German election, US shutdown, France´s European sovereignity and the new Kosovo crisis
After the federal election in Germany in September 2021, all politicians emphasize that they want to have a new government by Christmas, Habeck, that „failure is not an option“, the FDP can no longer afford to play the denier again, DGB and BDI are also putting pressure on ensuring that no paralyzing game comes out, whether Jamaica or Ampel/Traffic light coalition. Macron also hopes in France that this will be decided by December. Since France takes over the EU Council Presidency in early 2022, Macron wants to advance European sovereignty and needs therefore a Germany capable of action, especially after the AUKUS.
„Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me if I am still a great power“, the French newspaper „L’Opinion“ summarized the state of affairs in France. The new military and technology pact for the Pacific between America, Australia and Great Britain shakes the self-image of the nation, which Emmanuel Macron promised „France is back“ at the beginning of his term in office. But hurt vanity is only a minor aspect of the AUKUS affair. With a keen eye for foreign policy, President Macron recognized how the EU is threatened to be marginalized in the early Asian era. This time it hit France, which was forced into secret negotiations and whose security partnership including submarine sales was terminated by Australia. Macron is under no illusions that this pattern of action could set a precedent for EU countries, which is why this is not seen as a sole French, but European challenge. While defense and technology initiatives and climate protection, regardless of which German government, would quickly be relized, the situation is different with the debt union: Macron would prefer a traffic light coalition, because the Christian Union and FDP are reluctant. First, Macron wants to get an EU budget and the finances before going further. He also hopes for the support of Mario Draghi, who is currently tackling decisive reforms in Italy, e.g. in the judicial system and draconian with the corona epidemic by means of vaccination duty. Macron and Draghi as Dracon, want to put pressure on the Germans-whatever it takes. Only one thing is not in the interest of the Elysée Palace: Long coalition negotiations
The reason is not just the concern that European cooperation will be paralyzed for months. Above all, the presidential advisers fear a disruption of the ambitious program that France has set for its EU presidency in the first half of 2022. While Macron is not allowed to comment on the German election until the name of the new Chancellor has been determined, the State Secretary for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, outlined the French expectations of the partner on the other side of the Rhine. It is to be hoped that the new coalition will be “quick” and “strong”, he said. The prerequisites for this are given since there are “committed pro-Europeans” everywhere in the coalition parties in question. The French European Minister, however, did not hide the fact that there are “differences” between Paris and Berlin and that these are also revealed in the bilateral and European discussions should. With these rather clear words, Beaune means budgetary and defense issues – which together make up a large part of the common themes.
First and foremost for Paris is the question of how the future coalition will deal with the EU budget. Macron had wrested from Chancellor Angela Merkel joint liability for the European Covid loans during the Corona crisis. For France this was a first step towards a debt union, for Germany a major exception. Almost as important for France is the question of whether continental Europe should continue to rely on the USA and NATO for security policy – or whether the EU needs its own defense. After France’s submarine crisis with the USA and Australia, this question is a hot topic for Paris. In short: where Berlin slows down, Paris wants to accelerate. That is why French diplomacy is curious to see how SPD candidate Olaf Scholz will position himself as a possible chancellor. In Paris the French goverment knows that the North German is not a fan of excessive government spending. And it is remembered that in 2018 he even made the bold proposal that France could cede France’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council to the whole of the EU. But Scholz won back the hearts of the French diplomats when he said on an election broadcast that his first visit abroad would take him to Paris. The newspaper “Le Monde” drew a very positive portrait of a “persistent and unmoved” SPD candidate on Monday.
The fact that France is open to quick and clear decisions is an indicator for its increased self-confidence towards its large German neighbor. This is no coincidence: Macron has repeatedly consulted with the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi over the past few months. This “Dracron” duet strengthens Paris against Germany. There is no doubt: once the coalition is formed, Paris will also want to realize its idea of Franco-German teamwork. Fast and good.
In the context of security policy, the EU and NATO could soon be put to the test again in the Balkans and Kosovo. The situation on the border between Kosovo * and Serbia threatens to escalate. Kosovar Serb citizens have been blocking two border crossings there for two weeks. This was reported by the Serbian state television, RTS. After the Kosovar special police unit Rosu was deployed at the affected border crossings, Serbia put the Serbian military units stationed near the border into combat readiness. The international community is also on the alert. The tension was triggered by a regulation by the Kosovar government in Pristina, according to which license plates from Serbia are no longer allowed to be used in Kosovo. Several thousand Kosovar Serbs in the Serbian enclave around the city of Kosovska Mitrovica in northern Kosovo, who mainly still use vehicles with Serbian license plates, are directly affected. The measure also applies to travelers from Serbia. According to the new ordinance, these must exchange the Serbian for provisional Kosovar license plates at the border.
The background to the dispute is the fact that Serbia, for its part, does not recognize the license plates introduced by Kosovo after the declaration of independence in 2008. The ordinance must be seen as a late reaction by the government in Pristina. Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008. However, the Serbian government still does not recognize independence and regards Kosovo as a breakaway province. As an ally of Serbia, Russia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence either. However, most western countries – including the US – have done so. A week ago Kosovo deployed the special police unit Rosu at the border crossings Jarinje and Brnjak to enforce the license plate regulation. Since then, protesters have been blocking the main roads to Mitrovica. In response, the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic put the Serbian military units stationed near the border into combat readiness. As the Serbian Defense Ministry announced in Belgrade, Vucic issued this decision after the „provocation“ by the special forces in Kosovo. Serbian military planes flew over the area near the border with Kosovo several times. Vjsosa Osmani, the President of Kosovo, broke off her visit to the UN in New York because of developments in her country.
NATO and the EU are concerned about the current events on the border between Serbia and Kosovo. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg * and EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell * called for restraint and de-escalation from Serbia and Kosovo. Both Serbia and Kosovo would have to solve their problems through diplomatic channels. They announced this in statements published in Brussels on Sunday. Borell emphasized that the special police forces must be withdrawn immediately. „Any further provocation or unilateral and uncoordinated action is unacceptable,“ he said. Stoltenberg announced on Twitter that a dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina was important. He spoke on the phone personally with the Serbian President and with the Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, on Sunday (September 26th). According to information from the Serbian media company Tanjug, Vucic is said to have given NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg an ultimatum. He would want to “wait 24 hours” to see how NATO would react if “there was a pogrom against Serbs”. In addition, he is said to have said: „If the pogrom continues on our people, Serbia will react and not allow it“. According to information from ARD, Vucic is said to have announced to the NATO Secretary General that he would only be ready for a dialogue when Kosovo withdrew its police units from the border.
However, a deescalation of the situation is currently not in sight. According to reports by a correspondent for the Agence France-Presse news agency on Monday (September 27), Belgrade moved four armored vehicles to the border with Kosovo. The Kosovo-led KFOR force, headed by NATO, declared in Pristina that it was closely monitoring the situation in order to “ensure a safe environment and freedom of movement for all population groups in Kosovo” in accordance with its UN mandate. KFOR’s routine patrols have been reinforced, including in northern Kosovo. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also intervenes in the crisis situation. She is expected in Kosovo on Wednesday. The tensions with Serbia could also become an issue at a Balkan summit of European heads of state and government on October 6th .A test for European sovereignity even before a new German government is in power and France has the EU Council presidency.
And the USA might be too preoccupied at the moment as the US government is threatened by a „shutdown“ President Biden has to fight on several fronts in the US Congress this week: against an impending “shutdown”, against a possible default by the government and against the failure of his major prestige projects. In the US, the danger of a partial standstill in government business is approaching from the end of the week. In a formal vote in the US Senate on Monday evening, the Republicans blocked a proposal to secure government funding beyond the end of the fiscal year this Thursday. The new financial year starts on October 1st, this Friday. If no budget regulation has been decided by then, parts of the government will be shut down. US President Joe Biden absolutely wants to avoid that. But there is even greater harm looming: a potential government default in October. In addition, Biden is fighting for the implementation of two huge investment packages – here, too, this week should determine the success or failure of the president.“
„Shutdowns“ by parts of the government occur more often in the USA. This means that some state employees would have to be given compulsory leave or work temporarily without pay. Depending on the length, certain government services could be restricted or payments could be delayed. In the past, such “shutdowns” only lasted a few days or hours, so the consequences are limited – or weeks, which can lead to major disruptions.
The House of Representatives approved the government’s temporary funding scheme last week with the vote of the Democrats. In the Senate, however, the Republicans resisted. They complained that the bill also provides for the debt ceiling to be suspended for the time being – which they reject. more on the subject According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, the US government is at risk of default in October. It is not possible to name an exact day, but the government will run out of money „in the course of October“, Yellen last warned. If the government fails to service its debt in October, the US economy and financial markets around the world face „irreparable damage.“ The leading Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, accused the Republicans of blocking their blockade as utterly irresponsible. Schumer announced “further steps” for the week to raise the debt ceiling.
The Democrats could possibly try to get this through in Congress on their own, although these are usually bipartisan decisions. And they could possibly get a proposal under way to temporarily fund the government without changing the debt ceiling and at least get Republicans on board at that point. In any case, the timing is essential. In addition, Biden is currently fighting to push through two central projects of his tenure in Congress: a large-scale package for investments in the country’s infrastructure and a second huge package for social investments. Both projects are still shaky in the face of internal discussions among the Democrats. Decisions on this are also expected this week. According to Pelosi, the House of Representatives should vote on the infrastructure package on Thursday. The package, with which roads, bridges and other transport and energy networks in the USA are to be modernized, passed the Senate in August after long negotiations – with the support of Republicans. The final vote of the other Congress Chamber is still missing. Around 550 billion US dollars of new investments in infrastructure are planned over the next few years. In total, including previously budgeted funds, the package is worth more than a trillion dollars. The second package provides for a significant expansion of social benefits. For example, Biden wants to invest more in education and childcare, give families more support and tax relief, and take money into the fight against the climate crisis. This package is worth $ 3.5 trillion, also spread over several years. It is to be financed through tax increases for top earners and the more consistent collection of due taxes. In the face of opposition from the Republicans, the Democrats want to bring the second package through Congress under their own power with a special parliamentary procedure. However, they only have narrow majorities in both chambers, and their plans are also controversial. Some moderate Democrats are critical of the high spending, while some progressive Democrats would have liked more. The latter threatened to block the infrastructure package unless the larger second package was secured at the same time. Intensive negotiations are underway to organize majorities for both.
Dr. Rahr, Gazprom and Putin advisor talks in an analysisis about German goverment coalitions and he is right when he claims: Climate protection becomes foreign policy, social welfare policy and finannce policy, but that is the naeeominded view of Gazprom and the Resource Empire , but the real question will be the next Balkan crisis: Therefore the Kosovo crisis comes at a time when Germany has still to find a new government and the USA is preoccupied preventing a shutdown. And it remains to be seen how Russia will react in the Kosovo crisis.Explosive. Germany is busy with government negotiations, the USA is busy with the shutdown and a new Kosovo crisis. Serbia gives NATO a 24 hour ultimatum because it has Russia as a supporter. It used to be the other way around when the Habsburgs and NATO gave the Serbs ultimatums. The last month there was an Interview with Kosovo leader Albin Kurti, who also has an Albanian passport, in Al Jazzera, in which he considered uniting Kosovo Albania with Albania. In the worst case, the Serbs will be able to annex the northern Serbian-dominated part of Kosovo, but not the whole Kosovo because of the USA and their militray base Camp Bondsteele there, and Putin would not dare to push the Serbs any further. But before it could become a test for European sovereignity, it will be more Putin´s and a Serbian test for the USA and NATO.
After the disaster in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libia and now also the Sahel, the EU and NATO should first concentrate on the Balkans. Those guys can talk a lot about NATO 2030, European sovereignty, but if they don’t even solve the emerging Balkan crisis in which Russia and Turkey may also play a decisive role, one makes a fool of oneself if one cannot even ensure peace in the European backyard – with all the repercussions on NATO and the EU. Less is more and concentrate on the essentials. And besides the military, also Biden’s and Gabriel’s proposal for a Western New Silk Road and integration and connection of the Balkans without EU membership, but with an infrastructure program should be realized. After all, the Chinese manage to build simple rail way track from Belgrade to Budapest, while the West is apparently unable to do so. There is an EU analog and digital „Connectivity Initiative“, but apart from the bad name and technical title, it’s just a collection of more or less isolated projects with no overall strategic plan. Everyone picks up funds without creating a pan-European structure. By the times of the Delors plan in the 90s , when Delors wanted to create a pan-European railway network,this was buried as a result of neoliberalism and since then the railway companies were privatized and many parts of the railway system networks were even shut down. To date, the EU has not decided on a joint European program that is strategically both digital and analog, and even not even for railway networks. The EU has not yet had a vision in this direction, not even such a catchy propaganda and PR title as the Chinese with their New Silk Road. So far, everything has been left to the market, it should somehow happen and one only thinks of the EU under the German maxim of even more EU members and euro members, but not in joint infrastructural projects. There remains rather the hope that Biden’s and Gabriel’s ideas of a Western Silk Road in the EU will come about primarily through France, which thinks more strategically and as a etatistic state for the neoliberal Germany which only thinks of new EU and Euro members and thereby weakens the European house. Also interesting that Macron like also the USA try to arm Greece more against Turkey. But if foreign policy is discussed it is more about drones and the 2% target of NATO, but not in a holistic sense. To quote Bismarck’s paradigm to Wilhelm’s world politics and Place at the Sun and Hun speeches: „My map of Africa is Europe“, and if the coming Balkan crisis is not resolved, we no longer need to talk about other out of area missions, but the EU, maybe even NATO and their own house can collapse too .