The Euromaidan Movement; Ukraine, Crimea and Russia – Nicolas De Santis Interviewed at CNBC

Nicolas De Santis – President of London based Gold Mercury International, the Corporate Vision Strategy Think Tank, was interviewed by Angela Antetomaso of CNBC Italy about the political, historical and strategic background to the current crisis in Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula.

The crisis in Ukraine began when the Ukranian government suspended their plans to sign a Free-Trade Agreement with the European Union, in favour of closer economic ties with Russia; despite public support for closer integration with the EU. This increased widespread public perception of corruption within the Ukrainian government, and the government’s subsequent violent dispersal of what were initially peaceful protests paved the way to the escalation of the crisis, known as the Euromaidan. When Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych fled from Ukraine for fear of his life, and was subsequently replaced by an interim, pro-European government, Russian forces occupied the Crimean peninsula and parts of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, with Russian Presidnt Vladimir Putin claiming to be defending Russian interests, and the Russian population in Crimea, the majority of whom are Russian speakers. This clash of global superpowers and interests has been likened by some to be reminiscent of a Cold War struggle.

“Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is really about strategic interests, and in some ways, an assertion of power. The Euromaidan has threatened the power which the Russians had over Ukraine using economic and resource might, and so they feel they have been forced to respond to the threat of the new pro-European power with military might. Though it is not entirely bluster, the Russian military action and takeover of Crimea is more a display of power and a threat than a precursor to any armed conflict. It is not in anyone’s interests for that to happen, a fact which Putin knows very well.”  Nicolas De Santis, President of Gold Mercury, on Russia’s motives for recent action in Crimea.

De Santis provides an analysis and explains the situation as a geo-political ‘Chess Game’ getting out of control. De Santis explains the rising of the Euromaidan movement, fighting to join the European Union, the quest for Russia to have Ukraine join its own Customs Union (Eurasian Economic Union) and keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence (and out of NATO). These tensions led to the fall of the existing government in Ukraine and the Crisis in the Crimea (of Russian majority), a naval base port of critical strategic importance to Russia. De Santis also explains the importance of Ukraine for Russia as its conduit of gas to Europe via the Trans-Siberian Gas Pipeline. Ukraine also depends on Russia for over 50% of its gas. Recent gas-price wars between Russia and Ukraine also were part of tensions between the two nations, which have been gradually escalating as the crisis progressed; but have now diffused slightly.

De Santis also gives details on how the history of the Unity of Italy (Il Risorgimento) is directly connected to the Crimean War of 1853 where the forces of the Kingdom of Sardinia of Vittorio Emanuele II and Cavour allied with the French forces to fight the Russian Army in the Crimean Peninsula. Italy later requested French assistance in Italy in the fight against the Austrians to gain control of Lombardy in the quest for Italian Unity. De Santis argues that ultimately, the crisis in Ukraine, Crimea and Russia will diffuse without conflict, as it is not in any of the nations’ interests to engage in war with one another. It is ultimately a political jousting of wills; an assertion of control and a restatement of interests.

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Swedish Television Airs Interview with Nicolas De Santis on the Future of the European Union

Sveriges Television (SVT), the Swedish public national television channel, has aired its latest main cultural programme called “Kobra,” which features an interview with Nicolas De Santis, Gold Mercury President.

The interview covers Nicolas De Santis’s creation of the European Superhero, Captain Euro, for the launch of the EURO currency in 2002, and discusses the future of the European Union brand.

Watch the trailer for Kobra’s Captain Euro segment!

“Captain Euro started as a social research experiment to test the feelings, emotions and perceptions of the EU in Europeans and the world. When we launched it, the reaction was fantastic, because people either loved Captain Euro, or they hated Captain Euro. This is what we wanted – we wanted people to finally emotionally react to Europe.” – Nicolas De Santis, President of Gold Mercury International, speaking about the public response to Captain Euro.

Nicolas De Santis is an expert in European Union identity issues and branding and has advised the European Parliament and the European Commission on this subject, as well as on the launch of the Euro currency. Nicolas De Santis created Captain Euro in the 1990s to promote Europe and the launch of the Euro to its citizens and the world. The programme examines some of the reasons for Captain Euro’s creation, and why he has proven so enduring and divisive.

Breaking up Europe? Scottish Independence and UK’s EU referendum
In a globalised world of superpowers, where the nation state is becoming less relevant, and international cooperation more critical, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday unveiled a white paper on Scottish independence. The paper did not truly answer fundamental questions for an independent Scotland’s future, such as its currency (how it can keep the pound sterling), or how it will deal with needing to reapply to join the EU after separating from the UK, when the UK can veto its membership, and when it does not meet the criteria for membership as an independent state.

With similar separatist movements happening in Europe, the plan for how an independent Scotland can be competitive and relevant in a globalised world economy was not clear. Similarly, the UK has proposed a referendum, questioning its own future in the EU. The referendum raises similar questions about the UK’s future political and economic role, if it were to be outside of the EU. Recently the White House, in an official statement, made it clear that the UK being at the heart of Europe is in the interest of the world. Large corporations investing in the UK also stated that if it were to leave the Union, they would have to reconsider their investments.

“The European Union has a serious identity problem. Instead of going forward, we seem to be going back towards the fragmentation and nationalism of the past, wasting the efforts of entire generations of Europeans. Our energies should not be directed towards repeating our unfortunate past, but rather towards building the future of a solid, competitive Europe which can function in the new world economy. We at Gold Mercury aim to help develop a clear vision for the future of the EU, and make it easy to understand for the people who will participate in, and shape its future”. –Nicolas De Santis on the current European situation.

The BRAND EU Center for European Identity

As the EU identity crisis continues, Gold Mercury will be launching the BRAND EU Center, which will cover issues relating to the concept of EU citizen identity formation. The main aims of the BRAND EU Center are to deliver critical insights on the current state of the European Union’s governance and political structure, as well as address the lack of a common European identity and a strong EU brand. Characters such as Captain Euro, are the first tentative steps towards trying to find a suitable common ground to forge a European brand. Gold Mercury’s BRAND EU Center aims to challenge the current complexity, which is associated with the European Union, so that citizens can start to feel closer to Europe.

“Gold Mercury has identified the lack of a clear EU brand and EU identity as a key barrier to achieving the full support of its citizens and for the development of Europe as a whole. One of the key brand problems for citizens in understanding Europe and participating actively, is the complexity of the current political structure of the EU. Still today, it can be only understood by academics or experts,”  – Nicolas De Santis, President of Gold Mercury International, explaining the need for an EU Identity Initiative, the BRAND EU Center

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Nicolas De Santis Opinion on New York Times

This opinion article about Europe by Gold Mercury President and Secretary General Nicolas De Santis was published in the New York Times and in the Entrepreneur Country Magazine in June 2012.

Following the ravages and bloodshed of WW1 and WW2, we Europeans later inherited a Union without much bloodshed or a revolution. Hence we do not understand it well, appreciate it or value it. We take it for granted, and this is the real tragedy as our apathy and failure as European people can destroy it and once destroyed it cannot be put back together. By taking for granted the EU we take for granted peace, human rights and the still unrealised potential of the single market.

Non Europeans value the EU more than Europeans as they have always looked at it as a miracle of global governance in an uncertain world.

The EU, as I have been told in London by Eurasian Economic Commission Minister Tatiana Valovaya is being emulated by the Eurasian Union and other nations as an example of stability and economic progress by cooperation.

Yes, Europe has been built by statesmen and bureaucrats distant from the citizens and requires further democratic accountability. We all know this. And this is a failure. But don’t national or local governments suffer from the same problem today? Nobody is perfect. Nationally our politicians use the European Union as they please to their convenience as an instrument of policy or as a scapegoat to win tiny political battles at home while weakening all of us Europeans on a global scale. Thank you very much for your political wisdom. Similarly as recently shown a weak Europe makes countries such as the USA feel weaker and worried. No wonder.

We live in an uncertain world but our disunion would make it even more uncertain and dangerous. If our union collapsed or we lost the Euro we can immediately guarantee that we would all independently become weaker and live in totally unpredictable and chaotic environments. Other players in the international scene (fill yourself the blanks here) would move in and take advantage against us in economic, security, environmental, energy and other terms. Can any European nation acting alone now guarantee energy security or gas supplies from the east? You get my drift. At the same time, the nations that today still look at the EU as a beacon of hope and progress would have no recourse but to look elsewhere for guidance. We would have to hope that they do not look to the wrong places. Case in point: Arab spring nations and other emerging democracies.

The people with a case against the EU or the Euro, use loss of national identity and sovereignty as key points, but fail to propose a better model for Europe. They only cry for disunity but propose no alternative but separation or a looser union or just the need for a common economic area.

They deceit people by omission and justify their cry to freedom only using the words: WANNA BE RUN FROM BRUSSELS? What they do not explain is that Brussels is run by people from all European Union nations and not a conspiracy of chocolate eating Belgian Nationals.

Now, do not blame the Euro. The Euro is a global success story. It is used daily by some 332 million Europeans and is one of the major reserve currencies together with the US dollar, Japanese yen, Pound sterling and Swiss franc. The biggest failures have been the financial and banking sectors and our national governments. We are still rescuing banks and governments and many more will have to be rescued. Do not blame the Euro, blame the irresponsible bankers and governments that managed their affairs irresponsibly and lied to their people and the people of the EU and the world. Also what is this media nonsense of some countries leaving the Euro?

New York has not gone back to the New York Pound or requested the elimination of the Dollar even with the weakest American economy in history. Detractors of the Euro grow up and move on or move aside. Do not waste our time as we have to focus on real solutions.

We now need a revolution of young minds to rescue the European project. I say young minds as Europe needs the leap of faith that requires thinking without prejudices or we stand no chance to make Europe strong again. And we need more Europe (unity) not less. Perhaps this crisis is our revolutionary time to think about the EU project and understand its true value and why we need to support it. Now it is time for all Europeans to decide what they want. To stay in and actively participate as full members of the European Union (and yes claim more democratic powers) or leave and write letters to the darkness of the past. Most surely the letters would soon be replied to from the ghosts of uncertainty, instability and destruction.

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