
How many more have to die before we accept and
acknowledge the inevitable – Denazification process is urgently
needed in Europe!
Vienna, 24 MAR 2016
Notes and References:
Lasting conflicts in the multireligious and multinational countries
nobody can win. Therefore, the severity and length of atrocities as
well as the magnitude of suffering of civilians in the former
Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Ukraine are
meaningless from the military or any logical point of you, unless
the very objective is something else. What if war is used as an
instrument of mass torture, not for a geostrategic advancement but
for a social reengineering, e.g. Nazification? The conduct is as
follows: (i) destabilized central authority; (ii) systematic and
prolonged sectarian violence to the point of ‘we cannot forgive, we
cannot live together anymore’; (iii) partition, hysteria, further
atomization; (iv) ethno-fascism; (v) permanently dysfunctional
government, easily controllable on remote control (or remote
detonator – as to occasion).
Clearly, Europe’s far right benefits from almost everything in the
EU: a contracting economy; a galloping unemployment rate; labour-rights
brutalization and job insecurity; a deepening fear of loss of
elementary social status; a cracking welfare system and corroded
public services; a repellent Maastricht project; a multiple
waves of migration, heightened by chaos in the Euro-Med (from Greece
to Iraq, from Portugal to Algeria). And a Socialist/Social-democrat
‘left’ that for almost 30 years have shared with the conservative
center-right the direct responsibility for neoliberal policies now
locked in through the EU treaty system, and a project of remaining
in power indefinitely by presenting itself every election as the
last defense against the ultra-right, as the only cure, salvation
The result: no other
political force displays as much momentum and cohesion as the far
right, and none communicates as effectively the feeling that it
knows the way and owns the future. No party has any convincing
strategy for challenging the far right on a long run.
It is worth to recall my warnings against destruction of the most
successful African state, one of the very few MENA countries that
generously offered a universal health, universal schooling and
universal housing to its citizens and permanent residents. This is
my voice from autumn 2011: “To conclude with the Huntingtonian
Clash of Civilizations
wisdom: When the
predominantly Christian air-force is bombing a predominantly Muslim
country for 4 consecutive months and keeps doing so all throughout
the ‘Muslim Christmas’ – the holy fasting month of Ramadan and
it surely will not help
to maintain secularism and introduce democratization locally, nor
will it assist the war against Islamist radicals regionally… The
nomadic tribes that got its first nationhood in 1951, and were
effectively united only under Gaddafi, have finally managed to
overthrow the only indigenous governing structure they have ever
experienced. It has been done after nearly six months of armed
struggle and with the help of over 7,000 NATO air-raids deployed
against their own country and the properties built for generations.
Deliberately or not, the current momentum of Libya– with the
infrastructure devastated, police force dismantled, properties
plundered, and the streets full of civilians (of minor and older
ages, but some with the previous criminal prison dossiers, sporadic
racist killers or looters) of many nationalities, armed with long
guns (including the air-defence mobile rockets) without any visible
command – does not create a context for any political debate or any
promising future. With its social cohesion brutally fractured, and
society deeply traumatized, Libya may sink into the limbo and a
lasting, bloody interregnum.” (Bajrektarevic, A. (2011), Libya –
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Africa, Addleton Academic
Publishers CRLSJ, 3(1)2011)
Europe's resurgent far right focuses on immigration,
multiculturalism, CNN (July 24, 2011).
24 MAR 2016
Poles Saving Jews in
Bangkok: History Lesson for Humanity
by Rattana Lao
BANGKOK – Polish,
Israeli and Thai diplomats, academics and students gathered together
to listen and learn about the courage of Polish people saving the
Jews during the Second World War.
University hosted “The Good Samaritans of Markowa” exhibition to
honor the innocent and brave Polish families in Markowa who risked
their lives saving the Jews from Nazi extermination. The event took
place in Bangkok to celebrate the 40th year of lasting
friendship between Poland and Thailand.
During the course of World War II, more than 50,000 Jews were saved
by Polish people. Each Jewish survivor needed to change their
shelter at least 7 times and required as many as 10 people to be
involved in the process.
Irena Sandler, a Polish nurse, was one of the brave Poles who saved
at least 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto. At the end of the
War, 6,600 Polish people were awarded with the Israeli Righteous
Amongst the Nation. However, not every brave Pole survived Nazi
capture. Approximately, 1,000 to 2,000 Poles were executed as
punishment to save the Jews.
The brutality of War took away more than 6 millions Jewish lives and
has inflicted deep wounds to those who have survived. The Ulma
Family Museum of Poles Saving Jews in World War II in Markowa is one
of the Museums established to offer a place of solace and for those
who are left behind to come to term with this atrocity.
Understanding the complexity of the Holocaust has far reaching
ramification not only to those directly affected, but also to
students and public who live world apart and far removed from it.
Firstly, learning about the Holocaust from multiple perspectives
allows human race to come to term with painful history with greater
compassion. Learning about war and its awful aggression should not
and must not instill hatred, but rather to promote greater
understanding across nations, races and religions.
Secondly, through better understanding, it is hoped that we can
prevent such crime against humanity to ever take place. His
Excellency Mr. Zenon Kuchciak, the Ambassador of the Republic of
Poland to Thailand, added to this: “These memories oblige us to act
against the policies of religious hatred and racial prejudice.”
Religious hatred and racial prejudice are not problems of the past.
They are still here and now. There are still many leaders and
extremists who preach war and call for racial discrimination.
Professor Jolanta Zyndul, expert from the POLIN Museum of the
History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, however, reminded that one should
not study the Holocaust as a singular event in history. Something
that happened once and won't be repeated. Rather, it should be read
and learned in relations with other genocide such as Khmer Rouge,
Darfur and Rwanda.
“While we should not downplay the unique characteristic of the
Holocaust, students must learn that massive killing has happened in
so many places around the world and they are closer to us than we
realize,” Professor Zyndul added.
This strongly invites us to revisit and reaffirm often disregarded
truths of the WWII, like those in words of prof. Anis Bajrektarevic:
“while Jews where the preferred non-territorial target of Hitler’s
Nazi policy, Slavic states of the East/Southeast were the prime
territorial target. As many as 36 million nationals (mostly
civilians) of the Europe’s Slavic states such as SSSR, Poland,
Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, (including their Jewish
minority) have been killed by Germans and their servant fascists.
Comparing it with the casualties of the Atlantic Europe at around 1
million, gives us a stunning proportion: 36 to 1 !!”
Despite all its might, forces of darkness were defeated
and peace gradually prevailed.
The story of Poles – Nazi victims themselves, saving its Jewish
minority empowers us all with the sense of courage and power of
human sensitivity. Through the act of kindness toward fellow human
being, change, a significant one, can take place even at time of
aggression, suppression and extermination.
The Polish families in Markowa shed the beaming light of hope in
time of darkness, the symbol of life at time of despair. Stories of
these bravery and courageous ordinary people remind us that that
there is hope for humanity even in the middle of war, World War.
Talking about Poles Saving Jews and Hitler's atrocity during World
War II in Bangkok has a context specific significance at a whole new
level; educationally and diplomatically.
Not so long ago, there were public debacle about Thailand's
ignorance on the history of the Holocaust. A group of Thai students
used the image of Hitler to signify heroism, while the Thai military
government propaganda of 12 core values used Nazi symbol as a
representation of democracy.
While the military's ignorance is unacceptable and unexplainable,
students' mistake was perhaps the product of Thailand's infamous
educational system that promotes rote learning, enforces obedient
and offers single-minded cum nationalistic learning of history. The
textbooks tell what the powerful and authority wants students to
read, and classroom pedagogy is top-down, lecture intensive and
exam-driven. There is very little space for students to engage in
any topic critically and creatively.
Anna Lawattanatrakul, a student from Faculty of Arts at
Chulalongkorn, reflected on her educational experience in Thai
school. “I was taught about the history of the Second World War
simplistically, with an emphasis on memorization than understanding,
and frankly I do not think it is enough.”
It is not enough.
Changing Thai educational system will take a long time and changing
public attitude will take even longer. But that does not mean we
should not try. In fact, it is the role of university to be the wind
Dr. Verita Sriratana, Head of Central and Eastern European
Studies Section, Chulalongkorn University, succinctly encapsulated
this “the goal of an educational institution is to create a platform
where knowledge, and in this case, the history of the Holocaust to
be discussed from as many as different perspectives as possible.”
Historical sensitivity with cultural awareness is lacking in
Thailand. This dialogue serves to fill that gap. It is a small step
toward the larger goal of educating Thai students and public to
break away from the small box of ignorance and understand the
complexity of the world outside Thailand.
All of these won't happen over night but it has to begin somewhere.
The first step for Thai students is to get the facts right.
Hitler is not a Hero and the Nazi is not a symbol of democracy.
Bosnia and the first
circle of hell
In the first half of the 1990s, Bosnians found themselves in the
deepest circles of hell, in a world of war, genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Following the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995 Bosnians were able to escape war,
but have since remained trapped in a different European underworld: isolated,
looked down upon, seen as hopeless and treated as such.
In Inferno, the first book of his Divine Comedy, Dante describes his journey
through nine circles of hell. The Bosnian predicament brings to mind the first
circle of Dante's inferno, Limbo, which hosts "virtuous pagans struck with grief
from a lack of God's presence." Pagans had the misfortune to be born at the
wrong time and in the wrong place. They might be good people but, unbaptized,
they could not enter purgatory. Paradise is forever closed, not because of their
deeds, but because of who they are. It is time for Bosnia to be allowed to
escape from Limbo. A new ESI report sets out how:
ESCAPING THE FIRST CIRCLE OF HELL
The secret behind Bosnian reforms
One popular idea about Bosnia and Herzegovina among European
observers is that Newton's first law of motion applies to its politics: this law
says that an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside
force. For Bosnian politics, that outside force has to be the international
In February 2016, this logic was upended. The chairman of the Bosnian
presidency, Dragan Covic, submitted his country's EU membership application,
demonstrating that Bosnian leaders had their own will, determination and the
ability to agree amongst themselves to push for something that they considered
to be in the best interest of their country. In Brussels, European Commissioner
Johannes Hahn praised the Bosnian government for having undertaken "a lot of
work in order to submit a credible application." And following the Brussels
ceremony, Bosnian leaders from different ethnic groups and various political
parties vowed to do whatever is necessary to obtain official EU candidate status
by the end of 2017. This objective is ambitious, but it is achievable.
Newtonian politics: the master cliché about Bosnia
One debate in EU capitals today is whether Bosnia is "ready for
the next step." The conventional wisdom that Bosnians cannot coordinate when it
comes to EU matters is wrong. The history of relations between Bosnia and the EU
since 2000 shows that whenever Bosnian institutions were seriously challenged by
the EU to co-ordinate, they were able to do so – often to the surprise of their
A new ESI report explores this history and sets the record straight. It tells
the forgotten story of Bosnia-EU relations. It shows that it was not squabbles
between Bosnia's political leaders and their inability to work together that
delayed Bosnia's long overdue application for membership, but
arbitrary conditions, specially devised for Bosnia and applied to no other
At the same time we argue for a concrete step to be taken by EU leaders without
delay. The next step in the process would be a decision by the 28 EU member
states to ask the European Commission to prepare an opinion (avis) on the
Bosnian application. In the case of Croatia in 2003, it took two months for EU
member states to ask the Commission to do this.
Receiving a questionnaire is not a reward for political leaders. It is
like a voucher for three months in a boot camp for civil servants, with a
program designed by ex-Royal Marines: the civil service equivalent of circuit
training, obstacle courses, swimming and boxing. You put yourself through this
only if you are highly motivated and believe in the process. Bosnia's
Europeanisers in the public administration do not need more carrots and sticks
to work on Bosnia's EU agenda. They need to be taken seriously. Then they and
their colleagues will respond to professional challenges professionally.
It was high time for Bosnia to submit an application for EU membership. It is
high time for the EU to treat Bosnia as a normal candidate: strictly but fairly.
The sooner the Bosnian civil service at all levels of the state can work on
answering the questionnaire to obtain candidate status, the better for Bosnian
citizens, for the EU and for the cause of reforms. The EU should encourage the
ambition of the Bosnian presidency, not thwart it. It is a bet that the EU
should be willing to make now, in its own interest.
Many best regards,
Knaus (Austria) is ESI's founding chairman. After having studied in Oxford,
Brussels and Bologna, he taught economics at university in Ukraine in 1993/94
and spent five years working for NGOs and international organisations in
Bulgaria and Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 2001 to 2004, he was the director of
the Lessons Learned Unit of the EU Pillar of the UN Mission in Kosovo. In 2011,
he co-authored, alongside Rory Stewart, the book "Can Intervention Work?" He has
also co-authored more than 80 ESI reports as well as scripts for 12 TV
documentaries on South East Europe. He is a founding member of the European
Council on Foreign Relations and was for five years an Associate Fellow at the
Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School,
where he was a Visiting Fellow in 2010/2011 lecturing on state building and
intervention. He writes his blog on www.rumeliobserver.eu.
- CONTACT Gerald Knaus
Mongolia and the New Russian Oil
By Samantha Brletich
signed an inter-governmental agreement in early late January 2016
that would resettle Mongolia’s debt to Russia which totaled $172
million, 97 per cent of Mongolia’s total debt. The debt forgiveness
signals Moscow is moving closer to Ulan Bataar as it slowly losses
grip on other Former Soviet Union Republics economically. Mongolia
also presents an increased market opportunity for Russia and its
petrol products. The use of financial instruments and debts to bring
countries closer to Russia and to gain political concessions are a
mainstay in Russia’s diplomatic toolkit.
The crashing oil market impacted Russia’s economy by shrinking
Russia’s GDP and the regional economy causing many former Soviet
Republics to rethink their economic policies and alliances.
Countries heavily interconnected with Russia, politically and
economically, suffered because of the crash of the commodities
market and Western sanctions on Russia. Remittances dropped among
four Central Asia states affecting their GDP. The slowed Russian
economy has forced Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan—two of Russia’s closest
allies out of the Former Soviet Union—to seek economic opportunities
Kazakhstan’s currency, the tenge, plunged 100 per cent in the last
five months and the current exchange rate 352.08 tenge to one US
dollar on 18 February. According to reporting on 23 February 2016
from Reuters, Kazakhstan’s economy will grow only 0.5 per cent, as
opposed to the originally forecasted 2.1 per cent. Kazakhstan will
also cut its oil output to 74 million tonnes. Kazakhstan’s is
looking to Middle Eastern investors such as the United Arab
Emirates. Kazakhstan’s diversifying economic partners is also
reflected in Kazakhstan’s desire to be a bridge between Europe and
Eurasia and to expand its bilateral economic partnerships.
The squeeze prompted discussion of raising rent rates for Russia who
leases four of Kazakhstan’s military and space sites including the
Sary Shagan and Emba missile testing sites. Russia, for all four
sites, pays $24 million which is not enough according to Kazakhstan
MPs. Russia is currently leasing Baikonur Cosmodrome from Kazakhstan
for $115 million a year until 2050.
Kyrgyzstan also cancelled plans for a hydroelectric power plant (HPP)
as the two companies, Inter RAO and RusHydro, responsible for the
project were unable to finance the completion of the Kambar-Ata-1
HPP. Vladimir Putin signed the agreement to construct the HPP in
2012 and costs projected at $3 billion. RusHydro was to build four
smaller hydropower plants (HPP) costing $727 million. Citing
information from EurasiaNet, Kyrgyz authorities are trying to find a
way to avoid paying Russia a $40 million debt for a HPP in the Upper
Results for Kyrgyzstan in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) are
mixed. Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU because of a large population of
migrant workers in Russia, to strengthen bilateral ties, and access
to traditional and regional markets. Kyrgyzstan’s inclusion in the
EEU generated more migrant workers, about 544,000 Kyrgyz work in
Russia today, according to Minister of Economy Kylychbek Dzhakypov.
For the migrant workers, remittances dropped 28.3 per cent by the
end of 2015; Tajikistan’s and Uzbekistan’s remittances dropped by
Internally, the resettlement of the debt favors Mongolia’s
government. Mongolia’s Prime Minister survived a no confidence vote
in January 2016 facilitated by Mongolia’s poor economic performance.
Mongolia’s economy grew only 2.3 per cent in 2015, the slowest in
seven years and since the 2009 global economic downturn. A drop in
commodity prices, dwindling foreign investment, and a slowdown in
Chinese trade contribute. One indicator of increased foreign direct
investment is the end of negotiations over the Gatsuurt gold mine
deposit permitting mining operations and the end of the dispute over
“Clearly, the post-Soviet Russia avoids any strategic global
competition with the US…Is it possible to (re-)gain a universal
respect without any ideological appeal?” – famously asked prof. Anis
Bajrektarevic. Well, here might come an answer: Revived Oil-gas
Debt forgiveness may be way to lure Mongolia to import more energy
from Russia. Mongolia in 2014, imported 91 per cent of its petroleum
products from Russia including: gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel. As
of 2013, Mongolia imported $1.03 billion worth of refined petroleum
products accounting for 67% of imports from Russia. In 2011,
Mongolia imported 90 per cent of its petrol products from Russia.
Trade volume between Russia and Mongolia decreased by 2.8% (May
Mongolia’s energy dependence makes it vulnerable to supply shocks
and Russian politics as Russia terminated gas supply (Ukraine)
during strained relations and spikes in anti-Russia sentiment.
During April 2011, Russia cut its diesel supply to Mongolia because
of shortages in its domestic supply which drove up costs of mining
operations and logistics.
Energy dependence affects mining operations and infrastructure which
Mongolia lacks. Improved infrastructure in the country would mainly
be used to export mining goods. Concerns of sovereignty and control
also drive Mongolia’s “Third Neighbor Policy.” Many fear that
Chinese and Russian construction projects would make movement of
Mongolia’s mining tonnage more dependent on the two countries.
Another argument is that “such [railway] links would make Mongolia a
natural resource backyard for China and even facilitate a Chinese
demographic influx” into Mongolia.
Mongolia, to avoid energy dependence, needs to expand the “third
neighbor policy” to avoid over-dependence. Mongolia’s should use its
status as a democracy for increased cooperation and funding from the
European Union and other Asian nations such as Japan and South
Korea. Mongolia’s other “third neighbors” are all democracies.
Mongolia also needs to diversify its economy from only exporting
mineral resources. Russia will most likely take advantages of
opportunities to advance the Mongolia-Russia bilateral relationship
and to enhance Russia’s position in the region.
About the author:
Samantha Brletich specializes in Central Asia Affairs with a
focus on regional security, terrorism, economics, and culture. She
possesses a Masters Degree in Peace Operations Policy from George
Mason University in the United States. She can be reached at
sbrletich2 (at) gmail.com
March 4, 2016
Noah, Peter Pan and the Sleeping Beauty
(Europe – Identity Imagined)
Anis H. Bajrektarevic
Economic downturn; recession of plans and initiatives; €-crisis; Brexit and
irredentism in the UK, Spain, Belgium, Denmark and Italy; lasting instability in
the Euro-Med theatre (debt crisis of the Europe’s south – countries scrutinized
and ridiculed under the nickname PIGS, coupled with the failed states all over
the MENA); terrorism; historic low with Russia; influx of predominantly Muslim
refugees from Levant in unprecedented numbers and intensities since the WWII
exoduses; consequential growth of far-right parties that are exploiting fears
from otherness which are now coupled with already urging labor and social
justice concerns, generational unemployment and socio-cultural anxieties… The
very fundaments of Europe are shaking.
Strikingly, there is a very little public debate in Europe about it. What is
even more worrying is the fact that any self-assessing questioning of Europe’s
involvement and past policies in the Middle East, and Europe’s East is simply
off-agenda. Immaculacy of Brussels and the Atlantic-Central Europe-led EU is
unquestionable. Corresponding with realities or complying with a dogma?
One of the leading figures of European Renaissance that grossly inspired
European renewal, Dante, puts Prophet Muhamed to the 8th
circle of his famous Inferno. The only individuals bellow Muhamed were
Judas, Brutus, and Satan. “Islam was seen as the negation of Christianity, as
anti-Europe…and Muhammed as an Antichrist in alliance with the Devil…” as Rana
Kabbani noted in his luminary piece Imperial Fictions.
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February 23, 2016
Key to Stop Refugee Flows:
Unique higher education programme for Conflict zones
Prof. Dr. DJAWED SANGDEL
The EU Refugee crisis can not be effectively
tackled without addressing the root problems. Why the unique higher
education program for development in conflict zones with or without
internet connectivity is the key to stop refugee flow? Is this the
cheapest, most effective and most durable way to eventually reverse
the trend by stabilizing the sending countries for a longer run?
Accessible in all geographic areas - including conflict zones
§ Accessible to all communities and groups
(regardless of gender or economic status)
§ No cost to students
§ High quality, needs-based content
§ Flexible learning access – TV, online platform and
offline CD package
§ Quality controlled assessment
§ Designed and led by international experts in
§ Programme delivered in 3 languages: English, Dari
§ A model for accessible, needs-based higher
Dunya University of Afghanistan (DUA), in association
with Swiss UMEF University of Geneva, has developed a new,
critically-needed education programme for delivery to the population
of Afghanistan. Drawing on the expertise and extensive experience of
leaders from Afghanistan’s higher education sector and faculty from
around the world, this initiative provides access to high quality
higher education specifically designed to respond to the needs of
the Afghan population, whose country continues to suffer the impact
of decades of war.
Read more on the next page:.........
15th February 2016
Obituary for Alesh -
Poet, thinker, professor, father and husband
Modern Diplomacy’s Advisory Board member and
Islam: Towards a new worldview
Murray Hunter and Azly Rahman
concluding our essay on Tawhidic-Singularity as a new philosophy of
Islam, we proposed that Muslims need to interpret the core teaching
of One-ness from a kaleidoscopic perspective. We asked readers to
reflect upon the applicability of Chaos or Complexity Theory to view
Islam as an organic and living religion inviting its believers to
look at the concept of One-ness as the manifesting of Many-ness. In
this essay, we go deeper into the discussion of the soul of the
Quran itself and how Muslims could perceive and read it as a
postmodern text with multiple-level meanings based on his/her unique
life experiences. We wish to propose the worldview of “Quantum
Islam,” as a new way looking at this cultural belief system. We
invite readers to think of Islam as more than just unquestioning
faith and rites and rituals but as an evolving text to be made
alive. The idea of a “living Quran” is a means of perceiving and
feeling one’s existence as a world of interconnectedness. This world
of deep personal connectivity is a world of the physical, emotional
and spiritual self as it exists in the realm of the Universal self
as a world designed as a Quantum being in itself.
Multiple Universes and the Quran
Islam is about what cannot at present be explained intrinsically
through the science we know today.
MURRAY HUNTER is an Australian academic, entrepreneur,
researcher, and writer who has spent more than 35 years within the
region. He is a contributor to a number of international news sites
around the world.
DR AZLY RAHMAN is an academician, long-time columnist for
Malaysiakini, an author of seven books on Malaysia and the
complexities of hypermodernity and globalisation, and teaches
courses in Global Politics, Culture, American Studies, Education,
and Philosophy. He currently resides in the United States.
Read more on the next page:.........
January 28, 2016
– the struggle to end it
by Rakesh Krishan Simha
India and the BRICS are giving the US dollar the boot? Is it
last time a country decided to dump the dollar in the oil business,
the US destroyed it. Now India, the world’s third largest economy,
and Iran have agreed to settle their outstanding oil dues in rupees.
What’s more, the two countries may conduct all future trade in their
This follows an agreement between Iran and India in mid-2011 in
which both sides decided to settle 45 per cent of India’s oil import
bill in rupees and the remaining 55 per cent in euros. In March 2012
the two countries inked the Rupee Payment Mechanism that allowed
India to buy crude oil in its national currency. Iran then used the
funds to buy products from Indian manufacturers.
Ironically, it is the US itself which is responsible for the
dollar’s elimination from India-Iran trade. The Rupee Payment
Mechanism was set up to skirt American economic sanctions on Tehran.
Iranian oil forms a significant portion of India’s energy
requirements. Similarly, the Iranians rely upon India for steel,
medicines, food and chemicals.
Rakesh Krishan Simha
New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst. According
to him, he writes on stuff the media distorts, misses or ignores.
Rakesh started his career in 1995 with New Delhi-based Business
World magazine, and later worked in a string of positions at other
leading media houses such as India Today, Hindustan Times, Business
Standard and the Financial Express, where he was the news editor.
Read more on the next page:.........
January 19, 2016