"I'll have no choice but to release them," President Donald Trump said Wednesday. This could end up complicating the fight against the Islamic State.
Boris Johnson has warned that getting a Brexit deal would "not be easy" and people should not "hold their breath" awaiting a breakthrough.Speaking to reporters in Devon he said the "mood music" on his visits to Germany and France was "very good".
Authorities in the Russian region of Chechnya on Friday inaugurated what they said was the largest mosque in Europe in a pomp-filled ceremony attended by local and foreign officials. Named after the Prophet Mohammed, the marble-decorated mosque has capacity for more than 30,000 people and has been described by the Chechen authorities as the "largest and most beautiful" mosque in Europe. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the mosque -- located in Shali, a town of 54,000 just outside the regional capital Grozny -- was "unique in its design, and majestic in its size and beauty".
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Europe marks 80 years of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which carved up eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Russia is trying to defend the agreement again. There is no political benefit to doing this. President Vladimir Putin needs to abandon his Stalinist inheritance of a foreign policy based solely on national interest.If Moscow needed any reminder that many in eastern Europe still hold the treaty against it and still consider it a threat, plenty came on the anniversary. The governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania – the countries directly affected by the pact’s secret protocol – issued a joint statement saying the document “sparked World War II and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery.”More than a million people gathered to celebrate the Baltic Chain, the 419-mile (675 kilometer) long line of people who protested Soviet rule on Aug. 23, 1989. The demonstrators didn’t pick that day at random – they, too, were making the point that the subjugation of their countries by the Soviet Union began with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.Russia is fighting back. In Moscow, the original of the treaty is now exhibited alongside documents relating to both the 1938 Munich Agreement, where British and French leaders sanctioned the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and Poland’s subsequent invasion of part of Czechoslovakia.At the opening of the exhibition earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of Britain and France’s treachery: By cosying up to Hitler, they forced the Soviet Union to sign a deal with the Nazis to ensure its own security, he said. Had the Western Europeans listened to the Soviets and set up a collective security system, the bloodshed of World War II could have been averted. Lavrov was making a clear analogy with Russia’s efforts to build an alternative security architecture in today’s Europe – an idea the Kremlin hasn’t abandoned despite the rest of Europe’s lack of interest.For its part, the Russian mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group the Kremlin sees as the foundation for its alternative security architecture, tweeted on Aug. 20 that lots of other countries had signed pacts with the Nazis before the Soviet Union did.Kremlin officials can say all this until they go hoarse, but that can’t erase the undeniable fact that the Soviet Union’s security didn’t require it to grab the Baltics and parts of Poland and Romania. Poland, which tried to benefit from the Nazis’ aggression, has admitted it was in the wrong when it invaded part of Czechoslovakia. President Lech Kaczynski apologized for it in 2009.In 1989, the Soviet Union, too, officially condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – but subsequent Russian communications about it, including an entire article signed by Putin himself in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, have come with the caveat that lots of others were at it, too.These excuses are a major reason other European countries don’t trust Russia: To them, Putin and his subordinates are saying that Moscow would do something like this all over again if its interests dictated it, small countries be damned.Concern this might happen was what drove eastern Europeans into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The reality of the annexation of Crimea – another opportunistic move dictated ostensibly by Russian security considerations – is pushing Ukraine in the same direction.If Putin’s goal was to inspire trust and start a meaningful conversation about collective European security in an age of increasing global competition, an unconditionally apologetic stance would work much better. Refraining from invading neighboring countries would be an even more meaningful step.I suspect, however, that Putin doesn’t really believe in such goals, because, like Stalin, he thinks a deal with the devil, based on common interest rather than trust, is the best.My epiphany about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact came when I read the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi ideologue and Hitler’s one-time minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Rosenberg was skeptical about the deal and recoiled in horror when fellow Nazi Richard Darre told him of Joachim von Ribbentrop’s comment that he had “felt as though among old party comrades” when meeting the Soviet leadership.Incredulously, Rosenberg recounted that during Ribbentrop’s visit, Stalin raised his glass not just to Hitler but also to Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi security chief, calling him “the guarantor of order in Germany.”“Himmler has eradicated communism, i.e. those who believed in Stalin, and this one – without any need for it – raises a toast to the exterminator of his faithful,” Rosenberg noted.For Stalin, any kind of ideology took a back seat to expediency. He was a man of interests, not values. In that sense, Putin, an avowed anti-communist who has condemned Stalin on many occasions, is following the dictator’s realpolitik. His adherence to his current Orthodox Christian brand of social conservatism is as flimsy as Stalin’s link to leftist idealism was. If Putin can do a deal that will promote what he sees as Russia’s interests, he will do it with anyone. He will wear any hat required of him while doing so, and raise any toast. He is oblivious to Molotov-Ribbentrop’s biggest lesson of all: That such agreements don’t hold.That’s why eastern Europeans, and especially Ukrainians, are so worried about the possibility of a grand bargain between Putin and a U.S. president, most recently Donald Trump. The consequences for them could be comparable to those of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.What’s needed from Russia isn’t an apology for carving up Europe with Hitler, but a different foreign policy is – one in which principles trump interests. Only such a change can bring closer the idealistic vision of a Europe that stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok, a goal to which both Russian and European leaders still like to refer. And that shift shouldn’t come at a moment of weakness, as it did in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Restoring trust should be a conscious process. It will take some time.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Pledges by six European countries to accept over 350 migrants from a rescue ship in the central Mediterranean on Friday capped weeks of standoffs between charities and governments that have dramatically exposed Europe's inability to deal with sea migration from Africa. The increasingly fewer charity groups running rescue missions are vowing to return to maritime routes from Libya. Meanwhile, Italy's hard-line interior minister, Matteo Salvini, blames the charities for aiding human trafficking mafias, part of a tough approach that has pushed up his popularity — and emboldened him to provoke a government crisis that could result in early elections.
Low liquefied natural gas (LNG) spot prices amid abundant supply and weaker Asian spot demand this year have created the perfect buying opportunity for European gas buyers
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(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump wants America’s closest allies to ratchet up the pressure on Iran. But this weekend in France he’ll find they’re still reluctant to join him.Divisions over Iran will be on full display when Trump meets his European peers at a Group of Seven meeting starting Saturday in the coastal city of Biarritz. While the agenda will focus on the global economy, the most pressing security challenge will be navigating the wreckage of Trump’s decision last year to abandon the 2015 deal constraining Tehran’s nuclear program.Even with Iran downing an American drone and being accused of a spate of tanker attacks in the Persian Gulf, European nations want to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action they say kept a rein on Iran’s nuclear program. But they’ve failed to find a way to help Tehran get the economic benefits promised under the deal. Iran is desperate to get its oil back on world markets, but that’s a non-starter for the U.S.No compromise has emerged.The Iran debate -- and the distrust it has fueled -- reflects the strains between the U.S. and Europe in the Trump era: displeasure over his maximalist approach, umbrage over his scorn for allies and, beneath it all, wariness about his intentions. In the case of Iran, allies can’t shake the suspicion that Trump, or his more hawkish advisers, want to provoke a war, no matter his insistence otherwise.Read More: Multilateralism Is Dead. Long Live the G-7“I’ve heard several folks in Europe say, ‘Look, all of us were serving as diplomats during the Iraq War, so we’ve seen the beginnings of this movie before and we’re not going to get dragged into it again,”’ said Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “The Europeans will not want to side with the administration on issues that could lead to military conflict.”The president hasn’t laid the groundwork for a productive summit. He’s arriving in France on the warpath over trade, allied contributions to NATO and a self-inflicted feud with Denmark over what appeared at first to be a joke: a suggestion the U.S. buy Greenland.Trump’s best shot at winning some European support will come by working his personal rapport with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The two unconventional leaders will meet for breakfast on Sunday, and Johnson may want to straddle European backing for the JCPOA with the need to keep Trump on his side for an eventual trade deal following Brexit.A U.S. official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations, said the administration is “optimistic” that Johnson could bring the U.K. closer to the U.S. position on isolating Iran.A U.K. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pushed back on expectations that Johnson could be swayed. The new prime minister doesn’t want to rock the boat for French President Emmanuel Macron, who is the host of the G-7, the official said. The U.K. is sticking to its support for the nuclear deal.Read More: Johnson’s G-7 Goal is to Be Serious and Get Something From EveryoneBut that too has its dangers. One person familiar with the White House thinking on the matter, who also asked not to be identified, said the administration realizes it needs to be careful calibrating its attitude toward Johnson, who may be wary of being seen as too close to Trump ahead of a possible election later this year.“The president wants to give Boris Johnson a big boost -- he sees Johnson as Britain’s Trump, a like-minded model,” said Heather Conley, director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The challenge is Boris Johnson is winding up for an election and he’s got to walk a very fine line on what the domestic instinct is toward Trump.”U.S. officials are playing down the disagreements between Washington and European capitals, arguing that all sides agree on the threat posed by Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist groups, its development of ballistic missiles and its attacks on tanker traffic around the Strait of Hormuz.‘Tactical Disagreements’“We have had tactical disagreements but there isn’t any disagreement on end states,” Brian Hook, the State Department’s Iran envoy, told Bloomberg TV on Aug. 21. “We share the same threat assessment. The Islamic Republic of Iran is the principle driver of instability in today’s Middle East.”Anxiety is growing in Europe about a growing list of Iranian violations of the 2015 nuclear accord, which the Islamic Republic had obeyed until Trump quit the deal. Angry that the Europeans haven’t been able to deliver economic benefits in defiance of Trump’s sanctions, Iran now has exceeded enriched-uranium limits set by the agreement and is threatening further violations if Europe doesn’t find a way around the American restrictions.Zarif’s DiplomacyIranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif -- who was recently sanctioned by the U.S. -- will be in France ahead of the summit on Friday to urge the Europeans to stick to the nuclear deal.According to press reports and a person familiar with Emmanuel Macron’s thinking, the French president is also circulating a proposal under which the U.S. would ease some restrictions on Iranian oil exports in exchange for the start of a diplomatic dialogue.U.S. officials say Iran would need to make far bigger concessions for them to entertain such an offer. The idea flies in the face of the administration’s approach, which is to keep ramping up its “maximum pressure” campaign, under the belief that sanctions will so ruin Iran’s economy that its leaders will have no choice but to negotiate.Two recent cases show just how different the U.S. and European approaches to Iran have become, and how wary U.S. allies are in being associated with the Trump administration’s stance.Gibraltar CourtThe U.K. rebuffed a demand from the White House to keep holding an Iranian oil tanker laden with $130 million in crude allegedly bound for Syria in Gibraltar. A court in the territory deemed it could no longer keep the ship after Iran offered assurances it wouldn’t go to Syria.Senior U.S. officials had conveyed “grave disappointment” over the decision to let the tanker go, even raising the possibility that an eventual U.S.-U.K. trade deal might be in jeopardy. The Justice Department filed a complaint aimed at blocking the ruling. But the Grace 1 -- renamed the Adrian Darya 1 -- left as planned.Even more embarrassing to the U.S. has been Europe’s shunning of the plan the Americans call Project Sentinel -- a bid to protect ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. In July, the U.K. signed up but was careful to portray its participation as a European-led initiative that was getting help from -- and not being led by -- the U.S. France and Germany flatly refused to join, leaving the U.S. with two partners: Australia and the U.A.E.“It’s absolutely necessary to keep the Gulf open, but the fact that they won’t do it tells you something about how toxic President Trump is in European politics,” said Nicholas Burns, a former senior State Department official and professor at the Harvard Kennedy School. “The Europeans don’t trust that Trump will keep his word that he won’t attack Iran.”\--With assistance from Kevin Cirilli and Helene Fouquet.To contact the reporter on this story: Nick Wadhams in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at email@example.com, Larry LiebertFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Investing.com -- The dollar was broadly higher in early trading in Europe Friday in generally quiet trading ahead of a keenly-awaited speech by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at 10 AM ET (1400 GMT).
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WINNIPEG, Manitoba/PARIS (Reuters) - Crop-scorching drought in Europe is providing Canadian canola farmers a timely new opportunity to move supplies that have piled up since China stopped buying this year. Rising European sales are taking some of the sting out of losing the Chinese market for Canadian farmers, although ICE canola futures prices are down 11% from a year ago. Beijing suspended the licenses of Canadian exporters Richardson International and Viterra Inc this year and halted most other Canadian canola purchases, citing concerns about pests.
LONDON, Aug 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei is swapping his adopted home of Berlin for Britain, saying German society had become intolerant of refugees and he felt like a man without a home. In an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the artist lambasted Europe for turning its back on refugees, and for kowtowing to China for economic gain. "Europe was a civilised, modern society which was supposed to uphold humanism, democracy, freedom, and human rights," he said. "Europe may no longer remain Europe beyond geography." Germany took in more than a million refugees after a crisis that peaked in 2015, with war and poverty prompting a mass exodus
Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei is swapping his adopted home of Berlin for Britain, saying German society had become intolerant of refugees and he felt like a man without a home. In an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the artist lambasted Europe for turning its back on refugees, and for kowtowing to China for economic gain. "Europe was a civilised, modern society which was supposed to uphold humanism, democracy, freedom, and human rights," he said.