TIME europe

Only Gender Quotas Can Stop the E.U. from Being a Boys Club

Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission's president has asked that EU member states nominate female candidates. Here's why gender quotas are necessary

Gender anxiety is enveloping the top levels of the European Union. By the end of this month, each of the bloc’s 28 countries is expected to put forward their candidate to sit on the European Commission, the powerful body that drives policy-making and enforces E.U. law.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s new president, has instructed member states to send female candidates, saying he wants more women in the top jobs. A social media campaign – #10orMore – is also under way to boost female representation at the E.U. to a record high.

Unfortunately, governments are not playing ball: so far only five countries have nominated women. Nineteen other nations have nominated a man, with four countries still to announce their candidates.

The goal of getting more women into top decision-making posts is simply common sense given that they represent more than half of the E.U.’s 507 million citizens. Right now this is not reflected by their visibility in politics, business or the media, meaning their interests are often sidelined.

The drive to change the status quo at the top echelons of the E.U. has attracted skepticism. On the Facebook page of Neelie Kroes – one of the nine women in the outgoing Commission and a co-founder of the #10orMore campaign – critics question why gender would qualify a person for one of the 28 commissioner posts.

Such knee-jerk accusations of tokenism greet most attempts to introduce gender quotas in politics or the boardroom. But while so many barriers stand between women and senior positions – and these range from sexism in the workplace, high childcare costs and the unequal distribution of maternity and paternity leave – quotas are one of the few measures that actually have an impact.

In 1997 the British Labour party introduced all-women short lists for parliamentary candidates in some constituencies. Later that year, a record number of women were elected, and Labour still has the highest proportion of female MPs in Britain.

Britain’s Conservative party, which formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, does not support all-women short lists, and a U.N. survey of women in ministerial positions earlier this year shows Britain languishing at around the halfway point, below Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, with women making up just 15% of the cabinet.

There are other poor performers in Europe, with Greece, Cyprus and Hungary faring even worse, reflecting the problems Juncker is having in rallying enough women for his Commission.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are Sweden and Finland, which are in the top three of the U.N. survey with over 50% female representation in their cabinets. France and Norway are close to reaching gender parity.

What the top performers have in common are long-term and often legislated programs to improve gender equality across society. In Sweden, political parties have since the early 1990s imposed voluntary quotas for election candidates. Norway was the first to introduce quotas for women on company boards, while France has legally-binding quotas for both politics and the boardroom. “Quotas are nobody’s first choice but where they are introduced they do improve representation, they do improve visibility of women,” says Clare McNeil, a senior fellow at the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, adding that they work best when coupled with penalties for non-compliance.

Given the pool of female talent in the E.U., having just a handful of women in the Commission would be a pitiful performance. It is crucial now that efforts to increase female representation go beyond headline-grabbing promises. Juncker and the European Parliament, which approves the Commission, must make good on threats to reject the line-up if it is too male-dominated.

Hopefully quotas will not need to be in place forever. But right now Europe is so far from being a level playing field that radical measures are needed to kick-start lasting change in society.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Brussels.

TIME conflict

This 75-Year-Old Map Shows Europe ‘Ready for War’

A portrait of a world days away from combustion

The declarations had not yet come, but on Aug. 28, 1939, Europe already knew war was on its way. On that day, 75 years ago, the armies that would fight what became World War II had gathered.

Just how many soldiers that meant differed by nation, as TIME pointed out to its readers with the map below, which ran in the Sept. 4, 1939 issue. The annotated chart also provides evidence that, no matter how many men were under arms, there was no way for the continent to be entirely ready for what was to follow. In Poland, for example, President Ignacy Moscicki was said to have told Roosevelt that he was willing to negotiate with Germany. By the time Sept. 4 came around — the magazine arrived on stands before then— that willingness had already proved pointless.

On desktop, roll over the map to get a closer look. If you’re reading on a mobile device, click to zoom.

TIME

Stay tuned next week for further coverage of the 75th anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

TIME Ukraine

Civil War Hangs Heavy Over Ukraine During Its Independence Day Celebrations

Ukrainian forces parade during a military ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev on Aug. 24, 2014.
Ukrainian forces parade during a military ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of Ukraine's independence in Kiev on Aug. 24, 2014. Sergei Supinsky—AFP/Getty Images

Marches in Kiev take place amid new reports of Russian hardware finding its way into rebel hands

The increasingly bloody war carving up Ukraine was in the thoughts of many Sunday as the embattled nation observed a somber Independence Day.

In Kiev, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko gave an impassioned address, praising the “warriors” fighting against foreign aggression.

“Never in 23 years has this day been so majestic as today. People have never celebrated it as sincerely as today,” said Poroshenko, as honor guards and battle-primed infantry, preparing to deploy to the front, stood ramrod straight.

“Ukraine will never again celebrate this holiday under [the] military-historical calendar of the neighboring country. We will honor defenders of our motherland, not someone else’s!” roared Poroshenko.

Following the speech, a military band led a column of troops, missile launchers and armor through Kiev’s Maidan Square in a pointed message to Moscow, days ahead of a meeting between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Further east, in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, an entirely different scene played out, as pro-Russian separatists marched captured Ukrainian soldiers at gunpoint through the streets of Donetsk city.

Pedestrians responded to sight of the haggard prisoners of war with cries of “fascists” and some threw bottles at the POWs, according to Reuters.

“This is no independence day. This is a plague on our land, the fascists who have taken control of Kiev who are now shooting at hospitals and morgues,” one Donestk resident told the news agency.

Ukraine has been locked in bitter civil war for months in the wake of a pro-Moscow uprising in the country’s far east, following the Russian military’s seizure of the Crimean Peninsula in March.

Kiev and Washington have accused the Putin Administration of providing arms and supplies to the separatists, including a sophisticated surface-to-air missile system that could have downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 in July with the loss of 298 lives.

On Friday, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes confirmed to reporters that forces within Russia were firing artillery into Ukraine and moving heavy weaponry across the border into rebel hands.

TIME europe

Europe’s Economic Woes Require a Japanese Solution

Rome As Italy Returns To Recession In Second-Quarter
A pedestrian carries a plastic shopping bag as she passes a closed-down temporary outlet store in Rome, Italy, on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014. Italy's economy shrank 0.2 percent in the second quarter after contracting 0.1 percent in the previous three months. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The region’s economy is starting to resemble Japan’s, and that threatens to condemn Europe to its own lost decades

No policymaker, anywhere in the world, wants his or her national economy to be compared to Japan’s. That’s because the Japanese economy, though still the world’s third-largest, has become a sad case-study in the long-term damage that can be inflicted by a financial crisis. It’s more than two decades since Japan’s financial sector melted down in a gargantuan property and stock market crash, but the economy has never fully recovered. Growth remains sluggish, the corporate sector struggles to compete, and the welfare of the average Japanese household has stagnated.

The stark reality facing Europe right now is that its post-crisis economy is looking more and more like Japan’s. And if I was Mario Draghi, Angela Merkel or Francois Hollande, that would have me very, very nervous that Europe is facing a Japanese future — a painful, multi-decade decline.

The anemic growth figures in post-crisis Europe suggest that the region is in the middle of a long-term slump much like post-crisis Japan. Euro zone GDP has contracted in three of the five years from 2009 and 2013, and the International Monetary Fund is forecasting growth of about 1.5% a year through 2019. Compare that to Japan. Between 1992 and 2002, Japan’s GDP grew more than 2% only twice, and contracted in two years. What Europe has to avoid is what happened next in Japan: There, the “lost decade” of slow growth turned into “lost decades.” A self-reinforcing cycle of low growth and meager demand became entrenched, leaving Japan almost entirely dependent on exports — in other words, on external demand — for even its modest rates of expansion.

It is easy to see Europe falling into the same trap. Low growth gives European consumers little incentive to spend, banks to lend, or companies to invest at home. Europe, in fact, has it worse than Japan in certain respects. High unemployment, never much of an issue in Japan, could suppress the spending power of the European middle class for years to come. Europe also can’t afford to rely on fiscal spending to pump up growth, as Japan has done. Pressure from bond markets and the euro zone’s leaders have forced European governments to scale back fiscal spending even as growth has stumbled. It is hard to see where Europe’s growth will come from – except for increasing exports, which, in a still-wobbly global economy, is far from a sure thing.

This slow-growth trap is showing up in Europe today as low inflation – something else that has plagued Japan for years on end. Deflation in Japan acted as a further brake on growth by constraining both consumption and investment. Now there are widespread worries that the euro zone is heading in a similar pattern. Inflation in the euro zone sunk to a mere 0.4% in July, the lowest since the depths of the Great Recession in October 2009.

Sadly, Europe and Japan also have something else in common. Their leaders have been far too complacent in tackling these problems. What really killed Japan was a diehard resistance to implementing the reforms that might spur new sources of growth. The economy has remained too tied up in the red tape and protection that stifles innovation and entrepreneurship. And aside from a burst of liberalization under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in the early 2000s, Japan’s policymakers and politicians generally avoided the politically sensitive reforms that might have fixed the economy.

Europe, arguably, has been only slightly more active. Though some individual governments have made honorable efforts – such as Spain’s with its labor-law liberalization – for the most part reform has come slowly (as in Italy), or has barely begun (France). Nor have European leaders continued to pursue the euro zone-wide integration, such as removing remaining barriers to a common market, that could also help spur growth.

What all this adds up to is simple: If Europe wants to avoid becoming Japan, Europe’s leaders will have to avoid the mistakes Japan has made over the past 20 years. That requires a dramatic shift in the current direction of European economy policy.

First of all, the European Central Bank (ECB) has to take a page out of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) recent playbook and become much more aggressive in combating deflation. We can debate whether the BOJ’s massive and unorthodox stimulus policies are good or bad, but what is beyond argument at this point is that ECB president Draghi is not taking the threat of deflation seriously enough. Inflation is nowhere near the ECB’s preferred 2% and Draghi has run monetary policy much too tight. He should consider bringing down interest rates further, if necessary employing the “quantitative easing” used by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

But Japan’s case also shows that monetary policy alone can’t raise growth. The BOJ is currently injecting a torrent of cash into the Japanese economy, but still the economic recovery is weak. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finally seems to have digested that fact and in recent months has announced some measures aimed at overhauling the structure of the Japanese economy, by, for instance, loosening labor markets, slicing through excessive regulation, and encouraging more women to join the workforce. Abe’s efforts may prove too little, too late, but European leaders must still follow in his footsteps by taking on unions, opening protected sectors and dropping barriers to trade and investment in order to enhance competitiveness and create jobs.

If Europe fails to act, it is not hard to foresee the region slipping hopelessly into a Japan-like downward spiral. This would prove disastrous for Europe’s young people — already suffering from incomprehensible levels of youth unemployment — and it would deny the world economy yet another pillar of growth.

TIME europe

Ukraine Agrees to Red Cross-Led Aid Mission

(DONETSK, Ukraine) — The Red Cross will lead an international humanitarian aid operation with Russia and the European Union into the rebel-held city of Luhansk — a plan that Ukraine says the backing of President Barack Obama.

The Kremlin earlier announced that it was dispatching the humanitarian convoy into eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine had previously objected to Russia sending any aid into the region, and the West had strongly warned Russia that any attempt to send its military personnel into Ukraine under the guise of humanitarian assistance would be seen as an invasion.

In the last week, Ukrainian government forces have been closing in on the few remaining pro-Russian rebel strongholds in eastern Ukraine, including surrounding Donetsk, the largest city in rebel-held city. Hundreds of thousands have been fleeing the fighting.

Shortly after the Kremlin statement, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko got on a phone call with President Barack Obama, according to their offices.

Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of supplying heavy weapons and other equipment to the rebels in eastern Ukraine, a charge that Russia denies.

The Kremlin statement came after a telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso. It didn’t say when the convoy would leave or provide other details.

Barroso’s office said he warned Russia “against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia has agreed on details of a humanitarian mission with the Ukrainian leadership.

“I hope that our Western partners will not put a spanner in the works,” he said.

Lavrov said that the Ukrainian military action in the east looks like an attempt to “raze it to the ground to force the Russians to leave and settle it with others who would have a different attitude to our nations’ history, culture, friendship and links that have existed for centuries.”

Barroso also talked to Poroshenko, emphasizing “the EU’s readiness to increase its support to the Ukrainian government-led humanitarian response efforts as well as to international humanitarian organizations.”

Earlier Monday, rockets slammed into a high-security prison in the main rebel-held city of Donetsk, igniting a riot that allowed more than 100 prisoners to flee, authorities said.

Donetsk city council spokesman Maxim Rovinsky said a direct rocket hit killed at least one inmate and left three others severely wounded. In the chaos, he said 106 prisoners escaped, included some jailed for murder, robbery and rape.

Many of those in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine distrust the new central government in Kiev, which came to power after the February ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovych, whose power base was in eastern Ukraine.

Fighting began a month after Russia annexed Ukraine’s peninsula of Crimea in March.

___

Associated Press writer Peter Leonard in Kiev, Ukraine and Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

MONEY Travel

4 Ways to Visit Europe for 33% Off

True, the Continent is expensive, but choose an unexpected location, time it right, and you’ll be surprised by just how much you can save. Here are four great alternative choices that offer all the amazing attractions of the most popular destinations -- for a whole lot less.

  • Budapest (Instead of Prague)

    201408_TRV_01
    A sunrise illuminates the Danube River and Chain Bridge, which connects Budapest's East and West sections. Douglas Pearson—Getty Images

    How Much You Can Save: 25%

    Why Here: Like Central European capitals Prague and Vienna, Buda­pest is known for its glittering ­riverfront, coffee culture, and ­classical-music scene. “Still, it’s one of the more affordable large cities on the Continent,” says Roger Wade, founder of Priceof­Travel .com. Food and wine are about 75% cheaper in Budapest than in Vienna, and the Hungarian city offers amazing deals on lodging; the average room rate in Buda­pest is $104, vs. Prague’s $138, according to hotel comparison site ­Trivago.com. The city is also evolving at a startling pace, says Ellison Poe of Poe Travel: “Even last year’s guidebooks are as stale as week-old angel food cake.”

    See and Do: Start with a tour of the old city, which is divided by the Danube River. For a bargain option, Wade recommends the “Original” walk from TripToBudapest Free Walking Tours. This three-hour stroll passes sites such as the Danube Promenade, lined with iconic 19th-century buildings, and the neoclassical St. Stephen’s Basilica. Want a more in-depth take? Context Travel is known for its scholar-led tours; topics range from Budapest’s 19th- and 20th-century golden years to a look at the city’s current politics ($50).

    Head back to St. Stephen’s for $21 Thursday concerts, or get dolled up for an opera at the Hungarian State Opera House. With good matinee seats as low as $20, prices are a fraction of those in Vienna, says Poe. Later walk along Falk Miksa, Buda­pest’s antiques street, to window-shop for paintings, glassworks, jewelry, and more, says Daniel Göczo˝, a guide with JoAn VIP Travel.

    Eat and Drink: Sample authentic Hungarian dishes, such as layered potatoes or duck breast, for $12 at Café Kör, says Attila Dankovics, concierge at the Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest. Or try the Great Market Hall for traditional street foods such as lángos, flatbreads topped with sour cream and cheese, or kürto˝skalács pastries.

    Dankovics also suggests enjoying a $3 glass of wine at one of the city’s “ruin bars,” which are housed in buildings abandoned during the communist years.

    Stay: In Budapest, as in many European cities, you’ll miss out on great bargains if you dismiss anyplace with “hostel” in the name. The Maverick Hostel, housed in a renovated mansion, has private rooms for just $37 a person (unless other­wise stated, all rates in this story are for October). Or for an affordable indulgence, book the Lánchíd 19 Design Hotel, where some rooms overlook the iconic Chain Bridge (from $110).

  • Lisbon (Instead of Rome)

    201408_TRV_02
    A street car pauses in front of Lisbon's Triumphal Arch. Sylvain Sonnet

    How Much You Can Save: 38%

    Why here Like classic ­European capitals such as Rome and Madrid? Then you’ll love Lisbon. The city can go toe to toe with the big names on food and wine, architecture, and museums, but at a fraction of the cost. A three-course meal runs $42 (vs. $61 in Madrid), according to cost-of-living index Numbeo.com, and at $120 a night, average hotel rates are 38% lower than Rome’s, says research firm STR.

    See and Do: Take a peek into the city’s history at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo ($7), housed in a former convent. The museum has a stunning collection of azulejos, the hand-painted tiles that cover buildings throughout Lisbon. For something a bit more modern, there’s the industrial-­looking Museu da Eletricidade (entry is free). Fashion lovers should hit the Museu do Design e da Moda (MUDE), another free option, this one stocked with more than 1,200-plus haute couture masterpieces.

    Want an ensemble you can take home? Explore the shops in Príncipe Real. Lisbon-based blogger José Cabral of oalfaiatelisboeta .com recommends Espaço B for smart designs by European designers. Many stores offer a VAT refund, which you’ll redeem at the airport, for savings of up to 23%.

    Take a break from the bustle at the 18th-century, rococo-style National Palace of Queluz, 20 minutes outside the city. Admission is $10 if you arrive at 3:30 or later. Be sure to see “the fountain-dotted gardens,” says Your-Lisbon-Guide .com founder Mary H. Goudie.

    Eat and Drink: The cuisine at Mini Bar is reminiscent of the food at Spain’s late El Bulli, which was known as one of the world’s most experimental restaurants, says Joel Zack of Heritage Tours Private Travel. But while El Bulli’s tasting menu was about $320, the six-course prix fixe at Mini Bar is a more palatable $53.

    Prefer something traditional? Try Cantinho do Bem Estar ($32) in Bairro Alto, known for generous portions of codfish and black pork, says Anja Mutic, Everthe­Nomad.com travel writer. For a nightcap head downtown to 1930s-era bar Ginginha do Carmo for a $2 ginginha, a traditional sour cherry liqueur.

    Stay: In the riverfront area of Cais do Sodre, seek out the hip LX Boutique Hotel ($135), says Mutic. Request a room with views of the Tagus River. Or try the simple rooms at the nearby Lisb’on ­Hostel. Rates drop slightly after Oct. 15; book a private room for $90, including breakfast.

  • Dalmatian Coast (Instead of the Amalfi Coast)

    201408_TRV_03
    Sun worshipers lounge on a beach outside Dubrovnik's city walls. LifeStyle—Alamy

    How Much You Can Save: 19%

    Why Here: Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast cities of Split (to the north) and Dubrovnik (to the south) have a lot in common with the Amalfi Coast of Italy. There’s the stunning scenery, sea-to-table cuisine, olive oils, and, of course, fantastic wines. Yet Croatia, while pricier than it once was, is still the more affordable. Last year the average hotel rate in Amalfi was $315, vs. Dubrovnik’s $254, according to Hotels.com.

    See and Do: Pick up the Split Card (complimentary if you’re staying three days) at the tourism bureau for local discounts and free access to museums. Split is a great city to explore on foot. Start by wandering the café- and market-packed streets of Diocletian’s Palace, built in the early fourth century. Next explore the Riva promenade, which is flanked by stately palms and yacht-dotted waters. For a dose of nature, visit Marjan, a reserve just a 20-minute walk from the city center.

    In Dubrovnik soak in the view from the top of Mount Srdj. You could take an $18 cable car, but consider hiking the 40 or so minutes to the lookout point, says Croatian private city guide Anada Pehar. Warm day? Take a dip in the Adriatic at Banje Beach, just outside the old town. The UNESCO-protected Lokrum Island (ferry: $12), with its beautiful grounds and free-roaming peacocks, is a good alternative if it’s not quite swimming weather.

    Later, stroll the 1.24-mile wall that circles the old city ($18). You’ll see St. Savior Church, where bullet holes from the 1991 siege of Dubrovnik are still visible, and the Friars Minor Pharmacy, one of Europe’s oldest.

    Eat and Drink: Make an excursion to Mali Ston, 50 minutes north of Dubrovnik by car. There, take the $27 Bota ˆSare tour, a boat ride through a family-owned oyster bay, which includes wine, grappa, and oyster tastings. Back in Dubrovnik, snag a table at Bota Oyster & Sushi Bar in the old city (dinner: $16) for sushi made with local fish, says Pehar. In Split you’ll find hearty homestyle Dalmatian cuisine—grilled calamari and stuffed peppers—at the charming Villa Spiza (dinner: $20).

    Stay: Croatia’s low-season rates don’t kick in until November, when you’ll find deals like 36% off at Dubrovnik’s stunning five-star Hotel Dubrovnik Palace (­regularly $296).

    Similarly, rates at Split’s centrally located Hotel Luxe drop from $224 to $95 in November. Going earlier? Look to Tripping.com— an aggregator for sites such as FlipKey.com and HomeAway.com—to find convenient apartment rentals for as little as $60 a night.

  • Berlin (Instead of London)

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    Berliners hang out at Gürlitzer Park. Weller—Anzenberger/Redux

    How Much You Can Save: 50%

    Why Here: Germany’s largest city is also its capital of cool. Packed with contemporary art, indie music, and innovative restaurants and lounges, the vibe is reminiscent of London at its most swinging. The prices, though, couldn’t be more different: The average Berlin hotel room is about half the cost of those in England’s capital, according to Trivago.com. Plus, while the euro is no bargain for Americans, it beats the pound.

    See and Do: Skip the touristy sightseeing buses, which charge more than $23 a head, and board public Bus 100 ($3.50). You’ll get the same great view of sites such as the stately Reichstag and the neoclassical Brandenburg Gate.

    Spring for a $33 three-day Museum Pass. With access to 50 institutions like the Jewish Museum Berlin ($12), housed in Daniel Libes­kind’s striking steel-and-glass building, and architectural gem Bauhaus-Archiv ($8), you’ll make up the cost in as little as two visits.

    Berlin’s gallery scene (there are over 400) is not to be missed. Start in the Scheunen­viertel neighborhood or the historic Jewish quarter, says Andrea Schulte-Peevers, author of Lonely Planet Berlin. “Stop in Kicken Berlin for its avant-garde photography from the 1920s.” The neighborhood is also known for its street art, so keep your eyes peeled as you walk.

    Eat and Drink: At Der Hahn ist tot!, which focuses on rural German and French cuisines, you’ll find a $26 four-course menu that changes weekly, says lifestyle guide Henrik Tidefjaerd of berlinagen­ten.com. Check out Markthalle Neun, a mix of food trucks and stalls that sell curry wurst, homemade pasta, and German wines on Thursday evenings.

    Berlin’s nightlife is legendary, but you don’t have to stay out until 5 a.m. to enjoy it. Chef Kolja Kleeberg of Michelin-starred Restaurant Vau suggests cocktails like the Rum Traders Rum Sour at Le Croco Bleu (drinks: $12). The rooftop Monkey Bar at the 25hours Hotel is great for sips with a view (drinks from $5). Order a Hugo, made with sparkling wine, mint, and elderflower.

    Stay: “Hotels are a bargain in Berlin, with rates at top properties priced close to $100 a night,” says Bob Diener, co-founder of Getaroom .com. Doubles start at $130 at the stylish and centrally located Circus Hotel. For an even better price, try the Motel One. Branches of this hotel are located throughout the city, and start at $94 per night.

    Read More:
    Tips for International Travelers

TIME russia

Russia Bans Wide Array of Food Imports From the U.S., EU

Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev announces sanctions at the Cabinet meeting in Moscow on Thursday, Aug. 7.
Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev announces sanctions at the Cabinet meeting in Moscow on Thursday, Aug. 7. Dmitry Astakhov—AP

"The situation now requires us to take retaliatory measures."

Russia banned a wide array of food imports from Western countries Thursday in a spiraling sanction war amid the worst ties between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the additional restrictions, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he signed a decree banning for one year the import of foods such as meats, cheese and vegetables from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway, the Associated Press reports.

The measures will cut off what would have amounted to some $12 billion in imports from the EU and more than $1 billion in imports from the U.S., according to the AP. They are also likely to take a toll on the supply of higher-end food goods for Russia’s wealthier urbanites, according to the AP.

“Until the last moment, we hoped that our foreign colleagues would understand that sanctions lead to a deadlock and no one needs them,” Medvedev said, according to the AP. “But they didn’t and the situation now requires us to take retaliatory measures.”

The restrictions follow the harshest sanctions yet imposed by the West last week targeting a large swath of the Russian economy, including finance, oil and defense. Those measures were intended to squeeze the already troubled Russian economy even further, after Russia seized Crimea in March and is suspected of continuing to support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Medvedev also said Ukrainian airliners would be banned from flying over Russian airspace. He said such measures may be extended to Western airliners, some of which currently fly over Siberia from the U.S. en route to other parts of Asia.

[AP]

TIME Belgium

World Leaders Gather in Liege to Commemorate World War I Centenary

BELGIUM-HISTORY-WAR-WWI-CENTENARY
Britain's Prince William, his wife Catherine, French President Francois Hollande, Queen Mathilde of Belgium, her husband King Philippe and German President Joachim Gauck attend on August 4, 2014 in Liege, Belgium, commemorations marking 100 years since the invasion of Belgium by Germany at the start of World War I. JOHN THYS--AFP/Getty Images

Heads of state from around the globe gathered to mark the centenary of World War I in the Belgian city where fighting started a century ago

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium hosted dozens of heads of state and other international delegates on Monday to mark the centenary of the start of World War I. The dignitaries gathered on a forested hill overlooking the city of Liege, just a few dozen kilometers from the border where German soldiers took their first fateful steps 100 years ago, triggering a war which would engulf the world like none other before it.

Among the guests were Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, King Felipe of Spain and US Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The speeches paid tribute to the fallen and included messages of reconciliation. But the remembrance was also tinged with anger that the world today is not quite as peaceful as many had hoped after the sacrifices of a century ago, and warnings that the ties that bind can so quickly be broken.

Speaking at the foot of Liege’s towering Allied Memorial, French President Francois Hollande spoke of the breach of Belgium’s neutrality a century ago, drawing parallels with the conflicts of today. “How can we stay neutral when people not far from Europe are fighting for their rights and territorial integrity?” he asked. “How to stay neutral when a civilian aircraft can be shot out of the sky in Ukraine? When there are civilian populations being massacred in Iraq, Syria, and Libya? When in Gaza a deadly conflict has been going on for over a month?”

German President, Joachim Gauck, also lamented that “millions of people are afflicted by violence and terror; millions have fled their homes.” He urged nations to remember the “terrible and bitter lessons” of a war which many once thought impossible.

The tumble into the Great War began with the bullet that assassinated Austria-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28th 1914, putting the empire and its ally Germany on a collision course with Serbia and Russia, eventually dragging in Britain and France. No amount of diplomacy or warnings of a coming catastrophe were able to prevent the spiral of nationalism and paranoia. On August 4th, 1914, German soldiers crossed into Belgium, hoping for a swift advance to Paris. This triggered a British pledge to protect the small nation’s neutrality, and by 11 pm that night Germany and Britain were at war. “The lamps are going out all over Europe,” said the British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey, at the time. “We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.”

A day later, Liege would become the first battlefield of the first global conflict, which would eventually draw in 65 million combatants from 72 nations, with millions of them never making it home alive.

In 2014, the centenary’s resonance is keenly felt when conflict is blighting many corners of the world. Wartime leaders’ warnings of “monstrous slaughter” would not seem so distant to the Syrians today facing barrel bombs in a civil war that has now claimed more than 150,000 lives. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has its roots in the carve up of the Middle East after World War One, and the number of casualties are still rising by the day in Gaza.

Even the belief of lasting peace in Europe has been shaken by events in Ukraine, such as Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and an increasingly bloody separatist insurgency which last month claimed nearly 300 lives – 211 of them, European – in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

Belgium’s Prime Minister, Elio di Rupo, also used the occasion to warn about the rise of anti-Semitism and extremism in Europe after the bruising economic crisis. “It takes a great deal of time and effort to bring peoples together and unite them in a common destiny,” he said. “However, it often does not take much to shatter this solidarity and revive the worst tensions.”

But there were also celebrations of how a continent overcame differences that once seemed insurmountable, and a reminder that reconciliation is possible, no matter how deep the animosities, how cruel the conflict, how many dead.

Later in the evening British and German delegates will stand together at Saint Symphorien cemetery in Mons, where fallen soldiers from both nations lie side-by-side. “The fact that the presidents of Germany and Austria are here today, and that other nations—then enemies—are here too, bears testimony to the power of reconciliation,” said Britain’s Prince William. “We were enemies more than once in the last century, and today we are friends and allies. We salute those who died to give us our freedom. We will remember them.”

TIME Russia sanctions

Flight MH17: Europe Unlikely to Enforce Tougher Sanctions on Russia

Analysts say the European Union is unlikely to go beyond sanctioning individuals

On Tuesday, European Union (E.U.) foreign ministers will meet to discuss increasing sanctions against Russia following the downing of flight MH17. The U.S. has blamed the incident on separatist rebels who, it claims, shot the plane down using weapons supplied to them by Moscow.

The meeting will be the bloc’s first opportunity to discuss the tragedy which took the lives of 298 people, the majority of whom were from countries within the E.U.

In March, the E.U. and the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russia for Moscow’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. These were tightened July 16, the day before flight MH17 was shot down.

The E.U. has enforced “tier two” sanctions which affect individuals by freezing their assets and banning them from traveling. So far, 72 Russian politicians and aides of Putin have been affected. However, with the U.S. having imposed sanctions against Russia’s biggest companies, including state oil company Rosneft, there is pressure on the E.U. to match these “tier three” sanctions that go beyond individuals. But, despite U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron calling for tier three sanctions on Monday, analysts remain skeptical.

“I think that it’s highly unlikely at this stage that the E.U. is planning anything further than individual sanctions,” says William E. Pomeranz, Deputy Director at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies. “The EU has a much more substantial trade relationship with Russia than the U.S. does, it has a heavy reliance on Russian gas.”

Jonathan Eyal, International Director at the Royal United Services Institute, echoes his sentiment. Eyal told TIME: “The Russia of today is not the Soviet Union of the Cold War. It is very deeply integrated into the economies of Europe particularly in terms of energy resources.”

Despite Cameron’s bluster, he will be painfully aware of this. In March of last year, British oil and gas giant BP bought shares worth close to 20% in Rosneft, the state-backed Russian oil and gas giant.

Eyal refers to a “disgraceful competition” within the E.U. that’s preventing a firm response towards Russia. According to Eyal, Britain is worried about the effect sanctions will have on London’s financial district. France fears damaging its impending sale of two warships to the Russian navy, whilst in Germany, there are concerns about jobs linked to Berlin’s trade with Russia. “This leads to the lowest common denominator being sought in sanctions,” Eyal notes.

Economic interdependence isn’t the only reason for Europe’s weak sanctions. “The legacy of the financial crisis has left some European countries feeling vulnerable,” comments Jeffrey Mankoff, deputy director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Russia and Eurasia program. “They have less appetite to do something that will lead to economic disruption.”

Even for European countries that have pulled through the 2008 financial disaster, Russia’s immediate presence can be a significant deterrent. “Geography always plays an important role in international relations,” states Pomeranz. “Obviously the E.U. has to be mindful of its neighbors.”

Meanwhile, Washington also seems unwilling to push Moscow too far. And if Washington isn’t prepared to lead, it’s unlikely Europe will follow. “Europe has always been a free rider on the back of the U.S.,” says Eyal.

Mankoff shares his view, adding: “U.S. leadership on [sanctions] has been relatively lacking so far. And because it’s been lacking it’s been relatively easy for the Europeans to drag their feet.”

Were the U.S. to challenge Russia more directly, there is no guarantee, however, that Europe would follow suit. Constrained by trade relations, geography and shaky economies, Europe is both unwilling and unable to risk poking the Russian bear.

TIME europe

Europe Considers Getting Tough on Russia After Plane Disaster

A man looks at the wreckage of passenger plane Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine.
A man looks at the wreckage of passenger plane Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 18, 2014 in Grabovka, Ukraine. Brendan Hoffman—Getty Images

European leaders have been reluctant to impose heavy sanctions on Russia. That may now change

Correction appended, July 18 2014

With Europeans reeling at the calamitous downing of a Malaysia Airlines jet on Thursday, European politicians have already begun debating whether they have fallen short in applying pressure on the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin. European leaders have for months tiptoed around imposing muscular sanctions against Moscow for arming Ukraine’s separatists as they try to protect the continent’s deep economic ties with Russia. The Obama Administration has taken a harder line, this week introducing a tough new round of sanctions against Russian individuals and companies. European leaders have thus far tried to give diplomatic negotiations with Putin a chance to work, while approving some of the sanctions the U.S. has implemented.

President Barack Obama on Friday called the shootdown “an outrage of unspeakable proportions,” and said at least one American had died in the crash. And at the U.N., U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power outlined evidence pointing to Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine as having launched the missile, possibly from the arsenal recently supplied by Moscow. Like Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, she ruled out any possibility that Ukraine’s military had been responsible, as Putin has claimed. With Russia emerging as a likely culprit in the disaster, European leaders are now doing some soul-searching and discussing what their next steps should be.

It could take weeks or months for investigators to prove who exactly fired the missile that appears to have taken down MH17 over eastern Ukraine at an altitude of 30,000 feet, killing all 298 passengers and crew, most of them Dutch.. But the lack of firm answers hardly matters: The calls for tougher action against Russia have come swiftly, even before investigators have reached the wreckage strewn across a rural area of Ukraine near the border with Russia. “The time for illusions is over, the illusions that we can bring Russia over in a diplomatic way, that is finished,” Karl-Georg Wellmann, a German member of parliament from the ruling Christian Democrat party, told TIME on Friday. “Russia is leading a hot war in eastern Ukraine, delivering artillery, tanks, anti-aircraft missiles,” he said. “This is not a game, it is a reality.”

Since Putin sent the Russian military into Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula more than four months ago – then annexed it – the U.S. and Europe have differed over how to punish Moscow for violating international agreements that have held since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

So far, E.U. sanctions include freezing assets and banning travel of those officials deemed to have been directly involved in the Crimea operation and in backing armed militia in eastern Ukraine. The 28 E.U. countries have split over how tough the sanctions should be, with Scandinavian countries and former Soviet allies like Poland wanting stiff action, while southern European countries like Italy and Spain are balking at the hit on their own economies that action might bring.

But Europe has not — as yet — imposed sanctions that might cause real pain to Russia’s economy, or its own. Such sanctions might include blocking Russian companies from using E.U. banks or stopping European technology from being used in Russia’s critical oil and gas industries. French officials have resisted calls from Baltic states to cancel a €1.2-billion ($1.6 billion) deal to sell two Mistral-class amphibious warships to Russia. In fact, Russian seamen arrived in the French port of Saint-Nazaire just last month to begin training on the vessels, the first of which is due for delivery in October. With Thursday’s tragedy, E.U. leaders might now ratchet up the pressure on French President François Hollande to reconsider. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters on Berlin that by contrast to the French deal, Germany had scrapped a lucrative deal to build a shooting center in Russia.

On Wednesday — just one day before the airline disaster — Obama announced the new round of American sanctions against Russia, targeting a much broader network of government officials and business leaders and freezing the assets of key Russian companies, including the giant energy firm Rosneft, with which E.U. countries have billions of dollars worth of contracts. In Brussels, E.U. leaders voted to tighten European sanctions as well, but failed to name the companies, instead giving European technocrats until the end of July to draw up the list.

But with Europeans counting their dead, politicians predict more focused action against Russia, especially if investigators confirm the claims by U.S., E.U. and Ukrainian officials that the rebels are to blame. “The climate for further measures against the Russian leadership will be different after this,” says Joris Voorhoeve, an advisor to the Dutch Foreign Ministry on peace and security issues, and a former Defense Minister. “If it is proven that the missile is of Russian origin and if it was not just a serious and bad mistake by the Ukraine government, which is not very likely, I think the position of the Netherlands government will be for further sanctions against Russia,” he said by phone from the Dutch capital The Hague on Friday. “There is general distrust of Putin and the circle around him.”

Correction: The original version of this story misrepresented Ambassador Samantha Power’s comments about the origin of the missile that brought down Flight 17.

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