Framing the World, number XIII
We’re back, and even heat can stop us! After we updated our website, postponing for a week the issue of this edition, Framing the World is back, and it contains news about the events occurred in the latest three weeks. The first half of 2019 already passed, so it’s time to weighing things up, especially in economics. In this field, the latest recorded data are globally satisfying, but things might change.
In this number we carefully presented the SeaWatch case, as it caught people’s attention in Italy, and the G20 Summit in Osaka, during which some important deals have been found (see Asia and Far East section).
Concerning Africa, the coup attempt in Ethiopia, the double suicide blasts occurred in Tunis and the dominating violence in Mali and Nigeria come as the symptoms of persisting instability; while regarding South America, it is due to mention Haiti’s critical situation, the ongoing migration from Venezuela, and the important agreement with the EU.
Finally, we jump to the International Organisations, focusing on Russia’s return to the Council of Europe, after its estrangement dating back to 2014. Also, this last section includes news about the UN attempt to reduce tension between Iran and the US, and the latest changes of the European Commission.
China, prisoners killed and subject to forced organ harvesting. According to an informal tribunal settled in London, several prisoners of conscience in China keep being killed and subjected to forced organ harvesting. Among the victims, there are some Falun Gong practitioners, who were captured because the mentioned Chinese spiritual practice is illegal, as the Communist Party considers it a threat.
In 2006 investigations had already revealed that often prisoners of conscience in China are victims of several abuses perpetrated by the Chinese authorities, including illegal arrest and detention, forced labour, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, and forced organ harvesting.
“Climate Apartheid”, an ever closer reality. The UN Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston, denounced that million people will be forced to flee their countries by 2100 because of climate change. In fact, according to a UN Report, global warming will provoke a serious famine, urging people to migrate in order to survive. The only way to avoid “Climate Apartheid” or at least, to limit its damages is to undertake sustainable environmental policies in order to stop climate change, if possible.
Italy, single parents allowed to adopt children with no age limit. The Supreme Court issued a revolutionary sentence establishing that the main requirement to take into consideration is the wellbeing of the child. In fact, according the Supreme Court decision, the marital status of the applicant will be no longer relevant, just as the difference in age between him and the child (the current law provides that it can’t exceed 45 years), but just the primary interest of the child must be preserved.
In particular, the sentence is related to the specific case of a 62-year-old single woman who had adopted a 7 year-old child suffering from spastic tetraparesis. The child had been abandoned by his parents when he was born, and when they asked for the waiver of foster care obtained by the woman, the Supreme Court rejected their appeal declaring that – although the woman was single and middle-aged – would have better took care of the child.
Thanks to this sentence, single parents – even the middle aged ones – will be allowed to adopt children, also in Italy.
Italy, the Sea Watch 3 case. After 17 days spent at sea, on June 28 the vessel Sea Watch 3 – flying Dutch flag- disembarked at the port of Lampedusa, once it broke the naval blockade imposed by the Tax Agency. In fact the captain of the ship, Carola Rackete, a German 30-year-old woman, decided to dare the measures imposed by the Italian Government, as provided by the Security Decree 2 – the UN declared that it violates international law on human rights – and she entered in the port of Lampedusa, in order to make 42 migrants to land. The captain of the ship took this decision after that the Italian Government repeatedly refused to take responsibility for the people on board, whose state of health was ever worse.
When the European Court of Human Rights rejected Sea Watch appeal, in order to urge Italy to allow the disembark of all migrants on board (AS, according to the Court, there weren’t “Emergency conditions to accept the appeal”) Carola Rackete decided to get in the port of Lampedusa. The captain of the Sea Watch 3 was first arrested and she spent a while under house arrest on charges of having violated the naval blockade rules and assisting illegal immigration. However Agrigento prosecutor, Alessandra Vella didn’t validate Rackete’s arrest, and her warrant excluded the felony charge for resistance and violence as a warship; also, the prosecutor retained that the crime of resisting a public official was justified as Carola Rackete acted in order to save human lives at sea. Therefore the prefecture of Agrigento approved an expulsion measure from the national territory, and ordered to escort her to the frontier; however the district attorney of Agrigento didn’t validate these last measures. Today Carola Rackete is free, and she has to wait until 9th of July to be questioned, as she is still charged for assisting illegal migration.
Italy, the Mediterranea rescue ship follows the footsteps of the Sea Watch 3. Few days after the Sea Watch 3 case, the ship Alex from Mediterranea Saving Humans, with 54 migrants on board, broke the Italian naval blockade, and reached the port of Lampedusa. The passengers’ state of health was seriously poor: the migrants on board hadn’t eat or sleep for days, their boat was overcrowded and they spent long time in the hot sun, having only 18 m space. At first reaching Malta seemed to be possible, but the ship was too far, and neither the crew nor the passengers would have been able to face 11 hours at sea to arrive to the port of Valletta, and the weather was worsening. Therefore the Mediterranea ship asked Malta to send a naval unit and take the 54 migrants who were on board, but Malta didn’t become available. What’s more, when the Italian government contacted Malta, this last responded that it would have welcomed the 54 migrants on board Alex ship only if Italy had took responsibility for 55 other migrants, who are currently in Malta. On this stationary background, the captain of the ship, Tommaso Stella acted: he got the migrants and his crew to safety in the port of Lampedusa. The district attorney charged Stella for assisting illegal immigration, and the Alex ship from Mediterranea has been confiscated by the financial police.
Kyrgyzstan, no more statelessness. In just 5 years, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan gave citizenship to all stateless people present in the country. Statelessness affects more than one million people in the world, whose fundamental right to nationality is not granted, just as all rights linked to it. According to the UN Refugee Agency, only in Kyrgyzstan there were more than 13.700 stateless people (more than 2000 of them were children), who lost their citizenship after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The country marked a turning point in the fight against statelessness recognizing their right to citizenship, so that they can now enjoy the same rights as other citizens.
United States, a pregnant woman is charged with the murder of her unborn baby after being shot during a crossfire. In the State of Alabama, a 5 months pregnant woman who lost her baby during a gunshot has been accused of being responsible for her child’s death. The prosecution argued that Marshae Jones would have repeatedly provoked another woman, until this last fired five shots into her belly. Therefore Jones would be responsible for her son’s death; for this reason she’s been charged of ”negligent homicide of an unborn child”, while the woman who shot is free.
This case caught the attention of several associations for women’s right and for the right to abortion, which purposed to legally assist Jones. Alabama is one of thirty eight states where penal codes consider negligent homicide of unborn child as a crime, and in May it adopted a new anti-abortion law.
INTERNATIONAL FINANCE AND ECONOMICS
Trade: contrasts and deals. Optimism dominates Trump’s administration before G-20 in dealing with trade negotiations with China - the Treasury Secretary Munchin declared that 90% of the deal had been already found- didn’t lead to real profits for the US stock exchange which, however, ended their best quarter since 1997, growing of +17%.
During the weeks before the summit, investors’ worries concerned a possible trade war with India. President Trump in fact accused this country for having imposed high tariffs on American products responding to the US choice to exclude India from the list of the countries exempted from American duties. However tensions ended during the summit in Japan, when Trump announced that he found a “great deal” with India and with the same Japan.
Also, the final announce concerning the suspension of new duties against China while searching for a deal, revived Wall Street price lists, which reached their historic highs.
G20, a surprising alliance. After the end of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Saudi Arabia and South Korea announced to have reached an important trade deal worth $8.3 billion. It will let Korea substitute Iranian oil imports with petroleum from Saudi Aramco, Riyadh’s State Oil Company, that will earn $6 Billions. The remaining amount will be defined by the opening of the Saudi market to Korean Companies, as these last will make massive investments in infrastructures, technologic research and in the project “Vison 2030”, with the aim to create an innovation centre placed in a new city, called Neom. For Example Saudi Aramco and Hyundai project to create a new fuel cell motors alimented by hydrogen and take a step forward in the strategy of diversifying their fuels and giving an option to hydrocarbons. It’s Mohammed Bin Salman who started this process, being able to maintain Western approval concerning the overall modernization of the country, and keep it stronger than doubts about the Human Rights condition in Saudi Arabia.
Finance, bad news. Deutsche Bank’s stability is buckling, and the bank seems to not be able to compete with American Financial Colossus and the small and flexible European “boutique advisory firms”; so it is seriously considering to reduce its staff of 20% - that means around 20.000 dismissed employees – and to close its American site, which currently operates in financial markets.
Also, the Financial Times said that 1.6 Million French Government Bonds contained in the “H2O” funds - managed by the French bank “Natixis” - are illiquid, and they come from Companies owned by Lars Windhorst, a German entrepreneur involved in many legal troubles. Once the news spread, a flight of capital began, and in just three days (since last Monday until last Wednesday) 6 out of 20 Billions assets have been retired by the H2O funds.
Natixis reacted by removing “toxic assets”, so that the exposure been reduced to 500 millions. Also he cancelled the management fees - that had been introduced last year, in order to curb the massive influx of money into the funds, once the full capacity was reached – and it seems that it was the right move.
Banks: new sanctions. UBS negotiated with the Internal Revenue Service, which established a sanction for 111.5 million Euros for having not paid taxes on commissions applied on asset management, as all foreign banks must do. The finance police even found instructions, addressed to UBS employees, in order to explain them what precautions had to be taken every time they went to Italy to meet investors.
This event is similar to the Credit Suisse case of 2014 (concerning a tax evasion for 14 billions).
However, this is just the beginning: Public Prosecutor of Milan suspects that 219 more banks are involved in illegal processes. Probably new deals will be found, so hundreds of millions will be added to the amounts paid by Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook.
Investigations have been encouraged by the amendment of Article 2 of L.D. No 167/1990, which allows investors to get information about cross-border money transfers, if they have suspects of illegal activities.
China, popular investments. After it decided to proclaim itself an “Arctic state”, Beijing projected a new Arctic shipping route, in order to find an alternative to the southern route through the Suez canal; in that way, Chinese ships leaving from Shanghai would cover a shorter maritime shipping distance, arriving to Rotterdam 15 days before.
China commissioned Icebreakers for hundreds of million Dollars in order to achieve the up-mentioned objective.
The second move is more worrying, as it provides to control the main extractive areas of Greenland; in particular, China is interested into get zinc, brass, iron, uranium and “Rare Earths”.
In fact, during the past four years, the main mines of the Island passed under Chinese Companies administration; also, following the acquirement of 12.5% of the mine of Kvanefjeld –for 1.3 Billions – China is going to strengthen its control on the production of rare earths, (that’s 90% today), which constitute one of the most important materials used for high-technology products.
Facebook and its new currency. Beginning as early as 2020, a new virtual currency called “Libra” will permit anyone with a smartphone to pay and send money, even without a bank account (there are more than 1.7 Billions). 27 Companies such as Uber, Spotify, Vodafone, MasterCard, Visa and PayPal already joined Calibra, the cartel that will issue this currency. But be careful in comparing it to Bitcoin: in fact, the new currency will be linked to reserves into real and fixed assets, such as State bonds or debentures of Central Banks, and it must be convertible into Euros or Dollars, without extreme movements in exchange. Some technical details concerning the payment system are still missing, but worries are already present: someone says that Libra will be a threat for Developing Countries monetary stability, unbanked people constitute the majority of their population. Those Countries would suffer because of a high “exit flux” from their currencies.
Someone else is worried about a further weakening of States comparing to transnational companies.
Also, it might give rise to possibilities of money laundering, and illegal capitals trafficking.
Cameroon, Switzerland will mediate. On June 72th the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs announced that several parties asked for Switzerland to mediate the negotiations, in order to find a solution to the crisis dominating the English-speaking area of Cameroon. The FDFA also announced that it will be assisted by the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue - an International Organisation based in Geneva- while searching for a pacific and inclusive solution.
Ethiopia, extremely disturbing events. A commando led by the security chief of the Amhara Region perpetrated some terrorist attacks and killed 5 high-ranking people in Ethiopia, few hours later than an attempted coup d’état. The victims are: the President of Amhara Region, his high-level Advisor, the Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff (this last was in his home when he has been attacked by his bodyguard and a General who was visiting him). Currently, the situation seems to be under control, and the heads of government sustain that there are no indicators about any wider project providing to conquer the capital Addis Abeba.
Mauritania, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani has been elected President. Elections have been held on last June 22, and the new-elected President (who was an old Army Chief of Staff) won obtaining 52% of votes. His opponents reacted fast: Biram Ould Dah Ould Abeid, Sidi Mohamed Ould Boubacar, Baba Hamidou Kane and Mohamed Ould Maouloud immediately asked to the Supreme Court to nullify the results, defining these elections as an “electoral coup d’état”.
Also, few days ago (on June ) some news announced that the Prime Minister ordered to arrest tens (or even hundreds) of foreign citizens because they protested against the new President. Ministers from Mali, Senegal and Gambia have been summoned, as the Government thinks that some foreign states are linked to the protests. On Monday 1st July the Constitutional Court confirmed that the victory of President Ghazouani is valid.
Mali, disorder and violence reign. On 17th
of June a new terrorist attack has been perpetrated against two villages of the central area of Mali: Yoro and Gangafani, where Dogon ethnic groups were settled. The dead toll is 41 victims, added to the 35 people killed during the attack of Sobane Da, occurred on 10th of June.A few days later, the Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara talked about some deficiencies of the UN MINUSMA mission and the limited strength of the Joint Force of G5 Sahel; both seem to not be able to preserve peace and security in the region.
In fact the bordering countries of western Africa such as Ivory Coast, Togo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea are seriously worried because some terrorist groups are moving from Central Mali to Burkina Faso, going toward the South. Only few hours after President’s speech, the lieutenant Gen Dennis Gyllensporre announced the creation of a new sector included in the area of MINUSMA competence, that’s the “center” sector, that has been added in order to better face the growing threat.
The inter-ministerial meeting between the EU and the G5 Sahel (Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso) is planned for the next weeks; talks will focus on the activity of the police Forces of the Organisation and their coordination with the military forces.
Niger, Islamic terrorism in the Sahel. The scenario is ever more complex after the attack conducted in I-N-Ates in Niger, at the border with Mali. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated against a military camp of the Nigerian Army. During the attack 16 soldiers died. The area corresponds with the territory where France, Niger and USA conducted the Barkhane operation (led by France) in June. This last is an anti-insurgent operation, active since 2014. The Sahel region caught the attention of the International Community because of the growing inter-communitarian violence, that’s added to the brutality of Islamic terrorist groups, and constitutes a further threat: the ethnic terrorism. Both types of terrorism fuel and exploit each other.
Nigeria, Boko Haram still hits. The news concerns the attack conducted on Monday 16 June, during which 30 people lost their lives, and 40 were wounded. Three men blew themselves up in front of a structure where a football match was being transmitted. It occurred in the city of Konduga, in the Borno State.
Democratic Republic of Congo, a mine falls collapsed. Forecasts aren’t well defined. At first, the dead toll was 19 miners, and then it rose to 39. Today the Congolese Government talks about around 45 victims, but other sources say that 60/80 people died as they were buried beneath the ground. The mine was placed in the Lualaba province, in the South East of the country; that area of RDC is the richest in cobalt. The mine was managed by the Kamoto Copper Company, Glencore International plc and the Gécamines (the State Company).
The Constitutional Court changes its decision. The sentence has been issued by one of the special chambers of the Court. It dates back to June 11th and it imposed to nullify the election of 23 Deputies from the Lamuka opposition coalition, led by Martin Fayulu against Felix Tshisekedi (who has been elected President). Therefore the political situation became highly tense, especially because of the frustration dominating the opposition coalition, once it was defeated.
However, when the Court decided to retire its sentence because of some material errors committed while managing the dossier, angry tempers have been partially calmed. 19 out of 23 excluded deputies have been readmitted.
Sudan, the fighting parts found a transition deal. It’s been four weeks since the relations between TMC and LAC have been suspended because of the repression of civil protests.
However, after Friday 5 July, it seems that the mediation activity undertaken by Ethiopia and the AU produced results. A deal has been found; its details are undefined, but the transition will most likely last for 3 years (as it had been established before the relations between the fighting parts were interrupted); also the deal provides that there will be two alternated ruling periods, maybe 18 months. While waiting for more details, many doubts about the effectiveness of this power-sharing deal and the collaboration between both parts have risen. However the deal marks a step forward, as civilian body is included as authority, and it will handle the transition.
Finally, it’s important to remark the relevant role played by Ethiopia in dealing with the crisis, while the UN special envoy showed serious inabilities to intervene.
Blackout in Argentina... something sounds familiar. The country has been affected by an unprecedented electricity blackout (and it was not the only one, but it also affected Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Brazil). In particular, Argentina’s capital has been heavily affected. The reasons of the event stay unknown, and an investigation has been initiated. The power went out while Argentina was concluding a deal linked to the Trade Agreement between several South American countries and the EU, that’s a historic success treated in the “International Organisations” section of Framing the World.
Brazil, what judge Sérgio Moro intercepted. The arrest of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is a well-known event since long time. The former President was accused of corruption, followed by several Brazilian and South-American entrepreneurs. Sérgio Moro, (who was a judge, and now he is Minister of Justice) is a symbol of the fight against corruption, but he seems to have abused his power in order to arrest former President Lula. In fact the interceptions published by an anonymous source through “The Intercept” seem to show a strong judge Moro’s influence on prosecuting authorities. Also, it is clear that consequences for President Lula were serious: in addition to go to jail, he couldn’t stand for presidential election in 2018.
On June 30 thousands of people gathered in many cities of the country to support the judge accused by newspapers.
Canada, oil pipelines and immigration. At the end of 2019 a new oil pipeline will be created, and it will transfer oil from Edmonton (Alberta) to Vancouver (near the Pacific Ocean coastline). That’s what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced. However the construction of the mentioned pipeline provoked protests from environmentalist groups and native populations currently living along the path where the pipeline will placed.
Meanwhile on the other side of the country, the Eastern Coast, Quebec adopted new immigration laws. According to these last the number of migrants allowed to enter the country will be reduced, and state officials are now forbidden to wear hijab and other specific religious symbols.
Canada is introducing new changes before the October elections; who might be the new PM? Will Justin Trudeau have any chances?
Colombia, 4 million Venezuelans are present in the country. This is the number of Venezuelan migrants who entered Colombia since 2016, according to the United Nations. Most of them crossed the border open by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on June 7; this last had ordered to close the same border last February, in order to prevent the entrance of humanitarian aids provided by the opposition leader Juan Guaidò.
Meanwhile Colombia has to deal with some domestic issues related to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish), and to the fight against organised crime. The latest developments are very promising.
Guatemala, a runoff and the fight against corruption. The first round of the Presidential elections just ended. Sandra Torres, one of the main figures of the centre-left party, has been investigated by the International Commission against Impunity (Comision Internacional contra la Impunidad) -CICIG in Spanish- for illegally financing the elections held in 2007 (won by Tores’ husband, Alvaro Colom) but now she got 25.2% of votes. The runoff between her and Alejandro Giammattei will be held in August. If Giammattei will lose, the CICIG Commission, that’s an institution supported by the United Nations to fight against corruption, might cease to exist.
Honduras, the ongoing student protest. The protest blew up after that two Decrees passed in April. According to doctors and teachers, these last will privatize education and sanitation in the country. The protest has been extended to all sectors as, for example, famers fear the privatization of woods and rivers. Also, politicians and organizations that still remember the re-election of Juan Orlando Hernandez, protest as, according to many, he has been elected thanks to a series of frauds; and Human Rights defenders ask for more rights.
Citizens protest against corruption and the spread of fees for public services. But the crisis got worse when, on June 19, transport operators tied up traffic in the streets of the country and the police were on strike asking for a salary increase. During the strike of the police a sudden increase in crime affected the country, and stores were emptied.
Mexico, control over migrants. Mexican President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador and Donald Trump’s administration found a deal on 7 June 2019. Mexico’s migration policy in ever stricter in exchange for not imposing duties on all Mexican products exported to the US.
Therefore the Mexican Government commits to monitor its Southern border with Guatemala, becoming a safe third country to welcome people who apply for asylum in the US.
The Mexican government immediately used violence to disperse people coming from El Salvador and Honduras, who were at the border with the US.
At the same time, exactly one year after the election of the president, the population shows some first signs of frustration regarding Honduras’ political and economic situation, the high violence rate and the absence of government, especially in the most complicated contexts.
Peru, Venezuela’s crisis affects the country. According to authorities, on 15 June 2019 more than 8.000 Venezuelan migrants entered the country. The following day, 16 June, new measure has been introduced: it establishes to concede a humanitarian visa to Venezuelan migrants intentioned to enter the country. This is the reason of a so high number of people that passed from a country to the other on June 15. Many wonder whether it is the solution to curb migrants fluxes coming from Venezuela; naturally it is an emergency measure.
United States, Africa is not that far. The migration flows to Europe begin to concern the US power (not for the first time). Migrants leave Africa to arrive to Latin America by plane, and then they cross the entire continent and reach Del Rio frontier in Texas. This is the new Afrincan migrant’s journey. Most of them come from Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola, but also the English-speaking Cameroon and other countries where people are persecuted. The access point is Ecuador, where migrants can enter without any visa. From there, migrants cross Guatemala and Mexico to arrive to the United States.
African people escape from rapes, murders, tortures and political persecution; migrant flows from Africa constitute a global phenomenon, as it doesn’t concern only Europe, but America too. Sooner or later even China and Middle East will be interested by migrations from Africa, but how will the problem be managed?
Venezuela, a Navy Captain has been killed. It’s Rafael Acosta Arévalo; he was arrested on June 21 for plotting against Nicolas Maduro’s government, and he’s died on June 29. His body shows evident signs of torture. Few days later, on July 1st UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet asked to the Venezuelan government to initiate an inquiry to impartially investigate Venezuelan Navy Captain’s death. On the same day as Bachelet’s request, Tarek William Saab ordered to arrest two National Guard officials in the framework of the launched investigation.
ASIA AND FAR EAST
China navigates some turbulent waters. China should “cope with affairs calmly” to avoid any unwanted escalation. That’s what Jia Kang said as former researcher at the Chinese Ministry of Finance, referring to the risks ensued by the trade war against the USA. Xi and Abe met at the G20 Summit in Osaka, that was the first state visit conducted by the Chinese President in Japan since 2013, and a further meeting may occur during the year. Then Abe added “I want to open up a new age of China-Japan relations”. Also, it seems that the USA and China have proposed a truce concerning duties and tariffs, and they are planning a further meeting to well define every detail. Furthermore, Sung Kim, the US ambassador in Manila, reminded that “Any armed attack on Filipino vessels, Filipino aircraft will trigger our obligations under the Mutual Defence Treaty”, referring to the suspected involvement of a Chinese vessel in the sinking of a Filipino ship, occurred in disputed waters.
Also, Xi visited North Korea on 20 and 21 June and he met Kim Jong-Un in order to be confirmed as privileged mediator between Korea and the USA.
Finally, concerning the South China Sea, the USA accused the PCR of having tested some anti-ship ballistic missiles in the Spartly Archipelago. Chinese Minister of Defence denied it ever happened.
Referring to finance, during the conference of Abdijan, all Ministers of Finance and Governors of the Central Banks from the CEDEAO countries reunited considered to substitute the CFA franc with a new value linked to the yuan: the Eco.
Japan, the guest of the G20 summit. On June 2018 the Japanese Guard Coast pushed 300 North Korean fishing boats out of Japan’s territorial waters, where they were illegally present. On June 13 the Japanese Minister of Economy and the US Trade Representative undertook to speed up the conclusion of the trade deal between their countries. In the last few days the G20 Summit has been held in Japan and Abe is following a very busy schedule. Bilateral talks with the Heads of State are essential, such as the meeting with Modi, focused on planning a tripartite summit between them and the United States, in order to establish a stronger maritime cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
Among the issues discussed during the G20 Summit, it is due to mention the necessity to reform the WTO, and the climate change; Japan added plastic pollution to this last.
Concerning Japan’s domestic affairs instead, all polls sustain that Abe Shinzo’s coalition will most likely obtain the majority in the elections for the Japanese upper chamber of the legislative body, the Kokkai. This advantage may give him the possibility to amend some articles of the Constitution.
Also, the country restarted hunting whales, after a 30-year prohibition. However many doubts concern the sell of this product, and its consequences on the local fauna.
South Korea, many deals found. During the weekend, following the G20 Summit in Japan, Donald Trump visited South Korea and met Moon Jae-In on Sunday. In a tweet posted on June 29, the US President had announced his intent to “shake [Mr. Kim’s] hand and say hello” during an eventual visit in the demilitarised zone (DMZ). Not long after, when President Trump landed in Seoul, the ANSA news agency confirmed the news that this last visit occurred. Therefore Raveesh Kumar, the spokesman of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said “A natural partnership strengthened by historical ties”.
And the Saudi prince Mohamed Bin Salman also used friendly words to describe relations with South Korea: “I hope companies from both nations can set up a strategic and cooperative relationships through vibrant business activity” he said during his visit in Korea on June 27.
The only exception concerns contrasts with Japan, which confirmed its decision to tighten export rules for high-tech materials to South Korea.
North Korea and many criticisms. The North Korean newspaper “Minju Joson” commented the Japanese training occurred on June 26 in the South China Sea saying that “Japan’s move is reminiscent of the inglorious past of Imperial Japan, which expanded a war to the continent of China, following the invasion of Koreea”. Then Kim criticized South Korea for mediating negotiations concerning a nuclear deal with the USA.
Also, following his visit in North Korea, the Chinese President declared that Kim Jong-Un’s intention to complete the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula remains unchanged, but he waits for US response.
Therefore President Trump met Kim Jong-Un in a demilitarized zone placed on the thirty-eight parallel, becoming the first American President-in-Office who entered the country. China looks pleased by this thaw in relations between these two countries, and Xi has (unofficially) chosen Luo Zhaohui, vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, as the new responsible for the North Korean question.
Finally, it seems that Kim Myong-gil has been selected as the new handler of the issue of denuclearization and relations with the USA, substituting Kim Hyok Chol.
India, drought and the G20 Summit. Chennai is the first big town of India (ten million inhabitants) to be out of water, during the worst heat wave in the history of the country.
During the G20 Osaka Summit Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared “we recognise the importance of the interface between trade and the digital economy. We also affirm the role of data for development”, and supported BRICS position on 5G technologies, abandoning USA and Japan’s point of view. The US president posted a tweet during the meeting with Modi included in the G20 Osaka Summit, and he affirmed that “India stands committed to further deepen economic and cultural relations with USA”.
Also, during a multilateral meeting at the G20 Summit, the BRICS countries created a united front to fight against terrorism and grant energy security.
Concerning India’s domestic affairs, Rahul Gandhi’s party lost the elections, and its leader resigned saying “Accountability is crucial for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress President”.
Finally, an article issued by the CNN mentions a MIT research and sustains that India’s climate may become too hot for human beings.
WESTERN EUROPE AND EUROPEAN UNION
European Union, a deal to nominate the European Commission president has been found. After weeks of haggling, the European Countries could find a compromise on Junker’s successor. All 28 stated elected Ursula von der Leyen, from the European People’s party. The first female President of the European Commission belongs to Angela Merkel’s party, and she has been governing with the German Chancellor uninterruptedly since 2005. Her Foreign Policy is strongly characterized by Atlanticism, which satisfies the Višegrad Countries, as they are suspicious towards Russia.
Mr. Draghi’s office will be held by Christine Lagarde, the former French director of the International Monetary Fund; the new president of the European Council will be Charles Michel, Belgium’s liberal Prime Minister. While the Spanish Josep Borrell (from the socialist party) will take the office of foreign policy high representative.
During the Strasburg plenary session, the European Parliament elected David Sassoli (S&D group) as president. During his opening speech, he stressed that it’s necessary to change the Dublin Regulation.
Italy, tensions concerning immigration stay high. After spending two weeks off coast of Lampedusa, in international waters, the SeaWatch vessel decided to enter Italian national waters even without any permission given by Security Forces. 40 people rescued from Libyan waters were on board of the Dutch ship when the captain Carola Rackete decided to pull into the port of Lampedusa, despite the financial police repeatedly denied the vessel that permission.
Tension was particularly high when the SeaWatch ship risked to crash a patrol boat belonging to the Yellow Flame ( a financial police section) into the dock, after that this last tried to stop the landing.
All migrants on board have been allowed to land, and the captain of the vessel was arrested on the charge of “resistance and violence as a warship”.
The event caught people’s attention again, dividing Italian public opinion into supporters and all those who are critical of this NGO activity.
Finally the captain has been released and the said charges dropped.
Anyway what emerges is that other EU countries stay silent on immigration.
European Union, limited progresses in climate change. The European Council couldn’t find a deal on how to move towards the EU 2050 zero emissions goal. The Scandinavian proposal was accepted by the most of EU countries, but the Višegrad group strongly opposed, especially Poland, where 805 of energy supplies depend on carbon. The Polish Prime Minister sustains that a similar goal would cause serious damages to Poland’s economy, and the eventual transition would be too expensive, comparing with countries which don’t depend on carbon, like France for example.
European Commission, new trade agreement with South America. After 20 year negotiations, the EU signed a trade agreement with Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay). According to press agencies, the said agreement has a political (not only economic) value for Brussels.
In fact, in a period in which America ruled by Trump impose duties, hampering world trade, they could find a solution that takes the opposite direction. Indeed Latin American countries used to apply high tariffs on products coming from the old continent. According to the Trade Commissioner, the said agreement will allow European Companies to save 4 billion Euros of custom office.
As usual in these cases, worries concern the protection of our product quality, especially food.
But Mercosur will protect 357 products (52 of which from Italy), respecting rules established by PGI and PDO systems. Also, the Commissioner for Agriculture ensured that the European market will be open to South American products keeping “carefully managed allowances” to not cause inconvenience to farmers; these last fear eventual invasions.
CENTRAL ESTERN EUROPE
Moscow returns to the Council of Europe. After 5 years since the onset of the Ukraine crisis, the Council of Europe decided to readmit Russia in its institution; it is a success for Russia, given that the motion providing that no Russian delegation can be forbidden to vote, even in case of sanctions, has been approved, unlike what happened in 2014.
It’s an important news which, however, caused a strong anger reaction from Kiev, which recalled its ambassador to the Council in order to decide how they should behave.
Moscow reaffirms its closeness to Teheran. “Iran is not alone” said Zamir Kabulov , special envoy of the Russian Foreign Ministry for Asian countries, among which Iran. The words used during a summit focused on relations between Russia and Iran, held in Moscow, show that Russia is not intentioned to detract from positions it expressed on its ally in the Middle East.
However it’s still needed to define what role Russia may play in case of military escalation between Iran and United States.
Ingushetia, President Yevkurov resigns. We’re back talking about the Republic of Ingushetia, that’s the smallest in the Russian Federation. The news about the resignation of the Ingush President further aggravated the political difficulties afflicting the Republic. These last were already serious: in fact a controversial deal provides that the small Republic must cede some of its territories to Chechnya. Now Ingushetia has to deal with an even worse situation, that might result in chaos, given that Chechnya is decided to redefine its borders.
Ukraine, a step towards NATO. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky announced his intention to reform the Armed Forces by the beginning f 2020, in order to meet the standards required to entry into North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Also the President reaffirmed that it is necessary and urgent to reform the entire Ukraine’s military system in order to enhance the prestige of the nation, and improve all defensive systems.
Georgia, serious protests against Moscow. Strong protests occurred in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, after Russian deputy Sergei Gavrilov’s speech pronounced at the national Parliament. It led to an escalation of protests that culminated in squares demonstrations and clashes involving police. Protesters ask for the resignation of the present government, and new elections; the opposition accuses the government of pursuing Russian interests and favouring Moscow’s interference in internal national affairs. According to data collected in 2018, 85% of Georgian people thinks that Russia constitutes a political threat. This conviction is due to the conflict of 2008, which led to a strong instability, especially in Abkhazia and Ossetia.
Moscow’s response came fast: it banned any flight to and from Georgia, risking to damage this country’s tourism.
The Baltic Sea, new prospects for renewable energies. Nine countries bordering with the Baltic Sea are currently implementing advanced measures to provide clean energy. It is a 2025 strategy that would allow these countries to reduce their dependency on gas supplies from Russia, by placing wind turbines in the Baltic Sea. The European Commission approved the said strategy last year.
It is an alliance among the Baltic countries, Poland, and the EU; it is also aimed at responding to the construction of the “South Stream 2” pipeline, reducing Europe’s energy dependence, and pursue a sustainable policy. Also, the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP) provides a deeper economic integration ,and the creation of a more inclusive and connected market, open to the EU and the countries lying on the Baltic, in order to consent them to reduce the energy isolation they have been going through during the past years.
Macedonia is ever closer to NATO. During the summit of the German Marshall Fund in Brussels, held from 27 to 29 June, Northern Macedonia’s Minister for Defence Radmila Šekerinska declared that his country is intentioned to become a new NATO member by the next London summit scheduled for December. Also, the Minister affirmed that Northern Macedonia has been recently inserted in the list of countries with the greatest commitment to preserve peace and security. The said declarations lead to a faster Skopje’s inclusion in the Atlantic Organisation, 20 members of which already ratified the protocol on Northern Macedonia’s accession.
Andrea Maria Vassallo and Mario Ghioldi.
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA
Iran shoots down a U.S. drone. It was already clear that relations between U.S. and Iran were tense, mainly because of the latest events occurred in the Gulf of Oman, for which the USA blamed Iran. But a negative turning point occurred on June 20, when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards announced to have shot down a U.S. spy drone that entered violated the Iranian airspace (in the Hormozgan Province), and they strongly underlined that any such violation of Iran’s borders correspond to overcome their “red line”.
The U.S. reaction came fast: at first they denied the presence of a drone in that area, and then they affirmed that the recognition drone was shot down while it was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
Also, Trump labelled the Iranian move a “big mistake”, but he admitted he was about to attack Iran militarily: three attacks against missile sites. The U.S. President had second thoughts because of some forecasts: the attack would have killed 150 people, constituting an overreaction, compared to the shooting down of a drone.
Iran-USA: from words to deeds. Beyond the temporary suspension of the U.S. armed attack against Iran, the shooting down of the up-mentioned drone had some other consequences. In fact the U.S. carried out Cyberattacks on the Islamic Republic. The “New York Times” reported it: online attacks were conducted against an Iranian intelligence group suspected to have planned the attack against oil tankers occurred in the Gulf of Oman. Although the online attacks had been planned for several weeks, they were meant to be a reaction to both the oil tankers attack and the downing of the American drone: it is not accidental that these events occurred the same day President Trump called off the military strike on Iran. Thereafter, new sanctions have been imposed against Iran, aimed at preventing Iranian Supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his entourage to access financial resources.
If USA think it is a strong and proportioned reaction, Iranian authorities underlined the American incoherence: “they make conciliatory gestures but then impose new sanctions”. Unexpected developments may occur in the near future.
Iran announces uranium enrichment. After the deadline to EU countries to protect Iran’s interests from U.S. sanctions, Iran announced a new breach of 2015 nuclear deal, as it will lift uranium enrichment above the previous limit of 3,67%. The spokesman of Iranian government, Ali Rabiei, confirmed the news during a press conference, and he restated that Iran will give Europe new 60-days deadlines and, if EU countries won’t be able to change any aspect of the situation, it will start enriching uranium at a higher level (currently 5%).
The Islamic Republic stays decided to continue to trade with the EU by selling its petroleum and creating credit mechanisms involving the country.
Libya, a migrant detention centre has been attacked. On July 2nd Haftar’s troops conducted a raid against a detention centre in Tajoura, east of Tripoli. According to the WHO ( World Health Organisation) the victim toll is 53 dead and 153 wounded migrants. The UN Security Council asked all fighting parties to urgently de-escalate and it called for a ceasefire.
The EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, strongly condemned the said strike, and she also asked for a fact-finding mission conducted by the UN.
Anyway Libya’s situation is ever more chaotic, and all efforts made by the International Community have not led to any concrete result; around 1000 people died since the hostilities began.
Turkey, the opposition wins again in Istanbul mayoral elections. It seems that Ekrem Imamoglu, the Turkish Republican Party’s candidate for elections, is destined to hold the office of mayor of Istanbul for more than 18 days. In fact, after that the elections Authority nullified the results of 31 march municipal elections (when he won in Istanbul) because of the current ruling party’s (Apk) complaints for electoral frauds, the opposition against Erdoğan won the elections again on June 23.
President Erdoğan was the first to congratulate Imamoglu for having obtained more than 54% of votes. During his second electoral campaign, Imamoglu didn’t only addressed Istanbul’s domestic problems (as he did during the first election campaign) but he preferred to criticise Erdoğan and his power system. For this reason, the consent obtained by Imamoglu may represent an hidden message to the ruling President: a wind of democracy is blowing throughout Turkey.
Bahrain, Manama Economic Conference. Many expressed harsh criticism were to the 2-day conference held in the capital of Bahrain, especially Palestinians. The meeting held between 25 and 27 June had been planned by Trump administration in order to promote a peaceful coexistence among Israel, Gaza and the West Bank by enhancing their economies.
The meeting was attended by some high-ranked personalities, such as Christine Lagarde (the current Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund) and representatives of many banking groups, and it was focused on the “Peace to Prosperity” plan, presented by the White House. This last was not very successful; the US declared to be ready to revive the flagging economy of the Palestinian people and other bordering states, by sending 50 billion Dollars.
Palestinian authorities, together with Lebanon, gave a short and cynical answer: “homelands cannot be sold, even for all the money in the world”.
Vincenzo Battaglia and Federica Sulpizio.
MERCOSUR-Mercado Comùn del Sur/Mercado Comum do Sul, the historic deal. After yars of negotiations, the European Union and the MERCOSUR countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) reached a deal on the trade agreement. It is about benefits for the value of many billion Euros.
Also, the agreement provides high standards related to environment and workers’ rights, according with the Paris agreement, and “made in” patents on products assembled in all signatory counties will have many benefits, in order to fight against counterfeiting, and marking a turning point for national strategic industries.
ONU-United Nations, Iran denounces the United States. Iran protested against the U.S. aggressive conduct during the UN Security Council session, declaring that an American drone, shot down by Teheran Forces, entered the Iranian airspace.
The U.S. sustain that the drone was hit while flying over international waters, near the Iranian border.
At the same time, the United Nations warn: “world faces a climate apartheid”. It is thought that poor people will be 120 million by 2030, and the UN special rapporteur Philip Alston sustains that measures taken are inadequate. According to Alston rich people will be able to handle the situation, while poor people will have increasingly difficulty in doing the same.
OSCE-Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Russian Federation continues to cooperate. The OSCE emphasizes Russia’s positive conduct in the matter of demilitarization of the Donbass region, and its will to keep cooperating, according to Minsk agreement. This last provides: a total ceasefire; complete demilitarization of Eastern Ukraine contact line; the exchange of prisoners captured by both parties; finally, the agreement requires to adopt Constitutional reforms in order to recognize the special statue of all new-born Republics.
TERRORISM AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
Double terrorist attack occurred in Tunis. On Thursday 27 June two terrorist attacks were conducted against Tunis’ Security Forces. A policeman died, and eight people were injured in a suicide bombing conducted by a kamikaze. This last targeted a police vehicle standing near the French embassy, at the junction of Avenue Charles de Gaulle and Avenue de France. Only few minutes later, a second suicide bomber tried to enter the anti-terrorism section (the military depot of El Gorjani) and, when he was captured by guards, he blew himself up, hurting 4 Police agents.
Subsequently ISIS claimed responsibility for both attacks.
Is terrorism a threat for Italy? Quirinal “International Terrorism still constitutes a serious threat, and Italy should contribute to the initiatives aimed at fighting against its manifold forms” is what the Quirinal communicated after the meeting of the Supreme Defence Council attended by President Sergio Mattarella. The Council added“ Atlantic Alliance, European Union and the UN represent our reference points in defence matters”.
As terrorism is still seen like a threat for Italy, Special Corps of Nocs unit of Italy’s national police forces, and the Gis (English: Special Intervention Group) corps of the Carabinieri (Italy’s national gendarmerie) conducted a joint maritime training in order to test their ability to react in case of boarding of a passenger vessel on the route from Palermo to Livorno. Particularly hard exercise have been conducted in Ostia and Civitavecchia.
Bataclan attacker arrested. The Prosecutor’s office in Dresda communicated that the suspected responsible for Paris terrorist attack dating back to November 2015 has been arrested. He is a thirty-nine-year-old Bosnian man, who was subject of a European arrest warrant. Currently he is kept in temporary custody, awaiting extradition; he is accused of being linked to the jihadist responsible for Bataclan attack. He was arrested by Criminalpol special forces in Bad Dürrnberg, south of Halle.
Two of his compatriots were suspected to have infringed weapons law, but investigations on them led to the Bataclan attacker.
A car bomb blows up in Turkey. At least three Syrian victims died, and 2 other people were injured in the explosion of a vehicle occurred on Friday 5 July 2019 in Reyhanli, in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, at the border with Syria. The reason of the explosion, that took place 750 meters close to the local governor’s office, are still undefined. The local Prefect said “There was a bomb in the vehicle. At the moment, investigations sustain that there might be a link with terrorism”.
Further updates is awaited to understand who is the responsible, and if he/she belongs to a terrorist group.
In May 2013 a serious terrorist attack was conducted in Reyhanli: two car bombs blew up, killing 53 people. Turkish Courts sentenced several life sentences.
5 meters close to the border, this town is one of the main frontiers with Syria.
Laura Vaccaro Senna and Vincenzo Battaglia.
Framing The World is a project conceived and created by the collaboration between of Mondo Internazionale associates.
Human Rights: Marta Stroppa.
International Finance and Economics: Leonardo Aldeghi
Sub-Saharan Africa: Marcello Alberizzi
America and International Organisation: Mihele Pavan
Asia and Far East: Stefano Sartorio
Western Europe and European Union: Leonardo Cherici
Certer-Western Europe: Andrea Maria Vassallo and Mario Ghioldi
Middle East and North Africa: Vincenzo Battaglia and Federica Sulpizio
Terrirism and International Security: Vinceenzo Battaglia and Laura Vaccaro Senna.
Translated by Simona M. Vallefuoco.
Original article: https://mondointernazionale.com/framing-the-world-numero-xiii issued on 8 July 2019.