International panorama: Macron’s hopes for China, ‘Silk No Road’ and Gaddafi’s comeback

Retired Soviet diplomat Yulduz Khaliullin about the absence of stability in the world. Series 11

Events taking place in one part of the globe instantaneously reflect at different points of the planet. Soviet and Russian diplomat Yulduz Khaliullin dedicated today's column from International panorama series in Realnoe Vremya to events taking place in Europe, Asia and Africa. Our columnist reminded again about Frau Merkel's shaky situation, defined aspects of Marcon's recent visit to the Celestial Kingdom, told about the criticism of Silk Road and said about Gaddafi Jr's political ambitions.

Dilemma for the chancellor

Against a background of the 'governmental crisis' in Germany where a new government has not been formed since almost 4 months after the elections to the Bundestag (the country's parliament), head of CDU/CSU Chancellor Angela Merkel had been having talks with leaders of other parties for several months that ended unsuccessfully. Nowadays there are talks with officials of the second big party – the Social Democrats whom current President of Germany (social democrat) Frank-Walter Steinmeier supports. There aren't clear signs that a government will be assembled on new conditions yet. It has a negative impact on the state of the European Union as FRG is the leading political and economic power of the EU. After the second biggest financial power, Great Britain, left the European Union and some critical statements of leaders of the east wing of this political union (Hungary, Poland and other countries), its situation doesn't seem so stable.

Angela Merkel had been having talks with leaders of other parties for several months that ended unsuccessfully. Photo: kremlin.ru

Macron's Chinese hopes

Meanwhile, the mass media pay attention to President of France Emmanuel Macron's first visit to China this year, which is, undoubtedly, considered as an important, big event of foreign policy. Foreign newspapers focus on external aspects of this trip: he started his trip with visiting the Terracotta Army – the famous place where 8,000 warriors were buried. Macron presented a horse or, more precisely, an 8-year-old gelding named Vesuvius to PRC's leader Xi Jinping. It's an unusual unprecedented diplomatic gesture that he probably used to amaze the Chinese leader who was in Paris in 2014 (before Macron's presidency).

Macron had important talks with officials of China on global problems, particularly the conservation of the Paris Climate Agreement after the United States left it. In the eyes of France, Europe, China's responsibility in climate issues is noticeable that is in striking contrast with the USA's irresponsibility. In this respect, the talks between Beijing and Paris are regarded as a positive occurrence.

Of course, France supported Xi Jinping's 'One Belt – One Road' initiative that he presented in 2013. The project presupposes the creation of wide economic links with other parts of the world – Europe, Africa, America – via railways and water. France is ready to cooperate in this area.

It's significant that about 50 directors of the biggest French companies, including Airbus S.A.S. – a famous aircraft corporation – accompanied Macron. The Frenchmen want to sell tens of new planes to the Chinese who also buy Boeings together with Airbuses. In this respect, The Financial Times notes that nowadays Airbus is facing difficulties with purchasers of its products. So a deal with China would be great support of this aircraft manufacturer. And Macron raised this issue in front of PRC.

Foreign newspapers focus on external aspects of this trip: he started his trip with visiting the Terracotta Army – the famous place where 8,000 warriors were buried. Photo: Yaroslav Dvirnik

In addition, France would like to improve commercial and economic relations with China. Last year, the commercial balance between these countries accounted $60 billion. But $45 billion are Chinese export, while the French one accounts for just 15 billion. The negative balance for France is $30 billion. Macron also actively discussed this issue and asked to make certain concessions to big French companies, so that they could invest and work in all economic territory of China without limits. Foreign experts paid attention to Macron's latest posts on Twitter where he urged: 'To make our planet great again'. It's a kind of parody of Trump who promised to 'make America great again'. The visit of the young French president to China is positively viewed by his compatriots even from a perspective of supporting 'One Belt – One Road'.

Tough Silk Road

Several critical notes against Silk Road project have appeared in the foreign mass media even from China's allies. Particularly PRC promotes an exit to the port of Karachi through Pakistan's railways. Not far from 15-million Karachi where I lived for 6-7 years, the Chinese are building a port of Gwadar through which they want to reach the Indian Ocean. Chinese goods will go to other continents through the Atlantic Ocean. Beijing invests about $60 billion in this project. But some officials of Pakistan have recently opposed the construction of the hydraulic hub at $10 billion in Pakistan because China would like to construct it under its control.

What's more, the Chinese are also working in small Nepal, where I also worked for some time. They want to build a $1bn dam. And the Chinese need to make it of Chinese reinforced concrete constructions. The Nepalese won't be able to earn even from construction. This is why this project causes a lot of criticism from their side.

As for 'One Belt – One Road' initiative, we also were to joint it when Moscow-Beijing high-speed railway was the point. But the HSR project, including the Moscow-Kazan project, stopped. Photo: lensmena.ru

China builds some railway and hydraulic constructions in other countries (for instance, in Thailand) where it also meets come discontent. In this respect, Macron's visit sounds strong.

As for 'One Belt – One Road' initiative, we also were to joint it when Moscow-Beijing high-speed railway was the point. But the HSR project, including the Moscow-Kazan part, stopped. But Russia has good projects with China in Yamal in developing the Arctic.

Elections in the USA and Libya

Partial elections to the USA Congress are to take place in 2018. This is why the Democrats urge not to let 'the Kremlin's meddling'. These allegations towards us have no foundation. But with such statements, the Democrats try to earn political points and affect Donald Trump.

I will remind that the presidential elections will be in 2020. So negative statements of senators representing democratic parties go on. Speaking of the USA's Near Eastern policy, I have an impression that the Americans switched to Iran, Jordan-Syrian border, raised the issue on Iran after head-on collisions with extremists. The move of the USA Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem remains on the agenda. Only one country supported such a decision of the USA – Guatemala that is also thinking of moving its embassy to Jerusalem. It creates a source of tension between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Libya is also preparing for elections. Certain efforts are put by the UN, Russia to reconcile different ruling sides. The country doesn't have a president yet, there is only a presidential council that Fayez al-Sarraj chairs whom nobody has elected. But an important character is also there – Marshal Khalifa Haftar – who controls tens of thousands of armed fighters.

An important character is also there – Marshal Khalifa Haftar – who controls tens of thousands of armed fighters. Photo: wikipedia.org

The UN, including with Russia's participation, managed to try to regulate the political situation in Libya. There has been instability for 5 years already after Gaddafi's departure. This year the UN wants to hold national elections to the parliament of Libya and create a government. According to some data, about 2 million voters have already been written down, which speaks about a good result. About half a million of people took part in the elections in 2014.

It's curious that Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam declared himself in the upcoming elections. As a kid, he was considered a hellion of the former leader of the country but remains 'in power' and criticises Haftar and thinks it's time he retired.

France is interested in the pre-election campaign. The minister of foreign affairs of France has recently visited Libya. Many curious facts are coming to the surface. The English and French media write that Gaddafi financed Nicolas Sarkozy in the past. In any case, if elections take place in Libya, it will be a great achievement for both the very country and the world community.

By Yulduz Khaliullin

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