Sputnik: Pope Francis to Arrive in Turkey for Three-Day Visit: Reports

Pope Francis to visit Turkey: reports

© REUTERS/ Tony Gentile


Pope Francis is reportedly expected to arrive in Turkey for three-day visit and meet with the current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several officials.

MOSCOW, November 28 (Sputnik) – Pope Francis is expected to arrive in Turkey Friday on a tree-day visit to Ankara and Istanbul, Hurriyet Daily News reports Friday.

According to the report, Pope Francis is to visit mausoleum of the first Turkish President Mustafa Kemal Atatuerk in Ankara, meet with the current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several officials.

On Saturday, the pontiff will make his way to Istanbul to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch. Patriarch Bartholomew is to receive Pope Francis at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Pope Francis will become the fourth pontiff to visit Turkey. The first was Pope Paul VI, who visited the country in 1967, followed by John Paul II in 1979 and Benedict XVI in 2006.

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RT: Putin: Energy is ‘locomotive’ of Russia – Turkey economic cooperation

Published time: November 28, 2014 10:03
Edited time: November 28, 2014 10:51

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan lighting the symbolic torch at the jhtning of the Blue Stream gas pipeline, passing along the Black Sea bed. (RIA Novosti/Sergey Zhukov)

 Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan lighting the symbolic torch at the jhtning of the Blue Stream gas pipeline, passing along the Black Sea bed. (RIA Novosti/Sergey Zhukov)

The Russian President is to visit Turkey on December 1 to discuss trade and energy. His talks with Turkish President Erdogan will focus on the Blue Stream gas pipeline from Russia, as well as the building of a $20 billion nuclear power plant.

President Putin and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are due to meet in Ankara on Monday.

“In recent decades, energy has been playing the role of a ‘locomotive’ in our trade and economic cooperation. In terms of volume, Turkey is the second largest buyer of Russian natural gas after Germany, which is delivered through the ‘Western corridor’ with transit through Ukraine, Moldova, Romania and Bulgaria, and through the Blue Stream gas pipeline,” Putin said in an interview to Anadolu Agency ahead of his visit to Turkey.

With a population of more than 80 million Turkey is a strategic partner for Russia as it diversifies dependence away from Europe.

In 2014, Russia will supply Turkey with 30 billion cubic meters of gas, compared to 26.7 billion cubic meters in 2013,according to Gazprom Export. The increase is to meet Turkey’s growing energy demand, especially in the winter months. According to Turkey’s energy minister, this will increase the share of Russian gas in the Turkish market to 46 percent from 43 percent.

Turkey will try and negotiate a discount for the extra 3 billion cubic meters of cubic meters of Russian gas it agreed to in October, Turkey’s Energy Minister Taner Yıldız said after holding meetings with Gazprom CEO Aleksey Miller in Moscow. Yıldız requested a discount on the extra deliveries, and said he is waiting for the Russia company’s proposal.

Russia opened the Blue Stream gas pipeline in 2002, and its capacity is set to increase from the current 16 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year to 19 bcm, Putin said.

Gazprom’s Blue Stream Pipeline

Source: Gazprom

Source: Gazprom

Nuclear energy is also an area of energy cooperation between the two countries. Turkey relies on Russia for almost 65 percent of its energy imports.

In 2010, the two countries signed an agreement to construct the Mersin-Akkuyu nuclear power station in Turkey.

“This large-scale project, worth about $20 billion, is being implemented on schedule and will strengthen Turkey’s energy security and create new jobs, including through the involvement of Turkish companies,” Putin said.

The plant is going to be built by the Russia’s state-owned Rosatom.

Trade between the two countries is $32.7 billion, making Turkey an important foreign partner for Russia. The accumulated Russian direct investment in Turkey reached $1.7 billion in 2013, and Turkey invested close to $1 billion in Russia.

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RT: How Russia and Germany may save Europe from war, by Pepe Escobar


Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

Published time: November 28, 2014 12:18

The air defense missile system "Patriot" (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck/Germany Out)

The air defense missile system “Patriot” (AFP Photo/Bernd Wustneck/Germany Out)

Are the US, NATO and Russia on a mad spiral leading to war in Europe? Is it inevitable? Far from it.

The US-propelled vassal Petro Poroshenko, currently starring in the oligarch dance in Ukraine this week advanced the proposition that Ukrainians in the near future, after his “reforms”, will be asked to vote on whether to join NATO.

Let’s be serious here. Some of you may be familiar with the concept of “shatter belt” – territories and peoples that historically have been squeezed between the Germanic Eagle and the Russian Bear.

As we stand, the whole shatter belt – apart from Ukraine and Belarus – has become NATO members. Were Ukraine to become a NATO member in – albeit remote – future, the shatter belt buffer zone would disappear. This means NATO – essentially the US – planted right on Russia’s western border.

Washington has just announced that it will be pre-positioning more military vehicles in Europe, to be used in exercises or “potential military operations.” This is perfectly in tune with the relentless US “think tank-land” spin that NATO and the US will be “forced” to balance their commitment to security in Eastern Europe against potential Russian “aggression.”

As Ukraine, the Baltic States and Poland persist in compounded hysteria about such “aggression,” the option of a post-MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) US-Russia nuclear war is now – casually – back on the discussion table. At least there’s a countercurrent; strands of informed Americans are wondering why the US should be paying for Europe’s defense when European GDP is larger than the US’s.

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Iskander high-precision missile system in place during military exercises. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Danichev)

Wanna play war, boy?

Now for the “threat” of nuclear war in Europe – bogus or otherwise. It’s pointless to compare the US and Russia strategic nuclear capabilities based on numbers, but not on quality.

Take the compounded GDP of US, Germany, France and England and compare it to Russia; it’s a victory by a landslide. Then examine the strategic nuclear scenario, and it’s a totally different story. GDP alone does not “win”anything.

Washington/Wall Street elites are now deep into nuclear war paranoia. A few studies at least hint at the obvious; glaring US strategic weakness.

Consider some of the basics:

- Russian ICBMs armed with MIRVs travel at about 18 Mach; that is way faster than anything in the US arsenal. And basically they are unbeatable.

- The S-400 and S-500 double trouble; Moscow has agreed to sell the S-400 surface-to-air missile system to China; the bottom line is this will make Beijing impermeable to US air power, ICBMs and cruise missiles. Russia, for its part, is already focusing on the state of the art S-500 – which essentially makes the Patriot anti-missile system look like a V-2 from WWII.

- The Russian Iskander missile travels at Mach 7 – with a range of 400km, carrying a 700kg warhead of several varieties, and with a circular error probability of around five meters. Translation: an ultimate lethal weapon against airfields or logistic infrastructure. The Iskander can reach targets deep inside Europe.

- And then there’s the Sukhoi T-50 PAK FA.

NATO clowns dreaming of a war on Russia would have to come up with an ironclad system to knock out these Iskanders. They don’t have any. Additionally, they would have to face the S-400s, which the Russians can deploy all over the spectrum.

Think of a hefty batch of S-400s positioned at the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad; that would turn NATO air operations deep inside Europe into an absolutely horrendous nightmare. On top of it, good ol’ NATO fighter jets cost a fortune. Imagine the effect of hundreds of destroyed fighter jets on an EU already financially devastated and austerity-plagued to death.

As if this was not enough, no one knows the exact extent of NATO’s strategic capabilities. Brussels is not talking. Extra-officially, these capabilities are not exactly a marvel. And Russian intelligence knows it.

Still assuming those NATO clowns would insist on playing war, Moscow has already made it very clear Russia would use their awesome arsenal of 5,000-plus tactical nuclear weapons – and whatever else it takes – to defend the nation against a NATO conventional attack. Moreover, a few thousand S-400 and S-500 systems are enough to block a US nuclear attack.

None of this hair-raising Apocalypse Now scenario is even taking into account the Russia-China alliance – the major, game-changing Eurasian story of the 2010s.

 S 400 "Triumf" air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

S 400 “Triumf” air defense missile systems (RIA Novosti/Alexey Kudenko)

Just in case the “pivoting to Asia” gang starts harboring funny ideas about the Middle Kingdom as well, China is massively investing in bouncing lasers off satellites; satellite-hitting missiles; silent submarines that surface beside US aircraft carriers without detection; and a made in China anti-missile missile that can hit a reentering satellite moving faster than any ICBM.

In a nutshell; Beijing knows the US surface fleet is obsolete – and undefendable. And needless to add, all of these Chinese modernizing developments are proceeding way faster than anything in the US.

A modest proposal

The spin in the US has been relentless; Russia is expanding towards a 21st century empire.

Here, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explains in detail how this is undiluted rubbish. What has actually happened is that Moscow deftly called the Brzezinski-inspired bluff in Ukraine – with all its overtones. No wonder the Empire of Chaos is furious.

And yet there is a solution to defuse the current, hysterical rush to war logic. Here I have examined in some detail how Washington is playing Russian roulette. Now it’s time to advance a modest proposal – as it has been discussed by a few concerned analysts from the US, Europe and Asia.

Essentially, it’s very simple. It’s up to Germany. And it’s all about undoing Stalin.

Stalin, at the outset of WWII, took East Prussia from Germany and moved the eastern part of Poland into Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine was originally from Russia; it is part of Russia and was given by Lenin to Ukraine.

So let’s have East Prussia returned to Germany; the eastern part of Poland returned to Poland; and eastern Ukraine as well as Crimea – which Khrushchev gave to Ukraine – returned to Russia.

Everyone get its share. No more Stalin. No more arbitrary borders. That’s what the Chinese would define as a “triple win” situation. Of course the Empire of Chaos would fight it to death; there would be no more chaos manipulated to justify a crusade against bogus Russian “aggression”.

The ball is in Germany’s court. Now it’s up to East Prussians to present the facts to Angela Merkel. Let’s see if she’s able to get the message.

Follow Pepe Escobar on Facebook.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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RT: OPEC decision will keep oil prices low & hit Russia, Iran, US – experts

Published time: November 28, 2014 02:58

OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri attends at press conference after the166th Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 27, 2014.(AFP Photo / Samuel Kubani)

OPEC Secretary General Abdalla Salem El-Badri attends at press conference after the166th Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 27, 2014.(AFP Photo / Samuel Kubani)

Russian officials and experts warned that oil prices will remain below $80 per barrel for some time, after OPEC’s decision not to cut output. It will hurt the economies of Russia, Iran, and Venezuela – and deal a blow to shale oil production in the US.

OPEC announced on Thursday that it will not be changing production levels, leaving the daily output ceiling at 30 million barrels despite oversupply concerns and soft oil prices.

READ MORE: Oil slumps 4% as OPEC leaves output unchanged

Impact on Russia’s budget

Following the meeting, Russian Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov said that Moscow needs to review its state budget under the conditions that oil prices are likely to remain at around $80 per barrel, and not $100 per barrel, for the next few years, RIA Novosti reported.

“We need to build our fiscal and economic plans on the basis of new macroeconomic conditions, which in our opinion are not going to change quickly,” Siluanov said.

The plunge in oil prices following the OPEC decision confirmed the ministry’s outlook that Russia’s budget must be calibrated according to the lower oil prices, the head of the Russian Finance Ministry’s strategic planning department, Maksim Oreshkin, said.

“This situation once again confirms our position that Russian budget projections need to be adopted to new oil prices, which could remain [at a substantially lower level] for a long time,” he said, adding that this means a tougher approach to public spending and possible optimization.

Oil could even fall below $70 per barrel, which may negatively impact Russia since the ruble is closely connected to oil prices, market analyst at Alpari, Anna Kokoreva, told Rosbalt.ru.

“Oil prices have all the chances of falling below $70 per barrel in the near future. It is a bad sign for the Russian economy. A further drop will trigger a new wave of ruble devaluation and lead to a stagnation of oil production in the country,” she said. “In turn, the drop in national currency will accelerate inflation and the Ministry of Finance’s forecasts of two-digit values could become a reality.”

Meanwhile, a representative from Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft told TASS that the “current market situation does not require unexpected actions,” noting that “nothing extraordinary is happening.”

He explained that Rosneft has a sufficient margin of safety, since its production costs are one of the lowest in the world – just above $4 per barrel.

Hurting Iran, Venezuela, Ecuador…and US

Kokoreva pointed out that Venezuela, Ecuador, and Iran will suffer significant losses, as all three of the countries’ budgets depend significantly on oil revenues.

More specifically, countries like Venezuela and Iran will not be able to sustain their social programs run by the government if oil prices experience a sharp drop, partner at RusEnergy Mikhail Krutikhin told Russkaya Planeta.

“Iran and Venezuela are panicking due to the fall in oil prices and are trying to keep them up through any means possible. Their social programs will not withstand the low fuel prices,” Krutikhin said.

He added that Venezuela needs oil prices to be at $150 per barrel in order to balance its budget, while Iran needs $140.

Security staff pushes journalists back as a meeting of OPEC oil ministers is due to begin at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna November 27, 2014.(Reuters / Heinz-Peter Bader)

Security staff pushes journalists back as a meeting of OPEC oil ministers is due to begin at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna November 27, 2014.(Reuters / Heinz-Peter Bader)

Another loser in the situation is the US, since its own shale boom could be curbed by low prices. The payoff from shale decreases with every dollar knocked off the barrel price.

Meanwhile, the only clear victor, according to analysts, is Saudi Arabia, which can still make a profit even with lower prices.

“The winner of this game is Saudi Arabia, which is gradually moving towards its main goal – to oust the US shale oil from the market, make production of oil sands for the US not worth its while, and strengthen its own position. If shale projects stop in America, Saudi Arabia’s share of the market will begin to grow again,” Kokoreva said.

Playing politics is a big part of OPEC, and US shale success is a problem for Gulf-producing nations, the executive director of DV Advisors, Patrick Young, told RT.

“There are all sorts of politics involved. OPEC never misses a trick to play politics,” Young said. “There is an issue with America. The problem with America is that it is producing more and more oil at the moment and actually if OPEC as a cartel simply cut the amount of oil it produces, American shale would fill the gap.”

A Russian oil tycoon also warned that OPEC’s decision is a strike against the American market, which becomes unprofitable at $70-80 per barrel.

“In 2016, when OPEC completes this objective of cleaning up the American marginal market, the oil price will start growing again,” Leonid Fedun, a board member of Lukoil, Russia’s largest private oil company, told Bloomberg News.

Following OPEC’s decision, Brent Crude plunged, falling more than $3 to below $75 per barrel, while crude dropped over 4 percent to $71 per barrel.

Overall, oil prices have fallen more than $40 per barrel since mid-June, when oil peaked at $115. Low prices have been triggered by oversupply created by increased US production and waning global demand.

The next OPEC meeting will be held in June 2015.

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RT: ‘OPEC decision will undermine global oil industry’

Published time: November 28, 2014 14:02

A general view shows the166th ordinary meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 27, 2014. (AFP Photo/Samuel Kubani)

A general view shows the166th ordinary meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC, at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria on November 27, 2014. (AFP Photo/Samuel Kubani)

OPEC`s decision not to reduce oil production will affect major oil producers and may undermine the global oil industry, planting the seeds for a major oil crisis in 2015 or 2016, international oil economist, Dr. Mamdouh Salameh told RT.

READ MORE: Oil slumps 4% as OPEC leaves output unchanged

RT: How unexpected was that decision?

Mamdouh Salameh: This is a very bad decision by OPEC, because it means that the price of oil will slide down further. And that will affect the oil producers whether they are in the Arab Gulf or Iran, or Venezuela, or Russia. It could also undermine in the long-term US shale oil production, and of course, it will also undermine, above all, the global oil industry, because many of the oil majors will have to cut and sell assets, and cut investment. That will be reflected in lower production in the future. It means they are planting the seeds for a huge oil crisis in 2015 or 2016.

RT: Why do you think they made this decision?

MS: It was a difficult decision, it was difficult to predict, because Saudi Arabia has a political agenda against Iran. And they wanted the price to slide because they can take a bit more pain than Iran, because they need $100 a barrel while Iran needs $125. They want to damage Iran’s economy, which is a very [wrong] decision because it means Saudi Arabia is playing with fire. Furthermore, they hoped that the sliding price will kill US shale oil production. And that will antagonize the United States which is a protector of Saudi Arabia.

RT: We’ve heard there were some dissenting voices in OPEC, but the decision was accepted anyway. Do the countries that wanted to cut production even have a voice?

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi talks to journalists before a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC's headquarters in Vienna November 27, 2014. (Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader)

Saudi Arabia’s Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi talks to journalists before a meeting of OPEC oil ministers at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna November 27, 2014. (Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader)

MS: Of course. But the overwhelming majority, led by Saudi Arabia, didn`t want to cut [oil] production. Of course, Iran is worried as well as Venezuela, because they need a price, in the case of Venezuela of $110, and in case of Iran $125. This means that they are worried, they might not agree with the price, with the decision, but they are not going unilaterally to cut their own production, because that will lose them a bit of market share.

RT: Saudi Arabia is driving the prices down to hurt American shale oil fracking. But will it really achieve this goal?

MS: As I said it was a wrong decision, but let me explain it to you. Shale oil production: to produce a barrel of shale oil you need a price ranging from $70 to $80. Some efficient producers can live with $70 a barrel. Most of them will need $75 to $80. So Saudi Arabia thinks that if the price slides to $70 or below it means it will undermine the shale oil production in the United States. But that’s a wrong decision, because sooner or later the price will get back and start to rise. And shale oil producers will go back to producing oil in America. As I know that Saudi Arabia and Iran are having a proxy war. So Saudi Arabia can take less pain than Iran from a reduction in the oil price, but they cannot tolerate it for long, because sooner or later they have to balance their budget. And they cannot balance their budget with $70; they need $100 or more.

RT: OPEC says it’s going to compare statistics and forecasts with Russia, but nothing else. How is that going to help?

MS: I don’t think that was cooperation. Russia was prepared to cut production to the tune of 300 or 400 thousand barrels a day, provided OPEC takes the decision to reduce production by 2 million barrels, which is the amount, needed to soak up the glut in the oil market. OPEC took the wrong decision, I think. Russia is free not to cut production. Russia is not going to cut production, if OPEC itself is not cutting production in a meaningful way and in an adhesive way.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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RT: Poroshenko aims to change laws to allow foreigners into Ukrainian govt

I think it will soon look like the U.S. Congress/Government. . .  ~J

Published time: November 27, 2014 22:29
Edited time: November 27, 2014 23:40

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech during a parliament session in Kiev on November 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gives a speech during a parliament session in Kiev on November 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Sergei Supinsky)

Ukraine’s president has announced plans to change the nation’s legislation to make it possible to appoint foreigners to top government positions. This has been dubbed “unprecedented,” and may indicate that the country is being governed “from outside.”

READ MORE: EU chief calls for decentralization and federalization of Ukraine

“My idea is to change the laws in order to give the right to engage foreigners in state service, including government,”President Petro Poroshenko said in his address to Parliament on Thursday. “Or to expand the list of people whom Ukraine’s president may provide with Ukrainian citizenship in a speedy procedure,” he added.

He stressed that those foreigners’ willingness to accept Ukrainian citizenship in order to take the posts will “confirm”the “strong commitment of our potential partners and candidates.”

Poroshenko also suggested appointing a foreigner as the head of the newly-created National Anti-corruption Bureau. He elaborated that foreigners would have a particular powerful “advantage,” due to their “absence of links to the Ukrainian political elite.”

“Nobody will be anybody’s godfather or matchmaker,” he said, referring to political nepotism.

Earlier, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenuk suggested the creation of a new position – deputy prime minister of European integration affairs. He proposed that a European leader be appointed to the post.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk walks during a session of the parliament in Kiev November 27, 2014.(Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk walks during a session of the parliament in Kiev November 27, 2014.(Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

On Thursday, Yatsenyuk received approval from lawmakers to remain Ukraine’s premier, while five Ukrainian parties formed the new ruling European Ukraine coalition during the first session of the new parliament.

‘Does Poroshenko believe all Ukrainians are corrupt?’

If Kiev is truly planning to suggest that top government positions be filled by citizens of other countries, the situation is unprecedented, a Ukrainian political expert told RIA Novosti, also questioning the legitimacy of such a move.

“Such cases are exempt from modern [political] practice, when someone who does not have the right to even theoretically have access to state secrets – because he is a citizen of another country – is invited to take a post of minister in the government of a sovereign country. I think this is another demonstration of the degraded status and allegiance to the so-called European choice,”
said Mikhail Pogrebinskiy, head of Kiev’s Center of Political Studies and Conflict Management.

He questioned whether Poroshenko’s plans to appoint a foreigner as head of the anti-corruption government department suggests a total lack of confidence in his own people.

The president’s “reasoning is also surprising – does Poroshenko believe that every citizen of Ukraine will certainly be corrupt while holding this post?”

Reports cited by RIA Novosti claim that foreigners may be offered top jobs in the ministries of finance, energy and coal production, and infrastructure, as well as the post of deputy prime minister.

European Union envoy former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.(Reuters / Dmitry Neymyrok)

European Union envoy former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.(Reuters / Dmitry Neymyrok)

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Poroshenko’s close friend and Poland’s president from 1995 to 2005, has reportedly been suggested for an unnamed position, Denis Denisov, the head of the Ukrainian branch of the Institute of CIS, told RIA Novosti.

‘Ukraine not welcome as EU, NATO member’

Many foreign experts – predominantly from the US and Europe – are already advising Ukraine while working in various government departments and ministries. Such practice of foreign administration puts Ukraine under external control, said Denisov.

In his Thursday address to Parliament, Poroshenko said that Ukraine’s neutral out-of-bloc status had proved unjustified and should be abandoned.

“For this reason we have got back to the idea of integration with NATO,” he added. “We are deepening our cooperation and the compatibility of our army with NATO’s armed forces and reorienting to NATO standards.”

He stated that implementing the reforms in Ukraine will allow the country to apply for EU membership in five years. EU membership was the key demand of those taking part in the Maidan protests, which led to the armed coup earlier this year.

Despite Poroshenko’s aspirations, EU officials have repeatedly said that the union is not ready to welcome Ukraine as a member.

On Monday, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an interview with Der Spiegel that he does not believe it is realistic for Ukraine to join the EU in the foreseeable future, as the economic and political modernization of Ukraine is a “project for several generations.”

Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.(Reuters / Stefanie Loos)

Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.(Reuters / Stefanie Loos)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in an interview to i-Tele right after Poroshenko’s pro-EU inauguration speech said that the idea of Ukraine entering the EU doesn’t find support among “his Western colleagues.”

Nor have NATO members said that they support Ukraine’s hope of joining the alliance. On Monday, Steinmeier said he is against Ukraine joining NATO, and would only consider supporting the possibility of a partnership.

On Thursday, Poroshenko also put the issue of Ukraine’s federalization out of question, saying that “100 percent of Ukrainians are in favor of a unitary state.”

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s federalization has been a key demand of residents in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, and was a major point in the September Minsk agreement between Kiev and eastern authorities.

As Kiev authorities continue to repeatedly reject the idea of federalization, the president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, said on Wednesday that Ukraine should indeed undergo federalization, stressing that this may be a comprehensive solution to the current crisis.

READ MORE: #Euromaidan 1st birthday: Nothing happens, twice (OP-ED)

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RT: Swiss, French call to bring home gold reserves as Dutch move 122 tons out of US

Published time: November 28, 2014 05:25

Reuters / Michael Dalder

Reuters / Michael Dalder

The financial crisis in Europe is prompting some nations to repatriate their gold reserves to national vaults. The Netherlands has moved $5 billion worth of gold from New York, and some are calling for similar action from France, Switzerland, and Germany.

An unmatched pace of money printing by major central banks has boosted concerns in European countries over the safety of their gold reserves abroad.

The Dutch central bank – De Nederlandsche Bank – was one of the latest to make the move. The bank announced last Friday that it moved a fifth of its total 612.5-metric-ton gold reserve from New York to Amsterdam earlier in November.

It was done in an effort to redistribute the gold stock in “a more balanced way,” and to boost public confidence, the bank explained.

“With this adjustment the Dutch Central Bank joins other banks that are keeping a larger share of their gold supply in their own country,” the bank said in a statement. “In addition to a more balanced division of the gold reserves…this may also contribute to a positive confidence effect with the public.”

Dutch gold reserves are now divided as follows: 31 percent in Amsterdam, 31 percent in New York, 20 percent in Ottawa, Canada and 18 percent in London.

Meanwhile, Switzerland has organized the ‘Save Our Swiss Gold’ referendum, which is taking place on November 30. If passed, it would force the Swiss National Bank to convert a fifth of its assets into gold and repatriate all of its reserves from vaults in the UK and Canada.

“The Swiss initiative is merely part of an increasing global scramble towards gold and away from the endless printing of money. Huge movements of gold are going on right now,” Koos Jansen, an Amsterdam-based gold analyst for the Singaporean precious metal dealer BullionStar, told the Guardian.

France has also recently joined in on the trend, with the leader of the far-right National Front party Marine Le Pen calling on the central bank to repatriate the country’s gold reserves.

In an open letter to the governor of the Banque de France, Christian Noyer, Le Pen also demanded an audit of 2,435 tons of physical gold inventory.

Germany tried and failed to adopt a similar path in early 2013 by announcing a plan to repatriate some of its gold reserves back from the US and France.

READ MORE: No ‘gold rush’: Germany keeps reserves in the US

The efforts fizzled out this summer, when it was announced that Germany decided to leave $635 billion worth of gold in US vaults.

Germany only keeps about a third of its gold at home. Forty-five percent is held in New York, 13 percent in London, 11 percent in Paris, and only 31 percent in the Bundesbank in Frankfurt.

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