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Five European defense ministers are to discuss military action to halt human trafficking to their shores and stem the flow of migrants from North Africa’s coastal waters.
Defense ministers from France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain are to meet Sunday on the sidelines of the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lorient in western France to discuss ways to counter what they refer to as a new threat to Europe that has so far left thousands dead, AFP reported.
Following a number of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks ever witnessed in the Mediterranean so far this year, the ministers "will examine possible options for European (military) action," the French Defense Ministry said.
The most controversial option due to be discussed during the meeting will be the destruction by military force of the boats used by human traffickers before they are loaded with migrants for a risky journey to European shores.
Most of the boats load the migrants in the lawless shores of the war-ravaged Libya, where persisting national conflict among rival governing bodies has allowed human traffickers to operate with impunity.
The development comes after over 5,000 refugees were killed over the past 18 months as boats operated by human traffickers capsized off Libya's coastal waters, alarming European authorities to stop the flow of immigrants.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also scheduled to submit a plan to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, demanding that the UN lead military operations against smugglers.
Critics, however, insist that taking military action in Libyan waters or halting a vessel flying the country's flag without an international mandate would be in violation of the international law.
Additionally, the defense ministers are also expected to discuss the Saturday crash of the new Airbus A400M military aircraft in Spain during a test flight that killed four people.
The deadly incident led Britain, Germany and Turkey to ground their new troop and vehicle transporter, while France announced that it will continue flying its fleet of the aircraft.
French President Francois Hollande speaks with veterans during a ceremony to mark 70 years since the victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. Paris, France, May 8, 2015 (Reuters / Philippe Wojazer)
Europe marked the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II on May 8th with commemorative events across the continent.
The ceremonies kicked off in the Polish port city of Gdansk, known as Danzig in German, where the first shots of the deadliest conflict in history were fired on September 1, 1939.
The sky over the Baltic Sea was lit up by a salute fired from 21 guns at the Westerplatte peninsula in Gdansk late on Thursday night.
Poland initially organized the event as an alternative for Western European leaders, who decided to boycott Moscow's Victory Day Parade due to the dispute with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.
However, most of European leaders opted to attend WWII commemoration events in their home countries.
The Gdansk ceremony was attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, European Council president Donald Tusk, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and heads of several Eastern European nations, including Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania.
The UN leader praised the “collective effort” and bravery that led to the “ultimate triumph” over the Nazi threat.
“The terrible long years of World War II were a time of unspeakable atrocities, of lost faith and lost humanity. The war took a heavy toll on many countries, including all those represented here, and particularly on their youth,” Ban is cited by the UN website.
In Paris, French President Francois Hollande and US Secretary of State John Kerry laid wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.
According to Hollande, the victory in World War II 70 years ago
represented the “victory of an ideal over a totalitarian
“We didn't experience the war, we see it as a far-off reality, sometimes abstract, even though it is not so far from us, in Ukraine, further still in the Middle East… There is also terrorism which can strike us, racism, anti-Semitism. There are still causes which should spur us on,” the French president said.
200 beacons were lit across the UK to remember the 55 million lives that were lost during the war.
Earlier in the day, a two-minute moment of silence was observed and wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall by re-elected British Prime Minister, David Cameron, and Duke of York, Prince Andrew.
In Germany May 8 isn’t considered a holiday, but the country’s MPs from Bundestag and Bundesrat still met on Friday for joint observances.
Bundestag President Norbert Lammert said that the end of the WWII in Europe “was a day of liberation" for Germany.
“On May 8, a war was ended that a German regime had begun with criminal intent,” Lammet is cited by Deutsche Welle.
During the session, the speakers paid tribute to the Soviet Army and the Allied forces which defeated Adolf Hitler’s regime.
German president, Joachim Gauck, laid a wreath at a military cemetery in Lebus dedicated to Soviet soldiers killed fighting Nazis.
A Mass was held at the infamous Dachau concentration camp, where 32,000 people died according to official documents, but where thousands more were killed unofficially.
For the first time in 70 years, Ukraine celebrated the end of World War II on May 8, the same day as Europe, but one day ahead of Russia.
The new holiday, entitled the Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation, is seen by the country’s leadership as a symbolic change marking Ukraine’s break with its Soviet past.
"On May 8, for the first time, the people of Ukraine will join the European tradition to commemorate the victims of World War II. The very next day in Moscow, under the pretext of the Great Victory, the aggressor's army will brandish its lethal might in front of the world,” Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian president, said.
The country has also adopted the red poppy as a symbol in memory of war victims, as many countries in Europe have.
The St. George Ribbon, which used to be a traditional symbol of Victory in the USSR, was dropped due to its use by eastern Ukrainian militias, which have been fighting the Kiev government for over a year.
Russia has repeatedly denied unsubstantiated claims by Kiev and the West blaming Moscow for supporting the rebels with arms and manpower.
On May 8, 1945 Nazi Germany signed an unconditional surrender, marking the end of the war in Europe. The document was signed at 22:43 CET – or 00:43, May 9 Moscow time.
The global conflict continued for another three months, however, until the surrender of Japan in September 1945.
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The proposal to hand back some decision powers to member states of the European Union regarding GMO approvals is currently being discussed (1). It will be voted on by member states on 12 June. According to Corporate Europe Observatory, biotech firms regard it as an opportunity to break the stalemate and finally get their GM crops growing in
“This is all about getting more GM crops into the ground more quickly. Collective decision making hasn’t allowed GM crops to be grown widely in the EU because the majority of EU countries don’t want them.”
“If member states back down from highlighting the environmental harms of RoundUp Ready GM crops, these could be fast-tracked into the ground in some parts of
Europe… We need to be improving the GM risk assessments not facilitating contamination of food, feed and seed in the European market with GM crops that nobody wants.”
“The idea of individual countries being able to ban GM sounds appealing, but sadly it won’t work. Pollen and seed don’t respect national boundaries any more than they give way on a roundabout, and experience shows that once the GM genie is out there we cannot put it back in the bottle. The costs can be huge.”
“GM supporters, including our own Environment Minister Owen Paterson, are throwing away the whole concept of a common market to further their own support for a technology that raises far more questions than it answers. Their refusal to first put in place a reasonable, clear liability regime to protect the food system and the environment speaks volumes.”
“Ministries, least of all ‘promoting’ Ministries, should not have the authority to allow the novel technology of GMOs into Indian agriculture bypassing authentic democratic processes. Those processes require the widest possible and transparent consultation… After all, it is every woman, man and child, and our animals, an entire nation that will quite literally have to eat the outcome of a GM policy that delivers up our agriculture to it: if a GMO is unsafe, it will remain irreversibly unsafe. And it will remain in the environment and that is another dimension of impact.” (17)
Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – Libya has been steadily deteriorating politically and economically since the US-NATO invasion of 2011. The South African based News24 reported that a battle had erupted between rebel forces that ousted President Muammar Gaddafi and Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi. Khalifa Haftar (who helped the West remove Gaddafi) and his ‘National Army’ were seeking to “Purge” Libya of suspected terrorists. There were witnesses and even a reporter from the Agence-France Presse (AFP) who actually saw what happened at the scene. “The witnesses said a group led by Khalifa Haftar, a former rebel chief in the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, was backed by warplanes that pounded a barracks occupied by the Islamist “February 17 Brigade” militia” the report said. “Militiamen responded by opening up with anti-aircraft fire.” Both groups also battled in the Sidi Fradj area in the south of Benghazi. According to News24 “Haftar’s group calls itself the “National Army” and a spokesperson for the force, Mohammed Al-Hijazi, told a local broadcaster it has launched “a large-scale operation to flush terrorist groups out of Benghazi”. Interestingly, the Chief of Staff of the army Abdessalem Jadallah al-Salihin “denied the force was involved in clashes in Benghazi.” So who does Khalifa Haftar represent? “In a statement on national television, Salihin called on “the army and revolutionaries to oppose any armed group that tries to control Benghazi by force of arms”. It confirms that Libya is in a chaotic situation. Many former soldiers have joined the ‘National Army’ after constant attacks by various militias and elements of Al-Qaeda since the US-NATO invasion had ended.
The Libyan government currently in power has seen constant violence against its security forces, government officials and even foreigners since the Obama administration ordered “regime change” in the North African country. The intervention in Libya began when President Obama declared “Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians” and “In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.” The Libyan people have been the victims of Western Imperial powers that sought control over oil supplies and other resources.
The European Union should also be concerned that terrorists can launch attacks against its member states as former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan had warned last month in a report by Al Arabiya News. He said “Libya is in danger of becoming an Al-Qaeda terror base for attacks targeting European countries like Britain and France” he also said that “Libya could be a base for Al-Qaeda for any operation to Italy, to Britain, to France, to Spain, to Morocco, to everywhere. Weapons are everywhere, ammunition is everywhere.” What would happen if a terrorist attack did occur on European territory, especially when its economy is in decline? With austerity measures imposed on millions of working class people all across Europe, a terrorist attack by al-Qaeda or its affiliates would allow European governments to clamp down on anti-austerity protests in the name of fighting terror. It would be a convenient excuse to do so. Let’s hope it does not go that far.
Reuters also reported that the Pentagon has relocated 200 Marines from Spain to Sicily in case the situation spirals out of control. Reuters stated the Pentagon’s main concern is over the security of its US embassies, but the Libyan government might lose control of its oilfields if the civil war intensifies:
The Pentagon declined to single out any countries but two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American concerns were centered squarely on Libya, where armed groups and Islamists refused to disarm after the 2011 ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.” The report also said that “The Marines are part of a crisis response unit focused on embassy security created after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans
Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren said that the Marines can handle other missions besides providing security for US personal as Reuters explained “Warren stressed that while the Marines were “unquestionably” focused on the protection of embassies, he did not rule out the possibility they could be called upon for a different mission.” Libya’s civil war has not helped the economy increase oil production due to its relentless infighting between terrorist groups and tribal militias. Libya is one of the main oil exporters to Europe. If the situation worsens, then the US Marines would be ordered to protect the oilfields at any cost. Reuters also released a report on Libya’s oil supply and how the government attempted to increase oil production when it negotiated a deal with protesters:
Libya’s El Feel oilfield has been shut again by protests and the OPEC producer’s El Sharara field remains closed, bringing national oil output down to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) – far from the 1.4 million bpd pumped last year. On Monday, the government said it was bringing western oilfields and pipelines back up after reaching a deal with protesters, and output had slowly clawed back to around 300,000 bpd
Rising tensions between the Libyan government, terrorist organizations and local militias has Washington, Brussels and multinational oil corporations concerned. If the Libyan government were to lose control of the oilfields, it would disrupt the EU’s oil supply and raise prices at the pump. The US and EU’s decision to remove Muammar Gaddafi has created a terrorist haven in North Africa. However, Brussels is under Washington’s orders, so NATO forces invaded Libya and imposed a new government even though European bureaucrats knew about the political and economic consequences it might have in the future. Since the US-NATO alliance defeated Libyan forces and replaced Gaddafi with the National Transitional Council of Libya, they secured oil exports for Western markets at least for a short period of time. Now internal conflicts for power and economic control are becoming more intense as former rebels and various terrorist groups from Syria and Iraq enter Libya with their own agendas. It creates a dangerous scenario as terrorist organizations expand their operations to other areas of Africa and even possibly Europe.
Brussels obviously knew that there would be consequences of a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya when they collaborated with Washington. They knew how Europe would be affected in the foreseeable future, it was predictable. But they saw political and economic opportunities by removing Gaddafi from power. It is also important to understand that the US and its European partners were also concerned with Gaddafi’s plan to launch the gold dinar as a single African currency, a clear threat against the dollar and euro hegemony on the African continent. Brussels may be just following orders, after all Washington was instrumental in the creation of NATO in the first place. Either way, the people on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea will suffer at the expense of Western Imperialism and their reckless foreign policies.
"Once again we have seen that the priorities of big business are placed above those of
Europe's citizens. It's simply not acceptable to arbitrarily arrest peaceful protestors for trying to make their voices heard above the billions of dollars spent by multinational corporations on lobbying. Democracy is truly broken and it doesn't appear like our political leaders are in any hurry to fix it.”
“Citizens have had enough of a
Europemade for high profits and social misery. Shutting down this lobbying jamboree is sending a clear message that democracy is not for sale at any price. We demand a Europefrom below.”
“By being here today we've shown that solidarity beyond borders is necessary and possible. This is another step in building a trans-European movement to fight back against the neo-liberal crisis policies coming out of
Brussels. Up until the elections we will be in the streets, demanding the Europethat we really want.”