Archive for March 2007

Pakistan aims to increase its navy’s regional presence

March 31, 2007

Thirteen surface vessels from eight countries teamed up in two-day exercises in the northern Arabian Sea commencing on 8 March, as part of a move by Pakistan to acquire a larger regional role for its navy. Historically overshadowed by the larger Indian naval force that dominates the Indian Ocean, Pakistan has been building up its navy, particularly to boost its role as a partner to the US Navy (USN) in the ‘war on terror’ in areas close to the Persian Gulf.Pakistan’s Commodore Farrukh Mahfooz told Jane’s that Pakistan hopes to acquire a larger role for itself beyond guarding its maritime frontiers

Source: Jane International

Argentina Presses Falklands Claim, Disputes British Sovereignty

March 30, 2007

Twenty-five years after hostilities ceased, Argentina is opening a new front in the Falklands War.

Rather than jets and mortar rounds, however, this salvo involves diplomats appealing for help at the United Nations and the government reasserting long-standing claims to the island chain where far more sheep than people huddle against the forbidding South Atlantic winds.

London, however, maintains its hold on the island, which Argentina invaded 25 years ago this Monday.

Many Argentines, especially the left-wing power base of President Nestor Kirchner, see the war as a huge mistake pursued by the nation’s discredited military dictators. But Argentines still universally call the Falklands, known in South America as the “Malvinas”, as their own. And in this election year, Kirchner appears poised to gain support by pushing hard against Britain’s firm refusal to negotiate on the islands’ fate.

“Argentina has never consented to the United Kingdom’s claim of rights to the territory,” Eduardo Airaldi, Kirchner’s top official in charge of the South Atlantic region, said as he described Kirchner’s position in an interview with The Associated Press.

Kirchner’s predecessors didn’t do as much to press Argentina’s claims to the islands. Former President Carlos Menem restored diplomatic ties with Britain in 1990 after agreeing to shelve the sovereignty question.

In contrast, Kirchner declared the archipelago’s recovery to be “a permanent and irrevocable objective of the Argentine people.” His government expressed irritation when Britain protested the presence of an Argentine ship near the islands and challenged changes to fishing rights made by Falklands administrators. In January he sent his foreign minister to lobby U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to support new sovereignty talks.

Argentina on Tuesday said it scrapped a deal Menem had signed with the British to explore for oil and natural gas around the Falklands. The joint venture yielded no major discoveries, but was long on symbolism, since it represented an Argentine acknowledgment of British rights to the sea floor. Britain’s Foreign Office called the end of the deal a “regrettable action” that “will not in any way help Argentina in its claim for sovereignty of the Islands.”

Just before the Argentine invasion on April 2, 1982, diplomats from both countries had been talking about an eventual Hong Kong-like handover of the colony Britain had occupied since 1833, despite the idea’s unpopularity in London and among the 3,000 or so British-descended residents of the island, known as “kelpers.”

But the invasion changed all that.

“We will not discuss sovereignty unless and until the Islanders so wish. At present they do not,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman told the AP on condition of anonymity in line with department policy. “In this respect, 1982 changed everything.”

Britain reacted quickly to the invasion, summoning the Queen Elizabeth 2 cruise ship to carry 3,000 troops and mobilizing an armada that included Prince Andrew to sail some 8,000 miles south.

British artillery pounded the Argentine draftees who had dug foxholes in the rocky soil. Humbled by the onslaught, the South American nation surrendered that June 14, after 649 Argentine and 272 British troops were killed.

The two countries share a long history, the British helped build Argentina’s railroads and promoted its beef industry. A large British community still lives in Argentina, served by an English-language daily paper in the capital.

But the Falklands dispute remains an open wound. Many public schools, streets, small businesses and taxi stands are proudly named for the Malvinas. Billboards that read “The Malvinas are ours” are a common sight.

Kirchner has sought to avoid offending either the left or the right in Argentina by focusing on the idea that Britain acted illegally when it expelled an Argentine military garrison from the islands in 1833, a nationalist tone that analysts say won’t hurt him this election year.

So Argentines were outraged recently when British Prime Minister Tony Blair compared the British retaking of the islands to the Kosovo air war that led to the overthrow of Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

“I have got no doubt it was the right thing to do,” Blair said in a podcast on his Web site. “But for reasons not simply to do with British sovereignty but also because I think there was a principle at stake which is that a land shouldn’t be annexed in that way.”

Many Argentines initially supported the war as well, but came to blame the ruling military junta for picking a fight the country had little hope of winning, and sending conscripts to their deaths.

The greatest legacy of the 74-day war for Argentines is that the defeat hastened the fall of the dictatorship a year later in 1983, said Riordan Roett, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University.

Source: AP

SRSG addresses public meeting in Decan/Decane

March 30, 2007

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Kosovo (SRSG) Joachim Rücker today addressed a public meeting in the Culture House of Decan/Decane Municipality together with COMKFOR Lt.-General Roland Kather, the Deputy Prime Minister, Lutfi Haziri and the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Ardian Gjini. The President of the Municipal Assembly, Nazmi Selmanaj, chaired the meeting.

The SRSG noted that Kosovo had entered a new phase after the transmission of the Special Envoy’s report, supported by the Secretary-General, to the Security Council. The SRSG emphasized further the importance of protecting Kosovo’s cultural heritage for all people of Kosovo.

In answer to questions about the 14th century Decan/Decane Monastery, a World Heritage Site, the SRSG said: “I think everybody wins by having such a treasure in the immediate vicinity. It’s a treasure not only for Kosovo, but actually for the whole world. I think there will be every opportunity that you will resolve issues related to the establishment of protective zone in harmony.”

Almost two hundred persons attended the meeting called by the Municipality Presidency and supported by the OSCE. It is the latest in a series of such sessions the SRSG has attended in an outreach program aimed at touching base with as many members of the Kosovo society as possible.
Note: The meeting took place just a few days before the attack. This incident clearly illustrates two things; the inability of the international forces to protect and the fact that vicious elements that have taken control of Kosovo and constitute enemy of democracy and stability for the whole of Europe. As far as the writer is aware, in modern history only the Taliban were apt in destructing ancient monuments… And we all know what was the end of their regime and the ramifications for the world.
Source: UNMIK/PR

UNESCO world heritage site targeted by extremists again

March 30, 2007

Decani Monastery area hit by a mortar-grenade, no injuries or damage

Bishop Teodosije said for KIM info-service that this is obviously one more mortar attack on the Monastery. The attackers probably wanted to intimidate us and send a threatening message both to the monks and NATO peacekeepers in this critical political moment for Kosovo firing only one grenade. It is well known that this area is full of well armed extremist paramilitary groups. Some of them threatened the monastery before. It is early now to speak more about this attack and we expect KFOR to come out with an official statement and perform a thorough investigation in order to identify the perpetrators of this terrorist attack on Visoki Decani Monastery. Thank God, no one is hurt, said the Bishop.

This morning (March 30 2007) at 01.10 a.m. the immediate vicinity of Visoki Decani Serbian Orthodox Monastery was rocked by a powerful blast which woke up the monastic brotherhood. The monks who were still awake, among them Bishop Teodosije, confirmed that they first heard a strange muffled sound, then a whiz which lasted about 2 seconds followed by a powerful blast in the very vicinity of the medieval monastery. According to the testimony of the monks the whizing sound came from the hill above the monastery from where it is believed that the grenade was launched. All the monks who remember the last mortar-grenade attack on Visoki Decani Monastery on March 17 riots in 2004 said that the sound and the explosion were very similar to those in the previous attack.
Beside March 2004 attack when 7 grenades fell only 50 m away from the 14th century church, Visoki Decani Monastery area was targeted by mortar grenades twice more since the deployment of NATO led peacekeepers, in February 2000 (6 grenades) and June 2000, when 9 mortar grenades hammered the area around the monastery. The perpetrators of these three attacks have not yet been identified and brought to justice.

The soldiers of the Italian KFOR who are providing military protection of the monastery from a military base in the vicinity of the monastery immediately reacted after the explosion and began a search for the attackers. The situation around the monastery is peaceful again, KFOR soldiers said to the monks who returned to their cells to take some rest before the morning prayer.

Bishop Teodosije said for KIM info-service that this is obviously one more mortar-grenade attack on the Monastery. The attackers probably wanted to intimidate us and send a threatening message both to us and the NATO peacekeepers in this critical political moment for Kosovo firing only one grenade. It is well known that this area is full of well armed extremist paramilitary groups. Some of them threatened the monastery before. It is early now to speak more about this attack and we expect KFOR to come out with an official statement and perform a thorough investigation in order to identify the perpetrators of this terrorist attack on Visoki Decani Monastery. Thank God, no one is hurt, said the Bishop

Source: KIM

Cyprus recognized as regional Medical Centre

March 29, 2007

Cyprus is gradually being recognized as an ideal location for becoming a regional Medical Centre, providing high quality medical care to the people of this rather turbulent and distressed part of the world, according to Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism Antonis Michaelides.

Addressing the 2nd World Health Tourism Congress, in coastal Limassol, Mr. Michaelides also said that the international scope and significance of the conference is reflected in the impressive delegates list, which includes over 100 providers of health tourism services and 120 corporate buyers from many countries.

The Minister added that Cyprus combines a number of important attributes as a destination for health tourism and has the potential to become a centre for health tourism in the near future. Cyprus, he noted, located at the crossroads of three continents, offers ideal climate both for treatment and recuperation and a high standard of services for medical tourism at cost – effective rates.

He also said that the Government, recognizing the importance of health tourism for Cyprus, has included the development of this sector in its strategic goals.

”The Cyprus government encourages investment in various sectors of the Cyprus economy and health tourism investments are particularly welcomed”, he pointed out.

Within this framework, he continued, the government has set up a one stop system for the speedy registration of companies in Cyprus.

In addition, it has recently established the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency, which aims at attracting foreign investment and at facilitating such investment. The government also actively supports the Medical Services Promotion Board, which has been set up by the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and consists of a cluster of the largest private medical facilities in Cyprus.

An interministrial committee is currently examining the possibility of additional incentives in a concerted effort to promote further the development of health tourism, the Minister noted.

Source: Cyprus Embassy in Washington D.C

Increased investments from the developing world

March 28, 2007

According to a recent report by UNCTAD , developing countries, such as China and India show an accelarated pace of investing their capital internationaly.

The developing states invested around 133 billion USD last year, whilst China has accumulated 450 billion USD as assets abroad in outward investments over the past 15 years.  The small state of Kuweit also invested some 16 billion USD and in total 1,4 trillion USD are invested by countries that are considered developing or in transition.

The list of the largest investors has as follows:

Hong-Kong: 470 billion USD

British Virgin Islands: 123 billion USD

Singapoure: 110 billion USD

Taiwan: 97 billion USD

Brazil: 71 billion USD

China: 46 billion USD

Malaisia: 44 billion USD

South Africa: 38 billion USD

South Korea: 34 billion USD

Note: Through Hong-Kong a large percentage of Chinese investments, as well as, USA, British are exported.

Source: UNCTAD

Kosovo independence would damage European stability – Russian Foreign Ministry

March 27, 2007

INTERFAX (RUSSIAN FEDERATION)

The establishment of an independent state in Kosovo could have a negative impact on stability in Europe, a Foreign
Ministry review of the Russian foreign policy says.

“The establishment of an independent state in Kosovo is fraught with serious complications for stability in Europe,” says the document posted on the ministry website on Tuesday-27/03/2007-.

“It is also doubtful that in conditions of independence it will be easier for Kosovo to achieve the fundamental objectives of the settlement such as the formation of a multiethnic society and the fulfillment of other standards without the consent of all the countries,” the review says.