At last there was light, and we saw the letter that the president of the European Central Bank sent to Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on August 5, 2011. Its tardy publication in the former prime minister’s memoirs offers several lessons on the weakness of democracy, both here and in the EU. As far as contents are concerned, the ECB oversteps its mandate and, to “restore the credibility of Spain in the eyes of the capital markets” calls on the Zapatero government to reduce wages, make firing easier, weaken the unions, limit public spending by law and — taking the opportunity to slip another measure into the package — liberalize the rental market. So much for the stick; as for the carrot, starting on August 8, the ECB would purchase up to 36 billion euros in Spanish and Italian debt on the secondary markets; purchases which, indeed, many considered also
Much attention has been focused on how Saudi Arabia and Israel will react to the interim agreement reached in November between Iran and the P5+1 powers (US, Russia, China, UK, France, German), both of whom see their relations with Iran in zero-sum terms. This agreement also has significant implications for Turkey, a regional power in its own right, one that maintains relatively close relations with Iran. In particular, Turkey faces some tough decisions over the future direction of its foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) following the Arab uprisings. Last month’s agreement will only add to Turkey’s foreign policy woes.
Establishing closer ties with Iran has been a key pillar of Turkey’s “zero problems with neighbours” policy and its pursuit of “strategic depth”. The latter aims to re-establish Turkey as a powerful regional actor – a far cry from the years of
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The protests in Kiev are now almost two weeks old. They began after the Ukrainian government first decided to suspend negotiations with the EU on 21 November, but have gained new intensity after President Yanukovych left the Vilnius Summit on 28-29 November empty-handed, without signing the key Agreements.
But the attempt at violent dispersal of the crowds on his return, on Saturday the 30th, only led to bigger demonstrations on the Sunday. At the time of writing (Monday the 2nd), the protestors were looking more embedded – literally so, as several buildings have been occupied and barriers set up in the centre of Kiev. The stakes are especially high because the OSCE Ministerial Council is due to be held in Kiev on 5-6 December – the opposition want to keep the protest going until then, the authorities want to stamp them out. The ruling party is losing key members and morale.
The Syrian government has confirmed a preliminary agreement with Soyuzneftegaz, a Russian oil and gas company, for the exploration of the country’s offshore waters, highlighting Moscow’s desire to capitalise economically on its sustained political and military support for the Assad regime.
No details have emerged on the specifics of the agreement between Soyuzneftegaz and the Syrian government but its timing is significant. For Damascus the deal represents a much needed attempt to secure energy supplies and revenue flows.The November announcement capped more than five months of negotiations between the government and Soyuzneftegaz and a formal agreement is expected to be signed between the two parties in the next few weeks.
Recent gas finds in the offshore areas of Israel and Cyprus have raised the energy prospects of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. However, Syria has
Watching hundreds of thousands of people flock to the streets of Ukrainian cities, Western audiences may have a feeling of deja vu and think that a second Orange Revolution is in the making.Hundreds of EU flags on Ukraine’s squares have prompted many to think the protest is about the country’s relations with the EU.
The violent dispersal of the "Euromaidan" over the weekend has led many others to believe that Ukraine is turning into another Belarus. The answer is much simpler. What is driving Ukrainians to the streets is the desire to change the way their country is run.President Viktor Yanukovych's last-minute change of mind about signing an sssociation agreement with the European Union is neither a Russia-inspired "coup," nor is it the main reason why Ukrainians are on the streets.
Yanukovych's EU decision and Saturday's police crackdown were triggers for action.People are
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