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Important News, Belangrijke nieuws, Nouvelles importantes, Wichtige News, Fontos hírek, Importanti novitŕ, Pomembne novice, Importante Notícias, Viktiga nyheter



Ing. Salih CAVKIC
Editor in Chief
by ORBUS.BE
info@orbus.be
www.orbus.be


 
No more Paris nor Brussels!
Stop terrorism!
We want to live in peace with all our neighbors.
  regardless of their religion, color and origin.
Therefore, we condemn any kind of terrorism!

*****
Ne više Pariz ni Brisel!
Stop terorizam!
Mi želimo živjeti u miru sa svim našim komšijama,
bez obzira koje su vjere, boje kože i porijekla.
Zato mi osuđujemo svaku vrstu terorizma!


Belang van Limburg
De Morgen
De Standard
Het Laatste Nieuws
La Libre Belgique
Nieuwsblaad

VRT
VRTNieuws

N-TV.DE
Deutsche Welle
West-D. Zeitung




The man of the year 2009
Guy Verhofstadt
Mr. Guy Verhofstadt

The man of the year
L'homme de l'ane
De man van het jaar
2009


A proven Democrat, protector and fighter for justice and human rights in the World.

Een bewezen Democraat, beschermer en strijder voor rechtvaardigheid en mensenrechten in de Wereld.

Un prouvé démocrate, protecteur et combattant pour la justice et des droits de l'homme dans le Mond.

Eine bewährte Demokrat, Beschützer und Kämpfer für Gerechtigkeit und Menschenrechte in der Welt.

Dokazani demokrat,
 zaštitnik i borac za pravdu i ljudska prava u Svijetu.





Maasmechelen Village
Belgium



The man of the year 2012


Mr. Barak Hossein Obama

The man of the year
L'homme de l'an
De man van het jaar
2012


Guarantee
peace in the world

Garantie
vrede in de wereld

Garantie
la paix dans le monde

Garantie des Friedens in der Welt

Zabezpečenie
mieru vo svete

Garancija
mira u svijetu





Prof. dr. Murray Hunter
University Malaysia Perlis




Eva MAURINA
20 Years to Trade Economic Independence for Political Sovereignty - Eva MAURINA




Aleš Debeljak
In Defense of Cross-Fertilization: Europe and Its Identity Contradictions - Aleš Debeljak

ALEŠ DEBELJAK - ABECEDA DJETINJSTVA

ALEŠ DEBEJAK - INTERVJU; PROSVJEDI, POEZIJA, DRŽAVA




Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently teaching in Bangkok.




Bakhtyar Aljaf
Director of Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia




Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Géométrie variable of a love triangle – India, Russia and the US





Amna Whiston
Amna Whiston is a London-based writer specialising in moral philosophy. As a PhD candidate at Reading University, UK, her main research interests are in ethics, rationality, and moral psychology.





Eirini Patsea 
Eirini Patsea is a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy, and specialist in Cultural Diplomacy and Faith-based Mediation
.




Belmir Selimovic
Can we trust the government to do the right thing, are they really care about essential things such as environmental conditions and education in our life?





Dubravko Lovrenović
Univ. prof. Dubravko Lovrenović is one of the leading European Medievalist specialized in the Balkans, pre-modern and modern political history.




Manal Saadi
Postgraduate researcher in International Relations and Diplomacy at the Geneva-based UMEF University




doc.dr.Jasna Cosabic
professor of IT law and EU law at Banja Luka College,
Bosnia and Herzegovina




Aleksandra Krstic

, studied in Belgrade (Political Science) and in Moscow (Plekhanov’s IBS). Currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kent University in Brussels (Intl. Relations). Specialist for the MENA-Balkans frozen and controlled conflicts.

Contact: alex-alex@gmail.com






Dr.Swaleha Sindhi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Decorated educational practitioner Dr. Sindhi is a frequent columnist on related topics, too. She is the Vice President of Indian Ocean Comparative Education Society (IOCES). Contact: swalehasindhi@gmail.com





Barçın Yinanç
 It is an Ankara-based journalist and notable author. She is engaged with the leading Turkish dailies and weeklies for nearly three decades as a columnist, intervieweer and editor. Her words are prolifically published and quoted in Turkish, French an English.




 By İLNUR ÇEVIK

Modified from the original: They killed 1 Saddam and created 1,000 others (Daily Sabah)




Aine O’Mahony
Aine O'Mahony has a bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently a master's student of Leiden University in the International Studies programme.Contact: aine-claire.nini@hotmail.fr




Elodie Pichon

  Elodie Pichon has a  bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently doing a MA in Geopolitics, territory and Security at King's College London. Contact : elodie.pichon@gmail.com




Qi Lin

Qi Lin, a MA candidate of the George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs. Her research focus is on cross-Pacific security and Asian studies, particularly on the Sino-U.S. relations and on the foreign policy and politics of these two.





ALESSANDRO CIPRI
Born in Chile and raised in Rome, Alessandro Cipri has just finished his postgraduate studies at the department of War Studies of King's College London, graduating with distinction from the Master's Degree in "Intelligence and International Security". Having served in the Italian Army's "Alpini" mountain troops, he has a keen interest in national security, military strategy, insurgency theory, and terrorism studies. His Master's dissertation was on the impact of drug trafficking on the evolution of the Colombian FARC.




Ms. Lingbo ZHAO
is a candidate of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Government and International Studies. Her research interest includes Sino-world, Asia and cross-Pacific.

Contact: harryzhaolin@gmail.com

 





English
Important News


Dutch - Nederlands
Belangrijke nieuws


French - Français
Nouvelles importantes


German - Deutsch
Wichtige News


Bosnian-Bosanski
Važne vijesti







 



La-La-Land of Central Asia
Kazakhstan and its “Astana Code of Conduct”


By Samantha Brletich

 

“As defining terrorism in any particular case implies a political component, this very category becomes quite extensive - a subject to different readings and understandings. Having permanent – primarily political – disputes over the category and scale of ‘conflict’, contemporary international community repeatedly failed over decades to agree upon a single and comprehensive but universal instrument determining, prescribing and combating terrorism. As a consequence of these - mostly political and less legal – implications, today we are confronted with some two dozen international (universal and regional) instruments. These instruments are good, but far from being a norm-setting standardized and harmonized.
Thus, the tentative political definition of (international) terrorism could be as follows: Terrorism is the use of violence as political means of pressuring the government and/or society into accepting a radical socio-political or/and socio-economic change (ideological or/and territorial). The word terrorist is obviously self-incriminating (demonizing and alienating), and consequently most terrorists would not apply the label to themselves.
Experts estimate that for every apprehended/detained terrorist another 9 remain at large (rating it to 10%). Therefore, many describe terrorism like a balloon: squeeze one end and it expands at the other.” - professor Anis H. Bajrektarevic analyzed in his seminal work ’JHA Diplomacy – The Palermo Treaty System 10 years After’
Hereby is the take on the national legislation with the huge regional impacts that comes from the ‘heart of gold’, biggest and most relevant Central Asian republic – one of the key pivots to continental Asia.

 

*        *        *        *

 

In President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s first speech to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Kazakh Head of State set forth what is considered a landmark initiative called the “Astana Code of Conduct” focused on preventing and tackling terrorism and extremism while maintaining human rights standards. The Astana Code of Conduct reflects Kazakhstan’s four main UNSC priorities and trends in international security: energy security, food security, counter-terrorism measures, and nuclear safety. These four priorities reflect greater Central Asia interests “to ensure its stability and security, to effectively respond to regional challenges and threats, to strengthen cooperation and promote its growth and development.”
President Nazarbayev’s political address “at the UNSC addresses seven key priorities, the fourth priority emphasizing the acute problem of international terrorism. The fourth priority introduced the Astana Code of Conduct was hailed by members of Kazakhstan’s Government as a landmark initiative, hoping that nations would “refrain from the actions which may lead to destruction of statehood” emphasizing Kazakhstan’s desire push to end or mitigate global conflict. It also reflects the ubiquitous diplomatic trends of engagement, cooperation, and partnerships, in Kazakhstan’s multi-lateral and regional policies and arrangements.
The Astana Code of Conduct is nascent. The Code of Conduct will probably be based on Kazakhstan’s prior national-level programs and priorities, cooperative efforts, and current counter-terrorism efforts. The central tenet of the Astana Code of Conduct, ending extremism and terrorism, is already visible in Kazakhstan’s attempts to be the mediator in high-profile negotiations and talks aimed at sustaining peace such as Syria and Iran. Kazakhstan hopes that the Astana Code of Conduct will lead to the formation of the Global Anti-Terrorist Coalition (Network) to defeat terrorism and reduce the global terror threat. Kazakhstan will chair the Security Council 1267 Committee on ISIL and Al-Qaida.
The Astana Code of Conduct will be a multi-lateral effort focusing on challenging the root causes of terrorism, confronting transnational groups, preventing power vacuums, and destabilization. In March 2016, Kazakhstan called for a new program, “Manifesto: The World. The 21st Century,” focusing on non-proliferation, global cooperation, and ending war. Kazakh officials met with the OSCE Astana Program Office to discuss anti-counter terrorism efforts in mid-October 2016. Kazakhstan would also benefit from European assistance and cooperation combating terrorism online.
After 2011, Kazakhstan reformed its counter-terrorism strategy through community participation by creating web-based instruments to prevent terrorism: www.counter-terror.kz , and a mechanism created recently for citizens to report terrorist or extremist activity via the Prosecutor General’s Office website. Changes to the Counter-Terrorism Law improving counter-terrorism methods, increased regional security and cooperation through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Collection Security Treaty Organization aid Kazakhstan’s fight against domestic terrorism.
Kazakhstan also shut down 950 websites (with court approval) and increased the use of information technology against terrorism, and in January 2013, the Kazakhstan National Security Committee announced the launch of a Security Academy to train specialists. Kazakhstan has long been the recipient of criticism about its human rights records, the misapplication of anti-terrorism measures to silence the opposition, and the absence of basic civil liberties including freedom of press, assembly, religion, and association. Changes to the Counter-Terrorism Law resulted in violations of religious freedoms among Muslims, arbitrary detention, and increased powers among the security services.
Like its chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Kazakhstan’s position on the UNSC provides the country with access to materials, resources, and the opportunity to implement policies and improve its human rights record. This Central Asian colossus did not live up to its commitments as OSCE chair. Kazakhstan recently announced future basic constitutional reforms to redistribute power among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Kazakhstan must be willing to implement resolutions and programs developed during its UNSC chairmanship and not use the UNSC as a way to push an international agenda without a domestic commitment.
 

Samantha Brletich
About author: Samantha Brletich is a researcher on the region of Central Asia and Russia. She focuses on extremism and terrorism, governance, culture, mining, and foreign policy. She holds a Master’s in Peace Operations Policy from George Mason University. She is an employee of the U.S. Government (opinions and ideas are her own).



January 31, 2017



Donald Trump, Nuclear Issue and Nuclear War

By:  Markus Wauran


There were so many controversial statements made by Donald Trump during the United States Presidential Election, which makes many parties underestimated Trump’s chance to victory towards the White House. One of Trump’s controversial statements was during an exclusive interview with the New York Times on Sunday, 20 March 2016. Trump said if he is elected as US President, he would be open to Japan and South Korea producing their nuclear deterrent. They should not always be depending on the US military to protect themselves from North Korea and China. The US military would not be able to protect Japan and South Korea for a long period of time. He argued that the US cannot always be the policemen of the world.

Trump also asserted that there will be a point where the US could not be able to do all that anymore. North Korea probably has their nuclear arsenal, so he would rather have Japan and South Korea having a nuclear capability too, as we are living in a nuclear world right now.

This controversial statement alarmed the world and received a strong reaction from various sides. President Obama, during the sidelines of Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on Friday, 1 April 2016, among others stated that all this time the US involvement in the Asia-Pacific region has been important. Because it is also the safeguard key that maintain the peace between the US and countries in that region up until now. Having US presence is very important to withstand any conflicts between each other. Therefore, Obama continued, the person (Donald Trump) who made such comments does not know much about policies, as well as nuclear policy, or the Korean peninsula, or even about the world in general. Japan and South Korea has been considered important as the pillars of US presence in Asia Pacific, as it advantaged the US quite substantially on the trade side, and prevent nuclear escalation and conflict.

Japans Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fumio Kishida as quoted by CNN, also reacted by expressing his disagreement with Trump’s proposal, saying it is impossible for Japan to build a nuclear capability. Japan is the only country that has experienced a nuclear attack, and if they follow Trump’s proposal, there will be a chance that the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedy can happen again.


Contradict

Jonathan Cristal, a professor and observer from a think-thank agency, the World Policy Institute in New York, also commented by saying that Trump’s proposal is contrary to the government’s commitment to strengthen the alliance with various countries like Japan and South Korea, the two strongest allies in Southeast Asia. Cristal stated that Japan and South Korea will consider various options if true that the US is no longer protecting them. First option, Japan and South Korea will pay a protection fee to the US, similar to the way Estonia contributed 2% of their GDP to NATO for protection. Second option, Japan and South Korea will develop their own nuclear weapon. Cristal concluded his statement by saying if Trump ignored the US alliance in Asia and triggered Japan and South Korea to produce nuclear weapon, there will be a domino effect following to happen to other countries.


Trump’s statements is in fact denying international convention, which regulated in the NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) set by the United Nations on 12 June 1968 in New York, and effective from 5 March 1950, and which the US ratified. Basically, the NPT consists of three pillars, namely: first, non-proliferation, i.e. nuclear-weapon states pledge not to add and must reduce as well as revoke/separate their nuclear warheads; second, disarmament, i.e. nuclear weapons eradication which non-nuclear-weapon states pledge not to acquire and manufacture nuclear weapons; third, peaceful use, that is nuclear energy serve only for peaceful purposes. As a matter of fact, the NPT was inspired by President Eisenhower, one of Donald Trump’s predecessors (also from the Republic Party), from his speech in the UN General Assembly session, 18 December 1953, entitled “Atom for Peace”.

Almost all states ratified the NPT except India, Pakistan, and Israel. North Korea ratified the NPT on 20 December 1985 and withdrawn from the treaty on 10 April 2003. On the other hand, after the NPT signing, there are only five states recognized as nuclear-weapon states, namely US, Russia, UK, France, and China.

We can have a different opinion with the above statement from Trump. But as the new US leader, Trump will do his best for the people of the US, to make US great again as promised in his campaign. Trump’s statement is probably due to some of the following. First, US reducing the burden as a country that has been a guarantor of the security of Japan and South Korea if attacked by other countries, and the focus right now came from China and North Korea; Second, renegotiating the terms of payment to be received by the US from having their troops on the ground, as many as 54.000 in Japan and 28.500 in South Korea, in which Japan paid USD 1.6 billion and South Korea USD 866 million annually; Third, creating a balance of power among nuclear-weapon states in East Asia, which is currently being monopolized by China and followed by North Korea; Fourth, if there is a nuclear race, triggered by Japan and South Korea, the US will be very much advantaged as the main supplier, although it would violate the NPT, which the US is one of the signatories. The US weapon industry is allegedly influenced by sympathizers of the Republican Party and many prominent figures from the Party are known to be belligerent. For example when President Nixon, the Vietnam War happened, President Reagan with his Star Wars concept and the bombing of Muammar Kaddafi’s residence, the leader of Libya, President Bush (senior and junior) the Afghanistan War and Iraq War broke out.

Fifth, diverting or creating East Asia as the new crisis region beside the Middle East, whereas the US will be benefited economically, politically, and militarily; sixth, balancing the military/arms advancement of China as well as to counter the aggressiveness of North Korea.

After the statement and announcement of Donald Trump as the winner of the US Presidential election, there is an interesting development that can be analyzed further. The development is the signing of a nuclear agreement/treaty between PM Shinzo Abe from Japan and PM Narendra Modi from India on 11 November 2016, in Tokyo. The content of the agreement/treaty is that for Japan companies to be able to export nuclear technologies to India. We know that the India and China relation has been hostile for a long time, and just recently the dispute and tension over Senkaku Island is also escalated. The Japan-India nuclear agreement gave a strong indication that both countries are on their way to creating an alliance, in parallel with strengthening the longstanding strategic alliances between the US, Japan and South Korea, to counter the expansive behavior of China and the aggressiveness North Korea. To neutralize the agreement and as not to arouse any suspicions based from Trump’s statement, PM Shinzo Abe stated that the agreement constitutes a legal framework to ensure that India is using its nuclear energy responsibly.

After the Donald Trump’s upcoming inauguration as the President of the US in 20 January 2017, it is hoped that Trump’s statement will not become his policy. The role of the UN to reassure Trump to comply with the NPT is very much needed, similarly to Japan and South Korea as member states of the Treaty, to adhere with the NPT and not to produce a nuclear weapon. As we know that Japan and South Korea are very advanced and have their grip on nuclear technology, so it will not be hard for both countries to produce a nuclear weapon.

If Trump remains on his stance and Japan and South Korea implement the idea, it will create a domino effect where other states in the Asia region will not stay idle. They will definitely take measures to keep and defend their sovereignty. There may be an ASEAN state that will extricate itself from the joint commitment of SEANWFZ (South East Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone) Treaty, putting its national interest above all else. On the other hand, China and North Korea will keep on competing to enhance their nuclear capabilities. As a result, the East Asia region, including ASEAN, will be a hot zone and it is not impossible that a Nuclear War may well be started from East Asia.

 
Markus Wauran

Biography

Date and Place of Birth: April 22, 1943 – Amurang, North Sulawesi, IndonesiaEducation: Bachelor in Public Administration.
Writer was a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia (DPR/MPR-RI) period of 1987-1999, and Chairman of Committee X, cover Science and Technology, Environment and National Development Planning (1988-1997).
Currently as Obsever of Nuclear for peace.

January 29. 2017



TRUMP’S TURN

By Tomislav Jakić

 

From Friday, January 20th 2017. the United States have a new President – for many, not only in America, still at least controversial and in the extreme version: totally unacceptable Donald John Trump. In a precise ceremony in front of the Congress Trump gave his oath and delivered his first speech as head of state. And for everybody who is not biased or has not become prisoner of prejudices, he announced a complete turn in regard to the US policy, as it was until now. This turn can be detected in a couple of key messages which are, admittingly, populist, but not without a deeper political contents.

First of all, Trump confirmed that he is a convinced enemy of political elites, accusing them of prospering while ordinary Americans suffered. To the “forgotten men and women” of America he promised: “You are not forgotten any more and you will never be forgotten again”, adding that the day of his inauguration marks not the transfer of power from one political party to another, but from Washington DC to the people. Then, using – historically speaking – the slogan of American isolationists, he stressed that from this day in deliberating on any decision only one principle will be applied and that is: America first! (accepting that every state in the world has the right to put its interests above everything else). After that, more clearly than ever before, he repeated what he said for the first time accepting the nomination of the Republican party as presidential candidate. Last summer, namely, he announced that the US will stop imposing regimes.

In his first presidential address he was even more precise: America will not impose her way of life to anybody. It is worth noting that the “American way of life” was until now sort of a sacred cow in the vocabulary of American politicians. Trump added that the US will be a shining example and the other will follow (if they want, of course). And finally he said something that European neofascists, who (wrongly!) think of him as “one of them” would never understand: “If you open your heart to patriotism, there is no place for prejudices.”
Had he said nothing more, this speech should be remembered. Therefore it is absolutely wrong when the reporter of the German public TV (ARD) says this was not a presidential speech at all, but only a continuation of the election campaign.

By the way it would be interesting to hear what would this so called liberals say had he after the inauguration changed his rhetoric and contents. They would lament about hypocrisy and not-consistency. But, as Trump remained consistent, they wrote him off as somebody who did not grasp at all that he is the President and is just continuing his campaign. But, objectively speaking, the messages we mentioned have – for everybody willing to hear them – mark not only the beginning of what Trump described as the necessity to turn form empty words to deeds. The core of his economic policy can be detected from the short slogan “buy American and hire American”. And only after being 30 minutes in office he put into question the multilateral trade agreements for American continent and Pacific region, confirming what he announced during the campaign, namely that he prefers a net of bilateral trade agreements instead of those multilateral.

He did not mention any of the concrete problems he will confront as President, such as relations with Russia or health insurance system in the US. But, it was a programmatic speech, based on crucial messages and principles. He did, however, mention radical Islamism (not Islam, but radical Islamism), promising that he would eradicate it from the face of the Earth, for which he will without any doubt need cooperation from Russia.

He repeated that he will create new jobs in America, he spoke again about the decline of former US industrial centres (“inspiring” the German television to say that this is simply not true, but forgetting how many times we had seen the empty fabric hales in Detroit and empty streets in the now declining and many years ago prosperous American cities). And he promised, once again, that he will change this situation, that he will build new highways, new bridges, new railroads. Some objected immediately that he did not say: how. It would have been almost a miracle had he done so in a situation when many of his planned members of the US government still lack the Congressional approval and when even some of them voice opinions quite different in regard to his own.
Be it, as it is, Trump has his vision of the future and he outlined the corner-stones on which he intends to build his vision, despite his critics who were not hesitating to say that he does not understand today’s world. Some analysts heard in his words the echo of the inaugural speeches of the most famous American president of the 20th century, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and some said they had the impression that Bernie Sanders, the “apostle” of the democratic socialism in America is speaking through Trump’s mouth. We would dare to go even one step further.

If we put aside Trump’s person and the fact that he is extremely rich, and if we forget his repeated mentioning of God at the end of his speech, we can come to one conclusion only: what was said by Donald Trump should be embraced by every liberal leftist in the world. Caring for ordinary, forgotten people, wealth for everyone, equality between all people (“we can be black, brown or yellow, but we all have the same red blood”), transformation of a system which benefited the politicians, while the middle class suffered, starting of new production, the transfer of power, it is worth repeating, not from one political party to another, but from the Washington elite to the people, all this can be seen, let us not deny this, as a populist, if not even a nationalist approach. But, at the same time it is closer to the left side of the political scene, than to the right one. These are the first impressions based on Trump’s inaugural speech.

But, let us make one thing crystal clear. This is not a noncritical pledoayer for Donald Trump, who has many minuses – from the total lack of political experience, the unnecessary and potentially dangerous antagonizing of the People’s Republic of China to the very dubious hints about his energy policy or his standpoints about the global warning phenomena. But, at the same time it is a pledoayer for much needed and long overdue change of American policy which made the world unstable and insecure and which made the global terrorism a real threat for everybody and everywhere by accepting the protagonists of this terrorism as allies in its projects of toppling the regimes in the Middle East.

Yes, such a change, even if it would be Trump’s turn, would be mostly welcome. Of course, if he delivers, what he had promised: it stops here and it stops now. In only a few months we will know if he would be able to transform into reality his vision of America and its new role in the world. Not more: just a few months. After that we will know if Trump’s turn can become a success, or not. And his voters will know if he was right, when he promised them on the Inauguration day. “I will never let you down”.



Tomislav Jakić
(Author, born 1943., is a Croatian journalist – TV and press, specialized in covering the international relations. He was foreign policy advisor to the second President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Stjepan Mesić)


January 22, 2017



Facing the Trump Presidency – Will the Monroe doctrine finally die?

Nicola Bilotta


Due to Donald Trump’s victory in the Presidential election this November North American foreign policy will experience radical changes. The new government creates hopes and fears. On the one hand, there is hope cooperation with Russia will be improved. On the other hand, peace dialogues with Iran are expected to worsen. However, international geopolitical equilibrium will have a different settlement.  

The US has always influenced South American political history due to its geographical proximity and its economic interests. So how will Latin America be affected by Trump’s foreign policy? Hilary Clinton was supposed to continue Obama’s political strategy in the continent. But which heritage did Obama leave in South America?

Obama’s inheritance

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama became famous worldwide because of his charm and great oratory skills. In his electoral platform there was a message of cooperation and peace to all Latin American governments. Obama’s victory thus was celebrated by leftist Presidents in the entire continent. Lula – the former Brazilian President from 2002 to 2011 – said that Barack’s election was a historical moment for the world, In the same way that Brazil elected a metalworker (Lula himself), Bolivia an aboriginal (Evo Morales), Venezuela a (Hugo) Chavez and Paraguay a bishop (Fernando Lugo), I believe it will be an extraordinary thing if in the biggest economy in the world a black person (Barack Obama) is elected president.” Also Chavez was optimistic about improving Venezuelan cooperation with the US.

Obama promised to improve North American partnership with South America based on multilateralism. But the opportunity to repair the relationship between Latin American countries and the US was already lost in 2009. In June 2009, the elected President of Honduras Manuel Zaleya was overthrown by a military coup. The US foreign office considered Zaleya as a dangerous leftist leader. Even though the OAS (Organization of American States) expelled Honduras after their break of constitutional order, Hilary Clinton, secretary state at the time, and President Obama pushed for new elections rather than asking for the return of Zaleya, the democratically elected President. US government immediately recognized the legitimacy of the new Lobio government in Honduras and it pressured other Latin countries to do the same. Clinton, when talking about Honduras coup, said “Now I didn’t like the way it looked or the way they did it, but they had a strong argument that they had followed the constitution and the legal precedents
.”[1] However, Hugo Llorens, the US ambassador in Honduras stated “Zelaya may have committed illegalities but there is no doubt that the military, supreme court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the executive branch.”[2]

Obama’s strategy in Honduras thus worsened the US relationship with Brazil and with all leftist parties in South America. Furthermore, the Colombian and US government signed an agreement on military cooperation in 2009 without consulting any other Latin American countries. American and Colombian economic and military alliance finds its roots since the 1990 with Plan for Colombia establishment. Former President Bill Clinton approved a massive military and economic aid initiative to fund Colombian struggle against drug cartels and left-wing insurgent groups. The aim of the plan was to supply Colombia with military training and military technologies to contrast violence in the country. The flow of money from the US government to Colombia has not stopped since then. Former President G.W. Bush and Obama maintained Plan for Colombia. According to the US Foreign Office, in 2012 the US allocated 644.304.766$ in Colombia. Breaking down the aid, we discover that 446.552.148$ were funds for military and security help. The tight relationship between the two countries is confirmed by the trade deal signed in 2011.

Besides chief architect and broker that of Cuba, Obama was a strong sponsor of the peace dialogue between the FARC and Santos government. He even promised to increase American economic aid to Colombia totalling 450 million of dollars. Even though Obama was not personally involved in the discussion of the peace agreement in Colombia, he has started a process of normalization with Cuba. The US and Cuba has not had diplomatic relations since the 1960s. After the communist revolution in the country, the US imposed a trade embargo against Cuba. Obama’s plan was to improve Cuban and American relations by reviewing Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism and by ending the economic embargo. After formal talks, American Congress will be called to vote for the official revocation of the embargo. The new course, however, was not just due to Obama’s effort. The role of the former Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis was fundamental to foster peace between the two countries. Regardless the fact that it was a multilateral effort, the improvement of Cuban and American relations has been the most considerable heritage of Obama’s presidency in South America.

Obama has not been able to improve the precarious diplomatic relationship whit Venezuela and Ecuador. Even if the US is the largest trading partner of Venezuela, US governments have not sent Ambassadors to this Latin Am country since 2006. Their diplomatic relations are now extremely tense. Maduro accused US governments of imperialism and of trying to defeat his government in Venezuela, while American diplomacy denounced human rights violations against Maduro’s adversaries. The latter, instead, declared US Ambassador Persona non-grata in 2011 in response to the release of secret documents in which US diplomatists accused Ecuadorian President Correa to be corrupted. In the last months of 2015 Ecuador and the US re-established diplomatic relations. However, there is still a considerable tension between them. Guillaume Long, Ecuadorian foreign minister, said that he wanted to cooperate with the US but American governments needed to not interfere with internal political decisions in South America.            

In the last eight years Brazilian and American relations have been problematic. After the disclosure of NSA secret reports on Brazil, former Brazilian President Dilma cancelled her official state visit in 2014. NSA was spying the conversations of top Brazilian managers and politics, even Dilma was recorded during her private calls. It appears, at least, unusual that US secret services were spying the establishment of a country which is a stable democracy and an American ally for the last thirty years. Obama’s presidency had tense diplomatic relations also with Argentina and her former President Kirchner. Specifically, their conflict was about Argentinian default in 2014. American hedge funds, which bought cheap Argentinian bonds in 2001, were asking for a full pay out that Kirchner refused to provide.

Interestingly, both, Dilma and Kirchner, found themselves at the centre of scandals the last year. The former was indirectly involved in Petrobas investigation, the latter was accused to have covered Iranian responsibility on the terroristic attack which killed 84 people in Buenos Aires in 1994. With their defeat, Latin America is going through the end of the leftist season. The new Argentinian President, Mauricio Macri, has already endorsed his priority to mend relations with investors and big foreign groups. The new Brazilian President, Michel Temer, has already approved liberalizations on natural resources exploitation which will attract foreign investors in Brazil. The new courses in Brazil and Argentina seem to find North American support. Actually, Macri and Temer will be aiming to improve Argentinian and Brazilian economic and diplomatic cooperation with the US.               

Eight years of Obama’s presidency has left lights and shadows. On the one hand, he fostered normalization with Cuba and he played an important role in FARC’s and the Colombian government’s peace agreement. On the other hand, he was not able to radically change American relations with Latin countries. Obama promised to establish multilateral relations with South American countries failed. It cannot be identified a turning point in how Obama’s governments interfere with internal political affairs of Latin countries.   

Trump, uncertainty of US future

Trump has promised to radically change US foreign policy. However, it is unclear how he will do so. During his presidential campaign, he contradicted himself several times. Trump said that he would reduce America’s intervention in the world. First of all, Trump’s disengagement will alter US commitment to international organizations. NATO and the defence agreements with Japan and South Korea could experience a decrease of US military and financial dedication. In addition, the relationships with China and Iran seem to be critical factors in the international equilibrium. Trump criticized Obama’s the Nuclear Deal with Iran, he could run away from the agreement and re-impose sanctions. His proposal to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese import would start an economic conflict with the Chinese government.    

The South American continent does not seem to be a priority in the new President’s agenda.  Three main topics on Latin America dominated his electoral campaign:

(i)       According to Pew Hispanic Center, in 2014 there were 11. 7 million Mexican immigrants residing in the US and 6.5 million of them would be illegally living in the country. So when he promised that 11 million illegal immigrants would be deported, it was clear whom he was referring to. Trump even claimed that he would force the Mexican government to build a wall on the border between the US and Mexico. His economic plan for “making America great again” claimed to bring back manufacturing factories to the US. Trump said he would overtax North American companies which produce in Mexico. After having described Mexican immigrants as drug dealers, criminals and rapists, in August 2016 Trump officially met Mexican President Nieto. But there were no significant results from their conversation.  Actually, while Trump said Niento agreed to pay for a wall on the border, the Mexican President posted a tweet to contradict Trump’s claim.

(ii)       Trump is one of the few Republican leaders that support the process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the US. The President-elected is said to agree with the “Cuban Thaw”, however, he argues that the US could have made a better deal. In this case, uncertainty about the future of Cuba-US relations is driven by the fact that the majority of the Republic party does not support the normalization of Cuban and North American relations. 

(iii)       Even thought Nicholas Maduro, President of Venezuela, recently stated to hope for improving his relations with the US in Trump presidency, few days ago he called Trump a bandit. During his campaign, Trump was not friendly to Maduro, he said that “Venezuelans are good people, but they have been horribly damaged by the socialists in Venezuela and the next president of the United States must show solidarity with all the oppressed people in the hemisphere.”
[3]  Even if Trump does not believe in “exporting democracy”, it is unclear how he will work to improve US relations with Venezuela.

It is not clear what Trump’s presidency will mean for American and Latin countries relations, Trump is still a mystery. Obama’s presidency instead was an unsuccessful hope that the US would have been able to establish multilateral forms of cooperation with Latin American countries.


Nicola Bilotta has a BA and a MA in History from Università degli Studi di Milano and a MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics. He works as a Global Finance Research Assistant at The Banker (Financial Times) and collaborates as an external researcher at ISAG (Istituto di Alti Studi di Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliari). N.bilotta@lse.ac.uk


Reference:

[1] N. Lakhani, Did Hillary Clinton stand by as Honduras coup ushered in era of violence?, The Guardian 31/08/2016
[2] N. Lakhani, Did Hillary Clinton stand by as Honduras coup ushered in era of violence?, The Guardian 31/08/2016
[3] [3] M. E. Jorge, Venezuela expectant as to how Trump will address Chavismo and country's crisis, Fow New Latino 18/11/2016



January 19, 2017



Human Misery monetized

By Aleksandra Krstic

 (Capitalizing and profiteering from the occupation: corporate human rights violations in the occupied territories) 

While the new cold war is taking its momentum, the world community is gradually forgetting other pressing issues; such as human rights, right to labor, human dignity and respect. Of course, the national and international corporations hereby play a major role when comes to respect and observance of social and labour rights. Even at the Geneva-based world standard-setting organization, that of ILO (International Labor Organization), corporation have a strong say.

What is the degree of due diligence deployed by corporations today? Does the corporate world comply with the law and standards of business conduct, transparency of business operations? And – importantly – does the private sector respect standards of international humanitarian law, especially in situations of armed conflicts and the so-called forgotten conflicts? Places where open hostilities have ceased, but yet peace has never really come. Notably, does the corporate world comply with the set of important international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights or the OECD Guidelines for multinational corporations, to name just a few? Could we go as far as to claim that in some cases the private corporate entities play a decisive role in funding, enabling and facilitating permanent changes in economic, demographic and cultural character of the occupied territories? And if so, does it serve, to say, dual purpose: a corporate gain and a prolongation of the occupation on the given territory?

 *           *          *          *

To understand the gravity of that problem, let’ take as an example conditions in Caucasus – a typical case of the forgotten conflict – region where war stopped, still peace has never arrived.

Armenian companies, as well as foreign (mostly diaspora controlled, such as the Lebanon-based Artsakh Roots Investment; the US-based Tufenkian Foundation; Armenian General Benevolent Union /AGBU/; Cherchian Family Foundation, etc.) businesses play a decisive role in funding, enabling and facilitating permanent changes in economic (including fiscal and monetary), demographic and cultural character of the occupied territories both for private gain and for supporting the prolongation of the occupation of these territories.

Over the past years, the well-orchestrated transfer of Armenian settlers from Armenia and elsewhere into the contested territories (via e.g. Hayastan All-Armenian Fund), including the areas adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, in particular the districts of Lachyn, Kalbajar, Gubadly, Zangilan and Jabrayil, has continued with accelerated pace. 

To worsen the things, fishing of the human souls exploits an epic human tragedy of Syria and its people: The shadowy Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) is deceiving Syrian Armenians with an instant-better life promise if they relocate from e.g. Qamishli and Aleppo cities in Syria to Caucasus and its occupied territories (e.g. Zangilan, Gubadly and Lachyn districts). Nearly a mass-manipulation replica of the famous call to Bosnian Croatians from Zagreb to settle the former Serb inhabited and ethnically cleansed territories of Croatia. This is of course, a direct criminal meddling into the domestic matters of two sovereign states.

Armenia, directly or via its corporate proxies, continues permanent energy, agriculture, social, residential and transport infrastructure changes in the occupied territories. This is increased and prioritized as to change the demographic character once for good: That of course includes the construction of irrigation networks, water-canalization, roads, power-grids and other vital economic and social facilities. (Several international reports, conducted independently by different FORAs, repeatedly confirmed that property of IDPs has been appropriated. E.g. that empty houses of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons were often dismantled for use as construction materials or that new houses are being built on their lands and properties.)

Armenia exercises pervasive control over the entire economic and commercial system in the contested territories, including inbound and outbound trade flows and economic resources. Tacit presence of the international companies is rather interesting: there are hundreds of various types of US-manufactured Caterpillar machines, farm tractors and equipment of US-based John Deere and Germany’s Deutz-Fahr companies, South Korean Hyundai trucks, Belarus MT3-82,3 model farm tractors, as well as other heavy machinery for illegal mining, agriculture, expansion of settlements and construction of the supporting infrastructure. The true ownership for most of those companies remains unclear, as oftentimes registered offshore in Cyprus, Liechtenstein and the like.

Often their funding is channeled through the branches of Armenian banks operating in the occupied territories and conducting international financial transactions via intermediary banks in Russia, EU and elsewhere. Further on, a numerous foreign retailers, from Ukraine, the US and the EU states (particularly from France, Bulgaria, Hungary, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands), as well as from Australia and UAE, have concluded their supply contracts with Armenian companies. That, of course, makes them complicit with Armenia’s occupation of the territories, drain of resources, expansion of illegal settlements as well as with a violation of fundamental rights of IDPs.

Little wonder, since Armenia’s high-ranking officials, including President Sargsyan, PM  Abrahamyan and other ministers, routinely visit the occupied territories and inspect production facilities there. To camouflage the illegal nature of production there, Armenian agricultural and liquors export companies (e.g. “Stepanakert Brandy Factory” and “Artsakh Fruit CJSC”) routinely mislabel the products wholly or partially produced or packed in the occupied territories as originating from Armenia, thus misleading governments, international retailers and consumers.

The agricultural lands in the contested territories along the Araz River (Zangilan and Jabrayil districts, too) have been illegally appropriated and extensively exploited by Armenia. This poses a stress on natural water flows (for consummation, irrigation or opportunity for an illegal electricity generation) and soil (overuse of arable lands and monoculture cropping) – which, in return, alters micro climate and jeopardizes the biota and human existence (e.g. Armenia’s Arm Water Project Company Ltd. in the Araz Valley).

Dismantling of infrastructure (metals, pipes, bricks and other construction materials) from the ruins of demolished Azerbaijani households and public buildings was previously conducted more sporadic. However, the currently examined cases show that it becomes more organized system of pillage with a clear foreign involvement.

Mining of the precious minerals and metals is one of the main enterprises in the occupied territories. E.g. Gyzylbulag underground copper-gold mine (wholly owned subsidiary of Armenia’s Vallex Group CJSC, registered in Liechtenstein), led to its almost complete depletion. Similar faith is of Demirli open-pit copper and molybdenum mine. In 2014, Gold Star CJSC reportedly started exploitation of gold near Vejnali village (occupied Zangilan district of Azerbaijan). Since 2007, GPM Gold, a subsidiary of Russia-based GeoProMining Ltd., has been extracting ore in Soyudlu gold mine in the occupied Kalbajar district.

There is an illegal traffic in natural resources across the occupied section of the international border between Azerbaijan and Armenia that is controlled by the armed forces of Armenia via Armenia constructed Vardenis-Aghdara highway. The Government of Armenia, via its Energy Ministry, is directly operating: The ore concentrate from Gyzylbulag is transported to Armenia, where it is further processed into gold containing copper and exported to international markets, mainly to Europe. Armenia is also extracting coal from the mine near Chardagly village in the occupied part of the Tartar district to supply the power plant in Yerevan, Armenia.

There is a clear correlation between the business and the political status quo. Hence, it is safe to conclude that the prolong occupation directly translates into more mineral, agricultural, water resources and other wealth for the neighboring government and gloomy international business. Demographic engineering is a key here, and is – of course – done by conflicting the fundamental human rights and norms of humanitarian law, including those of IDPs. 

In its epilogue, a clandestine population-reshuffle coupled with illegal economic activities on the contested territories produces the notorious “blood diamonds”: socio-political status-quo, demographic inversion, and extension of the armed conflict.

Is there anything larger than a problem of such a huge gravity for the resident population?

Of course, there is. Our silence about it !

 
About the author:



Aleksandra Krstić, studied in Belgrade (Political Science) and in Moscow (Plekhanov’s IBS). Currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kent University in Brussels (Intl. Relations). Specialist for the MENA-Balkans frozen and controlled conflicts.

Contact: alex-alex(at)gmail.com




January 19, 2017



Jakarta Gubernatorial Election 2017: Who Will Be Eliminated?

By: Igor Dirgantara

 

Approaching the polls February 15, 2017, competition has been increasingly rigorous among the three candidates who are contesting in the Jakarta Gubernatorial Election (Pilgub) 2017, namely, incumbent duet Basuki Tjahaja Purnama-Djarot Saiful Hidayat (Ahok-Djarot), Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono-Sylviana Murni (Agus-Sylvi), and Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno (Anies-Sandi). Many said that the fight in Jakarta gubernatorial election this time is a ‘proxy war’ of the rivalry among the political elites Megawati Soekarno Putri, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prabowo Subianto. Ahok-Djarot is supported by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), The Functional Group Party (Golkar), and the National Democratic Party (Nasdem).

 Agus-Sylvi is supported by the Democratic Party, the United Development Party (PPP), the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the National Mandate Party (PAN). Whereas Anies-Sandi is supported by the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Presently, the Jakarta gubernatorial election is entering the stage of formal debate among the candidates that will begin on January 13, 2017. In the previous informal debate that was aired by some private televisions, the Anies-Sandi duet looked dominating over other candidates.


Predictably the Jakarta Gubernatorial Election 2017 will take two rounds, because the winner is required to get 50%+1 vote. Agus-Sylvi, Ahok-Djarot, and Anies-Sandi are having equal opportunity to win and at the same also potentially to lose, or will not qualify for the second round. Support to the three pairs of candidates are still fluid and attitude of the voters tend to be still able to change until the end days before the voting day February 13, 2017. Supporting votes for the three pairs of candidates is nearly the same in number. Electabilities of the three pairs of candidates who will compete are still overlapping each others within the margin of error. Statistically, no certainty can be made on which pair of candidates will win.


Despite of Good Performance’s of Ahok, Jakarta’s Residents Want New Governor

From the results of survey conducted by SPIN (Survey & Polling Indonesia) during August-December 2016, it was revealed that Ahok is still considered by the public as the figure who best understands the problems in Jakarta (73%), compared to Anies (40%), or Agus (33% ). The pair of incumbent governor Ahok-Djarot has had the advantage in selling the programs they have achieved.

On the other hand, his two contenders focused on issues that have not been covered yet by Ahok-Djarot. Anies-Sandi pairing, for example, developed issues of job availability, basic stuff price control, and clean water availability in Jakarta. These issues were raised as a criticism against Ahok’s policies that were more physical, rather than human oriented. Anies-Sandi also intends to stop the policy on reclamation in Jakarta Bay which has been being contested by many environmental activists. Meanwhile, Agus-Sylvi’s programs highlighted more the provision of financial assistance, such as the granting of Rp 5 million per poor family, or Rp 1 billion per RW (Rukun Warga) in Jakarta. It is obvious that the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election will be the momentum to evaluate the incumbent governor’s performance and to draft the overall improvement.

Significantly, the trend of favorability to Ahok as the incumbent has decreased. Only as low as 30% believe that Ahok deserves to be re-elected Governor, while 55% want a new figure for Jakarta governor. Ahok’s positive popularity is equal to his negative popularity. Negative sentiment against Ahok is also prevalent in various segments of Jakarta voters due to the alleged religious defamation case which has resulted in a commotion and protest by Muslim community. Presently, Ahok is the accused (defendant) on the religious defamation case before the court for quoting a Quranic verse in surah Al-Maidah 51 during his working visit in the Thousand Islands. As at January 10, 2017, the case of alleged religious defamation by Ahok was entering the fifth trial round.









Despite, in one side, majority of Jakarta people being rational voters, but on the other hand they are in fact unable to escape from the political choice based on primordialism. The anti-Ahok struggle is stronger due to the religious motive. Ahok is at a disadvantaged position because he comes from minority ethnic and religion. Ahok is now in trouble with a sensitive issue of religious defamation. His status as the accused becomes a psychological barrier for the public from reelecting him. Primordial identity has been used for political benefit and gaining support. Ahok’s weakness is none of Muslim-based parties supports him. However, for Ahok’s supporters, he was merely a victim of religion politicization. Although it is possible, but somewhat difficult, for Ahok to rebound his electability within this remaining one month.






In contrast, Anies Baswedan is seen as a figure who is more caring to the Jakarta people (57%), than Ahok (52%), or Agus (47%). Anies is also considered more as representing the entire strata of Jakarta people (52%), compared to Ahok (41%), and Agus (39%). Jakarta’s public is indeed expecting a new leader who has respect and integrity, represents all strata of the Jakarta people, capable of creating jobs, and has the ability to improve education of his residents.

Agus Harymurti Yudhoyono is today very popular as a candidate for Jakarta Governor. His personal branding as a young man and handsome has heavily attached in Jakarta’s people. By hearsay, human is an eye animal. A candidate who is physically attractive may earn 3 times more votes, particularly from the first-time and female voters segment. This is because the first impression that begins from physical appearance of someone is usually difficult to change. Theoretically, one’s first image is usually based on visual aspect. Furthermore, human’s mind is limited, thus the voters’ perception tends to be filtered by a physiological filter. This is the advantage of Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono that is also possessed by Sandiaga Uno.

This differs with Ahok who has controversial leadership style in the public eye. The voters in Jakarta presently give Anies Baswedan and Agus Harimurti an opportunity to be the new governor of Jakarta. However, Anies Baswedan is very vulnerable to be rushed by negative religious issues, such as allegation as a follower of Shia or Liberal Islam. Whereas Agus Harymurti Yudhoyono is deemed lack of experience and as a part of a political dynasty or a son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.


Closing Remark

In 2017, the Jakarta people will predictably have a new Governor on February 15. He will be either Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, Anies Baswedan, or Djarot Saiful Hidayat. This means, if the incumbent Ahok-Djarot pair even wins, there will be very little chance for Ahok to be the Jakarta Governor for the second period because of his accused status and potential imprisonment related to the religious defamation proceeding to which he is now subjected. Ahok will remain able to survive if there is a gigantic power intervening his case. However, this may trigger a national political uproar that is even greater. Jakarta Gubernatorial Election 2017 indeed correlates with the process and decision of Ahok’s court trial that is still current.

Approaching the voting day February 15, 2017, each of the candidates will be campaigning more actively to grab undecided votes and swing voters, particularly of first-time voters, Muslim voters, Javanese voters, and the urban middle class. In the capital Jakarta, social media can be used as a tool to grab supports and influence these voters. However, undeniably, the Ahok’s religious defamation case indeed gave benefit and opportunity to Anies-Sandi and Agus-Sylvi pairs to win on the Jakarta gubernatorial election on February 15, 2017. Even if Ahok loses the election, the public will still look at Ahok’s performance that has been deemed good as a work barometer for anyone who will succeed him, no matter whether he is a polite Muslim or not.

Igor Dirgantara is Lecturer at Faculty of Social Politics, University Jayabaya, Jakarta, and Director Survey & Polling Indonesia (SPIN).

Email : oseafas@gmail.com



January 14, 2017



Brazils Locomotive Breath

By Nicola Bilotta

 

Abstract

The Brazilian ‘locomotive’ has stopped. Oil production has been one of crucial drives in fostering not only economic but social growth in Brazil, but now sees the country gripped by economic crisis and political instability,. The inquiry of Petrobras’s scandal is changing the equilibrium of powers in Latin “China”.


Introduction

The process of growth and modernization in Brazil has been always described as an example to be followed by other developing countries. Nevertheless, the Brazilian ‘locomotive’ has stopped.

The country is going through a period of dramatic political and economic instability. Although the Olympics Games should have been an international show of Brazilian power, they revealed the structural weakness of a country full of ambiguities and contradictions instead. Petrobras’ inquiry, combined
with negative effects of the economic crisis, seem to have temporarily buried the China of South America. Oil wealth becoming yet another time not a blessing but a curse.

In a broader sense, the hydrocarbons and its scarcity phychologization, its monetization (and related weaponization) is serving rather a coercive and restrictive status quo than a developmental incentive” – diagnoses prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic, and concludes: “That essentially calls not for an engagement but compliance.“


To describe the history of the nation we need to focus our attention on oil, because the black gold is the embodiment of the success -and  fall-  of the  Brazilian economy.


Oil – how black is gold

One the central drivers of Brazilian economic growth has been the production and the export of natural resources and their products. Looking at Brazil’s GDP between 1982 and 2015, three main trends can be observed. (i) A stable growth pattern from 1982 to 2002. (ii) The  GDP rocketing up between 2003 and 2012, with a light slowdown during 2009-2010 caused by the financial crisis. (iii) A fall of GDP’s values between 2012 and 2015. Analyzing the evolution of the percentage of annual GDP growth’s, it is not possible to identify a specific trend.

The most significant point that can be made is the constant growth of the GDP between 2004 and 2008, which was around 5% per year. The economic growth does not just imply a dramatic increase of GDP but also the improvement in social-economic status of millions of poor brasilians. Starting from 2001 the level of absolute poverty – defined as the percentage living with less than two dollars per day – decreased 12%. The levels of relative poverty – defined as the percentange of people with less than 50% of the average income – fell by 25% between 2002 and 2013.


Graph 1: Trend of Brazilian GDP 1982 e il 2014



Graph by the author, source: World Bank Database



Grafico 2: Percentage of GDP Grotwh 1982-2014



Graph by the author, source: World Bank Database


Graph 3: Trends of poverty levels 1995-2013


 
Source: OECD Economic Surveys Brazil, 11/2015, p. 34

The value of export and of the satellite activities of natural resources for Brazilian is represented by their proportion on the total GDP. As clearly shown in Graph 4, one of the engines of the Brazilian boom in the 2000s has been oil. Its incidence on GDP increased remarkably from 1999, a stable growth that reached its peak during 2000s. Between 2003 and 2006 oil rents produced around 3% of total GDP. Graph 5 shows the cost of oil per barrel from 1980 to 2015. To clarify, the most important oil reserve in Brazil is Pré-Sal, which needs to compete in a market in which the price is of at least 70 dollars per barrel in order to be profitable. The fall of the international price of oil, then, has been penalizing the Brazilian economy that was already damaged by the crisis of Chinese demand and the slowdown of FDI.


Graph 4: Percentage of oil and natural resourcces on Brazilian GDP 1982-2012

 

Graph by the author, source: World Bank Database


Graph 5: Trends of oil barrel 1980-2014



Graph by the author, source: World Bank Database


Eike Batista, imagine of Brazilian fable

The story of Erike Batista is bond with the growth and the fall of Brazilian economy. Batista has been one of the richest man in the world, 8th in the Forbes rank of worldwide billionaires and owner of 30 billion dollars in 2012. However, this changed in 2014 when he admitted to the loss of his wealth and his debt of one billion dollars. How is it possible that this self-made billionaire lost his wealth totalling a whopping 30 billion dollars?

The success and the fall of Batista’s business is connected to oil. In the 80s, after completing his metallurgic studies, he went to Amazon forest to implement machines in the research and the extraction of gold. In the 1983 he bought a small society in the Canadian stock exchange, of extraction and trade of natural resources., that gained the value of 1.7 billion dollars in a few years. In 2002 he sold his company for 875 million. The devaluation of the asset was due to wrong investment done by the society in Greece, Russia and Czech Republic, which cost million of loss.  

Batista exploited new opportunities that arose during the Brazilian economic boom. Between 2001 and 2002 he created and subsequently sold two companies to the Brazilian state; a thermodynamics and an iron production company. The holding that would make a Batista billionaire was OGX (Petròleo e Gàs Participacoes), specialized in the research and refinement of oil and gas. The market strategy of OGX was aggressive from the beginning.

In 2007 he arranged the rights of exploration for 21 areas for OGX doubling the amount offered by its competitors. The next year OGX was able to produce barrels at the cost of 145 dollars per barrel and it announced their structures would be able to produce 1 million barrel per day in 2019. Batista’s ambitions and his confidence in Brazilian economy encouraged him to invest a large amount of money to build up an harbour at Acu, 400 km away from Rio de Janeiro. The project was supposed to create a centre for the refinement and the trade of oil products, thereby radically increasing OGX’ productivity.

From 2008 onwards, the Brazilian magistrate  started to investigate bribes that Batista allegedly gave to the Governator of Amapà, Waldex Gòez, concessions of privileges for his companies. Even though the media caught wind of the investigation, the judiciary case was closed without any charges. The slowdown of Brazilian economy and the fall of the oil barrel started to strain foreign investors and foreign shareholders and lead them to reduce investments into Batista’s companies.

The final blow was caused by the Abu Dhabi fund, Mudabala Development, which retired from EBX – one of Batista’s holdings – and asked for the liquidation of all their stock options which totalled 1.5 billion dollars. The financial pressure then cut the liquidity of Batista’s companies, which, having invested a lot of money, survived using financial leverage. Like a balloon, EBX snapped under the weight of financial debts that made Batista lose all of his assets.


Petrobras investigation

In March 2014, a group of Brazilian judges started to investigate the relationship between the Worker’s Party and the public oil company Petrobras. The charge was that executive directors of Petrobras and of the main building societies (Btp) developed a corrupt system in which Btp would receive contracts for the construction of oil platforms increasing the building costs between 1% and 3%. In exchange, governmental parties would obtain illegal funds to sponsor political campaigns. The companies involved were Camargo Corrêa, Oas, Utc-Constram, Odebrecht, Mendes Júnior, Engevix, Queiroz Galvão, Iesa Óleo & Gás e Galvão Engenharia and members of the Workers’ Party, the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Pmdb) and the Progressive Party. (Pp).

The main consequence of the inquiry was the delegitimization of the Workers’ Party that led Brazil from 2002 onwards. The President, Dilma Rouseleff was forced to leave office despite the fact she was not personally involved in the investigation. The successor of former President Lula endured immediate pressure to resign for her knowledge of systematic corruption as Chairman of Petrobras and Minister of Energy (2003-2005). Nevertheless, the impeachment of Rouseleff regarded the charge of having transferred public funds from national banks to finance social expenses that went beyond the fixed amount allocated for public expenses. However, the charges that led to her dismissal did not include the Petrobas scandal. Eduardo Cunha was the political leader leading the group that called for Dilma’s dismissal.

Paradoxically, he was not only found with a secret million dollar bank account in Switzerland, but was also barred from assuming any public position for eight years due to an investigation for his involvement in corruption and bribes. Some representatives of worldwide left-wing parties talk about a conspiracy to dismiss the Workers’ Party. The Brazilian and international elite allegedly exploited the economic crisis to destroy the consensus of Lula and Rouseleff’s party, which had always had significant popular support. Lula won the election in 2002 with 46.4% of the votes against just 23.3% of his opposing candidate José Serra. In 2006, Lula was confirmed President with 48.6% in the next election. His successor, Dilma Rouseleff, won in 2010 with 46.9% of the votes.

Even though she experienced a small decline, Rouseleff won the election in 2014 with 41.6% of the votes. These Brazilian governments made enemies in the international market due to their politics of nationalization and semi-nationalization of natural resources. For example, Petrobras, founded in 1953, was partially privatized during the 90s. However, Lula started a propagandist campaign in 2007 to return company under state control. In addition, to prevent the private exploitation of the Pré-Sal oil reserve, Lula’s government passed a law to give to Petrobras the monopoly to explore the area and extract oil from Pré-Sal.

Some influential voices, such as independent Brazilian experts and academics raised concerns about the nature of the process. Pedro Fassoni Arruda argues that there were secret powers behind the impeachment that were also involved in the coup d’etat in 1964. In a similar vein, Pablo Ortellado criticised the framing of Rouseleff in the media. Sapelli contends that the modern political history of Brazil is characterized by a deep fragmentation of parties, which means every President has to deal with many small personalist parties.

The external support that every government needs to administrate generated the construction of a system of corruption intrinsic to Brazilian society. Many experts believe that judge’s actions could enforce the trust of markets and investors in Brazilian institutions. Cutting the ambiguous bonds that exist between parties and companies should help to make the legal framework more stable and safe, strengthening the power of the Law. This could be a message from Brazil to all the world, that whoever is corrupted, no matter what status, will be punished.  

Recently, the news reported the Brazilian parliament approved a law with 292 in 393 to abolish the monopoly of Petrobras on the reserve of Pré-Sal. This law seems to be just the first step of a greater project of privatization pursued by President Michel Temer. With strong politics of liberalization for Brazilian natural resources, Brazil seems to offer intriguing opportunities for business and investments for many multinationals. If Petrobras’ inquiry is just conspiracy or smart intuition is hard to understand. Surely, the destiny of Brazil will be, another time, defined by black gold. For better or worse.


By Nicola Bilotta
Nicola Bilotta has a BA and a MA in History from Università degli Studi di Milano and a MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics. He works as a Global Finance Research Assistant at The Banker (Financial Times) and collaborates as an external researcher at ISAG (Istituto di Alti Studi di Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliari) N_bilotta@lse.ac.uk



Bibliografia

•  K. Blankfeld, Big Man in Brazil, Forbes 3/11/2010

•  ECB, What is driving Brazil’s economic downturn, Issue 1/2016-Box 1

•  J. Leahy, Brazil’s left fears Rousseff coup, Financial Times 3/04/2016

•  D. Miranda, Brazilian politician who led Rousseff impeachment arrested on corruption charges, 21/04/2016

•  OECD, Economic Surveys Brazil, 11/2015

•  S. Romero e V. Sreeharsha, Dilma Rousseff Targeted in Brazil by Lawmakers Facing Scandals of Their Own, New York Times 14/04/2016

•  M, Sandy, Brazilian politician who led Rousseff impeachment arrested on corruption charges, The

•  Guardian 19/10/2016

•  G. Sapelli, Dal Brasile all’Italia. I poteri forti dietro le inchieste pilotate sul petrolio, Il Sussidiario 7/04/2016 

•  J. P. Spinetto, P. Millard and K. Wells, How Brazil’s Richest Man Lost $ 34.5 billion,  4/10/2013 Bloomerang 4/10/2013

•  World Bank, Dataset Brazil, http://data.worldbank.org/country/brazil



January 12, 2017



Battling the Tiger: Combating corruption in the Sino-world

By Lingbo ZHAO

Introduction

After the Eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China a new round of anti-corruption campaign has been going on. With almost fifty provincial officials, more than 600 director-level officials and more than 200,000 petty officials snared, this campaign is being conducted in a harsh way on a large scale. More importantly, as Vice Primer WANG Qishan pointed out, the ultimate goal is to reach the “would not think of it”stage from the current “would not dare”stage. In order to realise this goal, the passive control and surveillance measurements which have been carried on over decades may not be able to meet the demand. What should be prior taken into consideration is institutional designs for a clean government.


If we look for a successful example for China on anti-corruption reform, Hong Kong may be a good one. During the 1960s, with the increasing population and the rapid expansion of manufacturing industry, Hong Kong was faced with a similar situation which corruption was wide-spread around the force and the community in mainland China nowadays. (Manion, 2004) And yet since 1974 when the Independent Commission Against Corruption  (ICAC) was created, the anti-corruption interventions has empowered to accomplish the transformation. This commission, according to the Basic Law, functions independently and is directly accountable to the Chief Executive. (Scott, 2011)

So the paper is conducted by analysis on causes of corruption and anti-corruption measurements in mainland China, followed by the evaluation and comparison of Hong Kong and mainland China.

Though sharing a Chinese culture, great difference remains between each other. Especially when we focus on the anti-corruption achievement, Hong Kong, considered as the freer market from government intervention, has incredible achievements in combatting institutionalised corruption while China, during two decades of anti-corruption campaign, remains one of the most corrupt countries.

This paper considers the rooted causes and problems of the anti-corruption strategy in mainland China. By introducing the incidence of Chen Xitong and the general situation on state personnel corruption, it argues extent, forms and characteristics and the institutional loopholes of Chinese government. Meanwhile, the process of the transformation in Hong Kong will be illustrated empirically and compared with the process in mainland China. The key part——ICAC will be evaluated. And the suggestions of establishing such commission in mainland China will be introduced and tested. The main researching method is new institutionalism by focusing on the institutional design and informal practice in mainland China.


The definition of corruption

Corruption, simply speaking, means the abuse of power for illegal monetary transaction. One of the most comprehensive definitions that by a short simply wording includes both a public and private sector corruption comes from a Vienna-based prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic: “Seemingly victimless, hidden trade-off between influence and gain” (Bajrektarevic, Palermo Treaty system, Addleton NY, 2011). The World Bank defines (public) corruption as the abuse of public office for private gains However, when it comes to a definition in concrete terms which contain too much connotation.(Girling, 1997) In addition, the causes and the results of public-private sector corruption are diverse. It can be traced in governments and civil societies, which include economic systems, administrative systems, judiciary systems and so on. (Harris, 2003) No matter how broad and complicated the concept is, it can reflect rules and violators who against those rules can be identified and punished. (Gambetta, 1999)

In the Chinese context, there are two major definitions that can be applied to China in the transition period. For those who are in favor [H1] of a tough enforcement and party disciplinary, they would like to provide a more broad-based definition which includes public offices, public interest and public opinions factors. By contrast, for those who are in favor [H2] of an effective effacement and market efficiency, they would focus on the abuse of public office. (Sun, 2004) Though there is no formalistic answer to the question on what the definition is, this paper would use a definition corresponding with the Chinese context. The corruption is defined as the abuse of authority or the public power by occupants in the government or the party to gain private interests. This interpretation narrows down to the public office level that focuses on the abuse of public power in the political activities.


Corruption in Mainland China

The process of corruption in China after 1949 can be roughly divided into two periods. There is the classical communist period  from 1949 to 1976 and the socialist market from 1976 to the present. (Harris, 2003)

From 1980 on, the development of corruption took place together with the legitimating of financial pursuit, delegation of power to an individual or an agency, fast expansion of the market economy, deficiency of the Party’s discipline as well as delaying in introducing regulatory control and required on time legislative renewal. (Kwong, 1997)

One case disclosure shocked the public. That is that the mayor of Beijing——Chen Xitong was found directly engaging in bribe taking, with numerous bribe givers and huge material rewards. Even for Chen Xitong, whose downfall is often interpreted as political, the size of his booty warranted his fate. Two private villas, where Chen spent his leisure time and kept his mistresses between January 1993 and February 1995, cost the public nearly Y40 million in maintenance fees, and Y1.05 million in catering expenses. According to Sun (2004), “The villas were filled with luxuries ranging from gold doors and agate floors to extensive maintenance and security. Eventually, he was sentenced to 16-year jail term. ”(p. 148).

In Alan Liu’s categories, the forms of corruption in mainland China can be roughly divided into three groups. The first one is universal in all political systems including bribery, embezzlement and abuse. The state property is still a main target but not the only one. Instead, it is the greater inducement from and dependence on the market that now defines the forms and methods of violation. The second type is related to the economic reform, such as accounting violation and privilege seeking. When decentralisation was carried on gradually, autonomy and increasing resources have facilitated corruption dynamically. Precisely, there is linkage between economic liberalisation and corruption. Third one is resulted from moral degradation in a broad way. Sun  (2004) states that “even here the marketplace has stimulated distinctive forms of moral deviation in recent years.”(p. 51).


Causes of corruption in China

The growth of corruption is considered as a policy outcome. It results from mainly the economic reform in an unconscious way during the reforming and opening period. In general, economic reform which is for market development and economic growth, has built up the advantageous condition for the explosion of corruption. Increasing business opportunities, the looser economic policies and the higher payoffs motivated officials to get involved in corruption.

To break through the planned economy which made the economy in China stall market economy was introduced to China 30 years ago. Wedeman (2012) states “this reform help China accomplish an economic miracle,” which also makes China lie on the top in the international community. As the continuous development of market economy and reform and opening going deeper, corruption has come out as an ineluctable social phenomenon.

During the reform of economy, market competition is one of the most important factors which cannot be underestimated. When analysing the relationship between market economy and corruption, both western and Chinese scholars found out the paradox. There is a negative correlation between economic growth and corruption. Firstly Paolo Mauro, followed by other economists, found that the higher the rate of corruption is, the lower the rate of development is. Empirically, they drew out a conclusion that when the rate of corruption increases one point, it results in the reduction of one percent in economic growth.

Theoretically, this statement also can be correct because equality and justice are the key factors of market competition. However, this kind of developmental corruption model cannot successfully reflect the facts in Mainland China where we can see the increasing corruption rate together with the fast development of market and economic growth. Some severe realities are quite obvious. The number of officials corrupting keeps increasing. The involvement in business field of governmental officials is enlarged. Corruption, originally a concealed individual behaviour, is turning into an organised collusion such as Shanghai Gang. (Gong, 1997)


As I mention before, there is a paradox about the relationship between market economic growth and corruption. Admittedly, corruption keeps developing in Mainland China together with the rapid growth economy. Gong Ting (1997) uses a conceptual framework which is the interactions of formal and informal practice from new institutionalism to give the explanation. She believes that corruption, as an informal practice, is actually a production of formal practice with loophole.

They are interactional to some extent. To stamp out corruption, the starting stage should be on the amendment towards formal practice such as legal framework, judicial system and institutional design. As for the judicial system, she also points out that the wide spread of corruption is facilitated by the way the courts are organized and supervised. The courts, in mainland China, are not different from other governmental agencies. They are not independent. The local government decides the finances of the courts.

Senior judges are nominated by the local CPC Committee and endorsed by the local People’s Congress, meaning judges whose decisions are seen to violate Party policy may be discharged or otherwise punished. The courts are subject to the extra-legal authority of the Political-Legal Secretary of the local Party Committee, which deals with difficult and important cases referred to it. (Manion, 2004)



Anti-corruption strategy in Hong Kong

What makes Hong Kong’s economy successful? Several points below are worthy being remarked such as low tax collection, freedom in market competition, a relatively efficient legal system, an efficient and effective network on transportation and communication and “a competent workforce working along with a pool of enterprising entrepreneurs”described by Howlett (1997, p.47) (as cited in Manion, 2004). Those factors not only significantly contribute to the economic development in Hong Kong but also enable Hong Kong’s economic wealth which does good to combatting corruption  as the government can afford the salaries of civil servants and enough human and financial resources can be committed. (Quah, 2003)

Different from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China (Zhongjiwei) the ICAC operates independently in terms of structure, power, finance and personnel. Before 1997, there was a direct access between its Commissioner and the Governor. After July 1997, the ICAC is directly responsible to the Chief Executive. So far, the ICAC has developed into three major functions which are investigation, prevention and education to fight against corruption in Hong Kong. (Scott, 2011)


The Structure of the ICAC

As for its structure, there are main three unequal branches and the Administration Branch. Among the three departments, the largest one which is the Operation Department takes the responsibility of  the investigative function. The over nine hundred employees takes up 73% of the ICAC human resource. The head of the Department also serves as the Deputy Commissioner, assisted by two Directors who are in charge of the government sector and the private sector respectively. The second largest one is the Community Relations Department. The two divisions of this Department are mass media and the public.

It has 202 staff which is 16% of the total staff in the ICAC. Intensive education projects are conducted in schools and business sectors. In addition, it also builds up a close relationship between mass media and district organisations in order to raise the public awareness and gain their support towards the anti-corruption movement. The smallest department is the Corruption Prevention Department (CPD), taking up 4% of the total employees in the ICAC.

In concrete terms, the objectives of the CPD is to inspect the practice and procedures of government and public bodies. Also, it takes the responsibility of making amendments and suggestions on the working methods. Training for civil servants is also offered by the CPD for the purpose of prevention. Apart from these three departments, there is a separated administration department. It is in charge of human and financial resources and general matters such as accommodation and technologic service. Besides, an advisory committee is to examine the work of each department.


The ICAC also has its own recruitment practice. The employees are recruited out of the control of the Public Service Commission, which makes the staff of the ICAC separate from other governmental sections. During the recruitment process, the ICAC itself takes the whole responsibility of promotion, screening, interviewing and other process. As for the financial fund of it, by the 2001/2002 financial year, its budget has reach 81 times compared from the first year when it was established. This rapid increasing in budget reflects the strong will of the government on the support of the ICAC anti-corruption enforcement. (Quah, 2003)
 


Comparison on Anti-corruption Strategy in Mainland China and Hong Kong.
 

Institutional Designs

The main difference in mainland China and Hong Kong is the anti-corruption agencies. In Hong Kong, the ICAC is an independent agency with power and increasing budget. More importantly, the Commissioner of the ICAC is directly answerable to the Chief Executive, which makes the ICAC a separated agency apart from other governmental departments. (Harris, 2003) However, in mainland China, unclear boundary exists between the party and government branch. Junctional jurisdictions are dominated by communist party committee generalists at each level. The second point is the institutional design.

In Hong Kong, one of the three important methods of anti-corruption is the prevention through institutional design is; in mainland China, certain economic reform policies actually stimulate corruption. Reorganisation of procedures to reduce incentives for corrupt transaction has been shown recently. Finally, the analysis will go back to the basic ground of anti-corruption strategy which is the constitutional design. This essential difference lies in the two different regimes. Hong Kong has a functioning rule of law regime and effective civil liberty while mainland China is conducted by a rule of law regime less constructively and neglect of civil liberty. (Manion, 2004)


Hong Kong’s institutional design not only focus on the enforcement measures but also pays high attention to the prevention by offering suggestion. The ICAC’s Corruption Prevention Department is to study the work procedures in governmental departments to identify opportunities for corruption. (Manion, 2004) Having studied and analysed, suggestions would be offered so as to reduce the possibility of corruption by redesigning the working procedures.

Further, after the suggestions are given, the Department is still in charge of checking the effectiveness of the suggestions, making sure the new design would not offer ground for new chances for corruption. The function as consultant is one of the key and unique notion of this department, especially when the government is on its way to draft and amend legislative text and policies. To a great extent, this function makes sure the anti-corruption movement starts from the beginning level where new laws are introduced for an incentive purpose.


Also in mainland China recently, more attention has been paid towards designing incentive structures from the original forcemeat stage. In Anhui province in 2000, the “taxed for fees” reform was adopted from the perspective of being incentive. The reform is to reduced possibility of corruption in the township governments and villages by reforming the basic collection system.

It replaces a single agricultural tax, capped at about 7 percent of income and collected by higher level governments, for various fees and charges levied by township and village administrations. Compared with the previous regulations against illegal fees in 1990s, Manion (2004) described that “the reform frees officials at the rural grassroots level from fee collection and makes corruption at the township and village more difficult.”(p. 205) In 2003, this reform was successfully adopted nationwide, becoming a good example in mainland China of transforming to the incentive structure.


According to policy analysts, the key part of institutional design in Hong Kong is the independence of the ICAC and it is what mainland China should emulate when reforming the anti-corruption strategy. This refer to the exclusive anti-corruption mission of the agency: “The ICAC is not embedded in the civil service or any other larger organisation with multiple goals”. Among this, the most important is the police force remaining independent, especially in the 1973 context of a public perception of that department as the most corrupt of all.

Agency independent worked in Hong Kong primarily because this agency design worked as a signal, a public announcement of an “equilibrium switch”——but it worked especially well in a particular context. With corruption structured this way, the creation of an agency that effectively rejected the police as anti-corruption agents helped legitimate the government effort and enlisted ordinary citizens as voluntary enforcers. Independent was complemented by power, also an element of agency design: the ICAC was given strong investigate powers and considerable financial resources.



Legal Framework

Difference also lies in the law set in Hong Kong and mainland China. The reasons behind it are partly contributed by the different policy choices which illustrate different experience and views. From a perspective of a higher degree, however, basic difference on constraints of power should be noticed.

A solid legal foundation has become the base of Hong Kong’s anti-corruption reform. Two important legislative context have to be introduced. The Prevention of Bribery Ordinance was strengthened in 1971. It provided with a clear definition by including “unexplained income or property”which can serve as the evidence of corruption practices. Clarity, stability, scope and whether it is easy for application, all the points above greatly influence on whether and how a corrupt official can be punished according to law. (Quah, 2003)

To build up a clear legal basis, several points should be well defined. Legal clarity, breadth, stability, and ease of application all contributed to a situation where corrupt officials were routinely punished according to law. And the public confidence of the anti-corruption enforcement is also, to some extent, basing on whether the law is harsh without loopholes.
On the contrary, in mainland China, the main force on combatting corruption is centralised by the CDIC which plays as a leading and administrative role. But as for the legal system itself, it remains weak.

What depletes the development of law and a legal-based authority in mainland China? One point should be noticed that under the leading of the CDIC, the investigation and punishment are conducted within the party system. This makes lag when a criminal case is transferring into the prosecution process. So the agency design which makes anti-corruption enforcement outside the criminal procuratorates system may be one of answers to the question above. (Gong, 2004)

Besides, the law making process is also not propitious. The first criminal code was passed in 1979. Then comes rapid changes on political economy which forced law makers refine the law with taking lots of new factors into consideration. The role of law and its distinction between party leadership shows a fundamental contradiction in mainland China. The law should serve as a powerful tool to fight against the abuse of official power. (Manion, 2004)


Conclusion

China’s path of corruption is actually quite similar to the process in Hong Kong, rapid growth in population and economic transition. By viewing Hong Kong as a good example of mainland China, we can find basically one main loophole which is the ambiguity of power between the party and judiciary from both legal and institutional prospective. If mainland China are going to set up an independent agency like ICAC in Hong Kong, a clear boundary must be well-defined. First of all, as for the institutional setting, it is to avoid the interference from the government and the party in order to ensure authority and transparency of this agency. Second, it is to reduce delay when a corruption crime transferred from the investigation of the party to the prosecutors.
Further, even though the “fight against tigers”movement achieve success for the current situation, refining the present legal framework still remains the determinant.







Author:

Ms. Lingbo ZHAO is a candidate of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Government and International Studies. Her research interest includes Sino-world, Asia and cross-Pacific.

Contact: harryzhaolin@gmail.com




Bibliography

Girling, J. (2002). Corruption, capitalism and democracy (Taylor & Francis e-Library ed.). London: Routledge.

Gong, T. (1997). Forms and characteristics of china's corruption in the 1990s: Change with continuity. Communist and Post - Communist Studies, 30(3), 277.

Gong, T. (2004). Dependent judiciary and unaccountable judges: Judicial corruption in contemporary china. China Review, 4(2), 33-54.

Harris, R., 1947. (2003). Political corruption: In and beyond the nation state. New York: Routledge.

Heywood, P. (1997). Political corruption. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

Kwong, J. (1997). The political economy of corruption in China. Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe.

Lee, Peter N. S., 1940. (1991). Bureaucratic corruption during the deng xiaoping era. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Manion, M., 1955. (2004). Corruption by design: Building clean government in mainland china and hong kong. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Quah, J. S. T. (2003). Curbing corruption in asia: A comparative study of six countries. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.

Scott, I., 1943, & City University of Hong Kong. Department of Public and Social Administration. (2011). Corruption control in hong kong: Rules, regulations and policies. Hong Kong: Dept. of Public and Social Administration, City University of Hong Kong.

Sun, Y., 1959. (2004). Corruption and market in contemporary china. Ithaca, N,Y: Cornell University Press.

Wedeman, A. H., 1958. (2012). Double paradox: Rapid growth and rising corruption in china. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

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January 04, 2017



A European swamp – corruption and human rights


A European Swamp
 

Dear friends of ESI,

Can basic international norms be undermined by corruption? Can international politics be fundamentally reshaped by the personal greed of politicians? These are among the most important questions in global politics today. When it comes to the Council of Europe, guardian of the European Convention of Human Rights the answer to both questions is yes.

 

See new ESI Report:

The European Swamp (Caviar Diplomacy part 2)
Prosecutors, corruption and the Council of Europe

 

In recent years, the leaders of Azerbaijan have shown how easy it is to undermine core human rights standards and bend a formerly proud institution to its will. They have done so in close cooperation with Russia, and with the active support of elected politicians from across Europe, including from some of its oldest democracies. In the process, they filled a rolodex with names of politicians across the continent who have something to hide and can be blackmailed in the future.

Nobody should have illusions that these methods are restricted to the Council of Europe. Nobody should assume that it is only Azerbaijan that is exploiting the greed of politicians. And it is not only the massive corruption that should worry us. Azerbaijan's actions have been met with almost complete silence from national parliaments, governments and political parties.

In 2012 ESI published
"Caviar Diplomacy – How Azerbaijan silenced the Council of Europe" to sound an alarm. The reaction of Azerbaijani officials was neither alarm nor outrage, but amused indifference.

For as long as the only cost of corruption in the Council of Europe was the institution's failure to speak out about the imprisonment of Azerbaijani journalists, dissidents and youth activists, most leaders of European governments felt that it was not a matter of deep concern. Yet the failure in Strasbourg to hold the line on core European values has now come to haunt European politics. It consequences can be seen in the growing confidence of autocrats, the increasing ruthlessness of their methods and the widespread retreat of liberal politics. The ease with which democratic institutions and safeguards can be undermined has emerged as a fundamental threat to European democracy.

In this follow-up to Caviar Diplomacy, we take a closer look, four years later, at the progress that has been made on miring the Council of Europe in a swamp of corruption. We describe in detail how the corruption of MPs proceeded, from early visits with precious gifts meant to test the beneficiaries' reactions, to long-term contracts involving huge sums of money.
 


"Your gifts are very precious"

 


Elkhan Suleymanov (member, PACE) and Luca Volonte (former member, PACE)

 

In April 2012 Italian parliamentarian Luca Volonte travelled on a private trip to Baku to negotiate with the regime what services he could offer. He arrived in Baku to meet with Elkhan Suleymanov, a fellow member of PACE, and presented his ideas how to boost Azerbaijan's image. This was not his first trip to Baku. Upon his return from a trip in July 2011 Volonte sent an effusive note to Suleymanov:

"Dear Elkhan, Thank you for everything!!! Thanks to you I have discovered a very interesting country, our friendship is certainly growing!! Thanks, your gifts are very tasty and very precious!!!"

Volonte was an experienced politician with many contacts. He entered the Italian parliament in 1996 as a representative of a small Christian Democratic party supportive of Silvio Berlusconi's government. Between 2011 and 2013, he was one of Italy's full-time representatives in PACE, where he also led the EPP group, the largest group in the assembly.
 


The Marshall Islands – linking Baku and Milan

 

On 14 December 2012, a transfer of €100,000 was made to the bank account of Luca Volonte's foundation (Novae Terrae), where it arrived three days later. On Christmas Eve 2012, another transfer of €220,000 was made to the bank account of his company, LGV. The money came from two companies registered in Birmingham and on the Marshall Islands, a chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean. They reached Italy via two banks in Estonia and Latvia. This path was chosen to conceal the fact that these were payments from one PACE member (Elkhan Sulyemanov) to another (Luca Volonte).

In late 2012 and early 2013 Volonte helped Azerbaijan build a coalition in PACE to defeat a resolution on political prisoners, drafted by German rapporteur Christoph Strasser. He suggested a concrete lobbying strategy. In one email to an Azerbaijani PACE member on 15 December 2012 Volonte wrote:

"We need to name a lot of friends during the debate and nominate one person for each of our political groups: it would be useful if you could suggest to [Luigi] Vitali and/or to the ex-Minister of Greece to nominate themselves for the EPP, [Tadeusz] Iwinsky and others for SOC, [Michael] Hancock and Bob [Robert Walter] for EDG, Jordi Xucla Costa or some others for the Liberals. If their group has decided for a "free vote", they need to stress their opinion in favour of Pedro and consequently, against Strasser."

His efforts succeeded. Strasser's resolution was rejected by 125 votes to 79. Azerbaijan had managed to mobilise PACE parliamentarians in an unprecedented manner; the vote in January 2013 was the best attended vote on a human rights resolution in the history of PACE.

Volonte's efforts paid off. Over the next two years, he received more than €2 million from Azerbaijan.
 

 

Investigation



RAI Documentary – "Caviar Democracy" (November 2016)

 

On 27 June 2014, the Public Prosecutor's office in Milan wrote a notizia di reato – a notification when an alleged crime is reported – concerning Luca Volonte and two bank transfers. On Friday 13 February 2015, the court in Milan informed Volonte in a letter that the prosecutor's investigation would be extended. Police searched his offices. The investigation is ongoing.

On 21 November 2016, the Italian public broadcaster RAI aired a documentary with the title
"Caviar Democracy". It confronted Luca Volonte with the charges made against him.

RAI: The Terrae Novae Foundation was paid on the basis of an agreement with Elkhan Suleymanov's NGO ACSDA. So, the foundation signed a contract with…

Volonte: A consultancy. The foundation drew up an agreement … a convention.

RAI: Which lasts ten years.

Volonte: In the agreement, it says that it lasts ten years.

RAI: For how much?

Volonte: A million a year.

RAI: Ten million, then.

Volonte: Yes … that money was paid for advice which I personally provided to Suleymanov as president of this NGO.

Watch the full documentary here:
RAI 3 Report "Caviar Democracy", 21 November 2016.

For an earlier documentary about caviar diplomacy, with a focus on France:
France 2,  "Mon président est en voyage d'affaires"

 

What next in Strasbourg?

 

 

It is essential that these developments are put on the agenda of the next plenary session of PACE in late January 2017. One argument some in PACE use already to prevent a serious debate is bogus: that it is inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.

Luca Volonte has publicly admitted that he accepted € 2.3 million from Suleymanov. These transfers started on the eve of an important vote on human rights in Azerbaijan. If this is not contrary to the Code of Conduct for PACE members, then the Code is clearly worthless.

Any serious reforms in PACE are certain to meet with stiff resistance from those who benefit from the status quo. For this reason, concerned members of PACE and officials in the secretariat and among governments and parliaments of member states need to act decisively. They need to make clear what is at stake. Caviar diplomacy is a mortal threat to the credibility of one of the world's most important human rights institutions.

The Council of Europe was created in 1949 as a club of democracies, led by politicians aware of Europe's autocratic past, conscious of threats to the rule of law, determined to affirm human rights against external and internal opponents. It is time to recapture this spirit. It is high time to take back the Council of Europe.

Many best regards,


Gerald Knaus


PS: Some concrete proposals, to be further developed in January 2017:

PACE should immediately suspend the two members accused of bribing other members, pending a full investigation. PACE should also withdraw the voting rights of the entire Azerbaijani delegation in January 2017 until such time as it is clear that these practices have ceased.
Given the dark shadow cast over the vote on 23 January 2013, PACE should immediately appoint a credible special rapporteur on political prisoners in Azerbaijan to apply the definition adopted by PACE in October 2012.
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Ministers should discuss this issue and appoint a special independent investigator with experience of such cases to do a serious investigation of allegations for bribery by Azerbaijan since 2001 to present to the Committee and to PACE.
Prosecutors in France, Spain, Germany and in other countries should talk to their Italian colleagues and cooperate in investigating suspicious behaviour during this period. The capture of PACE and international institutions is not just an Italian problem.
The secretary general of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland, should make a very strong statement to affirm that there can be no tolerance of any corruption of parliamentarians or officials.
Governments and parliaments of all Council of Europe member states should make clear how seriously they take both these specific discoveries and the structural problems they reveal. They need to underline that inaction is no longer an option.



January 04, 2017


2017



PUBLICATIONS FEBRUARY, 2017:




PUBLICATIONS JANUARY, 2017:

 La-La-Land of Central Asia Kazakhstan and its “Astana Code of Conduct” - By Samantha Brletich

 Donald Trump, Nuclear Issue and Nuclear War -By:  Markus Wauran

 TRUMP’S TURN - By Tomislav Jakić

 Facing the Trump Presidency – Will the Monroe doctrine finally die? - Nicola Bilotta

 Human Misery monetized - By Aleksandra Krstic

 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election 2017: Who Will Be Eliminated? - By: Igor Dirgantara


 
Battling the Tiger: Combating corruption in the Sino-world - By Lingbo ZHAO

 
A European swamp – corruption and human rights - Gerald Knaus

 




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Head of mission and department head - strategic studies on Asia
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Critical Similarities and Differences in SS of Asia and Europe - Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic



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Alisa Fazleeva earned an MA in International Relations from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom in 2013. Her research interests include foreign policy decision-making, realism and constructivism, and social psychology and constructivism.



 
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The political character of Social Media: How do Greek Internet users perceive and use social networks?

 


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 George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and Intl. Relations She focuses on Russia and Central Asia. Ms. Brletich is an employee of the US Department of Defense.


Interview on HRT-Radio

Prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarević




Dr Filippo ROMEO,



Julia Suryakusuma is the outspoken Indonesian thinker, social-cause fighter and trendsetter. She is the author of Julia’s Jihad.

Contact: jsuryakusuma@gmail.com 








Mads Jacobsen
Mads is an intern at PCRC. Mads Jacobsen is from Denmark and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in 'Development and International Relations' at Aalborg University...




Dzalila Osmanovic-Muharemagic
University of Bihac, Faculty of Education, Department of English Language and Literature - undergraduate
University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philology, Department of English Language and Literature - graduate study




Rakesh Krishnan Simha

New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst. According to him, he writes on stuff the media distorts, misses or ignores.

Rakesh started his career in 1995 with New Delhi-based Business World magazine, and later worked in a string of positions at other leading media houses such as India Today, Hindustan Times, Business Standard and the Financial Express, where he was the news editor.

He is the Senior Advisory Board member of one of the fastest growing Europe’s foreign policy platforms: Modern Diplomacy.





Damiel Scalea
Daniele Scalea, geopolitical analyst, is Director-general of IsAG (Rome Institute of Geopolitics) and Ph.D. Candidate in Political studies at the Sapienza University, Rome. Author of three books, is frequent contributor and columnist to various Tv-channels and newspapers. E-mail: daniele.scalea@gmail.com




Alessio Stilo,
 
Research Associate at Institute of High Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences (IsAG), Rome, Italy, and Ph.D. researcher at University of Padova, is IMN Country Representative in Italy.




Tomislav Jakić
Foreign Policy Advisor to former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić





Zlatko Hadžidedić

Graduate of the London School of Economics, prof. Zlatko Hadžidedić is a prominent thinker, prolific author of numerous books, and indispensable political figure of the former Yugoslav socio-political space in 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.




Mr. Nicola Bilotta
Nicola Bilotta has a BA and a MA in History from Università degli Studi di Milano and a MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics. He works as a Global Finance Research Assistant at The Banker (Financial Times) and collaborates as an external researcher at ISAG (Istituto di Alti Studi di Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliari) N_bilotta@lse.ac.uk




Markus Wauran
Date and Place of Birth: April 22, 1943 – Amurang, North Sulawesi, IndonesiaEducation: Bachelor in Public Administration.
Writer was a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia (DPR/MPR-RI) period of 1987-1999, and Chairman of Committee X, cover Science and Technology, Environment and National Development Planning (1988-1997).
Currently as Obsever of Nuclear for peace
.