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The Evolutionary Perspective
Daily Archives: June 4, 2020
Posted: June 4, 2020 at 12:48 am
The stock market is a litmus test paper, whichreflects the state of the world economy. Wars and catastrophes, epidemics, andpolitical crises there are many unpredictable events that can suddenly turnthe bull market into a bear market. COVID-19 pandemic is the latest one: sinceFebruary 20th, it has caused the fall of the S&P 500 index byalmost 30%.
However, thats not the only event like that. Letstake a retrospective look at the biggest stock market collapses in history.
1.Cuban missile crisis
Collapse date: October 16, 1962
Recession Period: 12days
After the end of World War II, the USA and the USSRstarted the arms race (which was the part of the Cold War). Meanwhile, therevolutionary government of Fidel Castro came to power on Cuba in 1959 andstarted introducing socialistic reforms. The Soviet Union supported the reformsand offered its help to the Cuban people. The very fact of cooperation betweenCuba and the Soviet Union caused serious concern in the United States.
In 1961, the Americans created a military base inTurkey and deployed missiles with nuclear warheads in close proximity to theUSSR. Nikita Khrushchev understood the consequences of such a missile strike onthe USSR, so the Soviet authorities decided to deploy nuclear missiles in Cubain response. They transferred 40 nuclear missiles and the necessary equipmentto Cuba by October 14, 1962. That caused the escalation of the conflict.
The stock market was affected by the crisis: the S&P500 index fell by 7% but managed to recover pretty quickly. Some experts saythat this crisis never happened; to be precise, it did not affect the stockmarket. The index flattened, and it was not as dreadful as the 27% drop of theindex in June 1962.
2.Arab-Israeli war and the oil embargo
Collapse date:October 29, 1973
Recession Period: 27days
On October 6, 1973, an 18-day military conflict brokeout between the coalition of Arab countries and Israel, which was calledDoomsday. In the conditions of the Cold War, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordanwere supported by the armed forces of the USSR, while Israel and Europe gothelp from the United States.
On October 17, Arab countries announced that OPEC washalting oil supplies to the United States, Japan, Europe (Great Britain,France, and Holland). The market reacted instantly: the price of oil over thenext 12 months increased four times - from $ 3 to $ 12.
In North America and European countries, industrialproduction is reduced by 48% - strikes begin. The jump in prices for gasolineand diesel fuel, the refusal of citizens from cars, the reduction in the numberof flights by almost two times affected the state of the stock markets. The capitalization of the New York StockExchange decreased by 45% while the London Stock Exchange Index fell by 73%.
The peak fall in stock indices occurred on October 29,1973. The decline in the S&P 500 lasted 27 days and amounted to 17.1%. Thereturn of the UK stock market to the pre-crisis level occurred in 1987, whilethe United States managed to finally overcome the consequences of the crisisonly in 1993.
3.Iran hostage crisis
Collapse date:October 5, 1979
Recession Period: 24days
Prerequisites for the next stock market crash began totake shape at the beginning of 1979. In January, the Islamic Revolution tookplace in Iran. Power in the country was captured by radical Shiites led byAyatollah Khomeini. The new government has reduced oil production: now, thecountry began to provide only its own needs, although, before the change ofgovernment, it provided 5% of the global supply of oil.
Relations with the United States were strained: ontheir territory, under the pretext of treatment, the former shah had takenrefuge with leukemia. As a result, on November 4, 1979, a crowd of studentsseized the US Embassy in Tehran and took 66 people hostage demanding theextradition of the fugitive ruler to his homeland. Later, 14 people werereleased, and the rest were imprisoned for 444 days.
US President Jim Carters responsive measures werestrict. He blocked Iranian assets stored in US banks and introduced a ban onthe import of Iranian oil. Economic sanctions did not solve the hostageproblem, and the Eagle Claw military operation was a failure.
Soon after, the second oil shock started: negativeexpectations regarding oil supplies led to an increase in oil prices from 1214to $ 3645 per barrel. The stock market immediately responded to the crisis inthe national economy: the S&P 500 index fell 10.2% in 24 days. The first signsof the transition to the bull market appeared only in 51 days, but the economyrecovered successfully.
Collapse date:October 13, 1987
Since 1982, the US stock market has maintained abullish position. Growth began to slow by 1986. The inflation rate declined,and experts unanimously reiterated that a new economic "boom" wascoming. Exchange trading intensified: from January 1985 to October 1987, andthe Dow Jones index grew twofold.
An unprecedented collapse began on October 13, 1987:the New York Stock Exchange Index fell by 22.6%. The peak of the recessionoccurred on October 19. The causes of the collapse included:
The market was overestimated by experts, and thepsychology of investors played a cruel joke - the active growth of the DowJones index forced them to sell assets in droves. The exchange could not stand theheat, and the recession began.
The crisis spread to the Hong Kong stock exchanges(index drop - 45.8%), Canada (22.5%), Australia (41.8%), Great Britain (26.4%).
The reaction of the S&P 500 pronounced into adecrease of 28.5% in just five days. The return period from the bear marketto the bull was 398 days.
5.The first Gulf War on January 1, 1991
Collapse Date:January 1, 1991
The military conflict between Iraq and Kuwait is knownnot only for the unprecedented use of aviation but also for its influence onworld stock trading. In 1988-1990, stock markets were growing steadily: indicesincreased over two years by an average of 50%. Oil prices were stable and keptat $20 per barrel.
In July 1990, Iraq began to draw military units to theKuwait border. The Dow Jones and S&P 500 indices sag by 5-10%, and by theend of the year, the collapse rate reached 20%. The threat of war is becoming apparent the growth of oil prices is predictable.
The peak of the stock market fall occurred on January1, 1990: the S&P 500 then lost 5.7%. The recession lasted six days. Thegradual return of trading to its former positions began with the launch ofOperation Desert Storm on January 17. The conflict did not affect long-termstock market trends.
6.Terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001
Collapse date:September 11, 2001
On September 11, a group of 19 specially trainedterrorists from the al-Qaeda organization captured four passenger airliners inorder to carry out the most significant terrorist attack in the history of theplanet. During the operation, both buildings of the World Trade Center weredestroyed. Many office buildings in Manhattan were affected.
Due to a malfunction of telecommunication equipmentfrom September 11 to September 17, 2001, the following events happened:
The value of shares on the New York Stock Exchangelost $ 1.2 trillion. Under these conditions, the S&P 500 decreased by 11.6%from September 11 to September 17. The bull market was returned in 8 days.
7.Atypical pneumonia (SARS) 2003
Collapse Date:January 14, 2003
Recession Period: 39days
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people often recall theSARS epidemic (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARS, SARS) that broke out in2002 and, in 2003, had a major impact on stock markets.
SARS virus was first detected in November 2002 in theChinese province of Guangdong. The epidemic has spread to 30 countries. Of the8,400 cases, 813 died.
The economic consequences of the epidemic were thefollowing:
The crisis, caused by a 5.8% reduction in worldproduction and a significant influence of China on the global economy, led to aslow collapse of US stock trading at the end of 2002. By mid-January, the DowJones Index fell 22.1%.
The S&P 500 recession lasted more than a month and,at its peak, reached 14.1%. The fall lasted 39 days, but the market managed toregain its previous positions only in March 2003.
8.Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy
Crash Date:September 15, 2008
Recession Period: ~180days
On September 5, 2008, Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largestinvestment bank in the United States, filed for bankruptcy. The collapse of oneof America's oldest financial institutions with 160 years of history, withoutexaggeration, produced the effect of an exploding bomb. In one day, the DowJones stock index crashed by 500 points - such a New York stock exchange hasnot experienced since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Lossescontinued until March 5, 2009, when the Dow closed at 6,594.44. That was a 53%drop from its peak of 14,164.53 on October 10, 2007. The S&P 500 closed at1,192.69, its lowest close in nearly three years. Within a few days, thefinancial crisis affected the markets of the United States, and soon after -the whole world.
On September 16, 2008, the American insurance companyAIG was on the verge of bankruptcy due to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, andthe US government spent $ 180 billion on the nationalization. On September 18,Lloyds (Britain) was forced to agree to a merge with the HBOS. On October 12,the new bank The Lloyds Group and at the same time Royal Bank of Scotland werenationalized. In October 2008, the US Treasury Department allocated $ 00billion to support the banking system and the automotive industry.
In spring 2009, the new administration of Barack Obamaallocated $787 billion to stimulate the economy, which went into a sharp peakafter the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Thanks to the active intervention ofthe monetary authorities of the United States, Europe, and Japan, theconsequences of the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers were able to compensate.
9.The global financial crisis or the Great Recession
Crash Date:October 10, 2008
Recession Period: 356days
The largest drop in stock markets in the history ofexchange trading is the Great Recession 2007-2009. The crisis pronounced in thefollowing events:
Among the causes of the crisis are financialderivatives - derivative securities, yield, which depends on the magnitude ofthe risk. Up to 40% of investments in the financial and construction sectorscame from them, which created an artificial bubble.
The financial crisis in the United States contaminatedother countries: the collapse affected the housing, financial, and commoditymarkets. In October 2008, the MSCI World index (developed economies) fell by32.2%, and the MSCI Emerging Markets index (developing economies) fell by40.5%.
On October 10, 2008, the collapse of the Dow JonesIndex in just a day was 6.6%. During the year of the crisis, the S&P 500decreased by 56.8%. For almost three years, the US stock market has beenoperating in a bearish mode.
10.Intervention in Libya in 2011
Crash Date:February 18, 2011
Recession Period: 18days
In 2011, NATO forces invaded Libyan territory underthe pretext of protecting civilians in a civil war. The war in theoil-producing region of the Middle East repeated the scenario of two wars inthe Persian Gulf. Oil prices rose from $ 99.7 to $ 120.9 per barrel, which wasdue to the complete paralysis of Libyan oil refineries and a reduction in blackgold production by eight times. US government spending on a military operationwas estimated at $600-800 million, and US corporation losses were more than $50 billion.
The fall in the markets was short-term and ended inMarch 2011 - even before the bombing of the country and the assassination ofGaddafi. In general terms, the recession of the S&P 500 index amounted to6.4% and lasted 18 days. A month later, the market returned to its previouspositions.
11.Voting for UK withdrawal from EU (Brexit)
Collapse Date: June8, 2016
Recession Period: 14days
In June 2016, 52% of the UK population expressed adesire to leave the European Union. Later, an agreement was signed that byDecember 31, 2020, Britain would withdraw its troops from the EU and cease toparticipate in its political processes. However, it will retain its place inthe Customs Union and within the framework of a single market.
The transition process of the country's exit in June2016 to the economic consequences manifested into several sequences. Over themonth, the pound sterling fell by 10% against the US dollar and by 7% againstthe Euro. In just one day (June 5), the London Stock Exchange Index (FTSE 100)fell 3%.
A few days later, the collapse reached the exchangetrading in the USA: the bear tendency started ruling the market, which resultedin a reduction of the S&P 500 by 5.6%. Nine days after, the exchange beganto rise.
12.COVID-19 the new danger
Collapse Date:February 19, 2020
Recession Period: 19days
The current situation with coronavirus pandemiccouldnt leave stock markets unaffected. The reduction of the S&P 500 indexby 29.5% took just 19 days. At the moment, the success of exchange trading isvolatile: on March 13, the indicator increased by 12% but lost 2-4% per dayafterward.
The reasons for the next financial crisis caused bythe COVID-19 pandemic are:
The global stock market crash started on February 19,2020. The Dow Jones, S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100 indices lose 2-3% over the next30 days for each daily session.
On BlackMonday, March 9th, all three indicators (Dow Jones, S&P 500 and NASDAQ-100)declined in just a day by more than 7%: this recession was recognized as themost disastrous since the 2007 crisis.
Didthe market hit the new lows?
The disastrous effects of the pandemic on the stockmarket are hard to overestimate. Heres what happened:
The dynamics of the VIX index showed that this timethe market participants were even more scared than in 2008. In mid-March, theVIX soared to its peak in 2008, and its quarterly growth by 289% was the mostsignificant since 1990 for which data are available.
Given the global adverse socio-economic impact ofCOVID-19, it is too early to talk about the revival of the bull market trends.For some economies, it will take months or even years to recover.
The current state of the stock market causes panicamong investors. Trading expert Warren Buffett recommends players to focus onthe long term profits: volatility is temporary, the bull trend will berestored, and patient investors will be rewarded. The above-mentioned storiesof crises prove that. For some, the fall of stock quotes for someone means ruinand collapse, while for others, it provides the opportunity to buy shares oflarge, profitable, and stable companies cheaply.
Follow this link:
Posted: at 12:48 am
THE HORIZON BY KAYODE KOMOLAFE
Experts and non-experts now freely talk of the takeaways in the discussion of the harsh lessons that the novel coronavirus is teaching humanity.As nations, private organisations and individuals grapple with the socio-economic consequences of the virus one of the obvious takeaways is that ultimately development is to be measured by the quality of the lives of all the human beings in any geo-political space.
You will notice if this takeaway is being ignored when you examine the priority being given to the worsening inequality in the land.Taking a global look at this big issue before humanity recently, Nobelist Amartya Sen observed as follows: In the policies against the present pandemic, equity has not been a particularly noticeable priority. This, of course is characteristically a weak point of capitalist economic management anywhere in the world. In making a case for the consideration of equity in the recovery efforts, the eminent Indian economist strikes the same chord as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its 2020 Human Development Perspectives.
In the report, a link is established between COVID-19 and human development like this: The pandemic was superimposed on unresolved tensions between people and technology, between people and the planet, between the haves and the have-nots. These tensions were already shaping a new generation of inequalitiespertaining to enhanced capabilities, the new necessities of the 21st century, as defined in the 2019 Human Development Report. But the response to the crisis can shape how those tensions are addressed and whether inequalities in human development are reduced.The approach adopted in the report is to assess the capability of poor people to be part of the development process. For instance, the report examines the ultimate impact of the current school closures on development of children from various backgrounds.
Nigeria is ranked 158th out of 189 countries surveyed in the 2019 Human Development Index.This ranking should not be a surprise to the government and the people alike. The indices of poverty and inequality are glaring enough in the socio-economic landscape.
This crisis has certainly brought to the fore the centrality of equity to human development.At least, one chilling fact thrown up by this crisis is that even when all the fundamental of the economy look fine in the eyes of the experts, the political economy remains vulnerable in the absence of policies that could bolster human development. Experts will measure progress in terms of growth rates, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), ratings, and what is happening at the stock exchange. On a more insensitive note, some would even interpret recovery to mean the restoration of the conspicuous consumption of the elite increasing the fleet of private jets and luxury cars, building more uninhabited mansions and importing more choice wines and spirits.
However, you cannot seriously talk of human development when millions of the population have no access to potable water and open defaecation is still a serious issue because elementary questions of sanitation are yet answered.
It is worrisome that the nation seems to be missing the takeaway from this crisis on a central question of development. There is the urgent need to rethink policy in respect of human development beyond tokenism. This point could be distilled into practical terms when you scrutinise the policy emphasis given to the social sector as huge contracts are awarded for landmark projects.
So, the point at issue here is the prioritisation of education and health, two major components of the social sector. It has to be so if ignorance and disease are to be fought squarely in the war against poverty and crippling underdevelopment. This is the greatest project any government can ever execute in the present of context of mass poverty and misery in Nigeria. For you cannot be talking of making progress in human development in a population that includes millions of illiterate and unhealthy people.
All the aspects of the problem of the social sector should, therefore, be given attention in the current recovery efforts. Funding the sector remains an ideologically controversial issue globally. The consequences of the budgetary neglect of universal healthcare are already on display even in the advanced capitalist countries.
In Nigeria, the coronavirus crisis is superimposed on the age-long crisis of the social sector, to borrow the word of UNDP. A meagre 0.3% of the countrys GDP is reportedly budgeted on health while some of the figures for education were said to be unavailable for the global survey.The coded message of the report is that funding is crucial to provide the sorely needed infrastructure and facilities for healthcare and education as the basis of development.
However, an aspect of the problem often ignored is the condition of the engine on which the healthcare and education systems operate. The systems cannot operate to ensure good delivery of service when the engine is increasingly threatened with knocking. Here are talking of the workforce school teachers, professors, doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technologists, scientists, auxiliary staff administrators etc. This system simply does not care enough for the well-being of the human beings whose duty it is to operate the system for human development. There is a tinge of irony in this situation, you would probably say.
Take the intangible first. The government and the society in general do not accord enough respect to those who labour day and night to keep the system running. This is a symptom of a perverted value system. The idea of success and relevance itself is highly upended. It is not just happenstance that the health and education professionals mentioned in the foregoing are among the greatest targets of brain drain. Countries elsewhere value the services of these workforce as gold to sustain their respective health and education systems. Here, their labour is viewed as iron that could rust. The conditions of service in the social sectorare utterly disabling.
In elementary moral terms, the very rude language of officialdom when addressing professionals who still sustain healthcare and education in Nigeria is simply unacceptable. The jobs of professors and doctors used to be viewed as exemplars of distinguished careers to inspire the youth. Not anymore! The definition of a lucrative career has since changed as the society itself gets disoriented.
If funding healthcare delivery and education is paradoxically controversial, the remuneration of the workforce in the sector is tragically treated with levity. Governors and ministers gleefully threaten the workforce in the social sector on television with mass sack. You wonder if these men wielding transient power ever remember that they were once treated by Nigerian doctors and taught by Nigerian professors.Sheer official braggadocio is what is unfortunately offered instead of workable policies to improve the skills of the workforce with decent remuneration so that the sector would be optimally and capably staffed.
Agreements reached with the unions and professional associations in the sector are routinely ignored by governments at all levels as they claim to be moving the nation forward. The other day, a member of the House of Representatives, Professor Julius Ihonvbere, commendably told his fellow lawmakers the truth about the lingering dispute between the federal government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU): the government treats agreements negotiated for years with contempt.
This official disposition has been at the root of the crisis bedevilling the Nigerian university for decades. The state capriciously jettisons meaningful engagements and opts for raw arrogance of power. Over a dozen ministers of education in successive administrations in the last 30 years have been talking down on university teachers. It has hardly occurred to the ministers, many of whom are products of Nigerian universities, that their imperial approach would not solve the problem. Yes, ASUU has committed a number of tactical errors in its legitimate strategic struggle to save the university education from total decay. The government and its policy advisers are also right in challenging ASUU and other stakeholders in the society to be creative in answering the knotty question: how can universities be adequately and sustainably funded? Yet, the official mantra that government cannot fund quality university education alone, is hardly an adequate response to the crisis. A government that can budget N37 billion to renovate the parliamentary building in the midst of economic crunch while claiming that government cannot sufficiently fund university education is not on the path of human development. Imagine N37 billion shared equally among the six oldest universities to finance specific projects to enhance academic excellence!There is something wrong with a culture of development in which paralysing strikes in the health and education systems are no more perceived as a matter of emergency by either the government or the people. News of strikes in schools and hospitals hardly hit the headlines in the media nowadays.
This societal culture of perceiving disruptions in public hospitals and schools as normal is socially retrogressive. It is even more morally reprehensible on the part of the elite in power and outside power: they make private arrangements at home and abroad for their own healthcare and the education of their children while public health and education systems are left to collapse. It is a feature of a selfish society. Little wonder, not a few observers of the current crisis have described coronavirus as an equaliser of sorts. The poor and the rich are now bound to face the consequences of an abysmally neglected health sector.
The truth that those in power hate to hear is that the problem of the social sector will not be solved until those who work in the sector are happy and fulfilled
When will it be said that its a new day for human development?It should be a day when development is measured, among other things, by the happiness and job satisfaction of the workforce that could promote excellence in public hospitals and schools.
Posted: at 12:48 am
The decision by the Trump administration on April 22nd to effectively freeze immigration flows into the United States is the latest in a series of moves by that government to restrict immigration. In Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a partial border closure that has disproportionately impacted refugees and been criticized by several human rights watchdogs including Amnesty International. In recent months, Canada also temporarily halted the flow of refugees travelling here from the US, stranding many asylum seekers.
While Canadians may take some comfort in knowing that Canadas federal government has attempted to limit the impact of the current border closure, we should nevertheless learn from these experiences and pause to consider how the current pandemic and future ones might impact refugee policy. How can policy-makers balance very real health concerns with their obligations to protect refugees, whose need has not dissipated and whose circumstances may well be increasingly precarious due to COVID-19 outbreaks in their countries of origin?
Intermittent border closures may be a necessary component of the governments response to pandemics, but we have little experience with such measures in a globalized world. Just as open borders must be carefully managed to balance health and security issues against economic and human rights concerns, so must closed borders. Canada needs a comprehensive border closure strategy for our new and still-changing times.
When it comes to refugee policy, liberal democratic receiving states often face duelling pressures: upholding the rights of refugees while at the same time controlling their borders and processing applications competently and efficiently. The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges on both counts that policy-makers must respond to in the coming weeks and months. Yet these new challenges also foreshadow long-term trends that will persist for decades due to future pandemics and climate change: new types of refugees, and peaks and valleys of migration flows in response to intermittent border closures.
More reasons to flee
For years, wealthy democracies have responded to humanitarian crises by hosting refugees from conflict zones as well as sending development aid and peacekeepers to these areas. Devised in the wake of the genocides committed in Europe and Asia during the Second World War, the Refugee Convention was meant to provide protection for people fleeing persecution. However, the spectre of a global pandemic that threatens prosperity or even basic economic stability and requires the suspension of international travel is a serious game-changer for refugee protection.
Like climate change, pandemics pose a global risk that could disproportionately impact developing countries. Since February, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in many countries with world-class health care systems and high-functioning state infrastructures. One can only imagine how COVID-19 may critically weaken or even devastate public services in countries with high levels of conflict, socio-economic inequality or corruption. The World Health Organization is already projecting that African countries could be severely hit by COVID-19.
To meet this new challenge, the cabinet can do a lot with targeted development aid. However, given the long-term trajectory of forced migration, Canadas policy-makers must anticipate receiving people who are fleeing displacement not because of persecution but because of pandemics, climate change and natural disasters that will make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for people to return to their countries of origin.
The federal government should direct Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) to identify a new category of potential refugee-sending countries: those in high-impact zones that have seen their public infrastructure collapse because of a pandemic or other crisis. As with previous refugee-producing crises, IRCC and GAC should consider collaborating with civil society groups to sponsor individuals from such high-risk zones as refugees to Canada or easing requirements for family reunification for Canadians with relatives from such places.
While the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act establishes a legal framework for accepting people escaping persecution, Canada has also extended protection to those fleeing other desperate situations, such as the refugees from a major earthquake that devastated Haiti 10 years ago. Furthermore, the government has already done research on the likelihood of people fleeing the effects of climate change and signed the United Nations Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which requires signatory countries to identify, develop and strengthen solutions for migrants compelled to leave their countries of origin due to slow-onset natural disasters, the adverse effects of climate change, and environmental degradation. At present, this agreement has not been codified into Canadian law. The federal government led by IRCC should work with advocacy groups such as the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association for Refugee Lawyers to update the existing legal framework to accept climate change refugees as well as those fleeing natural disasters and pandemics.
Managing waves of migration
Periodic border closures complicate flows of forced migration by incentivizing migrants to arrive in larger numbers while host countries borders are open. The implications for government agencies that handle immigration are significant. Managing administrative capacity keeping visas and refugee claims running smoothly through the departmental machinery is critical not only for carrying out policy goals but also to ward off negative political impacts that could undermine public support for hosting refugees. When governments are perceived to be losing control over immigration because of backlogs or bungling, it is not hard for critics of the government (including but not limited to far-right parties) to trigger public anger and anti-refugee sentiment. Despite Canadas tradition as an immigrant nation, it is not immune from such public backlashes. The significant number of Canadians expressing frustration with the Trudeau governments willingness to admit tens of thousands of asylum seekers from the US since 2017 is a case in point.
For this reason, ensuring that Canadas immigration bureaucracy can keep up with surges in applications is essential especially during pandemics, when the movement of people can easily provoke public fear and anxiety. Policy-makers could effectively manage increased administrative pressures by developing a strategy for closing and opening the border that involves civil society organizations who have been essential partners in helping develop and implement Canadas immigration and refugee policies. Specifically, lawyers, NGOs and community organizations have provided channels for gathering information about refugee flows and developments in source countries that is critical for ensuring that policy is applied equitably.
In the past, the cabinet has commissioned independent reviews to assess the impact of procedural changes to immigration and refugee policy. The federal government should appoint a similar commission of policy experts from IRCC and civil society to study two core aspects of refugee policy: first, how immigration procedures can be improved to operate effectively during periods of open and closed borders; and, second, to what extent Canadas existing settlement services and infrastructure need to be altered in order to comply with social distancing measures and adapt to the changed economy. Finally, IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency should establish facilities and recruit medical staff at all ports of entry before the border is reopened so that they can screen all international travellers, including refugees.
Many of the administrative capacity and rights issues associated with refugee policy stem from governments and migrants of all sorts reacting to uncertainty. In developing a comprehensive border closure strategy, the government can work with civil society to reduce uncertainty and set clear expectations. An expansion of Canadas categories of refugees is also needed, to acknowledge new global realities. No government may be able to predict what events will unfold, but Canada can utilize the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to update its immigration and refugee policies in order to meet similar challenges we are likely to face in the coming years.
This article is part of theThe Coronavirus Pandemic: Canadas Responsespecial feature.
Photo:A Rohingya family wear masks to protect from the COVID-19 pandemic in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 27, 2020. Shutterstock/By YuriAbas
Posted: at 12:48 am
In 1979, Justice Bhagwati accepted a postcard as a PIL from a prisoner in Tihar jail, who had written to the Supreme court reporting an incident of torture perpetrated on a fellow prisoner. Justice Bhagwati had famously remarked that the court must "provide access to justice to large masses of people who were denied basic human rights, to whom freedom and liberty had no meaning. A 25-paise postcard set constitutional law in motion.
Almost four decades later, on May 16, 2020 in a horrific incident when migrant labourers sleeping on railway tracks are mowed down by a goods train due to government apathy, the same court lets out a helpless "how can we stop it?"
The highest institution of Justice in India tells us on March 25 2020, this fear and panic is a bigger problem than this virus. (Albeit that was also a statement of the New York Governor Mr. Andrew Cuomo, on 19th March, 2020 while addressing the lockdown protocol during Covid-19 in New York!)
As the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, India is faced with an additional humanitarian crisis: unprecedented flight of migrant workers from different parts of the country to their villages. Reports from the ground have suggested desperate times. Over the last two months those worst affected during this humanitarian crisis were primarily migrant labourers divided by caste and religion, toyed by the government to contribute to its vote bank, representing almost 70% of the Indian Population, yet they remained nameless and faceless.
Extreme heat, pangs of hunger from days of walking with no food, dehydration, humiliation and with uncertainty looming over their heads they soldiered on. Over 130 migrants got killed in various road accidents during the lockdown and many others died due to lack of basic provisions in poorly organised relief camps or in-transit, separated from their families; longing for the respite promised by the Government, the respite which was deemed to be their socio-economic right by virtue of being a citizen of India, their right to be protected by the Constitution of India helmed by the Supreme Court of India- but they were FAILED.
Yet, it is reported that 937 Shramik special trains have operated to ferry over 11 lakh migrants, 37,978 relief camps have been set up by states and Union Territories, where 14.3 lakh are being sheltered. Further, nearly 1.34 crore people are being fed through 26,225 food camps, 16.5 lakh workers were provided with housing facilities by their employers.
One knows that the hallowed portals of Supreme Justice in India exhibit signs of Judicial deference to the Legislature with willingness to transfer judges unpalatable to the Executive, the manner in which the issues of Kashmir, unbridled arrests under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the anti- Citizenship Amendment Act agitations have been dealt with are examples of this. But then what can we expect when a Chief Justice of India, presides over his own hearing concerning allegations of sexual harassment?
Well, one can only expect worse, when despite the fact that millions of rupees are getting collected in the name of certain care funds to provide relief to the migrants and needy the worst affected by Covid-19, most get spent on advertising campaigns for a the leading political party, and when questioned on what money can get transferred directly to the migrants, we are told - You yourself know, we cant order what you are demanding. You say there are 4 crore people. How can we order `5,000 per person? We dont have the documents you are referring to! How can we pass directions to make any payment? If we have to pass all the directions that are there in your petition, we will have to start running the government, (The Delhi Government had announced INR 5000 for each migrant worker on April 12th 2020) and apparently, the government is also concerned about the migrant workers. The government is consulting states as to how many of them have to be transported to their states and how many have to be given help and what kind of help, (April 27 2020)
In a series of blatant lies masquerading as the Centre's argument, the Solicitor General of India had argued before the Supreme Court on March 31 that "anyone who is outside has been taken to the available shelters" and that there is "no person walking on the roads in an attempt to reach his/her home-towns". It is against this backdrop that the top court had said that it is impossible for courts to monitor the movement of migrant workers across the country. In contrast, as many as 19 High Courts of India offered some redemption to the justice system by raising concern over migrant labour walking back. This seemed to have irked the Solicitor General, as alluding to the activism shown by these courts, he remarked that, "some High Courts are running a parallel government".
When the Supreme Court, on Thursday, after more than two months, finally took suo motu cognizance of the condition of migrant labourers, the Solicitor General concluded by saying "I have something more to say as an officer of the court. I have a complaint. A large number of steps were taken by the government and the Supreme Court was fully satisfied about it earlier. But we have something called prophets of doom who only spread negativity, negativity, and negativity. All these people writing on social media, giving interviews, cannot even acknowledge what is being doneThey are not showing any courtesy to the nation. A slew of personal attacks followed, branding all those who had brought the plight of migrant workers before them as "vultures of doom".
The simple "complaint" reeks of apathy, insensitivity and adds insult to injury in the migrant labourers crisis which is being called "the greatest exodus since partition" in the international headlines. The least that is expected of us as humans, if not as "officers of the court", is empathy for the hundreds of migrant workers trudging unbelievable distances home on foot. As Dushyant Dave, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association has highlighted: "Can you imagine every migrant family walking on the roads and what they must be going through? What suffering they must be going through and what feelings they must be harbouring in their hearts about this nation, which has completely failed them and left them to fend for themselves?"
What is to be seen is if the submission by the Solicitor General to the SC in March and less credible arguments by him on May 29 2020, will he be held in contempt, for lowering the respect for Supreme Judiciary? The SGs outburst draws attention to the SCs silence. It would be unfortunate, indeed, if the SGs unwise and mean-spirited exuberance is allowed to be seen to, in some way, or in any way, be endorsed by the highest court.
Our founding fathers had a very different vision for India, one with which the India of today-- the India in which thousands of its people are suffering in the face of an apathetic government and judiciary-- is in sharp contrast. A prominent freedom fighter had once said, The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. The fourth pillar of our democracy needs to stand strong in these turbulent times-- impartial and fearless as its legacy has been-- or the very framework of our democracy may collapse.
What should have happened was Under the Disaster Management Act, a national plan should be prepared by the National Executive Committee, which was then approved by the NDMA. Section 12 of the national plan has guidelines for minimum standards of relief which the National authority has to recommend. The minimum standards include shelter, food, drinking water, medical cover and sanitation, but shockingly, till date no minimum standards have been set up for any of these categories.
As Justice Khanna had aptly remarked Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Governments purposes are beneficent [the] greatest danger to liberty lies in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but lacking in due deference for the rule of law.
Oh, by the way, also coming in from various Prophets of Doom that the Ram Mandir construction has started in Ayodhya on May 26, 2020, with a budget rumoured to be to the tune of INR 10,000 crores. Walls of secrecy seem to be crumbling now with an RTI application getting the following response from the PMO, the PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005. However, relevant information in respect of the fund may be seen on the website pmcares.gov.in. It comes as no surprise that, no such information (please read as nil transparency!) is available on the official website. Just goes to show how much our PM Cares!
By denying the status of 'public authority' it is a big blow to transparency and not to mention our democratic values. #MoneyHeist??
Covid-19 and the Government are beyond logic! Stay home!
(Madhukar Jetley is Member Legislative Council of Uttar Pradesh. The views expressed are personal)
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Posted: at 12:46 am
President Vladimir Putin approved a strategic document on the fundamentals of Russias nuclear deterrence policy on Tuesday (2 June), naming the creation and deployment of anti-missile and strike weapons in space as one of the main military threats to Russia.
The document outlining Russias policy on its nuclear deterrent was published online amid arms control tensions between Moscow and Washington over the future of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the last major pact regulating their nuclear arsenals.
According to the new strategy, Russias nuclear weapons policy is described as being defensive in nature and designed to safeguard the countrys sovereignty against potential adversaries.
However, in line with Russian military doctrine, it outlines four scenarios in which Moscow would order the use of nuclear weapons, two of them new and involving potential instances of nuclear first-use scenarios.
The two established protocols permit nuclear use when an enemy uses nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction on Russia or its allies, and in situations when conventional weapons threaten the very existence of the country.
In reverse, the two new provisions include cases in which the government receives reliable information that a ballistic missile attack is imminent or in the case of enemy impact on critically important government or military facilities of the Russian Federation, the incapacitation of which could result in the failure of retaliatory action of nuclear forces.
The main threats for Russia are described as follows: the increase of the potential of NATO in territories and waters close to the country, bringing new weaponry close to Russia, including new anti-missile systems, deployingstrike weapons in space and deploying nuclear weapons in non-nuclear countries.
Some US officials are eyeing Poland as a new home to the US nuclear arsenal in Europe, after German Social Democrats reopened the debate about whether the country should remain under Washingtons protective nuclear umbrella. And the latest twist has already displeased Russia, Polands mighty eastern neighbour.
The publication comes only a week after an US decision to to exit theOpen Skies Treaty, allows its signatories to conduct short-notice unarmed surveillance flights to gather information on each others military forces and installations, thereby contributing to inspections of conventional arms control and strategic offensive weapons and reducing the risk of conflict.
Open Skies is the third major security agreement, after the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a landmark 1987 pact with Russia banning a whole class of medium-range ground-launched nuclear-capable missiles of 500 to 5,500 kilometres,and the Iran nuclear deal, which Washington decided to scrap in recent years.
Both, the US exit and Russias new strategy, come at a time as the last remaining major nuclear arms control treaty between the United States and Russia, New START, is due to expire in February 2021 and Moscow has already warned there is not enough time left to negotiate a full-fledged replacement.
The Trump administration has pushed for a new arms control pact that would also include China, but while Moscow has deemed such a solution unfeasible, arms control experts believe it would be too difficult to achieve.
At the same time, the Russian military on Monday (1 June) had accused the US and its NATO allies of conducting provocative military drills near the nations borders, according to statement that reflected simmering Russia-NATO tensions.
Russia will not conduct major military exercises near the borders with NATO member countries this year, Sergei Rudskoy, chief of the main operational department for Russias General Staff, said according to Interfax.
Rudskoy alsosaid NATO has stonewalled Russias written proposal to scale down each others military activities.
He said Russia has moved large-scale drills scheduled for September, Kavkaz-2020, deeper inside the country and is ready to adjust the locations of exercises on a parity basis with the Western military bloc.
He pointed torecent NATO drills in the Barents Sea that he called first since the Cold War, as well as increasing nuclear-capable strategic bomber flights near Russian borders and US intelligence flights near Russian bases in Syria.
NATO had called off its planned exercises amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before the health crisis, Europe was preparing for what security officials have called the most extensive transfer of US soldiers to Europe in the past 25 years, with around 37,000 soldiers taking part in the US-led military exercise Defender Europe 2020 for the transfer of troops to Germany, Poland and the Baltic states.
[Edited by Georgi Gotev]
Posted: at 12:46 am
The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIVs media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
Before you start reading todays edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the article Russia revamps its nuclear policy amid simmering tensions with NATO.
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Now that many European countries have started lifting lockdown measures and opening borders, make sure you stay up to date with EURACTIVs comprehensive overview, which is regularly updated with the help of our network of offices and media partners. Also, check our country update pages, such as the ones for Austria and Croatia.
TheDutch government is unlikely to fulfill its NATO defence spending obligationswithin the next four years. The news comes after parliamentarians called Dutch defence minister Ank Bijleveld in for questioning on the so-called recalibration of the defence memorandum.Alexandra Brzozowski has the story.
Travel restrictions will be eased, meanwhile. From 15 June, the Netherlands is set to relax its advice on travel to most European countries in the Schengen area. The scale will go from code orange (only necessary journeys) to code yellow (security risks). The Dutch government is set to announce more details later on Wednesday.
US Ambassador resigns. After weeks of speculation, US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, has formally resigned from his position. During his two-year tenure in Berlin, he had been the subject of ire for many in the country for his approach, described as unconventional and undiplomatic. He particularly focused on German defence spending and NATO commitments, and recently accused the country of eroding NATO solidarity. There is speculation that Grenell will join President Trumps 2020 reelection campaign. (Sarah Lawton | EURACTIV.de)
Forbidden demonstration against discrimination. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Tuesday evening (2 June) in front of the Paris courthouse following a call for mobilisation by the Justice for Adama collective, and despite the protest being banned due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
24-year-old Adama Traor was found dead in the gendarmeries courtyard in Beaumont-sur-Oise following his arrest in July 2016. While the conclusions of the latest medical report, sent at the end of May to the judges investigating the case, exonerate the police, Traors family questioned the violent methods of the gendarmes. The movement reflects a distrust of the police, particularly in the Parisian suburbs, where there are many incidents and complaints of discrimination, and as American cities flare up after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. (EURACTIV.FR)
Last deconfinement phase under discussion. Belgiums National Security Council is set to discuss the implementation of Phase 3 of the deconfinement process, which could start from next Monday (8 June). Alexandra Brzozowski has the details.
Parliament ends remote working. MPs faced the bizarre spectacle of queuing for over 40 minutes in socially-distanced lines outside the House of Commons to vote for an end to voting from home on Tuesday (2 June). Benjamin Fox reports from London.
Government finally promotes COVID-19 tracing app. Austrias COVID-19 tracing app known as Stop-Corona developed by the Austrian Red Cross was again endorsed by the government after being one of the first of its kind in Europe on Tuesday (2 June). However, during a press conference, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober (Greens) said discussions about mandatory use are off the table, but nevertheless emphasised the apps importance for opening up the country further.
Although the app had got off to a good start, an increasing number of people began to have concerns about their privacy, particularly after conservative VP-politicians showed support for the apps mandatory use in early April. Since then, the app has vanished from the governments official information and Gerry Foitik, federal commander of the Austrian Red Cross, has repeatedly voiced frustration with the political communication surrounding the app. (Philipp Grll | EURACTIV.de)
Refugee camp returnees open political trenches. Three Finnish women and their nine children landed in Helsinki after escaping from the Syrian al-Hol refugee camp, according to a statement by Finlands foreign affairs ministry on Sunday evening (31 May). Although these women were presumed to be married to ISIS fighters and may pose a future security risk according to the Finnish Intelligence and Security Service (SUPO), they could not, as Finnish citizens, be legally denied entry into the country. Pekka Vnttinen has more.
Opposition protests on Republic Day. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Rome in an anti-government protest organised by the right-wing Lega, the far-right Fratelli dItalia and the centre-right Forza Italia on Republic Day yesterday (2 June), for the first time since Italians celebrated the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946. Protesters defied social distancing rules marching next to each other. EURACTIV Italys Valentina Iorio has more.
Zero coronavirus-related deaths since Sunday. On Tuesday (2 June), Spain reported zero COVID-19-related deaths in the last 48 hours for the first time since March, as well as 71 new coronavirus infections, according to the health ministrys reports. In other words, it has been two consecutive days since the new infection rate has been below 100 for the first time since the outbreak.EURACTIVs partner EuroEFE reports.
US, EU condemn Turkey but sanctions off the table for now. Both Washington and Brussels condemned Tuesday (2 June) Turkeys announcement that in three months it will start gas drilling activities in territories which are part of Greeces Exclusive Economic Zone.
EU spokesperson Peter Stano said that while sanctions were still on the table, it was premature to have such a discussion now. Meanwhile, Enlargement Commissioner Olivr Vrhelyi has confirmed that Ankara will join the club of EU-hopeful countries that will receive EU funds under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). Why does Europe hesitate?
Getting ahead of the Trianon centenary. Trianon cannot become a burden that would prevent Slovaks and Hungarians to look to the future, Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korok said during his visit to Budapest, where he met his Hungarian counterpart, Foreign Minister Pter Szijjrt, according to the TASR agency.
The approaching centenary of the Trianon Peace Treaty (June 4) from 1920 through which Hungary lost substantial territories after the WWI, including those that now form Slovakia is a sensitive issue on both sides of the border. EURACTIV Slovakias Zuzana Gabriov looks into what the two ministers had to say.
Poland to open borders within days, maybe weeks. It is a matter of days, maybe weeks, until Poland reopens borders between the countries of the region, foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, said on Tuesday (2 June) during a summit of foreign ministers with the Baltic states in Estonia. Alexandra Brzozowski has the details.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Anti-Bulgarian election campaign in Skopje under fire. The anti-Bulgarian campaign in Northern Macedonia in recent days is due to the upcoming elections there, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva has said.
Part of the reason for the anti-Bulgarian speech in Macedonia is the nationalist approach, which they think still works during elections. But when you aspire to be part of the European family, it should not occur to any politician to say so. This rhetoric, aimed at a neighbouring and friendly country, is full of fake news and hate speech, Zaharieva told national television (BNT). (Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)
Post-lockdown migrant pressure. The pressure of illegal migrants along the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in the northwestern Bosnian canton Una-Sana is rising as lockdown measures are being loosened, the local police authorities said on Tuesday (2 May). EURACTIV Croatias Karla Junicic takes a closer look.
In other news, a grant agreement for the Early Warning and Crisis Management System project worth HRK63 million (8.3 million), of which 85% will be drawn from EU funds, was signed on Tuesday (2 June) by the countrys interior ministry.
The crisis management system should facilitate the process of informing citizens, via mobile phone, about threats and measures that must be taken to reduce casualties and material damage, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic and Environment and Energy Minister Tomislav Coric, who signed the agreement. (Karla Junicic, EURACTIV.hr)
Is Austria dragging its feet on reopening Slovenia border? Slovenes in Austrias Carinthia region, united in the Slovenian Consensus for Constitutional Rights (SKUP) initiative, demand that Austria opens its border with Slovenia, writes the leading newspaper Delo.
Austria has already announced the reopening of borders with Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia, Delo has said, adding that there is no official announcement yet for Slovenia, while Austrian media say this is expected to happen on 15 June. EURACTIVs Zoran Radosavljevi looks into it.
Varhelyi heralds major investments in Western Balkans.EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said on Tuesday (2 June) that major investments in economic growth linked to the COVID-19 recovery would be made to support the Western Balkans.
Along with increasing EU guarantees up to 130 billion for investments in southern and eastern EU neighbours and the West Balkan region, he said that an additional 10.5 billion would be set aside through the EU Development Fund to support the neighbourhood. EURACTIV Serbia reports.
In other news, Serbia has only partially implemented two of recommendations of the Council of Europes Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), according to ECRIs press release published Tuesday (2 June). The two recommendations are linked to prohibiting the use of hate speech by government officials and MPs and to hiring a proportionate number of Roma in the public administration. Read more.
US Ambassador to Serbia Anthony Godfrey has commented on the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man who died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Read more.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox]
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The Netherlands likely to scrap NATO spending target - EURACTIV
Posted: at 12:46 am
Alliance fleets aren't getting bigger to match Moscow's moves in the region, so it's time to think differently.
Its been six years since Russia annexed Crimea, the first time since 1945 that European borders were changed through military force. The annexation halved Ukraines coastline and, along with the subsequent deployment of anti-ship and anti-air missiles, advanced Moscows big geostrategic goal of turning the Black Sea into a Russian-controlledlake.
This is a direct threat to U.S. and NATO security interests. The Black Sea has long been a geopolitically and economically important crossroads between Europe, Asia, and the Caucasus. Today, the seas floor is crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines and fiber optic cables. Three of the six Black Sea countries Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania are in NATO. Another two alliance partners and aspiring members Ukraine and Georgia have suffered the direct impact of Russian aggression. Ukrainian solders die fighting for their country every week. One-fifth of Georgias internationally recognized territory is under Russian occupation, including a sizeable amount of Georgias Black Seacoastline.
Soon after Russias invasion of Ukraine, the United States and several other NATO members stepped up their presence in the Black Sea. But that presence waned, and notwithstanding Secretary-General Jens Stoltenbergs 2017 pledge to send more alliance ships to the region, it remainsinsufficient.
Part of the problem is the 1936 Montreux Convention, which limits the number, transit time, and tonnage of naval ships from non-Black Sea countries that may operate in the Bosphorus. For example, non-Black Sea state warships in the strait must not displace more than 15,000 tons apiece. No more than nine non-Black Sea state warships, with a total aggregate tonnage of no more than 45,000 tons, may pass at any one time, and they are permitted to stay for no longer than 21 days. To be sure, NATO navies have shrunk since the Cold War, reducing the number available for Black Sea operations. Yet the limits remain a problemnonetheless.
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There are four creative ways that the Alliance should consider to get around these restrictions and increase its presence in the BlackSea:
1. Establish a Black Sea Maritime Patrol mission modeled on the successful Baltic Air Policing mission, in which non-Black Sea members would commit to a regular and rotational maritime presence in the Black Sea. This would be the fastest and most effective way to increase NATOs presence there, but a lack of political will, coupled with the reduced size of Europeans navies, makes itunlikely.
2. Germanys Danube option. According to Article 30 of the 1948 Convention Regarding the Regime of Navigation on the Danube, only Danubian countries can operate naval vessels in the Danube River. However, if a Danubian country wants to enter a stretch of the Danube River falling outside its territorial jurisdiction, then it must first get the permission of the relevant Danubianstate.
As the Romanians routinely show with their three frigates, warships of 8,000 tons or less can travel 50 miles upriver to the port of Braila. The only Danubian country that is not on the Black Sea, but still has a navy, is Germany. Therefore, by Romania inviting Germany into its section of the Danube River, it would allow the German Navy reset the clock on the 21-daylimit.
Last year, Germany sent just one ship a 3,500-ton Elbe-class tender into the Black Sea for a total of only 18 days. This Danube option, unique to Germany because it is a Danubian state, would allow it to step up the plate in a way other members of the Alliance cannot in the BlackSea.
3. The Danube-Black Sea Canal option. This man-made canal in Romania might offer an opportunity for non-Danubian and non-Black Sea states to reset the clock on the 21-day limit in the Black Sea in a similar way that Germany could do so using the Danube River. However, the canal is relatively small at 90 meters wide and can only handle ships up to 5,000tons.
In 2019, a total of 13 naval vessels displacing less than 5,000 tons from Canada, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, the U.S. and the UK entered the Black Sea in ships that could, in theory, operate in the canal. However, this option would likely require money to modernize and adapt the canal for duel civilian-military use. Also, force protection measures such as air defense capabilities would need to be considered. NATO should work with Romania to conduct a feasibility assessment on the possibility of using thecanal.
4. A NATO-certified Center of Excellence on Black Sea Security in Georgia. There is no precedent for such a center in a non-NATO country, but there is nothing practically or legally preventing it from happening. Establishing one could improve NATO-Georgia relations while demonstrating how important the Black Sea region has become for Europes overall security. The Center would provide an opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue and training in how to address the challenges associated with Black Sea security. It was also serve as another way to fly the NATO flag inGeorgia.
Some of these proposals are easier than others. Some would require only additional political will. Some are unconventional and would require a change in traditional thinking. Some might require additionalfunding.
All of these proposals require full involvement and consultation with Turkey, the NATO member with sovereign control of the straits. It should be explained to Ankara that nothing NATO will do in the Black Sea is meant to undermine this control. The goal is to increase NATOs presence in the Black Sea to deter, and if required defeat, Russianaggression.
One might reasonably ask about the feasibility of placing a very expensive warship into a narrow canal or river. There are three reasons why this is not anissue.
First, any ship entering the Black Sea has to travel through a very narrow body of water anyway. At its narrowest point, the Bosphorus Strait is 700 meters wide. This strait is also very congested, with civilian maritime traffic reducing maneuverability evenmore.
Secondly, ships using the Bosphorus are prohibited from launching aircraft while transiting. This makes air defense and other force protections measures that are routine when a warship transits through a narrow body of water more difficult. This would not be a problem on the Danube River or the Black Sea-DanubeCanal.
Finally, the use of the Danube River or the canal would only be done during peacetime. After all, during a time of war Turkey has even more control over the entry and exit of the BlackSea.
While NATOs interest in Black Sea security is increasing, the overall presence of non-Black Sea NATO warships is not keeping up the pace. Something needs to change. The economic, security, and political importance of the Black Sea and the broader region is only becoming more important. NATO members need to be protected. The Alliance needs to chart a path to membership for Georgia and Ukraine. NATO must be prepared for any contingency withRussia.
The Alliance is required to defend Sofia and Bucharest in the same way it must defend Seville and Brussels. Just because the geo-political circumstances of the Black Sea make NATOs mission there harder, does not mean the region can be ignored. With Russia increasing its military capability in the region, now is not the time for NATO to growcomplacent.
Until NATO starts thinking creatively about complex challenges like increasing its presence in the Black Sea, Russia will continue to have the upperhand.
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To Boost NATO's Presence in the Black Sea, Get Creative - Defense One
Biden Advisers on Nuclear Sharing: Striking at the Heart of the Trans-Atlantic Bargain – DER SPIEGEL
Posted: at 12:46 am
By calling for the withdrawal of Germany from NATO nuclear sharing, Rolf Mtzenich, parliamentary group leader for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), has put into the public square what has been simmering away quietly in Berlin for months: an important debate over Germanys participation in NATO nuclear sharing. Mr. Mtzenich believes policies of the current U.S. administration make the use of nuclear weapons much more likely, leading him to call for Germany to leave NATOs nuclear sharing arrangement. No longer limited to German think tank monographs or twitter debates among specialists, the German role in shoring up nuclear deterrence in defense of NATO is now open for debate.
As Americans with over 60 years of experience working with Germany on defense and security issues, we knew this debate was coming long before the current U.S. administration fueled it. Because Germany's fleet of Tornado aircraft, which are capable of delivering a nuclear bomb on NATO command, needs replacement, German defense experts began to discuss whether the country should continue to participate in the NATO nuclear mission and so bear the extra expense of their aircraft being "nuclear capable. Now that the nuclear issue is being debated outside the small circle of experts, some Germans are asking whether the nation is still comfortable with pilots flying nuclear missions that could make German cities vulnerable to nuclear retaliation.
As U.S. defense experts, we know well the technical issues that are part of this debate, from deterrence theory to the practicalities of delivering a nuclear device on target. But as Americans, this debate is about much more than technical specifications.
The U.S. and NATO member states - including Germany made a solemn vow that in return for the U.S. extending its nuclear shield over Europe, allies would share in the burden and risk of carrying that nuclear shield. In making that vow, the U.S. consciously accepted the risk that this guarantee to Europe also made U.S. cities vulnerable to attack. Sharing this nuclear risk together strengthened trust and solidarity among the allies and cemented the nuclear coupling of the U.S. to Europe. A Russian nuclear threat aimed solely at Europe would not split off the U.S., but would be answered with U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe delivered by Europeans. The Russians would never be able to blackmail Europe alone with nuclear weapons, without Europe having a NATO nuclear response.
To Americans this is a solemn undertaking. Germany walking away from this vow to share the nuclear burden, this expression of solidarity and risk sharing, strikes at the heart of the trans-Atlantic bargain. If other NATO members who share the nuclear burden and risks were to follow Germanys example, the bargain sustaining U.S. extended nuclear deterrence to Europe would collapse and the U.S. umbrella would essentially be decoupled from Europe. For a nation that prides itself on its multilateralism, undermining this multilateral effort at NATO would be a significant break with German tradition.
While some might argue that this arrangement is a relic of the Cold War, the return of a more revisionist Russia that actively seeks to undermine trans-Atlantic unity is investing heavily in modernizing its nuclear arsenal (including weapons aimed at Europe), and whose military doctrine calls for "escalating to de-escalate - that is, using nuclear threats early in a conflict to try to break an adversarys resolve makes this debate highly relevant to todays security environment.
Having a public discussion about Germanys military role in NATO, encompassing everything from nuclear policy to the rationale for even having a military, is important for Germany to have not just to educate politicians and the public on military and defense issues, but also to help rebuild a "strategic mindset within German consciousness about geopolitics and Germanys place in the world.
As a result of German history in the last century, Germanys willingness to think strategically atrophied because it shied away from geopolitics and focused instead on being the best European in the EU and a model NATO member. But time and events have thrust the mantel of European leadership on Germany. It is no longer good enough for Germany to simply strive to be "the best European, it must now lead the nations of Europe as well as be a global player to protect German and European interests abroad. And being the leader in Europe in a time of geopolitical upheaval means sharing the heavy burden of security and defense.
There is also a significant benefit to Germanys participation in NATO nuclear sharing: Because Germany plays such an active role in nuclear sharing, it has a strong voice in shaping NATO nuclear policy and in the deployment of nuclear weapons in Europe. Germany has a seat at a very exclusive table in Brussels and plays a strong role in deciding what happens at that table. Should Germany walk away from its nuclear role, its voice would be significantly weakened. NATO nuclear consultation with Germany would become pro forma as Germany would join the ranks of just a handful of allies who do not actively participate in the nuclear mission hardly a position befitting the leading nation of Europe.
Germans rightly proud of their NATO heritage should be alarmed too at the signal that would be sent by shedding its critical role in nuclear burden-sharing. Already criticized by allies for not making greater strides toward increasing defense spending despite its prosperity, if Germany were to cast off another NATO obligation, and a critical one at that, it would only fuel a narrative that Germany does not take its NATO obligations seriously.
Germans should be well aware that Russia is on an aggressive path. NATO deterrence - nuclear and non-nuclear must make Russian President Vladimir Putin stop and think about the costs and risks of any further Russian adventurism, potentially on Germanys border with Poland or the Baltic states.
If Germany was to leave the nuclear sharing arrangement, other allies would have to pick up the additional missions dumped on them by Germany. That would lead allies to doubt Germanys reliability when it comes to their defense, especially those allies in the east. The trust among allies and the unity of the alliance would be dealt a critical blow, which would weaken Europes defense, for it is NATO unity that is its greatest deterrent. It would also give Putin a big win without him having to lift a finger.
Allies debated whether to bring Germany into NATO in 1955 but eventually agreed that the German people would bring strength and fortitude with them into the alliance. Considering all that Germany has done for NATO since then, it was a good decision. Should Germany now choose to walk away from its nuclear responsibilities, not only would NATO lose its strong partner in nuclear sharing, but Germany would lose much more the esteem of its allies, and especially of that ally who has championed Germany in NATO from the beginning and who willingly puts itself at risk for Germanys defense.
Before this debate goes much further in Germany, Mr. Mtzenich should be aware that the U.S. presidential election will take place in November, and his negative view of working with an American administration in NATO on nuclear sharing may change.
WATCH: Moray air crews deployed to Lithuania for defence mission are scrambled for first time – Press and Journal
Posted: at 12:46 am
Moray air crews deployed to Eastern Europe to protect Nato airspace from enemy intruders have been scrambled for the first time.
Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth have been based in Lithuania on a mission to defend allies in the region for more than a month.
The crews have now been scrambled for the first time to respond to an unidentified aircraft that was approaching the airspace.
Once within visual range the plane was identified as a Russian intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.
The Typhoon pilots shadowed the intruder as it approached Nato airspace before it changed course.
The 6 Squadron pilot who responded to the call said: The initial scramble was a real shot of adrenaline, but once airborne it was important to remain calm and professional and make the intercept as expeditious as possible to ensure we maintained both the safety and integrity of Nato airspace.
This is what all of our training is designed to prepare us for however, at the end of the day its just my job.
The Russian aircraft was also not responding to calls from air traffic control in the area posing a potential risk to other planes flying in the region.
About 150 RAF personnel from bases across the UK have been deployed to Lithuania as part of the mission with 135 Expeditionary Air Wing.
The intercept is part of Natos air policing mission, which involves allies taking turns to protect the sky for nations that do not have the capabilities to do it themselves. Jets from the Spanish Air Force are also operating in the area at the moment.
Crews are tasked with being ready to scramble to intruders at any time, similar to the Quick Reaction Alert mission run from RAF Lossiemouth.
While in Lithuania UK crews have also participated in simulated attacks on Nato warships to test their defences.
Wing Commander Stu Gwinnutt, 135 EAW commander, praised the work done by crews in response to Tuesdays scramble.
He said: It is great to see all of the training come together in a timely response and a successful NATO Baltic Quick Reaction Alert Air Policing mission.
Posted: at 12:46 am
The global struggle to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of global societies to natural and manmade biological threats, prompting experts to warn of a potential increase in the use of biological weapons, like viruses or bacteria, in a post-coronavirus world.
The Council of Europes Committee on Counter-Terrorism (CDCT) was among the first to warn that the global coronavirus outbreak could increase the use of biological weapons by terrorists.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable modern society is to viral infections and their potential for disruption, the body said in a statement in late May. adding that the deliberate use of disease-causing agents as an act of terrorism could prove to be extremely effective.
As damage to humans and economies could be significantly higher than that of a traditional terrorist attack, the body urged its 47 member states to do training exercises and prepare to tackle a potential biological weapons attack.
But it added that it currently has no concrete evidence of a heightened risk of bioterrorist attack due to the pandemic.
All countries are vulnerable to bioterrorism, its damage is rapid and potentially global, a CoE spokesman told EURACTIV when asked about lessons learned from the current crisis.
However, according to a new report authored by Pool Re, a UK government-backed terrorism insurance company, and Cranfield Universitys Professor Andrew Silke, the COVID-19 pandemic is already having a significant impact on terrorism around the world.
One genuine concern is that COVID-19 may lead to a resurgence in interest among terrorists for using chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, Silke said in a statement.
According to him, a range of terrorist movements have been interested in bioterrorism but there have been very few successful terrorist attacks using biological weapons.
The report said the huge impact of COVID-19 may re-ignite some interest in biological weapons as the pandemic has left government and security resources being severely stretched.
As a result, the ability of government, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to focus on traditional priorities such as counter-terrorism has been undermined, the report concluded.
Need for more coordination
We recognise that there is a growing concern in many sectors about a possible increase in threats of this kind, Mike Catchpole, chief scientist at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), told EURACTIV.
Since its creation in 2005, one of the bodys purposes has been to assess the danger of deliberate release of biological agents.
Catchpole told EURACTIV such dangers require a coherent community response but stressed that deliberate release events are unlikely to be of the same scale in terms of geographical impact as we are seeing with the current pandemic of a new respiratory virus.
Asked about lessons learned from the current pandemic, Catchpole said that the experience with COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of preparedness plans, particularly thinking about scenarios that might develop and what kinds of capacities will be needed.
According to Catchpole, health authorities will need to be better prepared, not just for the next pandemic, but also against bioterrorism and other public health threats.
This really requires early alerting sometimes those alerts dont turn into major threats but an important principle of preparedness is early alerting on what could be potential threats, not waiting until its clearly a known threat that could overwhelm the system, he said.
One of the areas would be the availability of intensive care units and of appropriate protective personal protective equipment.
The other thing is just the need to continue to strengthen the operational and strategic collaboration between the health sector, public health, clinical sector and other sectors, particularly in security and law enforcement, he added.
NATOs threat preparedness
In an earlier stage of the pandemic, as Europe was grappling to find a response to the pandemic, Bulgarias Prime Minister Boyko Borissov criticised Europes lack of preparedness against biological threats.
Asked by EURACTIV what preparedness NATO has in place to counter chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats, NATO officials pointed towards the 2009 strategic policy on preventing the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and CBRN threats, which was reaffirmed at the July 2018 Summit.
As Europe is grappling to find a response to the coronavirus pandemic, Bulgarias Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has criticised Europes lack of preparedness against biological threats.
Speaking at a press briefing on Saturday (28 March), Borissov criticised, amongst others, NATO for
However, according to experts, NATOs preparedness in the field has received less attention than other threats in the past years, although the Alliance has a CBRN Defence Battalion, specifically trained and equipped to deal with CBRN events and/or attacks
The body trains not only for armed conflicts but also for deployment in crisis situations such as natural disasters and industrial accidents.
Meanwhile, only a few NATO countries have made training for such threats as a priority, either in civil defence or military settings. At the moment, the Czech Republic has the only live-agent chemical weapons training facility in NATO.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]
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Has COVID-19 increased the threat of bioterrorism in Europe? - EURACTIV