Multilateralism is back
Katoikos Editorial, 27 December 2015

The final weeks of 2015 saw remarkable activity at the global level producing concrete results, for a change. The UN climate change conference in Paris (COP 21) ended in mid-December with the adoption of an ambitious Paris Agreement that will guide climate action starting in 2020 and carrying on for many years thereafter. A few days later the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on the way forward in Syria, while an agreement among the Libyan factions was endorsed by the UN Security Council

12 December 2015

World leaders in Paris call monumental climate deal a “major leap for mankind”. 195 countries have signed the pledge to hold global temperatures to between 2 and 1.5 degrees Celsius rise above pre-industrial levels, in an effort to avoid the catastrophic effects of global warming. The formally-adopted deal sees all countries pledge to reduce emissions, help raise $100 billion per year by 2020 to help poor countries adapt their economies accordingly and accept a new goal of zero net emissions by the end of the 21st century. It also includes a phase-out of fossil fuels, increased use of renewable energies and new robust carbon markets facilitating the trading of emissions and the protection of the world’s forests. The deal is the result of more than 20 years of tumultuous climate talks conducted by the UN. British economist and academic Nicholas Stern said: “This is a historic moment, not just for us but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change which threatens prosperity. It creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic growth.”

30 November 2015

The 21st International Climate Change Conference kicked off today in Paris. Representatives from all over the world have come together to draft a more efficient model to slow global warming and minimize greenhouse gas emissions in a show of solidarity among all countries rich and poor. The summit will bring together more than 150 world leaders over the next two weeks who will debate the best ways in which to implement dozens of environmental commitments made by countries all over the world. Evaluations of over 180 national plans presented by various countries suggest that, if these promises are not kept, there is a 66% possibility that emissions levels will provoke an increase in temperature of up to 3.5 degree centigrade by the year 2030.

24 November 2015

Turkey shot down a Russian plane on its border with Syria for violating Turkish airspace. The Russian foreign minister has confirmed that the downed plane was a combat Su-24 and rejects Turkish accusations. According to presidential sources, the pilots had been warned as many as 10 times in a 5-minute period before it was ultimately brought down.

30 October 2015

For the first time since the onset of the war in Syria, rival foreign powers are meeting in Vienna. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has urged participants to show flexibility “and global leadership.” Yesterday, foreign ministers from the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Russia met in an effort to overcome their differences on the eve of the talks focusing on the war in Syria. Today they will be joined by representatives from countries such as Iran, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon, France, Great Britain, and Germany as well as representatives from the United Nations. The noticeable absence of the Syrian government and the opposition forces remains stark. The war in Syria, which has raged on for four years after an uprising against Assad, has killed more than 250,000 people and has forced half of the country’s population to flee their homes.

2 October 2015

Russia intensifies its aerial attacks against the Islamic State in Syria. In the second round of attacks against terrorist targets, the Russian minister of defense assured Russian aims “against terrorist targets” in the provinces of Homs and Hama. Nevertheless, the United States has criticized the severity and the “inefficiency” of these manoeuvres for attacking regions at high-risk for civilian casualties. The Syrian Observatory, headquartered in Great Britain and which advocates for human rights, has shown that the last Russian aerial attacks targeted a training camp and secret command center near ISIS’s “capital”, Ragga, and that 12 of the combatants had died in the attack. In a statement, the US, UK, Turkey and other members of the coalition in the fight against ISIS urged Russia to halt the offensive.

The sad decline of democracy?

Opinion article by Roberto Savio,2 October 2015

The last world survey on the strength of democracy went totally ignored, except for the New York Times, which did publish a special report. And yet the World Values Survey, a respected research association with the United Nations, conducted the survey and the data of the 2015 survey are extremely worrying. In the United States, the number of Americans who approve the idea of “having the arm rule”, has gone from one in 15, in 1995, to one in six. And while, among those born before World War II, a strong 72% assigned living in a democracy the

20 July 2015

The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” reached between the six world powers and Iran on 14 July in Vienna. Among other things, the resolution established a monitoring system for Iran’s nuclear programme and prepared the ground for the “eventual removal” of all nuclear-related sanctions once the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified the implementation of a series of measures by Iran.

14 July 2015

An historic agreement has finally been reached between Iran and the group of six world powers. The deal, which is a political agreement and not a legally binding treaty, limits Iran’s nuclear programme for a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. After 17 days of virtually non-stop negotiations in Vienna, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council–US, UK, France, China and Russia– plus Germany) and Iran, along with the EU that facilitated the talks, are expected to release the formal agreement later in the day. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called the deal “a sign of hope for the entire world,” marking the end of years of stalemate and tense relations between Iran and the West in particular.

US Spying, a very wrong calculation
Katoikos Editorial, 25 June 2015

The US intelligence establishment must have been very confident that their surveillance methods would never be discovered by the surveilled individuals in order to risk wiretapping European leaders. Otherwise, it is difficult to understand how on earth they decided to gamble those relationships with some of their closest European allies in exchange for information obtained from phone conversations of Hollande, Sarkozy, Chirac or, as revealed some time ago, Merkel. They calculated wrong. Obviously they didn’t see Wikileaks coming—maybe they are not that intelligent after all. If their closest friends are on their wiretap list, who is not? Certainly their enemies

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