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What could possibly go wrong? Greece begins its path towards implementing Euro Summit agreement

The deal struck Monday after 17 hours of talks to keep Greece in the euro was just an agreement to negotiate an agreement. So there are still plenty of ways the mission can fall off a cliff.

Alex Christoforou




We noted last week that reaching an agreement was the easy part. How Greece plans to implement near impossible reforms remains to be seen. Once again the hard part begins this week and when Greeks return from their summer holidays in September, expect mass protests, strikes, demonstrations, fires and all kinds of hell to break loose.

The Greek drama is just beginning.

Via Bloomberg…

Participants in the Greek saga have seen more than their share of false dawns and broken promises since the crisis broke out under Prime Minister George Papandreou in late 2009. If history is a guide, here is a list of all the things that could go wrong with Greece’s third bailout.

Greece needs cash now. It owes the European Central Bank about 7 billion euros ($7 billion) before the end of August and is in arrears to the International Monetary Fund by about $2 billion.

European finance ministers are discussing bridge financing to keep the country afloat until a final agreement is reached. That will involve more difficult negotiations: “It’s quite clear that it’s very difficult for any member states to put forward fresh money without any conditionality — basically money which would not even be a loan,” Finland’s Alexander Stubb says.

Monday’s agreement needs to pass at least seven other parliaments, where lawmakers are already skeptical about giving Greece more aid.

Germany’s Bundestag votes on Friday (assuming Greece passes it), while lawmakers in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria and Finland will also examine it.

Disagreements may resurface among the creditors too. The IMF will have to determine whether the country’s debt is sustainable before approving more loans.

The IMF’s insistence that Greece’s debt be made sustainable, possibly through a debt writedown that European governments reject, delayed the 2011 bailout agreement by several weeks and froze debt payments in 2012 for months.

Will the Bureaucrats Implement It?

Officials from the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF have blamed the failure of Greece’s two previous two bailouts on the inability of the country’s bureaucrats to carry out the political commitments.

Implementation may be even poorer now, since the government is led by a party that has opposed overhauls of social security, public administration, the tax system, judicial code, and sales taxes — all conditions demanded by creditors.

“Syriza’s raison d’etre has been against austerity and pro-market reforms, and for state expansion,” said Hari Tsoukas, professor of organizational studies at the U.K.’s Warwick Business School in Coventry. “How can its government own up to a program it has always protested against?”

Can Greece Really Sell $55 Billion of Assets?

Greece’s bailout requires it to sell up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of state assets. The problem is that Europe’s most indebted nation already tried that and failed.

After four years of efforts and five changes in government, Greece managed to muster only 3.5 billion euros of proceeds from privatizations.

Moreover, World Bank and World Economic Forum data show that Greece has one of Europe’s least attractive economies. Asset prices are depressed after the steepest recession in more than half-century, and it has failed to meet obligations to its creditors.

It is no wonder two international officials directly involved in the monitoring of Greece’s bailout program said the 50 billion euros target is “ambitious,” to say the least.

What happens when you ask a country sinking in a double-dip recession, with its banks closed and capital controls in place, to impose more austerity? Probably a deeper recession, making deficit and debt reduction targets even tougher to hit. It wouldn’t be a first for creditors to offer over-optimistic assumptions about Greece’s growth patterns.

The deteriorating economy “means that any present or future government will continue to face enormous resistance to the introduction of reforms in the short term,” Teneo Intelligence analysts Wolfango Piccoli and Carsten Nickel wrote in a note to clients on Monday. “As a result, building country ownership – probably the most important factor of success for program implementation – will remain challenging.”

Previous bailouts have been hobbled by political paralysis. Greece has had five prime ministers and eight finance ministers since the beginning of the crisis and political instability is already brewing again.

As many as 40 lawmakers in the so-called Left Platform of Syriza, along with the Independent Greeks party, are refusing to back the deal. While Tsipras enjoys the support of pro-European opposition parties, the loss of his base may lead to snap elections within the next few months.

“At a very minimum, there will be a government reshuffle,” Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc analysts including Michael Michaelides wrote in a note to clients. “However this assumes that beyond the immediate legislative prerequisites that a Tsipras-led administration can continue to command a majority of MPs. This remains to be seen,” they wrote.

Protesters are flocking to the central square of Athens again. As the economic situation deteriorates and austerity bites, a return to 2012, when daily demonstrations and riots hurt tourism and halted economic activity in the capital may be at hand.

The most recent Greek surveys show that backing for staying in the euro “at all costs” is still supported by the majority of Greeks, but the appeal of membership is declining. A survey by pollster GPO last month showed that 56.2 percent of respondents preferred a “bad” deal with creditors than euro exit, while 35.4 percent said a return to the national currency would be preferable to more austerity. If public opinion swings against the euro, then there’s very little, if anything, any government can do to keep the country in.


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Tape recorded evidence of Clinton-Ukraine meddling in US election surfaces (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou



RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a look at new evidence to surface from Ukraine that exposes a plot by the US Embassy in Kiev and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) to leak Paul Manafort’s corrupt dealings in the country, all for the benefit of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

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Via Zerohedge

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko has launched an investigation into the head of the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau for allegedly attempting to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump during the 2016 US election by releasing damaging information about a “black ledger” of illegal business dealings by former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Hill’s John Solomon, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko

“Today we will launch a criminal investigation about this and we will give legal assessment of this information,” Lutsenko said last week, according to The Hill

Lutsenko is probing a claim from a member of the Ukrainian parliament that the director of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), Artem Sytnyk, attempted to the benefit of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of Hillary Clinton.

A State Department spokesman told Hill.TV that officials aware of news reports regarding Sytnyk. –The Hill

“According to the member of parliament of Ukraine, he got the court decision that the NABU official conducted an illegal intrusion into the American election campaign,” said Lutsenko, speaking with The Hill’s John Solomon about the anti-corruption bureau chief, Artem Sytnyk.

“It means that we think Mr. Sytnyk, the NABU director, officially talked about criminal investigation with Mr. [Paul] Manafort, and at the same time, Mr. Sytnyk stressed that in such a way, he wanted to assist the campaign of Ms. Clinton,” Lutsenko continued.

Solomon asked Lutsenko about reports that a member of Ukraine’s parliament obtained a tape of the current head of the NABU saying that he was attempting to help Clinton win the 2016 presidential election, as well as connections that helped release the black-ledger files that exposed Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort‘s wrongdoing in Ukraine.

“This member of parliament even attached the audio tape where several men, one of which had a voice similar to the voice of Mr. Sytnyk, discussed the matter.” –The Hill

What The Hill doesn’t mention is that Sytnyk released Manafort’s Black Book with Ukrainian lawmaker Serhiy Leshchenko – discussed in great length by former Breitbart investigator Lee Stranahan, who has been closely monitoring this case.

Serhiy Leshchenko

T]he main spokesman for these accusations was Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian politician and journalist who works closely with both top Hillary Clinton donors George Soros and Victor Pinchuk, as well as to the US Embassy in Kyiv.

James Comey should be asked about this source that Leshchenko would not identify. Was the source someone connected to US government, either the State Department or the Department of Justice?

The New York Times should also explain why they didn’t mention that Leshchenko had direct connections to two of Hillary Clinton biggest financial backers. Victor Pinchuk, the largest donor to the Clinton Foundation at a staggering $8.6 million also happened to have paid for Leshchenko’s expenses to go to international conferences. George Soros, whose also founded the International Renaissance Foundationthat worked closely with Hillary Clinton’s State Department in Ukraine, also contributed at least $8 million to Hillary affiliated super PACs in the 2016 campaign cycle. –Lee Stranahan via Medium

Meanwhile, according to former Fusion GPS contractor Nellie Ohr, Leshchenko was a source for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, which commissioned the infamous Trump-Russia dossier.

Nellie Ohr, a former contractor for the Washington, D.C.-based Fusion GPS, testified on Oct. 19 that Serhiy Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist turned Ukrainian lawmaker, was a source for Fusion GPS during the 2016 campaign.

“I recall … they were mentioning someone named Serhiy Leshchenko, a Ukrainian,” Ohr said when asked who Fusion GPS’s sources were, according to portions of Ohr’s testimony confirmed by The Daily Caller News Foundation. –Daily Caller

Also absent from The Hill report is the fact that Leshchenko was convicted in December by a Kiev court of interfering in the 2016 US election.

A Kyiv court said that a Ukrainian lawmaker and a top anticorruption official’s decision in 2016 to publish documents linked to President Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman amounted to interference in the U.S. presidential election.

The December 11 finding came in response to a complaint filed by another Ukrainian lawmaker, who alleged that Serhiy Leshchenko and Artem Sytnyk illegally released the documents in August 2016, showing payments by a Ukrainian political party to Trump’s then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort.

The documents, excerpts from a secret ledger of payments by the Party of Regions, led to Manafort being fired by Trump’s election campaign.

The Kyiv court said that the documents published by Leshchenko and Sytnyk were part of an ongoing pretrial investigation in Ukraine into the operations of the pro-Russian Party of Regions. The party’s head had been President Viktor Yanukovych until he fled the country amid mass protests two years earlier.

-RadioFreeEurope/Radio Liberty (funded by the US govt.).

So while Lutsenko – Solomon’s guest and Ukrainian Prosecutor is currently going after Artem Sytnyk, it should be noted that Leshchenko was already found to have meddled in the 2016 US election.


Meanwhile, you can also check out Stranahan’s take on Leshchenko being left out of the loop.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.





Via RT

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran



Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said ( the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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