Western European News Digest
EU Wants To Send Aid to Palestinians
The European Union is considering sending $143 million in emergency aid to the Palestinians before a Hamas-led government takes office. While France wants the money to be transferred immediately, the EU has yet to take a position on Hamas, until it forms a new government in the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinians immediately need $48 million to pay energy and utility companies and $76 million for health and education projects. James Wolfensohn, the international envoy overseeing aid to the Palestinians, warned that the failure to provide aid "may have wide-ranging consequences, not only for the Palestinian economy, but also for security and stability for both the Palestinians and the Israelis."
Aznar Leads March Against Zapatero Government
Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar took time off from his would-be crusade in Ibero-America, to join an estimated 110,000 people marching in Madrid on Feb. 25, ostensibly against terrorism, but in fact against the government of President Rodriguez Zapatero. The prime mover behind the third "No to Terrorism" march of the Association of Victims of Terrorism, was Aznar's Popular Party (PP), and many marchers chanted calls for Zapatero to resign.
Proposal Would Reintroduce National Currencies in Eurozone
A proposal for the EU countries to reintroduce national currencies, was made by John Gillingham, professor of history at the University of Missouri-St Louis, at a February seminar in London, sponsored by the think tank Open Europe. The scheme would simultaneously keep euros in circulation. Gillingham, author of the book "Design for a New Europe," said at the seminar: "The currencies of the eurozone should be reissued and any attempt to regulate the values of the currencies by an overall single monetary and fiscal straitjacket should be dropped.... That might be a bridge that could save the eurowhich is in itself a great idea." Countries would regain control of monetary policy, while people could still travel from one eurozone country to another and pay with euros everywhere. Gillingham calls for a free floating of the national currencies against each other and against the euro.
The Gillingham statements were picked up in a special Bloomberg editorial by columnist Matthew Lynn, headlined "Want to save the euro? Bring back the 12 currencies." He notes that, "Whether this particular proposal is the right one may not matter much in the end. What is important is that people recognize that the euro hasn't worked as planned, and start talking about how to fix it. There are only three ways forward. One is to struggle on with a permanently sluggish economy. Another is to wait for a financial crisis, or a bad-tempered exit (probably by Italy). The third is to preserve what is good about the euro, while repairing the parts that don't work."
French Weekly Publishes 'Manifesto' Against 'Islamism'
The discredited left-wing French weekly Charlie Hebdo published a "Manifesto of the Twelve Together Against the New Totalitarianism" March 1, vehemently attacking "Islamism," which it now equates with authoritarian enemies of old: "After having won over fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world faces a new global threat of a totalitarian type: Islamism. We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for a resistance to religious totalitarianism and promote freedom, equal chances for all, and secularism." Continuing with attack, the manifesto says Islamists "refuse to renounce the spirit of criticism which confuses the critique of Islam as religion with the stigmatization of the believers."
This makes the third time now that the French pressin France Soir on Feb. 1 and 2, and now in Charlie Hebdohave revved up anti-Islam polemics, just as things seemed to be calming down in the wake of the Mohammad cartoon fracas.
Continuing Diana Inquiry Signals Succession Fight
The official British Coroner's Inquest into the death of Princess Diana in August 1997 has revived virtually all of the investigative leads unearthed years ago by EIR, and signals a ferocious faction fight within the British establishment over the future of the monarchy and the royal succession. Lord Stevens, the former metropolitan Police Commissioner, is conducting a thorough probe into the circumstances of the deaths of Princess Diana, Dodi Fayed, and Henri Paul in a Paris car crash. Already, the Stevens probe has exposed the fraud of the French coverup.
In addition to evidence of the tampering of Henry Paul's blood samples, the use of a laser light at the tunnel, and the use of a devise to trigger the airbags in Diana's Mercedesall previously reported by EIRthe London Times reported Feb. 26 that Lord Stevens is now demanding that the French domestic national police agency, DST, turn over their files on Henri Paul, to determine whether Paul, who was a paid DST informant, was actually working on an assignment for the French government the night of the crash.
The Lord Stevens probe is an obvious headache for the Royals. This comes on top of a mounting succession crisis, with a faction clearly lined up against Prince Charles' ascension. Recently, British tabloids began publishing excerpts from Prince Charles' personal letters and diaries, which were leaked by a former top aide. Charles is suing to prevent eight additional volumes of his private papers from being plastered all over the tabloids, and this fight, in itself, is putting a most unflattering public spotlight on the kooky prince.
Sources have told EIR that there are also raging battles within the City, over Britain's relationship to Continental Europe; whether to support an expansion of the European Union; the relationship to Bush-Cheney; the future of Blair; and, above all else, the issue of a potential new Persian Gulf military confrontation over Iran and the consequences for the global financial system.
German Foreign Minister Says 'No' to New 'Energy NATO'
In an interview with the latest issue of Der Spiegel, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Polish proposal for energy independence from Russia must be rejected, because it would be part of a strategy that would lead to a new Cold War on energy matters. Instead, Germany's policy is one of a cooperative approach among consumers and producers, utilizing key principles that were successfully tested back in the 1970s (in the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe, CSCE), for dialogue between the East and West blocs.
Steinmeier, the weekly reports, has made "energy security" a top item on his foreign diplomacy agenda, and has discussed it during recent visits to Moscow, Beijing, and Ankara. There will also be a national energy summit in Germany, in early April, chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel, involving all Cabinet ministries, with the Foreign Ministry planning staff prominently taking part. A six-page outline has already been drafted.
During Steinmeier's recent trip to Beijing, a joint task force was established between Germany and China on energy security issues, as a top priority for the new Strategic Dialogue that was established as well. Discussions will be continued during the visits to China, of German Economics Minister Michael Glos (in March) and of Chancellor Angela Merkel (in May).
Labor Strikes Continue To Spread in Germany and Greece
With leading medical staff of 44 clinics throughout Germany staging 24-hour strikes March 1, another sector joined the protest wave against budget-cutting policies in Germany, today.
Public sector workers continued their select strikes in ten states, now entering the fourth week of action in some parts, but an agreement in the northern city-state of Hamburg may serve as a model for a settlement soon: There, it was agreed that younger workers work 40 hours a week, whereas older continue with the 38.5-hour week.
Meanwhile, the metal workers began warning strikes in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, at Daimler-Chrysler plants March 1.
In Greece, the strike of ferry workers went into the third week Feb. 27, and the government there has deployed the armed forces to supply more than 100 small islands in the Aegean Sea. A new general strike is being prepared by labor unions in Greece, in protest of the general budget-cutting policy direction of the conservative government.