European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, has criticized the “unpredictable” US foreign policy under Donald Trump, and says the EU can become the main international partner of Russia, India and China.
During a Q & A during a State of the Union conference in Florence, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs was asked if Trump’s “unpredictability” has given him an advantage in dealing with North Korea’s volatility.
“Sometimes you can play with unpredictability and predictability that can surprise… but sometimes you can also scare. And sometimes it’s too late to fix it. The European way is not that of playing,” answered Mogherini.
In the wake of Washington’s decision to bombard a Syrian airbase last month as well as the massing of US forces near North Korean shores, the Italian diplomat said the EU is seeking a more flexible approach.
“One thing is true for the European Union that is not necessarily true for our partners in NATO and the US. We know very well that there is not one single security threat in our world that can only be faced with military means.”
Mogherini said she was surprised during recent visits to Beijing, New Delhi and Moscow, that all these countries want a “strong EU” and desire closer ties “not just in economy and trade, but security and humanitarian development, climate change, and foreign policy.”
“People want to work with European Union, not because they always like us… But in this geopolitical dynamic, being predictable, reliable and strong is an added value we should use,” said Mogherini.
Mogherini said that Europe could “occupy the space” that is being vacated by Washington, which has enjoyed a thorny recent relationship with Brussels, over trade, NATO funding, and immigration.
“There is an opportunity for the Europeans and the European Union to position itself as a partner to all our interlocutors in the world, be it on the big global issues where maybe Washington is losing leadership,” Mogherini said.
Mogherini’s comments comes amid the negotiations on the protracted process of Brexit, accompanied by vocal statements from both UK and EU officials.
With emotions running high on the terms of the UK-EU divorce, and a suggested hefty exit bill of up to €100 billion (£84.5 billion/US$110 billion) being discussed, both sides have been making self-assertive remarks and accusations.
Those included that of the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, who claimed the EU was trying to “affect the result of the general election” in the UK on June 8, and May being allegedly described as “living in another galaxy” after putting London’s expectations before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during talks in late April.
Most recently, Juncker on Friday joked that he would stop speaking English because “slowly but surely, English is losing importance.”
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has vowed to regain national sovereignty by pulling France out of the eurozone, bringing back the French Franc, and debarring the Rothschild cartel from controlling the central bank.
“We need to control the currency, to adjust it too because today the single currency is a burden,” Le Pen told Le Parisien newspaper. “We will have a national currency like all other countries, and we will have a common currency together.”
Le Pen, who campaigned on undoing decades of globalist policies and holding a Brexit-style referendum should she win, said that the world’s sixth largest economy should abandon the “Rothschild controlled” euro currency in favor of a national currency that can be controlled by French interests.
“We must control the currency and adapt it to the economy because today the single currency [the euro] is a ball and chain.”
The differences between the candidates the French must choose from could not be more clear-cut – the former Rosthchild banker who was lured into the world of elite pedophiles as a teenager, or the woman who has vowed to debar Rothschild banks from France, regain national sovereignty, and destroy the pedophile rings running European politics from behind the scenes.
The decision last year by a majority of British voters to exit the European Union was more than a simple vote of the people. The Brexit campaign was promoted and financed by the most influential banks of the City of London and by the British Royal House. Far from the end of Britain, Brexit is far more likely to be the beginning of the end of the disastrous Euro single currency experiment.
Since the global financial crisis of 2008 little significant has been done by Brussels or the governments of the 19 member Eurozone countries to bring the largest banks of the Eurozone into a healthy stability. On the contrary, even venerable mega-banks like Germany’s Deutsche Bank are teetering on the brink.
In Italy the world’s oldest bank, Monte Paschi di Siena, is on state life-support. That is but the tip of an iceberg of Italian bank bad debts. Today in total Italy’s banks hold Italy’s banks hold €360 billion of bad loans or 20% of Italy’s GDP, which is double the total five years ago.
It gets worse. Italy is the fourth largest economy in the EU. Its economy is in dismal shape so bank bad loans grow. State debt is almost as high as that of Greece, at 135% of GDP. Now, since the 2013 Cyprus bank crisis, the EU has passed a stringent new bank “bail-in” law, largely under German pressure. It stipulates that in event of a new banking crisis, a taxpayer bailout is prohibited until bank bond-holders and, if necessary as in Cyprus, its bank depositors, first “bail-in” or take the loss. In Italy, most holders of bank bonds are ordinary Italian citizens, with some €200 billion worth, who were told bank bonds were a secure investment. No more.
German Austerity Medicine Killing Patient
A major problem is that the Eurozone economies have been forced to impose the wrong medicine to deal with the 2008 financial and economic crisis. The Eurozone crisis has been wrongly seen as states spending too wildly and labor costs rising too high. So, under again German pressure, the Eurozone countries in crisis such as Greece, have been forced to impose draconian austerity, slash pensions, cut wages. The result has been even worse economic recession and rising unemployment, rising bank bad loans. By 2015 Greece’s GDP had declined by more than 26%, Spain’s GDP by almost 6%, Portugal by 7%, and Italy’s GDP by almost 10% compared with 2008.
Austerity is never a solution to a state economic crisis. The example of the German economic crisis that erupted in 1931 in depression, unemployment and a banking crisis as a consequence of the severe austerity policies of Chancellor Heinrich Brüning ought to be clear enough to German authorities whose historical memory seems to have amnesia today.
Across the Eurozone more than 19 million workers are jobless. Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have a total of an unprecedented 11 million unemployed workers. In France and Italy unemployment is over 13% of the labor force. In Spain it is 20%, and in Greece a staggering 25%. This is all the state of economic affairs more than 8 years after the 2008 crisis. In short there has been no economic recovery in Euroland. Since 2009 the European Central Bank (ECB), the bank of the Euro, has made unprecedented moves to try to stabilize the banking crisis. They have only postponed not improved the situation.
Today as a result of ECB buying of mortgage bonds, corporate bonds, state bonds, and asset-backed securities, the ECB balance sheet is more than €1.5 trillion. The ECB, whose President is Italian Mario Draghi, has held interest rates in an unprecedented negative interest rates around -0.4% since June, 2014. The ECB has made clear that negative central bank interest rates will remain “for some time.” This is leading some to try to convince voters to go to a cashless society as India did last year with catastrophic consequences and as Sweden, not a Euro country, has largely done. If banks begin to charge their customers a fee for using customers’ deposits, an incredible thought for most, people would simply “take the money and run,” into gold or other safe assets, or cash.
The ECB negative interest rates are a sign of desperation to put it mildly. With interest rates on bonds across the Eurozone so low, many insurance companies are facing severe liquidity problems meeting their future obligations unless Eurozone interest rates return to more normal levels. Yet were the ECB to end its negative interest rate policy and its quantitative easing so-called, the debt crisis of many banks would explode from Greece to Italy to France to even Germany.
A Coming Currency War?
So, to put it gently, the Eurozone is a ticking debt time bomb ready to blow at the slightest new shock or crisis. We may well see that shock in the next two years, once Britain has completed its exit from the EU. Already the new Administration of Donald Trump in Washington has signaled a potential launch of currency war against the Euro. On January 31, US Trade Czar Peter Navarro accused Germany of using a “grossly undervalued euro to exploit” the US and Germany’s EU partners. Navarro went on to call Germany, the core of the Eurozone economies, a de facto “currency manipulator.” Navarro has stated, “While the euro freely floats in international currency markets, this system deflates the German currency from where it would be if the German Deutschmark were still in existence.”
Britain with the vast financial resources of the City of London, once free from the shackles of the EU membership, could well join with Washington in a full-scale covert currency war to bring down the Euro, something that would have devastating consequences for the Eurozone economies. Britain’s Pound is the third largest global payments currency after the dollar and the Euro. If Britain, free from the restraints of the EU can bring down the Euro, the Pound could become a major gainer–currency war with Britain on the side of Washington against the fragile Eurozone with their Italian, Greek, Spanish and other problems. Already British Prime Minister Theresa May is in discussions with the Trump Administration about forging a bilateral US-UK trade agreement and some in influential UK circles are talking of inviting the USA to become an associate member of the British Commonwealth. For the US dollar and Wall Street banks, wounding the rival to the dollar as central bank reserve currency is a very tempting thought. Now with Britain and the City of London soon to be free of EU restraints, the temptation might become reality.
All of this is because of the dysfunctional nature of the entire Eurozone project, a supranational currency with no democratic elected authorities to control abuses. The half-way dissolution of national sovereignty that the Maastricht Treaty introduced with the European Monetary System back in the 1990s, has left the EU with the worst combination in event of future crisis.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”
Martin Rees is Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics, at the University of Cambridge, the Astronomer Royal, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, and a former President of the Royal Society. The following interview was conducted at Trinity College, Cambridge, by The Conversation’s Matt Warren.
Q: How big is the universe … and is it the only one?
Our cosmic horizons have grown enormously over the last century, but there is a definite limit to the size of the observable universe. It contains all the things from which light has been able to reach us since the Big Bang, about 14 billion years ago. But the new realisation is that the observable universe may not be all of reality. There may be more beyond the horizon, just as there’s more beyond the horizon when you’re observing the ocean from a boat.
What’s more, the galaxies are likely to go on and on beyond this horizon, but more interestingly, there is a possibility that our Big Bang was not the only one. There may have been others, spawning other universes, disconnected from ours and therefore not observable, and possibly even governed by different physical laws. Physical reality on this vast scale could therefore be much more varied and interesting than what we can observe.
The universe we can observe is governed by the same laws everywhere. We can observe a distant galaxy and see that the atoms emitting the light are just the same as the ones in the lab. But there may be physical domains that are governed by completely different laws. Some may have no gravity, or not allow for nuclear physics. Ours may not even be a typical domain.
Even in our own universe, there are only so many ways you can assemble the same atoms, so if it is large enough it is possible that there is another Earth, even another avatar you. If this were the case, however, the universe would have to be bigger than the observable one by a number which to write down would require all the atoms in the universe. Rest assured, if there’s another you, they are a very, very long way away. They might even be making the same mistakes.
Q: So how likely is alien life in this vast expanse?
We know now that planets exist around many, even most, stars. We know that in our Milky Way galaxy there are likely millions of planets that are in many ways like the Earth, with liquid water. The question then is whether life has developed on them – and we can’t yet answer that.
Although we know how via Darwinian selection a complex biosphere evolved on Earth around 4 billion years ago, we don’t yet understand the actual origin of life – the transition from complex chemistry to the first metabolising, replicating structures. The good news is that we will have a better idea of how that happened within the next ten or 20 years and crucially, how likely it was to happen. This will give us a better understanding of how likely it is to happen elsewhere. In that time, we will also have technologies that will allow us to better search for alien life.
But just because there’s life elsewhere doesn’t mean that there is intelligent life. My guess is that if we do detect an alien intelligence, it will be nothing like us. It will be some sort of electronic entity.
If we look at our history on Earth, it has taken about 4 billion years to get from the first protozoa to our current, technological civilisation. But if we look into the future, then it’s quite likely that within a few centuries, machines will have taken over – and they will then have billions of years ahead of them.
In other words, the period of time occupied by organic intelligence is just a thin sliver between early life and the long era of the machines. Because such civilisations would develop at different rates, it’s extremely unlikely that we will find intelligent life at the same stage of development as us. More likely, that life will still be either far simpler, or an already fully electronic intelligence.
Q: Do you believe that machines will develop intelligence?
There are many people who would bet on it. The second question, however, is whether that necessarily implies consciousness – or whether that is limited to the wet intelligence we have within our skulls. Most people, however, would argue that it is an emergent property and could develop in a machine mind.
Q: So if the universe is populated by electronic super minds, what questions will they be pondering?
We can’t conceive that any more than a chimp can guess the things that we spend our time thinking about. I would guess, however, that these minds aren’t on planets. While we depend on a planet and an atmosphere, these entities would be happy in zero G, floating freely in space. This might make them even harder to detect.
Q: How would humanity respond to the discovery of alien life?
It would certainly make the universe more interesting, but it would also make us less unique. The question is whether it would provoke in us any sense of cosmic modesty. Conversely, if all our searches for life fail, we’d know more certainly that this small planet really is the one special place, the single pale, blue dot where life has emerged. That would make what happens to it not just of global significance, but an issue of galactic importance, too.
And we are likely to be fixed to this world. We will be able to look deeper and deeper into space, but travelling to worlds beyond our solar system will be a post-human enterprise. The journey times are just too great for mortal minds and bodies. If you’re immortal, however, these distances become far less daunting. That journey will be made by robots, not us.
Q: What scientific advances would you like to see over the coming century?
Cheap, clean energy, for one. Artificial meat is another. But the idea is often easier than the application. I like to tell my students the story of two beavers standing in front of a huge hydroelectric dam. “Did you build that?” asks one. “No,” says the other. “But it is based on my idea”. That’s the essential balance between scientific insight and engineering development.
Q: Michael Gove [the British politician who was a leader of the campaign for the UK to leave the EU] said people have had enough of experts. Have they?
I wouldn’t expect anything more from Mr Gove, but there is clearly a role for experts. If we’re sick, we go to a doctor, we don’t look randomly on the internet. But we must also realise that most experts only have expertise within their own area, and if we are scientists we should accept that. When science impacts on public policy, there will be elements of economics, ethics and politics where we as scientists speak only as laymen. We need to know where the demarcation line is between where we are experts and where we are just citizens.
If you want to influence public policy as a scientist, there are two ways to do it. You can aspire to be an adviser within government, which can be very frustrating. Or you can try and influence policy indirectly. Politicians are very much driven by what’s in their inbox and what’s in the press, so the scientists with the greatest influence are those who go public, and speak to everyday people. If an idea is picked up by voters, the politicians won’t ignore it.
Q: Brexit – good or bad?
I am surprised to find myself agreeing with Lord Heseltine [former UK Conservative government minister] and Tony Blair [former Labour prime minister], but it is a real disaster, which we have stumbled into. There is a lot of blame to be shared around, by Boris Johnson et al, but also by Jeremy Corbyn [leader of the UK Labour party] for not fighting his corner properly. I have been a member of the Labour Party for a very long time, but I feel badly let down by Corbyn – especially as Labour voters supported Remain two to one. He has been an ineffective leader, and also ambivalent on this issue. A different leader, making a vocal case for Remain, could have tilted the vote.
On the other side, Boris Johnson [now UK foreign secretary – who campaigned for Britain to leave the EU] has been most reprehensible. At least Gove has opinions, which he has long expressed. Boris Johnson had no strong opinions, and the honourable thing to do if that is the case is to remain quiet. But he changed his stance opportunistically (as in the Eton debating society) and swung the vote.
Q: But why is it such a disaster?
My concerns are broad geopolitical ones. In the world as it is now, with America becoming isolationist and an increasingly dominant Russia, for Europe to establish itself as a united and powerful counterweight is more important than ever. We are jeopardising something that has held Europe together, in peace, for 60 years, and could also break up the United Kingdom in the process. We will be remembered for that and it is something to deplore.
One thing astronomers bring to the table is an awareness that we have a long potential future, as well as the universe’s long past – and that this future could be jeopardised by what happens in the coming decades.
Q: More broadly, how much danger is the human race in?
I have spent a lot of time considering how we as a species can make it into the next century – and there are two main classes of problems. First, the collective impact of humanity as its footprint on the planet increases due to a growing population more demanding of resources. Second, the possible misuse by error or design of ever more powerful technology – and most worryingly, bio-tech.
There is certainly a high chance of a major global setback this century, most likely from the second threat, which increasingly allows individual groups to have a global impact. Added to this is the fact that the world is increasingly connected, so anything that happens has a global resonance. This is something new and actually makes us more vulnerable as a species than at any time in our past.
Q: So terrorism will pose an even greater threat in the coming century?
Yes, because of these technologies, terrorists or fanatics will be able to have a greater impact. But there’s also the simple danger of these technologies being misused. Engineering or changing viruses, for example, can be used in benign ways – to eradicate Zika, for example – but there’s obviously a risk that such things can get out of control.
Nuclear requires large, conspicuous and heavily-protected facilities. But the facilities needed for bio-tech, for example, are small-scale, widely understood, widely available and dual use. It is going to be very hard indeed properly to regulate it.
In the short and intermediate term, this is even more worrying than the risks posed by climate change – although in the long term, that will be a very major problem, especially as both people and politicians find it very difficult to focus on things further down the line.
I have been very involved in campaigns to get all countries involved in research and development into alternative, clean energy sources. Making them available and cheap is the only way we are going to move towards a low carbon future. The level of money invested in this form of research should be equivalent to the amount spent on health or defence, and nuclear fusion and fourth generation nuclear fission should be part of that.
Q: In the medieval world, people would start building cathedrals that only later generations would finish. Have we lost that long-term perspective?
That’s right. In fact, one very important input behind the political discussion prior to the Paris climate agreement was the 2015 Papal Encyclical. I’m a council member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which helped to initiate the scientific meetings which were important in ensuring that the encyclical was a highly respected document. Whatever one thinks of the Catholic church, one cannot deny its long-term vision, its global range and its concern for the world’s poor. I believe that the encyclical, six months before the Paris conference, had a big impact on the leaders and people in South America, Africa and Asia. Religion clearly still has a very important role to play in the world.
Q: Have you ever encountered anything in the cosmos that has made you wonder whether a creator was behind it?
No. Personally, I don’t have any religious beliefs. But I describe myself as a cultural Christian, in that I was brought up in England and the English church was an important part of that. Then again, if I had been born in Iran, I’d probably go to the mosque.
Today, after almost 20 years of stability and peace, Northern Ireland is open and borderless, thanks to the EU common travel area policies. When that ends with Brexit in two years, a poorer future lies ahead.
Northern Irish voted not to leave EU: Rejoining the Republic of Ireland after 96 years apart would let it stay
The Irish flag flies at half-mast in the village of Crossmaglen, Northern Ireland, to mark the passing last week of Martin McGuinness, a nationalist political leader and former IRA member. With Brexit underway, there is talk of reuniting Ireland to keep the north in the European Union. (Don Duncan)
When 29-year-old Peter Edgar returned to Belfast in 2009 after a year’s work experience in the U.S., he saw Northern Ireland through new eyes. There were opportunities everywhere.
“What my year abroad taught me was how to connect with people so as to create ventures and opportunities for others,” he said in an interview last week. He now works at Catalyst Inc., a Belfast-based not-for-profit that seeks out inventors across Northern Ireland to incubate and monetize their ideas on domestic and international markets.
Edgar was only 10 when the 30-year civil conflict in Northern Ireland, known as the “Troubles,” ended.
In a nod to the Good Friday Agreement that ended the conflict in 1998, people Edgar’s age and younger are referred to as the “Good Friday Generation,” meaning they grew up freer and less hindered by violence and sectarianism.
A former customs guard hut on the north-south Irish border stands disused as Brexit is triggered on March 29 in Newry, Northern Ireland. It will likely be revived in two years, when the U.K. exits the European Union, leaving the Republic of Ireland in and the north out. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Today, after almost 20 years of stability and peace, Northern Ireland is open and without a physical border, thanks to the EU common travel area policies. Northern Irish young people like Edgar think nothing of the two-hour plus train journey to Dublin to party or to do business, something their parents wouldn’t do. Back then, violence or long queues at the old militarized border made going to Dublin much harder for them.
However, with Wednesday’s triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, this era of mobility and openness in Northern Ireland might be about to end. The U.K. and EU have exactly two years to agree on the precise terms and conditions of their rupture.
The spectre of this divorce has caused ructions throughout the United Kingdom.
‘There’s probably more serious discourse about Irish reunification now than at any time since partition.’ – Kevin Meaghar, commentator
Northern Ireland, the other region of the U.K. that voted overwhelmingly against leaving, has a failed economy and is unable to survive on its own. It currently receives annual funding from London to the tune of $16.5 billion Cdn — so a Scottish-style bid for independence isn’t viable. Yet there are mounting calls for Northern Ireland to leave the U.K. and reunite, after 96 years of partition, with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.
“There’s probably more serious discourse about Irish reunification now than at any time since partition,” Kevin Meaghar, a commentator and former special adviser on Northern Ireland to the U.K. government, said in an interview.
Farmers from the border regions of south county Armagh and south county Down in Northern Ireland gather to bid on livestock at the Camlough cattle mart. Brexit ‘would kill this area, business-wise, says Frank McPolin, the owner of Casey’s Eurospar supermarket. (Don Duncan)
The Good Friday Agreement guarantees a path to reunification through a referendum whereby a majority of Northern Irish citizens must vote to leave the U.K. and join the Republic of Ireland.
Until now, that prospect has held no water economically or politically for most people in the province. A pre-Brexit poll, undertaken by the BBC in 2015, showed that only 30 per cent of people in Northern Ireland wanted to split from the U.K.
Then came Brexit. The entire political chessboard in Northern Ireland was shaken.
As the least developed and poorest region of the U.K., Northern Ireland, with a population of just 1.8 million, stands to suffer the most from a hard Brexit.
Crossmaglen, a village some three kilometres from the border with the Republic of Ireland, was a flashpoint of violence between pro-Irish paramilitary groups and the British Army during the “Troubles.” Today, the peace dividend is everywhere to be seen.
A bus travelling from southern Ireland into Northern Ireland passes a Brexit protest sign along the stretch of road that seperates the two countries at Newry. A ‘hard’ Brexit will likely bring back a closed border with customs checks, wiping out Northern Ireland’s significant cross-border retail sector. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)
Once signs reading “Sniper at Work” dotted the village’s streets. Today, instead, a glitzy retail complex called Casey’s Eurospar plies its morning trade. Customers fill their cars with gas, pick up groceries or grab coffee in the area’s small café. Some 40 per cent of them come from the Republic of Ireland, south of the invisible border.
A “hard” Brexit will most likely bring back a closed border with customs checks, and this would wipe out much of Northern Ireland’s significant cross-border retail sector.
“It would kill this area, business-wise,” says Frank McPolin, the owner of Casey’s Eurospar, as he dutifully sprays the plants in the window display of the supermarket. “We could handle fluctuations between Euros and pounds, but we couldn’t deal with a cut-off in the circulation of movement.”
Outside, more people furrow their brows over Brexit, but for different reasons.
“We’d have to stop farming,” says local farmer Patricia Bellow as she carries bags of groceries to her car. Bellow, like the majority of farmers in Northern Ireland, depends on EU farming subsidies that will disappear with Brexit. Subsidies and grants from the EU currently represent some 85 per cent of farm income here.
All told, Brussels sends $630 million Cdn every year to Northern Ireland in the form of farming, infrastructure and peace-building grants. All this will vanish in 2019.
This spectre of hardship is beginning to cause creaking shifts in Northern Ireland’s once dogged, pro-Union majority position.
Unionists — those in Northern Ireland who identify as British and who wish to remain part of the U.K. — have traditionally been the main obstacle to the reunification of Ireland. But Northern Irish Unionism is currently in deep crisis.
Catholic majority coming
Elections held earlier this month for the Northern Ireland regional Parliament saw Unionists lose their absolute majority for the first time ever.
The province’s demographic profile is changing, too. Catholics, once a minority, are expected to tip into majority position soon, perhaps as early as the 2021 census.
And the rigid sectarian culture of Northern Ireland appears to be loosening.
“[Brexit] has changed all the dynamics of what we call ‘soft’ unionist or ‘soft’ nationalist,” said Alex Kane, a unionist commentator and former consultant for the Ulster Unionist Party, in Belfast last week.
“Those people would not have been persuadable to a United Ireland two years ago but they will listen to that debate now.”
This core of “persuadables,” made up of “soft” unionists, “soft” nationalists and non-sectarian voters like Peter Edgar, are thought to constitute between 20 and 25 per cent of the voting population. It is this group that could swing Northern Ireland out of the U.K.
“I don’t know if a United Ireland is the best option. I don’t know if remaining part of the UK is the best option,” said Edgar. “All I can look at is what defines a happy life.”
It’s too early to say for certain if Brexit will bring “happy life” to Northern Ireland. If it doesn’t, as is feared, it’s the province’s “persuadables” who may well speak up, with their votes.
It looks like the European Union is in trouble of disappearing. If France goes, that should be the end of that globalist dream. My prediction is that Le Pen will win France and exit the EU just like the UK.
The French politician says the referendum on amending the constitution will take place shortly after the parliamentary elections in June
PARIS, February 2. /TASS/. France’s far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen has announced plans to hold a referendum on France’s exit from the EU and on amending the constitution if she wins the country’s presidential election this spring.
In the interview with Le Monde newspaper published on Thursday, the French politician said the referendum on amending the constitution will take place shortly after the parliamentary elections in June.
Le Pen proposes introducing a ban on creating isolated communities, allowing national priority (limiting employment of foreign workers), protecting and developing historic and cultural heritage, reducing the number of MPs from 577 to 300 and senators from 348 to 200.
The other proposed measures are changing the plurality voting system in the National Assembly (lower house of parliament) to a proportional one, establishing the supremacy of the French law over European agreements and introducing referendums upon people’s initiative.
Le Pen said if she becomes France’s president, she will “immediately go to Brussels to launch talks on returning four sovereignties (to France) concerning currency, law, budget and territory. “Six months after winning the polls, I will hold a referendum on leaving the EU. If I achieve this (from Brussels), I will offer the French citizens to stay. Otherwise, I will advise them to leave the EU,” she said.
The National Front leader said the discussion on France’s status in the EU or the full exit from the bloc has great prospects now. “We can achieve an agreement on Frexit talks rather quickly. Now there are many disturbances inside the EU, many countries use this to also achieve cancellation of some regulations and accords that hamper their security or economy.”
“I won’t be alone at these talks, I’m convinced that I will launch a whole movement: elections will be held across Europe – in the Netherlands, Germany and possibly Italy – the EU is in a limbo now,” she said.
If the French support the proposal on leaving the EU, Le Pen plans to immediately cancel all the European regulations that limit France’s sovereignty. “Starting from the moment when the French people say they do not want to remain in the EU anymore, I will introduce all the measures that were banned by the EU.”
The French presidential elections will be held in two rounds – on April 23 and on May 7. Opinion polls show that Marine Le Pen will be the front-runner at the polls as more than 25% of voters are ready to support her.
Sourced from an article in the Daily Mail, edited and abridged by Lasha Darkmoon with additional notes and comments
DONALD TRUMP IS INTERVIEWED BY THE TIMES (UK) LAST WEEK
Trump praises Brexit, dissses the EU, rubbishes Angela Merkel, speaks glowingly about Israel, and puts his Jewish son-in-law in charge of negotiating a “peace deal” with the Palestinians. The CIA warns him to watch his step and “be very careful.”
Donald Trump has delivered a huge boost to Britain by promising a trade deal within weeks of taking office to help make Brexit a ‘great thing’.
The President-elect spoke in glowing terms of his ‘love’ for the UK and revealed he was inviting Theresa May to visit him ‘right after’ he gets into the White House.
He said that he wants a trade agreement between the two countries secured ‘very quickly’ – making a mockery of President Obama’s threat that, if the country voted for Brexit, we would be at the ‘back of the queue’.
The comments follow weeks of overtures to the Trump camp by Number Ten, including a visit by Mrs May’s joint chiefs of staff – and give her a huge boost ahead of her major Brexit speech tomorrow.
Significantly, he struck a decidedly harsher tone with the EU – predicting more countries will leave and saying it has been hugely damaged by the migration crisis.
Germany and its Chancellor Angela Merkel were lambasted for making a ‘catastrophic mistake’ when she let more than one million migrants.
He said: ‘I think it’s very tough. People, countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity.’
In a joint interview with Michael Gove for the Times, and the German newspaper Bild, Mr Trump also revealed that Mrs May had written to him just after Christmas.
She sent a gift of a copy of Winston Churchill’s address to the American people, shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
In the letter the PM told Mr Trump that she hoped the sentiment of ‘unity and fraternal association’ between the two countries was ‘just as true today as it has ever been’.
BRITAIN’S ULTRA-CHIC PRIME MINISTER THERESA MAY
She is now on a charm offensive with Trump, having originally dissed him by cuddling up to Hillary Clinton — expecting Hillary to be the next occupant of the White House.
FURTHER TRUMP COMMENTS:
— Trump says: ‘I love the UK’ and promises to get post-Brexit trade deal done very quickly
— Theresa May sends him copy of Churchill’s famous 1941 speech to Americans given from the White House
— Declared that he could agree a nuclear weapons reduction deal with Russia’s President Putin in return for lifting US sanctions.
— He said: ‘For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it.’
— He pledged that orders will be signed next Monday to strengthen America’s borders, which could include travel restrictions on Europeans coming to the US
— Threatened ‘extreme vetting’ for those entering America from parts of the world known for Islamist terrorism.
— Said that he will start off by trusting Mrs Merkel and Mr Putin — but that might not last long.
— Slammed Nato as ‘obsolete’ and claimed they had ‘not bothered about terrorism’.
— Described the decision to invade Iraq as ‘possibly the worst decision ever made in the history of our country’, saying it was like ‘throwing rocks into a beehive’.
— During the interview at Trump Tower, the president-elect told Vote Leave champion Mr Gove: ‘I love the UK.’
Pointing to a possible meeting with Mrs May at the White House in February, he said: ‘We’re gonna work very hard to get it done quickly and done properly. Good for both sides.
‘I will be meeting with [Mrs May]. She’s requesting a meeting and we’ll have a meeting right after I get into the White House and it’ll be, I think we’re gonna get something done very quickly.’
Trump had nothing but praise for Brexit.
He welcomed the fall in the value of the pound for having helped to boost the attractiveness of British products abroad.
Ahead of his inauguration on Friday, he also that said he was also looking forward to visiting Britain, saying his Scottish mother was ‘proud of the Queen’.
He went on: ‘Any time the Queen was on television, an event, my mother would be watching.
Mr Trump also joked that his Scottish ancestry meant he liked to ‘watch my pennies’, adding: ‘I mean I deal in big pennies, that’s the problem.’
The remarks will come as both a relief to No 10, and be seen as a vindication of the strategy pursued by Mrs May. She was accused of being ill-prepared for a Trump victory. Further embarrassment followed when Ukip-leader Nigel Farage was invited for an early meeting at Trump Tower.
In the interview, Mr Trump also confirmed that he would appoint (((Jared Kushner))), his son-in-law, to broker a Middle East peace deal. He urged Britain to veto any new UN Security Council resolution critical of Israel and repeated his criticism of President Obama’s handling of the Iran nuclear deal.
LD: Trump’s appointment of his Jewish son-in-law as chief Middle East negotiator in Occupied Palestine can only be described as “inflammatory”— a prescription for disaster.
Jared Kushner, a slum “landlord from hell”, has a reputation for tenant harassment. One of his New York tenants, hearing of his “nightmarish” accession to power under Donald Trump, says of Kushner: “I don’t know how to tell you how despicable this man is.” (See Jared Kushner, Thug Landlord). Thanks to Kushner’s sudden rise to “unimaginable power”, he has been described in a new book as “the President-in-Law.”
It does’t look as if either Trump or his Jewish son-in-law are interested in arriving at an internationally agreed solution to the Palestine problem. Handing back stolen land to its rightful owners, it seems, is not to be on the cards under America’s new President and his “President-in-Law”. [LD]
TRUMP ATTACKS ANGELA MERKEL
Angela Merkel was lambasted over Germany’s open-door migration policy by Donald Trump last night.
The president-elect said that German Chancellor Mrs Merkel had made a ‘catastrophic mistake’ by allowing 1 million migrants into her country – and he predicted that the European Union will fall apart.
In comments that will trigger alarm in Berlin and Brussels, Mr Trump said that he fully understood why Britain had voted for Brexit and he thought others could follow suit.
He said: ‘I do believe this, if [EU countries] hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit. It probably could have worked out but this was the final straw, this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.
‘I think people want… their own identity, so if you ask me… I believe others will leave.’
Mr Trump was also far less warm about Mrs Merkel than he has been about Theresa May. He said that he had ‘great respect’ for the German leader.
But, in a withering attack, he told The Times and German newspaper Bild: ‘I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals, you know, taking all of the people from wherever they come from.
‘And nobody even knows where they come from. So I think she made a catastrophic mistake, very bad mistake.’
Mr Trump added that he though the entire EU had become a ‘vehicle’ for Germany.
“I think she made a catastrophic mistake.”
— Donald Trump
LD : I have often been attacked for referring to these asylum seekers as “Muslim migrants”, as if to imply that the term “Muslim” is inaccurate. In fact, the overwhelming majority of these asylum seekers come from Muslim countries where Islam is the official religion. The 10 main countries that supply Europe with its asylum seekers, in order of numerical importance, are: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Albania, Pakistan, Eritrea, Nigeria, Iran, and Ukraine. (See graph).
— § —
Meanwhile, the outgoing director of the CIA yesterday warned Mr Trump to watch his mouth – especially when talking about Vladimir Putin.
Criticising the president-elect’s regular posts on Twitter, John Brennan told Mr Trump to stop ‘talking and tweeting’ and said being so off the cuff was bad for national security.
Appearing on Fox News Sunday – a show that Mr Trump often watches – Mr Brennan said: ‘Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests and so therefore when he speaks or when he reacts, just make sure he understands that the implications and impact on the United States could be profound.’
Mr Trump said last week that he was not opposed to lifting sanctions if Russia was ‘really helping us’.
He also said that, once he has been sworn in, meeting the Russian president was ‘absolutely fine with me’.
Mr Brennan called for Mr Trump to be ‘very, very careful’ about cosying up to Russia and said ‘the world is watching’ what he says.
He said: ‘I think Mr Trump has to be mindful that he does not have a full appreciation and understanding of what the implications are of going down that road.
At a press conference last week Mr Trump, whose inauguration is on Friday, had likened his treatment by the intelligence agencies to being in Nazi Germany. But Mr Brennan said the comparison was ‘outrageous’.
He said: ‘The world is watching now what Trump says and listening very carefully. If he doesn’t have confidence in the intelligence community, what signal does that send to our partners and allies, as well as our adversaries? It’s more than just about Mr Trump.’
THE CIA WARNS TRUMP
“WATCH YOUR STEP, DONALD . . . BE VERY, VERY CAREFUL!”