Europe/Americas update: June 4 2018



Folks, Vladimir Putin isn’t looking to break up the European Union:

He told Austria’s ORF station he wanted a “united and prosperous” EU, calling the bloc Russia’s most important commercial and economic partner.

He also played down reported links between his United Russia party and Austria’s far-right Freedom Party.

Mr Putin will meet Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen and Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Tuesday, as well as business leaders.

“The more problems at the heart of the EU, the more risks and problems there are for us,” he said.

We need to build co-operation with the EU. We don’t have a goal of dividing anything or anyone in the EU.”

So that’s…nice? Seems like if you have to say it…well, anyway, Putin also told ORF that the reason he hasn’t had a summit with Donald Trump is due to “the fierce domestic political contest in the United States.” I mean, he would know, he’s been controlling it for a couple of years now.

I KID! But seriously, this guy’s trouble.


The consensus view seems to be that Slovenian politics are in for a pretty rough ride for the next little while as the parties try to sort out what happened on Sunday. The right-wing, anti-migrant Slovenian Democratic Party came out of the vote as the country’s largest party, so its leader, Janez Janša, will get first crack at forming a government and becoming prime minister. But so far he’s only attracted interest from two parties, and combined they’d hold 36 seats, ten short of a majority. The center-left List of Marjan Šarec and its 13 seats would put them over the top, but Šarec, as leader of the second-largest party following the election, may be inclined to wait until Janša fails and then attempt to form a center-left coalition of his own.


Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is not a fan of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration plans. Merkel favors forming an EU border patrol force and changing the bloc’s quota system so that countries can refuse to take in migrants but would contribute to their care in other countries. Babiš wants the EU to rely on individual states to police their own borders so that he can keep migrants out and also not have to pay the EU, fuck you very much.


When Donald Trump selected a Fox News personality to serve as his ambassador to Germany, I think we all had the same thought: this is going to kick ass. But little did we know that it would kick so much ass so soon:

The German foreign ministry has asked the new US ambassador to Germany to clarify comments he made during an interview with Breitbart over the weekend in which he said he wanted to “empower” right-wing antiestablishment parties in Europe.

Ambassador Richard Grenell told the far-right news outlet: “There are a lot of conservatives throughout Europe who have contacted me to say they are feeling there is a resurgence going on.”

“I absolutely want to empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders. I think there is a groundswell of conservative policies that are taking hold because of the failed policies of the left,” he said.

The remarks have been criticized in Germany and the US and have led to the suggestion that the ambassador could endorse political parties and candidates across Europe, which would represent a major breach of diplomatic protocol.

Grenell insists he isn’t talking about interfering in the politics of European countries like, say, the one to which he’s been posted, even though it’s hard to read his remarks as anything but a promise to do just that. Grenell has already irritated his hosts by acting more like the US military governor of Berlin than the US ambassador, but this takes it to a new level. And I realize it’s a bit much to get worked up over this, since the United States has been manipulating the politics of Asia, Africa, and especially Latin American countries for decades now, but for all you budding foreign service kids out there–assuming there are any of you out there anymore–don’t be like Richard Grenell.


Demonstrations are planned across Greek Macedonia for Wednesday in opposition to any naming deal with the Republic of Macedonia that lets that country keep the word “Macedonia” in its name. The Greek government has made progress with the Macedonian government over a name change to something like “New Macedonia” or “Northern Macedonia,” which would clear Macedonia’s path to EU and NATO membership, but that outcome seems unacceptable to many Greek citizens. It’s not clear that the Macedonian government would agree to remove the word “Macedonia” from their name altogether as these protesters seem to want.



The Trump administration can’t seem to decide which regime it wants to change first. North Korea? Iran? Say, what about Venezuela:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday called for Venezuela to be suspended from the Organization of American States for crushing democracy and causing a humanitarian crisis that has driven millions of people from the country.

Pompeo’s remarks at the opening of the OAS General Assembly reflected a renewed push to increase the economic and diplomatic cost of what Pompeo called the “dismantling of democracy” under President Nicolás Maduro.

“That suspension is not a goal unto itself,” Pompeo said. “But it would show the OAS backs up its words with action and would send a powerful signal to the Maduro regime — only real elections will allow your government to be included in the family of nations.”

Vice President Pence also called for the suspension of the “Maduro dictatorship” from the organization at a White House reception for OAS members Monday night, in advance of a Tuesday vote.

Pence declared that the “once-great Venezuela is now a failed state.”

A failed state! Well surely they can turn things around after a little US intervention magic. Pence is scheduled to travel to Brazil and Ecuador later this month to discuss What Is To Be Done about this meddlesome Maduro.


It’s starting to sound like a broken record again, but another poll finds that Andrés Manuel López Obrador has increased his lead ahead of July’s Mexican presidential election. López Obrador is up to 50 percent support in the latest El Financiero poll, up four points in the same poll from May. Second place Ricardo Anaya’s support dropped two points to 24 percent.


Melania Trump has resurfaced. Apparently she was missing or something. Good for her. Unfortunately, her husband, President Baby, had another tantrum on Monday:

Maybe she should get away again.

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