Originally posted on CiF Watch:
Sherwood explained that Abbas was ”facing widespread condemnation” in ‘Palestine’ and abroad “after he publicly waived his right of return” – a repudiation, she added, which is “of huge significance for Palestinian refugees”.
Originally posted on Peace and Freedom:
“We cannot let Putin get away with this,” says Radek Sikorski, Poland’s Foreign Minister. His Oxford English is perfect, his tone decisive. “By annexing Crimea, Russia is forcing a major change of boundaries on Europe. It means the breaking of the post-Cold War consensus. That is verboten.”
Vladimir Putin, lacking Mr Sikorski’s linguistic skills, does not understand “verboten”. He has been taunting the west for days now, placing troops on Ukrainian soil to defend — as he puts it — ethnic Russians there from the “nationalist mob” who overthrew President Viktor Yanukovych. The annexation of Crimea, the southernmost region in Ukraine, looks inevitable to Sikorski: “The timetable for the Kremlin’s annexation of the region is accelerating daily.” Putin knows America and the EU are in thrall to Russia’s money, oil and gas. He reckons that with huge economic interests at stake, no one will fight for Ukraine’s sovereignity.
But Putin has underestimated EU unity, says Sikorski. “I’m seeing William Hague on Monday. We are as one on Ukraine. We cannot allow Putin to redraw the map of Europe along ethnic lines. Europe is based on the principle of overcoming borders rather than redrawing them. No one has the unilateral right to move borders in response to presumed ethnic grievances. We’ve seen what happened when a European leader tried to do that before: the peoples of the Soviet Union paid one of the biggest prices for this.”
The Secretary of State has made it clear that Britain will support economic sanctions against the Russian invaders. Sikorski, who has been urging for this all along, welcomes the news: “This would not have been the first moral and political crisis rooted in greed. But if we allow ourselves to be corrupted, we will pay.”
Hague, he says, “represents Britain’s interest in the [European] Council persuasively. Think of the Syrian sanctions or action against Libya. Even before Ukraine, he and I were collaborating closely. We went together to Moldova where I had the delicious experience of witnessing William, the former head of the Tory party, urging the head of Moldova’ s Communist Party to be more pro-European.” He laughs. Then, serious again: “His trip to Kiev last week was very helpful.”
It was Sikorski who presided over the negotiations two weeks ago. The Oxford graduate, who fought the Red Army as a photojournalist in Afghanistan, had monitored events in Kiev’s Independence Square, the Maidan, from neighbouring Poland. “When I saw how things were heating up I said to Cathy Ashton [the EU Foreign Policy Chief] this situation can’t wait – we have to be on the spot, and I’m ready to go.”
With Ashton’s full backing, Sikorski, accompanied by Franz Walter Steinmeier and Laurent Fabius, his German and French counterparts, arrived in Kiev on February 19. Sikorski had dealt with Yanukovych before, and knew what to expect: “He’s of the old school Soviet type, in the [Leonid] Brezhnev mould. I knew how he would operate: blustering talk; playing the blame game; trying to drag us into explanations about ‘process’ and ‘logistics’.
“So we agreed beforehand that Steinmeier would interrupt him and say, ‘Let’s get real, Mr President, you have to full-stop the killing,’ and then I told him, ‘You have to set a date to step down.’ Yanukovych went white. But after a long phone call with Putin, he suddenly changed his mind and decided to shorten his term which led to signing the agreement.”
Yanukovych then fled the country, precipitating the present crisis.
Many see in Putin’s challenge to the West a new Cold War, but Sikorski disagrees. “This is not about people yearning for the good old Soviet days. The Russian propaganda has brainwashed people into thinking that Europe stands for gay marriage, licentiousness, an amoral lifestyle. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t seen one directive from the EU ordering member countries to do anything about gay marriage – the message has got through. Which is why I find it incredible that anyone on the Left can support Putin over the Ukraine.” He blames the Left’s understandable Iraq fiasco “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” for this: “They are torn by on the one hand their suspicion of America, and on the other their belief that gay rights is the litmus test for liberalism.”
For Sikorski, however, America “remains crucial.” President Obama has rushed a dozen F16 fighters and 300 troops to Poland in response to Russia’s invasion. “It is when America toughened over Crimea its stance over the invasion that Britain came on board.”
But Britain, he says, still needs to appreciate the “force multiplier that is the EU when it comes to its foreign policy. Whether it is Tehran, Damascus, Kiev or in Moscow, we are much more influential when we speak as representatives of the whole Union rather than as representatives of one country. I hope that even the most ardent Eurosceptic has seen this in the way the crisis has been handled.
“From the start,” he adds, “this crisis was all about Europe. The Ukrainian opposition wanted to join Europe, which to them doesn’t necessarily mean full membership, but rather becoming part of a community which is democratic, free of corruption, less monopolistic, less oligarchical.”
Sikorski, echoing Angela Merkel’s message to MPs last week, would like to see more British involvement in European foreign policy. “Britain standing on the outside and criticizing the institution is not constructive,” he says. “The Poles, too, have reservations about many aspects of the EU. But criticism can aim to denigrate or to improve. Poland prefers the latter, because we see the EU’s success as vital to our security and prosperity.”
Sikorski speaks about Britain with genuine fondness. This is his adopted homeland, where he came in 1981, aged 19, as a Solidarity youth leader who’d fallen foul of the Soviet regime in Poland. Sikorski went to Oxford, where he was a contemporary of Boris Johnson, joined the Bullingdon (a year before David Cameron did), and developed a penchant for elegant tweeds.
After university Sikorski was in Afghanistan, helping the mujahideen fight the Soviet Union. A war photo he took in 1987 won him a World Press Photo award. Back in Britain, he was befriended by Margaret Thatcher’s inner circle: his anti-communist credentials impressed the then PM, who invited him to No 10 where she cooked him scrambled eggs. After the fall of General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s regime in 1989, Sikorski returned to Poland to embark on a political career. His right-of-centre views proved popular and he was made deputy minister of defence at 29, and of foreign affairs at 35.
Handsome and urbane, Sikorski, now 51, cuts a dashing figure. He thrilled voters at a political rally a few years ago by arriving on a motorcycle (with side car) that he had purchased from Soviet stocks. One English friend recalls how Sikorski’s lunch at a restaurant in London was continually interrupted by waiters and waitresses coming up to thank him for “making us proud to be Poles”.
While undoubtedly patriotic, Sikorski has always led a cosmopolitan lifestyle: he once romanced the Hollywood actress Olivia Williams, and is now married to the Pulitzer-prize winning American author Anne Applebaum, with whom he has two teenage sons. The power couple boast a wide circle of high-profile friends, including Niall Ferguson, Malcolm Gladwell and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Poland, even at the top, may not be big enough for Mr Sikorski: he is said to be a candidate for a top post in Brussells. The UN, too, might need an able politician who easily straddles east and west. Sikorski won’t be drawn on this, but his recent role as peacemaker will have helped the minister’s chances.
Where will the Ukraine be then?
The EU cannot wash its hands of Ukraine now, as Sikorski knows: “Last week in Brussels we decided the association agreement [the treaty which would tie Ukraine closer to Europe] would not be the final goal of the Ukrainian cooperation with the EU.”
The outcome of Vladimir Putin’s expansionist campaign, meanwhile, remains to be seen.
What is sure is that Poland’s Foreign Minister will soon be striding a wider stage. Whether in Brussels or in New York, at the United Nations, no one knows – but everyone agrees he has proved sure-footed so far.
Originally posted on Mountain Republic:
Originally posted on Know-All's Box:
Delhi is perhaps one of the most ancient cities in the world with continuous in-habitation since at least 6th century BC.Over the ages, Delhi has been invaded innumerable times, burnt to ashes only to rise again. And when you have such an ancient city with continuous in-habitation, you invariably have lots of old buildings of immense historical significance.
Since my sister and brother-in-law stay in Delhi, I usually visit them once a year around October/ November. During my last visit in November 2013, I had a specific request. I wanted to visit as many historical monuments as possible, because I wanted to take as many photos as possible for my blog.I should point out that Delhi has so many monuments, that it probably requires a month to visit all of them! I will try to cover the ones I visited during my 3 day visit, in the next few posts.
Today I want to share photographs of one such architectural structure, not that well-known, but beautiful nonetheless.
Originally posted on TalesAlongTheWay:
‘The Girl with the Pearl Earring’ is one of Vermeer’s most famous paintings.
How could a painter who lived from 1635-1675 create paintings with the detail of a photograph two hundred years before photography was invented in 1839? The artist was a Dutch master named Johannes Vermeer . Often he has been described as using light instead of paint on his canvas. The source of light is a mystery in his dramatic works most most often paintings of interior domestic Dutch life.
But not as good as short distance, Toothsome!
Originally posted on allaboutlemon-All Around, In, And Out Of My Own Universe: