Western European News Digest
Will Turkey Be Roped into U.S. Missile Defense?
March 13 (EIRNS)The Russian daily Pravda reported today that the Bush Administration has been conducting secret talks with the Turkish government on the deployment in that country of a mobile radar of its missile defense system. If this report is true, the daily warned, these plans would "seriously aggravate" U.S. relations with Moscow.
On March 10, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell confirmed that the issue of missile defense "did come up" during Defense Secretary Robert Gates' recent trip to Turkey. But he would provide no further details on what was discussed.
Pravda asserted that Gates had urged Turkey to agree to become the third site for the installation of a U.S. missile defense system, in addition to Poland and the Czech Republic. According to this unconfirmed report, Gates has promised to aid Turkey financially in modernizing its army, mentioning an investment figure of $1 billion in the country's defense sector. The Austrian daily Die Presse subsequently also reported that the U.S. intends to deploy a mobile radar system in Turkey.
Washington's rationale for positioning a radar in Turkey, according to Pravda, is that those in Poland and the Czech Republic won't be able to adequately protect such U.S. allies as Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey from a potential Iranian missile attack. The issue reportedly will be discussed further at the April 22 NATO summit in Bucharest.
30 Years Later: Renewed Interest in Moro Assassination
March 11 (EIRNS)As the 30th anniversary of the kidnapping by Red Brigades terrorists, of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, on March 16, 1978, approaches, the case is drawing renewed national and international attention. During the weeks leading up to May 9, the day of his assassination, there is a possibility that a discussion of the British role, as well as the role of Henry Kissinger, in the atrocity will take place.
Two researchers on the Moro case, Giovanni Fasanella and Mario Sechi, have called for declassifying 27 files of secret papers on the crime, which have never been published, covering the period from February 1978 to August 1998. Prosecutor Rosario Priore, who conducted the first four investigations of the case, said that such papers confirm that, "the Moro case is still open, from the historical standpoint. I hope that the secrecy will be lifted as soon as possible."
First Round of French Provincial Elections Held
PARIS, March 10 (EIRNS)The first round of the French national elections to replace half the officials in municipalities, and elect the members of governments of the 100 French departments (counties), took place March 9. While a big defeat was expected for President Nicolas Sarkozy, the UMP (Sarkozy's party) and other small right-wing slates managed to contain their losses to around 6%, relative to all the left-wing (Socialists, Communists, Greens, etc.). The left got close to 47.5%, against the right at 41%.
Voters delivered a warning to Sarkozy, but in many of the races, people voted not along party lines, but according to the perceived qualities of their local mayors or general counsellors. Thus, former President Jacques Chirac ally, ex-prime minister Alain Juppé, was elected in the first round, with 56.1%, while Françoise de Panafieu was badly defeated in Paris, traditionally a right-wing stronghold. Dominique Perben of the UMP lost in Lyon to Socialist candidate Collomb.
Although the votes for the four candidates of the LaRouche-affiliated Solidarité et Progrès running in local elections were small, their impact was important, as they addressed the population's concerns about the economic crisis by bringing together the local problems with their international causes.
Mussolini Economics: Italy Should Import Nuclear Plants
March 13 (EIRNS)Two leading supporters of a "grand coalition" government in Italy, PD (Democratic Party) Rep. Enrico Letta and PdL (People of Freedom) Rep. Adolfo Urso, have agreed to a plan that would supply Italy with Italian-made nuclear energy, through a plant built in Albania. Urso, reportedly, is favorable to building plants in Italy, but he accepted a compromise with Letta, who claims that there is no "consensus" to build current generation nuclear plants in Italy. Thus, both accepted the "provocative proposal": What if the Italian state energy concern ENEL signs an agreement with Albania, to build there, on the Adriatic coast, a current generation nuclear plant, able to supply energy to Italy through an undersea cable? Letta agrees, and Urso reveals that, "The hypothesis was born in the talks between the Berlusconi government [2001-06] and the Berisha government. In Albania, people would accept a nuclear plant. They would see it as an occasion of development, integration and wealth."
Italy scrapped its nuclear power facilities through a political interpretation of a referendum in 1987. While there is no law forbidding construction of new plants, environmentalist arguments in support of the "next generation 'safer' plants," have stalled development. Italy is 86% dependent on energy imports.
Europe's First Cargo Transport Launched to Space Station
March 14 (EIRNS)The appropriately named "Jules Verne" Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), was launched from Europe's facility in Kourou, French Guyana on March 8. The unmanned craft was developed in order to transport freight and other supplies to the 16-nation International Space Station. As of the Space Shuttle mission last month, the station now incorporates the European-built Columbus science laboratory. The fleet of five ATVs that the European Space Agency is building will be used to supplement supplies brought up to the station by the Shuttle and the Russia unmanned Progress craft. Like the Progress, the ATV is not reusable. After delivering its cargo, Jules Verne will leave the station and burn up in the atmosphere.
Jules Verne is carrying five tons of cargo to the station, including equipment, food, spare parts for Columbus, fresh clothing, water, and fuel. It also has two 19th-Century manuscripts of Jules Verne novels, for a commemorative ceremony which will take place on the station. Following the end of the American Civil War, Verne wrote a novel, "From the Earth to the Moon," and a sequel, "Round the Moon," weaving a delightful story around what was known about the Moon at the time.