The Catalan Question and the Future of Europe

It is 5 AM in Lisbon, and I am sitting in an airport lounge with wifi, writing this week’s OTB on my iPad, clumsily. GaveKal has written a very candid analysis of the Catalonia vote/debacle, which was a hot topic at the conference where I was speaking – Spain is right next door. There were numerous past and current foreign ministers and other parliamentary leaders here, all very pro-EU, and they were aghast at Rajoy’s heavy-handed response.
Howewver, they all agreed that Catalonia could never be recognized as a new country in the EU, as this week’s OTB notes. Allowing Catalonian independence would fuel the flames of the numerous separatist movements all over Europe and disintegrate the movement to a closer EU – something that all here agreed would be a bad thing. Remember, Catalonia is much bigger than Greece – it’s 20% of the Spanish economy and Spain’s strongest region. Not a small deal. But I think the outcome will be a deal like the Basques got – more independence, and they get to keep more of their tax revenue. But the referendum was a great negotiating tactic. And Rajoy, with his clumsy police action, actually gave the separatists the upper hand.
I may at some point write a full letter on what I heard at this confernce. There were some very different viewpoints than you hear in the US (even from my close friend George Friedman). When you spend a great deal of time with Jean-Claude Trichet, former president of the ECB (who was extraordinarily polite and gracious) and hear him advocate for a stronger European NATO, and hear as well from far-left German Politician Joschka Fischer, who also espoused a hard line against Russia and China and a stronger NATO – almost sounding like Trump – you wonder what rabbit hole you have fallen down. Herr Minister Fischer was however not amused when I pointed out the similarity between his views and Trump’s. He swears he has no interest in ever being a politician again. But his talk, which I oddly found myself agreeing with much of, certainly sounded like a stump speech. My new friend may have protested his reluctance too vigorously. Oddly, the greatest disagreement I stumbled into was with a fellow American who is a friend of Hillary. Which made for a couple very lively dinner debates – which I hoped amused our hosts.

This post was published at Mauldin Economics on OCTOBER 4, 2017.

Erdogan Says Turkey No Longer Needs EU Membership, Son Slams European “Infidels”

Via KeepTalkingGreece.com,
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkey no longer needs EU membership.
His son Bilal who plays an important role in Turkey’s politics went even further and described the Europeans as ‘gavur’ (indifels).
The comments come after 12-year-long accession talks with Brussels grind to a halt. ‘We will not be the side which gives up. To tell the truth, we don’t need EU membership anymore,’ Erdogan said. Turkey’s 12-year-long accession talks have ground to a halt, with the EU especially critical of Ankara’s crackdown following a failed coup last year. Tens of thousands of people including teachers and journalists have been detained.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 3, 2017.

America’s Slow-Motion Military Coup

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.
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Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers – usually three – who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.
These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser. They do not put on their ribbons to review military parades or dispatch death squads to kill opponents, as members of old-style juntas did. Yet their emergence reflects a new stage in the erosion of our political norms and the militarization of our foreign policy. Another veil is dropping.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 18, 2017.

The Only ‘Real Europe’ Is Greece

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, famous for his imbibition capacity and uttering -not necessarily in that order- the legendary words ‘when it becomes serious, you have to lie’, presented his State of the Union today. Which is of pretty much limited interest because, as Yanis Varoufakis’ book ‘Adults in the Room’ once again confirmed, Juncker is nothing but ventriloquist Angela Merkel’s sock puppet.
But of course he had lofty words galore, about how great Europe is doing, and how that provides a window for more Europe, in multiple dimensions. Juncker envisions a European Minister of Finance (Dutch PM Rutte immediately scorned the idea), and he wants to enlarge the EU by inviting more countries in, like Albania, Montenegro and Serbia (but not Turkey!).
Juncker had negative things to say about Britain and Brexit, about Poland, Prague and Hungary who don’t want to obey the decree about letting in migrants and refugees, and obviously about Donald Trump: Brussels apparently wants ‘to make our planet great again’.
What the likes of Jean-Claude don’t seem to be willing to contemplate, let alone understand or acknowledge, is that the EU is a union of sovereign countries. The meaning of ‘sovereignty’ fully escapes much of the pro-EU crowd. And if they keep that up, it will break the union into pieces.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 15, 2017.

New NGO Racket: Smuggling, Inc.

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,
Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year. This summer, even more than in previous years, it has become plain that some of the NGOs working in the Mediterranean are acting as something more than intermediaries. Many have in fact been acting as facilitators. This makes the NGOs effectively no more than the benign face of the smuggling networks. Undercover workers have also discovered NGOs handing vessels back to the smugglers’ networks, effectively helping them to continue their criminal enterprise indefinitely. A group that which seeks to oppose Europe’s current self-destructive insane trajectory can now not even source independent financial support. Groups, however, that continue to push Europe along its current trajectory continue to get all the official support they need. In the difference in reaction to these two groups lies a significant part of the story of the ruin of a continent. Sometimes it is in the gap between things that the truth emerges.
In recent years Europe has been on the receiving end of one of the most significant migrant crises in history. In 2015, in just a single year, countries such as Germany and Sweden found themselves adding 2% to their respective populations. Although much of the public continue to labour under the misapprehension that those still coming are fleeing the Syrian civil war; in fact, the majority of those now entering Europe are from Africa, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa.
Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year. Spain — which had ducked much of the movement of recent years — now finds itself receiving thousands of people who are sometimes (as in this memorable footage from earlier this month) simply landing on the country’s beaches and running straight into the country. In doing so, they are not only breaking into Europe in a fashion that is illegal, but flouting all the asylum protocols, and other protocols, however inadequate, that are meant to exist.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 4, 2017.

Gas Games In The Eastern Mediterranean Are Threatening Europe

The European Commission is offering European consumers the so-called Southern Gas Corridor, which provides for the supply, in particular, of Azerbaijani and Central Asian gas along the Turkey – Greece – Italy route. The project’s potential participants have their own interests, however, and are divided by long-standing antagonisms that are turning the corridor into a military and political delayed-action mine.
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Turkey, which is traditionally reluctant to play by the European Union’s rules, is playing a particular role here. Ankara’s plans to build an Israel – Turkey pipeline are being superimposed on the desire of the Turkish elite to occupy key positions in the development of offshore natural gas fields in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, primarily around Cyprus. These plans are unleashing a whole host of problems between Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, while, at the same time, affecting the interests of Israel, as well as Egypt and Libya, which are claiming their rights to the continental shelf. The world’s leading oil and gas companies are also pursuing their own economic objectives in the region, the most active of which are the French company Total and the Italian company ENI.
The current focus of contention is the offshore Block 11, situated in the territorial waters of Cyprus. Turkey, which is also speaking on behalf of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, has already sent a frigate, TCG Gkeada, to the region. The frigate’s commander has been ordered to use whatever measures necessary to counteract ‘undesirable’ activity around the continental shelf. But any actions by Nicosia and Athens in support could be deemed ‘undesirable’, since Turkey’s official position is that all the gas resources on Cyprus’ continental shelf belong not only to the Greek Cypriots, but also to the Turkish Cypriots. And by the latter is meant the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 28, 2017.

Greece Hit By Sudden Surge In Refugees – Did Erdogan Break EU-Turkey Immigration Deal?

As tensions soar between Ankara and Berlin, following Germany’s angry response to Erdogan’s call for those of Turkish descent to vote against Merkel, a coincidentally huge wave of refugees has suddenly started appearing on Greek coasts, making some wonder if Erdogan has broken his EU-Immigration deal.
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The last six days have seen over 1,200 refugees and migrants arrive Greece from Turkey.
New Arrivals:
August 18: 105 August 19: 308 August 20: 136 August 21: 397 August 22: 250 August 23: 174

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 24, 2017.

The Last Total Eclipse was 2days After Signing the Declaration of Independence So Celebrate Today

Solar eclipses have been observed throughout history. As to be expected, they have often been seen as omens along with comets. We hear if the star of Bethlehem that announced the birth of Jesus and the comet that appeared the night Julius Caesar was assassinated, which has been historically recorded on coins proving his divinity.
Yet eclipses have also been seen as major markers of events throughout time. There is of course the famous eclipse that marked the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Christian gospels say that the sky was darkened for hours after the crucifixion of Jesus, which historians viewed either as a miracle or a portent of dark times to come. Later historians used astronomy to pinpoint the death of Christ based on this eclipse mention. Some historians tie the crucifixion to a total solar eclipse lasting 1 minute and 59 seconds that occurred in the year 29 AD while others say a second total eclipse, blocking the sun for 4 minutes and 6 seconds, in 33 AD, marked Jesus’ death. In the Vatican Codex, the oldest copy of the Greek Bible speaks of the solar eclipse in the Book of Luke. This is supported by a Greek historian named Phlegon, who also recorded a solar eclipse at the same period. Phlegon wrote a history entitled The Olympiads, in which he records during the rule of Tiberius Caesar a three hour eclipse of the sun. The ellipse of the sun took place at the time of Tiberius Caesar, in whose reign Jesus was crucified, and the great earthquakes which then took place.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Aug 21, 2017.

Greeks Trust Putin Most Relative To Trump, Brits Undecided

Around the world, few people trust Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. A global median of roughly one-in-four (26%) say they have confidence in the Russian leader. However, as KeepTalkingGreece reports, Greeks love the Russian President; much more so in fact than US President Donald Trump.
According to a survey conducted by PEW Research Center, only in three countries surveyed do majorities express a favorable opinion of Russia: Vietnam (83%), Greece (64%) and the Philippines (55%).

Doubts about Putin’s handling of foreign policy, however, do not necessarily coincide with perceptions of Russia as a security risk. Across 37 countries, a median of 31% describe Russia’s power and influence as a major threat to their country – identical to the median percentage who say the same about China, and similar to the median share (35%) that sees America’s power and influence as a large threat.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 18, 2017.

European Refugee Crisis will Engulf Europe by 2032

The European Refugee Crisis is really completely out of control. The bulk of these people are by no means refugees. You see no women and children here in the boat – only young men. Now Spain is the new target and will overtake Greece as the second-biggest gateway for economic invader entering Europe by sea. The sudden surge in migration to Spain comes following a crackdown on human smuggling along the Libya-Italy sea route, which has been the main entry route to Europe. Africans are migrating to Europe because there is little to do at home. Egypt will grow to 100 million people while Nigeria to soon reach 400 million. Europe will be swallowed up whole as it was when the Roman Empire was subjugated by the Barbarians who crossed the Rhine River.

This post was published at Armstrong Economics on Aug 18, 2017.

Europe: Migrant Crisis Reaches Spain

“The biggest migration movements are still ahead: Africa’s population will double in the next decades. A country like Egypt will grow to 100 million people, Nigeria to 400 million. In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle.” – German Development Minister Gerd Mller. “Young people all have cellphones and they can see what’s happening in other parts of the world, and that acts as a magnet.” – Michael Mller, Director of the United Nations office in Geneva. “If we do not manage to solve the central problems in African countries, ten, 20 or even 30 million immigrants will arrive in the European Union within the next ten years.” – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament. Spain is on track to overtake Greece as the second-biggest gateway for migrants entering Europe by sea. The sudden surge in migration to Spain comes amid a crackdown on human smuggling along the Libya-Italy sea route, currently the main migrant point of entry to Europe.
The westward shift in migration routes from Greece and Italy implies that Spain, situated only ten miles from Africa by sea, may soon find itself at the center of Europe’s migration crisis.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 17, 2017.

Greece Among Countries With The Most Slave Labor In Europe

The European Union recorded the largest increase in slavery of any world region in 2017, with the arrival of more than 100,000 migrants, many of them extremely vulnerable to exploitation, analysts said on Thursday. As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria are the countries with the most slave labour within the EU.
The risk of slave labour in farming, construction and other sectors rose across the region, with 20 of the EU’s 28 member states scoring worse than in 2016 in an annual global slavery index by British analytics company Verisk Maplecroft.
‘The migrant crisis has increased the risk of slavery incidents appearing in company supply chains across Europe,’ said Sam Haynes, senior human rights analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.
Globally there are 21 million people in forced labour, including children, in a business worth $150 billion a year, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The index, which assessed incidents of human trafficking or slavery, as well as laws and law enforcement in 198 countries, ranked Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria as the countries with the most slave labour within the EU.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 11, 2017.

EU To Force Poland, Hungary And Czech Republic To Accept Refugees

One month after the EU’s executive Commission launched legal cases against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic for “defaulting on their legal obligations” by refusing to comply with the EU’s refugee quotas (i.e., accept migrants), on Wednesday the three Central European nations suffered another blow after Brussels mounted a legal fightback to force them to comply with EU refugee quotas. The top European Union court’s adviser dismissed a challenge brought by Slovakia and Hungary against the obligatory relocation of refugees across the bloc, as it prepared to sign-off legal suits against the holdout countries.
The two states, backed by Poland, wanted the court to annul a 2015 EU scheme to have each member state host a number of refugees to help ease pressure on Greece and Italy, struggling with mass arrivals across the Mediterranean. Supported by Germany, Italy and Brussels, the EU’s ‘relocation’ law has become one of the bloc’s most divisive recent policy initiatives, forced through over the objections of states from eastern and central Europe.
The euroskeptic governments in Warsaw and Budapest have refused to take in a single asylum-seeker under the plan (which may explain the lack of terrorist events on their home soil). Slovakia and the Czech Republic have also stalled, citing security concerns after a raft of Islamist attacks in the EU in recent years. Quoted by the FT, the EU’s migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said he regretted the decision of the three member states ‘not to show solidarity and to ignore our repeated calls to participate in this common effort’ adding that none of the responses from Budapest, Warsaw or Prague to the commission ‘justified that they do not implement the relocation decision’.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 27, 2017.

Germany Warns Its Citizens: They Risk Arrest If Traveling To Turkey

Escalation of the diplomatic row between Berlin and Ankara ended in a clear message. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel warned German citizens that they risk arrest if they travel to Turkey.
As KeepTalkingGreece.com reports, the German government on Friday warned citizens travelling to Turkey that they are at risk of arrest.
Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany had revised its travel advice in the wake of the recent arrests of several human rights activists, including German national Peter Steudtner.
Steudtner ‘was no Turkey expert – he never wrote about Turkey, he had no contacts in the political establishment … and never appeared as a critic,’ Gabriel told reporters.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 20, 2017.

Greek President Blasts Erdogan After Turkish Harassment: “Provocations Are Sign Of Weakness, Come & Get It!”

KeepTalkingGreece.com reports that Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos sent a sharp worded message to his Turkish counter Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following a series of provocations accompanying his tour to the islands of the eastern Aegean Sea.
‘The brave do not provoke,’ President Pavlopoulos told Greek soldiers safeguarding the remote island of Ai Stratis. ‘Provocations, especially provocations without a reason, are characteristic signs of weakness and insecurity.’
‘What history and our ancestors taught us is ‘Molon Labe’, Pavlopoulos added citing the famous quote of Spartan King Leonidas I.
Molon labe (Greek: ????? ???? mol?n lav), meaning ‘come and take [them]’, is a classical expression of defiance. According to Plutarch, Xerxes, king of Persia, demanded that the Spartans surrender their weapons and King Leonidas I responded with this phrase.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 20, 2017.

Europe’s Migrant Crisis: Views From Central Europe

Authored by Soeren Kern via The Gatestone Institute,
Many so-called asylum seekers have refused to relocate to Central and Eastern Europe because the financial benefits there are not as generous as in France, Germany or Scandinavia. In addition, hundreds of migrants who have been relocated to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which rank among the poorest EU countries, have since fled to Germany and other wealthier countries in the bloc. “It needs to be said clearly and directly: This is an attack on Europe, on our culture, on our traditions.” – Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szyd?o. “I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. That is a historical experience for us.” – Viktor Orbn, Prime Minister of Hungary, referring to Hungary’s occupation by the Ottoman Empire from 1541 to 1699. The European Union has initiated legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland for failing to comply with a controversial order to take in thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The so-called infringement procedure, which authorizes the European Commission, the powerful executive arm of the European Union, to sue member states that are considered to be in breach of their obligations under EU law, could lead to massive financial penalties.
The dispute dates back to September 2015, when, at the height of Europe’s migration crisis, EU member states narrowly voted to relocate 120,000 “refugees” from Italy and Greece to other parts of the bloc. This number was in addition to a July 2015 plan to redistribute 40,000 migrants from Italy and Greece.
Of the 160,000 migrants to be “shared,” nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe were ordered to take in around 15,000 migrants. Although the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia voted against the agreement, they were still required to comply.
Since then, several Central European EU member states have vehemently refused to accept their assigned quotas of migrants. Poland, for example, has a quota of 6,182 migrants, not one of whom has been admitted. The Czech Republic has a quota of 2,691 migrants, of whom only 12 have been taken. Hungary has a quota of 1,294, none of whom have been admitted.
In the EU as a whole, so far only around 20,000 migrants have been relocated (6,896 from Italy and 13,973 from Greece), according to the EU’s latest relocation and resettlement report, published on June 13, 2017. Of the 28 EU member states, only Malta has taken in its full quota – 131 migrants.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 4, 2017.

The single-most important requirement of any Plan B –

It’s really easy to love Italy. The food. The scenery. The weather. The art and architectural splendor. The welcoming culture.
Then there’s the history, which is one of my favorite aspects of this country.
In the 5,000-year record of our civilization, Italy was the world’s dominant superpower not once, but twice.
The first time was in ancient Rome, an empire that grew from humble beginnings to rank among the greatest ever known.
Before Rome, it was the Greeks who ruled the known world. And Rome’s meteoric rise to power coincided with the Greek’s own terminal decline.
The Greeks knew it was happening, too. They could see it. Greek historian Polybius, who lived in Rome and witnessed its rapid growth in the 2nd century BC, wrote,
‘Who is so worthless or indolent as to not wish to understand by what means and under what system of polity the Romans, in less than 53 years, have succeeded in subjecting the whole inhabited world to their sole government – a thing unique in history?’
The second time Italy was the world’s dominant superpower was during the very early Renaissance period, more than eight centuries ago in the northern city-states – Venice, Florence, etc.
While the rest of Europe was a plague-infested feudal backwater, Italy was thriving, prosperous, and free.

This post was published at Sovereign Man on June 28, 2017.

Greece: A Drug-Smuggling Case With Global Implications

Authored by Maria Polizoidou via The Gatestone Institute,
If even the partial information that Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis revealed during the interviews is true, the upper echelons of Greek society have good reason to want to silence him. The true culprit, however, is the “deep state” and its links to Iran, through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist and other questionable organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe. The possible direct and indirect involvement of figures at the highest levels of Greek society makes it nearly impossible for the government alone to get to the bottom of the case, and protect key witnesses from bodily harm. It needs help now, preferably from the U. S. Justice Department and security agencies. The complete dismantling of the drug-terrorism circuit is not only a pressing issue for Greece. It is an international security imperative. New details surrounding a three-year-old drug-smuggling case in Greece are causing a political storm that could have global implications.
In June 2014, the Greek Coast Guard uncovered and seized 986 kilograms of heroin stashed in a warehouse in a suburb of Athens, and another 1,133 kilograms in two other locations, claiming that the more than two tons of drugs — valued at $30 million — had been smuggled on a tanker, the “Noor 1,” from the “territorial waters between Oman and Pakistan.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 27, 2017.

Did Europe Surrender To Radical Islam?

In spite of three attacks in three months, Britain does not seem to be choosing the path of vigilance and determination. June is not even over but the media barely talk about terrorism any more. Then, in the early hours of June 19, a man who acted alone drove a van into a crowd of Muslims leaving Finsbury Park Mosque in London: the main “threat” to the British right now was soon presented in several newspapers as “Islamophobia”. Decolonization added the idea that the Europeans had oppressed other peoples and were guilty of crimes they now had to redeem. There was no mention of how, throughout history, recruits to Islam had colonized the great Christian Byzantine Empire, Greece, Sicily, Corsica, North Africa and the Middle East, most of the Balkans and eastern Europe, Hungary, northern Cyprus and Spain. While most jihadist movements were banned by the British government, more discreet organizations have emerged and demurely sent the same message. The Islamic Forum for Europe, for example, depicts itself as “peaceful”, but many of those it invites to speak are anything but that. The Islamic Human Rights Commission uses the language of defending human rights to disseminate violent statements against the Jews and the West. London, June 5, 2017. A minute of silence is held at Potters Field Park, next to the City Hall, to pay tribute to the victims of the London Bridge jihadist attack three days before. Those who came have brought flowers, candles and signs bearing the usual words: “unity”, “peace” and “love”. Faces are sad but no trace of anger is visible. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, gives a speech emphasizing against all evidence that the killers’ ideas have nothing to do with Islam.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 26, 2017.