“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, November 13, 2006

Poland Asserts Itself In Europe Against Russia.

Russia with oil, is using its new found wealth to enhance its political and diplomatic influence on a global scale. It has used it extensively throughout Eastern Europe and has raised some alarms in the rest of Europe. Leave it to some of the countries that know the Russians best to be the ones to stand up to them. It is a small story, but heartening to know that there are some European countries with non-atrophied spines. The Poles are still ignoring Chirac's admonition to "know when to shut up".

Poland holds up EU-Russia talks

Russia supplies a quarter of Europe's oil and gas. Poland has vetoed the start of talks between the EU and Russia on a new partnership agreement covering energy, trade and human rights.
The move means that it is unlikely the talks can be launched as planned at an EU-Russia summit in two weeks' time. Poland says Russia must first lift a ban on Polish food imports and ratify a treaty on trade in energy products.

Officials say the EU's credibility will be damaged if a common position is not reached before the 24 November summit.

Russia supplies a quarter of the oil and gas consumed in the EU, and the proportion is set to rise sharply in coming decades. Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said on Sunday that Russia was violating the current EU-Russia co-operation agreement by banning Polish meat, and many other foods.

"We would like EU member states to show solidarity with Poland regarding Russia," he said, ahead of Monday's meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. After Poland wielded its veto, External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said she hoped that it would still be possible for the EU to go into the EU-Russia summit with an agreed common position.

However Poland "has not lifted its reservations," she said.

Poland's insistence that Russia should ratify the Energy Charter Treaty - which would help foreign companies invest in Russia's energy market - is no longer shared by all EU countries.
Russia has signed the treaty, and the EU has been trying for years to get Moscow to ratify it, without success. The European Commission is now aiming to enshrine many of the treaty's principles into the new partnership and co-operation agreement with Russia, once the old one comes to an end next year.

Poland threatens to veto EU-Russia energy pact
(Hattip, Rufus,Elephant Emeritus) BioPact

"The longterm viability of the biofuels future depends on a great variety of factors. One of the more important ones is the security of fossil energy supplies. If the energy security brought by oil and gas comes under threat, the political will to promote and invest in renewable biofuels will become stronger. Bioenergy and biofuels - produced locally or imported from the global South - offer a strategy to diversify the portfolio of energy sources, thereby enhancing the security of supplies.

This is why we track energy security issues in the EU. The longterm picture doesn't look good, with increasing tensions over the Union's energy relationship with Russia. The Russian Federation accounts for some 44% of EU gas imports (25% of total consumption) and is the EU's single largest external supplier of oil, standing at 30% of total imports (27% of total consumption). These shares are expected to grow as the EU's North Sea reserves decline.

But with Russia gradually becoming a 'petropolitist' state that doesn't hesitate to use its energy resources as a political weapon (earlier post), it is no surprise to hear that pipeline politics once again dominate EU-Russia relations 10 days before a major energy summit between the two blocks, as Poland threatens to veto the renewal of a 1997 energy agreement with the Kremlin.

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 13 November will discuss building closer economic ties with Russia but their efforts could face a veto from Warsaw, which wants a tougher line taken with Moscow over energy. A ten-year old Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) [*.pdf] is being re-negotiated as the EU and Russia prepare to meet for a 24 November summit in Helsinki.

Failure to reach an agreement on the Energy Charter Treaty, which Russia seems to have definitely refused to ratify, has prompted the EU to seek incorporating the Charter's principles into the broader PCA. The principles include granting mutual access to energy markets and minimum guarantees for energy investments and transit.

But Wozniak insists that Russia signs the Transit Protocol of the Energy Charter, which is the most controversial part for Moscow. "We feel very unsafe in terms of energy supplies," Polish Economy Minister Piotr Wozniak told reporters on 10 November:"


  1. Rufus said:

    European politics is getting "interesting," again.

    If Libs get in a huff they can move to Canada, where they at least have the option of quietly driving back. Poland is probably the only country in the northern hemisphere that conservatives can move to in protest of the loss of Congress or if (God forbid) the White House goes to the Donks.

  2. Rufus,
    Do you need a fresh supply of non work safe ah ah inspirations?

    ( would you listen to that Habu? What a sexist. Does he think for one minute that "his" idea of "inspiration" is legitimate? I think the man is a pig, i don't know how his wife puts up with him.
    I mean does he realize how demeaning it is to women to show other women? Why doesn't he put up Michelangelo's David? I'll tell you why. First he'd spell it Michelob's Davy and he's probably got some Freudian penis shrinkage thing going on. The man is a pig)
    Whew, that was tough on me.
    Anyway Rufus, if ya need mo "inspiration" you'll have to reach out there youself. I've just put myself in time out, I think. I'll talk about it. Talking is always good. Not as good as bombing but good in a non bombing environment.

  3. uh-o, here comes that "how many poles does it take to unscrew a lightbulb" joke.

  4. PossumTater,
    Glad you're back. I thought you were latest "raodmark" on US 17.
    Bog got ya down? Don't worry Rufus and I have a plan, actually Rufus has a plan for some Go-Bog Juice.
    We'll discuss it over dinner.
    Welcome home. say did you lose some weight?

  5. "raodmark" marks glow in the dark as opposed to regular old roadmarks that just "thump,thump" under you tires.

  6. Catherine,
    If I just peek at them for a wee bit 'o time I won't get ah,ah, like Michlob Davy and turn to stone will I?

  7. Catherine,
    Couldn't get the second one to appear but am happy to report that none of me has turned ....marble.

  8. whit said;

    From NY Times, Lebanon is on edge as Shia wave of power washes over the country. War expected. Olmert's inept war prosecution made Hesbollah more popular than ever.

    Gosh, things aren't working out in Lebanon for the neo-cons either:

    Lebanon is seen as the most hopeful prospect for a flourishing pro-Western democracy in the Arab world, giving a boost to the Bush administration's flagging democratization program.

  9. Gotta love those pollackish people, no?