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German Parliament member, Sahra Wagenknecht slams Merkel’s arrogance when dealing with Greece

German MP and Left Party deputy chair Sahra Wagenknecht destroys Angela Merkel, speaking uncomfortable truths about Western Europe’s destructive policy on Ukraine, Greece and Russia…causing war and suffering to please American policy in Washington.

Alex Christoforou

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Video is in German. Transcript in English below, translated by Fort Russ blog.

Mr President, honored ladies and gentlemen, Frau Chancellor.

At your best times, German foreign policy had two priorities: Unity for Europe and a good neighbor policy with Russia. It should give you food for thought, Frau Merkel, if you would listen,

[Volker Kauder: That’s rude!]

that nationalism and strife in Europe, during your ten years in office, are thriving like never before, and as regards Russia, a policy of outreach has given way to a new Cold War.

[Applause from the Left]

Not long ago, the head of the influential think-tank Stratfor, with striking bluntness, explained the US interest in Europe: The chief interest of the United States is to prevent coordination between Germany and Russia, since, literally “united they are the only power that can threaten us,” i.e. threaten the US.

This perceived threat to US interests has been achieved successfully for the foreseeable future. That started as the EU tried to get countries out of their economic and political cooperation with Russia in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.

[Claudia Roth, Greens: That’s absurd!]

Frau Merkel, naturally this was aimed at Russia, but it was also contrary to the interests of the countries involved. You, not Russia, pushed them to the either-or.

[Applause from the Left]

Resultantly Ukraine has lost the great part of its industry. Today, the country is a bankrupt state, where people go hungry, shiver, and have salaries lower than people have in Ghana.

But the confrontation with Russia has not only destroyed Ukraine, it has damaged all of Europe. It is, in fact, an open secret that the United States is stirring the conflict with Russia on economic grounds. When the US administration talks about Human Rights, they’re actually meaning drilling rights or mining rights. Right now in Ukraine there is in view a hell of a lot of shale gas to frack.

[Applause from the Left]

If now, in the framework of the Energy Union of other pipeline routes, we’re talking increasing independence from Russian gas, then you should tell the people in honesty what that means: increasing dependence on much more expensive and ecologically devastating US fracked gas. I do not consider that a responsible view.

[Applause from the Left]

The list is long, Frau Merkel, of earlier chief politicians who criticise your Russia policy. In that list we find the names of your predecessors Gerhard Schroeder, Helmut Kohl, Helmut Schmidt, and even Hans-Dietrich Genscher. Perhaps this is what led to your backing off. In any case, it is correct, that you, with French President Hollande, took the initiative: Minsk II has really led to significantly fewer deaths there in recent weeks than in the weeks and months preceding; the door to a peaceful solution has been opened.

[Applause from the Left]

This is naturally an important new situation, and you, Frau Bundeskanzlerin, and the French President deserve recognition.

[Tino Sorge, CDU/CSU: Then say so from time to time!]

However, the person that the peace and security in Europe depend on must now go forward, with follow-through, and with backbone. This is naturally a problem, since follow-through and backbone haven’t exactly been your strong suit.

[Applause from the Left; grumblings from CDU/CSU]

Of course, it is not acceptable, when the shooting persists from the ranks of the insurgents,

[Tino Sorge: Not acceptable!]

but when Ukrainian troops — or the Nazi battalions fighting for them — keep right on shooting, then it is quite less unacceptable, and no critical word from you is heard.

[Applause from the Left]

Why do you not come forward with words of censure when the Ukrainian regime, notwithstanding its foreseeable bankruptcy, budgets four times as much for arms as it did last year? This doesn’t assure us that the road to peace has any actual support in the Ukrainian regime!

Furthermore, the US and Britain sending military advisors and delivering weapons is not a matter of supporting the peace process, but of torpedoing it. But do you now envision sanctions against the US and Britain? I believe that this whole business of sanctions was a huge mistake through which Europe shot itself in the foot. The sanctions should not be extended.

[Applause from the Left]

We do not need any more tanks. We do not need a 3,000-man NATO intervention troop in Eastern Europe, that protects nobody, but instead puts all Europe further at risk.

[Applause from the Left]

Helmut Schmidt got it right when he warned already in 2007, that, when it comes to world peace, there is far less risk from Russia than from America, and that NATO is only a tool for maintaining US/American hegemony. And if that is correct, then we are left with one set conclusion: that Europe must finally make policy separate from, and independent of, the United States.

[Applause from the Left]

Mr Juncker has put forward the thesis, that we need a European Army to show that we are in earnest about defending European values against Russia. This shows just one thing, how very far we have come from what the founding fathers of European Union wanted.

[Applause from the Left]

Back then it was all about — as you yourself have often said — peace, democracy, and solidarity. Never again should nationalism and hatred separate the lands of Europe. But to defend these values, no armed battalions are needed!

If you want to defend democracy, Frau Merkel, then see to it that the lands of Europe are at last ruled by elected governments rather than financial markets, not by the one-time investment banker Mario Draghi, and, further, not by you.

[Applause from the left; interjection from Michael Grosse-Bromer: Disassociate yourself from the violence right now. That would be a big step!]

If you want democracy, then stop the so-called Free Trade Agreements, stop the TTIP that would make elected governments just a farce.

[Applause from the Left]

That would be the defending of European values! That would be a defence of democracy, exposing these unspeakable TTIP negotiations and comparable dealings.

If you want to see a unified Europe, then stop humiliating other countries and imposing programs that rob the young generations of their future.

[Manuel Sarrazin, Greens, “You’re right with Greece!”]

Stop prescribing so-called structural reforms in Europe, that only lead to growing inequality and an ever growing low-wage sector.

Here in Germany meanwhile, in consequence of these policies, three million people, in spite of having a job, are so poor they can’t stay warm, haven’t enough to eat — let alone afford going on a vacation! Instead of trying to explain this export-bashing policy, it is high time — and very much in Europe’s interest — to correct it. And it is not least the German wage-dumping that is stifling the other countries of the monetary union.

[Applause from the Left]

Finance Minister Schaeuble has recently instructed the Greek government: “Yeah, governing is always just a rendezvous with reality.”

[Michael Grosse-Broemer (CDU/CSU): Right! Max Straubinger (CDU/CSU): And so it is!]

So one can only say “That would be good” well, that would be a good thing when the German government could only experience its own rendezvous with reality. Because it was not Syriza, but instead, the sister parties to the CDU/CSU and SPD that over the decades stacked up the huge deficits, so that they and the upper crust could stuff their pockets.

[Applause from the Left]

The reality is also that under the protectorate of the troika that you still treasure so much, whose criminal activities you can see in the documentary by Harald Schuman, the Greek debt just got bigger and the Greek billionaires got richer.

And you want to keep it up? Then I can only say “Good night!”

And if you want our money back, get it from those that took it, and that was not the nurses, nor the Greeks on pensions: it was the international banks and the Greek Upper Crust. It’s from these you could help the Greek government recover its money.

Who advances credit to one already overloaded with debt will never see his money again, but the responsibility is on you, Frau Merkel, and you, Mr. Schaeuble, and not on the new Greek government which is now hardly two months in office.

As for the whole debate over possible reparations, I can only say that, no matter how the question gets juridically evaluated, the least one should expect from the German State is some minimum of sensibility in dealing with the issue.

[Applause, Left; laughter, CDU/CSU]

I must say, you still laugh. That is sad. In view of how German occupiers ravaged Greece, and that a million Greek men and women lost their lives in this dark chapter of German history, I find the flip remarks from you, Mr. Schaeuble, and from you, Mr. Kauder, simply disrespectful, and I am ashamed.

[Applause from the Left as well as from Juergen Tritten, cries from CDU/CSU: Oh!]

In order to recall that the unrolling of history also goes the other way, may I, in closing, quote from the speech of Richard von Weizsaecker on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Liberation — I am just finishing, Mr. President — the speech concerned principally Russia and Eastern Europe, but it naturally also holds good for Greece:

“When we think about what our eastern neighbors had to suffer during the war, we understand better that balance, easing up, and a peaceful neighborhood with these lands abide as the central given of German foreign policy. What matters, is that both sides remember, and that both sides have respect for the other.”

Yes, only when we remember, and only when we respect each other — only then will we get back a policy of being good neighbors, both inside the EU, and with Russia.

[Sustained applause from the Left]

References:

http://fortruss.blogspot.ca/2015/04/wagenknecht-eu-policy-has-destroyed.html

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The Greek Disaster: State Inertia and the Market Economy

In Greece we witnessed this repulsive, internally-generated tragedy in all its horrifying glory. Unfortunately we may soon see more far-reaching consequences…

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What happened in Attica, Greece, close to Athens, is without precedent. An ordinary fire, like the ones that occur in this area almost every other summer, met up with a terrible, sudden wind that turned it into real galloping inferno.

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The tragic result was 87 dead Greek citizens and more than 20 still missing. Huge questions loom on the horizon and only very limited answers are forthcoming. Are some of the lessons from this tragedy related to the wider geopolitical and political-economic questions?

Public-sector clientelism is leading to disastrous inefficiency

Why do tragedies like these occur in social environments with firmly entrenched clientelist political systems and in political entities that operate on the periphery of major, bureaucratic, modern empires? Sweden saw huge uncontrolled fires this summer. However, there was no loss of life or major disasters that befell the urban centers.

In Portugal last year — and very recently in Greece  —  scores of people died, mainly due to the inability of the state machinery to efficiently deal with the problem. The major difference between these examples is the quality of the civil service. In Greece and Portugal there is no real ethics in the public administration, which frequently fails to meet any vigorous efficiency test .

In public bureaucracies that sprout favoritism the way trees grow branches, it is very difficult to design long-term plans to handle critical and life-threatening situations. Likewise, the political system lacks the prerequisites to draw upon informed societies that are trained to be cooperative and disciplined when there is a need for coordination.

When clientelism dictates and forms the essence of the political culture, this culminates in fractured societies that are infected with spreading islands of lawlessness and limited possibilities for administrative coherence.

In Greece in particular, the deep-rooted mentality of state favoritism produces whole sectors of uncoordinated urbanization, with no respect for the environment, chaotic borough formation, and a coastline that has been brutally violated by hasty real-estate developmental schemes.

In such a social context, thorough planning becomes almost impossible and the idea of applying administrative guidelines to deal with a crisis sounds like a joke. It is essentially the political system itself that invites disasters and not any sort of physical deluge that begets them.

The need for market solutions

Clientelism and heavy state intervention in the running of the economy and society are the basic causes of inefficiency and, henceforth, administrative chaos. It appears that the process of rational choice is the fatal enemy of the dominant mentality in such systems of government. This is represented by any model that relies on the market to deal with questions of economic policy and societal organization.

A bloated public sector that is encouraged by the political authorities to constantly expand, irrespective of its ability to deliver on its promises, becomes the major problem. Instead of being the solution to emerging issues, the state actually becomes the cause of most troubles and difficulties.

Henceforth, without clear objectives or cost-benefit solutions, the state is unable to provide reliable outcomes or to cope with situations, especially emergencies. In the case of Greece in particular, the fire-fighting service had been financially starved, while its personnel had been recruiting new staff based on specific social criteria!

In other words, firefighters entrusted with saving people from emergency situations were hired on the basis of their physical inability to deal with normal life situations, i.e., the physically handicapped, mentally unfit, generally unhealthy, or recruits who were simply from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

Relying on a market mentality means that choices are made based on measurable results, well structured plans to deal with crises, and thoroughly tested options. When none of these requirements are met, it is more than certain that achievements will be negligible and the consequences disastrous.

Hence one must assume that societies that do not rely on rational-choice procedures and which pursue policies of heavy state intervention and patron-client favoritism are not likely to see successful results. This essentially means that societies built on capitalist principles pursue measurable results that further the welfare of their citizens.

Geopolitical repercussions

There is also a geopolitical angle to these observations. If a country cannot keep up with globally established administrative and financial trends, it will end up facing dead-end situations and find itself being marginalized. With the exception of its reliance on heavy state taxation, the EU always pursues policies of open social frontiers and market economics. Countries that deviate from this logic find themselves gradually lost in a political wilderness.

They constantly creep along on the fringes of events and absent themselves from all contemporary processes. By acting as the exception instead of the rule, they will rapidly find themselves marginalized. They will become a stark anomaly and thus be excluded from every movement going forward. They will become the pariahs of the international system. Geopolitical events will pass them by, and they will be looked upon as the “black holes” of the international order.

Domestic events and major financial and/or economic choices cannot be limited any longer to national or regional occurrences. Notwithstanding the importance of events within a country, opting for heavy state intervention may lead a country into the international wilderness.

What’s more, its international standing may also be impaired, contributing to the nation’s overall marginalization.

In Greece we witnessed this repulsive, internally-generated tragedy in all its horrifying glory. Unfortunately we may soon see more far-reaching consequences…

Via Strategic Culture

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Greek-Russian relations at a crossroads

The political landscape of Greek-Russian relations has suddenly darkened.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras meet in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on April 8, 2015.

What exactly is the matter? It is almost impossible to cull any accurate information enabling us to clarify the situation and shine a light on recent developments.

Let’s first sweep the picture clean of inaccurate assertions and unfounded claims. Commentators who almost always turn to the anti-Western narrative immediately took to the field. The Greek government, they claim, is trying to earn its credentials vis-à-vis NATO and the US.

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Although nobody has ever required such a demonstration of allegiance from Athens. Under the present circumstances Greece is not going to win any points with such behaviour. With the agreement at Prespa Lake and Athens yielding to FYROMacedonia’s membership in NATO, the Greek government has already earned what it could from like-minded Western European capitals.

A breakup with Russia would not have added anything to Athens’ pro-Western arsenal.

At a time when the US is blaming Germany for being friendly with Russia and other European states — namely Austria, Italy, and Hungary, among others — appear to be moving closer to Moscow, what would an anti-Russian gesture by Greece signify? How could Athens expect to capitalize on this? I cannot honestly discern any direct benefit for Greece.

Likewise, why would Washington pressure Athens to adapt such a hostile attitude? What would the Americans expect to earn at a time when the US president himself reiterates that in Vladimir Putin he sees a man he can fully understand … and make a deal with…

On the other hand, as far as bilateral relations are concerned, Athens’ relationship with Moscow has been seriously wounded — without any clear benefits for Greece. Putin has made it clear how he would react if faced with a repeated challenge: “If you squeeze a spring as far as it will go, it will snap back hard. You must always remember this”.

One should not overlook the fact that some months ago a meeting was called off between the Greek and Russian government ministries that had been aimed at fostering economic cooperation between the two countries. The reason given was the unexpected appearance at the meeting of some Crimean politicians — the Russians maintaining however that the Greek side had been forewarned and had not raised any objections at the time.

In the end the episode was brushed aside without any major repercussions, at least public ones. But it was an issue nevertheless…

At the last occurrence, culminating in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Athens there is enough ambivalence as concerns the matter. The main issue being discussed is a possible Russian effort against the Prespa agreement, objecting in order to to nullify FYROM’s future membership in NATO. Two comments must be made here. Only Northern Macedonia can render the agreement invalid at this point, not Greece.

Even if the Greek parliament fails to ratify the agreement, the northern Macedonians will automatically become members of the Atlantic alliance. In order for that to happen the government in Skopje merely needs to satisfy the requirements set out by the Prespa agreement and stipulated by NATO. It is ridiculous to think that Russian diplomats are not fully aware of this situation. Why then, as some observers insinuate, should they try to nudge Greece into walking out of the agreement?

As for NATO, it is doubtful that the Russians do not recognize that the attitude of the US and of its president, who recently met with Russian officials and with President Putin himself in Helsinki, poses a greater threat to the cohesion of the alliance than the membership of tiny FYROM.

My opinion is that the various reports on the issue are making the matter seem much weightier than it really is. My assessment is that Moscow is much less concerned about it than is generally acknowledged.

There is, however, definitely an issue. Otherwise we would not have reached the point of repatriating diplomats. One should never overlook the fact that great powers are usually burdened by many decision-influencing centres. Sometimes they are working outside of the official process that the governments dictate. Russia can hardly be an exception. Often the tentacles of such decision-making centres reach the state machinery.

This has happened in Greece in the past, when a retired Air Force pilot attempted to bomb parts of Albania. We saw it again in the case of a fugitive from Turkey, the Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. In the US it is very often the case that various agencies take initiatives without the knowledge of the central government authorities.

With Russia, the issue of Orthodox Christian belief is quite important. Adherence to those principles can potentially prompt actions and moves without the knowledge or approval of a central authority. Unfortunately, I am not privy to specific information, but I believe that my ideas make logical sense.

Why should the Kremlin jeopardise a carefully cultivated cordial relationship with Athens just to pursue a dead-end policy on the issue of Skopje? After all, that’s an issue of paramount importance to Greece. And it could not possibly produce any fruitful results.

There are people in northern Greece who have often involved themselves in issues of vital importance to Greece without the slightest official authorisation or coordination with the aims of the Greek state. Some of them refer to Russia as a sister Orthodox power, without having been entrusted with such authority.

On the other hand, one should not overlook the fact that Greece carries a grudge against the Kremlin for having embraced Turkey in recent months, supplying it with missiles and accepting its friendly overtures on the Syrian front, although aware of its diverse inclinations concerning the future of that region.

It is not impossible that such sentiments may have culminated in and led to the recent crisis between the two states.

Notwithstanding the above, there is a wider issue contributing to the current misunderstandings. Russia has always been a puzzle for anyone attempting to do business with her. They find it difficult to comprehend her reactions and behaviour. Almost all are reminded of Winston Churchill’s words describing Russia: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma“. What few people remember is the rest of Churchill’s phrase: “But perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest“.

Some years later he explained: “I am convinced that there is nothing they [the Russians] admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness”.

No country can expect a positive appraisal if it does nothing but beg and offers little or no policy coordination. These words might adequately explain Russia’s attitude towards other countries and its posture towards various global affairs.

Via Strategic Culture

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The man behind Ukraine coup is now turning Greece against Russia (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 57.

Alex Christoforou

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On July 11, Greece said it would expel two Russian diplomats and barred the entry of two others.

The Duran reported that the formal reason is alleged meddling in an attempt to foment opposition to the “historic” name deal between Athens and Skopje paving the way for Macedonia’s NATO membership. Moscow said it would respond in kind.

Nothing like this ever happened before. The relations between the two countries have traditionally been warm. This year Moscow and Athens mark the 190th anniversary of diplomatic relations and the 25th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Hellenic Republic. They have signed over 50 treaties and agreements.

Greek news daily, Kathimerini says the relationship started to gradually worsen behind the scenes about a couple of years ago. What happened back then? Geoffrey Pyatt assumed office as US Ambassador to Greece. Before the assignment he had served as ambassador to Ukraine in 2013-2016 at the time of Euromaidan – the events the US took active part in. He almost openly contributed into the Russia-Ukraine rift. Now it’s the turn of Greece. The ambassador has already warned Athens about the “malign influence of Russia”. He remains true to himself.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris connect the dots between the Ukraine coup and Greece’s recent row with Russia, and the man who is in the middle of it all, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

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Via Sputnik News

Actions similar to the expulsion of Russian diplomats from Greece do not remain without consequences, said spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova.

“We have an understanding that the people of Greece should communicate with their Russian partners, and not suffer from dirty provocations, into which, unfortunately, Athens was dragged,” Zakharova said at a briefing.

“Unfortunately, of course, we are talking about politics. Such things do not remain without consequences, do not disappear without a trace. Of course, unfortunately, all this darkens bilateral relations, without introducing any constructive principle,” she added.

On July 11, the Greek Kathimerini newspaper reported that Athens had decided to expel two Russian diplomats and ban two more from entering the country over illegal actions that threatened the country’s national security. The publication claimed that the diplomats attempted to intervene in a domestic issue, namely the changing of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to the Republic of North Macedonia, the agreement for which was brokered by Skopje and Athens last month.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has vowed to give a mirror response to Greece’s move.

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