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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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Archons of Greek Orthodox Church issue toothless letter about abortion law

The good news is the Archons did say some good things in reaction to the New York abortion law. But there was no consequence.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In relation to our previously published piece about Governor Andrew Cuomo signing abortion into the New York State Constitution, we noted that at the time of the article’s writing, no entities within the Orthodox Church in any jurisdiction issued any kind of statement condemning this law. Of all fourteen universally acknowledged Local Churches, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church was particularly of note, since their Archons awarded a humanitarian award known as the Athenogoras Award to extremely liberal, pro-abortion politicians, Andrew Cuomo being one of these.

Well, the Archons did issue a statement yesterday:

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Condemns New York’s New Abortion Law

The Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, strongly condemns the State of New York’s new Reproductive Health Act that was passed on January 22, 2019. This new law allows abortions up to the moment of birth and gives people who are not doctors the right to perform abortions.

The Order also deplores the celebratory atmosphere surrounding the new law, as One World Trade Center was lit pink to commemorate the passage of the law, as if it represented a great advance for the rights of women. The rights of no human being are ever advanced at the expense of another. The State of New York will not truly have respect for the rights of women until it once again restores legal protections for every human being, from his or her first moment of existence until natural death.

Hailed as progress, New York’s Reproductive Health Act is not actually an advance, but a regression, a return to a time of barbarism when the weak were at the mercy of the strong and had no protection from legal structures or governing authorities.

The Order implores New York’s legislators to reconsider this dangerous new law and reinstitute protections for all human life, no matter how weak and vulnerable. Only when such protections exist can any society truly prosper.

Rev. Alexander Karloutsos
Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate
Spiritual Advisor of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle

Is this enough?

It does not seem to be so. Governor Cuomo and his award, along with pro-abortion Roman Catholic Vice President Joe Biden, also received this award at the same time Governor Cuomo did.

What did not happen in this letter was that neither politician was named, nor were the four (out of five) Greek Orthodox politicians in the New York State Assembly that voted FOR this law.

Neither did the Archons move to rescind the Athenagoras Awards they gave to Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Biden. This move appears to be still far too politically calculated, and keeping with the tragic, curious and distressing behavior of the leadership within the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Monomachos.com is a popular blog site whose editor, George Michalopulos, is undoubtedly one of the giants among those Greek Orthodox who seriously uphold at the notion that the Church ought never compromise herself. Yet, he was very happy with the letter that is shown above because for him it represented a “180-degree turnabout” in terms of the history of the Archons’ behavior, which he noted elsewhere as smacking of “the feeling that their primary job is to raise money for Istanbul.”

He neglected to mention the lack of mention of the Awards, but perhaps understandably, his surprise at any sort of traditional statement by this group was leading to exuberance where perhaps it is not deserved.

The Greek Orthodox Church seems to have an overall alignment with very liberal figures, and it is unclear as to why. But this tendency of people that are considered good and faithful Greek Orthodox churchgoers to align with liberal politics in the United States is very different than the sharply conservative tendencies of Russian Orthodox churchgoers, or Greeks or Romanians in the US.

The other rather liberal church is the US is the Orthodox Church in America, but this group does tend to involve itself in social causes in the US – especially abortion – in a very conservative, if rather feeble, manner. They do make their presence known at the annual March for Life and this is of great value.

We wish to name all the Greek Orthodox elected New York assembly members here, with their votes regarding the state abortion measure:

Michael Gianaris             (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Andrew Gounardes         (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.
Nicole Malliotakis           (R)                            – No. (and she is a woman!!)
Aravella Simotas             (D)                            – Yes.
James Skoufis                  (D) (co-sponsor)   – Yes.

This measure enshrined abortion at any point in a woman’s pregnancy as a constitutional right. The law stipulates several following procedures are now “rights:”

  • The law allows non-physicians to perform abortions.
  • The law allows abortion through the third trimester.
  • and the law repeals protections for babies that survive abortions (this means that if the baby gets delivered alive, it will still be killed.)

This is a barbaric law, and a resounding victory for people aligned with some very dark ideas about life and death. It is a tragedy, and while the Archons’ letter condemning it is at least a token statement, it really wants a full-throated response from the Christian world.

In fact, even Muslims and religious Jewish people ought to be outraged as well. All the Abrahamic religions understand that only God is the author of life. In this viewpoint, people do not themselves create life. We only cooperate with God to bring it into existence, by his blessing.

But we can cause death, and this power is influenced by forces that are not interested in God, traditional values, family, children or anything of the sort.

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Greek MPs pass Prespes deal with 153 votes in 300-seat House

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year.

The Duran

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Via Ekathimerini


Greece’s parliament on Friday ratified a landmark accord that changes the name of neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), ending a decades-old dispute and opening the way for the ex-Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and NATO.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who hammered out the deal with his FYROM counterpart last year, secured the parliamentary majority needed to get the accord approved with support from independent and opposition lawmakers.

“Today we are writing a new page for the Balkans. The hatred of nationalism and conflict is giving way to friendship, peace, and cooperation,” Tsipras wrote on his social media account.

FYROM has already ratified the deal, brokered last year, and its prime minister promptly sent a tweet hailing the Greek parliament’s vote.

The settlement seeks to end a 28-year old row between Athens and Skopje over the use of the term “Macedonia” by renaming the tiny Balkan state “Republic of North Macedonia” to differentiate it from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.

Greece’s European Union allies welcomed the ratification.

“They had imagination, they took the risk, they were ready to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good,” European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted. “Mission impossible accomplished.”

Opinion polls indicate that most Greeks oppose the settlement, a fact which may not bode well for Tsipras in an election year. A general election is due by October, and his party is trailing the opposition New Democracy by up to 12 points.

The debate in the Greek parliament was heated, with voting almost interrupted on Friday when an MP for the right-wing Golden Dawn Party, asked to cast his vote, responded: “No to treason!”

Several MPs in favour of of the accord reported attempts to intimidate them.

Many Greeks fear the agreement could lead to territorial claims against Greece and say it constitutes an appropriation of their country’s ancient cultural heritage. Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Protests against the deal have at times turned violent this week, and on Thursday evening police fired teargas to disperse crowds outside parliament. Smaller groups of people braved heavy rain on Friday to demonstrate outside the parliament.

New Democracy slammed the agreement.

“This deal should never have been signed or brought to parliament for ratification,” party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis told parliament. “It is a national defeat … a national blunder that is an affont to the truth and history of our country.”

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The Mediterranean Pipeline Wars Are Heating Up

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland.

The Duran

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Authored by Viktor Katona via Oilprice.com:


Things have been quite active in the Eastern Mediterranean lately, with Israel, Cyprus and Greece pushing forward for the realization of the EastMed pipeline, a new gas conduit destined to diversify Europe’s natural gas sources and find a long-term reliable market outlet for all the recent Mediterranean gas discoveries. The three sides have reached an agreement in late November (roughly a year after signing the MoU) to lay the pipeline, the estimated cost of which hovers around $7 billion (roughly the same as rival TurkStream’s construction cost). Yet behind the brave facade, it is still very early to talk about EastMed as a viable and profitable project as it faces an uphill battle with traditionally difficult Levantine geopolitics, as well as field geology.

The EastMed gas pipeline is expected to start some 170 kilometers off the southern coast of Cyprus and reach Otranto on the Puglian coast of Italy via the island of Crete and the Greek mainland. Since most of its subsea section is projected to be laid at depths of 3-3.5 kilometer, in case it is built it would become the deepest subsea gas pipeline, most probably the longest, too, with an estimated length of 1900km. The countries involved proceed from the premise that the pipeline’s throughput capacity would be 20 BCM per year (706 BCf), although previous estimates were within the 12-16 BCm per year interval. According to Yuval Steinitz, the Israeli Energy Minister, the stakeholders would need a year to iron out all the remaining administrative issues and 4-5 years to build the pipeline, meaning it could come onstream not before 2025.

The idea of EastMed was first flaunted around 2009-2010 as the first more or less substantial gas discovery in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Tamar gas field in Israel’s offshore zone, paved the way for speculations about an impending gas boom. Then came the 535 BCm (18.9 TCf) Leviathan in 2010 and the 850 BCm (30 TCf) Zohr discovery in offshore Egypt five years later and suddenly it seemed that an Eastern Mediterranean gas expansion is inevitable. Yet over the years, the operators of Leviathan have already allocated part of their total gas volumes to domestic power generating companies and most notably NEPCO, the Jordanian electric power company (1.6-2BCm per year). Egypt has been concentrating on meeting domestic needs and getting rid of LNG imports, moreover once it bounces back to gas exporter status in 2019, it will only use its own 2 LNG terminals in Damietta and Idku.

Thus, a pertinent question arises – whose gas would be used to fill the EastMed pipeline? If the pipeline starts in offshore Cyprus, then it would be logical to expect that Cyprus’ gas bounty would be somehow utilized. Yet Cyprus has been lagging behind Egypt and Israel in its offshore endeavors and so far lacks a clear-cut giant field to base its supply future on. The two discoveries appraised heretofore, the 6-8 TCf Calypso operated by ENI and the 4.5 TCf Aphrodite operated by Noble Energy, are not enough to support the construction of a relatively expensive gas pipeline – all the more so as Noble has signed a provisional deal to send Aphrodite gas to Egypt’s Idku LNG terminal, most likely by means of a subsea gas pipeline. If we are to judge the viability of the EastMed on the current situation, there is only Calypso and Israel to fill the pipeline, as Greece’s gas export plans are close to zero on the probability scale.

The subsea section from Cyprus’ offshore zone to the island of Crete lies in depths of 3km and is stretched across a seismically active zone. But there is even more – should Turkey claim rights on Cyprus’ offshore hydrocarbon deposits (in February 2018 it sent warships to scare away ENI’s drilling rig that was on its way to xxx), the project is all but dead. This is far from an implausible scenario as President Erdogan stated that Turkey would never allow for the extortion of natural resources in the East Mediterranean by means of excluding Ankara and Northern Cyprus. Cognizant of the risks inherent in an East Mediterranean gas pipeline, there has been no interest from oil and gas majors to participate in the project. This is worrying as the $7 billion are expected to be financed from private investors, of which there is a palpable dearth – despite the EU’s 35 million funding to promote what it sees as a Project of Common Interest.

Yet even for the European Union, the EastMed gas pipeline presents a bit of a headache as its commissioning would render the Southern Gas Corridor, comprising so far only of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) with a 10 BCm per year throughput capacity, irrelevant by creating a sort-of competitor. The price of the natural gas to be supplied via the EastMed pipeline might become the biggest obstacle of them all – if the cost of producing offshore Mediterranean gas turns out to be $4-5/MMBtu as expected, the addition of further transportation costs to it all would place EastMed supplied at the bottom range of European gas supply options (Russian gas supply is alleged to be profitable with price levels as low as $4/MMbtu). All this might change if any of the East Mediterranean countries were to discover a giant gas field, altering the economics of production or possibly even liquefaction.

In fact, 2019 will witness several key wells being drilled across Cyprus, Egypt and possibly even Israel. ExxonMobil’s testing of Block 10 in offshore Cyprus would largely point to the overall attractiveness of Cyprus as an oil and gas producing country – the drilling has already started, with results expected in Q1 2019. The ENI-operated Noor offshore field in Egypt, adjacent to Zohr, is a much hotter prospect with BP buying into it lately – most likely it will outshine all the other drilling sites in the Eastern Mediterranean, however, if a big discovery is confirmed, it would be most likely used for Egyptian purposes which run counter to the EastMed gas pipeline. Thus, EastMed’s only hope is that Israel 2nd international licensing round, results to be announced in July 2019, will elicit a couple of Leviathan-like finds that would make pipeline construction profitable. Until then, the prospects are rather bleak.

By Viktor Katona for Oilprice.com

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