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>Un regard juridique sur les mutations dans le monde arabe

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Par Béligh Nabli, directeur de recherche à l’IRIS (LE MONDE, 04/04/11):
L’instrument juridique national : instrument de répression et de libération
Les mouvements populaires dans le monde arabe se répercutent sur les ordres juridiques de chacun des Etats concernés. En effet, au-delà des mesures économiques et sociales que les régimes en place ont prises pour répondre aux contestations populaires, les réactions étatiques ont consisté également en des actes qui ont directement affecté l’ordre juridique national.
En quoi consistent ces actes juridiques ? Suivant un réflexe répressif lié à la nature autoritaire de ces régimes, les mesures prises consistent en une série de décisions de nature liberticide, telles que l’interdiction des manifestations de l’opposition, le couvre-feu et/ou l’état d’urgence. Dans un geste conciliateur, le pouvoir peut au contraire envoyer des signes politiques d’ouverture, en déclarant par exemple la fin de l’état d’urgence en Algérie, une décision également évoquée en Syrie. De manière plus convaincante, d’autres Etats ont opté pour des actes juridiques, politiques et symboliques plus forts, comme l’attestent les révisions constitutionnelles récemment adoptées par référendum en Egypte et annoncées par le Roi au Maroc. Enfin, dans le cas tunisien, le choix qui consiste à élaborer une nouvelle Constitution représente un acte révolutionnaire. L’acte constituant, en tant qu’acte de souveraineté, est ici un acte de rupture avec l’ancien régime. En cela, la radicalité de la voie ainsi empruntée par la Tunisie est une manière pour ce petit pays d’assumer sa responsabilité historique dans le mouvement global qui ébranle le monde arabe. Le recours à l’instrument juridique est somme toute logique, eu égard à la fonction de régulation sociale du droit, fonction particulièrement prégnante dans le cas de la constitution nationale, qui fixe par définition le statut des gouvernants et des gouvernés, et au-delà définit le Contrat social qui lie l’Etat et la société. Toutefois, au-delà de la dimension juridique interne, les mutations politiques dans le monde arabe intéressent les relations internationales, mais aussi le droit international proprement dit. Sur ce plan, la notion d’ingérence reflète les ambiguïtés et les tensions qui animent le droit international.
L’instrument juridique international : l’enjeu de l’interprétation des résolutions
Le cas de la Libye est particulier : il n’est en rien comparable aux mouvements de la société civile constatés dans le reste du monde arabe. La “révolte populaire” – générale ? – s’est mue en “insurrection armée”, à tel enseigne que la situation prend les formes d’une guerre civile et fait l’objet d’une intervention militaire étrangère.
En soi, une telle intervention viole le principe de non-ingérence selon lequel un Etat ne saurait s’immiscer dans ce qu’on appelle généralement les affaires intérieures ou la compétence nationale d’un autre Etat. Ce principe de non-ingérence étant fondé sur la souveraineté de chaque Etat et donc sur l’égalité des Etats, principes matriciels du droit international. Or, dans le cas de la Libye, il n’y a pas d’ “agression militaire” – et donc d’ingérence – en ce sens que les opérations militaires sont légalement autorisées, fondées sur la base d’un acte de droit international, une résolution qui justifie le principe du recours à la force. En effet, le chapitre VII de la Charte des Nations-Unies gouverne l’action du Conseil de sécurité en cas de menace contre la paix, de rupture de la paix ou d’acte d’agression. Dans ces trois hypothèses qui intéressent la paix et la sécurité internationales, le Conseil de sécurité, est susceptible d’exercer un véritable pouvoir de contrainte sur les Etats. Ce qui est précisément le cas de la Libye. Ainsi, la situation de cet Etat membre de l’ONU a-t-il fait l’objet de deux résolutions prises par le Conseil de sécurité.
Dans un premier temps, la Résolution 1970 a été votée à l’unanimité le 26 février dernier, en vertu de l’article 41 de la Charte, qui permet l’adoption de sanctions économiques et diplomatiques. En l’espèce, la résolution décide : un embargo sur les armes, un Gel des avoirs et une interdiction de voyager pour une série de personnalités libyennes, pose le principe d’une assistance humanitaire en faveur de la population civile, et enfin décide de la saisine de la Cour pénale internationale (ce dernier point fera l’objet d’un développement spécifique par la suite). Cette résolution 1970 ne prévoit pas encore le recours à la force armée. Le pas est franchi par la seconde résolution, la Résolution 1973, qui a été adoptée le 17 mars par dix voix et cinq abstentions et pas des moindres : la Chine, la Russie, l’Inde, le Brésil et l’Allemagne, soit 5 puissances mondiales. Cette résolution prise en vertu de l’art. 42 de la Charte et qui prévoit la possibilité d’adopter des mesures coercitives, décide ainsi l’instauration d’une zone d’exclusion aérienne, qui consiste à interdire tous vols dans l’espace aérien de la Libye, à l’exception des vols dont l’objectif est d’ordre humanitaire. En outre, le texte prévoit un renforcement des sanctions prévues par la Résolution 1970. Surtout, la résolution 1973 “Autorise les Etats membres (…) à prendre toutes les mesures nécessaires (…) pour protéger les civils et les zones peuplées par des civils sous la menace d’attaques y compris Benghazi, tout en excluant une force étrangère d’occupation sous quelque forme que ce soit dans n’importe quelle partie du territoire libyen”. Cette résolution fonde donc la légalité des opérations militaires de la coalition menées actuellement sur le territoire libyen, qui se trouvent ainsi légitimées par l’ONU. Toutefois, les carences et autres vides juridiques de ce texte sont propices aux interprétations contradictoires.
D’abord, la résolution autorise le recours à la force par des frappes aériennes, en vertu de la “responsabilité à protéger” des populations civiles. Cette notion de “responsabilité de protéger”, telle qu’elle est conçue dans le document final du Sommet mondial de l’ONU en 2005, implique non seulement la responsabilité de réagir à une catastrophe humanitaire, mais aussi celles de la prévenir et de reconstruire. Cependant, cette catégorie juridique ne porte pas en elle d’obligation pour les Etats d’agir. Seul le Conseil de sécurité peut ici préciser en quoi consiste cette responsabilité. Or, la résolution 1973 se borne à rappeler “la responsabilité qui incombe aux autorités libyennes de protéger la population libyenne”, sans référence aucune à une quelconque responsabilité de la communauté internationale d’intervenir.
Ensuite, il n’y a pas “de calendrier” pour la fin des opérations. Pis, les objectifs ne sont pas précis, en ce sens que “la protection des civils”  peut emprunter des voies et des moyens très variés. Certes, formellement, la résolution ne vise pas le changement de régime, certains membres de la coalition n’ont pas caché leur volonté profonde de renverser le pouvoir en place. Enfin, si la résolution exclut “toute force étrangères d’occupation”, cette dernière précision ne tranche pas clairement la question du recours à la force contre des troupes au sol. La coalition a très vite opté pour une lecture large de cette disposition. Ainsi, pour le ministre français de la défense Gérard Longuet, la résolution 1973 de l’ONU possède une “base juridique extrêmement large” permettant “des formes d’interventions” avec des tirs au sol, “sans déploiement au sol” de forces terrestres. Cette interprétation large et finaliste de la résolution a également amené la coalition à mener des attaques aériennes ou par missiles au-delà des “lignes de front” ou zones de combat entre les deux camps. Dès lors, une telle interprétation pose le problème de savoir si l’armée libyenne constitue par définition ou en soi une menace pour les civils libyens. Autrement dit, est-ce qu’il convient de bombarder toute représentation ou agissement de l’armée loyaliste, y compris lorsqu’elle est en phase de retraite ? Une réponse positive n’est-elle pas de nature à dénaturer le sens de la résolution ?
Dans ce contexte où se juxtaposent une “guerre civile” et une “guerre interétatique”, la question juridico-politique de l’ “interprète authentique”  de la résolution – c’est-à-dire celui qui a le dernier mot en la matière – est cruciale. Depuis le début des opérations, celles-ci ont été dirigées par une coalition d’Etats menée par les Etats-Unis, la France et la Grande-Bretagne, qui a suivi une interprétation extensive de la résolution. Avec le transfert du commandement des opérations militaires en faveur de l’OTAN, son organe décisionnel, le Conseil de l’Atlantique Nord est désormais compétent pour “mettre en œuvre tous les aspects de la résolution 1973 de l’ONU pour protéger les civils et les zones peuplées de civils”. Contrairement aux premières allégations de la diplomatie française, le ministre des Affaires étrangères vient de reconnaître que le choix des cibles en Libye ne relèvera pas de la responsabilité du “groupe de contact”, mais bel et bien de celle de l’OTAN. De quoi s’interroger sur la portée effective du rôle de ce “groupe de contact”, chargé théoriquement “du pilotage politique du conflit”. On assiste en réalité à une passation de pouvoir en faveur de l’OTAN, qui s’arroge une double fonction d’interprète et d’exécutant en chef de la résolution onusienne. Or au sein du Conseil de l’Atlantique nord, dont les décisions sont prises à l’unanimité par les représentants des Etats membres, certains précisément défendent une interprétation stricte de la résolution – comme l’Italie, l’Allemagne ou à la Turquie – ces Etats membres seraient en mesure de bloquer et d’apposer leur veto à toute initiative d’intervention au sol au motif qu’elle ne respecterait pas le champ d’application de la résolution.
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona

abril 4, 2011 Posted by | conflicto armado, Libia | Deja un comentario

>EU-Turkey Accession Negotiations: the State of Play and the Role of the New Turkish Foreign Policy

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By Mahir Ilgaz and İlke Toygür (REAL INSTITUTO ELCANO, 04/04/11):
Introduction
Turkey’s EU accession negotiations completed their fifth year on 3 October 2010. However, despite annual declarations on the Turkish side that each new year would be ‘the year of the EU’, negotiations seem to be progressing very slowly and the prospects for their timely completion look dim. In fact, with 18 chapters out of the picture due to a variety of obstacles and the blocking of the provisional closure of any chapters until Turkey fulfils its obligations deriving from the Additional Agreement, the situation looks grim indeed.
The first aim of this paper is to provide the necessary background for placing the accession negotiations with Turkey within the proper context. To accomplish this, it first provides an overview of EU-Turkish relations, starting with Turkey’s initial application to become a member of the EEC. The overview aims to help put things into perspective by providing an account of relations from the start, including the establishment of a Customs Union between Turkey and the EU.
Secondly, the course of the negotiations themselves will be analysed, along with the reasons for the current impasse. In this section, the focus will not be to put the blame on one side or the other but rather to provide a list of the problems contributing to the deadlock. The section will also look into the deeper underlying issues.
In addition to the slowdown in the negotiations, new Turkish foreign policy initiatives have also caused some concern in both Turkey and the EU as to whether they imply a shift in foreign policy that could endanger its accession goal. Consequently, this paper considers the future of Turkey’s accession goal as the anchor of its foreign policy. Furthermore, the effects of Turkey’s foreign policy on the EU’s are briefly discussed with respect to contemporary developments in the Middle East and North Africa.
A Short Overview of EU-Turkey Relations
Turkey has decidedly looked towards the West since the declaration of the Republic in 1923. Europe was adopted as the model from the last years of the former Ottoman Empire and its foreign policy record is a clear reflection of this alignment. Turkey is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), a member of NATO (1952), the Council of Europe (1949), the OECD (1960) and the OSCE (1973) and was an associate member of the Western European Union (1992).
On 31 July 1959, shortly after the creation of the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1958, Turkey made its first application to join the newly-established organisation. The EEC’s Council of Ministers responded to Turkey’s application in 1959, suggesting the possibility of an association. The ensuing negotiations resulted in the signing of the Ankara Agreement on 12 September 1963, which entered into force on 1 December 1964 and marked the beginning of Turkey’s relations with the EEC.
The aim of the Ankara Agreement, as stated in Article 2, was ‘to promote the continuous and balanced strengthening of trade and economic relations between the Parties, while taking full account of the need to ensure an accelerated development of the Turkish economy and to improve the level of employment and living conditions of the Turkish people’. Article 28 provides the final target of the association: ‘as soon as the operation of this Agreement has advanced far enough to justify envisaging full acceptance by Turkey of the obligations arising out of the Treaty establishing the Community, the Contracting Parties shall examine the possibility of the accession of Turkey to the Community’.
The Ankara Agreement envisaged a progressive model of integration with Turkey, namely the establishment of a Customs Union (CU) made up of three phases: preparation, transition and the final phase’. The first phase, which aimed to reduce economic differences between the parties, started on 1 December 1964 when the Agreement came into force.
The ‘preparation phase’ was completed and the conditions for the ‘transitional phase’ were established by the signing of the Additional Protocol on 1 January 1973, which laid out how the Customs Union would be implemented. It provided that the EEC would abolish tariff and quantitative barriers to its imports from Turkey upon the entry into force of the Protocol, whereas Turkey would do the same in accordance with a timetable containing two calendars set for 12 and 22 years, respectively, and called for the harmonisation of Turkish legislation with that of the EC in economic matters. Furthermore, the Additional Protocol envisaged the free circulation of persons between the parties in the next 12 to 22 years. Moreover, Turkey was obliged to comply with EU trade policy and align its policies on competition and intellectual property with EC legislation.
Turkey-EU relations entered a period of instability that lasted from the beginning of the 1970s to the second half of 1980s due not only to Turkey’s political and economic condition but also to a shift in the Atlantic Alliance and the global economic downturn that hampered European growth. Following the military coup of 12 September 1980, the relations between Turkey and the Community virtually froze. The coup also altered the nature of the relations between them in that before the coup they were largely economic while after it democratic conditionality became more important.[1] In the first Association Council after the political crisis, in 1986, Turkey stated its intention to apply for full membership, which it did on 14 April 1987 on the basis of the EEC Treaty’s Article 237, the ECSC Treaty’s Article 98 and the EURATOM Treaty’s Article 205. The Council forwarded Turkey’s application for membership to the European Commission for its Opinion, duly issued on 18 December 1989, where it basically underlined Turkey’s eligibility for membership yet deferred an in-depth analysis of the application until the emergence of a more favourable environment. The country’s economic and political situation, as well as its poor relations with Greece and the Cyprus problem, were pointed out as reasons for the right conditions not being present. The Commission also mentioned that Turkey’s accession was also hindered by the EC’s own situation on the eve of the Single Market’s completion, as it prevented any considerations of further enlargement. The Opinion went on to underline the need for a comprehensive cooperation programme in order to facilitate the integration of the two parties and added that the Customs Union should be completed in 1995 as envisaged.
Under these circumstances, Turkey chose to give priority to completing the envisaged Customs Union with the Community and further strengthened its efforts. Talks began in 1994 and were finalised on 6 March 1995 at the Turkey-EU Association Council, with the adoption of decision 1/95 on the completion of the Customs Union between Turkey and the EU in industrial and processed agricultural goods by 31 December 1995. With this decision, the second stage of the association relations was completed and the so-called ‘final phase’ was initiated. With the Customs Union decision, Turkey-EU relations entered a totally new dimension as it was one of the most important steps for Turkey’s EU integration objective.
Having completed the Customs Union, membership became one of the priority issues on Turkey’s agenda and it attached particular importance to the EU’s current enlargement process. Despite all these positive developments, the Commission excluded Turkey from the enlargement process in its report titled Agenda 2000, issued on 16 July 1997. While the report highlighted the fact that the Customs Union with Turkey was functioning at a satisfactory level and that Turkey had demonstrated its ability to adapt to EU norms in many areas, it noted the same political and economic arguments against Turkey as in its 1989 opinion, while making no reference to the full membership objective, partly because Turkey had trouble fulfilling the Copenhagen political criteria. Following this, at the Luxembourg European Council Summit of 12-13 December 1997, where Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and enlargement issues were discussed, the approach was in line with the contents of the Commission’s Agenda 2000. In the document released at the end of the Summit, while Turkey’s eligibility was reconfirmed by the Heads of States and Government of the EU’s Member States, the EU decided on a strategy to prepare Turkey for the development of closer ties with the EU and to create a special procedure to review any progress made. With these decisions, the development of Turkey-EU relations was made conditional on certain economic, political and foreign policy questions, with the Commission being asked to submit suitable proposals to enhance them. The Turkish Government’s reaction to the EU’s attitude was highly critical: although it stated that the goal of full membership and association would nevertheless be maintained, it said that the development of bilateral relations would depend on the EU honouring its commitments and that it would not discuss with the EU any issues that were outside the contractual context of the bilateral relations as long as the EU did not change its attitude. This was a reaction to being left out of the enlargement to a further 12 countries and to the inclusion of Cyprus among the six initial countries with which negotiations would commence.
The Helsinki European Council Summit held on 10-11 December 1999 was a breakthrough in Turkey-EU relations. Set against a changing political situation that included factors such as the subsidence of terror in Turkey following the capture of the PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan, the adoption of a more inclusive enlargement policy by the EU –aimed at stabilisation following the Kosovar crisis– and the assumption of office by the Social Democrats in Germany, the Helsinki Summit proved to be a crucial turning point. At the Summit, Turkey was officially recognised, without any preconditions, as a candidate state at an equal level with the others. The Presidency Conclusions of the Helsinki European Council clearly stated that Turkey would reap the benefits from a pre-accession strategy to stimulate and support its reforms. This would also include an Accession Partnership, which would be drawn up accordingly, combined with a National Programme for the adoption of the acquis communautaire. Turkey would participate in Community programmes open to other candidate countries and agencies. It would also be invited to the meetings between candidate states and the Union in the context of the accession process. A single framework for coordinating all sources of EU financial assistance for pre-accession would be created. Lastly, the Commission would monitor Turkey regularly with its Progress Reports, a procedure it had started to implement in 1998.
The recognition of Turkey as a candidate for accession at the Helsinki European Council marked the beginning of Turkey-EU relations with the prospect of membership. As foreseen in the Helsinki European Council Conclusions, the first Progress Report on Turkey was published by the Commission in 1998. The report was also the basis for the first Accession Partnership Document.
As noted in the Helsinki European Council’s conclusions, the Commission started to prepare an Accession Partnership for Turkey which was approved by the Council on 8 March 2001. Meanwhile, the framework regulation designed to furnish the legal basis for the Accession Partnership was adopted by the General Affairs Council on 26 February 2001. The regulation combined all EU financial assistance under a single programme. This was followed by the presentation of Turkey’s first National Programme for the implementation of the Accession Partnership to the Commission on 26 March 2001. The adoption of these two documents finalised an important institutional procedure concerning Turkey’s accession strategy.
The Accession Partnership for Turkey, an important instrument of the Commission formed in line with its enlargement policy, was prepared within the framework of Turkey’s ability to fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria. The document comprises the short- and medium-term targets that Turkey has to fulfil in order to comply with the Copenhagen political criteria. The Accession Partnership Document is updated when deemed necessary by the Commission.
After the approval of the Accession Partnership by the Council and the adoption of the Framework Regulation, the Turkish Government announced its first National Programme for the Adoption of the EU acquis on 19 March 2001. The National Programme was submitted to the Commission on 26 March 2001. It was produced with a careful appreciation of the short- and medium-term priorities to be fulfilled.
The Copenhagen European Council Summit of 12-13 December 2002 marked another important turning point in the EU’s enlargement process. After the accession of 10 candidate states to the EU had been declared, the Copenhagen European Council resolved that if the December 2004 European Council –on the basis of a recommendation from the European Commission– should decide that Turkey fulfilled the Copenhagen political criteria, the EU would open accession negotiations without delay. Meanwhile, the leaders of the EU Member States agreed to extend and develop cooperation on the Customs Union and provide the Turkish government with increased pre-accession financial assistance at the Summit.
Progress towards accession continued along the path set by the National Programme in the post-Helsinki period. The most crucial target at this stage was the opening of accession negotiations, which depended on ‘sufficient’ fulfilment of the Copenhagen political criteria. Turkey took a number of important steps to meet that conditionality clause. The most important among them were a major review of the Turkish Constitution, with two Constitutional reform packages and eight harmonisation packages adopted between February 2002 and July 2004. These eight reform packages modified 218 articles of 53 different laws. Compared to this marathon run of legislative change on diverse issues, from the abolition of the death penalty to extending cultural rights for minorities, subsequent reforms were bound to look somewhat limited in scope.
The European Commission’s Report and Recommendations were in line with the decisions taken at the 2002 Copenhagen European Council and were published on 6 October 2004. After thoroughly analysing the steps taken by Turkey, the Commission recognised that Turkey had sufficiently complied with the Copenhagen political criteria and advised the Member States to start accession negotiations.
The Presidency Conclusions on Turkey of 17 December 2004 were a historical landmark. Based on this recommendation, the European Council of 16-17 December 2004 reaffirmed the decisions taken at the 1999 Helsinki and 2002 Copenhagen Summits, as the Council took note of the resolute steps taken by Turkey in pursuing a comprehensive reform process and decided to open accession negotiations in the framework of paragraph 23 of the Presidency Conclusions. Accordingly, negotiations started with Turkey on 3 October 2005. However, both the Commission’s recommendation to open negotiations and the negotiation framework document include certain peculiarities, such as the stress on ‘negotiations being an open-ended process whose outcome cannot be guaranteed beforehand’[2] and the search for methods to ‘fully anchor Turkey in European structures’.[3] From the outset these measures gave rise to a certain sense of caution and were perceived as discriminatory by the Turkish public.
Negotiations: Impasse?
Screening was the first step of the negotiations but before long it became clear that the process was foundering under serious pressure. Despite the large-scale political and social support for membership in Turkey in early 2006, some major problems emerged that were to dominate accession talks in the following years. Instead of blaming one side or the other, the following section of this paper concentrates on the main reasons that contributed to slowing down Turkey’s accession process by trying to analyse the developments both in Turkey and in the EU.
The Cyprus Issue
An additional obstacle faced by Turkey is the Cyprus issue. Over the last few years, the Cyprus problem has poisoned Turkey-EU relations, partly due to the actions of the Republic of Cyprus as a Member State[4] and largely because other EU Member States support or hide behind this issue to block or slow down Turkey’s accession. On the other hand, Turkey’s accession negotiations, which are currently proceeding at a slow pace, risk grinding to a halt because of the chapters directly or indirectly blocked by the Cyprus conflict. In December 2006 the EU leaders decided unanimously not to open negotiations in eight chapters and not to provisionally close any chapters until Turkey fulfils its obligations deriving from the Additional Agreement –which basically implies extending the Customs Union to the Republic of Cyprus–. However, the situation is further complicated by the fact that Turkey claims that has fulfilled the obligations imposed by the Additional Agreement in the sense that there are no restrictions on goods produced in the south of the island per se. Turkey insists it is only blocking transport originating from the ports of the Republic of Cyprus.[5] The EU, on the other hand, insists that there is no practical difference.
This has brought Turkey to the point of making a choice between taking one-sided steps or not since the EU has failed to fulfil its promises to Turkish Cypriots in return for their cooperation in resolving the conflict under the auspices of the United Nations (the Annan Plan).[6] The EU’s unbalanced approach to the Cyprus issue, as stated by Ziya Öniş,[7] has reinforced widely-held perceptions among the Turkish public that Cyprus was being used as an excuse to place yet another obstacle in the path of Turkey’s membership. The Turkish-Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat and the Greek-Cypriot President Demetris Christofias have been negotiating the unification of the island under the guidance of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. However, despite claims that there is a commitment to find a comprehensive solution, there are certain key issues on which nobody wants to compromise.
The EU’s Internal Problems and Concerns
In a parallel process, The EU’s internal problems, such as the current financial and economic crises, have led to an increased ambiguity the in messages relayed to Turkey. Moreover, the messages are often championed by strong personalities or important leaders, such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, who are in principle opposed to Turkish membership. The important point here is that more often than not the public in Turkey regards the EU as a monolithic entity and negative attitudes of some of it leaders, Member States and/or institutions are perceived as the EU’s real and unitaryposition towards Turkish entry.
Looking beneath the surface, the negative stance of some Member States rests on political concerns that can be explained by the fear of the Union fragmenting as a result of Turkey’s accession. This is accompanied by economic and cultural fears, massive migration from Turkey resulting in the loss of jobs and the erosion of European citizenship.[8] The issue of migration is a cause of great concern to many EU citizens, giving rise to much debate whenever Turkish membership of the EU is discussed.
In the 1960s Western Europe, headed by Germany, was in dire need of workers to continue the process of economic recovery after the War and Turkey was the solution. The first immigrants or ‘guest workers’ from Turkey were followed and joined by their family members. Today third- or fourth-generation Turkish immigrants have finally managed to integrate into the respective societies they live in. Turkey is no longer classified as a source of immigration but rather as a transit country for other migrants trying to reach Europe. Furthermore, as the latest enlargement demonstrated, people tend to stay in their own countries when domestic conditions start improving due to EU integration, despite the much better conditions next door.
There are numerous studies showing the number of prospective migrants for specified periods of time in the future. As an example, a simulation based on a reasonable methodology points to between 1.0 to 2.1 million for the 2004-30 period, but to 2.7 million for the same period if the accession process is endangered.[9] When the aging factor is incorporated into the data, the same study predicts that the total number of immigrants in the period would be reduced by around 300,000.[10] In addition, Turkey’s educated young population might come into demand soon enough, as population growth in the EU is stagnant. The EU’s population is getting older and there could soon be a need for a greater working-age population to support social security systems in the face of drastic demographic change. The report ‘Project Europe 2030 – Challenges and Opportunities’, prepared by the Reflection Group, claims that without immigration and with a constant rate of labour participation, by 2050 the labour force should decline by around 68 million workers and the EU will need approximately 100 million people to fill the gap since not all immigrants actively participate in the work force.[11]
In fact, Turkey has a young population whose growth rate has been steadily decreasing. The ratio of young adults to the total population is currently at 65% and will approach 70% in 2025 before starting to decline –a phenomenon known as ‘the population window of opportunity’.[12] Even if the fear of migration is one of the most striking arguments of the opponents of Turkey’s entry, immigration might even become a necessity.
The recent political and economic crises (constitutional deadlock, the lengthy approval process of the Lisbon Treaty and the world-wide economic and financial depression) created the current political environment in which opponents of enlargement have become much stronger and more vocal. In this regard, the rise of a right-wing populism that maintains that Turkey ‘does not belong in the EU’ has become a major element in the accession-talks’ slowdown. Bearing in mind that the precursor of modern Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, became a member of the Concert of Europe in 1856 and given the close involvement of Turkey in European affairs for centuries, these arguments are far from self-evident in any case. However, at this point it should be emphasised that questions relating to Turkey’s accession are most likely the reflections of deeper uncertainties and fears in the EU deriving from the pressures of globalisation.[13] Moreover, in the aftermath of the constitutional treaty process some segments of the EU elite have tried to cut corners by aiming to accomplish the impossible: namely, determining clear-cut borders for European integration. Historically, Europe’s borders have always been fuzzy and open to interpretation and such an effort to try and fit Europe into a preconceived geographical space has mainly been interpreted in Turkey as an effort to keep it out, among other things.
In this framework, another obstacle in Turkey’s path to full EU membership is ‘enlargement fatigue’ as a result of the dramatic increase in the number of Member States from 15 to 27 in less than three years. This has been the most complex enlargement phase in the Union’s history. Furthermore, the EU may soon find itself in the midst of a new wave of enlargement involving the accession of the Western Balkan countries. However, the responsibility for overcoming the fatigue and improving its ‘integration capacity’ lies with the Union itself and not with the candidate countries. It is often pointed out that enlargements have tended to strengthen the Union, foster its economic growth and reinforce its role in the world. Nevertheless, when it comes to Turkey’s membership, it is often argued that the country’s size, large population and economic development would disrupt institutional, financial and political balances within the Union. The EU, in order to ensure its integration capacity and to be able to honour its commitments, must first decide on the reforms it should undertake. Constitutional settlement following the coming into force of the new treaty, the revision of the financial framework and the redefinition of some of its policies are necessary steps that come to mind. Also, efforts by European leaders to communicate enlargement to the public and counter misconceptions should be strengthened if the accession process is to pick up its pace once more.
Last but not least, one of the EU’s primary concerns is the economic situation of Europe today. Europe was heavily affected by the world-wide economic and financial crises as a whole. The packages that were designed to help Member States are widely regarded as stopgap measures and the future of the Monetary Union is under discussion. In short, the EU is focused on its internal problems, with other issues such as enlargement being put aside for the moment.
Turkey: A Whole Range of Internal Problems
Since 2005 Turkey has also seemed to have succumbed to lethargy concerning the accession process. There are various reasons for this slowdown, but to analyse them at length is beyond the scope of this paper. Nevertheless, the problems can be categorised under several mutually interrelated headings.
The first concerns the reform and harmonisation process itself. Turkey has undertaken so many reforms in such a short time that the country is still adjusting to the changes. Therefore, a certain lag between the formal adoption of harmonisation packages and their implementation is evident. The infamous article 301 on freedom of expression is a case in point.[14] In addition, the economic cost of adaptation of newly-opened chapters –the environment, for instance– is considered to be too much to expect unless membership is a certainty.
Thus, it is clear that reform in Turkey is a slow process that often moves forward by trial and error. In addition, such a comprehensive process is bound to create resistance, especially in society that is polarised on a number of issues. However, it should be borne in mind that polarisation is not between pro- or anti-democrats. Rather, back in 2004 there was strong cross-party support for EU reforms; yet, once the process intensified, a considerable part of public got the perception that the EU was starting to focus on welfare for only certain segments of society and on parochial interests rather than on the overall economic and social good.
Turkey’s latest ‘yes’ vote in the referendum on constitutional reform on 12 September 2010 has been taken as a positive sign by EU officials. With a participation rate of 73.71%, 57.88% of the voters said ‘yes’ while 42.12% said ‘no’.[15] There was a considerable debate about the content of the package and its implications, which is beyond the scope of this paper. However, it is no mistake to say that Turkey still needs many other changes in its constitution.
Secondly, as explained in the previous sections, the EU’s ambiguous messages have affected public opinion. Although public support for EU membership still remains relatively high (but down to around 50% from 70% in 2005), most people do not really believe that Turkey will become a member anytime soon. This decline in public confidence in EU membership has inevitably affected the government’s political will. Already facing resistance from parts of the elite, the government downplayed its EU accession rhetoric and allowed the process to split into two tracks, the political and the technical, to prevent the negotiations from coming to a grinding halt. While the political track has not moved since 2006, the technical track has progressed, although slowly. Moreover, the Turkish Secretariat General for EU Affairs has declared that it aims to complete harmonisation in all chapters by 2014. With this goal in mind, the National Programme for the harmonisation of the acquis was revised in 2009, a new chief negotiator was appointed and the Secretariat General itself was strengthened considerably through the recruitment of hundreds of new experts.
Third, Turkey’s focus has splintered into multiple issues since its internal agenda has become so complex. The country’s reforming energies are being taken up by minorities and Kurds, discussions about secularism and religion and the never-ending, seemingly all-encompassing, Ergenekon case.
Lastly, the fading-away of EU accession as a realistic political goal and the subsequent decline in public interest in the issue has led the government to stall on issues such as minority rights and even backtrack in certain areas, including freedom of expression and the existence of an independent press. Ratified this month, the European Parliament report penned by Ria Oomen-Ruijten also includes strongly-worded comments on these issues. Amendments relating to the recent arrests of journalists and the curtailment of freedom of expression have clearly underlined the need for a further effort.[16]0
All in all, including the last chapter opened by the Spanish Presidency, there are 13 chapters open with one provisionally closed. The Council decided not to open eight chapters and not to provisionally close any chapter until Turkey complies with its obligations under the additional protocol. Even if not officially declared, five chapters are blocked by France and six by the Republic of Cyprus (some of which are overlapping).[17] For the coming Presidency, only three chapters remain to be opened (Public Procurement, Competition Policy and Social Policy and Employment) if Turkey complies with the opening benchmarks.
It is clear that Turkey’s EU accession negotiations are not progressing effortlessly. The previous sections have provided a summary of the reasons for the slowdown in the negotiations. Yet, some commentators, both inside and outside Turkey, consider these reasons insufficient and provide another and more structural factor for the deceleration. It is claimed that Turkey has a new foreign policy and that, consequently, the EU membership goal is no longer the priority. The following section will look at these and assess whether policy priorities have been altered.
The New Turkish Foreign Policy and the EU
Since the first half of 2009 there has been increasing talk of a change in Turkey’s foreign policy in which EU membership is no longer the priority. The slowdown in the negotiations has affected both the public’s expectations and the government’s rhetoric and this has, in turn, led to genuine dissatisfaction with the EU. This is certainly reflected in both public discourse and some policy preferences.
In addition, there is another, more structural reason behind these comments. In May 2009, Ahmet Davutoğlu, a professor of international relations, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. A former foreigb affairs advisor to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Davutoğlu had long considered that Turkey needs to conduct its relations with other countries through a multi-pronged approach. In a book he wrote in 2001 he commented Turkish-EU relations, starting by providing a framework for the EU’s general perception of Turkey –with the caveat that a ‘single Europe’ does not exist–:[18]
‘[Europe] regards Turkey culturally as part of the Islam-centred East, economically and politically as an extension of the South. Because of this, Europeans regard Turkey as a hard-to-absorb element, and avoid saying “yes” to full membership, while keeping relations in limbo by calculating the potential costs of saying “no”’.[19]
Although written before the start of the accession talks with Turkey, the subsequent lull in the negotiations has reinforced this perception of Europe in Turkey. According to Davutoğlu, the remedy is to ‘strengthen Turkey’s geocultural identity depth and thus create fertile ground for new opportunities’.[20]
It is thus possible to analyse Turkey’s new foreign policy initiatives from a perspective of diversification. Consequently, ‘while Turkey pursues a policy of constructive engagement in its neighbourhood and beyond, full integration with the EU is and will remain the priority’.[21] In other words, it is only by establishing policy alternatives that membership can become possible for Turkey. This is the lens through which Turkey’s relations with its neighbours and other countries of the region should be looked at. Turkey’s recent track record of foreign policy initiatives also supports this discourse.
However, it should not be forgotten that Turkey’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War has inclined towards diversification. In fact, a former Foreign Minister, İsmail Cem, summed up this discourse by stressing that ‘Turkey’s history was moulded in Kosovo, Bosnia, Edirne and Manastır, or any other Turkish European centre as well as in Bursa, Kayseri, Sivas, Van or any major Turkish city in Asia’.[22] Previously, much of this diversification went unnoticed because the global system was largely unipolar. The first sign of the change in policy was Turkey’s initiatives in the former Soviet Central Asian countries and, to a lesser extent, the Balkans. With recent changes in the global system and the rising importance of the Middle East, Turkey’s foreign policy has also begun to adapt to the new global parameters.
Even if the vast majority of Turkish experts working on foreign policy find the axis shift argument an ‘exaggeration and crude characterisation’,[23] it can be claimed that the recent changes have made Turkey’s foreign policy more independent and self-confident. Starting with a ‘zero problems with neighbours’ approach, it has continued with a more assertive stance, with Turkey effectively playing its foreign policy card. The attitude of Prime Minister Erdoğan at the Davos meeting of the World Economic Forum (January 2009) can be taken as a striking turning point.[24] His open defence of the Palestinian cause, the Gaza flotilla crises with Israel, the ‘no’ vote to the proposed sanctions to Iran at the United Nations Security Council in June 2010 and joint declaration by Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to set up a free-trade area in June 2010 are all considered by many scholars to be examples of the axis-shift towards a more eastern-oriented approach.
But this diversification in Turkey’s foreign policy should not necessarily be seen as a threat to its European orientation. Moreover, Turkey’s new foreign policy initiatives should be considered an asset for the EU if they contribute to the resolution of crises and conflicts in the region. In this context, Turkey’s relations with its neighbouring countries can be interpreted as an alternative channel for the EU to exert influence.
This is also reflected in the recent report of the European Parliament, that underlines the need for an active policy and for further coordination regarding the mutual benefits to the Union and Turkey. In addition, it highlights the possible inspiration Turkey might provide to the democratisation and development processes in the Middle East and North Africa.[25]
Today, when analysing the developments in the Middle East and North Africa, it is clear that Turkey’s new foreign policy can prove to be an asset to the EU. Recently, Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, was accused of being too ‘passive’ with regard to the crises in Tunisia and Egypt,[26] while Turkey’s reaction to the current events was praised and Turkey is presented as a ‘modern democracy’ and a role model to all these countries.[27]
In summary, good neighbourly relations are often cited as a requirement for Turkey’s accession and hence, from the perspective of the accession negotiations, the diversification of Turkey’s foreign policy is a necessity rather than a whim. Finally, it should not be forgotten that while Turkey’s recent foreign policy activism is an adjustment to global and regional developments, it has also partly been triggered by the EU pushing Turkey away and delaying its integration, hindering rather than facilitating the accession process.
Conclusion
This paper has attempted to provide an outline of the state of Turkey’s EU accession process. After giving an account of Turkey’s history with the EU and established that there has been a slowdown in the accession negotiations, it has explained the reasons for such a development. The current impasse has both the EU and Turkey to blame. The EU, suffering from enlargement fatigue and concerned about the challenges of integrating a big country like Turkey has been dragging its feet for some time. In addition, fighting economic crises is currently a full-time job, keeping other issues away from the agenda.
Turkey, on the other hand, struggling with reforms, distracted by internal affairs and affected by the EU’s lack of enthusiasm has contributed to the creation of a vicious circle,[28] fed by a mutual lack of political will. In fact, the slowdown in Turkey’s reforms and the move towards diversification in its foreign policy have raised concerns in both the EU and Turkey about whether EU membership is losing its appeal for the Turkish government. This diversification, however, is a separate process that has been in progress since the end of the Cold War. Moreover, the diversification of Turkey’s foreign policy does not necessarily constitute an obstacle to its EU membership goal. In fact, with the right decisions, it could even contribute to the process and benefit the EU itself.
Turkey’s geographical position and historical connections to the Balkans, the Black Sea, Russia and Central Asia should provide the EU with a greater say in the global arena. Also, as for its important role in NATO, Turkey’s EU membership should help consolidate both the military and civilian aspects of the EU’s common policies, especially the CFSP and the newly rechristened CSDP. An EU including Turkey will be more efficient in tackling global political and economic issues, ranging from the threat of terrorism to illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Turkey’s accession should also enhance the EU’s position in regions close to its immediate neighbourhood. In this respect, Turkey’s role in diversifying energy resources and connecting different routes to the EU will be an important contribution. Last but not least, the dynamism Turkey’s membership can provide should help to balance the EU’s internal equilibrium, which has at times seemed unsteady after the 2004 enlargement.
 Appendix I. Turkey’s Accession Negotiations: Current Situation (February 2011)
Chapters opened and provisionally closed
Chapters to be opened (*)
Screening Reports approved at the EU Council with benchmarks (*)
Draft Screening Reports to be approved at the EU Council
Screening Reports not yet drafted
25. Science & Research (Austria: 12/VI/2006)
26. Education & Culture
(*) Even though Turkey has presented her negotiating position, the opening benchmarks have not been decided.
1. Free Movement of Goods
3. Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services
5. Public Procurement
8. Competition Policy
9. Financial Services
11. Agriculture & Rural Development
19. Social Policy & Employment
29. Customs Union
(*) The underlined chapters are those that the Council has decided not to open until Turkey has complied with its obligations under the additional protocol.
Opened Chapters
4. Free Movement of Capital
(France: 18/XII/2008)
6. Company Law
(Slovenia: 12/VI/2008)
7. Intellectual Property Law
(Slovenia: 12/VI/2008)
10. Information Society & Media
(France: 18/XII/2008)
12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy
(Spain: 30/VI/2010)
16. Taxation
(Czech Republic: 30/VI/2009)
18. Statistics
(Germany: 26/VI/2007)
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy (Germany: 28/II/2007)
21. Trans-European Networks
(Portugal: 19/XII/2007)
27. Environment
(Sweden: 21/XII/2009)
28. Consumer & Health Protection
(Portugal: 19/XII/2007)
32. Financial Control
(Germany: 26/VI/2007)

 Bibliography

Cem, İsmail (2000), Turkey in the 21st Century, Rustem, Nicosia, p. 16.
Cuperus, Rene (2008), ‘Europe’s Revolt of Populism and the Turkish Question: Perceptions and Misperceptions in the EU and Turkey, Stumbling Blocks on the Road to Accession’, Centre for European Security Studies (CESS) & Turkey Institute, Leiden, The Netherlands.
Davutoğlu, Ahmet (2001), Stratejik Derinlik, Küre Yayınları, İstanbul, p. 536
Davutoğlu, Ahmet (2009), Turkish Foreign Policy and the EU in 2010, Turkish Policy Quarterly, vol. 8, nr 3, p. 11-17.
Erzan, Refik and Kemal Kirişçi. (2004), ‘Turkish Immigrants: Their Integration within the EU’. Turkish Policy Quarterly, vol. 3, nr 3.
Erzan, Refik, Umut Kuzubas & Nilüfer Yıldız. (2004), ‘Growth and Immigration Scenarios: Turkey – EU’, Turkey in Europe Monitor, nr 12, CEPS, p. 123.
Independent Commission on Turkey (2009), ‘Turkey in Europe: Breaking the Vicious Cycle’.
Öniş, Ziya. (2008), ‘Turkey-EU Relations: Beyond the Current Stalemate’, Insight Turkey, vol. 10, nr 4, p. 35-50.
Öniş, Ziya (2011), ‘Multiple Faces of the “New” Turkish Foreign Policy: Underlying Dynamics and a Critique’, Insight Turkey, vol. 13, nr 1, p. 47-65.
Reflection Group Report (2010), ‘Project Europe: Challenges and Opportunities’.
Rodríguez López, Carmen (2007), Turquía, la apuesta por Europa, Los Libros de la Catarata, Madrid
[1] For more information, see Carmen Rodríguez López (2007).
[2] http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52004DC0656:EN:HTML.
[3] http://www.abgs.gov.tr/files/AB_Iliskileri/Tur_En_Realitons/NegotiatingFrameowrk/Negotiating_Frameowrk_Full.pdf.
[4] Turkey contends that since a legitimate government representing the whole island does not exist in Cyprus, Turkey does not recognise the Greek Administration of Southern Cyprus (GASC), which is referred to as the ‘Republic of Cyprus’.
[5] Turkey claims that if the blocking of transport of goods constitutes a violation of the obligations of the Customs Union, so does the arbitrarily-imposed quotas on Turkish trucks.
[6] In the referendum for settling the Cyprus dispute in 2004, 64.9% of the Turkish-Cypriot community voted ‘Yes’ to the Annan Plan while 75.83% of the Greek-Cypriot community voted ‘No’. Since the implementation of the plan was dependent on its approval by both communities, it was void (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypriot_Annan_Plan_referendum,_2004).
[7] Ziya Öniş (2008).
[8] Rene Cuperus (2008).
[9] Refik Erzan, Umut Kuzubas & Nilüfer Yıldız (2004), p. 123.
[10] Ibid., p. 124.
[11] http://www.reflectiongroup.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/reflection_en_web.pdf.
[12] Refik Erzan & Kemal Kirişçi (2004).
[13] Öniş (2008).
[14] The article was originally part of the new penal code prepared with the aim of bringing Turkey’s standards in line with the EU’s. However, the article led to some very controversial interpretations by parts of the judicial establishment. Facing both domestic and international criticism, the government at first advocated a wait-and-see policy, claiming that once the necessary case-law was established, the accusations under the article would dry up. However, the establishment of a viable body of case-law is a lengthy process. On 5 November 2006 government officials and civil society representatives met to discuss article 301. Consequently, several amendments to the controversial article were presented in early 2007. Finally, on 30 April 2008 the article was changed by an amendment to modify ‘Turkishness’ to ‘the Turkish Nation’. Also, a new amendment makes it obligatory to obtain the approval of the minister of Justice to file a case related with article 301.
[15] www.ysk.gov.tr.
[16] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2011-0156&format=XML&language=EN.
[17] See Appendix for more information.
[18] Ahmet Davutoğlu (2001), p. 536.
[19] Ibid., p. 549.
[20] Ibid., p. 546.
[21] Ahmet Davutoğlu (2009), p. 11-17.
[22] İsmail Cem (2000), p.16.
[23] Ziya Öniş (2011), p. 47-65.
[24] Ibid.
[25] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=MOTION&reference=B7-2011-0156&format=XML&language=EN.
[26] http://www.elpais.com/articulo/internacional/Eurocamara/arremete/Ashton/dejar/pasar/tren/historia/Egipto/elpepuint/20110203elpepiint_6/Tes.
[27] http://www.elpais.com/articulo/opinion/Turquia/democratica/modelo/elpepiopi/20110210elpepiopi_11/Tes.
[28] Independent Commission on Turkey (2009).
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona 

abril 4, 2011 Posted by | General | Deja un comentario

>The limits of air power

>

By Andrew Cockburn, the author of, most recently, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall and Catastrophic Legacy (LOS ANGELES TIMES, 03/04/11):
No one following the record of air power as an instrument of national whim should be surprised that Moammar Kadafi’s army remains apparently uncowed, even driving Libyan rebels back in headlong retreat despite an onslaught of NATO bombs and missiles. In fact, history is repeating itself in more ways than one.
The very first bombing raid ever occurred almost 100 years ago on Nov. 1, 1911, when an Italian airman hand-dropped four 4.5-pound bombs on forces defending Tripoli against Italian invaders. This momentous event went down well with the press: “Italian Military Aviator Outside Tripoli Proves War Value of Aeroplane,” headlined the New York Times. But it had little effect on the fighting, thus commencing a pattern of disappointment that has recurred with monotonous regularity in subsequent conflicts, irrespective of advances in technology. Precision bombing, touted as an instrument of victory in World War II and Vietnam, turned out to be anything but, leaving the wars to be decided by foot soldiers on the ground.
The 1999 NATO air campaign against Serbia is often cited as a turning point in this sorry narrative. Despite the fact that it lasted 11 weeks rather than the three days predicted by NATO commanders, not a single U.S. serviceman was killed. Furthermore, the attacks ended when the Yugoslav leader, Slobodan Milosevic, agreed to withdraw from Kosovo, thus permitting the return of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees freed from the threat of Serb persecution. Not only had the operation apparently vindicated liberal interventionists in the Clinton administration, but it also indicated that at long last, air power alone could win a war.
Subsequent inquiry gravely tarnished this shining example. The Serbian army deployed in Kosovo had been the principal target of bombs and missiles, yet at the end of the conflict allied military observers were surprised to see Serb formations withdrawing in good order, morale and equipment apparently intact. And despite contemporary official claims that more than 300 tanks had been destroyed, the actual number, according to sources on the command staff and an internal Air Force study, was 14. Most strikingly of all, the cease-fire terms were almost identical to those accepted by Milosevic before the war.
Nevertheless, the rapid eviction of the Taliban from Afghanistan in 2001 appeared to refute the doubters finally and unequivocally. A combination of very precisely guided bombs and missiles, deployed in conjunction with unmanned surveillance drones and select teams of Special Forces target designators on the ground, were deemed to have destroyed large numbers of enemy and routed the rest. Dangerously, this rapid triumph convinced then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that his preference for brief campaigns waged with few troops and high-tech precision weaponry had been totally vindicated, with disastrous consequences on planning for the invasion of Iraq.
As it turned out, the Taliban had not been destroyed (the number of wounded left by its retreating forces was tellingly small). For the most part, they stood down when their sponsor, Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, ordered a tactical retreat. In more recent years, the Taliban has steadily re-extended its grip over much of Afghanistan despite constant and heavy air assault.
None of these salutary qualifications appear to have had much effect on air power enthusiasts in the current administration, particularly those veterans of the Clinton years who cherish warm, if inaccurate, memories of the Kosovo campaign. So the hard lessons will have to be learned all over again: Jet fighters flying at 15,000 feet — standard altitude in these conditions — have great difficulty spotting targets such as tanks, especially when they make some effort to hide or camouflage themselves. Additionally, in the last week, forces loyal to Kadafi have reportedly taken to moving in pickups identical to those used by the rebels, rendering the task of airborne targeteers even more difficult. For even minimal success, U.S. personnel acting as ground spotters are indispensable, and they, of course, will require further troops to protect them and train local allies — a role now reportedly being delegated to the CIA.
It is worth bearing in mind that following that inaugural bombing raid in 1911, for which the invaders had such high hopes, and despite the infusion of ever-larger numbers of Italian troops, the war lasted another 20 years.
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona

abril 4, 2011 Posted by | armamentismo, aviación, OTAN | Deja un comentario

>La filosofía del "pienso, luego ‘tuiteo’"

>

Por ANTONIO FRAGUAS – Madrid – (El Pais.com, 03/04/2011)
“He construido castillos en el aire tan hermosos que me conformo con sus ruinas”, escribió Jules Renard en 1890. Una frase de apenas 80 caracteres que cabría de maravilla en un mensaje de la red social Twitter. El límite de 140 matrices que fija este popular servicio de mensajería pública e instantánea en Internet, en el que cada día se vuelcan 65 millones de textos (tuits, en la jerga), ha insuflado nueva vida a un género filosófico y literario de larga tradición, el aforismo, y también a otras formas de pensamiento breve.
Si, como sostiene Nicholas Carr en su obra Superficiales (Taurus), Internet causa que la “lectura profunda” se convierta en un esfuerzo, los aforismos parecen la vía ideal para alcanzar honduras filosóficas sin quemarse las pestañas.
Un síntoma de este renacer: Samuel Johnson murió en 1784 pero tiene más de 30.000 seguidores en esa red social (twitter.com/drsamueljohnson). El interés que suscitan sus tuits ha llevado a que se reedite en Reino Unido un libro con sus máximas.
“Este fenómeno contribuye a despejar el malentendido de que hay que elegir entre las tradiciones del pasado o los formatos del presente. Es una señal más de que las nuevas tecnologías no solo son un instrumento de amnesia. Es dignísimo que aforismos clásicos se cuelguen en Twitter”, afirma Andrés Neuman, novelista, autor del volumen de aforismos El equilibrista (Acantilado) y dueño del blog Microrréplicas (http://andresneuman.blogspot.com), donde publica razonamientos breves.
Anthony Gottlieb, historiador de las ideas, escribía hace poco en The New York Times sobre la figura del filósofo Michel de Montaigne como precursor de los blogueros que exhiben sus ejercicios de introspección en forma de ciberdiarios. También Twitter y Facebook funcionan como una plaza donde los usuarios trabajan su identidad escribiendo en primera persona, como el pensador bordelés del siglo XVII.
Otro síntoma: las Novelas de tres líneas del anarquista francés Félix Fénéon (Ed. Impedimenta). Sus microrrelatos verídicos, subidos a Twitter por la New York Review Books, llevan ya más de 1.400 seguidores (twitter.com/novelsin3lines). “Fénéon es un visionario de la velocidad de difusión de la noticia y el carácter sintético de Twitter”, apunta Antonio Jiménez Morato, usuario de esta red social, introductor de la edición española de esta obra, y autor de cuentos. Jiménez Morato es escéptico sobre el papel de Twitter: “El aforismo requiere reflexión y síntesis. La razón fundamental del triunfo de los tuits es la rapidez y la inmediatez, tanto de redacción como de contenido, y no sé yo si eso coincide con un buen aforismo”.
Musicólogo, poeta y filósofo, Ramón Andrés acaba de publicar el florilegio Los extremos (Lumen) y, pese a que no frecuenta las redes sociales -“he optado por un mundo más lento”-, las ve como una oportunidad: “El pensamiento breve (en el espacio) no tiene porqué ser limitado. Cuántos aforismos buenísimos tienen menos de 140 caracteres… que se lo digan a los maestros orientales”.
El escritor mexicano Juan Villoro, traductor de Georg Lichtenberg -uno de los mayores aforistas de la historia- lleva menos de 15 días utilizando Twitter (twitter.com/juanvilloro56), donde por vez primera ofrece sus propios aforismos. En ese corto período ha logrado más de 11.000 seguidores. Otro síntoma del interés del público por lo breve pero intenso. “Tradicionalmente ha sido un género que se presenta con cierta soberbia: el autor de aforismos quiere ofrecer una verdad cerrada en forma de apotegma. Twitter nos permite evitar esa solemnidad y ensayar o ensayarnos”, afirma.
Atalanta, editorial de Jacobo Siruela, explora el género estos últimos años. En 2007 lanzó El arte de conversar, de Oscar Wilde y, en 2009, Escolios para un texto implícito, del colombiano Nicolás Gómez Dávila, comparado por los expertos con monstruos del aforismo como Emil Cioran y Elias Canetti. “Para Gómez Dávila el aforismo es el único medio de no falsificar el pensamiento, pues cualquier desarrollo implica la falsa presunción de que el discurso contiene la totalidad de lo que se quiere o se puede decir. El aforismo representa la expresión del pensamiento honrado. Consciente de que vivimos en lo fragmentario, nuestro tiempo coloca al pensamiento de lo breve en el lugar de honor que le corresponde”, afirma Siruela.
El editor José Luis Gallero lleva dos décadas construyendo una historia del pensamiento fragmentario. Gallero constata desde hace 10 años (justo cuando eclosionó Internet) un interés creciente por parte del público y apunta las causas: “Hay un renacimiento, porque el aforismo es un hibrido de filosofía, poesía y pensamiento moral. Eso permite al lector acceder por diferentes ángulos: algo valioso para orientarse en estos tiempos oscuros y acelerados”. Ramón Andrés coincide con Gallero: “En este mundo de velocidad, en que pocas personas se detienen a leer una obra extensa, es donde un aforismo sirve como destilación de muchas cosas”. El matiz a estas razones lo sugiere Andrés Neuman: “Las microformas obligan a detenerse al lector que va con prisa. Un texto breve ha de leerse lentamente. Los microrrelatos y los aforismos son géneros lentos”.
A Neuman le fascina el hecho de que, al eliminar los intermediarios, las redes sociales permitan que autores nuevos se abran paso y se afirmen sin padrinos. Es el caso, entre otros, de Korochi (twitter.com/korochi), tras cuyo mote se esconde el argentino Lucas Worcel. Ronda los 7.000 seguidores gracias a sus retruécanos y sus juegos de palabras: “Al principio me decían que escribía cosas parecidas a las greguerías de Ramón Gómez de la Serna”. Está por ver cuántos seguidores lograría De la Serna si alguien creara su perfil en Twitter…
‘Microflorilegio’ de pensamientos
Ramón Andrés: “Hay personas que ocupan, y otras que abarcan”. / “El mundo no es un lugar, es una elección”.
Samuel Johnson: “Es mejor vivir rico que morir siéndolo”. / “Aquel que alaba a todo el mundo no alaba a nadie”.
Félix Fénéon: “Gégot apuñaló a Quérénec. Estos dos marineros del torpedero 250 amaban a la misma mujer de Brest”.
Andrés Neuman: “Permanecer indiferente es comprometedor”. / “Cada vez que nace un héroe, muere un ciudadano”.
Gómez Dávila: “La serenidad es el fruto de la incertidumbre aceptada”. / “Para que la idea más sutil se vuelva tonta, no es necesario que un tonto la exponga, basta que la escuche”.
Korochi: “Pasan más calor los que instalan aires acondicionados que los que instalan estufas”. / “El vaso siempre es el mismo, pero cuando tiene agua está medio lleno y cuando tiene whisky está medio vacío”.

abril 3, 2011 Posted by | Internet | Deja un comentario

>El miedo conquista Siria

>

Por ANA CARBAJOSA (ENVIADA ESPECIAL) – Ramza – (El Pais.com, 04/04/2011)
Unos duermen en coches por si la policía va a su casa a buscarlos en medio de la noche. Otros se refugian en viviendas de familias nada sospechosas de participar en protestas en contra del régimen y los hay también que andan forajidos de pueblo en pueblo, en un optimista intento de burlar a las fuerzas de seguridad y al omnipresente espionaje sirio. Todos se afanan en borrar las fotos y vídeos de las manifestaciones que puedan delatar a algún vecino. Es lo que cuentan algunos de los manifestantes y vecinos de Deraa (Siria) cuando llegan a Ramza, una ciudad jordana que se encuentra pegada a la frontera entre ambos países.
Los habitantes de Deraa, la ciudad en la que estallaron las primeras revueltas contra el presidente Bachar el Asad y en la que la represión se ha cobrado el mayor numero de víctimas, viven presos del miedo. La campaña de detenciones masivas y torturas a los cautivos de los dos últimos días ha sembrado el pánico y ha logrado debilitar de momento la revuelta, cuentan los llegados desde la ciudad.
Ramza está situada a escasos cinco kilómetros de Deraa, sellada con controles del Ejército sirio, que impiden la entrada a periodistas y observadores internacionales desde que los manifestantes empezaran a salir a la calle hace dos semanas a pedir la caída del régimen.
A esta localidad jordana llegan a diario los comerciantes de Deraa. Aquí se les conoce como los baharas, en árabe, los marinos, porque navegan de un lado al otro de la frontera. En Ramza no hay servicios secretos sirios, ni detenciones en medio de la noche, ni disparos a manifestantes a plena luz del día, ni cárceles agujero-negro en las que se sabe cuándo se entra pero no cuándo se sale. Aun así, a los que vienen de Deraa les persigue la sombra del miedo. Temen detallar los atropellos que el régimen sirio comete en nombre de la estabilidad y con la ley de emergencia en la mano. En la calle nadie habla de lo que sucede al otro lado de la frontera. En privado, lejos de las miradas y sin nombres de por medio, algunos se atreven.
“Hay muchos jóvenes heridos, pero se quedan en casa porque piensan que, en el hospital, las fuerzas de seguridad les detendrán o les matarán”, cuenta en la trastienda de un ultramarinos un comerciante que hace media hora ha llegado de Deraa. Vive junto a la mezquita Al Omari, la que se había convertido en hospital improvisado y fue atacada por la policía. Durante el ataque murieron al menos seis personas. Amnistía Internacional cifra en 55 el número de muertos en Deraa a manos de las fuerzas de seguridad.
Los vecinos hablan además de un número indeterminado de desaparecidos, de detenidos de los que no se vuelve a saber nada. Fuentes próximas a los manifestantes explican que a los encarcelados los apalean y les aplican descargas eléctricas. Estas acusaciones resultan imposibles de confirmar al estar cerrado el país a cal y canto a los periodistas extranjeros.
“Queremos que el mundo sepa lo que está pasando”, asegura otro bahara de Deraa que dice participar en todas las manifestaciones. El problema es que el régimen del partido Baaz, el que gobierna Siria con puño de hierro desde 1963, se emplea estos días a fondo en impedir que la información cruce las fronteras de Deraa. Cuentan los residentes que el viernes por la noche fueron casa por casa pidiendo teléfonos móviles y obligando a sus dueños a identificar a los manifestantes que aparecían en las imágenes guardadas. Así han ido cayendo uno tras otro los manifestantes, delatados por los móviles de sus vecinos.
En Deraa saben que, aunque la represión haya debilitado en los últimos días su revuelta, las protestas que ellos comenzaron se han extendido ya por casi todo el país. En Duma, un suburbio de Damasco, miles de personas pidieron libertad ayer durante el funeral de las ocho personas muertas el viernes durante una manifestación. La policía fue la causante de las muertes al abrir fuego contra la protesta, según testigos citados por la agencia Reuters.
Y mientras, el presidente sirio, Bachar el Asad, encargó ayer al exministro de Agricultura Adel Safar formar Gobierno. El nuevo Ejecutivo reemplazará al que presentó su dimisión el pasado martes al calor de las protestas. El gesto político tiene escasas probabilidades de contar con una acogida favorable por parte de los manifestantes, ya que han sido precisamente la sequía y la mala gestión de los recursos hídricos los causantes de un gran descontento entre la población empobrecida del país.

abril 3, 2011 Posted by | conflicto social, Siria | Deja un comentario

>Islandia enjaula a sus banqueros

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Por CLAUDI PÉREZ (El Pais.com, 03/04/2011)
Se busca. Hombre, 48 años, 1,80 metros, 114 kilos. Calvo, ojos azules. La Interpol acompaña esa descripción de una foto en la que aparece un tipo bien afeitado embutido en uno de esos trajes oscuros de 2.000 euros y tocado con un impecable nudo de corbata. Se ve a la legua que se trata de un banquero: este no es uno de esos carteles del salvaje Oeste. La delincuencia ha cambiado mucho con la globalización financiera. Y sin embargo, esta historia tiene ribetes de western de Sam Peckinpah ambientado en el Ártico. Esto es Islandia, el lugar donde los bancos quiebran y sus directivos pueden ir a la cárcel sin que el cielo se desplome sobre nuestras cabezas; la isla donde apenas medio millar de personas armadas con peligrosas cacerolas pueden derrocar un Gobierno. Esto es Islandia, el pedazo de hielo y roca volcánica que un día fue el país más feliz del mundo (así, como suena) y donde ahora los taxistas lanzan las mismas miradas furibundas que en todas partes cuando se les pregunta si están más cabreados con los banqueros o con los políticos. En fin, Esto es Islandia: paraíso sobrenatural, reza el cartel que se divisa desde el avión, antes incluso de desembarcar.
El tipo de la foto se llama Sigurdur Einarsson. Era el presidente ejecutivo de uno de los grandes bancos de Islandia y el más temerario de todos ellos, Kaupthing (literalmente, “la plaza del mercado”; los islandeses tienen un extraño sentido del humor, además de una lengua milenaria e impenetrable). Einarsson ya no está en la lista de la Interpol. Fue detenido hace unos días en su mansión de Londres. Y es uno de los protagonistas del libro más leído de Islandia: nueve volúmenes y 2.400 páginas para una especie de saga delirante sobre los desmanes que puede llegar a perpetrar la industria financiera cuando está totalmente fuera de control.
Nueve volúmenes: prácticamente unos episodios nacionales en los que se demuestra que nada de eso fue un accidente. Islandia fue saqueada por no más de 20 o 30 personas. Una docena de banqueros, unos pocos empresarios y un puñado de políticos formaron un grupo salvaje que llevó al país entero a la ruina: 10 de los 63 parlamentarios islandeses, incluidos los dos líderes del partido que ha gobernado casi ininterrumpidamente desde 1944, tenían concedidos préstamos personales por un valor de casi 10 millones de euros por cabeza. Está por demostrar que eso sea delito (aunque parece que parte de ese dinero servía para comprar acciones de los propios bancos: para hinchar las cotizaciones), pero al menos es un escándalo mayúsculo.
Islandia es una excepción, una singularidad; una rareza. Y no solo por dejar quebrar sus bancos y perseguir a sus banqueros. La isla es un paisaje lunar con apenas 320.000 habitantes a medio camino entre Europa, EE UU y el círculo polar, con un clima y una geografía extremos, con una de las tradiciones democráticas más antiguas de Europa y, fin de los tópicos, con una gente de indomable carácter y una forma de ser y hacer de lo más peculiar. Un lugar donde uno de esos taxistas furibundos, tras dejar atrás la capital, Reikiavik, se adentra en una lengua de tierra rodeada de agua y deja al periodista al pie de la distinguida residencia presidencial, con el mismísimo presidente esperando en el quicio de la puerta: cualquiera puede acercarse sin problemas, no hay medidas de seguridad ni un solo policía. Solo el detalle exótico de una enorme piel de oso polar en lo alto de una escalera saca del pasmo a quien en su primera entrevista con un presidente de un país se topa con un mandatario, Ólagur Grímsson, que considera “una locura” que sus conciudadanos “tengan que pagar la factura de su banca sin que se les consulte”.

Los islandeses piden responsabilidades por la crisis económica– BOB STRONG (REUTERS)

Y del presidente al ciudadano de a pie: de la anécdota a la categoría. Arnar Arinbjarnarsson es capaz de resumir el apocalipsis de Islandia con estupefaciente impavidez, frente a un humeante capuchino en el céntrico Café París, a dos pasos del Althing, el Parlamento. Arnar tiene 33 años y estudió ingeniería en la universidad, pero, al acabar, ni siquiera se le pasó por la cabeza diseñar puentes: uno de los bancos le contrató, pese a carecer de formación financiera. “La banca estaba experimentando un crecimiento explosivo, y para un ingeniero es relativamente sencillo aprender matemática financiera, sobre todo si el sueldo es estratosférico”, alega.

Islandia venía de ser el país más pobre de Europa a principios del siglo XX. En los años ochenta, el Gobierno privatizó la pesca: la dividió en cuotas e hizo millonarios a unos cuantos pescadores. A partir de ahí, bajo el influjo de Ronald Reagan y Margaret Thatcher, el país se convirtió en la quintaesencia del modelo liberal, con una política económica de bajos impuestos, privatizaciones, desregulaciones y demás: la sombra de Milton Friedman, que viajó durante esa época a Reikiavik, es alargada. Aquello funcionó. La renta per cápita se situó entre las más altas del mundo, el paro se estabilizó en el 1% y el país invirtió en energía verde, plantas de aluminio y tecnología. El culmen llegó con el nuevo siglo: el Estado privatizó la banca y los banqueros iniciaron una carrera desaforada por la expansión dentro y fuera del país, ayudados por las manos libres que les dejaba la falta de regulación y por unos tipos de interés en torno al 15% que atraían los ahorros de los dentistas austriacos, los jubilados alemanes y los comerciantes holandeses. Una economía sana, asentada sobre sólidas bases, se convirtió en una mesa de black jack. Ni siquiera faltó una campaña nacionalista a favor de la supremacía racial de la casta empresarial, lo que tal vez demuestra lo peligroso que es meter en la cabeza de la gente ese tipo de memeces, ya sea “las casas nunca bajan de precio” o “los islandeses controlan mejor el riesgo por su pasado vikingo”.
La fiesta se desbocó: los activos de los bancos llegaron a multiplicar por 12 el PIB. Solo Irlanda, otro ejemplo de modelo liberal, se acerca a esas cifras. Hasta que de la noche a la mañana -con el colapso de Lehman Brothers y el petardazo financiero mundial- todo se desmoronó, en lo que ha sido “el shock más brutal y fulminante de la crisis internacional”, asegura Jon Danielsson, de la London School of Economics.
Pero volvamos a Arnar y su relato: “La banca empezó a derrochar dinero en juergas con champán y estrellas del rock; se compró o ayudó a comprar medio Oxford Street, varios clubes de fútbol de la liga inglesa, bancos en Dinamarca, empresas en toda Escandinavia: todo lo que estuviera en venta, y todo a crédito”. Los ejecutivos se concedían créditos millonarios a sí mismos, a sus familiares, a sus amigos y a los políticos cercanos, a menudo, sin garantías. La Bolsa multiplicó su valor por nueve entre 2003 y 2007. Los precios de los pisos se triplicaron. “Los bancos levantaron un obsceno castillo de naipes que se lo llevó todo por delante”, cuenta Arnar, que conserva su empleo, pero con la mitad de sueldo. Acaba de comprarse un barco a medias con su padre con la intención de cambiar de vida: quiere dedicarse a la pesca.

Ciudadanos islandeses se manifiestan tras el colapso de la economía, en diciembre de 2008.– BRYNJAR GUNNARSSON (AP)

La fábula de una isla de pescadores que se convirtió en un país de banqueros tiene moraleja: “Tal vez sea hora de volver al comienzo”, reflexiona el ingeniero. “Tal vez todo ese dinero y ese talento que absorbe la banca cuando crece demasiado no solo se convierte en un foco de inestabilidad, sino que detrae recursos de otros sectores y puede llegar a ser nocivo, al impedir que una economía desarrolle todo su potencial”, dice el presidente Grímsson.

La magnitud de la catástrofe fue espectacular. La inflación se desbocó, la corona se desplomó, el paro creció a toda velocidad, el PIB ha caído el 15%, los bancos perdieron unos 100.000 millones de dólares (pasará mucho tiempo antes de que haya cifras definitivas) y los islandeses siguieron siendo ricos, más o menos: la mita de ricos que antes. ¿De quién fue la culpa? De los bancos y los banqueros, por supuesto. De sus excesos, de aquella barra libre de crédito, de su desmesurada codicia. Los bancos son el monstruo, la culpa es de ellos y, en todo caso, de los políticos, que les permitieron todo eso. OK. No hay duda. ¿Solamente de los bancos?
“El país entero se vio atrapado en una burbuja. La banca experimentó un desarrollo repentino, algo que ahora vemos como algo estúpido e irresponsable. Pero la gente hizo algo parecido. Las reglas normales de las finanzas quedaron suspendidas y entramos en la era del todo vale: dos casas, tres casas por familia, un Range Rover, una moto de nieve. Los salarios subían, la riqueza parecía salir de la nada, las tarjetas de crédito echaban humo”, explica Ásgeir Jonsson, ex economista jefe de Kaupthing. El también economista Magnus Skulasson asume que esa locura colectiva llevó a un país entero a parecer dominado por los valores de Wall Street, de la banca de inversión más especulativa. “Los islandeses hemos contribuido decisivamente a que pasara lo que pasó, por permitir que el Gobierno y la banca hicieran lo que hicieron, pero también participamos de esa combinación de codicia y estupidez. Los bancos merecen sentarse en el banquillo y nosotros nos merecemos una parte del castigo: pero solo una parte”, afirma en el restaurante de un céntrico hotel.
Una cosa salva a los islandeses, de alguna manera les redime de parte de esos pecados. En su incisivo ¡Indignaos!, Stephane Hessel describe cómo en Europa y EE UU los financieros, culpables indiscutibles de la crisis, han salvado el bache y prosiguen su vida como siempre: han vuelto los beneficios, los bonus, esas cosas. En cambio, sus víctimas no han recuperado el nivel de ingresos, ni mucho menos el empleo. “El poder del dinero nunca había sido tan grande, insolente, egoísta con todos”, acusa, y, sin embargo, “los banqueros apenas han soportado las consecuencias de sus desafueros”, añade en el prólogo del libro el escritor José Luis Sampedro.
Así es: salvo tal vez en el Ártico. Islandia ha hecho un valiente intento de pedir responsabilidades. “Dejar quebrar los bancos y decirles a los acreedores que no van a cobrar todo lo que se les debe ha ayudado a mitigar algunas de las consecuencias de las locuras de sus banqueros”, asegura por teléfono desde Tejas el economista James K. Galbraith.
Contada así, la versión islandesa de la crisis tiene un toque romántico. Pero la economía es siempre más prosaica de lo que parece. Hay quien relata una historia distinta: “Simplemente, no había dinero para rescatar a los bancos: de lo contrario, el Estado los habría salvado: ¡Llegamos a pedírselo a Rusia!”, critica el politólogo Eirikur Bergmann. “Fue un accidente: no queríamos, pero tuvimos que dejarlos quebrar y ahora los políticos tratan de vender esa leyenda de que Islandia ha dado otra respuesta”.
Sea como sea, la crisis ha dejado una cicatriz enorme que sigue bien visible: hay controles de capitales, un delicioso eufemismo de lo que en el hemisferio Sur (y más concretamente en Argentina) suele llamarse corralito. El paro sigue por encima del 8%, tasas desconocidas por estos lares. El desplome de la corona ha empobrecido a todo el país, excepto a las empresas exportadoras. Cuatro de cada diez hogares se endeudaron en divisas o con créditos vinculados a la inflación (parece que, por lo general, para comprar segundas residencias y coches de lujo), lo que ha dejado un agujero considerable en el bolsillo de la gente. Tras dejar quebrar el sistema bancario, el Estado lo nacionalizó y acabó inyectando montones de dinero -el equivalente a una cuarta parte del PIB- para que la banca no dejara de funcionar, y ahora empieza a reprivatizarlo: la vida, de algún modo, sigue igual.
Todo eso ha elevado la deuda pública por encima del 100% del PIB, y para controlar el déficit tampoco los islandeses se han librado de la oleada de austeridad que recorre Europa desde el Estrecho de Gibraltar hasta la costa de Groenlandia: más impuestos y menos gasto público. Al cabo, Islandia tuvo que pedir un rescate al FMI, y el Fondo ha aplicado las recetas habituales: se han elevado el IRPF y el IVA islandeses y se han creado nuevos impuestos, y por el lado del gasto se han bajado salarios y beneficios sociales y se están cerrando escuelas; se ha reducido el Estado del bienestar. Que es lo que suele suceder cuando de repente un país es menos rico de lo que creía.
“Hemos recorrido una década hacia atrás”, cierra Bergman. Y aun así, el Gobierno y el FMI aseguran que Islandia crecerá este año un 3%: el desplome de la corona ha permitido un despegue de las exportaciones, hay sectores punteros -como el aluminio- que están teniendo una crisis muy provechosa, y, al fin y al cabo, Islandia es un país joven con un nivel educativo sobresaliente. Entre la docena de fuentes consultadas para este reportaje, sin embargo, no abunda el optimismo. Uno de los economistas más brillantes de Islandia, Gylfi Zoega, dibuja un panorama preocupante: “Los bancos aún no son operativos, los balances de las empresas están dañados, el acceso al mercado de capitales está cerrado, el Gobierno muestra una debilidad alarmante. No hay consenso sobre qué lugar deben ocupar Islandia y su economía en el mundo. Vamos a la deriva… No se engañe: ni siquiera el colapso de los bancos fue una elección; no había alternativa. Islandia no puede ser un modelo de nada”.
Hay quien duda incluso de que los banqueros den finalmente con sus huesos en la cárcel: “Los ejecutivos han sido detenidos varias veces, y después, puestos en libertad: como tantas otras veces, eso es más un jugueteo con la opinión pública que otra cosa”, asegura Jon Danielsson. Hannes Guissurasson, asesor del anterior Gobierno y conocido por su férrea defensa de postulados neoliberales, incluso traza una fina línea entre el delito y algunas de las prácticas bancarias de los últimos años. “Muy pocos banqueros van a ir a la prisión, si es que va alguno: ¿qué ley vulnera la excesiva toma de riesgos?”, se pregunta.
Pero los mitos son los mitos (y un periodista debe defender su reportaje hasta el último párrafo) e Islandia deja varias lecciones fundamentales. Una: no está claro si dejar caer un banco es un acto reaccionario o libertario, pero el coste, al menos para Islandia, es sorprendentemente bajo; el PIB de Irlanda (cuyo Gobierno garantizó toda la deuda bancaria) ha caído lo mismo y sus perspectivas de recuperación son peores. Dos: tener moneda propia no es un mal negocio. En caso de apuro se devalúa y santas Pascuas; eso permite salir de la crisis con exportaciones, algo que ni Grecia ni Irlanda (ni España) pueden hacer.
La última y definitiva enseñanza viene de la mano del grupo salvaje, a quien nadie vio venir: ni las agencias de calificación ni los auditores anticiparon los problemas (aunque lo que no descubre una buena auditoría lo destapa una buena crisis: Pricewaterhousecoopers está acusada de negligencia). Pero los problemas estaban ahí: la prueba es que la inmensa mayoría de los ejecutivos de banca están de patitas en la calle y algunos esperan juicio. Nuestro Sigurdur Einarsson, el banquero más buscado, se compró una mansión en Chelsea, uno de los barrios más exclusivos de Londres, por 12 millones de euros. La mayoría de los banqueros que tienen problemas con la justicia hicieron lo mismo durante los años del boom, y menos mal que lo hicieron: la gente les abucheaba en el teatro, les tiraba bolas de nieve en plena calle, les lanzaba piropos en los restaurantes o les dejaba ocurrentes pintadas en sus domicilios. Salieron pitando de Islandia. El caso es que Einarsson no tuvo que marcharse: vivía en su estupenda mansión londinense desde 2005. La hipoteca no era problema: Einarsson decidió alquilársela al banco mientras vivía en la casa; al fin y al cabo, un presidente es un presidente, y ese es el tipo de demostraciones de talento financiero que solo traen sorpresas en el improbable caso de que la justicia se meta por medio. Islandia parece el lugar adecuado para que sucedan cosas improbables: según las estadísticas, más de la mitad de los islandeses cree en los elfos. En el avión de vuelta se entiende mejor la publicidad del aeropuerto, sobre todo porque las fuentes consultadas descartan que, si finalmente hay condena a los banqueros, el Gobierno islandés vaya a conceder un solo indulto. Esto es Islandia: paraíso sobrenatural. ¡Vaya si lo es! –
El ‘caso Icesave’ (y otras rarezas)

El tiburón putrefacto es uno de los platos típicos de Islandia, que tiene una noche inacabable (no solo por las horas de oscuridad), una de las pocas primeras ministras del mundo (Johana Sigurdardottir, abiertamente lesbiana) y un museo de penes (y esto no es una errata). La lista de rarezas es inacabable: es más fácil entrevistar al presidente de Islandia que al alcalde de Reikiavik, Jon Gnarr, célebre por pactar solo con quienes hayan visto las cuatro temporadas de The Wire. Con la crisis, las singularidades han alcanzado incluso al siempre aburrido sector financiero: en Londres han llegado a aplicarle métodos antiterroristas.

Landsbanki, uno de los tres grandes bancos islandeses, abrió una filial por Internet con una cuenta de ahorro a altos tipos de interés, Icesave, que hizo furor entre británicos y holandeses. Cuando las cosas empezaron a torcerse y el Gobierno británico detectó que el banco estaba repatriando capitales, le aplicó la ley antiterrorista para congelar sus fondos. Ese fue el detonante de toda la crisis: provocó la quiebra en cadena de toda la banca. Y sigue dando tremendos dolores de cabeza a Islandia.

Holanda y Reino Unido devolvieron a sus ciudadanos el 100% de los depósitos y ahora exigen ese dinero: 4.000 millones de euros, un tercio del PIB islandés, nada menos. El Gobierno llegó a un acuerdo para que los ciudadanos pagaran en 15 años y al 5,5% de interés: la gente se organizó para echarlo abajo en un referéndum, tras el veto del presidente. Así llegó un segundo pacto, más ventajoso (tipos del 3%, a pagar en 37 años), y de nuevo la gente decidirá en abril en referéndum si paga o no por los desmanes de sus bancos. Agni Asgeirsson, ex ejecutivo que fue despedido de Kaupthing y ahora trabaja como ingeniero en Río Tinto, es tajante al respecto: “El primer acuerdo era claramente un fraude. Este es más discutible. No queremos pagar, pero eso añadiría incertidumbre legal sobre el futuro del país. Pero lo interesante es cómo ha reaccionado la gente”. Ese es quizá el mayor atractivo de la respuesta islandesa: la parlamentaria y ex magistrada francesa Eva Joly (a quien se encargó el inicio de la investigación sobre la banca) asegura que lo más llamativo de Islandia es que en un país “que se consideraba a sí mismo un milagro neoliberal, y donde se había perdido gradualmente todo interés por la política, ahora la gente quiere tener su destino en sus propias manos”.

“Eso sí: la fe en los políticos y los banqueros tardará en volver, pero que mucho, mucho, tiempo”, cierra el cónsul de España, Fridrik S. Kristjánsson. –

abril 3, 2011 Posted by | Banca, delitos económicos, Islandia | Deja un comentario

>Cuando la farsa se tiñe de sangre

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Por YOLANDA MONGE – Washington – (El Pais.com, 03/04/2011)
Veinticuatro minutos y seis segundos dura la farsa del juicio que una mente desequilibrada parapetada tras la religión puso en práctica el pasado mes de marzo contra el islam. En esos 24 minutos y seis segundos se escucharon los argumentos de la defensa -un imán de Dallas defendió el Corán- y de la acusación -ejercida por un cristiano convertido del islam-, y un jurado de 12 personas dictó sentencia. El islam era culpable de “crímenes contra la humanidad” -incluido el delito de promover el terrorismo- y de “la muerte, violación y tortura de todo aquel alrededor del mundo cuyo único crimen es no pertenecer a la fe islámica”.
El castigo se había decidido con anterioridad a través de un sondeo on line entre los miembros de la iglesia pentecostal denominada Dove World Outreach Center, en cuyo menú estaba la hoguera -el preferido por los votantes y el que se aplicó-, el ahogamiento, el descuartizamiento o el fusilamiento. Si no fuera porque el acto -legal en EE UU, donde por ejemplo se puede quemar la bandera sin consecuencias jurídicas- ha provocado la muerte de 17 personas a 12.000 kilómetros de distancia a manos de turbas enloquecidas, la primera conclusión que podría extraerse de la cinta es que es una mala obra de ficción. Un teatrillo para aficionados que no tienen nada mejor que hacer un domingo por la mañana. No parece real.
Manifestantes afganos protestan en Kandahar contra la quema de un Corán en EE UU.– ALLAUDDIN KHAN (AP)
El iluminado pastor Terry Jones finalmente quemó el Corán. “Arde bastante bien”, se le oye decir en el pésimo vídeo grabado por los miembros de su iglesia. Lo quemó con premeditación y alevosía, pero sin la atención mundial. “Con ese fuego se podían hacer unas buenas hamburguesas”, exclama Wayne Sapp, el pastor que aplicó el fuego al libro sagrado de los musulmanes, ya que Jones solo ejerció de juez, no de verdugo. Jones, 58 años, pasó de ser un personaje vulgar, de ridículos, frondosos y anticuados bigotes, de dirigir una diminuta iglesia de menos de 50 fieles en Gainesville (Florida), a alcanzar fama mundial después de que el año pasado en septiembre pretendiera llevar a cabo El Día Internacional de la Quema del Corán coincidiendo con el noveno aniversario de los ataques terroristas del 11-S y para protestar por el proyecto de construcción de una mezquita en el epicentro del atentado en Nueva York.
Jones, que por norma lleva una pistola del calibre 40 al cinto, fue entonces presionado para que renunciara a sus planes por todo el estamento político, diplomático y militar de EE UU, desde la secretaria de Estado, Hillary Clinton, hasta el general al frente de las tropas en Afganistán, David Petraeus; el secretario de Defensa, Robert Gates, o la advertencia del presidente Barack Obama de que si seguía adelante con sus planes ponía en peligro la vida de personas inocentes y la ya de por sí precaria estabilidad en la zona y los intereses norteamericanos en el mundo.
El fanático pastor dio marcha atrás. Desde entonces, se suponía que distintos cuerpos de seguridad estadounidenses mantenían una estrecha vigilancia de las actividades del pastor y de su iglesia, considerada un grupo que fomenta el odio por varias organizaciones de defensa de los derechos civiles en EE UU.
El pasado de Jones con el fanatismo no es nuevo, y también fue puesto en práctica al otro lado del Atlántico, en Colonia (Alemania), adonde este hombre, originario de Tennessee, emigró en 1983 tras resultarle ruinosos los negocios que intentó en EE UU. Allí fundó la Comunidad Cristina de Colonia, de la que fue expulsado a finales de 2008 tras un oscuro escándalo de maltratos y abusos a sus seguidores -que en sus mejores tiempos llegaron a sumar mil- y al que se añadieron varias denuncias por evasión de impuestos y malversación.
El doctor, como se denomina a sí mismo al atribuirse un título en teología que nunca ha sido acreditado, abandonó precipitadamente el Viejo Continente y se instaló en Florida. Jones compró en Gainesville un terreno valorado en unos dos millones de dólares, edificó su iglesia y colgó en su despacho un cartel promocional de Braveheart, película dirigida y protagonizada por su ídolo, Mel Gibson. Una vez asentado inició su cruzada bajo el estandarte de que el islam es el diablo. El 20 de marzo, con el mundo mirando hacia otro lado, finalmente representó en nombre de Dios el acto que ha desatado la ira del mundo islámico.

abril 3, 2011 Posted by | Religión | Deja un comentario

>Unlearned lessons from Chernobyl and Fukushima

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By Henry Shukman, a poet and novelist who lives in New Mexico. His most recent work is the novel The Lost City (LOS ANGELES TIMES, 03/04/11):
As far as I could tell from the advertising at the hotel where I stayed in Kiev last year, Ukraine’s chief export these days is brides. But it wasn’t always that way. Twenty-five years ago this month, Ukraine’s best-known export was a whole lot of radiation.
After Reactor No. 4 blew up at Chernobyl power station on April 26, 1986, the resulting disaster took two years and 650,000 people to clean up. Except it will never really be cleaned up. Nuclear fallout and waste can be moved and sequestered, but not deactivated. Even today the meltdown at Chernobyl leaks radiation through cracks in the vast “sarcophagus” of steel and concrete that was intended to seal it. The whole area around it is still deeply, if unevenly, contaminated.
And that contamination isn’t confined to Ukraine. A quarter-century later, there are farmers in Wales whose lamb is too radioactive to sell, and just last summer thousands of wild boar hunted in Germany were declared unfit for human consumption for the same reason.
In 1973, the ecological prophet E.F. Schumacher wrote, “No degree of prosperity could justify the accumulation of large amounts of highly toxic substances which nobody knows how to make safe and which remain an intangible danger to the whole of creation.” He was talking about nuclear waste from the relatively young nuclear power industry. To pursue nuclear power, he declared, meant “conducting the economic affairs of man as if people really did not matter at all.”
Does anyone still read Schumacher’s “Small Is Beautiful”? It came out nearly 40 years ago, but it might as well have been written last year for its relevance today. Its central thesis is that we have allowed economics to overtake philosophy, religion and morality as the dominant ideological force in our world. Does it make sense to do X or Y? The answer will be found in the numbers, in the bottom line. No other concerns need be considered.
Do we collectively care about our planet, our home, this Earth, or don’t we? If we’ve spent our whole life in the concrete jungle and don’t know what mountains, lakes and forests truly are, it may be hard to know just what exactly there is to care about. As long as the refrigerator runs and the lights go on when you flip the switch, you may never stop to ask where all that power actually comes from.
Last year I went to Chernobyl to visit one place that was demonstrably treated “as if people did not matter at all.”
Photo gallery: Aftermath of the meltdown at Chernobyl
At the time Schumacher was writing his tract against economics as philosophy, a nuclear power station was being built in Ukraine that the Soviets hoped would become the largest in Europe. But just 13 years later, while its fifth reactor was being built (out of an expected total of eight) the fourth one blew up. Cesium, strontium, uranium, plutonium and untold amounts of other radioactive material were spewed out. A 2,000-ton slab of concrete was shunted from horizontal to vertical by the force of the blast, like a piece of balsa wood. A column of blue light shone into the sky for two days — ionized air. Locals left their houses to gaze at the sight, not knowing they were exposing themselves to tremendously high doses of radiation, having been assured by authorities that nothing had gone seriously wrong at the plant.
The aftereffects of an energy release that great don’t just get cleaned up and go away. Chernobyl may never be cleaned up. The half-lives of cesium and strontium are about 30 years each — comparatively short (uranium’s is 4 billion years) — but that still means it would take hundreds of years for cesium and strontium to lose enough radioactivity for the area to be safe for humans.
Just as they’ve done around the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan today, authorities set up an exclusion zone, to contain the uncontainable, and evacuated 100,000 people, as well as 135,000 cows. Today, the Chernobyl exclusion zone has turned into a vast wildlife refuge. Thousands of boar, deer, elk, bison and hundreds of wolves, eagles, lynx and bear have moved back and proliferated. As has the forest. Roads, houses, schools, synagogues — all are overgrown, with trees piercing old roof beams and young birches sprouting from balconies and terraces. The city of Pripyat, built to house workers at the nuclear plant, has turned into one huge birch grove, with mildewed, skeletal concrete apartment blocks rising up in its midst.
The message seems to be clear: Move the people out, and nature will bounce back, even after a nuclear disaster. Some may see this as cause for optimism. But it’s not so simple. It’s true that the more complex and thin-skinned an organism, the more sensitive it is to radiation, and that by and large wildlife is not as sensitive as we humans are. Nevertheless, recent studies suggest that genetically, the newly reestablished ecosystem at Chernobyl is far from healthy.
Sure, there are no mutant lizards, giant worms or three-headed cats. But there are albino swallows, and mice with inherited radiation-resistance, and genetically damaged birch trees that grow without central trunks and look like feathery bushes. No one knows how healthy the large animals are genetically. Some researchers have found damage to their genomes, but how widespread this is, no one is sure.
Only one thing seems certain: Disasters like those at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and perhaps now Fukushima make it clear that nuclear power is not the fantastical free lunch of limitless, clean electricity promised by the industry. A big part of the solution to our energy needs lies not with supply but demand. As a child I used to roll my eyes when my parents nagged at me to switch off the lights when I wasn’t in a room. I liked the extravagant blaze of light on a dim winter’s day.
But they were surely right. If only each of us would do our small part, and turn out the unneeded light, we could make a difference. We could indeed find that less is more, that small is truly beautiful.
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona

abril 3, 2011 Posted by | energía | Deja un comentario

>In Egypt’s Democracy, Room for Islam

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By Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt (THE NEW YORK TIMES, 02/04/11):
Last month, Egyptians approved a referendum on constitutional amendments that will pave the way for free elections. The vote was a milestone in Egypt’s emerging democracy after a revolution that swept away decades of authoritarian rule. But it also highlighted an issue that Egyptians will grapple with as they consolidate their democracy: the role of religion in political life.
The vote was preceded by the widespread use of religious slogans by supporters and opponents of the amendments, a debate over the place of religion in Egypt’s future Constitution and a resurgence in political activity by Islamist groups. Egypt is a deeply religious society, and it is inevitable that Islam will have a place in our democratic political order. This, however, should not be a cause for alarm for Egyptians, or for the West.
Egypt’s religious tradition is anchored in a moderate, tolerant view of Islam. We believe that Islamic law guarantees freedom of conscience and expression (within the bounds of common decency) and equal rights for women. And as head of Egypt’s agency of Islamic jurisprudence, I can assure you that the religious establishment is committed to the belief that government must be based on popular sovereignty.
While religion cannot be completely separated from politics, we can ensure that it is not abused for political gain.
Much of the debate around the referendum focused on Article 2 of the Constitution — which, in 1971, established Islam as the religion of the state and, a few years later, the principles of Islamic law as the basis of legislation — even though the article was not up for a vote. But many religious groups feared that if the referendum failed, Egypt would eventually end up with an entirely new Constitution with no such article.
On the other side, secularists feared that Article 2, if left unchanged, could become the foundation for an Islamist state that discriminates against Coptic Christians and other religious minorities.
But acknowledgment of a nation’s religious heritage is an issue of national identity, and need not interfere with the civil nature of its political processes. There is no contradiction between Article 2 and Article 7 of Egypt’s interim Constitution, which guarantees equal citizenship before the law regardless of religion, race or creed. After all, Denmark, England and Norway have state churches, and Islam is the national religion of politically secular countries like Tunisia and Jordan. The rights of Egypt’s Christians to absolute equality, including their right to seek election to the presidency, is sacrosanct.
Similarly, long-suppressed Islamist groups can no longer be excluded from political life. All Egyptians have the right to participate in the creation of a new Egypt, provided that they respect the basic tenets of religious freedom and the equality of all citizens. To protect our democracy, we must be vigilant against any party whose platform or political rhetoric threatens to incite sectarianism, a prohibition that is enshrined in law and in the Constitution.
Islamists must understand that, in a country with such diverse movements as the Muslim Brotherhood; the Wasat party, which offers a progressive interpretation of Islam; and the conservative Salafi movements, no one group speaks for Islam.
At the same time, we should not be afraid that such groups in politics will do away with our newfound freedoms. Indeed, democracy will put Islamist movements to the test; they must now put forward programs and a political message that appeal to the Egyptian mainstream. Any drift toward radicalism will not only run contrary to the law, but will also guarantee their political marginalization.
Having overthrown the heavy hand of authoritarianism, Egyptians will not accept its return under the guise of religion. Islam will have a place in Egypt’s democracy. But it will be as a pillar of freedom and tolerance, never as a means of oppression.
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona

abril 2, 2011 Posted by | Egipto, Religión | Deja un comentario

>Croatia protests show failure of political promise

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By Toni Prug, a PhD candidate at the school of business and management, Queen Mary, University of London (THE GUARDIAN, 02/04/11):
Twenty years after declared independence and its first multi-party elections, after ecstatic promises of prosperity and freedom under parliamentary capitalism, Croatia finds itself in the midst of a wave of mass protests with news that unemployment is forecast to rise to 20% at the end of March.
“I cannot afford food and clothes for my family”, “20 years is enough, political oligarchy has to go” are typical messages heard from the protesters on the streets of Zagreb and other cities. There are no official organisers and no particular event has ignited it. Only 200 people turned up at the first protest announced on Facebook on 22 February. Soon after, a pattern developed, and crowds of between 8,000 and 10,000 have since attended. Banks, national television, political parties HQs and prominent politicians’ residencies are all visited as part of the marches. New protests are announced and discussed at the Facebook page, with 33,000 participants.
The feeling on the streets is best exemplified by the nickname of one of the Facebook protest page admins, “I want the future”. Older generations feel tired and cheated, while the younger ones see no prospects, no future. Jobs are easy to lose, very hard to come by, and having one for most workers means being able to afford only the basics. Even the average foods for the EU standard, like cheese, meat and fruits, look more and more like luxuries for increasingly large sections of the population. Many struggle to educate their children at university level, while significantly reduced state services, such as the health system, are rife with bribes.
The background to the protests is 20 years of economic slump. Initially, this was driven by the 1989 pro-market economic reforms and the war, which disrupted the entire state and its industry; later it resulted from consequent governments shattering the economy under the auspices of privatisation. Industries have been torn to pieces, manufacturing and production wound down, while banking, telecommunications and other services have been sold off cheaply. Former prime minister Ivo Sanader is currently in prison in Austria, awaiting trial for an alleged kickback from the Austrian Hypo bank. The Croatian government has in the past year launched several large-scale investigations, arresting a number of former ministers and corporate directors.
Hoping that it would please both the EU officials and the people, these investigations instead gave birth to a widely held view that the conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) government was too complicit in corruption to be in a position to clean it up. Since the biggest opposition party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), has failed to do anything substantial about the problems, it should come as no surprise that at the protests both SDP and HDZ flags, along with the EU one, were burned in anger .
The protesters are a diverse crowd. While those who are against capitalism, privatisation and the EU, and support direct democracy and social welfare, are currently in a minority, I suspect these voices will grow. Yet plausible political change will be incredibly hard to establish: who expected the fall of east European socialism as rapidly as it happened? Who expected a military siege in the heart of Europe when Sarajevo and Bosnia were left to bleed in agony as recent as the 1990s?
But plausibility is not the criteria one should judge the latest events by. The collective will of the people and their ability to suddenly turn the pages of history is. Recent events in Tunisia and Egypt have reminded us of this. However, there is a significant difference. Instead of authoritarian regimes, in Croatia it is parliamentary capitalism that may end up on trial by the people. The protests continue.
Fuente: Bitácora Almendrón. Tribuna Libre © Miguel Moliné Escalona

abril 2, 2011 Posted by | Croacia | Deja un comentario