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First Published: September 24: 2015
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Geo-Politics Arkive Year Alpha and Year Beta

The Balancing Act: Staying Between Powerful Forces Without Being Partisan 

 

|| April 09: 2017: Victoria University New Zealand News || ά.  The biggest strategic challenge facing New Zealand is how to maintain good relations with the competing powers of the United States and China. China or USA... do we have to pick sides? Two rival powers will continue to shape the Asia–Pacific region: China, our trading partner and the USA, our security partner. They can be fierce competitors, yet we want friendly and productive relationships with both. Ideally, we want them to get on with each other. The old concern is that one day we, along with Australia, will be forced to make an impossible choice between our economic and security interests.

But New Zealand has been making small choices already, trying to maintain a balance in our connections with Beijing and Washington. Can we continue to do this as Xi Jinping's China gains more influence and America's role becomes more challenging in the Trump era? Will we have to rely more on other regional relationships? Researchers at Victoria University of Wellington are looking at important questions about New Zealand’s strategic future and the opportunities ahead. And they're teaching tomorrow’s defence officials, intelligence analysts and diplomats, who will be helping New Zealand deal with an uncertain Asia–Pacific landscape.

''The biggest strategic issue for this generation is how New Zealand deals with the competition for regional influence between the United States and China, according to Professor of Strategic Studies, Professor Robert Ayson.

“For New Zealand there are competing pressures and opportunities that comes with having two strong, large powers in the Asia-Pacific region.” Professor Ayson says. “I’m researching what that means for New Zealand, and what sort of approaches are best for our policymakers to adopt.”

We are not facing an all-or-nothing choice, Professor Ayson explains. “Rather than one single decision about who we go with, it’s a series of smaller choices that happen on an almost daily basis. For example, we’ve chosen to join up with China’s new Asian Investment Bank, and at the same time we’ve sent trainers to Iraq, which is a way of working with the United States.”

Professor Ayson says that while it’s in New Zealand’s interests to keep both relationships going well, strains are beginning to show in this approach. “As China becomes more muscular in the South China Sea, New Zealand has stepped up its rhetoric and is more willing to criticise that action, while we value our relationship with China, we are making it clear we’re not happy with some of these developments.

At the same time, with the arrival of Donald Trump as the United States president there are some interesting questions for New Zealand.” says Professor Ayson. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership:TPP with US involvement was going to be a central plank for the New Zealand government because so much of our foreign policy is about trade. By cancelling its involvement in the TPP, the US has basically given the initiative to China on Asia-Pacific economic integration.

“So maybe the baton is changing hands, is a Trump administration speeding the process whereby America cedes regional leadership to China? What choices does that leave for New Zealand? Is it pushing us closer to China? Will we need to work even more closely with regional partners, such as Australia and Southeast Asian countries?

What do today’s Political Science, International Relations and Strategic Studies students, who will be tomorrow’s defence officials, intelligence analysts and diplomats, need to have in the backs of their minds as they deal with this evolving situation? These are the kinds of questions we need to be asking, and which we are thinking about at Victoria.”

Professor Robert Ayson  has been Professor of Strategic Studies at Victoria University since 2010 and works in close association with the Centre for Strategic Studies. He has also held academic positions with the ANU, Massey University and the University of Waikato, and official positions with the New Zealand government. Professor Ayson completed his MA as a Freyberg Scholar to the ANU and his PhD at King's College London as a Commonwealth Scholar to the UK. He is Adjunct Professor with the ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre and Honorary Professor with the New Zealand Defence Force Command and Staff College. Professor Ayson's research and teaching focuses on strategic competition and cooperation, especially in relation to the management of armed conflict. He has a particular interest in connecting leading strategic ideas to Asia-Pacific security challenges. This ranges from his work on theorists such as Hedley Bull and Thomas Schelling to his studies of New Zealand and Australian responses to China's rise and America's response. ω.

Images: Victoria University

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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NATO's Military Response to Russia


|| November 06: 2016 || ά. To counter increased assertiveness by Russia along NATO's eastern flank, the alliance adopted its Readiness Action Plan in 2014. This UK House of Commons Briefing Paper explains the main elements with a specific focus on the UK military contribution. NATO has undertaken a series of measures in response to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and increased military activity along NATO's eastern borders. Some of these measures were adopted in April 2014 as part of NATO's immediate response to events in Ukraine. They crystalised into the Readiness Action plan adopted at the September 2014 NATO Summit. NATO described it as the "most significant strengthening" of its collective defence in decades. Further measures were adopted at its 2016 Summit in Warsaw.

The Readiness Action Plan: The Readiness Action Plan is a two-pronged response, divided into Assurance and Adaptive measures. The Assurance measures seek to reassure the members of the Alliance that border Russia. These include bolstering air policing and air surveillance in the Baltics and along NATO’s eastern flank and a more visible military presence in these states by means of additional exercises and training. The Adaptive measures seek to adapt NATO’s force structure to strengthen the ability of the Alliance to respond to any crisis that may occur. These include significantly enlarging the existing Response Force, creating a new ‘spearhead’ force of around 5,000 troops, and pre-positioning equipment in member states along the eastern flank.

The decision taken at the Warsaw Summit to deploy four multinational combat battalions to the three Baltic States and Poland reflects a shift from 'assurance' to 'deterrence' - to actively seek to deter any potential Russian aggression against those states by providing a multinational combat force capable of responding to any Russian military manoeuvres. War-game scenarios suggested the Baltic States are vulnerable to a Russian invasion.
Main elements of the Readiness Action Plan

deploy four multinational battalions to Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland
enlarge the existing NATO Response Force from 13,000 to 40,000 troops
create a new very high readiness force (VJTF) of around 5,000 troops
appointing a country, drawn from a pool of seven nations, to lead this force
Significant increase in size and number of exercises
Pre-position equipment in Baltics and Eastern Europe
Establish small headquarters in Baltic and eastern European states
Speed up the decision-making for the Response force

UK military Contribution: The UK is significantly contributing to the Readiness Action Plan. The UK will lead one of the new multinational battalions in 2017. 800 personnel equipped with Warrior armoured fighting vehicles and Challenger 2 tanks will be deployed to Estonia in the spring. The UK will lead the new Very High Readiness Force in 2017 with up to 3,000 personnel and has pledged annual contributions of up to 1,000 personnel to the force in future years.

RAF Typhoon aircraft have policed the skies above the Baltic States on three occasions,  in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and will be based in Romania on a four month deployment in 2017. RAF Sentry aircraft have also conducted air surveillance flights. The UK has significantly increased the number of troops deployed on NATO-led or other joint exercises since 2011, with an expected 9,000 personnel participating in exercises in 2016. The Royal Navy sent five warships to the Baltic Sea in 2016: a frigate, a destroyer and three mine counter-measure vessels.

Context: The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed in 1949 as an Alliance of 12 nations dedicated to ensuring their collective security and preservation and intended to counter the perceived threat from the Soviet Union and later the countries of the Warsaw Pact. THe main tenet of the Alliance is Article 5 of the Washington Treaty which states unequivocally that an armed attack against one shall be considered an attack against all.

From its inception through the Cold War, NATO looked eastwards to the Soviet Union. That focus shifted in the 1990s and relations with Russia improved, NATO and Russia signed a Founding Act in 1997 and established a Council in 2002. However events in Ukraine in 2014, coupled with what NATO perceives to be aggressive military action by Russia, violations of NATO allied airspace, provocative military activity near NATO borders, has prompted a significant re-evaluation of that relationship.

Russia suggests it is NATO, not Russia, that is the aggressor. Moscow judges NATO to be a significant external threat to Russia, pointing to the deployment of military forces near the border of the Russian Federation and further expansion of the Alliance. President Putin argues NATO requires an 'enemy' to justify its ongoing existence. NATO currently has 28 members. This will increase to 29 when the formal ratification process for Montenego is complete.
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Commons Briefing papers CBP-7276: Author: Louisa Brooke-Holland: Published on November 04: 2016.

Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Diverse and Comprehensive Research Needed on Russian Security Policy Needed in Finland

Image: University of Helsinki


|| October 27: 2016 || ά.  A research project carried out by the Aleksanteri Institute was divided into two parts, one concerned with the state of the Finnish research on Russian security policy and the other with the development trends in Russian security policy and their implications for the choices made in Finland. The project analysed peer-reviewed basic studies conducted in Finland that can be considered to fall within the scope of research on Russian security policy.

The timeframe for the analysis was restricted to the years 2011–2015. Data produced in internal studies and surveys of public authorities and data in non peer-reviewed publication series of sectoral research institutes were excluded from the analysis. Thus the study contributes to constructing a comprehensive picture of research on Russian security in Finland, but it does not cover the whole field of expertise and research on the theme. A broad range of research on Russia is being done in Finland, but comprehensive study of many topics relating to Russian security is still lacking.

This may make it difficult for Finland to make choices and engage in co-operation with Russia. Such topics include military forces, defence economy, security authorities, border security, preventing crime and terrorism, religions, justice, Russian relations with Asian countries, and the Eurasian Economic Union. In the conclusions it is recommended that we should create a Russian security research cluster and security research strategy in support of the knowledge base for decision-making.

The analysis of the development of the Russian security policy covered the objectives, resources and the capability to implement the objectives in defence and economy in both internal and external security. Russian actions and implementation capacity cannot be explained by any single factor, nor does the development in Russia run along a single path.

The use of simple indicators should be avoided when assessing the capability of Russia to implement its objectives. Choices made in Finland should take account of the implementation of long-term objectives in Russia. Choices should not be made on the basis of views concerning the current situation alone. The report recommends that we should prepare for different alternative development paths in Russia and be flexible and quick in our own actions. Instead of focusing on spheres of interest and zero-sum games we should develop collaboration on global security challenges such as combatting climate change.

The report on Russian security policy, research in Finland and development trends in Russia was compiled as part of the implementation of the Government’s 2016 plan for analysis, assessment and research.

Inquiries: Anna-Liisa Heusala, Senior Researcher, Aleksanteri Institute, tel. +358 50 448 6459, Emilia Pyykönen, Information Specialist, Aleksanteri Institute, tel. +358 50 317 5585 and Professor Markku Kivinen, Aleksanteri Institute, tel. +358 50 563 6309.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Statement of Intent on Bilateral Defence Co-operation Between Finland and US

Image: Finland Government

|| October 07: 2016 || ά. Today, on Friday, October 07, a Statement of Intent on bilateral defence co-operation between Finland and the United States was signed by the Finnish Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö and US Deputy Secretary of Defence Robert Work at the Finlandia Hall.

The Statement of Intent aims to deepen the bilateral defence cooperation and engage in this on a more regular and diverse basis. It is a general working document that is not legally binding on the parties and it contains no defence commitments between the countries. The implementation of the Statement of Intent is to be reviewed on a regular basis.

Co-operation will be strengthened in defence policy, exchange of information, reinforcing capabilities, preparedness and liaison, education and training, defence materials, research and development, evaluations, and international operations.

Inquiries on the Statement of Intent: Janne Kuusela, Director General, tel. +358 295 140 300, janne.kuusela at defmin.fi.

Requests for comment by Minister Niinistö: Sami Jaakkola, Aid-de-Camp to the Minister of Defence, tel. +358 295 140 102, sami.jaakkola at defmin.fi.
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Whatever Your Field of Work and Wherever in the World You are, Please, Make a Choice to Do All You Can to Seek and Demand the End of Death Penalty For It is Your Business What is Done in Your Name. The Law That Makes Humans Take Part in Taking Human Lives and That Permits and Kills Human Lives is No Law. It is the Rule of the Jungle Where Law Does Not Exist. The Humanion

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Finland Ministry of Defence: A Possible Second Violation of Finnish Airspace by Russian SU27

This image is just for illustration purposes; not the planes concerned

|| October 06: 2016 || ά. In a second statement Finland's Ministry of Defence says that  a second possible violation of Finnish airspace by a Russian SU-27 fighter has been detected in the Gulf of Finland south of Porvoo on Thursday, October 6 at about 21.33. The first violation registered on Thursday, October 06, at about 16.43.

The statement goes: ''This second suspected airspace violation was similar to the one earlier the same afternoon at 16.43. This was another plane. The Air Force conducted an identification flight. During Thursday the Russian military aviation over the Baltic Sea has been intense.

The Finnish Border Guard will investigate the matter.

Further information is given by Director of Communication Max Arhippainen, tel +358 295 140 120 at the Finnish Ministry of Defence. ω.

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Finland Ministry of Defence: A Possible Violation of Finnish Airspace by Russian SU27

|| October 06: 2016 || ά. In a brief statement Finland's Ministry of Defence says: ''A possible violation of Finnish airspace by a Russian SU-27 fighter has been detected in the Gulf of Finland south of Porvoo on Thursday, October 06, at about 16.43.''

The statement goes: '' The suspected violation of Finnish airspace continued approximately one minute, and sided Finnish airspace for about 13 kilometres at a maximum of about one kilometre depth.

The Air Force conducted an identification flight. The Finnish Border Guard will investigate the matter.''

Further information is given by Director of Communication Max Arhippainen, tel +358 295 140 120 at the Finnish Ministry of Defence. ω.

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Security Council Strongly Condemns DPRK Nuclear Test of September 09

Image: UN Photo

 

|| September: 2016 || ά. The United Nations Security Council has strongly condemned the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's:DPRK nuclear test on September 09 and said it is a clear violation of repeated calls on the country to halt such activity.

In a press statement issued late yesterday evening, after the Council held urgent consultations on the situation, the 15-member body underlined that the test is a clear violation and "in flagrant disregard" of Security Council resolutions 1718:2006, 1874:2009, 2087:2013, 2094:2013 and 2270:2016, as well as of the non-proliferation regime.

“Therefore a clear threat to international peace and security continues to exist,” the statement said. Furthermore, members the Council also recalled that they had previously expressed their determination to take further significant measures in the event of another DPRK nuclear test.

“In line with this commitment and the gravity of this violation, the members of the Security Council will begin to work immediately on appropriate measures under Article 41 in a Security Council resolution,” said the statement. ω.

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In Relation and Response to the Shift in Russia's Foreign Policy

 

|| August 30: 2016 || ά. Based on a recent report published by an expert group of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Russia is using more aggressive measures to achieve its foreign policy objectives. For Finland, Russia's changing behaviour calls for a new type of preparedness, to which end the report provides a detailed risk analysis and recommended measures.

The report on Russia's changing role in Finland's neighbourhood examines the shift in Russia's foreign policy and evaluates the implications of this shift from Finland's perspective. Russia’s governing system, which is based on unofficial power networks, is closely intertwined with the country’s foreign policy. Russia's foreign policy goals have remained the same for a long period of time, but the means to achieve those goals have become more aggressive in recent years, the report observes.

In particular, the report analyses the implications of Russia's changing behaviour in Finland's neighbourhood vis-à-vis energy policy, Arctic policy and Baltic Sea security policy. In energy policy, a geoeconomic operation that creates dependencies can be recognised; in the Arctic region, security aspects have gained more weight in Russia's policies; and in the Baltic Sea region, risk potential has been activated.

The report lists the key risks caused by Russia's changing behaviour and gives Finland practical policy recommendations to prepare itself for those risks. Neighbouring an internally unpredictable Russia that creates international tensions, Finland needs first and foremost to invest in its own society's resilience and in international co-operation.

This report is part of the implementation of the 2015 Government plan for analysis, assessment and research. The report on Russia's changing role in Finland's neighbourhood:in Finnish

Further information about the Government’s analysis, assessment and research

Inquiries: Toivo Martikainen, Research Coordinator, Finnish Institute of International Affairs, tel. +358 9 432 7724; Katri: ω.

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The South China Sea Dispute: The UN Must Invest in This More Now to Bring This Dispute to an End Before It Becomes Too Big for Anyone to Deal with


|| July 12: 2016 || ά. Southeast Asia is home to a range of complex territorial disputes, but the most intractable and combustible is the South China Sea dispute. Tensions between the rival countries have been on the rise in recent years. An Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea has ruled in favour of the Philippines in a case brought by that country against China.

Overview

The Paracel Islands are disputed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The Spratly Islands are disputed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, The Philippines, Vietnam, and Brunei. The Scarborough Shoal, just to the west of the Philippines, which is sometimes considered to be part of the Spratly Islands, is claimed by The Philippines, China and Taiwan. The maritime boundaries of the Gulf of Tonkin are also disputed by China and Vietnam.

Apart from national pride, access to fisheries and oil and gas resources is at also stake. The area is also one of the world’s major shipping routes. China has been involved in the majority of the direct clashes between rival claimants in the South China Sea dispute. The relationship between China and Vietnam is perhaps the most volatile of those between the rival claimants.

China is opposed to greater US involvement in the resolution of disputes in the South China Sea, preferring bilateral negotiations. The other countries favour greater US involvement and prefer multilateral negotiations through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). However, China has not been entirely hostile to more multilateral approaches. In 2002 China and ASEAN agreed a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in which all countries agreed to seek peaceful solutions to disputes in the South China Sea. Since 2011, there has been talk of agreeing a legally binding Code of Conduct for all parties but to date no meaningful progress has been made towards one.

The last five years or so have seen rising tensions over rival claims in the South China Sea. The countries involved in the dispute have been strengthening their military capabilities, with some also exploring legal avenues. In addition, there have been intermittent efforts to reduce tensions through dialogue.

Events in 2015

In April 2015 satellite images revealed that China had begun building a large airstrip on reclaimed land on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands. China insisted that the airstrip was for civilian purposes, but many were highly sceptical, with fears being expressed that China might impose an ‘air defence zone’ over the area, as it did over the East China Sea, where it has overlapping claims with Japan, in 2013.

In October, an Arbitral Tribunal under UNCLOS ruled that it had jurisdiction to consider the claim of the Philippines in its maritime dispute with China and that the claim was admissible. China condemned the decision, rejecting the Tribunal’s jurisdiction and repeating its opposition to any third-party settlement of territorial disputes.

In the same month, the US sailed a destroyer within 12-nautical miles of new artificial islands being built by China in the Spratlys, announcing that this was the first of a series of actions intended to assert the right to free navigation in the region. China warned the US that such a move would further increase tensions and retaliated by holding a naval exercise in the South China Sea. It also leaked reports that a Chinese naval vessel might ram the next US warship that entered what it considered its territory.

Also in December, a US B-52 strategic bomber flew within a few miles of a reef claimed by China in the South China Sea. China accused the US of a “serious military provocation”; the US said that it had been an error.

The South China Sea dispute was discussed at several intergovernmental summits during the second half of 2015, including the ASEAN summit. However, some analysts see ASEAN as a divided and increasingly marginal player.

Events in 2016 and future prospects

Amid mounting tension in the region during the first half of 2016, the Arbitral Tribunal issued its ruling on 12 July, finding in favour of the Philippines. However, the legally binding ruling does not adjudicate on sovereignty.

The impact of the ruling is difficult to predict. The Philippines appears anxious to de-escalate tensions with China, but the latter is yet to accept the olive branch. So for now the most likely future outlook is that the rival claimants will continue with their military build-ups and further escalation is possible. As always, the fear is that a flashpoint might inadvertently trigger a larger armed confrontation whose consequences could prove difficult to control.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7481: Authors: Jon Lunn; Arabella Lang:
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EU-NATO Joint Warsaw Declaration

 

|| July 08: 2016 || ά. This is the Joint Warsaw Declaration by the President of the European Council, President of the European Commission and the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation issued today: ''We believe that the time has come to give new impetus and new substance to the NATO-EU strategic partnership.

In consultation with the EU Member States and the NATO Allies, working with, and for the benefit of all, this partnership will take place in the spirit of full mutual openness and in compliance with the decision-making autonomy and procedures of our respective organisations and without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any of our members.

Today, the Euro-Atlantic community is facing unprecedented challenges emanating from the South and East. Our citizens demand that we use all ways and means available to address these challenges so as to enhance their security.

All Allies and Member States, as well as the EU and NATO per se, are already making significant contributions to Euro-Atlantic security. The substantial cooperation between NATO and the EU, unique and essential partners, established more than 15 years ago, also contributes to this end.

In light of the common challenges we are now confronting, we have to step-up our efforts: we need new ways of working together and a new level of ambition; because our security is interconnected; because together we can mobilize a broad range of tools to respond to the challenges we face; and because we have to make the most efficient use of resources. A stronger NATO and a stronger EU are mutually reinforcing. Together they can better provide security in Europe and beyond.

We are convinced that enhancing our neighbours' and partners' stability in accordance with our values, as enshrined in the UN Charter, contributes to our security and to sustainable peace and prosperity. So that our neighbours and partners are better able to address the numerous challenges they currently face, we will continue to support their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, as well as their reform efforts.

In fulfilling the objectives above, we believe there is an urgent need to:
• Boost our ability to counter hybrid threats, including by bolstering resilience, working together on analysis, prevention, and early detection, through timely information sharing and, to the extent possible, intelligence sharing between staffs; and cooperating on strategic communication and response. The development of coordinated procedures through our respective playbooks will substantially contribute to implementing our efforts.
• Broaden and adapt our operational cooperation including at sea, and on migration, through increased sharing of maritime situational awareness as well as better coordination and mutual reinforcement of our activities in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.
• Expand our coordination on cyber security and defence including in the context of our missions and operations, exercises and on education and training.
• Develop coherent, complementary and interoperable defence capabilities of EU Member States and NATO Allies, as well as multilateral projects.
• Facilitate a stronger defence industry and greater defence research and industrial cooperation within Europe and across the Atlantic.
• Step up our coordination on exercises, including on hybrid, by developing as the first step parallel and coordinated exercises for 2017 and 2018.
• Build the defence and security capacity and foster the resilience of our partners in the East and South in a complementary way through specific projects in a variety of areas for individual recipient countries, including by strengthening maritime capacity.

Co-operation in these areas is a strategic priority. Speedy implementation is essential. The European External Action Service and the NATO International Staff, together with Commission services as appropriate, will develop concrete options for implementation, including appropriate staff coordination mechanisms, to be presented to us and our respective Councils by December 2016. On the EU side, the High Representative/Vice President of the Commission will steer and coordinate this endeavour.

We will review progress on a regular basis.

We call on both organisations to invest the necessary political capital and resources to make this reinforced partnership a success.''
 

Signed at Warsaw on July 08,  2016 in triplicate.

Donald Tusk
President of the European Council
Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission
Jens Stoltenberg
Secretary General of the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation:
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Ban Ki-moon Calls on Asian Nations to Settle Border Disputes and Historical Issues

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:L, with Hwang Kyo-ahn:R, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, during their meeting with participants of the 11th Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity, taking place on Jeju Island. Image: Mark Garten

|| May 26: 2016 || ά. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all Asian countries to deepen dialogue, expand co-operation, and address border disputes, historical issues and threats to stability on the Korean Peninsula. “This powerful continent is critical for prosperity and security around the world,” Mr. Ban told the Forum for Peace and Prosperity held in Jeju, Republic of Korea.

Noting at the same time that Asia accounts for nearly a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions, he stressed the importance of concerted action. Citing solar power and other innovative green technologies, he said “Asia is also a source of solutions.” Mr. Ban went on to urge all Asian countries to quickly ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, as only 16 of the 177 signatories have ratified it.

Asia’s robust economic growth helped the world cut poverty by half – and achieve the first Millennium Development Goal:MDG. But two out of every three of the world’s poorest people live in Asia – a total of 450 million individuals. The continent faces major threats related to freshwater, land and pollution, he warned.

“That is why Asia must embrace the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” he said. There are many hopeful things. Four of our five top contributors to UN peacekeeping operations are in Asia. The Asia-Pacific region continues to be a centre of economic dynamism and influence. It is also home to political progress and greater democratization.

But there are challenges. A number of Asian countries claim the same territory and maritime areas, he said, calling on all parties to resolve their disputes peacefully. “It is time to agree on borders that are now disputed,” he said. And Asian countries must rise above conflicting interpretations of history. By squarely and humbly addressing the unfortunate past historical issues, they can focus on the future, he stressed, adding that other continents, such as Latin America, Africa and Europe, have done that work through successful agreements and organizations.

Mr. Ban also spotlighted the importance of nurturing youth into global citizens because “national geographic borders do not mean much these days.” Turning to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, he noted that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles only undermines its own security and hurts its citizens. Military spending remains high while children are wasting. Human rights are systematically abused. The country’s authorities must correct these wrongs, Mr. Ban stressed.

While welcoming progress made in the protection and promotion of human rights in Asia, he also expressed concern about shrinking space for civil society organizations, as well as rising intolerance, hate speech and violence in parts of Asia. Many Asian countries showed compassion by hosting migrants, he said, calling on these nations to “give new arrivals the chance to make a difference.”

Mr. Ban will travel to Ise-Shima, Japan, tomorrow, May 27, to participate in the Outreach Session of the G-7 Summit. The Secretary-General will return to the Republic of Korea for the opening session, on Monday, May 30, of the UN DPI:NGO Conference in the south-eastern city of Gyeongju.
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LDCs?  What are These? You Ask?

Severely malnourished children from the neighbouring refugee camps are transferred to the in-patient therapeutic feeding centre of Batouri, Cameroon. The centre had only 12 beds before the CAR crisis. Photo: WFP/Sylvain Cherkaoui

|| May 10: 2016 ||  A United Nations conference is set to undertake a review of progress made during the past five years by the world's 48 least developed countries (LDCs), which comprise about 12 per cent of the global population. Called the Midterm Review conference for the Istanbul Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, it will take place in Antalya, in the south of Turkey, from May 27-29.

Adopted in 2011, the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA) is a plan that charts out the international community's vision and strategy for the sustainable development of LDCs for the next decade.

“The conference is important as it is taking place at a midpoint of the decade long Programme of Action, in the first year of the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the other global development frameworks,” Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, told reporters at a press briefing.

“We are taking stock of the successes but also challenges and lessons learned. It is also an opportunity to capitalize on the shared will of the international community to redouble efforts in accelerating support for the LDCs based on a strong national leadership and ownership,” added the UN official, who is also the High Representative for Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.

According to studies undertaken by the United Nations, the general economic growth of LDCs has been positive since 2011, rising by about 4 per cent in 2012 and by 5.3 per cent in 2014.

“The challenge is that it is not shared equally by all,” stressed Mr. Acharya, adding that almost a quarter of the LDCs have a growth rate of more than 7 per cent, which is quite substantial.

The senior UN official noted that progress can especially be seen in the area of human development, access to the internet and telephone networks, infrastructure expansion, access to energy, reduction of child and maternal mortality rates, access to primary education, and women's representation in parliament.

“But there are also many challenges. Incidence of poverty is still very high in these countries – almost half of the population is still below the poverty line,” he warned, underlining that many of the LDCs see their growth rates rise, but over time aren't sustainable as many face conflict.

“Looking ahead in the next five years, what we're really trying to discuss in the conference is what are the challenges that [the LDCs] face, for which they require strong national leadership and ownership, but also what can the international community do about it, in terms of raising resources, in terms of strengthening their institutions, but also in terms of helping them accelerate progress and building reliance.”

Participation is expected at the highest possible political level and will bring together various stakeholders, including representatives from governments, the private sector, multilateral organizations, civil society, and academia. The conference will result in an inter-governmentally negotiated and agreed outcome in the form of a political declaration.

According to Mr. Acharya's Office (OHRLLS), the LDCs represent the poorest and weakest segment of the international community. They comprise more than 880 million people.

Their low level of socio-economic development is characterized by weak human and institutional capacities, low and unequally distributed income and scarcity of domestic financial resources. They often suffer from governance crisis, political instability and, in some cases, internal and external conflicts. Their largely agrarian economies are affected by a vicious cycle of low productivity and low investment. Only a handful has been able to diversify into the manufacturing sector, though with a limited range of products in labour-intensive industries, i.e. textiles and clothing.

The category of LDCs was officially established in 1971 by the UN General Assembly with a view to attracting special international support for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the UN family.

The current list of LDCs includes 48 countries (the newest member being South Sudan); 34 in Africa, 13 in Asia and the Pacific and 1 in Latin America.

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U.S.-China Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 01, 2016: The following U.S.-China Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change was issued on March 31, 2016

1. Over the past three years, climate change has become a pillar of the U.S.-China bilateral relationship. Both countries have taken strong measures at home to build green, low-carbon and climate-resilient economies, helping galvanize global action to combat climate change and culminating in the Paris Agreement reached last December. With their joint announcement of ambitious climate actions in November 2014, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping sought to lead by example, and by the time the Paris conference opened a year later, some 186 countries had put forward their own climate actions. In September 2015, the two leaders laid out a common vision for the Paris outcome during President Xi’s State Visit to Washington and also announced major domestic policy measures and cooperative initiatives to combat climate change, as well as significant progress on climate finance. In Paris, the United States and China, working together and with others, played a critical role in crafting a historic, ambitious global climate change agreement.

2. Today, the two Presidents announce another significant step in their joint climate efforts. The United States and China will sign the Paris Agreement on April 22nd and take their respective domestic steps in order to join the Agreement as early as possible this year. They encourage other Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to do the same, with a view to bringing the Paris Agreement into force as early as possible. The Presidents further express their commitment to work together and with others to promote the full implementation of the Paris Agreement to win the fight against the climate threat.

3. The Presidents recognize that the Paris Agreement marks a global commitment to tackling climate change and a strong signal of the need for a swift transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient economies. In this regard, the Presidents are also committed to working bilaterally and with other countries to achieve successful outcomes this year in related multilateral fora, including on an HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway and on a global market-based measure for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation at the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly. To accelerate clean energy innovation and deployment, they will work together to implement the goals of the Mission Innovation initiative announced at the Paris conference and carry forward the work of the Clean Energy Ministerial. They support a successful G-20 Summit in Hangzhou this year, including strong climate and clean energy outcomes, and call on the G-20 countries to engage constructively in international cooperation on energy and climate change. And they will continue to deepen and broaden bilateral cooperation through the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group, the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, and other efforts.

4. Finally, the Presidents commit to taking concrete steps to implement the commitments they made in their September 2015 Joint Statement to use public resources to finance and encourage the transition toward low carbon technologies as a priority. Since the Joint Statement, the United States led an effort in the OECD to successfully adopt the first-ever set of multilateral standards for support of coal-fired power plants using export credit, and China has been strengthening its green and low-carbon policies and regulations with a view to strictly controlling public investment flowing into projects with high pollution and carbon emissions both domestically and internationally.

5. The joint efforts by China and the United States on climate change will serve as an enduring legacy of the partnership between our two countries.

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Diplomatic Quartet to Prepare Report to Lay Ground for Israel-Palestine Talks

Nickolay Mladenov, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process briefs journalists at Headquarters. UN Photo/Loey Felipe

March 23, 2016:  The United Nations envoy for the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today unveiled a plan by the diplomatic Quartet – comprising the UN, Russia, the United States and the European Union – to produce a report that would help create a political environment for the two sides to resume peace negotiations.

Speaking at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, Nickolay Mladenov, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that the Quartet, in its last principals meeting in Munich, decided to compile a report that will examine impediments to a two-state solution and recommend the way forward.

The work has already started and the Quartet is seeking inputs from both sides and other stakeholders, including Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, to produce a good assessment, he said, expressing hope that the report, to be concluded in a few months, will inform the international opinion and consolidate consensus on a two-state solution as the only viable option.

Turning to the reconstruction of Gaza, he said that since the end of hostilities in 2014, the UN engaged both sides in putting together a mechanism to allow the import of building materials. This has begun to see visible results. Now 100,000 families have access to construction materials to repair and rebuild their homes, and 9,000 jobs have been created.

It is now vital to move forward with key infrastructure projects, namely those related to access to fresh water and electricity, he said. Efforts must continue to remove Gaza blockages imposed by Israel in order to allow imports and exports so that economic activities can restart in the strip.

He noted, however, that only 35 per cent of the $3.5 billion pledged at the 2014 Cairo conference has been disbursed, urging donors to make good on their commitment.

Mr. Mladenov said that tomorrow, he will brief the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East and hold an informal consultation with Member States on the reconstruction of Gaza.

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UK Relations With Russia 2016

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7541: Author: Ben Smith

 

March 23, 2016: The findings of the Litvinenko Inquiry put the spotlight on UK-Russian relations.

The UK has had a particularly difficult relationship with Russia in recent years, more so than has been the case with other European countries.

The UK’s National Security Strategy places a higher emphasis on a potential threat from Russia than did its predecessor document in 2010.NATO has upgraded several facilities in response to the perceived threat from Russia, and the UK has been at the forefront among NATO member states calling for that upgrade and supporting it with military assets.

Controversial Russian figures living in the UK, many granted political asylum, have been at the root of some of the problems between the UK and Russian governments. The most important of these has been Alexander Litvinenko, who died in London 2006.

In 2016 a public inquiry concluded that the death was almost certainly caused by an operation of the Russian internal security service, the FSB, and that it was probably approved by Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The UK has also pressed the EU for a tough response to the annexation of Crimea and Russian actions in Ukraine

The UK’s trade relationship with Russia is modest and has decreased further recently.

The Paper

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Declaration by the High Representative on Behalf of the EU on Recent Developments in the South China Sea

 

March 11, 2016: The EU is committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based upon the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This includes the maintenance of maritime safety, security, and cooperation, freedom of navigation and overflight.

While not taking a position on claims to land territory and maritime space in the South China Sea, the EU urges all claimants to resolve disputes through peaceful means, to clarify the basis of their claims, and to pursue them in accordance with international law including UNCLOS and its arbitration procedures.

The EU is concerned about the deployment of missiles on islands in the South China Sea. The temporary or permanent deployment of military forces or equipment on disputed maritime features which affects regional security and may threaten freedom of navigation and overflight is a major concern. The EU therefore calls on all claimants to refrain from militarisation in the region, from the use or threat of force, and to abstain from unilateral actions.

The EU encourages further engagement in confidence building measures which seek to build trust and security in the region. The EU fully supports regional ASEAN-led processes and is looking forward to a swift conclusion of the talks on a 'Code of Conduct' which will further support a rules-based regional and international order. In this connection, the EU reiterates its offer to share best practices on maritime security.

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UN and OSCE 'Best Tools' to Prevent Disorder, Security Council Told

German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), briefs the Security Council. UN Photo/Manuel Elias

February 29, 2016: The United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) continue to give the international community the best tools to prevent disorder and shape a future of a “rules-based international order,” the Security Council today heard from the chairperson of the world's largest regional arrangement under the UN Charter.

“I am convinced that the principles to which we have all agreed in the UN and the OSCE – such as territorial integrity and sovereign equality of nations – must still form the bedrock of how we live together as nations,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, told the 15-member Council.

“These commitments still form the basis for overcoming divisions - provided that all states muster the necessary political will,” he added.

Mr. Steinmeier stressed that the world needs strong multilateral organizations to help safeguard and implement these principles, to give the tools for conflict resolution, and to provide opportunities “for debate to overcome our differences.” He said nobody can deny that today's challenges are “enormous.”

“Violent crises and conflicts surround us – even on our own continent in Europe,” he underlined. “Russian aggression in Ukraine has brought the devastation of war right back to the heart of Europe - violating central provisions of international law, the Helsinki Final Act and later OSCE commitments.”

At the same time, he highlighted that violence has spikes in regions of the Middle East and North Africa, “with oppression, terror, religious radicalism and regional rivalries having led to immeasurable human suffering, especially in Syria.”

“The brutal conflicts in the Middle East have also reached the European continent. Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and are seeking shelter in Europe – many of them in Germany,” the Foreign Minister added.

Continuing on the situation in Ukraine, Mr. Steinmeier said development show how indispensable the OSCE is when it comes to "uniting our strength to maintain international peace and security", as the UN Charter says.

“Without the OSCE and particularly the courageous men and women of the Special Monitoring Mission, we would not have made the progress we have seen on military de-escalation and withdrawal of weapons,” he emphasized, adding that the only way towards a sustainable political solution is by implementing the Minsk agreement.

The chairperson also spoke about the issue “frozen” or “protracted conflicts,” as well as the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the need to engage in a broader dialogue on European security.

“I believe the pressing issue of migration should figure more prominently on our agenda. I welcome the UN Secretary General's initiative to organize a global summit on migration in September. The OSCE has a lot of expertise in this field: from human rights standards and best practices in labour migration to combatting human trafficking,” he said.

“In Germany, people's overwhelming readiness to help arriving refugees has recently been overshadowed by xenophobic assaults. These are despicable acts that we must not and will not tolerate!” he declared.

Finally, the Minister stressed he hopes the principles of the OSCE can provide a “glimmer of hope” to other regions, particularly in the Middle East.

“Of course, you can't transfer a security architecture to another region. But perhaps our experiences can highlight useful principles and processes. And maybe they can encourage the parties in the Middle East to live up to their responsibility and explore new paths to political settlements,” he told the Council, recalling that the OSCE's motto for 2016 is “renewing dialogue, rebuilding trust, restoring security.”

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European Union Supports the Libyan Political Agreement and Calls on the Parties to 'Seize the Opportunity' Implement It

Image: UN

1.       The EU fully supports the Libyan Political Agreement that was signed on 17 December 2015. It welcomes the formation of the Presidency Council, presided by Fayyez al-Sarraj. The EU recalls the endorsement of the Rome Communiqué of 13 December 2015 by the Security Council through Resolution 2259, adopted unanimously on 23 December 2015. The EU and its Member States will support the Government of National Accord (GNA) as the sole legitimate government of Libya and urges all Libyan institutions, including financial and economic ones, to accept the authority of the GNA. The EU recalls that Resolution 2259 calls upon all UN Member States to cease support to and official contact with parallel institutions that claim to be the legitimate authority but are outside of the Agreement as specified by it.

2.       The EU underlines Libyan ownership of the political process and the importance of its continued inclusiveness, including through the continued participation of women, civil society, political and local actors. The EU strongly encourages all parties in Libya to seize this opportunity to endorse the Agreement and participate in the process. Those who hamper the implementation of the political agreement shall be held accountable.

3.       The EU commends the work of and reaffirms its full support to the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General.

4.       The EU calls for the timely adoption of the amendment of the constitutional declaration of 2011 and urges the Presidency Council to form the GNA, to be approved by the House of Representatives as foreseen in the Libyan Political Agreement. The EU welcomes the decision to establish a Temporary Security Committee to facilitate the implementation of the security arrangements outlined in the Libyan Political Agreement and calls on all Libyan actors to support and collaborate with the Committee. It underlines the urgent need to finalize the security arrangements for Tripoli.

5.       The EU strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Zliten and against oil installations in Libya, and all attempts to disrupt the stabilisation of the country. These attacks and the growing presence of Daesh and other extremist groups underline the urgent need for the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement and particularly for the formation of the GNA as the only way for Libya to take the path of peace, stability and prosperity, and to tackle effectively the threats and challenges to Libya, including terrorism and human trafficking, while preserving its unity. The EU stands ready to support Libya in the fight against violent extremism.

6.       The EU and its member States reiterate its full commitment to support Libya and to accompany the full implementation of the agreement, working in close partnership with the GNA once it is formed.  The EU has a package of immediate and substantial support totalling 100m€ in a number of different areas.  The implementation and pacing of individual actions will be prioritised in close coordination with the Libyan authorities as discussed by the High Representative together with the Presidency Council in their meeting of 8 January 2016. The EU will continue to provide aid through humanitarian organisations in a principled manner as well as short-term assistance to the direct benefit of the Libyan population in need; improved security conditions on the ground would facilitate its provision.  The EU is also ready to consider support to the Libyan authorities, should they request it, in security sector reform, notably through training and advice.

7.       The EU calls on all parties in Libya to ensure unhindered humanitarian access and security of humanitarian aid workers in order to facilitate the assistance and protection of civilians in need. The EU calls for further efforts to address the worsening humanitarian situation. In this regard the EU welcomes the UN humanitarian response plan.

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Ban Concerned Over Downing of Russian Plane by Turkish Air Force, Urges Measures to Lower Tensions

 

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. UN Photo/Cia Pak

24 November 2015 – The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is seriously concerned over the downing of a Russian military jet by the Turkish Air Force earlier today, and has urged all relevant parties to take urgent measures with a view to de-escalating tensions, according to his spokesperson.

“He hopes that a credible and thorough review of the incident will clarify the events and help prevent future recurrences,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in a note to the media.

According to media reports, the Russian jet was shot down somewhere over the Turkey-Syria border.

“As he reiterated a number of times, all those who are engaged in military activities in Syria, especially air campaigns, need to maximize operational measures to avoid unintended consequences and, of course and most importantly, to do whatever they can to avoid civilian casualties and to protect civilians,” Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said in the note.

The note added that, in the wake of the event, the UN chief believes that today’s “worrying development” underscores the importance of international unity and cooperation in international action against violent extremists in the region, as well as the urgent need to agree on a political solution to the tragic events in Syria.

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Posted on : November 25, 2015

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The Geo-Politics as It Stands Today

The current world situation with regards to powers and their interrelations, interchanges and organisational structures are in a state of disarray. The old world that came together after WW2 with the formation of the United Nations which acknowledged the tension-fraught states of the world whereby the five big powers had been given Big Brotherly positions in the Security Council in the form of Veto Powers. United States of America, Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and China had their places except it turned out that these five were grouped in two camps: one led by the Soviet Union and the other by the USA along the line with Nato and Warsaw Pack Countries. The tension continued but it acquired a tricky balance in which, as by product, the world has seen the emergence of the Cold War. But after the collapse of the old Soviet Union there sprang so many new states and nations leaving Russia the default beneficiary of the now defunct Soviet Union except the world and the powers of the world did not seem to accept Russia as the Custodian of the Old Soviet Union. However, it retained the Security Council Seat; yet it lost the status of the Soviet Union for which it began a desperate struggle to gain the lost position.

At this America began to appear more aggressive as if it would become the World Power and can enforce its will wherever it likes. Yet, the world began to grow in a different direction. China emerged out of the old style Communism into a state-run monopoly capitalistic economy and whereby created the largest possible middle class consumer group in the world. It began to sell to the world which needed cheap products and it started to buy so that it became the largest market for buying and selling. It created the largest economic expansion and growth almost unprecedented in history. This way China emerged as one of the most muscled-power (economically) in the world.

India kept up and soon began to appear a force to be reckoned with in terms of its fast-paced economic advancement. It has become a strong and powerful force in the world which it was not before.

Brazil emerged as another large economic force, too.

In Europe, however, the old powers began to lose their former glory like France, Britain, Spain where as the unification of east and west Germany brought their country to begin a process of becoming strong and solid a power house.

Russia continued its nostalgia to assert itself into the former 'glory' days of the lost Soviet Union.

In this process United Nations has been losing ground and becoming more remote and more irrelevant. Vary many other local and regional factors changed the features on the ground so that there were broken states and governments that started to appear in many parts of the world. The American and British war efforts did not produce anything other than long term multitudinous problems that have now become almost impossible to deal with unless there is an effective World Body that can and does command respect and validity. United Nations is no longer going to be effective unless it has been absolutely reformed and reorganised to, basically, make it a new organisation where the basis of its foundation is equality among nations where it becomes 'the government of the whole humanity'.

For this we need to look at the political philosophy that has 'sovereignty' as its absolute central point. However, this old sovereignty is out dated and cannot support the needs of the humanion any longer.

Munayem Mayenin

Editor

Posted on : October 22, 2015

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