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Council on Foreign Relations Daily News Brief
October 12, 2012

Top of the Agenda

Top of the Agenda: European Union Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for what the committee deemed six decades of work in advancing peace and reconciliation in Europe (BBC). Nobel committee president Thorbjoern Jagland acknowledged the EU's current financial crisis, but praised the bloc for its role in reconciling France and Germany in the decades after World War II, and incorporating Spain, Portugal and Greece after the collapse of their authoritarian regimes in the 1970s. Jagland challenged the twenty-seven-nation group (FT) to shift its focus to the Balkan countries, where Croatia is on the verge of membership. The award comes as the bloc struggles to resolve one of its deepest crises in history, as debt woes, unemployment, and social unrest threaten the very structure of the union itself (AP).


"Surely NATO and the presence of American forces has been an equally, if not more important factor in keeping the peace in Europe through the decades of the cold war. And it was intervention by America more than Europe, be it as the EU or individual countries, that eventually put a stop to the bloodletting in the ex-Yugoslavia. Still, the prize is a fillip for a European project that has been valuable in consolidating peace, but had lost its way in the crisis," writes The Economist.

"The European Union's achievements are clear, and the Nobel committee has highlighted them. Focusing on a long-term view of the EU's activities the committee spoke of reconciliation following the two World Wars. It mentioned the integration of the Eastern Bloc countries, and the EU's role in delivering stability in the Balkans. However, they picked a rather strange time to honor the organisation. The eurozone crisis has made the EU look more divided and fragile than it has for decades," writes Matthew Price for the BBC.

"Today the EU remains a force for peace and economic and political reform for its neighbors. It's the carrot of European integration that is spurring reform--in fits and starts, sometimes, but over the long haul real reform--in places like the Ukraine, Turkey and the Balkans. It doesn't mean that the Euro isn't flawed. It doesn't mean that the EU bureaucracy's designs for a supranational European state makes sense. But the fact remains that in the 20th and 21st century, few institutions (perhaps none) have been so staggeringly successful at fostering peace where there was war, at turning a continent of war into a continent of peace," writes Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry for Forbes.



Mo Yan Calls Urges Liu XiaoBo's Release

Nobel Prize for literature winner Mo Yan said he hoped China's imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced to eleven years in jail in 2009, could "regain his freedom very soon," (AP) answering critics who say he is compromising artistic independence by pandering to the Chinese Communist Party.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korea's presidential opposition candidate Moon Jae-in vowed Friday to protect the country's western maritime border (Yonhap) with North Korea, an area Pyongyang has disputed.



UK Marines Arrested in Afghanistan Murder Inquiry

Seven Royal Marines were arrested on suspicion of murder for a 2011 incident in Afghanistan that followed an "engagement with an insurgent," in a case that could have a serious impact (Telegraph) on Britain's standing in the country.

PAKISTAN: Afghanistan accused Pakistan of violating the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, blaming Islamabad (ExpressTribune) for denying its cargo, access to Wagah border and seaports.

This CFR Backgrounder outlines the troubled Pakistan-Afghanistan border.



Syria Accuses Turkey of Lying Over Plane Incident

Syria accused Turkey of lying over its claim that a Syria-bound plane grounded in Ankara was carrying Russian-made equipment (BBC). The Syrian foreign ministry challenged Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who speculated that Russia was breaching an arms embargo on Syria, to show publicly what had been seized.

QATAR: Qatar's foreign minister said on Friday that the United Nations should back Syrian rebels with arms and funding (AP), and should support a no-fly zone.



Kofi Annan Urges End of Kenyan Violence

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said at a conference in Nairobi that violence in Kenya was a threat to its election (CapitalFM), held next March, and asked the government to expedite police reforms to help the country maintain law and order.

GHANA: A Ghana court refused to free the Libertad, an Argentine warship seized in a debt dispute (GNA) involving the South American nation's creditors.



IMF Says Greece Needs More Time

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said Greece should be given an extra two years to meet its budget targets (WSJ), a move that would broaden the gap in financing the country needs filled to avoid defaulting on its debt. The remarks may also pressure Germany to be more flexible in dealing with Athens.

This CFR Expert Roundup makes the case for IMF quota reform.



Unasur Announces Agenda

The Union of South American Nations, or Unsasur, will be meeting November 30 in Lima to discuss a regional protocol on peace, security and cooperation (MercoPress) that seeks to advance mine sweeping activities in border area, limit arms expenditures, and improve the use of resources.

CFR's Shannon O'Neil discusses the limited integration of Latin American governance in this blog post.

MEXICO: Amnesty International said in a report Thursday that torture cases in Mexico had risen sharply, contending that the Mexican government under outgoing President Felipe Calderon had turned a blind eye to the issue (LAT).



Biden and Ryan Clash on Foreign Policy at Debate

Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan faced off in the first and only vice presidential debate of the campaign, covering international topics from Iran to Syria to Afghanistan in what turned out to be a foreign policy-heavy debate.

GOP nominee Mitt Romney's campaign characterized a Russian announcement that it is pulling out of a twenty-year-long arms reduction pact with the United States as an indication that "they do not perceive [the United States] to be strong." Meanwhile, Josh Earnest, deputy White House secretary, "alluded to the fact the Russian pullout may be Moscow's way of gaining the upper hand in negotiations to update the arms reduction pact," reports The Hill.



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