Western European News Digest
EU To Study Tremonti Investment Proposal
Sept. 13 (EIRNS)In a press conference at the end of the Ecofin summit today, Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti reported that the Ecofin Council of EU Finance, Economic, and Budget Ministers, has decided to set up a committee to study his proposal to use the European Investment Bank as the instrument for a public investment policy in Europe. Tremonti called the decision a "success," but in reality it is a half-defeat. The Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore had reported statements by German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück, who said yesterday: "I received and read the two pages in which Tremonti presents his ideas. I intend to make no comments." Steinbrück added: "In general, we are not in favor of any structural change of European institutions, like the EIB." Steinbrück said he is in favor of French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde's proposal for the EIB to extend EU15 billion in credits to small and medium enterprises.
In his press conference, Tremonti said that he convinced Steinbrück that he does not want to kill the Stability Pact. He reiterated that Europe needs a public investment policy in infrastructure and energy, in particular, nuclear energy. On the Ecofin decision, Tremonti said that European reactions are "not instantaneous," but "it is better to start rather than to delay."
Tremonti gave his press conference together with Bank of Italy governor Mario Draghi, who is also the head of the Financial Stability Forum. As FSF head, Draghi intervened at the Ecofin meeting, reporting that the banking crisis has worsened and banks need at least $350 billion, but that collecting capital has become hard.
In a related move, the Italian Economy Ministry announced that it is closely monitoring the Lehman Brothers crisis, because of the consequences of a bankruptcy on Lehman's activities in Italy.
Stockholm Conference Targets Soros on Drugs
Sept. 11 (EIRNS) Participants from 82 countries attended the Sept. 8-10 conference of the World Forum Against Drugs, in Stockholm. The World Forum used the occasion to launch an offensive to defend the UN Conventions against drugs, which George Soros's drug legalization apparatus intends to challenge at the upcoming UN Special Session on Drugs in March of 2009.
The LaRouche-affiliated European Labor Party (EAP) of Sweden, intervened with a statement by Colombian LaRouche Association leader Max Londoño (written to counter the conference held by George Soros's Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy (LACDD), Sept. 4-5 in Bogota). Calvina Fay, of the Drug-Free America Foundation, gave the closing speech at the Stockholm conference, blasting Soros and calling for a fight in which civilization is at stake.
The conference ended with a strong, 24-point resolution against drug legalization, denouncing the legalizers' euphemism of "harm reduction" as "too often another word for drug legalization or other inappropriate relaxation efforts, a policy approach that violates the UN Conventions." There can be no other goal than a drug-free world. Such a goal is neither utopian nor impossible."
Italy Stands Strong Against Cheney
Sept. 10, (EIRNS)Lame duck U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney failed in his attempt to win support from Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for his anti-Russian policy. The two met yesterday in Rome, and held a press conference, in which they seemed to be in two different worlds. Cheney condemned Russia's "unilateral efforts to alter by force of arms Georgia's internationally recognized boundaries," and said that NATO had agreed upon eventual membership for Georgia and Ukraine. Berlusconi spoke without a word of criticism of Russia, saying that Italy had made an effort to maintain the dialogue between Russia and the West, in an effort to avoid a return to the Cold War, and that this must be continued. He then had praise for the Italian-American friendship.
The Financial Times today took notice of the split, saying that the U.S. administration is disappointed at the extremely pro-Russian stance of one of its staunchest allies, and revealing that "the US blocked an attempt by Italy to call a routine meeting of the NATO-Russia Council after the invasion of Georgia."
Ukraine Too Big To Swallow for the EU
PARIS, Sept. 11 (EIRNS)During the EU-Ukraine summit Sept. 9 in Paris, the EU opted for a quite minimal "association status" to be negotiated in March 2009 with Ukraine. Le Figaro reported that, while the Poles came in aggressively demanding full membership for Ukraine, even this minimal consensus position was difficult to reach, due to opposition within the EU to membership negotiations. Strong opposition came from the Netherlands, which thinks 27 members is already too many. Also, the "Old Europe"France, Germany, and Italydid everything they could to dampen Warsaw's aggressive lobbying.
The reality is that Ukraine is quite a huge piece, in terms of size and problems, for the EU to swallow in one bite.
Perfidious Brits Receive Iranian Delegation
Sept. 9, (EIRNS)An Iranian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister for European Affairs Medhi Safari, arrived in London on Sept. 8 for three days of high-level meetings with the British government. The trip comes only days after the British government took the anti-Iranian terror group, the MKO, off its list of terrorist organizations.
The British government has the same hard-line policy against Iran as that of the Bush Administration, including on the nuclear program, yet it receives extremely high-level Iranian delegations. In contrast with the U.S., which has no relations with Iran, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's foreign policy advisor Simon McDonald is an Arabic-speaking Middle East specialist who has held two postings in Saudi Arabia, and served as Britain's ambassador to Israel.
Mütefering To Make a Comeback in the SPD
Sept. 8 (EIRNS)The decision of the past weekend's strategy session of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) to propose Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for nomination as Chancellor candidate for the 2009 elections, probably was less of a surprise to many, than the other announcement, that the next national party convention would re-elect Franz Müntefering to the party chairmanship, from which he was ousted in November 2005. The return of Müntefering bodes well for cooperation with Russia and China; however it is highly problematic because of his continued commitment to the EU's supranationalism and to the pro-Maastricht "Agenda 2010" outlook, which gave Germany the Hartz IV and other budget-cutting monsters, to the disadvantage of the lower 80% of the population.
Müntefering's position would not be stable, anyway, because the same strong Fabian-ecologist current, whose intrigues ousted him from the party chair in 2005, will strike again, should anything positive come from the party toplike the anti-financial locust campaign that Müntefering led, before November 2005.