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Archive for the ‘European politics’ Category

EntenteElyseeSarkozyGaddafiAssad

The backdrop of the policy for Libya and Syria by European Union and associated NATO countries is always painted with oil. (1) British/Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, French Total,  CNPC from China and ONGC of India are main investors in Syrian crude oil and gas. (2)

 

His Excellency President Al-Assad described his talks with President Sarkozy as ‘very successful”, ‘constructive” ”transparent” and as ”bolstering the confidence built between Syria and France”, ”dealing with many international as well as regional issues, bilateral relations, the Iranian nuclear file, the recent positive developments in Lebanon, particularly following the formation of the Lebanese Government, which we expect to be an important step for the stability in Lebanon.” (…) ”The talks, further, dealt with the situation in Gaza from a human perspective; I asked President Sarkozy to interfere as to stop the daily killing of the Palestinians by the Israel Army,” said H.E. President Al-Assad citing today’s killing of a Palestinian citizen.

 “… discovery of treasure, a huge oil and gas in the basin of the Mediterranean is estimated reserves to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 107 billion barrels of oil.”

SYRIAN OIL AND GAS NEWS: Announcement for International Offshore Bid Round 2011 Category: Oil Ministry Decisions & Declarations | Posted on: 30-03-2011 The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources and General Petroleum Corporation (GPC) invite international petroleum companies for an International Bid Round to explore, develop and produce petroleum from three offshore blocks in some areas of the territorial waters and the exclusive economic zone of the Syrian Arab Republic in the Mediterranean Sea according to the production sharing contract.The announcment contains three marine areas ( block I, block II, blockIII) with covarage area estemated by 3000 cubic kilometers per one block. the annoncement date starts in 24/3/2011 for six monthes and closed on 5/10/2011.The modern American studies recently confirmed the discovery of treasure, a huge oil and gas in the basin of the Mediterranean is estimated reserves to 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 107 billion barrels of oil. (4)

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(1) oilprice.com 14/4/2011: “Oil Production Figures in Areas of Unrest (Middle East & North Africa)”

(2) royaldutrchshellplc.com 3/12/2011: “E.U. sanctions force Shell to leave Syria.”

(3) www.presidentassad.net: Presidents Al-Assad/ Frnace visit statements (13/11/2009)

(4)  Syrian Oil and Gas News; 8/2/2010:International announcement for developing 7 oil field in Arraqah

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"Hotline MOE-landers (middle and East Europeans (...) leave your story here" click picture for full size. For rough translation of the PVV text in this picture see further on in this article.

A ‘détournement‘ for the latest campaign of PVV/Wilders group targeting Middle & East European workers… what I see when I check out the Complain Web Site of the PVV.

The word ‘MOE-Landers’ is a post Cold War invention, before there was  the monolithic term  ‘Oostblok (East-block from the East germany/DDR all the way to Vladivostok in Siberia ). MOE is an ‘acronym’ of Midden Oost Europees (Middle East European), which is then glued to the word ‘lander’ (someone from a certain land or country).

The word ‘MOE’ in Dutch means being tired. This is an interesting association as the MOE-landers may be coming to the Netherlands because the Ducth lower paid classes are tired (moe) of working for too low wages and in too bad circumstances. The Dutch entrepeneurs are of course the last to complain about willing Middle-East-Europe employees.

Wilders and his PVV movement specialise in using generalised ‘statistic group names  for humans’ as a basis for their pointing-a-finger-to-others politics. It is not just those belonging to a religious entity like Islam that are targeted by the PVV. The party of Wilders also points to other groupings of people, often groups that have been defined as a specific statistical category by the State Statistical Bureau (CBS). Autochtoon (Old-Greek: αὐτος; autos = “self” and χθων chthoon = “land/earth”)  and Allochtoon (ἄλλος (allos) = other; + land/earth) are important ‘catchwords’ to be found in the ‘policy nets’ of the PVV. ‘Native’ and ‘alien’ to use other dividing terms, or simply ‘us and them’.

The above ethnic scheme is taken from Wikipedia and I found this comment of an expat in the Netherlands web blog DutchDirt, on the social labelling tradition in the Netherlands: "Why do the Dutch continually focus on this condescending word? What is 100% allochtoon anyway? Did they forget the history of the Netherlands and who their ancestors are? Even the Royal Family are Allochtonen… Anyway to me the whole allochtoon situation is totally absurd and ridiculous. They have in general not yet been able to realize that this whole ‘putting people in boxes’ system is what is causing a lot of social issues and friction. The word has been abused and consequently a negative connotation has stuck. Alas, as it seems it is a cultural thing to give people labels. So maybe we haven’t come that far from apartheid (literal translation = being different) either, oh yeah that’s also a Dutch word." (the author makes only one mistake in the origin and connotations for the word 'Apartheid': it is a Dutch language word originating from the Afrikaans/Dutch spoken in South Africa. The Dutch word 'apart' comes from the French (à part) and is used in three ways: separate in space, separate in circumstances, and extraordinary; 'heid' means 'state of being' (apart))

Sub-categories – all neatly defined by the Dutch State Statistic Bureau – are singled out by PVV strategists for their populist campaigns, like the seemingly geographic notion of ‘Niet Westerse Allochtoon’ (non Western Allochtones). NWAers would be an acronym for this group, proposed to us as a non-adaptive foreign element in the mythically national entity of ‘echte Nederlanders’ (real Netherlanders) originating from ‘non Western countries. The last thing is historically and geographically such an absurd notion that it will take a separate article (in the making) to explain it in maps. For the rest I need not detail here the fact that all nations exist only by the grace of migration. The ethnographer searching for a real aboriginal Dutch will have a hard time finding one.

This map (by me tj.) does NOT appear on the web site of the State Statistical Bureau of the Netherlands, but is construed from the textual information they give. I made it to understand what this idiot term 'Niet Westerse Allochtoon' means. Just before the elections in the year 2010, the PVV financed a study by consultancy bureau NYFER, that managed to construct a demagogical interpretation of the social costs of migration (benefits were not mentioned) focussing on the statistical category of Non Western Allochtones (NWA), claiming this group "costs Dutch society 7,2 milliard Euros a year." These 'statistical lies' were cleverly launched just before people went to the ballots.(*) As the financial crisis had been a part of all television debates between the candidates, who had to explain how they would cut in state budgets and who would suffer from that, and the magic number was 15 milliard, Wilders put forward triumphal how he would solve the 'crisis', by getting rid of NAW citizens. The NYFER report (**) of Wilders failed to be sufficiently discredited (in time) by trade unions, academics, other political parties and so on. (***) It brought Wilders to power with 24 seats in parliament (before he had 9 seats) and the extra-governmental position of power to deliver a majority to a minority cabinet of VVD (liberals) and CDA (Christian centrists).

The singling out of MOE-landers as a target is not a new PVV policy. It fits in their long term structural policy of ‘the Netherlands for the Netherlanders’ (Nederland voor de Nederlanders). The definition of what a real Netherlander is – according to the PVV – remains kind of vague. I do not see a ‘jus sanguinis‘ (the fact of being born in a country) approach by the PVV as a basis for citizenship, as Dutch citizenship is something in their opinion that can be taken away from first, second – who knows where it ends – generations of migrants, that have committed a crime. “Send them back to their homeland” is the adage, while – crime or not – these are Dutch citizen born and educated in this country.

Middle and East Europeans in the Netherlands: (blue) not registered employee in the GBA (Gemeentelijke Basis Administratie Persoonsgegevens/Municipal Basic Administration of Persons Information); (brown) idem registered. Source CBS . Click image to go the CBS web page.

It is certainly not only the PVV who is campaigning against former East-blockers, East-Europeans or MOE-landers. The Liberal Party for Freedom (VVD) – the main power in government now – is in fact the main motor behind the PVV action against MOE-landers. The VVD minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Henk Kamp, proposed already a year ago to expel unemployed Polish workers, not withstanding European accords on free movement of employees. The number of problem cases of such economic migrants, as suggested by the minister last year, have been criticised and relativized by informed sources and members of parliament, accusing the minister of a party-politic election show over the backs of EU migrant workers.

What we see is an orchestrated campaign whereby the PVV takes an extremist  stand by actions like the call to complain on a web site about MOE-landers (anonymous and without check on double entries if wanted), while the VVD plays it more subtle and indirect. Minister Kamp has a personal campaign, often televised by the NOS television or the State Information Service (RVD), whereby he draws his double sided sword: threatening to scrap the welfare benefit of Dutch unemployed workers, if they refuse to do the jobs now done by the MOE-landers and at the same time move MOE-landers out of their Dutch jobs. Jobs often in the greenhouses of the agrarian export sector. Double sided sword, double side profit, especially for the state, who can earn a few milliards of Euros on this move.

Minister Henk Kamp (VVD) of Social Welfare and Employment in a video during a working visit to horticulture firms in the Noord-Oost Polder, filmed by the Dutch State Information Service (RVD), later broadcasted without mentioning its original source by the NOS tv news: "..if you can work and there is work, than you must work." Click picture to go to the RVD information page of this work visit. Kamp (his name means 'camp' in English) speaks about the number of unemployed Dutch workers in the 'polder region', being the same as the number of MOE-lander workers employed there the horticulture . The horticulture entrepeneur explains on camera that these MOE-landers can be called to work on short notice and even for short time contracts only, whereas the Dutch looking for employment in the region are looking for an all around year job. Nobody seems to know the historically speaking distressing association that the Noord-Oost Polder (new land on what once was an inner sea) has consumed a lot of real 'forced labour' when it was laid bare and made into farmland during World War II, including arrested Jewish men that had some (ill-fated) hope to survive here.

The agrarian sector itself certainly does not embrace this proposal for a number of reasons: refusal or incapacity of the “real Dutch” unemployed to do this kind of work, because of what is not said in the VVD minister’s campaign, the not so brilliant economic and social conditions offered to workers employed in EU competitive factory greenhouses and the fact that many jobs a only for a short time. The horticulture industry thrives on EU seasonal migrant workers.

The media performance of VVD and PVV is perfectly orchestrated these days, with Geert Wilders being attacked for his discriminatory MOE-landers campaign while Henk Kamp appears on television giving him indirect support by saying that it is up to any parliament fractions to take on measures and do researches they deem necessary. What is ‘discrimination’ for one, is ‘freedom of expression’ for another, according to Minister Henk Kamp, being asked about his opinion on the complaint against the anti-MOE-lander campaign by the Polish ambassador to the Netherlands.

The text below is a GoogleTranslation of  the PVV new anti-MOE-lander campaign web site on February the 9th 2012 (it is an automatic translation of PVV prose, that is as much as I am willing to do about rendering PVV Dutch in some kind of English, it is enough to get the gist of it):

“Reporting Central and Eastern Europeans

 Since May 1, 2007 there is free movement of workers between the Netherlands and eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) countries. At present the estimates to the number of people from these countries, which resides in the Netherlands, apart from 200,000 to 350,000 people. As one of the few parties, the Freedom Party from the beginning against the opening of the labor market to Poland and other CEE nationals. Given all the problems associated with the massive arrival of especially Poland, is that attitude materialized. Recently, the PVV whatsoever against further opening of the labor market for Romanians and Bulgarians voted.

 This massive labor migration leads to many problems, nuisance, pollution, displacement and integration in the labor and housing problems. For many people, these things a serious problem. Complaints are often not reported, because the idea that nothing is done.

 Do you have trouble of CEE nationals? Or have you lost your job on a Pole, Bulgarian, Romanian or other Central or Eastern European? We would like to hear. The Freedom Party has a platform on this website to your symptoms to report. These complaints, we will identify and offer the results to the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment.

 Submit your story here”

Original Dutch web site for complaint hot-line by the PVV is here: http://www.meldpuntmiddenenoosteuropeanen.nl/

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EPILOGUE

… in Dutch by farmer Merijntje produced by a farmers son, Rinus van Wezel, a 8 minute discourse with birds singing in the background with the title:”Minister Kamp sends forced labourers to the horticulture”

A long and well argued call to the minister that “forced labour tomato picking will be a disastrous undertaking”; Merijntje describes what will happen with strawberry harvesting by workers that are forced and try to evade it in all kind of creative ways. In all detail farmer Merijntje sketches the fanatic posture of  VVD minister Kamp in his zealous campaign to have Dutch workers to pick Dutch fruits and the consequences it will have for those law abiding farmers like him. “Just imagine”, he says lifting his arms in the sky, “government falls because of strawberry picking.” The horticulture entrepreneur also knows his classics on prudent politics when he uses the metaphor of the need for the Minister to stop being a hardliner to become “bendable… in the wind, bendable like the reed.” The European Union reality is better understood by farmer Merijntje, than Minister Kamp, when he comes to the plight of all those Bulgarian and Rumanian workers that are employed as season helps by him, already for years, and he recalls the expectation they have to earn something once in a while in the Netherlands. Think about their families, their situation at home often without work.The contrast between the PVV and VVD campaigns and this video discourse from the other side of the field is enormous. Recently similar reasoning by other employers of MOE-landers could be heard in the Dutch media.

Still the low level of payment (I doubt if the Collective Payment Agreements (CAO) by the trade unions for this sector of industry is always applied), the meagre working conditions and the social impact of  this new kind of EU seasonal migration work, must not be forgotten. We also need to get a better understanding of horticulture market prices, European and international competition, economic risks and profits that are or could be made, to be able to better judge the claims that no other employment schemes – as the one we see now – can be deployed.

Having looked at the case at hand of the public discrimination of “MOE-landers”, it seems to be such an anachronism with high overtones of xenophobia and authoritarian control of the labour market. A minister of employment accusing – underneath well formulated lines – ‘profiteering lazy bones’ that do not want to work for a living, threatening them with good beating by cutting their social welfare. Anachronism also of  a ‘liberal’ and ‘free market’ propagating VVD party, that  switches for electoral reasons to a social poker game. A game that supports a statistical based discrimination of EU citizens. Political liberals that have switched to protectionism and support for outmoded forms of  fear and hate of foreigners. Does the VVD of today still fits their own image of a liberal and somewhat progressive party? Are VVD and PVV by now not two faces of the same Janus head?

(*) Below the PVV web page on the NYFER report.

"10 YEARS IMMIGRATION COSTS 72 MILLIARD EUROS" This web page, dated May 19th. 2010, neatly documents how main stream media have amplified this instance of semi-academic statistical lies: Elsevier Weekly; free newspater De Pers; De Telegraaf a big right from the middle newspaper; RTL television news; NOS Journal (state television news, though they like to see themselves to be independent). Click picture to go to the PVV web page with all these links (all in Dutch).

(**) Het NYFER report has  a much more blank title as the rendering of its content in the words of Geert Wilders: “Budgettaire effecten van immigratie van niet-westerse allochtonen.” (Budget effects of immigration of non-western-allochtones)

(***) There were of course many reacting who did not get sufficient platform for their criticism to have an impact on the elections in February 2010. I just give here a link to one example by a young trade unionist Vicent Bontrop: “Wilders en het NYFER rapport.”

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EUROPEAN FOOTBALL STADIUM BAN FOR HOOLIGANS… Ahmed Aboutaleb major of the City of Rotterdam rejoices today the European Parliament initiative for an European level implementation of banning locally convicted football hooligans from all EU stadiums.  (1) This law initiative has been long in the making. An earlier document  by the Council of the European Union “Resolution of the Council on preventing and restraining football hooliganism through the exchange of experience, exclusion from stadiums and media policy” dates back to the year 1997:

The responsible Ministers invite their national sports associations to examine, in accordance with national law, how stadium exclusions imposed under civil law could also apply to football matches in a European context.

However much I dislike football hooligans this is a juridical precedent which will have far reaching negative consequences for civil rights in general. Not only does it create yet another centrally managed person database that can be accessed by all EU police forces (like data on persons DNA, illegal migrants and so on) it is a further step in constructing a ‘central EU police force’ with all its inherent dangers. Such an EU-wide anti-hooligan law also means multiplied condemnation – for a big part of the European continent – on the basis of a local conviction.

Together with actual proposals (in the Netherlands) for ‘whole sale mass arrests’,  not only hooligan “leaders”, but also of their “followers” (‘meeloophooligens’ is the Dutch term), we can be certain that such an extra-national banning and black-listing power, will be abused in ways beyond our imagination. Once such a law and its enforcement has been put into effect, other ‘social distinct groups’ whose behaviour is classified as unruly can get the same routine treatment in the future. The Council of Europe document of 1997 cited above speaks of “preventing and containing of disorder”, so one need not to be surprised when other forms of  “disorder” will be handled in the long run in the same way. For instance, when we take in account the frequent attempts by politicians – defending employers interest – to criminalise strike actions, trade union activists could be databased and blacklisted with the same ‘anti-hooligan routine’.

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(1) It is interesting to note that the ‘hooligan-ban’ proposals in the European Parliament plenary session of  February 2. 2012, was part of a bundle of all kind of measures related to sport listed in this order: – Promote sport for girls; – Blacklist hooligans; – Make doping a criminal offence; – Regulate sport agents; -Combine learning and training. The resolution – thus packaged – has been passed with 550 votes in favour, 73 against and 7 abstentions. In the section of hooligans is also this sentence: “MEPs also call on Member States and sports governing bodies to commit to tackling homophobia and racism against athletes.” Something problematic in the sense of ‘civil rights’ has been hidden inside a package of mostly emancipatory proposals.

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Daniel Cohn Bendit is an old style orator who loves to be on stage and debate, from the university back rooms of Nanterre in the mid sixties as a ‘young European anarchist’ and explicit anti-parlementarist, to the the front room of the European parliament in Strasbourg and Bruxelles as an elected deputé of the Green Party. Yesterday I saw on French television TV5 a snippet of his discourse against Viktor Orban, Hungarian President, comparing Orban’s position with that of Chavez and Fidel Castro.

To me his way of arguing on television  seemed to be a fallacy, as Orban is a member of a neo-liberal right wing party – Fidesz – that came to the fore because of its fierce anti-communism.

When I tried to find a more complete registration of that yesterday debate, I failed to do so, but I did stumble upon a similar oration of Cohn Bendit versus Orban exactly one year ago on January 19. 2011.

Here Cohn Bendit’s discourse is less crude and more to the point when he attacks the new press laws of Hungary, which lets a (Fidesz) committee decide on the objectivity and balance of news reporting. State censorship in short in the name of “balanced information” (l’information équilibrée). It is the European Parliament meeting where the EEC presidency of Hungary for that year is inaugurated.

“L’information équilibrée n’existe pas” (balanced information does not exist) declaimed the Green tribune, facing and pointing to Hungarian President Orban and sums – apostrophic and repetitive in the form of rhetorical questions – cases from history where state authority has been challenged by news media: from the Watergate scandal of burglary in the offices of the Democratic Party under Nixon to the Abu Ghraib prison abuse under George Bush.

“L’information doit déranger la politique..” (information must derange politics). With a grim face and fierce gestures Cohn Bendit finishes his display of exemplum by adding after a short pause  “et ça fait mal quelquefois: (sometimes that hurts).

Cohn Bendit is fully equipped to propose this dictum, as he has been fiercely attacked personally several times in his life – often unjustly – by news media that had to fear no state control in his favour. From the right wing news papers in 1968 calling him “un juif allemand” (a German Jew) (*) to the more recent attacks on him linking his sexual mores of  the sixties and seventies to pedophilia (**).

When one sees this Youtube version of the Cohn Bendit debate in the European Parliament not embedded here but on the Youtube page, scandalous racist hate viewer comments are on public display, as well as the moderate and supportive ones. All this seems ‘unmoderated’. This is not “information équilibré” and one must have a harnessed soul to read many of the comments. The relative anonymity  of the internet produces such reactions and its is up to any internet community to keep excesses under control.

We remain with the question whether the dictum ‘information must derange politics’ should also be applied to the public realm of digital social media.


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(*) 2 mai 1968 extreme right wing journal Minute writes: “Ce Cohn-Bendit, parce qu’il est juif et allemand, se prend pour un nouveau Karl Marx.” (this Cohn benit, because he is a jew and a German, takes himself for a new Karl Marx)
(**)   “German MEP open about his paedophilia” is just one of the many descriptions (British Democracy Forum) of the belated reactions to a passage in his book “Le Grand Bazar” published in the year 1975 in which sexual tinted activities between him and some children are described. It took 26 years before a political opponent (German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel of the FDP/Free Democratic Party) grabbed the opportunity to confront Cohn Bendit with his escapades in the early seventies of last century. In January 2001 Cohn Bendit answered by way of an interview in The Observer: “I admit that what I wrote is unacceptable nowadays.”

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…while the list of Libyan war criminals by  the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno-Ocampo keeps dwindling and until now only three suspects are mentioned by name: Muammar Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Gaddafi’s brother in law Abdullah Senussi. The deserted former head of the Libyan Secret Service and last Minister of Foreign Affairs Moussa Koussa (also spelled in the Western press as Musa Kusa), part of the regime till a few weeks ago, when he crossed the border of Tunis and was welcomed as a valuable informer for NATO in Great Britain, seems not to be on the list of the International Criminal Court. We now have a whole score of pro-active regime members who are defecting by telephone. This tactics seem to be much more effective than throwing big bombs from speedy airplanes onto buildings that are either empty or inhabited by people who were are the wrong place at the wrong moment. What to think about the British Chief of the Defence Staff General David Richards who called last Sunday for “widening targets in Libya”  as NATO tries all it can to keep Gaddafi from being caught alive and being brought for the International Criminal Court in The Hague. All of this is also a show of force to help topple the tank based Assad family from power in Syria, in the near future. Political leaders must by now have received the message of the international legal community, that only in China it is allowed to use tanks against demonstrators. Both politics and justice in Africa and the Middle East seem to be in the hands of  NATO generals, they take the initiative while parliaments have lost all control over this theatre of war. Happily the International Criminal Court in The Hague – that has no own police force to arrest indicted war criminals – still has a telephone line, to prove things can be done differently. Or, one musty believe that the members of Gaddafi’s claque and clique needed some bombs to rain next to their front doors before they would call The Hague, as if the downfall of the Gaddafi reign had not been imminent for many months already, without NATO airplanes. Why diplomatic forms of subversion have failed to be used to oust the regime of Gaddafi? Who does the body count in Libya irrespective on which side death occurs? Who are those Libyan army soldiers that are legitimate targets now?  I read the army consists of 25.000 volunteers and 25.000 conscripts and that their equipment is rather outdated. So what chance they have against the ultra up to date NATO forces? NATO does not have smart bombs that can decide who to kill and who not, bombs that can distinguish between a conscript, a volunteer, a Gaddafi guard or an insurgent. Too many unanswered questions. I have always had a suspicion when ‘civilians’ are protected and soldiers are open for lawful slaughter. We need to widen our vision on such conflicts and develop new tactics for more peaceful methods of transition of power.

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It is not my habit to make just a quick simple link to another blog, but just now I saw such a a nice example of  anthromorph mapping that I just put the picture here with a a link to the full caption on the most appreciated blog “Strange Maps” (the Netherlands on the top of the hat and Italy as the boot with a heel).

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