Western European News Digest
Sarkozy Avows Pressure Against Referendum on Lisbon Treaty
Feb. 21 (EIRNS) After the Lisbon Treaty was ratified by the French Parliament on Feb. 4, President Nicolas Sarkozy avowed in a Feb. 10 speech that he was forced to comply with "our [EU] partners' " desire to see France enforcing a parliamentary-only vote. "Had that condition not been fulfilled, no agreement would have been possible" he said.
In 2005, French citizens had rejected in a referendum the "European Constitution," which was then reborn as the Lisbon Treaty. Prior to the Parliament's ratification, 73% of the French people favored a referendum, but Sarkozy stated, behind closed doors last November, that "a referendum would threaten Europe with danger. There will be no treaty at all if a referendum took place in France," adding the same was true for the UK and many other countries.
French Mount Protest to Lisbon Treaty in European Court
Feb. 21 (EIRNS)A citizen's group started by a French lawyer is building up a case against the "coup d'état"-style ratification process of the Lisbon Treaty. Through a website and other networks, they have gotten more than 1,100 Frenchmen to press charges to the European Court of Human Rights, to cancel the just-completed process of having only parliaments ratify the "treaty" and to force through a referendum.
The plaintiffs charge that it is undemocratic, as Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) members are not elected and there are no checks and balances; that the IGC has no legitimacy to enact legislation, especially of such great consequence; and that it should be rejected, since national parliaments have no rights to intervene into the deliberative process of making the treaty, but can only ratify or reject treaties already made.
Moreover, the plaintiffs make the case that what was voted down by the French people in 2005, was brought back through another means in order to cancel that sovereign decision, and such action violates Council of Europe advisory board's Code of Good Practice on Referendums.
After Kosovo: Separatists of the World Escalate
PARIS, Feb. 20 (EIRNS)Flanders, the Basque region, Chechnya, and Taiwan "recognized" the independence of Kosovo earlier this week. In Belgium, Flemish "foreign minister" Geert Bourgeois of the separatist N-VA party and a friend of Kosovo's late President Ibrahim Rugova, declared that Flanders will send a delegation as soon as possible to explore common means to develop Kosovo's and Flanders' institutions. In Spain, Miren Azkarate of the Basque independence movement declared, "This is a lesson for us," implying that Kosovo had the guts to do what they didn't. In Russia, the Chechens welcomed the Kosovo development as supporting their own struggle against "one of the largest military powers of the world." After Taiwan "recognized" Kosovo, mainland China told the province it had no right to do so.
Movement Arises To Block Blair Presidency of EU
Feb. 20 (EIRNS)The London Guardian reports on a campaign to stop former British Prime Minister Tony Blair from becoming the European Union's first president. A new "Stop Blair" website is run by the European Tribune, which is led by a "left-of-center" pro-EU treaty group. But it reports that the major opposition comes from Germany.
Blair's closeness to President Bush is a big minus among Europeans. "The feeling here about Blair is that he never stuck his neck out for Europe," an EU official noted. "All the political risk he took was transatlantic, always towards Washington, never for Europe. His chances are dim. [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel is against [him]."
While Merkel and the Benelux countries would be against Blair, the Guardian notes, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Silvio Berlusconi, if the latter became Italian prime minister again, would support Blair.
Dr. Kelly Vindicated: Brits Did 'Sex Up' Iraq WMD Dossier
Feb. 19 (EIRNS)Dr. David Kelly, the British biological warfare expert who was "suicided" after exposing that the Blair government's dossier on Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" had been "sexed up" during the 2002-03 period, in order to get public support for an Iraq war, has been vindicated, after a three-year legal fight, with the release of the dossier's first version. In this draft, there was no mention of the later claim that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of an order to do so. That claim first appeared in September 2002, when then-Prime Minister Tony Blair released the dossier on which he based the case for war.
As a result of the exposure of Blair's and the Queen's war, Kelly was suicided, the BBC was disgraced, and its funding gutted by the British government.
Reelection of Czech President Klaus Boosts Euro-Skeptics
Feb. 18 (EIRNS)The re-election of Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Feb. 15 for another five-year term, can be expected to strengthen the opposition against the European (Lisbon) Treaty, especially throughout eastern Europe, where Klaus is popular because of his pronounced Euro-skepticism. Moreover, as the Czech Republic will take over the presidency of the EU in the first half-year of 2009, that poses questions regarding EU plans to have the Treaty ratified and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2009.
Klaus won by 141 votes against 111 for Jan Svejnar (a pro-EU U.S. citizen). Klaus has repeatedly voiced harsh criticism of the EU's supranationalism, which he always likened to the "dictatorial system of the past Soviet Union," and he has even denounced EU policies as "a kind of Breshnev Doctrine of the West." Klaus also adopted a hard line during the talks on the Treaty of Lisbon, during the second half of 2007.
British SFO Claims Saudi Pressure Cancelled BAE Inquiry
Feb. 16 (EIRNS)The British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has blamed Saudi pressure and threats for calling off its investigation of corruption related to massive sales of aircraft and other arms by the British firm BAE Systems. Both the British government and the SFO have been in court in a case brought by two NGOs, the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Corner House Research, which demands that the government reopen the case.
Lawyers for SFO told the High Court last week that the decision to drop the case in December 2006 by SFO director Robert Wardle, was made because of security fears "in light of the Islamist terrorist threat" and the possibility of another 7/7-style bombing attack in Britain.
According to the Feb. 9 Guardian, lawyers for the two NGOs said the government had not denied that former Saudi Ambassador to Washington Prince Bandar bin Sultan, whose bank accounts in the U.S. have been frozen because of a bribery investigation by the Department of Justice, had advised Blair, in a meeting in July 2006, to stop the inquiry, or BAE would lose the multibillion-dollar contract to buy Eurofighter jets. That contract was signed in September 2007.
Although the hearing is now over, the judges have not reached a decision, and said that they would give their ruling as soon as possible.
Youth Disturbances Continue in Denmark
COPENHAGEN, Feb. 16 (EIRNS)A situation akin to that of the earlier riots of immigrant youth in the Paris suburbs, though on a smaller scale, has continued for nearly a week in Denmark. Burning of cars, garbage containers, and even ten classrooms in a school, continue in the greater Copenhagen area, in the city of Aarhus, and in one provincial town. Police cars and fire trucks are being pelted with stones. The disturbances began a couple of days before the arrests of three men accused of plotting to kill the cartoonist who drew the most inflammatory caricature of the Prophet Mohammed, and the reprinting of the cartoon in most of the Danish press. The cause is being attributed to tension between immigrant youth and the police, with the cartoon case adding "fuel to the fire." The police have formed a national response unit to coordinate moving resources to where they are needed. Inside Copenhagen, the situation is getting less tense, but the trouble is increasing in the suburbs.