The president’s performance in Paris was a stunning abdication of global leadership!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SLATE NEWS)

 

Trump Retreats From the West

The president’s performance in Paris was a stunning abdication of global leadership.

U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte Macron attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday.
U.S. President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and his wife Brigitte Macron attend a ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday.
Benoit Tessier/AFP/Getty Images

The most disturbing thing about President Trump’s disgraceful performance in France this past weekend is the clear signal it sent that, under his thumb, the United States has left the West.

He came to the continent to join with other world leaders to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But the significance of the armistice is not so much to commemorate the fallen in an absurd and ghastly war as it is to celebrate the special peace—grounded in a democratic European Union and a trans-Atlantic alliance—that grew in its wake and the greater war that followed.

And yet, after flying nearly 4,000 miles across the Atlantic, Trump stayed in his room in Paris on Saturday rather than making the additional 50-mile trip to the Aisne-Marne cemetery, where 50,000 American soldiers were laid to rest a century ago. His excuse for not attending was lame, to say the least. His aides said, after the fact, that rainfall precluded a trip by helicopter—a claim refuted by the writer James Fallows, an instrument-certified pilot who, as a former White House official, is familiar with this helicopter.

A later claim, that the route posed a challenge to the large presidential motorcade, is doubly insulting. It’s insulting, first, to the Secret Service and White House travel office whose professionals prepare for, and surmount, any and all obstacles on such trips (an insult exacerbated by the fact that none of the other leaders’ security teams had any trouble dealing with the route); second, to the armed forces and allies, who must wonder whether Trump might turn away from the challenges of mobilizing armored battalions to the front lines in the event of an invasion.

Let us stipulate that Trump didn’t want to get his hair mussed or that security risks frightened him, which may also explain the fact that he hasn’t yet visited American troops in any war zone. (By contrast, Obama made his first trip to Iraq three months into his term and, in his time as president, flew eight times to Afghanistan; George W. Bush, in his two terms, made four trips to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.) However, this does not explain Trump’s late showing for Sunday’s ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, or his skipping of the march toward that event down the Champs-Elysees.

Among the more than 60 world leaders who gathered for the ceremony, only he and Russian President Vladimir Putin were latecomers. (British Prime Minister Theresa May didn’t come to France at all, perhaps owing to her own current problems with the EU.) Many cocked eyebrows have been thrown at the photo of Trump beaming at Putin, while other allied leaders went deadpan, as his friend from the Kremlin approached.

Back in 1917, Russia was the first allied nation to leave the war as the Bolsheviks took power, in part thanks to the Germans, who smuggled Lenin onto a train from Zurich back home, where he proceeded to lead the revolution. That same year, the United States was the last allied nation to enter the war, supplying the aid and firepower that helped break the stalemate and secure victory.

President Woodrow Wilson then led negotiations for a peace on such onerous terms to the defeated powers—historian David Fromkin called it “a peace to end all peace”—that a resumption of war 20 years later was almost inevitable. World War II was fueled by nationalist impulses and facilitated by the crumbling of empires—both of which resonate with developments in global politics today.

This was the context of French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech at the Arc de Triomphe, in which he condemned nationalism—the “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests”—as a “betrayal of patriotism.” In part, and most obviously, he was jabbing at Trump, who listened with a scowl; but he was also warning against, as he put it, “old demons coming back to wreak chaos and death.” Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, George Santayana once wrote. The problem with Trump is he never knew history—and doesn’t think he needs to learn it. His election marked Year Zero, as far as he is concerned: He frequently says that he’s unlike, and better than, any previous president, so any lessons of the past are irrelevant.

Macron and everyone else at the Arc had not only the rise of Trump in mind but also the turn toward right-wing nationalism in Hungary and Poland, the uncertain course of Brexit in Britain, and the collapse of Angela Merkel’s centrist coalition in Germany—leaving Macron as the last surviving celebrator of the post-WWII Western traditions, and he too is buffeted by pressures from the left and the right.

At such an occasion so rife with moment and symbolism, any other American president would have felt compelled to repair and strengthen this union. If there were any doubts that President Trump understands little about his mission, and cares even less, this trip dispelled them once and for all.

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Do Macedonians want their country to join NATO and the EU?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Do Macedonians want their country to join NATO and the EU? A historic referendum will decide

Rally in Skopje, MAcedonia in support for the referendum on EU and NATO accession.

Pro-referendum rally on 16 September 2018 in Skopje. Photo by Andreja Stojkovski via Twitter, used with permission.

On September 30, Macedonians will vote in a referendum to decide whether their country should join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance and the European Union (EU).

The referendum is part of a process that began in 1993, when all political parties in the then newly independent Republic of Macedonia declared joining NATO a key strategic priority. Many believe that membership in the military alliance would help protect Macedonia, located in the volatile Balkans region, from external aggression and civil war. Years later the country made a similar commitment to strive for EU membership.

Admission to both NATO and the EU require the consensus of all existing members, so Macedonia needed first solve bilateral disputes with its neighbors, some of which already belonged the two organizations.

The biggest obstacle was the long-standing naming dispute with Greece, which has hindered Macedonia’s development for 27 years. In June 2018, as a precondition for removing the Greek veto on its EU and NATO membership, Macedonia signed an agreement which obliges the country to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia.

In spite of the agreement, the name change remains a core issue. The September 30 referendum explicitly asks:

‘Are you in favor of EU and NATO membership by accepting the Agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?’

A majority must participate

The referendum is not legally binding but rather consultative, and will only be considered valid if a majority of registered voters participate. But failure to reach the required 50 per cent voter turnout would not stop the NATO and EU accession process, which requires further action by parliament.

According to one Twitter user:

Мутен@toVornottoV

30 септември дава можност за конечно помрднуење од status quo-то у кое што смо заглавени и конечно ослободуење од бизарен проблем што не влече надоле скоро 30 године. Затоа ќе .

September 30 provides an opportunity to finally move from the status quo which has stymied us, to finally break free from a bizarre problem that has been holding us down for almost 30 years. That’s why #IVote.

For other voters, the referendum is both symbolic and cathartic, representing a return “to the right path” after “the lost decade” of democratic backsliding, and many have been holding their breath in anticipation:

mindрluмbеr@mindplumber

Цела држава се неуротизирала, све се остава за „после 30-ти“.
А бе, сендвич да сакаш да купиш, таа на скарата ќе ти каже „немој сеа, ај после 30-ти, да се расчисти“

The whole state has become neurotic, everything is left [for] ‘after the 30th’. Even if you want to buy a sandwich, the barbecue lady might say, ‘Not now, let’s do it after the 30th, after the situation clears’.

Calls for a boycott

This anxiety may have to do with the boycott campaign being waged by right-wing populist opponents and led by several fringe non-parliamentary parties, including pro-Russian, Euro-skeptic and anti-NATO United Macedonia, which styles itself on Putin’s United Russia.

The campaign stokes the fears of ethnic Macedonians by presenting the country’s name change as the first step along a slippery slope that will lead to genocide, or ethnocentric. The campaign is steeped in disinformation and hate speech, from intentional misinterpretations of the consequences of the agreement with Greece, to claims that the government has given citizenship to Albanians from Kosovo to boost the number of “yes” votes. There have even been suggestions of election fraud, to which one Twitter user replied:

Ленка многу кенка@RedRadish5

Кога стварно мислиш дека ќе местат гласање излегуваш да гласаш за да им отежнеш, а не седиш дома

When you really think that authorities plan voter fraud, citizens go out and vote to make it harder for them, they don’t sit at home.

Meanwhile, the main opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, a member of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP), has sat on the fence, neither openly endorsing the boycott campaign nor encouraging its supporters to participate in the referendum and vote against the agreement with Greece, which it considers “a capitulation”.

Other EPP members have accused VMRO-DPMNE of hypocrisy, as high ranking party officials participated personally in the boycott, and the campaign was vigorously promoted by media outlets reputed for being party mouthpieces.

Representatives of the ruling SDSM have also claimed that VMRO-DPMNE had attempted to make a deal, promising to throw its support behind the referendum if its former party leaders on trial for corruption were given an amnesty. The government refused, and the VMRO-DPMNE’s indecisive position is largely being interpreted as sign of weakness:

НиколаСтрез@NikolaStrez

За едно од најважните прашања за Македонија, вмро нема став и повикува секој да гласа по свое убедување.

Очекувам на следните избори, кога ќе сакаат да дојдат на власт, да излезат со истиот став и да не сугерираат за кого да гласаме.

VMRO-DPMNE has no official position on one of the most important issues for Macedonia, and has declared that people should vote according to their own preference. In the next elections, I expect that they will adopt the same position and won’t advocate whom to vote for.

Social media tactics and allegations about Russia

On social media the “I boycott” campaign (#бојкотирам) started over the summer, and involved mainly anonymous social media profiles and sock puppets from the VMRO-DPMNE troll army. Observers noticed a high number of new profiles appear in August 2018, suspected to be automated bots originating outside the country. The campaign was also shared via profiles linked to specific individuals, including VMRO-DPMNE’s foreign lobbyists, Macedonian nationalist organizations operating in the diaspora, and Macedonia’s president, who gained his position with the party’s support.

Around 50 people attended the Boycott campaign rally in Ohrid on 22 September. Photo by GV, CC-BY.

Western sources alleged that Russia was trying to obstruct the consolidation of the NATO and EU process; when asked, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev diplomatically said that the authorities have not found “evidence of direct Russian influence with fake news” regarding the referendum, and that he trusts Macedonia’s NATO allies on this matter.

Prior to that statement, however, Zaev was less reserved in pointing to Kremlin-related attempts — including the funding of violent protests by a Greek-Russian oligarch — to obstruct the deal with Greece. Moreover, an independent journalist discovered that back in 2015, a Russian troll farm specialist named Anna Bogacheva had visited Macedonia on business. She has since been named as one of 13 Russian nationals indicted over alleged interference in the 2016 United States election.

The “I Boycott” campaign has also employed tactics used by the American alt-right, including use of the Pepe the Frog meme, which was ridiculed even by VMRO-DPMNE members who couldn’t understand how their party’s symbol, the mighty lion, was reduced to a frog.

Ready for change

There have been attempts, mostly through cyber-bullying, to intimidate activists and ‘dissenting’ right-wing figures who have said they will take part in the referendum. Former VMRO-DPMNE government minister Nikola Todorov’s revelation that he would vote “no” exposed him to particularly vicious harassment on Facebook. But in spite of some of the threats issues, observers don’t expect much violence.

Numerous citizens have also expressed their support for both the referendum as the ultimate tool of democracy, and for the government-backed campaign to vote in it:

Бени@Shushmula

Скоро три полни децении живееме во пештера а сакаме светот да не знае и прифати.
Од сето тоа светот знае само дека живееме во пештера.

Almost 3 decades we’ve been living in a cave, while wanting the world to know about as and to accept us.
Out of all that, the world only knows that we’ve been living in a cave.
#IVote!

If surveys conducted in the months before the referendum are anything to go by, most Macedonian citizens are ready for change, even if that means swallowing the bitter pill of the name change in exchange for the long-term benefits of NATO and EU membership.

IS THE E.U. GOING TO ‘LIBERATE TRIPOLI’?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Haftar Hints at ‘Liberating Tripoli’

Saturday, 8 September, 2018 – 09:15
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani arrives at a European Union leaders informal summit in Brussels, Belgium, February 23, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
Brussels, Cairo- Abdullah Mustafa and Khalid Mahmoud
Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar said Thursday that the “Tripoli crisis shouldn’t go longer and liberating the Libyan capital is inevitable.”

Speaking to tribal leaders in Benghazi, he declared that he would liberate Tripoli through a well-structured plan to end what he called militia rule.

“We will not be silent about the current situation in Tripoli anymore,” he stressed.

Haftar warned that, if elections in Libya are not transparent, his LNA will obstruct them.

The parliament called on its members to attend two sessions at its headquarters in Tobruk Monday and Tuesday in order to enact the bill of a referendum over the constitution. These sessions are the last chance before heading to the presidential elections in case the quorum is not met to pass the bill.

Meanwhile, disputes continued between France and Italy over the Libyan crisis, although Italy’s Defense Minister Elisabetta Trenta urged cooperation between the two countries.

In a related matter, European Parliament president Antonio Tajani said Friday that “the future of Libya is being decided now, and the EU has to play a central role in managing this crisis. If we are not able to carry out this task, we will leave the door open for the ambitions and interests of countries.”

“In the absence of a stable Libyan government that can control the country´s borders and territory, managing migration flows from Libya´s coast will become more difficult,” Tajani said, adding that the smuggling of weapons and drugs will continue to help terrorists, putting in danger the safety of African and European citizens.

“The country is a powder keg ready to explode.

“The clashes in Tripoli that caused over 200 dead over the last few days have further exacerbated internal conflicts and, despite an agreement on a ceasefire, the situation remains extremely fragile.”

Luxembourg: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This European Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Luxembourg

Introduction Founded in 963, Luxembourg became a grand duchy in 1815 and an independent state under the Netherlands. It lost more than half of its territory to Belgium in 1839, but gained a larger measure of autonomy. Full independence was attained in 1867. Overrun by Germany in both World Wars, it ended its neutrality in 1948 when it entered into the Benelux Customs Union and when it joined NATO the following year. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and in 1999 it joined the euro currency area.
History The recorded history of Luxembourg begins with the acquisition of Lucilinburhuc (today Luxembourg Castle) by Siegfried, Count of Ardennes in 963. Around this fort, a town gradually developed, which became the centre of a small state of great strategic value. In 1437, the House of Luxembourg suffered a succession crisis, precipitated by the lack of a male heir to assume the throne, that led to the territory being sold to Philip the Good of Burgundy.[3] In the following centuries, Luxembourg’s fortress was steadily enlarged and strengthened by its successive occupants, the Bourbons, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and the French, among others. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Luxembourg was disputed between Prussia and the Netherlands. The Congress of Vienna formed Luxembourg as a Grand Duchy in personal union with the Netherlands. Luxembourg also became a member of the German Confederation, with a Confederate fortress manned by Prussian troops.

The Belgian Revolution of 1830–1839 reduced Luxembourg’s territory by more than half, as the predominantly francophone western part of the country was transferred to Belgium. Luxembourg’s independence was reaffirmed by the 1839 First Treaty of London. In the same year, Luxembourg joined the Zollverein. Luxembourg’s independence and neutrality were again affirmed by the 1867 Second Treaty of London, after the Luxembourg Crisis nearly led to war between Prussia and France. After the latter conflict, the Confederate fortress was dismantled.

The King of the Netherlands remained Head of State as Grand Duke of Luxembourg, maintaining personal union between the two countries until 1890. At the death of William III, the Dutch throne passed to his daughter Wilhelmina, while Luxembourg (at that time restricted to male heirs by the Nassau Family Pact) passed to Adolph of Nassau-Weilburg.

Luxembourg was invaded and occupied by Germany during the First World War, but was allowed to maintain its independence and political mechanisms. It was again invaded and subject to German occupation in the Second World War in 1940, and was formally annexed into the Third Reich in 1942.

During World War II, Luxembourg abandoned its policy of neutrality, when it joined the Allies in fighting Germany. Its government, exiled to London, set up a small group of volunteers who participated in the Normandy invasion. It became a founding member of the United Nations in 1946, and of NATO in 1949. In 1957, Luxembourg became one of the six founding countries of the European Economic Community (later the European Union), and, in 1999, it joined the euro currency area. In 2005, a referendum on the EU treaty establishing a constitution for Europe was held in Luxembourg.

Geography Location: Western Europe, between France and Germany
Geographic coordinates: 49 45 N, 6 10 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 2,586 sq km
land: 2,586 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Rhode Island
Land boundaries: total: 359 km
border countries: Belgium 148 km, France 73 km, Germany 138 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: modified continental with mild winters, cool summers
Terrain: mostly gently rolling uplands with broad, shallow valleys; uplands to slightly mountainous in the north; steep slope down to Moselle flood plain in the southeast
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Moselle River 133 m
highest point: Buurgplaatz 559 m
Natural resources: iron ore (no longer exploited), arable land
Land use: arable land: 27.42%
permanent crops: 0.69%
other: 71.89% (includes Belgium) (2005)
Irrigated land: NA
Total renewable water resources: 1.6 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.06 cu km/yr (42%/45%/13%)
per capita: 121 cu m/yr (1999)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: air and water pollution in urban areas, soil pollution of farmland
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography – note: landlocked; the only Grand Duchy in the world
Politics Luxembourg is a parliamentary democracy headed by a constitutional monarch. Under the constitution of 1868, executive power is exercised by the Governor and the cabinet, which consists of several other ministers. The Governor has the power to dissolve the legislature and reinstate a new one, as long as the Governor has judicial approval. However, since 1919, sovereignty has resided with the Supreme Court.

Legislative power is vested in the Chamber of Deputies, a unicameral legislature of sixty members, who are directly elected to five-year terms from four constituencies. A second body, the Council of State (Conseil d’État), composed of twenty-one ordinary citizens appointed by the Grand Duke, advises the Chamber of Deputies in the drafting of legislation.

The Grand Duchy has three lower tribunals (justices de paix; in Esch-sur-Alzette, the city of Luxembourg, and Diekirch), two district tribunals (Luxembourg and Diekirch) and a Superior Court of Justice (Luxembourg), which includes the Court of Appeal and the Court of Cassation. There is also an Administrative Tribunal and an Administrative Court, as well as a Constitutional Court, all of which are located in the capital.

People Population: 486,006 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.6% (male 46,729/female 43,889)
15-64 years: 66.6% (male 163,356/female 160,425)
65 years and over: 14.7% (male 29,206/female 42,401) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39 years
male: 38 years
female: 40 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.188% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.77 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.43 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 8.54 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.18 years
male: 75.91 years
female: 82.67 years

Malta: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This Mediterranean Island Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Malta

Introduction Great Britain formally acquired possession of Malta in 1814. The island staunchly supported the UK through both World Wars and remained in the Commonwealth when it became independent in 1964. A decade later Malta became a republic. Since about the mid-1980s, the island has transformed itself into a freight transshipment point, a financial center, and a tourist destination. Malta became an EU member in May 2004, and will begin to use the euro as currency in 2008.
History Early settlements of Malta

Malta is home to the oldest freestanding structure in the world: the oldest of all the megalithic temples on the islands is il-Ġgantija, in Gozo (Għawdex) dating back to before 3500 BC. One of the very earliest marks of civilization on the islands is the temple of Ħaġar Qim, which dates from between 3200 and 2500 BC, stands on a hilltop on the southern edge of the island of Malta. Adjacent to Ħaġar Qim, lies another remarkable temple site, l-Imnajdra. The people who built these structures eventually died out or at any rate disappeared. Phoenicians colonized the islands around 700 BC,[7] using them as an outpost from which they expanded sea explorations and trade in the Mediterranean.

After the fall of Tyre, the islands later came under the control of Carthage (400 BC), a former Phoenician colony, and then of Rome (218 BC). The islands prospered under Roman rule, during which time they were considered a Municipium and a Foederata Civitas. Many Roman antiquities still exist, testifying to the close link between the Maltese inhabitants and the people of Rome. The island was a favorite among Roman soldiers as a place to retire from active service. In 60 AD the islands were visited by Saint Paul, who is said to have been shipwrecked on the shores of the aptly-named “San Pawl il-Baħar” (Saint Paul’s Bay). Studies of the currents and prevalent winds at the time however, render it more likely that the shipwreck occurred in or around Daħlet San Tumas in Marsascala.[citation needed]

After a period of Byzantine rule (fourth to ninth century) and a probable sack by the Vandals, the islands were conquered by the Arabs in 870 AD. The Arabs, who generally tolerated the population’s Christianity, introduced the cultivation of citrus fruits and cotton, and irrigation systems. Arab influence can be seen most prominently in the modern Maltese language, a Semitic language which also contains significant Romance influences, and is written in a variation of the Latin alphabet.

The period of Arab rule lasted until 1091, when the islands were taken by the Siculo-Normans. A century later the last Norman king, Tancredo di Lecce, appointed Margarito di Brindisi the first Count of Malta. Subsequent rulers included the Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese, Castillians who reconstituted a County of Malta in 1283. The Maltese nobility was established during this period; some of it dating back to 1400. Around thirty-two noble titles remain in use today, of which the oldest is the Barony of Djar il-Bniet e Buqana.

Knights of Malta and Napoleon

In 1530 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V of Spain gave the islands to the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in perpetual lease. The Crown of Aragon had owned the islands as part of its Mediterranean empire for some time. These knights, a military religious order now known as the “Knights of Malta”, had been driven out of Rhodes by the Ottoman Empire in 1522. They withstood a full-blown siege by the Ottoman Turks in 1565, at the time the greatest naval power in the Mediterranean sea. After this they decided to increase the fortifications, particularly in the inner-harbour area, where the new city of Valletta, named after Grand Master Jean de la Valette, was built.

Their reign ended when Malta was captured by Napoleon en route to his expedition of Egypt during the French Revolutionary Wars in 1798. As a ruse, Napoleon asked for safe harbour to resupply his ships, and then turned his guns against his hosts once safely inside Valletta. The Grand Master knew that he could only allow a few ships at a time to enter the harbour, due to the Treaty of Trent. Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim capitulated, and Napoleon stayed in Malta for a few days, during which time he systematically looted the movable assets of the Order, and established an administration controlled by his nominees. He then sailed for Egypt, leaving a substantial garrison in Malta.

The occupying French forces were unpopular, however, due particularly to their negative attitude towards religion. Their financial and religious reforms did not go down well with the citizens. The Maltese rebelled against them, and the French were forced behind the fortifications. Great Britain, along with the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, sent munitions and aid to the rebels. Britain also sent her navy, which instigated a blockade of the islands. The isolated French forces, under General Claude-Henri Belgrand de Vaubois, surrendered in 1800, and the island became a British Dominion, being presented by several Maltese leaders to Sir Alexander Ball.

British rule and World War II

In 1814, as part of the Treaty of Paris, Malta officially became a part of the British Empire, and was used as a shipping way-station and fleet headquarters. Malta’s position half-way between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal proved to be its main asset during these years, and it was considered to be an important stop on the way to India.

In the early 1930s, the British Mediterranean Fleet, which was at the time the main contributor for the commerce on the island, was moved to Alexandria as an economic measure. Malta played an important role during World War II, owing to its proximity to Axis shipping lanes. The bravery of the Maltese people in their long struggle against enemy attack moved HM King George VI to award the George Cross to Malta on a collective basis on April 15, 1942 “to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be famous in history”. Some historians argue that the award caused Britain to incur disproportionate losses in defending Malta, as British credibility would suffer if Malta was surrendered, as Singapore had been.[8] A replica of the George Cross now appears in the upper hoist corner of the Flag of Malta. The collective award remained unique until April 1999, when the Royal Ulster Constabulary became the second – and, to date, the only other – recipient of the collective George Cross.

Independence

After the war, and after the Malta Labour Party’s unsuccessful attempt at “Integration with Britain”, Malta was granted independence on September 21, 1964 (Independence Day). Under its 1964 constitution, Malta initially retained Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Malta, with a Governor-General exercising executive authority on her behalf. On December 13, 1974 (Republic Day) it became a republic within the Commonwealth, with the President as head of state. A defence agreement signed soon after independence (and re-negotiated in 1972) expired on March 31, 1979 (Freedom Day) when the British military forces were withdrawn. Malta adopted an official policy of neutrality in 1980 and for a brief period was a member of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. In 1989 Malta was the venue of an important summit between US President Bush and Soviet leader Gorbachev, their first face-to-face encounter, which signaled the end of the Cold War.

Malta joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.[9] Following the European Council of 21 to 22 June 2007 it joined the Eurozone on January 1, 2008.

Geography Location: Southern Europe, islands in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Sicily (Italy)
Geographic coordinates: 35 50 N, 14 35 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 316 sq km
land: 316 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 196.8 km (does not include 56.01 km for the island of Gozo)
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 25 nm
Climate: Mediterranean; mild, rainy winters; hot, dry summers
Terrain: mostly low, rocky, flat to dissected plains; many coastal cliffs
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Mediterranean Sea 0 m
highest point: Ta’Dmejrek 253 m (near Dingli)
Natural resources: limestone, salt, arable land
Land use: arable land: 31.25%
permanent crops: 3.13%
other: 65.62% (2005)
Irrigated land: 20 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 0.07 cu km (2005)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.02 cu km/yr (74%/1%/25%)
per capita: 50 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: limited natural fresh water resources; increasing reliance on desalination
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: the country comprises an archipelago, with only the three largest islands (Malta, Ghawdex or Gozo, and Kemmuna or Comino) being inhabited; numerous bays provide good harbors; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Politics Malta is a republic,[11] whose parliamentary system and public administration is closely modeled on the Westminster system. The unicameral House of Representatives, (Maltese: Il-Kamra tar-Rappreżentanti), is elected by direct universal suffrage through single transferable vote every five years, unless the House is dissolved earlier by the President on advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Representatives is made up of sixty-five Members of Parliament. However, where a party wins an absolute majority of votes, but does not have a majority of seats, that party is given additional seats to ensure a parliamentary majority. The Constitution of Malta provides that the President appoint as Prime Minister the member of the House who is best able to command a (governing) majority in the House.

The President of the Republic is elected every five years by the House of Representatives. The role of the president as head of state is largely ceremonial.

The main political parties are the Nationalist Party, which is a Christian democratic party, and the Malta Labour Party, which is a social democratic party.

The Nationalist Party is currently at the helm of the government, the Prime Minister being Dr. Lawrence Gonzi. The Malta Labour Party is in the opposition.

There are a number of smaller political parties in Malta that presently have no parliamentary representation.

On February 4, 2008 President Dr. Eddie Fenech Adami dissolved the Parliament, acting on a request from Prime Minister Dr. Lawrence Gonzi[12]. The general elections were held on the March 8, 2008, and four political parties presented candidates on all districts; namely, the two main parties, the Democratic Alternative (Alternattiva Demokratika), and the recently-formed National Action (Azzjoni Nazzjonali). The Nationalist Party won the election by a slim majority of 1580 votes, which were however enough to secure its third consecutive term[13]. The Malta Labour Party conceded the election on 10 March, and Dr. Alfred Sant resigned from the position of Party Leader later that morning.

People Population: 403,532 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 16.4% (male 33,954/female 32,158)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 142,338/female 138,792)
65 years and over: 13.9% (male 24,240/female 32,050) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 39.2 years
male: 37.9 years
female: 40.6 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.407% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.33 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.29 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: 2.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 3.79 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.25 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 79.3 years
male: 77.08 years
female: 81.64 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.51 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: less than 500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 100 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Maltese (singular and plural)
adjective: Maltese
Ethnic groups: Maltese (descendants of ancient Carthaginians and Phoenicians, with strong elements of Italian and other Mediterranean stock)
Religions: Roman Catholic 98%
Languages: Maltese (official), English (official)
Literacy: definition: age 10 and over can read and write
total population: 92.8%
male: 92%
female: 93.6% (2003 est.)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Malta
conventional short form: Malta

Corporate concentration threatens American democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THE WORLD POST’)

 

Corporate concentration threatens American democracy

By Nathan Gardels, WorldPost editor in chief

Corporate concentration in the United States is not only increasing inequality but also undermining competition and consumers’ standard of living. Politically, the commensurate lobbying influence of big tech, big finance and other large conglomerates has created what political scientist Francis Fukuyama calls a “vetocracy” — where vested concerns have amassed the clout to choke off legislative reforms that would diminish their spoils.

Why the opposite is happening in the European Union is an unfamiliar tale of how governance one step removed from electoral democracy has been able to resist the lobbying of organized special interests to make policy that benefits the average person.

Active antitrust policies in the second half of the 20th century fairly leveled the playing field of American commerce. “But starting around 2000, U.S. markets began to lose their competitive edge,” Germán Gutiérrez and Thomas Philippon write, based on a new study of theirs.

“Now, Internet access and monthly cellphone plans are much cheaper in Europe than in America, as are flights. Even in Mexico, mobile data plans are better priced than in the United States. … Meanwhile in the United States, deregulation and antitrust efforts have nearly ground to a halt. The United States has not completed a major reform to the goods and services market since 1996, and as a result, its industries have grown increasingly concentrated.”

What explains this stunning shift is deliberate policy choices. As the authors relate: “European countries created the single market, which took effect in 1993, and deregulated their domestic markets. Today, most European Union countries score better than the United States in enacting policies that make industries more competitive. Not surprisingly, antitrust enforcement remains active in Europe, with two recent cases against Google resulting in over $7.7 billion in fines. European markets are also less concentrated than U.S. markets.”

Gutiérrez and Philippon argue that “free markets are supposed to discipline private companies, but today, many private companies have grown so dominant that they can get away with bad service, high prices and deficient privacy safeguards. … If America wants to lead once more in this realm, it must remember its own history and relearn the lessons it successfully taught the rest of the world.”

Mario Monti — who was Italian prime minister from 2011 to 2013 as well as the E.U. competition commissioner from 1999 to 2004 and is famous for “shooting down mergers in flames” — agrees with Gutiérrez and Philippon. But he adds an important dimension they don’t discuss: how the much-maligned “technocratic” European Commission has been more able than American antitrust authorities to resist undue corporate influence over policy decisions.

While antitrust efforts in the United States are highly sensitive to election cycles and outcomes, Monti points out, the European Commission (which is indirectly elected by the European Parliament) operates at arm’s length from politics and can make decisions that are independent from lobbyist pressures on parliaments at both the national and European level. As he put it in a recent interview, “the more far away you are, the less you feel under pressure.”

The result is policy decisions that are more disinterested because the process is less politicized. This same technocratic distance in Brussels that has enabled a vigorous competition policy also applies to Europe’s landmark privacy regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), passed earlier this year.

Yet as Giovanni Buttarelli, the E.U.’s data protection supervisor charged with implementing the GDPR, laments, passing a law is only the beginning of reining in big tech abuses. “First came the scaremongering. Then came the strong-arming. After being contested in arguably the biggest lobbying exercise in the history of the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation became fully applicable at the end of May,” he writes from Brussels. “Since its passage, there have been great efforts at compliance, which regulators recognize. At the same time, unfortunately, consumers have felt nudged or bullied by companies into agreeing to business as usual. This would appear to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the new law.”

The challenge of implementing the law now, says Buttarelli, is continually challenging big tech. As he puts it, “The E.U. is seeking to prevent people from being cajoled into ‘consenting’ to unfair contracts and accepting surveillance in exchange for a service.”

Buttarelli is looking ahead to the next phase of reform. Under that reform, “Devices and programming would be geared by default to safeguard people’s privacy and freedom. Today’s overcentralized Internet would be de-concentrated, as advocated by Tim Berners-Lee, who first invented the Internet, with a fairer allocation of the digital dividend and with the control of information handed back to individuals from big tech and the state.”

While big tech lobbyists have so far frustrated privacy legislation at the national level in the United States, California has been able to pass curbs on abuses of personal data. Ironically, this was due not to technocratic insulation from politics but its opposite: the citizens’ ballot initiative. A San Francisco real estate magnate funded the gathering of qualifying signatures for a proposition that would impose the same kind of limits on use of personal data in California as contained in the GDPR, forcing big tech to come — reluctantly — to the table.

State legislators then negotiated and passed a measure this summer along GDPR lines that would be open to amendment as technology evolves. With legislation secured, the initiative was withdrawn from the public ballot. (If law is made by the citizens’ ballot initiative, it can only be amended by another vote of the public.) As state Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D), who crafted the compromise between privacy advocates and the tech companies, notes, the law in effect makes California’s attorney general the nation’s “chief privacy officer,” since most of the big tech companies affected are located in Silicon Valley.

Making a market that works for the average citizen requires government that acts in the public interest, not at the behest of the largest players in the economy who underwrite the electoral and legislative process. To the extent that elected legislatures are captured by organized special interests, the “vetocracy” can be circumvented either by indirectly elected technocratic authorities or by direct democracy through the citizens’ ballot initiative.

The experiences with antitrust and privacy regulation examined in The WorldPost this week suggest that a mixed system that combines disinterested technocrats, elected representatives and direct democracy — each as a check and balance on the other — would be the most intelligent form of governance.

ABOUT US: The WorldPost is an award-winning global media platform that aims to be a place where the world meets. We seek to make sense of an interdependent yet fragmenting world by commissioning voices that cross cultural and political boundaries. Publishing op-eds and features from around the globe, we work from a worldwide perspective looking around rather than a national perspective looking out.

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EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Kathleen Miles, Jackson Diehl, Juan Luis Cebrian, Walter Isaacson, Yoichi Funabashi, Arianna Huffington, John Elkann, Pierre Omidyar, Eric Schmidt, Wadah Khanfar

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Greek Spat Exposes Putin’s Waning Clout in European Backyard

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT AND BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Greek Spat Exposes Putin’s Waning Clout in European Backyard

Monday, 13 August, 2018 – 08:30
When Greece, traditionally among Russia’s closest friends in Europe, expelled two Russian diplomats last month for trying to wreck a deal with the neighboring Republic of Macedonia, it exposed Moscow’s deepening frustration at President Vladimir Putin’s loss of influence in a key strategic region.

Russia’s being squeezed out of the Balkans by the expansion of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, leaving the Kremlin with diminishing clout in southeastern Europe. There’s little chance of reversing that trend, according to four people in Moscow familiar with its Balkans policy.

“NATO membership of course is bad for us,” said Leonid Reshetnikov, a former head of Russian foreign intelligence who also served as an agent in Greece and the Balkans. “What can we do? They are clearing this territory” of rival influences, he said.

Russia’s deep historical and cultural ties to the Balkans made the region a preserve of pro-Moscow sentiment that ensured warmer relations than with much of the rest of Europe. Now Balkan states are becoming bound in with the West as they gravitate toward the EU and NATO.

Even amid divisions within the EU and questions raised by President Donald Trump about the US commitment to its NATO allies, the blocs still exert a strong pull in the region with their promises of rising trade and living standards, strengthened rule of law and security guarantees. Russia’s shrinking geopolitical reach is a historic setback for Putin, even as the Kremlin leader’s global power appears to be on the march, from Syria to meddling in US politics.

“Russia is acting pretty passively,’’ said Alexander Dugin, a nationalist thinker and one-time Kremlin adviser who promotes a vision of Russian dominance across Europe and Eurasia. “It needs a plan of action.”

Greek Expulsions

Greece expelled the Russian envoys after accusing them of bribing officials in an attempt to block the accord that settles a dispute over the Republic of Macedonia’s name and allows it to start talks on NATO membership. Russia’s foreign ministry accused Athens of joining in “dirty provocations,” prompting a Greek demand that “the constant disrespect for Greece must stop.”

Russia on Monday summoned the Greek ambassador to inform him that the foreign ministry was retaliating with reciprocal diplomatic measures in response to the expulsions.

Under the deal with Athens, the Republic of Macedonia will become the Republic of North Macedonia after Greece objected that the former Yugoslav republic’s title implied a territorial claim on its province with the same name.

‘Derail It’

Greece is “fully determined” to ratify the agreement, said Costas Douzinas, a member of the ruling Syriza party and head of the parliamentary committee on defense and foreign relations. “If the Russians continue to attempt to derail it, the reaction will be strong.”

Even the pro-Russian Independent Greeks party, the junior coalition partner in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government, accuses Moscow of meddling, even as it opposes the accord. There’s “first-hand information that there was Russian interference in Greek matters,” the party’s vice president, Panos Sgouridis, said by phone. “It’s crucial that Greece’s national sovereignty is protected.”

The Republic of Macedonia plans to hold a referendum on Sept. 30. The deal is opposed by President Gjorge Ivanov, while Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has accused unnamed Greek businessmen sympathetic to Russia of inciting protests against it.

Last month, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a consortium of investigative reporters, cited the Republic of Macedonia’s Interior Ministry documents as saying that Greek-Russian billionaire Ivan Savvidis paid 300,000 euros to opponents of the accord. A representative for Savvidis denied the claim.
‘Enemies of Russia’

The former Yugoslav republic “will be in NATO,” said Frants Klintsevich, a member of the defense and security committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament. Moscow views the expansion of the alliance as reinforcing “the circle of enemies around Russia,” he said.

The tensions follow accusations by Montenegro that Russia was behind a failed coup attempt during 2016 parliamentary elections in a bid to derail its entry into the U.S.-led military alliance last year. Two Russian intelligence officers are among 14 people charged with the plot by Montenegrin prosecutors. Russia denies any involvement.

Konstantin Malofeev, a wealthy Russian businessman and Putin ally, who’s been sanctioned by the EU for backing insurgents in eastern Ukraine and has cultivated links to far-right parties in Europe, warned ominously of a backlash in Greece. A June opinion poll in Greece showed almost 70 percent of Greeks opposed the agreement with the Republic of Macedonia.
Serbia Shift

Russia’s sometimes heavy-handed efforts to stem the West’s growing influence have provoked alarm, particularly after the 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine. Moscow’s fear is that it may be left without partners in the region.

Albania and Croatia are NATO members, while Bosnia and Herzegovina says it wants to join, though Bosnian Serbs with ties to Russia threaten to block any attempt. Even Russia’s closest regional ally, Serbia, has joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace cooperation program. Meanwhile, the EU has dangled the prospect of membership as early as 2025 for Serbia and five other Balkans states.

Ranged against Russia are the US and its European allies.

US Vice President Mike Pence spoke by phone to Tsipras and Zaev on July 5. He later tweeted that “successful implementation’’ of the agreement “will open the door to European integration’’ for the Republic of Macedonia. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said July 30 that it’s in the EU’s “strategic interest” to expand into the western Balkans.

“It will be a very big blow” for Russia if Serbia, which NATO forces bombed in 1999 during the Kosovo crisis, eventually joins the alliance, said Nikita Bondarev, a Balkans expert from the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, which advises the Kremlin. “We will become almost friendless in southeastern Europe.”

(Bloomberg)

U.S.-Turkey Relations Will Never Be the Same

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

U.S.-Turkey Relations Will Never Be the Same

Escalating tensions might simmer down, but we’re past the point of pretending these two governments’ values are compatible.

Hope you sold all your lira before this week.

Photographer: Chris McGrath/Getty Images

There are only two ways that the diplomatic rift between the U.S. and Turkey can end: a compromise that salvages the relationship as best possible, or a complete rupture with devastating consequences both for Turkey’s economy and America’s regional strategic interests. Either way, there is no going back to the way things were.

The arrest in Turkey of American pastor Andrew Brunson nearly two years ago has led to a diplomatic spat that threatens a full-blown economic meltdown in Turkey. Brunson, along with many foreign nationals that were detained in the wake of the failed 2016 coup attempt, has been accused of “supporting terrorism.” A deal for Brunson’s release seemed likely as Turkish officials traveled to Washington this week, but fell apart apparently over last-minute Turkish demands.

Meanwhile, tensions have ratcheted up. The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s interior and justice ministers. Erdogan threatened retaliation and got the support of most of the Turkish opposition. On Wednesday, Stars and Stripes reported that a group of pro-government lawyers in Turkey have filed charges against several U.S. officers at the Incirlik Air Base, accusing them too of ties to terrorist groups. They are demanding all flights leaving the base be temporarily suspended and a search warrant be executed.

The standoff is partly the accumulation of years of resentment, despite the pretenses of a faithful partnership. Turkey’s once-unassailable support among U.S. foreign policy leaders, and in Congress, has been weakened by years of authoritarian creep, a worsening human rights record and cooperation with Russia and Iran in Syria. Turkey’s plans for a $2 billion purchase of Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missiles, which NATO has said are incompatible with allied systems and restrictions on American use of the Incirlik Air Base, haven’t gone down well.

The feeling is mutual. Erdogan has never quite recovered from his anger at the way his allies seemed to sit on the fence in the hours after an attempted coup was announced in July 2016.

The Turkish leader is also furious at American support for the Kurdish militia fighting Islamic State in northern Syria. Earlier this year, he threatened American troops with an “Ottoman slap” if the U.S. tried to block Turkey’s military incursion into northwest Syria.

One major source of contention has been the U.S. refusal to turn over the Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a one-time Erdogan ally and now an enemy, whom Erdogan alleges was behind the coup and other attempts to undermine him. Trump’s abandonment of the Iran nuclear deal is another sore point; nearly half of Turkey’s oil imports come from Iran, and the re-imposition of sanctions against Iran hurts Turkey’s economy.

The Brunson case made all of that impossible to ignore, as U.S. evangelicals took up the cause.

But “impossible to ignore” is not to say that the Trump administration has become a principled defender of human rights in Turkey. Far from it. Trump, whose name adorns luxury properties in Turkey, expressed only praise for Erdogan when they met in 2017. When Erdogan’s supporters and guards attacked protesters in Washington, the affair was handled quietly.

The administration has been silent on other arrests of U.S. and foreign nationals in Turkey. But it was ready to strike a deal for Brunson’s release. The U.S. had already asked Israel to release Ebru Ozkan, a Turkish national who was arrested there on suspicion of aiding Hamas (Israel deported herthe day after Trump called Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu). The Trump administration was also reportedly ready to allow Hakan Atilla, a former top executive of state-owned Halkbank, convicted for violating Iran sanctions, to serve out the rest of his prison sentence in Turkey. The deal was scuppered, reportedly, when Turkey wanted relief on a multibillion-dollar fine against Halkbank and an assurance that any investigations be dropped.

The U.S. can afford to play a longer game. The June 24 election may have strengthened Erdogan’s power further, but he didn’t win by a Putin-sized margin. (Erdogan cleared just over 52 percent, and that’s if we all agree to ignore the voting irregularities that presumably bolstered his numbers.) Turkey is divided politically, and the longer Erdogan rules by coercion, the more vulnerable he may become, especially if Turkey’s economy continues to suffer. As the main barometer of confidence in the country, the lira’s decline speaks volumes.

Even so, a diplomatic solution is clearly preferable to continued escalation. Erdogan is sacrificing the Turkish economy in order to keep Brunson as a bargaining chit. A fractured relationship with the U.S. will also put a strain on Turkey’s EU relationships and will give investors, already spooked, even more pause.

American support for Turkey doesn’t crumble in a day. The relationship is baked into ties on multiple levels, both inside and outside government, and for good reason. As Asli Aydintasbas and Kemal Kirisci argue in an April 2017 Brookings paper, however bad it looks, Turkey is crucial:

Without Turkey, it is difficult to see how a rule-based U.S.-led world order could be sustained in this region, and how a successful policy on containing chaos in the Middle East could be envisioned. Similarly, there are arguably no Muslim-majority nations apart from Turkey that can serve as a bridge with the Western world or achieve the democratic standards, to which Turks have grown accustomed and, inadvertently or not, still expect.

And yet, it has definitely changed, thanks not so much to national interests, but to failings in leadership. The U.S. will have to settle for something less loyal, less an alliance and more a transactional relationship. But then that seems to define these times pretty aptly.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Therese Raphael at [email protected]

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Philip Gray at [email protected]

Montenegro: Truth, Knowledge, History Of This S.E. European Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

(THIS IS THE NATION THAT DONALD TRUMP IN ALL HIS GREAT WISDOM SAID COULD START WORLD WAR 3 BECAUSE OF THEIR MEMBERSHIP IN NATO. IF YOU WANT TO HEAR THE FULL SPEECH OF THIS IDIOT JUST GOOGLE ‘TRUMP AND MONTENEGRO’)

Montenegro

Introduction The use of the name Montenegro began in the 15th century when the Crnojevic dynasty began to rule the Serbian principality of Zeta; over subsequent centuries Montenegro was able to maintain its independence from the Ottoman Empire. From the 16th to 19th centuries, Montenegro became a theocracy ruled by a series of bishop princes; in 1852, it was transformed into a secular principality. After World War I, Montenegro was absorbed by the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which became the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929; at the conclusion of World War II, it became a constituent republic of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. When the latter dissolved in 1992, Montenegro federated with Serbia, first as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and, after 2003, in a looser union of Serbia and Montenegro. In May 2006, Montenegro invoked its right under the Constitutional Charter of Serbia and Montenegro to hold a referendum on independence from the state union. The vote for severing ties with Serbia exceeded 55% – the threshold set by the EU – allowing Montenegro to formally declare its independence on 3 June 2006.
History The first recorded settlers of present-day Montenegro were Illyrians, the Docleata. In 9 AD the Romans conquered the region of present-day Montenegro. Slavs massively colonized the area in the 5th and 6th centuries, forming a semi-independent principality, Doclea, that was involved in Balkan medieval politics with ties to Rascia and Byzantium and to a lesser extent Bulgaria, becoming a monarchy in 1077. By the end of the 12th century, fully incorporated into a unified Serbian realm, the Serbian land, then called Zeta, was governed by Nemanjics. After the Serbian Empire collapsed in the second half of the 14th century, another family came to prominence by expanding their power in the region, the Balšićs. In 1421 it was annexed to the Serbian Despotate, but after 1455 another Serbian noble family, the Crnojevićs, ruled the Principality of Montenegro that until the end of the 15th century became the last free monarchy of the Balkans, finally falling to the Ottomans in 1499, who annexed it to the sanjak of Skadar. For a short time Montenegro existed as a separate autonomous sanjak in 1514&ndahsh;1528, another version of which existed again some time between 1597 and 1614.

In the 16th century Montenegro developed a form of special and unique autonomy within the Ottoman Empire; the local Serb clans were free of many bonds. Nevertheless the Montenegrins refused to accept Ottoman reign and in the 17th century raised numerous rebellions, culminating with the Ottoman defeat in the Great Turkish War at the end of that century. Montenegro became a theocracy led by the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitans, flourishing since the Petrović-Njegoš became the traditional Prince-Bishops. The Venetian Republic introduced governors that meddled in Montenegrin politics; when the republic was succeeded by the Austrian Empire in 1797, the governors were abolished by Prince-Bishop Petar II in 1832. His predecessor Petar I contributed to the unification of Montenegro with Serb clans of the highlands.

Kingdom of Montenegro

Under Nicholas I, the Principality of Montenegro vastly advanced and enlarged several times in the Serbo-Turkish Wars and achieved recognition of independence in 1878. Modernization of the state followed, culminating with the draft of a Constitution in 1905. Political rifts for the first time emerged between the reigning People’s Party that supported democratization of the ruler’s autocratic regime and unconditional union with Serbia and the minor pro-monarch True People’s Party. In 1910 Montenegro became a Kingdom. It initiated the Balkan wars in 1912 and 1913 in which the Ottomans lost all lands in the Balkans, achieving a common border with Serbia, but the Skadar was awarded to a newly created Albania. In World War I in 1914 Montenegro sided with Serbia against the Central Powers, suffering a full scale defeat to Austria-Hungary in early 1916. In 1918 the Serbian Army liberated Montenegro, which elected a union with the Kingdom of Serbia.

In 1922 Montenegro formally became the Zeta Area of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, and in 1929 it became a part of a larger Zeta Banate of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In World War II Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis forces in 1941, who established a fascist puppet Independent State of Montenegro, liberated by the Yugoslav Partisans in 1944. Montenegro became a constituent republic of the communist Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), its capital renamed to Titograd in honor of Partisan leader and SFRY president Josip “Tito” Broz. More and more autonomy was established, until the Socialist Republic of Montenegro ratified a new constitution 1974 (however, this RFM remained a constituent republic of the SFRY).

After the dissolution of the SFRY in 1992, Montenegro remained part of a smaller Federal Republic of Yugoslavia along with Serbia.

In the referendum on remaining in Yugoslavia in 1992, 95.96% of the votes were cast for remaining in the federation with Serbia, although the turnout was at 66% because of a boycott by the Muslim, Albanian and Catholic minorities as well as the pro-independence Montenegrins. The opposition claimed that the poll was organised under anti-democratic conditions, during wartime in the former Yugoslavia, with widespread propaganda from the state-controlled media in favour of a pro-federation vote. There is no impartial report on the fairness of the referendum, as the 1992 referendum was totally unmonitored, unlike the 2006 vote, which has been closely monitored by the European Union.

During the 1991–1995 Bosnian War and Croatian War, Montenegro participated with its police and paramilitary forces in the attacks on Dubrovnik and Bosnian towns along with Serbian troops. It conducted persecutions against Bosnian refugees who were arrested by Montenegrin police and transported to Serb camps in Foča, where they were executed.

In 1996, Milo Đukanović’s de facto government severed ties between Montenegro and Serbia, which was then still under Milošević. Montenegro formed its own economic policy and adopted the German Deutsche Mark as its currency. It has since adopted the Euro, though it is not formally part of the Eurozone currency union. Subsequent governments of Montenegro carried out pro-independence policies, originally restored by the Liberal Alliance of Montenegro, and political tensions with Serbia simmered despite the political changes in Belgrade. Despite its pro-independence leanings, targets in Montenegro were repeatedly bombed by NATO forces during Operation Allied Force in 1999.[9]

In 2002, Serbia and Montenegro came to a new agreement regarding continued cooperation and entered into negotiations regarding the future status of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 2003, the Yugoslav federation was replaced in favor of a looser state union named Serbia and Montenegro and a possible referendum on Montenegrin independence was postponed for a minimum of three years.

21st century independence

The status of the union between Montenegro and Serbia was decided by the referendum on Montenegrin independence on May 21, 2006. A total of 419,240 votes were cast, representing 86.5% of the total electorate. 230,661 votes or 55.5% were for independence and 185,002 votes or 44.5% were against.[10] The 45,659 difference narrowly surpassed the 55% threshold needed to validate the referendum under the rules set by the European Union. According to the electoral commission, the 55% threshold was passed by only 2,300 votes. Serbia, the member-states of the European Union, and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council have all recognized Montenegro’s independence; by doing so they removed all remaining obstacles from Montenegro’s path towards becoming the world’s newest sovereign state.

The 2006 referendum was monitored by five international observer missions, headed by an OSCE/ODIHR monitoring team, and around 3,000 observers in total (including domestic observers from CEMI, CEDEM and other organizations). The OSCE/ODIHR ROM[clarify] joined efforts with the observers of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (CLRAE) and the European Parliament (EP) to form an International Referendum Observation Mission (IROM). The IROM—in its preliminary report—”assessed compliance of the referendum process with OSCE commitments, Council of Europe commitments, other international standards for democratic electoral processes, and domestic legislation.” Furthermore, the report assessed that the competitive pre-referendum environment was marked by an active and generally peaceful campaign and that “there were no reports of restrictions on fundamental civil and political rights.”

On June 3, 2006, the Parliament of Montenegro declared the independence of Montenegro, formally confirming the result of the referendum on independence. Serbia did not obstruct the ruling, confirming its own independence and declaring the Union of Serbia and Montenegro ended shortly thereafter.

On September 6, 2007 an advisor of the Prime Minister of Serbia called Montenegro a ‘quasi-state’. Montenegro gave a protest list to the Serbian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Božidar Đelić, has apologised for this.

Geography Location: Southeastern Europe, between the Adriatic Sea and Serbia
Geographic coordinates: 42 30 N, 19 18 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 14,026 sq km
land: 13,812 sq km
water: 214 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Connecticut
Land boundaries: total: 625 km
border countries: Albania 172 km, Bosnia and Herzegovina 225 km, Croatia 25 km, Kosovo 79 km, Serbia 124 km
Coastline: 293.5 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: defined by treaty
Climate: Mediterranean climate, hot dry summers and autumns and relatively cold winters with heavy snowfalls inland
Terrain: highly indented coastline with narrow coastal plain backed by rugged high limestone mountains and plateaus
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Adriatic Sea 0 m
highest point: Bobotov Kuk 2,522 m
Natural resources: bauxite, hydroelectricity
Land use: arable land: 13.7%
permanent crops: 1%
other: 85.3%
Irrigated land: NA
Natural hazards: destructive earthquakes
Environment – current issues: pollution of coastal waters from sewage outlets, especially in tourist-related areas such as Kotor
Environment – international agreements: party to: Climate Change, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ship Pollution
Geography – note: strategic location along the Adriatic coast
Politics Montenegro is defined as a “Civic, democratic, ecological and state of social justice, based on the reign of Law”. It is an independent and sovereign Republic. It proclaimed its new Constitution on 22 October 2007.

Government

The current Government of the Republic of Montenegro (Vlada Republike Crne Gore) is composed of the prime minister, the deputy prime ministers as well as ministers. Milo Đukanović is the Prime Minister of Montenegro and head of the Government. The ruling party in Montenegro ever since multiparliamentarism is the controversial centre-left Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro (DPS) (Demokratska Partija Socijalista Crna Gore), in coalition with the much smaller center-right Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDP) (Socijaldemokratska Partija Crne Gore).

President

The President of Montenegro is elected for a period of five years through direct elections. According to the constitution, the President will represent the republic in the country and abroad, promulgate laws by ordinance, call elections for the Parliament, propose candidates for the Prime Minister, president and justices of the Constitutional Court to the Parliament, propose to the Parliament calling of a referendum, grant amnesty for criminal offences prescribed by the national law, confer decoration and awards, and perform all other duties in accordance with the Constitution. The President shall also be a member of the Supreme Defence Council.

Parliament

The Montenegrin Parliament (Skupština Republike Crne Gore) passes all laws in Montenegro, ratifies international treaties, appoints the Prime Minister, ministers, and justices of all courts, adopts the budget and performs other duties as established by the Constitution. The Parliament can pass a vote of no-confidence on the Government by a majority of the members. One representative is elected per 6,000 voters, which in turn results in a reduction of total number of representatives in the Parliament of Montenegro. The current president of the Parliament is Ranko Krivokapić.

The present Parliament convening 81 seats instead of previous number of 75 (parliamentary elections were on 10 September 2006 and were the first after the proclamation of independence. The constituent Parliament session took place on 2 October 2006).

People Population: 678,177 (July 2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.925% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 11.17 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 8.51 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea and hepatitis A
vectorborne disease: Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever (2008)
Nationality: noun: Montenegrin(s)
adjective: Montenegrin
Ethnic groups: Montenegrin 43%, Serbian 32%, Bosniak 8%, Albanian 5%, other (Muslims, Croats, Roma (Gypsy)) 12%
Religions: Orthodox, Muslim, Roman Catholic
Languages: Montenegrin (official), Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian, Croatian

Romania: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of This Great People

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Romania

Introduction The principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia – for centuries under the suzerainty of the Turkish Ottoman Empire – secured their autonomy in 1856; they united in 1859 and a few years later adopted the new name of Romania. The country gained recognition of its independence in 1878. It joined the Allied Powers in World War I and acquired new territories – most notably Transylvania – following the conflict. In 1940, Romania allied with the Axis powers and participated in the 1941 German invasion of the USSR. Three years later, overrun by the Soviets, Romania signed an armistice. The post-war Soviet occupation led to the formation of a Communist “people’s republic” in 1947 and the abdication of the king. The decades-long rule of dictator Nicolae CEAUSESCU, who took power in 1965, and his Securitate police state became increasingly oppressive and draconian through the 1980s. CEAUSESCU was overthrown and executed in late 1989. Former Communists dominated the government until 1996 when they were swept from power. Romania joined NATO in 2004 and the EU in 2007.
History Prehistory and Antiquity

The oldest modern human remains in Europe were discovered in the “Cave With Bones” in present day Romania.[15] The remains are approximately 42,000 years old and as Europe’s oldest remains of Homo sapiens, they may represent the first such people to have entered the continent.[16] But the earliest written evidence of people living in the territory of the present-day Romania comes from Herodotus in book IV of his Histories (Herodotus) written 440 BCE, where he writes about the Getae tribes.

The province of Roman Dacia

Dacians, considered a part of these Getae, were a branch of Thracians that inhabited Dacia (corresponding to modern Romania, Moldova and northern Bulgaria). The Dacian kingdom reached its maximum expansion during King Burebista, around 82 BC, and soon came under the scrutiny of the neighboring Roman Empire. After an attack by the Dacians on the Roman province of Moesia in 87 AD, the Romans led a series of wars (Dacian Wars) which eventually led to the victory of Emperor Trajan in 106 AD, and transformed the core of the kingdom into the province of Roman Dacia.

Rich ore deposits were found in the province, and especially gold and silver were plentiful. which led to Rome heavily colonizing the province.[20] This brought the Vulgar Latin and started a period of intense romanization, that would give birth to the proto-Romanian. Nevertheless, in the 3rd century AD, with the invasions of migratory populations such as Goths, the Roman Empire was forced to pull out of Dacia around 271 AD, thus making it the first province to be abandoned.

Several competing theories have been generated to explain the origin of modern Romanians. Linguistic and geo-historical analysis tend to indicate that Romanians have coalesced as a major ethnic group both South and North of the Danube.[25] For further discussion, see Origin of Romanians.

Middle Ages

After the Roman army and administration left Dacia, the territory was invaded by the Goths, then, in the 4th century by Huns. They were followed by more nomads including Gepids, Avars, Bulgars, Pechenegs,and Cumans.

Bran Castle was built in 1212, and became commonly known as Dracula’s Castle after the myths that it the home of Vlad III Dracula.

In the Middle Ages, Romanians lived in three distinct principalities: Wallachia (Romanian: Ţara Românească—”Romanian Land”), Moldavia (Romanian: Moldova) and Transylvania. By the 11th century, Transylvania became a largely autonomous part of the Kingdom of Hungary,[33] and became the independent as Principality of Transylvania from the 16th century,[34] until 1711.[35] In the other Romanian principalities, many small local states with varying degrees of independence developed, but only in the 14th century the larger principalities Wallachia (1310) and Moldavia (around 1352) emerged to fight a threat of the Ottoman Empire.[36][37]

By 1541, the entire Balkan peninsula and most of Hungary became Ottoman provinces. In contrast, Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, came under Ottoman suzerainty, but conserved fully internal autonomy and, until the 18th century, some external independence. During this period the Romanian lands were characterised by the slow disappearance of the feudal system; the distinguishment of some rulers like Stephen the Great, Vasile Lupu, and Dimitrie Cantemir in Moldavia, Matei Basarab, Vlad III the Impaler, and Constantin Brâncoveanu in Wallachia, Gabriel Bethlen in Transylvania; the Phanariot Epoch; and the appearance of the Russian Empire as a political and military influence.

In 1600, the principalities of Wallachia, Moldova and Transylvania were simultaneously headed by the Wallachian prince Michael the Brave (Mihai Viteazul), Ban of Oltenia, but the chance for a unity dissolved after Mihai was killed, only one year later, by the soldiers of an Austrian army general Giorgio Basta. Mihai Viteazul, who was prince of Transylvania for less than one year, intended for the first time to unite the three principalities and to lay down foundations of a single state in a territory comparable to today’s Romania.[38]

After his death, as vassal tributary states, Moldova and Wallachia had complete internal autonomy and an external independence, which was finally lost in the 18th century. In 1699, Transylvania became a territory of the Habsburgs’ Austrian empire, following the Austrian victory over the Turks. The Austrians, in their turn, rapidly expanded their empire: in 1718 an important part of Wallachia, called Oltenia, was incorporated to the Austrian monarchy and was only returned in 1739. In 1775, the Austrian empire occupied the north-western part of Moldavia, later called Bukovina, while the eastern half of the principality (called Bessarabia) was occupied in 1812 by Russia.

Independence and monarchy

During the period of Austro-Hungarian rule in Transylvania, and Ottoman suzerainty over Wallachia and Moldavia, most Romanians were in the situation of being second-class citizens (or even non-citizens)[39] in a territory where they formed the majority of the population.[40][41] In some Transylvanian cities, such as Braşov (at that time the Transylvanian Saxon citadel of Kronstadt), Romanians were not even allowed to reside within the city walls.[42]

After the failed 1848 Revolution, the Great Powers did not support the Romanians’ expressed desire to officially unite in a single state, forcing Romania to proceed alone against the Ottomans. The electors in both Moldavia and Wallachia chose in 1859 the same person–Alexandru Ioan Cuza – as prince (Domnitor in Romanian).[43] Thus, Romania was created as a personal union, albeit a Romania that did not include Transylvania. Here, the upper class and the aristocracy remained mainly Hungarian, and the Romanian nationalism inevitably ran up against Hungarian one in the late 19th century. As in the previous 900 years, Austria-Hungary, especially under the Dual Monarchy of 1867, kept the Hungarians firmly in control even in parts of Transylvania where Romanians constituted a local majority.

In a 1866 coup d’état, Cuza was exiled and replaced by Prince Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became known as Prince Carol of Romania. During the Russo-Turkish War Romania fought on the Russian side,[44] in and in the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Romania was recognized as an independent state by the Great Powers.[45][46] In return, Romania ceded three southern districts of Bessarabia to Russia and acquired Dobruja. In 1881, the principality was raised to a kingdom and Prince Carol became King Carol I.

The 1878-1914 period was one of stability and progress for Romania. During the Second Balkan War, Romania joined Greece, Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey against Bulgaria, and in the peace Treaty of Bucharest (1913) Romania gained Southern Dobrudja.[47]

World Wars and Greater Romania
(1916-1947)

In August 1914, when World War I broke out, Romania declared neutrality. Two years later, under the pressure of Allies (especially France desperate to open a new front), on August 14/27 1916 it joined the Allies, for which they were promised support for the accomplishment of national unity, Romania declared war on Austria-Hungary.[48]

The Romanian military campaign ended in disaster for Romania as the Central Powers conquered two-thirds of the country and captured or killed the majority of its army within four months. Nevertheless, Moldova remained in Romanian hands after the invading forces were stopped in 1917 and since by the war’s end, Austria-Hungary and the Russian Empire had collapsed, Bessarabia, Bukovina and Transylvania were allowed to unite with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918. By the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, Hungary renounced in favour of Romania all the claims of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy over Transylvania.[49] The union of Romania with Bukovina was ratified in 1919 in the Treaty of Saint Germain,[50] and with Bessarabia in 1920 by the Treaty of Paris.

The Romanian expression România Mare (literal translation “Great Romania”, but more commonly rendered “Greater Romania”) generally refers to the Romanian state in the interwar period, and by extension, to the territory Romania covered at the time (see map). Romania achieved at that time its greatest territorial extent (almost 300,000 km2/120,000 sq mi[52]), managing to unite all the historic Romanian lands.

Romanian territory during the 20th century: purple indicates the Old Kingdom before 1913, orange indicates Greater Romania areas that joined or were annexed after the Second Balkan War and WWI but were lost after WWII, and pink indicates areas that joined Romania after WWI and remained so after WWII.

During the Second World War, Romania tried again to remain neutral, but on June 28, 1940, it received a Soviet ultimatum with an implied threat of invasion in the event of non-compliance.[53] Under pressure from Moscow and Berlin, the Romanian administration and the army were forced to retreat from Bessarabia as well from Northern Bukovina to avoid war.[54][55] This, in combination with other factors, prompted the government to join the Axis. Thereafter, southern Dobruja was awarded to Bulgaria, while Hungary received Northern Transylvania as result of an Axis arbitration.[56] The authoritarian King Carol II abdicated in 1940, succeeded by the National Legionary State, in which power was shared by Ion Antonescu and the Iron Guard. Within months, Antonescu had crushed the Iron Guard, and the subsequent year Romania entered the war on the side of the Axis powers. During the war, Romania was the most important source of oil for Nazi Germany,[57] which attracted multiple bombing raids by the Allies. By means of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, Romania recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina from the Soviet Russia, under the leadership of general Ion Antonescu. The Antonescu regime played a major role in the Holocaust,[58] following to a lesser extent the Nazi policy of oppression and massacre of the Jews, and Romas, primarily in the Eastern territories Romania recovered or occupied from the Soviet Union (Transnistria) and in Moldavia.[59]

In August 1944, Antonescu was toppled and arrested by King Michael I of Romania. Romania changed sides and joined the Allies, but its role in the defeat of Nazi Germany was not recognized by the Paris Peace Conference of 1947.[60] With the Red Army forces still stationed in the country and exerting de facto control, Communists and their allied parties claimed 80% of the vote, through a combination of vote manipulation,[61] elimination, and forced mergers of competing parties, thus establishing themselves as the dominant force. By the end of the war, the Romanian army had suffered about 300,000 casualties.

Communism
(1947–1989)

In 1947, King Michael I was forced by the Communists to abdicate and leave the country, Romania was proclaimed a republic, and remained under direct military and economic control of the USSR until the late 1950s. During this period, Romania’s resources were drained by the “SovRom” agreements: mixed Soviet-Romanian companies established to mask the looting of Romania by the Soviet Union.

After the negotiated retreat of Soviet troops in 1958, Romania, under the new leadership of Nicolae Ceauşescu, started to pursue independent policies such as: being the only Warsaw Pact country to condemn the Soviet-led 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, and to continue diplomatic relations with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967; establishing economic (1963) and diplomatic (1967) relations with the Federal Republic of Germany.[68] Also, close ties with the Arab countries (and the PLO) allowed Romania to play a key role in the Israel-Egypt and Israel-PLO peace processes.[69] But as Romania’s foreign debt sharply increased between 1977 and 1981 (from 3 to 10 billion US dollars),[70] the influence of international financial organisations such as the IMF or the World Bank grew, conflicting with Nicolae Ceauşescu’s autarchic policies. He eventually initiated a project of total reimbursement of the foreign debt by imposing policies that impoverished Romanians and exhausted the Romanian economy, while also greatly extending the authority police state, and imposing a cult of personality. These led to a dramatic decrease in Ceauşescu-popularity and culminated in his overthrow and execution in the bloody Romanian Revolution of 1989.

During the 1947–1962 period, many people were arbitrarily killed or imprisoned for political, economic or unknown reasons:[71] detainees in prisons or camps, deported, persons under house arrest, and administrative detainees. There were hundreds of thousands of abuses, deaths and incidents of torture against a large range of people, from political opponents to ordinary citizens.[72] Between 60,000 and 80,000 political prisoners were detained as psychiatric patients and treated in some of the most sadistic ways by doctors. It is estimated that, it total, two million people were direct victims of the communism repression.

Present-day democracy

After the revolution, the National Salvation Front, led by Ion Iliescu, took partial multi-party democratic and free market measures.[77][78] Several major political parties of the pre-war era, such as the Christian-Democratic National Peasants’ Party, the National Liberal Party and the Romanian Social Democrat Party were resurrected. After several major political rallies, in April 1990, a sit-in protest contesting the results of the recently held parliamentary elections began in University Square, Bucharest accusing the Front of being made up of former Communists and members of the Securitate. The protesters did not recognize the results of the election, deeming them undemocratic, and asked for the exclusion from the political life of the former high-ranking Communist Party members. The protest rapidly grew to become an ongoing mass demonstration (known as the Golaniad). The peaceful demonstrations degenerated into violence, and the violent intervention of coal miners from the Jiu Valleyled to what is remembered as the June 1990 Mineriad.

The subsequent disintegration of the Front produced several political parties including the Romanian Democrat Social Party (later Social Democratic Party), the Democratic Party and the (Alliance for Romania). The first governed Romania from 1990 until 1996 through several coalitions and governments and with Ion Iliescu as head of state. Since then there have been three democratic changes of government: in 1996, the democratic-liberal opposition and its leader Emil Constantinescu acceded to power; in 2000 the Social Democrats returned to power, with Iliescu once again president; and in 2004 Traian Băsescu was elected president, with an electoral coalition called Justice and Truth Alliance. The government was formed by a larger coalition which also includes the Conservative Party and the ethnic Hungarian party.

Post-Cold War Romania developed closer ties with Western Europe, eventually joining NATO in 2004, and hosting in Bucharest the 2008 summit.[80] The country applied in June 1993 for membership in the European Union and became an Associated State of the EU in 1995, an Acceding Country in 2004, and a member on January 1, 2007.

Following the free travel agreement and politic of the post-Cold War period, as well as hardship of the life in the post 1990s economic depression, Romania has an increasingly large diaspora, estimated at over 2 million people. The main emigration targets are Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Canada and the USA.

Geography Location: Southeastern Europe, bordering the Black Sea, between Bulgaria and Ukraine
Geographic coordinates: 46 00 N, 25 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 237,500 sq km
land: 230,340 sq km
water: 7,160 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Oregon
Land boundaries: total: 2,508 km
border countries: Bulgaria 608 km, Hungary 443 km, Moldova 450 km, Serbia 476 km, Ukraine (north) 362 km, Ukraine (east) 169 km
Coastline: 225 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow and fog; sunny summers with frequent showers and thunderstorms
Terrain: central Transylvanian Basin is separated from the Plain of Moldavia on the east by the Carpathian Mountains and separated from the Walachian Plain on the south by the Transylvanian Alps
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Black Sea 0 m
highest point: Moldoveanu 2,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum (reserves declining), timber, natural gas, coal, iron ore, salt, arable land, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 39.49%
permanent crops: 1.92%
other: 58.59% (2005)
Irrigated land: 30,770 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 42.3 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 6.5 cu km/yr (9%/34%/57%)
per capita: 299 cu m/yr (2003)
Natural hazards: earthquakes, most severe in south and southwest; geologic structure and climate promote landslides
Environment – current issues: soil erosion and degradation; water pollution; air pollution in south from industrial effluents; contamination of Danube delta wetlands
Environment – international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: controls most easily traversable land route between the Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine
Politics The Constitution of Romania is based on the Constitution of France’s Fifth Republic[131] and was approved in a national referendum on December 8, 1991.[131] A plebiscite held in October 2003 approved 79 amendments to the Constitution, bringing it into conformity with the European Union legislation.[131] Romania is governed on the basis of multi-party democratic system and of the segregation of the legal, executive and judicial powers.[131] The Constitution states that Romania is a semi-presidential democratic republic where executive functions are shared between the president and the prime minister. The President is elected by popular vote for maximum two terms, and since the amendments in 2003, the terms are five years.[131] The President appoints the Prime Minister, who in turn appoints the Council of Ministers.[131] While the president resides at Cotroceni Palace, the Prime Minister with the Romanian Government is based at Victoria Palace.

The legislative branch of the government, collectively known as the Parliament (Parlamentul României), consists of two chambers – the Senate (Senat), which has 140 members, and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera Deputaţilor), which has 346 members.[131] The members of both chambers are elected every four years under a system of party-list proportional representation.

The justice system is independent of the other branches of government, and is made up of a hierarchical system of courts culminating in the High Court of Cassation and Justice, which is the supreme court of Romania. There are also courts of appeal, county courts and local courts. The Romanian judicial system is strongly influenced by the French model, considering that it is based on civil law and is inquisitorial in nature. The Constitutional Court (Curtea Constituţională) is responsible for judging the compliance of laws and other state regulations to the Romanian Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the country. The constitution, which was introduced in 1991, can only be amended by a public referendum, the last one being in 2003. Since this amendment, the court’s decisions cannot be overruled by any majority of the parliament.

The country’s entry into the European Union in 2007 has been a significant influence on its domestic policy. As part of the process, Romania has instituted reforms including judicial reform, increased judicial cooperation with other member states, and measures to combat corruption. Nevertheless, in 2006 Brussels report, Romania and Bulgaria were described as the two most corrupt countries in the EU.

People Population: 22,246,862 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 15.6% (male 1,778,864/female 1,687,659)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 7,718,125/female 7,791,102)
65 years and over: 14.7% (male 1,337,915/female 1,933,197) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 37.3 years
male: 35.9 years
female: 38.7 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: -0.136% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 10.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 11.84 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.13 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 23.73 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.81 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.18 years
male: 68.69 years
female: 75.89 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.38 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 6,500 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 350 (2001 est.)
Nationality: noun: Romanian(s)
adjective: Romanian
Ethnic groups: Romanian 89.5%, Hungarian 6.6%, Roma 2.5%, Ukrainian 0.3%, German 0.3%, Russian 0.2%, Turkish 0.2%, other 0.4% (2002 census)
Religions: Eastern Orthodox (including all sub-denominations) 86.8%, Protestant (various denominations including Reformate and Pentecostal) 7.5%, Roman Catholic 4.7%, other (mostly Muslim) and unspecified 0.9%, none 0.1% (2002 census)
Languages: Romanian 91% (official), Hungarian 6.7%, Romany (Gypsy) 1.1%, other 1.2%
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.3%
male: 98.4%
female: 96.3% (2002 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 3.5% of GDP (2005)