Tag Archives: Anders Fogh Rasmussen

EU To Freeze Assets of Libyan firms

EU diplomats are close to finalising a list of Libyan companies to be added to a recent asset freeze and travel ban related to 26 members of the Gaddafi regime. A diplomatic contact says the multi-billion-euro Libyan Investment Authority is  very likely to be included, along with an investment bank and  three other major firms.

“We’re looking at targeting assets that are clearly linked to those people already identified as perpetrators of human rights abuses.”

EU diplomat

The details are yet being held back to prevent money being smuggled out before the measures are in place. France, Germany and the UK are leading the new initiative.

The sanctions are to be adopted informally at around 10 am Brussels time on Tuesday, unless Italy or Malta – the two EU countries closest to Libya – raise last-minute objections. the EUobserver.com reports.

The Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Central Bank hold stakes in prominent Italian companies.

The Libyan Central Bank is the second largest shareholder Italy’s largest bank, UniCredit with about 7 percent of the shares.

In addition, Gaddafi and his companions owes 7.5 percent of the Juventus football club, 2 percent of arms firm Finmeccanica, amajor part of car-maker Fiat, a part of Italian energy giant Eni and a stake in Telecom Italia.

The EU ministers meeting at the competitiveness council in Brussels on Thursday are likely to stamp the measures as an emergency summit on Libya in the EU capital the next day.

“We’re looking at targeting assets that are clearly linked to those people already identified as perpetrators of human rights abuses,” another diplomatic source says.

Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen indicated on Monday that Western powers are considering military intervention if the civilian death toll continues to mount.

“If Gaddafi and his military continue to attack the Libyan population systematically, I can’t imagine the international community and UN standing idly by,” he told a press conference in Brussels.

Adding: “I assume that any Nato operation would take place in accordance with, and pursuant to, a UN mandate, and I take note of the fact that the current UN mandate doesn’t authorise the use of armed force.”

Nato defence ministers are to meet in the EU capital on Thursday and Friday in an event scheduled before the Libya conflict broke out.

US President Barack Obama have also indicated today that a military action against Libya is not to be ruled out.

Well, I guess this is the opportunity many Western politicians and generals have been waiting for.

Payback time!

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Merkel: An Exceptional Serious Situation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that the euro is in an exceptionally serious situation, adding that politicians a year ago could not imagine what’s happening now. The German Chancellor’s statement Tuesday afternoon pushed the euro further down vs the dollar , and raised the yield on Spanish and Portuguese bonds. Later in the evening Standard & Poor’s lowered Ireland’s debt rating by two steps, with a negative outlook. The nightmare continues today.

“The financial stability of Europe is at risk.”

Lars Løkke Rasmussen

Late Tuesday evening  Ireland’s debt rating was lowered two steps by Standard & Poor’s, with a negative outlook. The Irish prime minister Brian Cowen prepares to unveil the four-year deficit-cutting plan, as the European Commission warns the Irish politicians not to topple the government.  Meanwhile, the contagion spreads like fire through the rest of the euro zone.

“The Irish government looks set to borrow over and above our previous projections to fund further bank capital injections into Ireland’s troubled banking system,” S&P’s says in a statement.

Brian Cowen

Adding that putting the rating on review for downgrade reflects the risk that talks on a European Union-led rescue may fail to stanch capital flight.

S&P’s cut Ireland’s long-term rating to A from AA- and the short-term grade to A-1 from A-1+, according to the statement.

The reduction leaves its long-term grade five steps above Greece, which has the highest junk, or high-risk, grade, Bloomberg reports.

Still, the euro – which dropped 1.9 percent against the dollar yesterday – rose 0.2 percent to $1.3336 as of 11:12 a.m. in London.

The yield on Ireland’s 10-year bond was little changed at 8.61 percent after jumping 34 basis points yesterday.

Exceptional Serious

“I don’t want to paint a dramatic picture, but I just want to say that a year ago we couldn’t imagine the debate we had in the spring and the measures we had to take,” German chancellor Angela Merkel said in a speech in Berlin yesterday.

“We are facing an exceptionally serious situation as far as the euro’s situation is concerned.”

Olli Rehn

The European Commission also on Tuesday issued a veiled warning to the Irish political class not to topple the government.

“Stability is important,” EU economy commissioner Olli Rehn said, speaking to reporters in Berlin.

“We don’t have a position on the domestic democratic politics of Ireland but it is essential that the budget will be adopted in time and we will be able to conclude the negotiations on the EU-IMF programme in time. The budget needs to be adopted,” Mr. Rehn said, adding:  “Ireland will pass the budget in the time foreseen and certainly sooner than later.”

Financial Stability At Risk

Lars Løkke Rasmussen

Danish prime minister, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, have announced that his government would participate in the euro zone’s bailout of Ireland alongside fellow non-euro-using-states, like Sweden, the UK as well as Switzerland and Norway.

“The financial stability of Europe is at risk so it is very important to make a broader effort to try to stabilise the situation,” Mr. Rasmussen told the Financial Times.

Norway’s finance minister, Sigbjørn Johnsen, says in a statement that Norway will support Ireland through the International Monetary Fund, and suggest that the country might come up with additional support.

Sigbjørn Johnsen

“Norway will contribute to the financing of the IMF part of the loan package to Ireland through the financing arrangements we already have in place with the IMF, including our bilateral loan agreement with the IMF,” Mr. Johnsen says.

“We have not received any request for additional financial support. If we receive a request from Ireland for a bilateral loan, we will of course consider it.”


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Cyber Wars Enter Center Stage At NATO Summit

The increasing threats from hackers and cyber-criminals has finally been put on the top of the NATO agenda, as the 10 years old strategic concept is about to be replaced with a new transatlantic command structure at the NATO summit in Lisbon on 19th and 20th of November.

“Active cyber-defense is a very sensitive topic. Many experts have brought it up, that in order to have defense, you need some offense as well.”

Baltic diplomat


The new document is to replace a 10-year-old strategy paper written before the internet age and before France joined the transatlantic alliance’s command structure. The office of NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, drafted the new Strategic Concept and distributed it to the 28 member countries last week.


Developing a Nato cyber-war capability will be the main issue at the NATO summit in Lisbon on November 19th and 2oth, the EUobserver.com reports.

In addition, the 28 allied counties have to deal with the French opposition to a joint nuclear strategy.

The new NATO “Strategic Concept,” has to be adopted by the representatives in consensus.

Pentagon’s push for an “active cyber-defense” is the most controversial issue so far, according to the EUobserver.com.

“Active cyber-defense is a very sensitive topic. Many experts have brought it up, that in order to have defense, you need some offense as well. I would be very surprised if NATO will find consensus to include it,” a diplomat from one of the Baltic states says.

Cyber-attacks is outlined as a growing threat, and NATO will have to be “adaptable and flexible” in its capacity to react is a likely compromise, the draft paper says.

 

William J. Lynn

 

Following attacks in 2008 on its classified military network, the Pentagon established a new cyber-command, making “active cyber-defense” one of its policy pillars, according to US deputy secretary of defense, Mr. William J. Lynn.

The US cyber-command goes beyond the passive “Maginot Line” mentality of the past, he explains.

Passive defense systems are sufficient to meet 80 percent of attacks, but the other 20 percent need active systems, such as sensors that operate at network speed to detect and block intrusions.

At the heart of the Pentagon’s new cyber-policy lies the recognition that military networks cannot be safe unless other critical infrastructures, such as power grids and financial networks, are protected.

Stuxnet; Made In USA?

The US is itself suspected of having created Stuxnet, a computer worm that cane be introduced via USB sticks into industrial plants and used to sabotage operations, including in nuclear facilities.

Over 60 percent of reported Stuxnet cases are in Iran.

Against this background, Mr. Lynn in September called for collective defense– the core principle of the alliance – to be applied to computer networks:

“The Cold War concepts of shared warning apply in the 21st century to cyber-security. Just as our air defenses, our missile-defenses have been linked so too do our cyber-defenses need to be linked as well,” he said.

European allies are keen to protect themselves against Estonia-type cyber-strikes (which saw bank and government websites paralyzed in 2007).

But they are showing little appetite for US-model, “pre-emptive cyber-strikes,” on hostile countries or organizations.

 

Madeleine Albright

 

A group of experts, chaired by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and tasked by Mr. Fogh Rasmussen, recently did a report on the new NATO strategy, but was rather cautious on the subject.

“Over time, NATO should plan to mount a fully adequate array of cyber-defense capabilities, including passive and active elements,” the report, published in May, says.

It underlined the need for NATO to co-operate better with the EU, as this could be “helpful in addressing unconventional threats such as terrorism, cyber-attacks, and energy vulnerabilities.”

A bolder move in the report is suggesting to give Mr. Fogh Rasmussen, or NATO generals a “pre-delegated authority” to respond in emergencies “such as a missile or cyber attack.”

But the idea is unlikely to fly, diplomatic sources says.

French Resistance

Another contentious area is that of common nuclear planning.

 

Nicolas Sarcozy

 

This has turned into a balancing act between the Washington-led drive for nuclear disarmament, and at the same time keeping nuclear warheads in Europe as a deterrent to hostile countries.

France, which re-joined NATO’s military structures in 2009 after staying out for over 40 years, is legally bound by its constitution have exclusive sovereign power over its nuclear arsenal. And the French has opted out of a Rasmussen-chaired nuclear planning group, in which the alliance is looking at ways to reduce NATO’s reliance on atomic weapons.

“Anything on nuclear policy will have to be agreed with France. There is no consensus over this at the moment,” one NATO source told the EUobserver.com.

Russian Freeze

Meanwhile, the NATO-Russia relations – normally a hot topic between the alliance’s older and newer members – seems to have slipped into the background of the strategic concept discussions.

 

NATO-Russian Relations

 

NATO froze relations with Moscow for six months after the Georgia war in 2008 only to restart them again – even though Russian troops are still stationed in Georgia’s separatist regions in violation of a ceasefire agreement.

Tbilisi has filed for NATO membership, but the prospect, confirmed at a NATO summit in 2008, remains distant.

“There is a sense that nothing will move in the foreseeable future on Georgia,” the NATO source says.

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Reports:

The Albright report on strategic concept

NATO Security and Defense Agenda

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