The Ukraine Safari

I don’t usually write about cultural products from my own country, but I must make an exception for Slovenian filmmaker Miran Zupanič’s new documentary Sarajevo Safari, which details one of the most bizarre and pathological episodes of the 1992-96 siege


From Idealism to Ineffectiveness: Assessing the Performance of Human Rights NGOs


Most of the human rights organizations may appear to be upstanding global citizens on paper, their practical impact can be questioned, labeling them as toothless tigers. Let’s examine their behavior:

During the upcoming national elections in Bangladesh, the people want a festive atmosphere that allows voters to freely choose their preferred candidate. However, it is highly offensive to see foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka interfering in Bangladesh’s election process while their own countries have significant faults in various affairs, including their own election processes. When these diplomats attempt to prescribe solutions for our national matters, they come across as unjust rogues.

Although the next parliamentary elections are still more than a year away, foreign diplomats are already involving themselves in Bangladesh’s election process, which is unacceptable. The government does not appreciate their interference, criticism, or opinions on the election process and internal affairs of the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already instructed foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh to refrain from such actions. Additionally, media representatives should avoid asking foreign diplomats about our election process.

Regrettably, these international human rights organizations and their local counterparts have chosen to remain silent regarding the blatant and aggressive meddling of powerful nations like the United States in the domestic affairs of Bangladesh, an independent and sovereign country. This silence is deeply regrettable.

Moreover, the international non-governmental human rights organizations have failed to condemn the disgraceful decision of the White House administration to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO) on flimsy grounds, violating international norms. Even the WHO itself has not addressed this issue yet.

In most cases, these organizations deliberately choose to remain silent on blatant violations of international rules by the American government and its allied authorities in weaker nations. It appears that they prioritize the interests of powerful states, displaying a double standard in their actions towards less powerful countries. They must strive to be more independent, resourceful, and courageous in fulfilling their responsibilities without succumbing to the influence of major powers or relying solely on their financial resources. Their work should not be compromised, and they should speak up against egregious and systemic human rights violations, especially those committed by the United States and its allies.

Millions of people have suffered crimes against humanity perpetrated by these rogue states, particularly the United States. It seems as though there is an unwritten agreement between these international non-governmental human rights organizations (NGOs) and powerful states such as the United States, where they refrain from speaking critically about them and their accomplice states.

Numerous human rights abuses occur in countries around the world, imposed in the form of abrasive sanctions to stifle nations and their people from asserting their rights. These NGOs remain silent when drone fighter planes strike weaker nations, resulting in the destruction of human lives and vital infrastructure for the sake of self-interest. In such situations, these NGOs hide their faces and fail to take bold steps to stop the oppressors. This raises the question of their effectiveness.

Furthermore, some global organizations have faced criticism for their inability to address the problems they were designed to tackle. The United Nations, for instance, has failed to compel Israel to adhere to its numerous resolutions, some of which were submitted by the UN Security Council. Similarly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also been deemed ineffective. The critical situation in Myanmar is an opportunity for the OIC to demonstrate its capabilities. As a body consisting of 57 nations, it is essential for its bureaucrats to take serious action rather than issuing insignificant press releases.

While human rights and democracy are not synonymous, the global human rights regime should be based on the understanding that democratic governance provides the best foundation for durable human rights protection. Multilateral institutions should align their policies with the promotion of democracy as the fundamental principle. Institutions like the United Nations Development Programme should prioritize good governance and democracy in their initiatives. Human rights not only benefit from good governance but also thrive in democratic environments, both horizontally among states and vertically through the establishment of institutionalized frameworks within countries and societies.

Global economic institutions also have the potential to promote and protect human rights if there is sufficient political will. These institutions, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and regional development banks, should extend their work on anti-corruption and good governance to ensure equal access to legal rights for all groups. By strengthening judicial institutions and fostering civil society participation, these efforts can enhance productivity and prosperity in developing nations. Similarly, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its member states should encourage the elimination of barriers to freedom of information to facilitate market growth.

There is no doubt that the number of human rights non-governmental organizations has increased significantly in the sixty years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated by the United Nations. These NGOs proudly claim to play a critical role in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. However, in reality, their impact is questionable.

The international human rights law arena still lacks a consensus on the definition and categorization of human rights NGOs. Nevertheless, all stakeholders agree that these organizations should protect internationally recognized human rights at various levels. Unfortunately, their failures are evident.

Successful and effective human rights NGOs should possess certain attributes and should self-regulate, possibly by adhering to NGO Codes of Conduct, to overcome internal and external challenges. It requires the concerted efforts of all relevant stakeholders to ensure that human rights NGOs fulfill their mandate of protecting human rights in all countries, without being influenced by powerful states that may engage in harmful actions.

The achievements and effectiveness of successful human rights NGOs should serve as models for all advocates and defenders of human rights, who often face significant sacrifices in their endeavors to improve the human experience.

In retrospect, the human rights treaties established after World War II were not just acts of idealism but also carried elements of hubris. They can be likened to the civilizing efforts of Western governments and missionary groups in the 19th century, which did little good for native populations while entangling European powers in the affairs of countries they did not understand. It is high time for a more proactive and pragmatic approach.

Addressing the potential for nuclear warfare is an issue that remains relevant in today’s globalized world. Initiatives such as The Nuclear World Project, led by Robert Frye, aim to create awareness of the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation and facilitate dialogue on resolution options. International NGOs should play an active role in these efforts, but their response has been insufficient.

Human rights provide an aspirational roadmap for decision-making and balancing trade-offs. This framework is crucial when dealing with disruptive and potentially dangerous forces that present complex challenges. However, it seems that organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch fail to effectively address issues involving superpowers like the United States and its influential allied states.

The contemporary international human rights framework should be enduring and evolving. It can continue to emphasize our shared humanity, provide a moral compass, and instill determination and purpose in the face of daunting odds faced by weaker nations against mighty powers.

Unfortunately, international human rights organizations or NGOs often remain toothless tigers. They require significant improvements and reforms to fulfill their obligations effectively.

Afghan orphans grieve families killed in U.S.-led war


Asked “what do you want to do in the future?” most kids from an orphanage in Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul would answer “I want to be a doctor” without hesitation, as their loved ones were killed in wars and many relatives were injured with lifelong handicaps.

“I lost my father 11 years ago. My earnest desire is for my father to be alive today. My father was a kind and nice man,” 12-year-old Sibghatullah whispered.

Originally from the northern Takhar province and currently living in Kabul, the teenage boy spoke with sorrow that the death of his father had taken everything from his family.

The U.S.-led forces, during their 20-year presence in Afghanistan which ended in August 2021, reportedly killed numerous Afghan civilians and Sibghatullah’s father was one of the victims.

“When I see other boys with fathers, I wish I had my father here as well,” he said regrettably.

Sibghatullah is just feeling deep grief over his late father, while International Children’s Day is celebrated throughout the world to promote children’s rights.

Nevertheless, countless children, mostly orphaned ones in war-torn and poverty-stricken Afghanistan, have been deprived of their rights to education and are working on the streets to earn a livelihood for their impoverished families.

“I go to sell shopping bags every day on the streets, if earn some money, I bring naan, Afghan traditional flat bread, home,” an orphaned Afghan boy Nawid, who also lost his father during the U.S.-led war on Afghanistan, told Xinhua.

Expressing similar grief, another Afghan teenager Shahab, 14, from the eastern Laghman province, muttered that his life was destroyed after his father was killed a few years ago.

“One day my father and I were walking outside home but suddenly we heard Kalashnikov gunshots and we were both hit. He died and I lost myself and didn’t remember much more about the incident,” Shahab recalled with grief.

Children are the most vulnerable victims of wars. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), between 2009 and 2018, armed conflicts killed nearly 6,500 children and injured close to 15,000 others.

Shahab, living and attending school in Kabul, dreams of becoming a medical doctor in the future. “My father’s dream for me was to become a doctor in the future. I am trying to realize his dream, which is also mine now,” he told Xinhua.

Children like the kids at this orphanage might be the luckier ones compared to those curling up on the streets, unattended by any family member.

More than 900,000 Afghans have been newly displaced inside the country since 2021, the vast majority of whom are women and children, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

“My father took care of me, but unfortunately because of the war, I failed to take care of him and now he is dead. My father was a hero,” Shahab said.

Cubans striving to boost economic recovery amid U.S. embargo


 Damarys Ruiz, a state employee from Cuba’s capital Havana, expects that the government’s strategy to boost the economy can bring prosperity to her country.

The 50-year-old, who works in the field of commerce, told Xinhua that state companies can very much contribute to improving Cuba’s economic situation after the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus.

“We are opening the country to foreign investment and a monetary overhaul is underway,” she said. “I feel we are moving on the right track.”

According to official statistics, the state sector in Cuba provides more than 80 percent of the country’s GDP.

In addition, roughly 8,000 small and medium-sized enterprises have been approved on the island since September 2021, the Cuban Ministry of Economy and Planning said in its latest update.

Adriel Perez, who works for a private mobile repair shop in the district of Playa in Havana, said local entrepreneurs can make the Cuban economy more dynamic.

“The private sector is now permitted to import, which is highly beneficial for the quality of service we offer the population,” he said.

The Cuban government has initiated various measures to recover the economy, amid the intensification of the six-decade-long U.S. embargo, which has cost the Caribbean nation more than 150 billion U.S. dollars, according to the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Minister of Economy Alejandro Gil said that at present 285 companies are reporting losses. As inflation becomes increasingly severe and complex, he called for increasing production in the food sector, where inflation has the greatest impact.

A significant part of hard currencies has been invested in reactivating agricultural and electronic industries as well as in the imports of rice, pork meat and care products, he told the parliament recently, adding the government continues to implement a package of 63 measures approved in April 2021 to spur national food production.

Meanwhile, Cuba has welcomed over 1.2 million tourists so far in 2023, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Taxi driver Raul Diaz said he believes his country can overcome the obstacles posed by the U.S. embargo.

“We need to continue to work hard, but a better economy is possible,” he said. “We are making a huge effort to improve our quality of life. The solution depends on us.”

The Cuban government has projected a 3-percent GDP growth in 2023.

China takes leadership role in Central Asia


One of the pleasures of the post-Cold War strategic discourses is that geopolitics is back with a bang. Earlier, the former Soviet Union and Communist China used to be in denial mode, as geopolitics didn’t fit into their Marxist-Leninist lens — although, arguably, Marx might have adapted himself a long time ago already. 

The China-Central Asia Summit, which took place recently in Xi’an on May 18-19 was every bit a geopolitical event as much as the G7 summit in Hiroshima that it overlapped. The symbolism was profound. China and Russia were the elephants in the room for both summits but the Xi’an summit distinguished itself as an inclusive affair, whereas, the G7 event was, regrettably, an exclusive gathering of wealthy countries of the western world dripping with cold war-era animosities, and it didn’t hide its intentions even in its choice of “special invitees” — one ASEAN country; two BRICS countries; one tiny African state; a Pacific island etc. — borne out of the old colonial mindset of “divide and rule.” 

The biggest difference was that the Xi’an summit was substantive and focused on a positive agenda that is quantifiable, while the Hiroshima summit was largely prescriptive and partly declarative and only marginally tangible. This was because the China-Central Asia summit took place on native soil while the G7 has no habitation and name in Asia except that one of the seven member countries is of Asian origin and the summit itself was a thinly-veiled attempt to insert the alien Western agenda into the Asian setting. In fact, the criterion for selecting the special invitees was itself based on the credentials of those chosen few to perform potentially as a fifth column for western interests in an Asian Century.    

The China-Central Asia Summit was motivated by the growing realisation that the countries of the Eurasian region must play a proactive role in the common task of pushing back the United States, the driving force of the G7, which they perceive to be attempting to destabilise the common neighbourhood of Russia and China in Central Asia. Simply put, the Xi’an summit tacitly signalled that Russia and China are unitedly circling the wagons for a common purpose — to borrow an idiom which was employed by the Americans in the 19th century to describe a defensive manoeuvre. 

From a historical perspective, it is for the first time ever that Russia and China are explicitly joining hands to stabilise the Central Asian region — a momentous happening by itself — with Beijing assuming a leadership role, given Russia’s preoccupations in Ukraine. This paradigm shift belies the western propaganda that Russian and Chinese interests collide in the Central Asian region. There is a strategic convergence between Moscow and Beijing that stability in Central Asian region, which is vital for both capitals in their own interests, is best achieved through ensuring security, boosting economic development or international political backing. 

A well-known Russian think tanker at the Kremlin-funded Valdai Club in Moscow, Timofei Bordachev wrote in Global Times in the run-up to the Xi’an summit: “China and Russia are equally interested in the stability of Central Asia simply because they are directly neighbouring most of the states located in this part of Eurasia. It is as simple as the fact that you would not put on fire your neighbor’s house in order to hurt another neighbor. But if a certain power is located thousands of miles away from the common neighbourhood of Russia and China in Central Asia, it may well be betting on destabilising that region.

“The common task of China and Russia is to prevent this and make their friends and neighbours in Central Asia stable and relatively prosperous in today’s turbulent times… Whoever says that China’s and Russia’s interests in Central Asia may conflict with each other is not a friend of China, Russia or the countries of the region themselves.”

Equally, there is a consensus among the five Central Asian states to work together in a “5+1” format, which means that all crucial decisions and initiatives will be coordinated with all Central Asian states at the same time. On their part, the Central Asian partners recognise that the overall economic development of their region could get better if they strengthen their cooperation with China. Russia has played a key role here to encourage the Central Asian states to move in such a direction and play a proactive role. This itself is a marked departure as the five “Stans” have not always been able to work together, opting instead to engage with the biggest global players individually. 

The participants of the Xi’an summit, which Chinese President Xi Jinping who hosted the event called a “new era” in his country’s relations with the region, agreed to create a mechanism for communication between the heads of post-Soviet states of Central Asia and China. The meetings will be held alternately every two years in the format of Central Asia – China. The next meeting of the six leaders is scheduled for 2025 in Kazakhstan. The Xi’an Declaration released after the summit includes 15 points, divided into several blocks of issues: security, logistics, trade and economic cooperation, humanitarian cooperation and ecology. 

What emerges is that Beijing’s interest lies primarily in security considerations against the backdrop of the activities of extremist groups such as the Islamic State (which continues to get covert support from the US) that are operating out of Afghanistan. China’s thesis is that security is best strengthened through economic development and for that reason, therefore, the region is important from the point of view of economic cooperation and regional development — although in aggregate terms, Central Asian economic resources are nowhere near sufficient for meeting China’s needs. 

Suffice to say, terrorist threats emanating from the region, posing threat to Xinjiang, are China’s main concern and Beijing is willing to openly invest its resources in the security of the region and take part in the training of the anti–terrorist forces of the Central Asian states. Geographically, three out of the five Central Asian countries, namely Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, share borders with China. As for Russia, it has long regarded the region as its traditional sphere of influence and a strategic buffer zone, and thus prioritised the security of its southern border. Therefore, a safe and secure Central Asia aligns with China and Russia’s respective national interests. 

In the context of the Ukraine crisis, Central Asia has emerged as a frontline for the US strategy to contain and weaken Russia. However, although Central Asian countries have adopted a neutral stance on the Ukraine situation, Russia’s influence in the region remains strong and is unlikely to be largely disrupted. Three key factors are at work here. First, Russia is seen as the provider of security and Russia’s defence capabilities continue to play a crucial role in maintaining stability in the region. Second, Central Asian states heavily depend on Russia in regard of labor migration, market access, transportation, and energy resources, and no other outside power foots the bill. Third, do not underestimate that the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union continues to systematically build up regional economic integration. 

The Xi’an Declaration talks about resisting religious extremism and attempts by external forces to impose their own rules on the region. President Xi said at the summit that Beijing is ready to help strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies and armed forces of the regional states, and promised to “support their independent efforts to ensure regional security and fight terrorism, as well as work with them to strengthen cybersecurity.” In addition, he said Beijing is working on the creation of a regional anti-terrorist centre in China to train the security forces of the Central Asian republics. 

To be continued

Nicolás Maduro Makes Historic Trip to Brazil for South American Presidents’ Summit


Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro participated in a joint press conference on May 29 from the Planalto Palace in Brasília, highlighting the importance of resuming ties. The press conference was held following a bilateral meeting between the heads of state ahead of the South American Presidents’ Summit.

As Lula told media, “This is a historic moment. After eight years, President Nicolás Maduro is back to visiting Brazil and we have recovered our right to have a foreign policy with the seriousness we have always had, especially with the countries that border Brazil.”

Their meeting took place days after Lula and Maduro appointed ambassadors to each other’s countries on May 24, and formalized the reestablishment of relations.

According to statements from their governments, the meeting focused on reactivating trade between the two countries, cooperation on issues regarding the Amazon, advancing regional integration, and issues related to their 1,366-mile border. At the press conference, Lula highlighted that at its height, the flow of trade between the two nations had reached $6 billion and it had now dropped to $2 billion, which he argued “is bad for Venezuela and Brazil.” Lula also said that he is in favor of Venezuela joining BRICS.

Maduro commented on the challenges the country underwent when “Brazil closed all of the doors and windows, despite being neighboring countries, countries that love each other as people.” He recalled an attempt to invade the Venezuelan embassy in Brasília, which was defended by Brazilian social movements and solidarity groups. “Today, a new chapter of relations between our countries begins,” he said.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Sudanese Army and Rapid Support Forces Extend Fragile Ceasefire by Five Days


The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to extend a fragile truce by five days on May 29. The truce, which came into effect on May 22, was marked by violations although the intensity of fighting decreased. Over 850 civilians have died and over 3,600 have been injured since fighting broke out on April 15. Nearly 1.4 million have been displaced.

On May 28, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, which had jointly mediated the ceasefire, released a statement highlighting violations by both parties. The statement said that while the SAF violated the prohibition against aerial attacks, the RSF had “continued encroachment in civilian areas.” Among the buildings occupied by the RSF was the office of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP).

SCP spokesperson Fathi Elfadl told Peoples Dispatch that no humanitarian corridor had been set up and areas worst affected by the fighting had not received aid. In fact, the U.S.-Saudi statement said that both SAF and RSF forces had stolen consignments of humanitarian aid.

Civilians have borne the brunt of the conflict. Prices of bottled water, food, and fuel have gone up between 40 and 60 percent in conflict-affected areas. The World Food Program (WFP) projects that 18 million people will be left unable to afford basic food by as early as August if the fighting continues.

The fighting in Sudan was the culmination of months of tension between top generals who had staged a coup in October 2021 and severely repressed civilian protesters who were demanding democracy.

from the Peoples Dispatch / Globetrotter News Service

Erdogan’s Strategy to Solidify Türkiye’s Regional Influence

by Burak Akinci 

(Xinhua) — Incumbent Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has secured his third term on the post after winning a runoff presidential election held Sunday. Experts believe that the veteran politician is likely to maintain a balance between the West and the East to keep positioning Türkiye as a regional heavyweight.

In Sunday’s contest, Erdogan won 52.14 percent of the votes. His opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu garnered 47.86 percent, Turkish Supreme Election Council Chairman Ahmet Yener said. The victory allows Erdogan to remain in power for another five years.

For long, to enhance Türkiye’s strategic importance, the Turkish leader has attached importance to the country’s NATO membership on the international stage on the one hand, and engaged in a delicate balancing act between the West and the East on the other.

When he announced his election manifesto in Ankara in April, Erdogan hinted that his country will continue to play an active role in regional affairs.

“We will build the axis of Türkiye with a foreign policy where both our country, our region, and humanity will find peace and stability, multilateralism, more cooperation, peace, stability, and humanitarian diplomacy,” he said.

Batu Coskun, an Ankara-based independent political risk analyst, said Erdogan is unlikely to change course, adding that a major task for the country would be to reconcile with former foes.

“Foreign policy-wise, I don’t expect a vast shift from the previous foreign policy before the electoral cycle began,” he told Xinhua in a recent interview. A priority for Turkish diplomacy is to push for a reconciliation with Syria, he said.

Signs of thawing the frozen Türkiye-Syria relations have been seen last year at meetings between Turkish, Syrian, and Russian ministers and officials in Moscow.

In the past few years, Türkiye has mended ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates following difficult regional isolation. Egypt is next in line in Türkiye’s drive, Coskun said.

“In a multipolar world, Türkiye strives for autonomy from the Western bloc, pursuing an independent foreign policy,” a source close to the Turkish government told Xinhua on the condition of anonymity.

“Türkiye will continue to have proactive diplomacy,” the source said.

On Russia, analysts believe Ankara would continue to maintain close political and financial relations with Moscow, despite criticism from its Western allies.

“Türkiye’s position on Russia is unlikely to change. Türkiye will continue to engage with Moscow and (President Vladimir) Putin both financially, politically and strategically,” Coskun said.

The balance has earned Türkiye a reputation during the Ukraine crisis. Ankara has not joined the Western sanctions campaign against Russia, but has served as a mediator between the parties, facilitating prisoner exchanges, the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and peace talks at the onset of the conflict.

Kerim Has, a Moscow-based analyst on Russian and Eurasian affairs, similarly said “Türkiye under Erdogan’s administration will deepen and expand its relations with Russia in the commercial, economic, financial, and energy fields.”

On relations with the United States, Erdogan in a media interview expressed his desire to cooperate with U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration.

Ankara’s ties with Washington have become strained due to their policy differences on Syria, Libya, or the Eastern Mediterranean. Türkiye has also been sanctioned by the United States for purchasing Russian defense systems and dismissed from the F-35 stealth jet program.

In Coskun’s view, there is little room for improvement in Turkish-U.S. relations. “I do not necessarily expect new frictions (with the United States) but I don’t expect engagement or a detente either. The Biden administration appears to be quite distant from Türkiye.”

Redefining Modernization: China’s Vision

China has achieved success on multiple fronts of national development, providing the world with a new path to modernization, a prominent Turkish scholar on international relations has said.

China is making progress “not only in the field of technology or of social development but in almost all fields,” Huseyin Bagci, an academic with the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University and president of the Turkish Foreign Policy Institute, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Significant progress has been achieved in human rights, poverty alleviation, education, social security, health, and national unity, Bagci said, highlighting China’s outstanding achievements in promoting human rights by eradicating absolute poverty, protecting people’s rights, and expanding education and health services.

Bagci believes China is providing the world with an alternative path to modernization that differs from that of the Western world, which is unprecedented in world history.

The scholar also saluted China’s outstanding contributions to developing countries’ modernization by providing ample funding and credits.

“Many countries, of course, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, they look to China as a dynamic, external factor for modernization, because China provides a lot of credits, infrastructural help,” Bagci said, citing various fields ranging from education to health and agriculture as core areas of cooperation between China and other developing countries.

Avoiding Disaster: Why Washington Must Confront Its Debt Obligations


America’s self-imposed debt limit is no more than a joke as Washington, the world’s richest debtor, can never satiate its unchecked spending appetite by unceasingly borrowing from overseas. Hence the recurring debt problem has become an incurable toxic addiction.

The United States, as the world’s largest economy whose currency still holds a dominant position globally, thus has an unshirkable responsibility to fix its debt problem in a responsible fashion.

But each time its debt addiction strikes, America’s nasty domestic partisan politics and debt brinksmanship will uniformly make matters worse, sending shockwaves across the global markets and putting the whole world on tenterhooks. The ongoing crisis is no exception.

After months of political tug-of-war, U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached an agreement on Sunday on raising the debt ceiling. If approved by the U.S. Congress later this week, it would be the 103rd time the country raises its debt limit in the post-war era.

While the deal may have for the moment helped the country avert a destructive debt default, and allow the world to breathe a sigh of relief, America’s deep-seated debt problem remains unsolved and is always ready to come back and haunt the world some day.

America’s national debt clock is ticking. The swelling debt, more than 31.4 trillion U.S. dollars now, is a credibility challenge for the world. Facing the skyrocketing numbers, nations across the globe have become increasingly anxious about the United States’ ability to repay its bills in the long run.

The greenback is the most commonly held reserve currency, making up more than 60 percent of global foreign exchange reserves. Theoretically, the United States, with its dollar supremacy, can continue to issue new bonds to pay off the old debts as long as its government revenues can cover the interest payments. However, that is highly unsustainable.

The ratio of government debt in gross domestic product (GDP) is an important indicator of a country’s ability to settle its debts. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office predicts that the proportion will reach 185 percent in 2052. And by 2053, net interest will consume approximately 7.2 percent of America’s GDP — nearly 40 percent of federal revenues. Such a trajectory will cause more serious concerns for the viability of U.S. debts and the dollar’s real purchasing power, creating mounting uncertainties in the world market.

The U.S. debts, with an ever shrinking credibility, have become a major source of risks in the global financial market.

For a long time, U.S. treasuries have been considered as so-called “safe haven assets.” However, the U.S. fiscal and monetary authorities have merely focused on America’s own policy goals, forcing drastic dollar fluctuations and distorting economic cycles, which causes a serious spillover into the financial sector.

Take the fall of the Silicon Valley Bank. On the surface, the bank suffered a devastating run on deposits because of a liquidity crisis. Yet the real reason is that the value of assets that the bank had bought during the low-rate cycle plunged due to the Federal Reserve’s aggressive hike of interest rates.

Since March last year, the Fed has raised interest rates 10 times in a row in an effort to curb inflation. Total book losses on bonds held by all U.S. banks ballooned to about 620 billion dollars at the end of 2022, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

If the United States continues to kick its debt can down the road, the cyclical debt crisis will threaten global financial security and the viability of the global economy over the long haul. Everyone knows that it is a dire problem, yet nothing substantial has ever been done about it. That’s what people call a “grey rhino.”

It is true that the White House and the U.S. Congress over the years can always come up with some sort of temporary solutions to the debt ceiling. Yet considering the country’s chronically polarized political environment, compromises are not always guaranteed and defaults not completely avoidable. If a U.S. default does happen, it could trigger a recession in America, and take a heavy toll on the world economy, many analysts worldwide have concurred.

Solving America’s debt problem demands a systemic and long-term approach. Such sensible solutions for America to wean itself off its debt addiction include curbing the country’s already behemoth and still rising military expenditures, ending the economy’s over-financialization and refraining from abusing extreme monetary policies like quantitative easing, among others.

Yet politicians from both parties have proven short-sighted and dangerously irresponsible. This is a genuine reflection of the country’s dysfunctional political system.

“In my eyes, we’re playing Russian roulette with the United States’ credit,” Jeff Tomasulo, CEO of Vespula Capital Management and Tactical Income, said.

The United States insists on assuming leadership in many areas yet neglects to accept responsibility when things go wrong. America must acknowledge that its debt crisis extends beyond its borders. Ignoring that reality is a price too heavy to pay in this age of global economic interdependence.

What we do know about the Eurasian Union?

On May 29 Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia mark the anniversary of the establishment of the EAEU. Despite it was formed 9 years ago, in Sri Lanka people still know little about this organization.

What is EAEU?

In 1994, the first President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev at his lecture at Moscow State University formulated an idea of the Eurasian economic union. After the tragedy of the collapse of the USSR, all 15 republics of the former Union faced numerous problems, connected with the devastating economic crisis, which resulted in the crash of the economy, industry and a sharp decline in living standards. In some parts of the former biggest nation of the world civil conflicts were unleashed. Many Western enterprises entered the hot area, using imperfections of the new laws to grow rich and take out the unique technologies from the heart of the former second industrial power. In this pot of instability, the western robbers and our domestic collaborators had fished in troubled waters to improve their positions. They designed to use any means to become richer in the people’s tragedy, developing criminal businesses and killing innocent people.

The governments of the newly independent countries faced an enormous amount of challenges. The industrial cooperation between parts of the previously united country was broken, but there were no units that could act independently. The united system of transport and banking crashed in a moment, as all around. So, in 1995 the governments came to the agreement that there is no way forward but to pass this path together. In 1995 the Agreement about the Customs Union was signed by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which was widened in 1999 in the Treaty on Customs Union and Common Free Market Zone.

The formation of the Eurasian Economic Union was long and complicated. In some treats, it is very similar to the process of European integration, which started after the Second World War from the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and resulted in the European Union in 2004. Nevertheless, the former Soviet republics today are continuing discussions about free economic cooperation with no political part – and the current state and policy of the European bureaucrats is one of the main reasons for this kind of limit.

In any circumstances, we used a positive experience of European integration in our process. As Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned in his article “A new integration project for Eurasia: The Future in the Making”, “it took Europe 40 years to move from the European Coal and Steel Community to the full European Union. The establishment of the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space is proceeding at a much faster pace because we could draw on the experience of the EU and other regional associations. And this is our obvious advantage since it means we are in a position to avoid mistakes and unnecessary bureaucratic superstructures”.

In 2000 the Treaty of Establishing Eurasian Economic Community was signed. In 2010 the new step of the economic integration of the space of the former Soviet Union was done – Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan created and finally launched with success the Customs Union. In 2011 the Eurasian Commission was established and the start of full-scale Eurasian economic integration was declared. In 2012 the Eurasian Economic space started its operation as a single market that provides for the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital.

Finally, on May 29, 2014, the Treaty of the Eurasian Economic Union was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belorussian President Lukashenko and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The operation of this Union of more than 190 mln people, an area of more than 20 mln square kilometres and a GDP of 1.84 bln US dollars started in the new year of 2015.

The same year Armenia and Kyrgyzstan joined the EAEU. In 2018 the new, common Code of Customs was launched and the numerous programs to develop further integration within the Union were elaborated. All these achievements were warmly welcomed by the common people, who benefit from the renewed economic state. Prices for many products came down, as there were no more barriers. The common standards and courses of law simplified the operation of businesses.

Among those countries who wanted to join the Union were Ukraine and Moldova. But unlawful Nazi coup-d’etat in Kyiv, inspired by the Anglo-Saxons, crushed the longstanding approach of the Ukrainian people to live and labour together with their neighbours and brothers peacefully. After the change of power in Moldova this state has turned to the route of deep integration with Romania and the EU as well, with the majority of people looking forward to being with Russia and the EAEU.

What place EAEU has in International Relations?

Besides the full membership, first of all, there is the so-called “observer membership”. Cuba and Uzbekistan have the status of observers to the EAEU. Moldova since 2017 has also been the first state with such status, but in 2021, as it was mentioned above, that state became a victim of aggressive Western policy. Its president found that joining the EAEU was “out of the law procedures”, but the state is still considered to stand as an observer.

The EAEU has a net of the Free Trade Zone agreements, this kind of treaty is signed with Vietnam, Iran, China, Serbia and Singapore. At least 10 countries find cooperation with EAEU interesting in this format. Much more countries and international organizations have signed Memorandums of interaction with the EAEU.

What are the main objectives and goals of EAEU?

The main objectives of the Union are creating conditions for the stable development of the economies of the member states in order to improve the living standards of their population. It is highlighted in Article 4 of the basic Treaty. To obtain these objectives, the member states agree on mutual recognition of the qualifications, unification of the technical regulations and standards, coordinating the macroeconomic policy, establishing the common financial market and many other measures to ensure balanced economic development.

Due to the policy of Western unilateral sanctions and the consequences of the COVID pandemic, the current state of the Global Economy is very close to the new World Economy Crisis. There are numerous risks for the member-states now, from the limitations that last from the outbreak of COVID to instability in the fossil fuels markets, capital migrations to the “safe havens” and, of course, the policy of restrictions. There are some internal challenges as well, for example, the need for diversification, modernization, low speed of economic growth and investment activities say in innovations.

The priority of the Union’s development at the moment is to overcome the mentioned challenges that can cause problems for the economies of member states. So, in this path, we are aimed at attracting investment to the perspective directions of economic development. EAEU members are coming closer to boosting innovations, widening the industrial cooperation within the Union and achieving the goals of formatting the new techno-economic paradigm.

There are several criteria for the maintenance of the macroeconomic stability of the EAEU. The annual budget deficit should be less than 3% of GDP, state debt – less than 50%, and inflation – not more than 5% in addition to the lowest rate among the member states.

The goals and directions of the EAEU are largely in line with the goals and targets of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Regional economic cooperation contributes to the achievements of the UN SDGs and becomes an additional tool for ensuring high-quality and sustainable economic growth of member-states.

EAEU focuses attention on the green economy principles as well. There is a conception of harmonizing approaches of the member states in the context of the green transformation of the world economy and the problems of climate change. There are a number of areas that are affected by climate change within the borders of the Union, mostly by deforestation, desertification, air, soil and water pollution. The most prospective sphere of cooperation in green transition is transporting. More than 80% of arterial railways are using electrical traction. Eurasian Union is contributing much attention to the projects of electrical city common transport, for example, electro buses. Development of renewable, hydro- and atomic generation is among the priorities of the member states.

What is the vision of the future of EAEU?

There is a strategy for the development of the EAEU, passed as a declaration in 2018. It contains 11 main directions or 332 different amendments to the current procedures common for the EAEU:

  • Full elimination of barriers
  • Increasing effectiveness of the EAEUstructures
  • Increasing the effectiveness of management and financing to create highly effective export-oriented sectors of the economy
  • Improving customs regulations
  • Guarantees of the quality of the products
  • Development of the digital infrastructure and space
  • Elaborating flexible mechanisms of targeted assistance
  • Coordinating efforts of implementing innovations
  • Maintaining full implementation of all agreements within the frames of the Eurasian integration
  • Widening economic cooperation in healthcare, education, tourism and sport
  • Formatting EAEU as a centre of development in the coming new multipolar world order

These measures will result in pushing forward the rate of interest of the small and medium enterprises that actually are the basis of any economy. Stipulating the scientific approaches in developing business and state management will also lead to the growth of innovations, and, as a result, in the growing living standards of our people.

Even though the Western countries unleashed a total war against our Motherland, progress in economic development is inevitable, and we are witnessing the first points of it right now. We realize perfectly that this progress is harmful to our enemies that are dreaming of how to turn our countries into distraction and depravation, to split the forming unity, to break all those that were done with great efforts. Our enemies like a cancer tumour are sucking the blood of the entire world, as they have done for ages maintaining their hypocritical colonial policy. But their time is coming to an end with no possibility to enlarge it.

Long live the Eurasian Economic Union and its leaders! Long live the people of the EAEU! Down with the Western hegemony and hypocrisy!

Press Secretary Office of the Russian Embassy in Colombo

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