Bye Bye Euro: Why A Joint Currency Makes No More Sense

Time to get rid of these?
Time to get rid of these?
Andres Rueda
Michael Fabricius

BERLIN - Last week it became clear that, as regards the euro, political Europe has overstepped the limits of its power. The joint statement by France's President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that "Germany and France are deeply committed to the integrity of the Eurozone and are determined to do everything to protect the Eurozone" was little more than an act of desperation.

By the third sentence of that statement -- which urged Eurozone members and European institutions to "comply with their obligations, each in their own area of competence" -- it was already apparent how far apart perceptions of the crisis are now in the individual euro countries, including France and Germany.

These are the death throes of a joint euro diplomacy. Any agreement is merely on the surface, while powerful centrifugal forces are at work beneath it. And these forces are getting stronger. On one day, European Central Bank (ECB) boss Mario Draghi announced the prospect of further help for the countries facing severe austerity measures, only to have German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble send a different message the following day.

Greece is asking for more time, as daily news of Athens's failures has German politicians now openly talking about shutting Greece out of the Eurozone. Spain wants Germany to give it money. And of course nobody can agree on instruments: bonds, direct or indirect? Direct help for the banks? More austerity measures?

The German government has a minority position on the ECB board although that picture changes somewhat if one includes Eastern European EU members. A deep split is forming between the North and the South, and it's only a question of time before the partners reach that moment when they look into each other's eyes and admit: This isn't working anymore.

During the 11 years of the euro's existence, the economic spaces in the North and the South haven't enhanced each other - they've just grown further and further apart. Under conditions like that, a joint currency just doesn't make any sense.

Read the article in German in Die Welt.

Photo: Andres Rueda

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!