Tag Archives: Prague

EU resells tigers for cooking in China

On International Tiger Day 29th July more bizarre details of Europe‘s ties with dubious tiger traders come to light. Research conducted by international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS shows that at least 1,412 live captive-bred tigers from the EU were legally exported between 1999 and 2016. It is believed that several of these animals have ended up in Asian tourist areas or were killed for traditional Chinese medicine. However, even in Europe tigers are slaughtered. On 16th July Czech authorities discovered a dead tiger as well as tiger skin, claws, bouillon cubes and broth – also called tiger wine – made from tiger bones on a property near Prague.

FOUR PAWS petition now calls on the EU Commission to ban the trade in captive-bred tigers https://help.four-paws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade

The world has already lost more than 90% of its tigers. There are only about 3,900 tigers and in the wild, yet the number of tigers held in captivity is unknown. The new findings and the extent of the tiger trade in Europe are therefore more than shocking. We call on the European Commission to protect the endangered tigers and ban commercial trade in captive-bred tigers. Tiger traders and their cruel business should no longer have a place in the EU,says Kieran Harkin, Head of Wildlife Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.

https://twitter.com/fourpawsint/status/1022818936981733376

The global trade of the endangered big cat and its body parts is flourishing. According to FOUR PAWS investigations and Czech authorities, a living tiger attracts up to 22,000 euros (USD26,000). A kilo of tiger bones is available for about 1,700 euros (USD2,000) and a litre of tiger wine – an allegedly healing broth made from tiger bones – can be found for 85 euros (USD100) on the black market. Between 1999 and 2016, 862 live tigers were legally imported into the EU and 1,412 were exported, which means that Europe’s tiger business is worth more than 50 million euros (USD59 mln) – although this troubling figure is estimated to be higher. During the same period, 8,278 illegal tiger products, such as tiger bouillon cubes, teeth and claws, and 57 illegal live tigers were confiscated in the EU. This horrific trade in endangered tiger parts is wide reaching, with evidence of illegal activity across France, Italy, Belgium, Slovenia, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Czech Republic.

Shocking findings in the Czech Republic
In recent raids near Prague, Czech authorities discovered a dead tiger as well as tiger bones, tiger broth and other remains last week. To not damage the skins, the arrested suspects apparently killed the animals with gunshots in the eyes. The suspects include the well-known zoo owner Ludvik Berousek. At a meeting with FOUR PAWS undercover investigators in June 2018, which was filmed with a hidden camera, Berousek told the investigators that he helps Asian buyers to get the necessary documents for the transfer of the tigers. The zoo owner also bragged that he had already sold a few tigers to China in the last two months. Additionally, the Czech authorities raided the Vietnamese Sapa market in Prague, finding tiger meat products available for sale.

Tigers as a tourist attraction, party trick and photo prop
The findings in the Czech Republic are not isolated cases. FOUR PAWS investigations show that in the past four years, animal traders have exported at least five live tigers from Germany via the Czech Republic to Vietnam, Thailand and South Korea. Further research in Vietnam revealed that at least two of the tigers ended up in the hands of a convicted wildlife trafficker. Also, the trade within the EU often leads to mistreatment of the big cats. In Spain, a zoo called “Zooexoticoskiko” is currently offering wild animals, including tigers, for photo shoots. Also, erotic images can be made with the animals. In some European countries it is also possible to hire tigers for private parties.

Lack of transparency in the EUfe
In the EU, the trade in wild tigers is forbidden, but not the trade in captive-bred tigers. Regulation and enforcement, however, is severely lacking. As a result, the exact numbers of captive and traded tigers in Europe is unknown, as movements within the EU do not require CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) import or export permits. Hence, there are hardly any official documents proving who sells tigers, when, to whom and for what purposes.

FOUR PAWS has therefore launched a petition that enables supporters to call on the European Commission to ban the commercial trade in captive-bred tigers to protect the endangered species from cruel exploitation: https://help.fourpaws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade

Criminal tiger trade in Europe florishes

Prague, 18 July 2018 – Recent police raids in the Czech Republic as well as research by the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS show that tiger trade is not only an issue in Asia: The lucrative commercial trade with a highly protected species and their parts is happening right in the centre of Europe as wellOn Monday 15th July the Czech police along with custom officers raided properties in Prague and in central and northern Bohemia in suspicion of illegal killing of tigers and possession of tiger products.

On the 18th July the Czech authorities announced that they seized a recently killed tiger at one of the properties and that one of the suspects was processing tiger bones and other tiger products. The suspects were shooting the tigers in the eyes to not damage the skins and that the tigers were killed and used to make tiger broth. Furthermore, the Czech authorities also raided the Vietnamese market, Sapa in Prague and discovered tiger meat and products on sale.

One of the target facilities raided this week belonged to well-known circus leader, Mr. Ludvik Berousek. FOUR PAWS research conducted in June show a meeting with Mr. Berousek where he proudly showed his tiger breeding facility near Prague and discussed the sale of tigers to Asia. Mr Berousek offered to sell the tigers to Asian buyers and to help facilitate the documents and transfer and boasted that he had already sold tigers to China in the last three months.

“It is shocking how the EU does so much to combat the trade in wildlife in other parts of the world, but we have turned a blind eye to protecting an endangered species on our own doorstep. FOUR PAWS is calling on the European Commission to protect all tigers and to ban the commercial trade in live captive bred tigers. The EU should take a leading role in protecting these endangered species and ban all commercial trade ensuring tiger traders and businesses have no place in the EU” – Kieran Harkin, Head of Wildlife Campaigns at FOUR PAWS, stated.

Tigers: A highly endangered species
In the 20th century the world already lost over 90 per cent of its tigers with current estimates indicating that there are only about 3,900 tigers left in the wild. The relentless demand for tigers to be displayed commercially and traded for their body parts to be used in traditional Asian medicines significantly contributes to this decline. Shockingly, tigers born in captivity in Europe can still be traded for commercial purposes such as circuses or for private keeping or for photo opportunities. In some European countries it is not only possible to buy tigers but to also rent tigers for private parties.

How can this happen in an EU-country?
The European Union does not only lack effective regulation concerning the trade of tigers or their parts, there is also no clear overview of the actual number of captive tigers and trade of these animals. No authority, organisation or country knows how many tigers are currently kept in Europe, where they are moved during their lifetime or how they are used for entertainment purposes, where they die and finally whether in worst cases these animals are being turned into tiger bone wine or traditional medicines. Only by ensuring there is no market for tigers and their parts in Europe the European Commission can be serious about contributing to protecting wild living tigers in Asia and playing a positive role in fighting the illegal trade of all wildlife. FOUR PAWS has launched a petition today through which all supporters can call on the European Commission to ban the commercial trade in tigers: https://help.four-paws.org/en/ban-tiger-trade
ABOUT FOUR PAWS
FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organisation with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Founded by Heli Dungler in 1988, the organisation strives to help animals in need with sustainable campaigns and projects. The work is based on substantiated research and scientific expertise as well as intensive national and international lobbying. FOUR PAWS focuses on animals that are directly under human influence: stray dogs and stray cats, farm animals, companion animals and wild animals including bears, big cats and orangutans kept in inappropriate conditions. With offices in Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA, FOUR PAWS aims to help animals in need directly and quickly. www.four-paws.org

Image: FOUR PAWS below

Prague tiger

Image: FOUR PAWS: illegal tiger trade in Czech Republic

Juncker: feeling safe is universal right

President Juncker Prague while attending the high-level conference on defence and security in Prague, 9.06.2017. He delivered a keynote speech on Europe in which underlined that feeling safe and secure in your own home “is the most basic and universal of rights”.

The European Union has “promoted peace, universal values and inclusive growth right around the world”, President Juncker said, “but it is time to go further”. In today’s world, a strong NATO, a strong European Union and a strong relationship between the two, “are more important than they ever have been before” President Juncker said, adding that by stepping up their efforts on defence, and by doing so together, the Member States of the Union will strengthen the ties that bind the Allies within NATO.

The protection of Europe can no longer be outsourced” President Juncker said, “Europe has no other choice than to defend our own interests in the Middle East, in climate change and in our trade agreements“.This is why the European Commission has proposed a European Defence Fund, to improve the efficiency of European defence spending, and it is why the Commission has proposed that the Union use the legal means at its disposal to move away from the current patchwork of bilateral and multilateral military cooperation to more efficient forms of defence integration.

I am talking about permanent structured cooperation, the Sleeping Beauty of the Lisbon Treaty […] The time to make use of this possibility is now”, President Juncker said, concluding that Europeans are in favour of a common security and defence policy, “they want their Union to do more to protect them from threats old and new, and it is time we listened”.

Juncker: EU defence agenda launch

“As you know, the Commission was launching a defence agenda in the recent weeks, and last Wednesday we decided to put into place a European Defence Fund. This Defence Fund is contributing to reduce the inefficiency and the fragmentation costs we are facing dearly”  – said the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker at Prague defence and security conference on Friday, 9.06.2017.

“This is not a counter-project to NATO – we are acting together with NATO. I had long conversations before coming here with the Secretary General of NATO. And that is the reason why I was stating this morning that no NATO is not an option for the European Union – it would be a disaster for the European Union – because we have to stick together and we will stick together,” – Juncker added at press-conference in Prague, Friday, 9.06.2017.

EU defence work delivery

The European Union is already delivering concretely on the very ambitious security and defence work, but is also looking beyond the current implementation of decisions, with a new reflection paper looking at future developments for European defence, stressed High Representative Federica Mogherini on the 7th of June 2017 at the presentation of this new document of the European Commission that is also accompanied with a proposal for setting up European Defence Fund.

“Today, the message we are passing is double, I would say. On one side, we are delivering concretely on the very ambitious decisions that we took already at 28 last autumn and we are also looking beyond the current implementation of decisions, with the reflection paper looking at the future developments that we are ready to support if the Member States decide to go further, having for the first time probably the [European] Commission clearly playing its full role in support of the ambition of the European defence,” Mogherini said.

The reflection paper builds on the Commission’s White Paper on the Future of Europe published in March and feeds into the ongoing public debate on this topic. The reflection paper puts forward three progressively ambitious scenarios for enhanced defence cooperation, for discussion by the member states. The scenarios range from voluntary cooperation between member states on a case-by-case basis, complemented by limited EU joint initiatives, to the establishment of a common defence policy underpinned by a greater level of integration of national defence forces, substantially enhanced coordination between the EU and NATO and a genuine European defence market.

 

Overheat in Kosovo

Serbia Kosovo

Aleksandar Mitic, OPINION

A new graffiti banner appeared on the stands of the football stadium of Sparta Prague in the Czech capital, media reported on January 24. It reads “Kosovo is Serbia”, and is a reference to the long-held views by the Sparta fans, but also fans at dozens of stadiums around Europe – from Warsaw and Athens to Paris and Madrid – that Kosovo is a province of Serbia and that unilateral Albanian separatism should not be rewarded.

The same phrase “Kosovo is Serbia”, painted on a train rallying Belgrade to Kosovska Mitrovica North – the only urban enclave in Kosovo from where Serbs had not been expelled since the war in 1999 – obtained not only extreme media attention but triggered a surprisingly high political attention worldwide. While Belgrade claimed the passenger train, on its promotional trip, was merely an expression of Serbia’s support to its integrity and to the suffering Kosovo Serbs, the Kosovo Albanians saw it as a provocation and sent dozens of armed vehicles to block its entry into what they consider as their own territory. Belgrade averted a conflict by stopping the train in central Serbia, but the political aftermath proved almost as tense.

Serbian president Tomislav Nikolic reacted by warning that any future attacks against Kosovo Serbs would be met by an armed response from Serbia, while Kosovo Albanian president Hashim Thaci warned that Serbia was looking at a “Crimea scenario” to take back Kosovo, and that Albanians were infuriated by the “painted” signs of Serbia’s claim to the province.

While the rhetoric was harsher than usual, it showed, however, a continuity of both sides’ policy on the Kosovo issue.

Belgrade, on one hand, continues to argue that Kosovo’s secession – which began with the 1999 NATO bombings and continued with a unilateral secession – is a dramatic violation of international law and a precedent for conflicts worldwide. Yet, similar to the train case, its Kosovo policy sometimes appears as a “one step forward, two steps back” policy. Serbia is fighting Kosovo’s entry into the UN institutions, such as UNESCO, yet it is giving up parts of sovereignty in Kosovo by agreeing to the demands of the European Union – and Germany in particular – in exchange for the opening of new EU negotiation chapters. The expected delay of Serbia’s potential entry to the EU – now put at 2027 – however fuels criticisms among those who believe that Serbia should not hurry with giving up on its sovereignty prerogatives, in particular in Serb-populated northern Kosovo.

The Kosovo Albanians, on the other side, have a long-term strategy of putting pressure by arguing that if they do not get everything they wanted, there will be chaos in Kosovo. It is a strategy which paid off in 1999 – when they triggered the NATO bombings, in 2004 – when they succeeded in obtaining the beginning of status talks, in 2008 – when they received Western support for a unilateral secession from Serbia, in 2011-2012 – when they received support for “rounding up” what they now perceive as their own sovereignty over Kosovo. Every time a crisis appears in Kosovo, the same Albanian rhetoric and threats are employed – every time with success. Why change then the scarecrow tactics?

Yet, changes in the US administration and elections Europe-wide which are boosting opponents of Kosovo’s secession, are fueling worry in Pristina. An “independent Kosovo” – a pet project of the Clinton family – is perhaps not as secure anymore.

Aleksandar Mitic, president of the Center for Strategic Alternatives

Belgrade, 24/01/2017

Photo: Graffiti in Prague, couresy of Aleksandar Mitic

kosovo-prague-photo