Western European News Digest
CDU Leader To Form Neo-Con Party in Germany?
Friedrich Merz, a leader of the German Christian Democratic party (CDU), quit all his CDU party functions Feb. 5, and may found a new party with a radical neo-con profile, according to Bildzeitung and other news media Feb. 7-8. Rumors have it that others, including a number of CDU party prominents, would join Merz, which would fit with aspects of the recent shakeups in the CSU, the Bavarian wing of the German Christian Democrats. And, one may add: The extradition of German arms broker Karl Heinz Schreiber by Canada, expected to proceed within the near future, after his surprise arrest in Toronto a week ago, will lead to more shakeups in both the CSU and the CDU, since Schreiber is an insider to many dirty secrets of the Christian Democrats, including illegal party funding. Chancellor Angela Merkel may find the rug being pulled out from under her, in the wake of a new round of scandals.
The surprise announcement by Merz and the media noise about the possibility of the formation of a new neo-con partypossibily as early as Marchan independent party with enough deserters from the CDU that the party would lose its tiny majority of three seats over the Social Democrats in the national parliament, seems to fit the political landscape. That casethat the SPD might claim the post of Chancellor, or threaten to break up the Grand Coalitionis one of the scenarios mooted in the press. In either case, it would imply an end to the Chancellorship of Angela Merkel.
Merz is a leading associate of the right-wing Federalist Society, which in the U.S. has bred many of the neo-cons in the Bush-Cheney Administration. Merz also is a defender of the hedge funds, in their ongoing attempt to take over the industry of Germany.
U.S. Neo-Con Meddling Behind Italian Government Crisis
The gap among coalition partners in Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi's government is widening, so much so that some coalition members have started to expose a plot to replace the leftist component with a "breakaway ally" from the conservative camp, or even a grand coalition scheme. This scenario, exposed especially by PRC leaders Gennaro Migliore and Alfonso Gianni, is consistent with a "permanent crisis" strategy, carried out by synarchist financial circles.
After the government was defeated by the Senate vote against the Vicenza U.S. military base, Deputy Premier Francesco Rutelli, who is in George Soros's pocket, attacked the leftist coalition partners Feb. 2, saying, "The limit has been reached." Prodi published a letter in the Rome daily La Repubblica defending his decision to allow the enlargement of the Vicenza base, balancing this with the government's anti-war record.
Meanwhile, ambassadors of six countries (U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, Netherlands, and Romania) published a letter in La Repubblica putting pressure on Italy not to pull out of Afghanistan. This has prompted Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema to issue a strong statement characterizing the letter as "irregular," i.e., against diplomatic protocol, and something which could be seen "as interference into Italian affairs." In a television interview, he repeated that statement, and added that, "it is not advisable for the Bush Administration to take part in the debate in Italy on foreign policy, and it is irregular for the embassy to send a letter to the media on Afghanistan.... The current debate in the U.S. Congress, on the mistakes by the Bush Administration in Iraq, is much harsher than the Italian one. To be with 70% of Americans does not mean being anti-American."
Change of Kosovo Status Again 'Powderkegs' Balkans
In talks in Belgrade and Pristina, the capitals of Serbia and Kosovo, UN special envoy Maati Ahtisaari presented his proposals for a Kosovo with de facto independence, without using that term officially, the Financial Times reported Feb. 3. If realized, it would imply full Kosovan membership in international institutions, equivalent to membership of a fully sovereign state. Kosovo would be run, on a mandate by the UN Security Council, as a protectorate by the European Union for the time being. Ahtisaari announced another round of talks for Feb. 13.
So far, Russia has vetoed any UNSC approval, which is required for the plan to go ahead. Serbian President Boris Tadic rejected the proposal, but promised to discuss it again with leaders of the political parties in Serbia. The issue overlaps with Belgrade's difficulty in forming a new government after the Jan. 21 national elections, which yielded no clear winner, but demonstrated strong nationalist, anti-EU bias among all parties.
In Pristina, Prime Minister of Kosovo Agu Cekim said he is not satisfied with quasi-independence, and that he wants full sovereignty. The issue is already attracting strong nationalist currents not only in Kosovo, but also in neighboring Albania and among ethnic Albanians in Macedonia.
Terror Networks Being Rebuilt in Europe
According to a senior European security intelligence source, who spoke with EIR Feb. 6, there have been ongoing efforts to rebuild a terror capability in Europe, comparable to that which existed in the 1970s and 1980s, including an assassination capability.
Ecology and globalization would be the theme issues of this new movement. Hamburg and Berlin are key centers for this build-up of new capabilities. The source was especially concerned with the media hype around the request for parole by former Baader-Meinhoff/RAF members Brigitte Mohnhaupt and Christian Klars. The debate about their parole will create a classic climate for creating a terror environment in which the government, loses no matter what it does. If the government releases them, it will be seen as a show of weakness to both the radical left and radical right. If not, new prisoner support groups will be formed which will become the bases for new terror groups.
Rail Workers' Paris Rally Targets Privatization
Rail workers from across Europe descended on Paris Feb. 8, protesting European Union directives that will force the privatization of railways throughout the economic bloc. A delegation from the British rail workers union RMT took the message to Paris that the privatization of Britain's railways a decade ago should stand as a stark warning, that forcing the same bitter medicine on railways elsewhere in Europe promises to bring chaos, misery, and potential disaster to rail workers and commuters.
"It is beyond belief that the unelected commissioners in Brussels should want to impose rail privatisation throughout the EU in the light of the ten years of misery that the break-up and sell-off of Britain's railways have brought," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today." But if the Brussels bureaucrats get their way, all Europe's railways will be fragmented and divvied up in the same way as Britain's railways were ten years ago.
Another example of privatization failure comes from Estonia, where the new government recently announced plans to re-nationalize the state's railways, charging a U.S. fund that had bought and operated them, with disinvestment strategies at the expense of passenger services, including drastic fare hikes.
City of London Declares 'Anti-Bush' Stance
As part of the emerging British "pin the blame on Bush" strategy, the Financial Times Feb. 5 headed its lead editorial, "George Bush and the Imperial Presidency Congress Can and Must Rein in the Power-Hungry President." Making no mention of Dick Cheney, the editorial notes, "President George W. Bush has always had an imperial vision of the U.S. Presidency."
For the Senate to pass a resolution condemning the Iraq troop surge would amount to a vote of no-confidence in Bush, the editorial says.
The FT concludes, "The founding fathers knew the dangers of an imperial Presidency, so they gave Congress the job of reining him in. Now is the time for the legislators to start doing that job in earnest." Proving once again that the British have no permanent allies, only permanent ambitions.
Is EADS Fatally Committed To Repeat Boeing's Mistakes?
With a brutal cost-cutting program called "Power 8," the top management of the Franco-German-Spanish aircraft firm, EADS, which produces the Airbus airliners, wants to reduce expenses by 5 billion euros over the next few years. Details of the plan will not be made known before Feb. 20, but leaked reports indicate that five production sites (one in Spain, two each in France and Germany) may be shut down, implying the elimination of 10,000 jobs.
A hint in a front-page lead editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Feb. 7 seems to confirm rumors that EADS may go the Boeing way, namely, to sell some of its production sites to parts producers, with the idea of outsourcing capacity and reducing expenses this way. Furthermore, EADS managers announced last summer that they want to cut the design cycle for a new airliner model, which is seven years, down to only four years, a sure recipe for disaster.
Five Nations Ban British Poultry Because of Avian Flu
Following the report of the outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on a Suffolk, England turkey farm in early February, Russia, Japan, and South Africa announced that they were banning the import of U.K. poultry, according to BBC Feb. 6. Now, South Korea and Hong Kong have joined the ban. Britain is Europe's second-largest poultry producer after France, with annual poultry exports of 250 million pounds sterling (roughly $500 million). Between 75% and 80% of Britain's poultry exports go to European Union members. Were one or several of these countries to join the ban, the impact would be huge.
Over the four-day period, Feb. 2-6, avian flu killed an Egyptian girl, and infected two more people in Indonesia. The virus also re-emerged in poultry in Russia, and may have killed a woman in Azerbaijan.