Western European News Digest
Support for Darfur Intervention Lacking in Germany
An aide to a senior member of the German parliament, the Bundestag, said in a discussion with EIR Nov. 2, that should the Bush Administration really intend to go for an intervention in Darfur/Sudan, they would have to go it alone, since the UN Security Council would never give any support to that. Nobody in Germany would state support for a U.S. intervention in Sudan; it would promote more opposition to the Americans.
As for Germany, recent scandals involving German soldiers in Afghanistanfor example, shocking photos of German soldiers posing with human skullshave eroded public support for military interventions abroad; support for ongoing missions can be expected to crumble rapidly.
Franco-Chinese Relations 'Have Never Been So Close'
French President Jacques Chirac's four-day visit to China Oct. 25-28the fourth since 1995illustrates the exceptional quality of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Relations have "never been so close" in the political and economic fields, stated Chirac.
While political dialogue has always been at a high level, economic relations have lagged far behind. With only 1.4% of the Chinese market, as compared to Germany's 4%, and a large trade deficitFrench exports covering only 40% of imports from ChinaFrance has still a long way to go. Establishing much closer collaboration with this Asian giant whom the French believe will represent between 14% and 18% of the world economy in 2020 against 4.5% today, was one of the main aims of the trip, as well as improving Chirac's political position prior to the 2007 Presidential elections.
In terms of actual economic deals and letters of intent for upcoming deals, the trip, which included a delegation of 30 banking, manufacturing, and energy captains of industry, was a big success. Ten months after having bought 150 A320 Airbuses, China signed a new surprise agreement to purchase another 150 A320s for a total of 8 billion euros. This deal was facilitated by the decision by new Airbus CEO Louis Gallois, to install an A320 assembly line in China.
A 1.2-billion-euro agreement was signed with Alsthom for the delivery of 500 freight locomotives in partnership with the Chinese Datong. A letter of intent was signed between the shipbuilder CMA CGM and China's container transport company CRCTC, to construct 18 container railway stations, a deal evaluated also at 1.2 billion euros. The public company Electricité de France (EDF) will take shares of 100 million euros in some of the main Chinese power stations. Suez will build two drinking water plants at Macao and Tianjin, and a plant for treatment of wastewater for a Chinese steel producer in Tianjin as well. Finally, Chirac laid the cornerstone for a new Peugeot-Citroen plant being built in Wuhan. The French auto company produced 150,000 cars in China last year.
Italian Ministers Join Demo: Will 'Regime Change' Follow?
At least ten deputy ministers and undersecretaries of state of the Italian government will join a mass demonstration organized by trade union circles and leftist parties on Nov. 4, to call for a change in labor policies. The demonstration calls for an end to the so-called "Precariato"that is, precarious conditions of workers who in Italy are currently hired almost exclusively on a fixed-term contract, low pay, and without pension or health insurance benefits, as a consequence of deregulation laws passed in the last two legislatures. The abolition of "Precariato" was part of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's election program.
The government is at the same time facing the threat of a "regime change" operation typical of Anglo-Dutch-Venetian parliamentary government systems. Neoliberal and financial circles are demanding that Prodi dump the left wing of his coalition and make a deal with sections of the opposition. Social Policies Minister Paolo Ferrero exposed a plan for such a "regime change" being plotted by circles led by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the aristocratic head of the so-called "industrialist" association Confindustria. Montezemolo's Confindustria, Ferrero said, wants more money from the government and wants to "put their feet in the dish, in view of the pension reform."
Defence Ministry Leak Continues British Disengagement
A British Defence Ministry briefing document, published by the Independent Oct. 9, tells Parliament the Army is "critically weakened" by fighting on two fronts, and it is "almost impossible" to fulfill commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. The topic is intended for debate in the House of Commons Defense Committee next week, to coincide with the House of Commons debate on the government's role in Iraq.
It is still unclear how this document and the upcoming two debates may play into the British policy of "leave the U.S. in the Iraqi mess," that Britain did so much to help create, which policy was first announced by Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt's talk last week.
Blair, Bush, Cheney Share Weekly Conference Call
The author of the book American Ally: Tony Blair and the War on Terror, Con Coughlin, wrote a commentary in the Daily Telegraph Oct. 28 revealing that President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have a weekly conference call, joined by Vice President Dick Cheney. "Once a week Tony Blair and his closest aides gather in a room in the back of Downing Street for the Prime Minister's weekly video conference with his close friend and ally, President George W. Bush," Coughlin wrote. "It is a select gathering. Apart from Blair himself, the only other regular attendees are Jonathan Powell, his long serving chief of staff, and Sir Nigel Sheinwald, his highly experienced foreign policy adviser. At the White House the President is usually accompanied by the brooding presence of Vice President Dick Cheney, who sits on a sofa listening in on the conversation, but rarely contributes anything of note."
Italians Seek Access to Documents on CIA Kidnappings
Lawyers for Niccolo Pollari, head of SISMI, the Italian military intelligence service, have requested that Milan prosecutors seize papers documenting Italian-U.S. agreements on illegal CIA operations on Italian soil. The papers are in the hands of the Italian government and are covered by state secret, guaranteed both by the Berlusconi and the Prodi governments. In a statement delivered to prosecutors on Nov. 11, 2005, then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi mentioned that, regarding investigations of the 2003 kidnapping of Egyptian citizen Abu Omar, "relations with other states" could be endangered, and knowledge of facts "oblige anyone to secrecy, except someone is exempted by the Prime Minister."
The classified papers could also unearth the truth about the famous "Niger yellowcake" dossier and the role of Michael Ledeen. Before coming to trial, Pollari's request will be answered by the state attorney and, in case of a negative answer, by a judge.
ADL Surfaces in Germany
For several months, the Anti-Defamation League has been increasing its activity throughout Europe, with Germany being a focus of its activity. On Oct. 19, an official ADL delegation led by Abe Foxman visited Berlin, where they met German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble. Schaeuble told the delegation that he is very "concerned about rising extremism and anti-Semitism in Germany and we confront this danger with the greatest sense of urgency." Foxman said: "We are confident of the commitment of the Minister to use all resources at his disposal to fight extremism and anti-Semitism and confront the dangers facing democracy." Schaeuble and Foxman agreed that their organizations would cooperate in various ways, including training and education programs for law enforcement, working with NGOs, and extremism on the Internet.
It was also reported that during this same period former Interior Minister Otto Schily received the ADL's "Paul Ehrlich Gunther K. Schwerin Human Rights Award," honoring Europe's most distinguished leaders in the fight against intolerance. In what turns out to be an ADL link to Lynne Cheney's Campus Watch operation, it was reported that on Oct. 24, members of the Washington, D.C. Bias Crimes Task Force, a partnership between community groups and law enforcement founded by the ADL, led a hate-crimes training session for 25 campus police. The training, conducted by ADL in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, took place on the campus of Howard University.
Kaczynski Visit Is Important Step for Germany, Poland
The first official visit of Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski to Germany at the end of October wasdespite remaining differencesan important step in improving Polish/German relations. As Chancellor Angela Merkel commented after a four-hour meeting with the Polish leader, both sides "want to have good, friendly bilateral relations." Kaczynski spoke of a "constructive" dialogue. The visit in Germany was characterized by him as "a good experience," and that he could "build up good personal relations." The meeting, which took place after months of irritations, was described as friendly.
Differences persisted on the question of the Baltic Pipeline and the restitution claims. While Poland was referring to its worries concerning Russia, namely that Russia could blockade its gas deliveries, Merkel promised Kaczynski, that Germany, in its capacity as the chairman of the EU in the first half of 2007, would actively promote the idea of creating a common European gas market, through which Poland and the Baltic countriesif need becould have access to the gas deliveries from Western Europe.