EU secret revealed: Rome Treaty was signed on blank sheet

At the launch of a book on the history of the European Commission, officials revealed some of the best-kept secrets in EU history. Among them is the incredible story of the signing of the Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community, on 25 March 1957.
José Manuel Barroso, the outgoing President of the European Commission, presented the second volume of a book Wednesday (14 May) telling the history of the Commission between 1973 and 1986.
The ceremony, hosted on the 13th floor of the Commission’s flagship Berlaymont building, gave Barroso the occasion to disclose unknown anecdotes, the most extraordinary of which regards the signature of the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The event was attended by many figures of post-war European integration history, including old-time surviving officials from the Commission such as Jean Rabier, born in 1919, the chief of staff of Jean Monnet, one of the “founding fathers” of Europe.
Karine Auriol, Training adviser in the European School of Administration, described the story of the signature of the Treaty of Rome as follows:
An official of the Belgian government had been put in charge of organising the signature of the treaty establishing the European Economic Community in Rome. The treaty had just been negotiated in Val Duchesse, a former priory in Brussels. So the official places the material needed on a train: typewriters, paper, mimeograph machines. The cargo is sealed, and the official gets on board the same train.
But when the train reaches the Swiss border, the official hears the characteristic sound of a wagon being detached. He jumps on the station platform only to realise that it’s “his” wagon that has been detached. Swiss authorities explain that a train which transports goods and passengers at the same time is not allowed to cross into Swiss territory. The official has no choice, and the journey continues on board of separate trains.
But at the Italian border, the authorities ask him to provide import certificates with all the necessary stamps. While he tries to explain the importance of his mission and the Italian authorities finally agree to make an exception, the wagon is lost. After a long search, the wagon is finally found and the journey continues. But in Milan the wagon is lost again. When the Belgian office and the wagon arrive in Rome, a lot of time has been wasted.
As the official arrives in the room where the ceremony is held, another problem comes up, this time with the mimeograph machines (the copiers of that time). Plans to install the machines inside the room need to be changed because it is decorated by Rubens paintings. Mimeographs project ink in all directions and he is told that it is out of question to repaint the Rubens frescoes afterwards.
So the work of putting on paper the Rome treaty begins in the basement. To catch up, Italian students were hired, but two days later, they went on strike. They then had to bring secretaries from Luxembourg, which further delayed work.
But, in the end, when everything was finally ready, because of humidity, the paper was wet and had to be put on the floor for one night, in order to properly dry them.
The official went to sleep and came the next morning. But in the meantime the cleaning maids had passed, finding a basement full of what they see as disposed paper. So they had removed all this “dirt”, including the stencils (which represent the original), so new copies could not be made.
The panicked official and his team looked all over Rome, trying to find the treaty bearing the name of the Italian capital, to no avail. The only solution that was found was to sign the treaty on a blank sheet, with only one page where the names of the heads of state and government appear on top.
The organisers had not been too worried about the heads of state and government discovering the scam, as it was assumed that they would keep the secret. But in order to avoid journalists seeing the ad-hoc treaty document, the text was immediately locked in another room.
Karine Auriol said that by collecting such stories, she and other researchers thought it was necessary to dispel the myth that today’s European integration is more difficult than it has been before. The history of Europe has in fact always been one of crisis management, she said. Auriol added that there was also a need to “humanise” the myth of the founding fathers.
Barroso said that he had already asked the relevant services to initiate the preparation of a book covering the Commission’s work between 1986 and 2000. He praised the authors of the book, and said that his contribution had been the choice of the cover photo: the first raising of the EU flag on 29 May 1986 in front of the Berlaymont, where former Commission President Jacques Delors appears. After long discussions, EU institutions decided to adopt the flag of the Council of Europe in 1985.


Saudis hire world’s biggest PR firm to push ‘Muslim Nato’

By Jamie Merrill

Campaigners accuse Burson-Marsteller of complicity in ‘whitewashing’ human rights abuses over deal with Islamic Military Alliance

A member of the Sudanese air force walks past jets during a joint Sudanese-Saudi drill in Sudan earlier this month (AFP)
An international public relations firm is facing accusations of complicity in “whitewashing” alleged Saudi Arabian war crimes in Yemen after signing a deal to represent a Riyadh-dominated military alliance dubbed the “Muslim Nato”.
Middle East Eye understands that Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman hired Burson-Marsteller last month to wage a charm offensive on behalf of the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism.
A tank loyal to Yemen’s exiled government photographed during clashes with Houthi rebels near Taiz (AFP)
The coalition contains 41 Muslim-majority nations which was established in Riyadh in December 2015 with a mission to combat the Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria and to combat Islamist militancy across northern and western Africa.
However, Saudi Major General Ahmed Asiri, a key figure in establishing the alliance who is currently the subject of a preliminary war crimes investigation by British police, told the Wall Street Journal newspaper last week that the operational scope of the alliance could be extended to include fighting against Houthi rebels battling a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.
“All countries will put effort into combating terrorism in the member countries, regardless of the nature of the terror groups. That is the main goal,” said Asiri. “Each country has its own expertise that it can contribute to the coalition.”
Burson-Marsteller is owned by the London-based WPP, the world’s largest marketing group, and has offices across the Middle East including in Riyadh and Jeddah, according to its website. MEE understands the firm’s London office is taking the lead on the new contract
The contract will see Burson-Marsteller promote the Muslim alliance and its future meetings.

Anger from human rights campaigners

But the appointment of the firm has sparked anger among human rights campaigners.
Its previous clients include Argentina’s military governments responsible for killing thousands of people in the so-called “Dirty war” of the 1970s and early 1980s.
US television presenter Rachel Maddow remarked in 2009 that, “When evil needs public relations, evil has Burson-Marsteller on speed dial“. Responding to that comment, then-CEO Mark Penn said Maddow had “significantly mischaracterised the nature of the firm’s past”.
Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade told MEE: “The last thing the Middle East needs is an even more aggressive and expansionist Saudi Arabia. The regime and its allies have some of the worst human rights records in the world, and have spent the last two years waging an appalling and destructive war in Yemen.
“UK arms companies have been complicit in the destruction, and now UK PR companies are trying to whitewash it. No amount of spin can alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe or change the terrible reality facing the Yemeni people. No self-respecting company should be lining up to fuel and profit from war and oppression.”
The alliance has previously used US-based lobbyists to secure the attendance of high-profile dignitaries at its conference in Riyadh in January, which was attended by former US secretary of state John Kerry.
Husain Abdulla, executive director for Americans For Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, told MEE: “Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and many other members of this coalition are masterful at diverting attention from their systematic human rights abuses. Their participation in the Islamic Military Alliance is a clear example of how they use the fight against terrorism to distract from abuse and repression.”
Burson-Marsteller, which boasts of its “impressive global reach”, previously worked directly for Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington in 2001.
Working with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the then-Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, it placed adverts in newspapers across the country disassociating Saudi Arabia from the attackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals.

Crucial moment for alliance

The appointment of Burson-Marsteller comes at a crucial moment for the alliance as it prepares to hold its first major meeting of defence ministers.
The new grouping, which is modelled along the same lines as NATO with Saudi Arabia the largest player, is dominated by Sunni-majority nations prompting concern in Iran that it is a sectarian force.
It is headed by a former Pakistani army chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, and members include Bahrain, Turkey, Egypt, Mali, Chad, Somalia and Nigeria, a string of nations who have faced recent scrutiny for their human rights records.
Key figures within the alliance, including the Pakistani defence minister, have denied it is a sectarian force and have sought to downplay tension with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival which has supported Houthi rebels in Yemen against forces loyal to President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi.
But moves to deploy Pakistani troops along Saudi Arabia’s southern frontier with Yemen, as exclusively reported by MEE last month, are likely to heighten concern in Tehran about the alliance’s ambitions.
Saudi Arabia’s use of western PR firms predates the Yemen conflict, and there have been long-running concerns that Riyadh uses London and Washington-based PR firms to distract attention from its use of the death penalty.
Last year it emerged that a US subsidiary of Publicis Groupe, the French media conglomerate that owns UK brands such as Saatchi & Saatchi, distributed an article in which the kingdom’s foreign minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir implicitly attempted to justify the execution of 47 people.
The Newsweek article prompted allegations that one of the world’s largest advertising agencies was helping Saudi Arabia “whitewash” its record on human rights following the kingdom’s largest mass execution for more than 30 years.
Al-Jubeir argued that they were part of Saudi Arabia’s fight against terrorism. The kingdom had “arrested extremists within its borders, tried them before specialised courts and imposed the ultimate penalties on those convicted”, he wrote.
The article – entitled “The Saudis Are Fighting Terrorism, Don’t Believe Otherwise” – was distributed by Qorvis MSLGroup, a subsidiary of Publicis Groupe that has been working with Saudi Arabia for more than a decade, The Independent newspaper reported.
Maya Foa, a director at London-based rights group Reprieve, told MEE: “It’s no secret that Saudi Arabia’s government has one of the worst human rights records in the world. In the last few years alone we’ve seen a soaring number of executions in the kingdom – including of juveniles who were sentenced to death for attending protests – while the use of torture to extract ‘confessions’ is routine. It’s deeply disturbing that PR firms are happy to help cover up these activities. Surely any responsible business would refuse to play a part in the whitewashing of gross abuses.”
The use of Qorvis MSL Group and Burson-Marsteller come after Saudi Arabia’s US embassy launched the website Arabia Now in 2015. It was described in a press release as an “online hub for news related to the Kingdom”.
The site carries positive articles and blogs about Saudi culture, its fight against terrorism, and economic development.
Arabia Now has given extensive coverage to the alliance including the announcement in January that Oman was set to become the 41st member of the alliance.
MEE contacted Burson-Marsteller for comment but did not receive a response. The alliance declined to make as spokesperson available for interview.


State Department Finally Realizes Nikki Haley Needs Adult Supervision

Haley has been urged to clear her public utterances with Washington before opening her mouth. Better late than never?

By Riley Waggaman

She had a good run?

We all knew this day would come.
It only took a few months for ascendant Waffle House waitress Nikki Haley to drive US diplomacy off a cliff.
That’s quite an accomplishment, considering how batshit crazy US foreign policy is.
But apparently Nikki’s daily antics — ranging from inventing her own position on Syria to making up stuff that the Russians never said — are too much even for the State Department.
In terms of US diplomacy, the bar was set pretty low to begin with. But Haley has managed to lower standards to below sea level.
As the New York Times reports:

The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, has often been the first, most outspoken member of the Trump administration to weigh in on key foreign policy issues … Now, in an apparent attempt to foster greater coherence in American foreign policy, State Department officials are urging her aides to ensure her public remarks are cleared by Washington first.

Your favorite and most trusted news source (the one and only Russia Insider) noticed that something was seriously wrong with this lady weeks ago, and we even reported on April 10 that Haley had gone rogue at the Security Council:

Looks like we were spot on.
So Haley has to seek permission from adults before speaking. What does this mean?
On the one hand, World War III is now less imminent. But on the other hand, this development is a major blow to Russia Insider’s ad revenue.
So we’re sort of on the fence.
The End.


Sudan: Child Soldiers in Sudan’s Conflict Zones

What happened…
The United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in Sudan, in an April report , estimates that 335 children were recruited over the last five years by armed groups in Sudan’s conflict zones in Darfur and the Two Areas: South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
Nearly 1,300 more children were killed in those regions, according to the report from Special Representative Leila Zerrougui.
In Darfur, the UN report said the government was responsible for approximately half the cases of child soldier recruitment. In the Two Areas, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLM-N) rebels constituted the main perpetrators of child soldier recruitment, with 104 documented cases compared to 39 government cases, the report said
The recruitment did not only take place between armed groups, but also ethnic communities fighting over resources such as tribal clashes over gold mines in Jebel Amir, Darfur, and livestock feuds between Beni Hussein and Rizegat tribes.
The report also referred to Sudanese children as victims of and sexual violence in the conflict areas; the majority of cases (372 of 385 occurred in Darfur. The perpetrators almost exclusively emanated from the government and pro-government militias, according to the report.
What it means…
The plight of child soldiers in Sudan are often overlooked by the international community since the figure is dwarfed by the rampant child soldier recruitment taking place in neighboring South Sudan. UNICEF as many as 16,000 child soldiers may be embroiled in the current conflict there.
Further, the report acknowledges a decrease in child recruitment in Sudan over the past two years, with both government and SPLA-N forces taking measures to reduce the practice. The UN met the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (the political wing of the SPLA-N) last year on three occasions, and developed a plan to end child recruitment. On the government side, authorities enacted a law in 2013 increasing the recruitment age for the pro-government militia, the Popular Defense Force, to 18 years and repealing past legislation allowing 16-year-old recruits. Khartoum also set up a police unit to protect and improve accountability for violations against children in 2012.
Despite these measures the report conceded a severe lack of access granted to the UN special representative in certain conflict areas by both the government and SPLM-N. Key areas of the Darfur conflict in Jebel Marra, for instance, were , suggesting the figures of child soldiers may prove to be higher.
While the report’s child soldier recruitment estimates may be low, the UN documents a higher number of Sudanese children killed and maimed in the country’s internal conflicts. The UN verified the killing and maiming of close to 1,300 children, with the majority of child casualties, 971, documented in Darfur. The majority of child deaths and injuries were the result of hostilities between the government and armed groups, including aerial bombardments.


New Syria war crimes panel to launch soon: UN

GENEVA: A new UN body tasked with identifying individuals guilty of atrocities in Syria should start work shortly, a key step towards holding war crimes suspects to account, the UN rights chief said Monday.
A prominent judge or international lawyer to head the panel will be named “soon”, after funding for the post and a deputy was secured, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told reporters in Geneva.
An initial budget of $13 million (11.9 million euros) has been nearly half funded but there is optimism about achieving the full amount after “quite a lot of countries” began contributing, Zeid added.
The panel approved by the UN General Assembly in December has been denounced by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government as unacceptable interference in the country’s affairs.
But proponents said it became necessary after veto-wielding UN Security Council powers China and main Assad ally Russia blocked repeated attempts to refer the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
The new panel, based in Geneva, will work with evidence already compiled by a UN-backed Commission of Inquiry for Syria as well as testimony and documents compiled by civil society groups.
It will aim to go further than merely condemn the war crimes committed in Syria — something UN officials have done repeatedly through the conflict.
It will instead strive to name specific individuals responsible for those crimes and, ideally, assign their cases to courts that may have standing to prosecute.


I can see why Syria, Russia and China object:

The new panel, based in Geneva, will work with evidence already compiled by a UN-backed Commission of Inquiry for Syria as well as

testimony and documents compiled by civil society groups.

Which basically means they are going to spend $13 million to recycle the same lies all over again and blame everything on Assad and Putin. Your tax money at work.