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Russia Warns US Not to Strike Syrian Pro-government Forces Again

Russia said on Saturday it had told the United States it was unacceptable for Washington to strike pro-government forces in Syria after the U.S. military carried out an airstrike on pro-Assad militia last month.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov relayed the message to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call on Saturday initiated by the U.S. side, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

U.S. officials told Reuters last month that the U.S. military carried out the airstrike against militia supported by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which it said posed a threat to U.S. forces and U.S.-backed Syrian fighters in the country’s south.

Russia said at the time that the U.S. action would hamper efforts to find a political solution to the conflict and had violated the sovereignty of Syria, one of Russia’s closest Middle East allies.

“Lavrov expressed his categorical disagreement with the U.S. strikes on pro-government forces and called on him to take concrete measures to prevent similar incidents in future,” the ministry said.

The two men had also exchanged assessments of the situation in Syria, it added, and confirmed their desire to step up cooperation to try to end the conflict there.

The ministry said Lavrov and Tillerson had also discussed the need to try to mend the rift between Qatar and other Arab nations through negotiations, and had talked about the state of U.S.-Russia relations and planned meetings between officials from the two countries.

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Britain’s Election Muddles Brexit Even More

The Great British public has spoken. But as journalist Ian Hislop quipped Friday on a television comedy show, “no one knows what they said.”

Hardly had the votes been counted in Britain’s indecisive election, in which no party got an outright parliamentary majority, than politicians took to airwaves and tapped away on Twitter to spin what the result meant.

And crucially they debated whether the voters had rejected Brexit — or at least Prime Minister Theresa May’s hard version of a break with the European Union, which would see Britain not only relinquish EU membership but leave the single market and the bloc’s customs union.

Impact on Brexit talks

Brexit talks with EU negotiators are scheduled to begin in 10 days. EU officials have warned talks shouldn’t be delayed and have expressed their fear that with the government weakened by the election result the talks could become even more complicated.

“This election is a rejection of May and hard Brexit,” tweeted Alastair Campbell, a onetime adviser to former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. “The mandate Theresa May sought for her extreme version of Brexit has been rejected,” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told cheering supporters in a speech Friday.

John Redwood, a senior Conservative, disputes the claim, arguing the result did not mean there should be any softening in a hard divorce from Europe, noting that Labour, the second largest party, also endorsed Brexit in its election manifesto. “I think [Theresa May] set out a very good case on what we now need to do immediately on Brexit and I think it makes a lot of sense because the country by a very overwhelming majority voted for the two main parties that both want to complete Brexit,” he said.

He argued if voters had wanted to reverse the result of last June’s Brexit referendum, they would have voted for Liberal Democrat, who called for a second referendum. “The public said no thanks, we don’t want a second referendum on Europe, we don’t want to stay in Europe, we want you to do a good deal.” The Liberal Democrats won 12 seats in the election.

But Redwood’s argument strikes some as disingenuous. May focused her campaign on the break with Europe, saying she had called the snap election to seek a mandate for her hard Brexit plan. The voters didn’t give it to her — almost 60 percent of those who voted Thursday rejected the Conservatives.

With May severely weakened and forced to govern as head of a minority government, Britain’s position on Brexit has suddenly become much murkier, and it isn’t clear the embattled Prime Minister has the political strength, let alone the public backing, to force through her original hard Brexit vision.

Softer Brexit

Public sentiment would appear from the election result to favor a much softer Brexit, argue analysts.

While Labour endorsed in its manifesto a break with Europe and even leaving the Single Market, a position it adopted to help cut immigration numbers, the party’s leaders left considerable wiggle room and talked about renegotiating the rules of Single Market membership to allow some curtailing of Europeans migrating to Britain.

Labour’s dramatically improved performance in the election was due in large part to a surge in young voters backing it, many of whom voted for the party partly because they saw it as the best vehicle to soften Brexit and derail May’s plan for a sharp break with the EU. In pro-EU London, the Tories suffered a tremendous electoral reversal and weren’t able to challenge Labour in marginal seats.

Without doubt voters rejected a hard Brexit, argues Ian Dunt, the editor of the news-site politics.co.uk. “The turnout was higher in Remain areas. The swell in Labour support in the cities plainly had some connection to Brexit. And youth turnout was key. Young people voted hard for Remain,” he argued.

Aside from what the voters Thursday meant when it came Brexit, May also has a more immediate challenge facing her when it comes to a hard Brexit. A diminished May, who is already facing calls to resign, has less parliamentary room for maneuver within her own party. Those Conservative lawmakers, such as Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, a rising political star, who favor a softer Brexit will have to be placated.

Davidson on Friday quickly made it clear that May needs to heed the voice of the soft Brexiters, urging her to adopt a “consensual” approach.

Further, May will rely for a working majority in the House of Commons on ten pro-Brexit lawmakers from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. But they, too, advocate a soft Brexit, partly in order to keep the border with the Republic of Ireland open to facilitate free trade between the two parts of the island of Ireland.

Agreeing a position with the DUP is going to be “very difficult for May,” argues Bronwen Maddox, the director of the Institute for Government, a think tank.

 

 

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Merkel Ready for Brexit Talks, Assumes May Is Also

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she assumed Britain would stick to its plan for leaving the European Union after the country’s election upset, and that she wanted to work quickly on talks over Brexit.

British voters failed to deliver a widely expected parliamentary majority for the Conservative party in Thursday’s general election, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Theresa May just days ahead of difficult Brexit talks with the EU.

Speaking during a visit to Mexico City, Merkel said Germany was ready for the Brexit talks, which May said would begin June 19 as scheduled, although she now risks more opposition to her EU departure plans from inside and outside her party.

“I assume that Britain, from what I heard from the prime minister today, wants to stick to its negotiating plan,” Merkel told a news conference alongside President Enrique Pena Nieto.

“We want to negotiate quickly, we want to stick to the time plan, and so at this point I don’t think there is anything to suggest these negotiations cannot start as was agreed.”

May, who had called a snap election confident her Conservative Party would increase its majority and strengthen her hand in the Brexit talks, Friday said she would lead a minority government backed by a small Northern Irish party.

British politicians differ widely on what they want from the Brexit negotiating process, seeing it as a way to shift Britain either to the right or left. Some parliamentarians in both the Conservative and Labour parties want to remain in the EU.

EU leaders expressed concern that May’s loss of her majority would raise the risk of negotiations failing, resulting in a legal limbo for people and business.

Merkel said Britain was part of Europe regardless of Brexit, and that she wanted the country to remain a good partner.

“Britain is a member of NATO, so we have a lot of shared challenges to deal with, and that’s the spirit we want to carry out these negotiations in. But obviously while also asserting the interests of the 27 member states that will make up the European Union in future,” she added.

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Major Headaches Await Winner of Kosovo Election

Kosovars vote Sunday to choose the new 120-seat parliament that will face some seemingly intractable problems.

 

There is the thorny issue of the border demarcation deal with Montenegro that brought down the previous government; the continuation of fraught talks with Serbia, which denies Kosovo’s existence as a state; and potential war crimes trials of some senior political leaders.

 

Nineteen political parties, five coalitions and two citizens’ initiatives, all promising to break the isolation and secure growth, have nominated candidates.

 

Border dispute, war crimes court

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The new state has been recognized by 114 countries, including the United States and most of the EU members, but not by Belgrade.

 

Kosovo is the only western Balkan country whose citizens need visas to enter the European Union’s Schengen zone. To join, Brussels insists Kosovo must first approve the border demarcation deal.

 

That deal with Montenegro was signed in 2015 but opposition parties say it meant a loss of territory, over 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres), or less than 1 percent of Kosovo’s land. The former Cabinet, international experts and the country’s Western backers dispute that claim.

 

Another looming issue is the prospect of former ethnic Albanian senior rebel commanders facing prosecution in the newly established international war crimes court in The Hague that is expected to shortly issue indictments for crimes committed against civilians during and after the 1998-1999 war with Serbia.

 

Who’s who in the election

​Former rebels

 

Three major parties run by former rebel commanders have joined forces to back Ramush Haradinaj for prime minister. Haradinaj briefly served as a prime minister in 2005 but was forced to resign after a U.N. war crimes court put him on trial for crimes allegedly committed during Kosovo’s 1998-99 war with Serbia. He was acquitted twice.

 

Serbia still regards Haradinaj as a war criminal. Kosovo suspended EU-sponsored talks with Serbia earlier this year after Haradinaj was arrested in France on a warrant from Serbia. A French court refused to extradite him.

 

Haradinaj claims his coalition is “a new beginning “ and has pledged he will persuade the EU to admit Kosovars to the visa-free regime within 90 days, and also bring fast improvements in the country’s ailing economy.

Peacenicks

 

The party of Prime Minister Isa Mustafa has joined forces with billionaire Behxhet Pacolli and Mimoza Kusari-Lila, a former deputy prime minister and trade minister from the Alternativa party. They have proposed the former finance minister, Avdullah Hoti, as a future prime minister. 

 

Hoti boasts that he was successful in fighting corruption and bringing the customs and financial department in line with European standards. He earned a Ph.D. in economics at Staffordshire University in Britain and is a professor at the Pristina University.

Nationalists

 

The Self-Determination Movement, an aggressively disruptive force in the previous parliament, is the biggest opposition party to shun pre-election coalitions. Self-Determination Movement members and supporters released tear gas inside parliament and threw petrol bombs outside it to protest the contentious deals with Montenegro and Serbia.

 

The party has nominated its former leader, 42-year-old Albin Kurti, as a candidate for prime minister. Since the 2014 election, Kurti has been at the forefront of opposition forces.

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Next Step for France’s New President: Consolidating Power

Winning the French presidency was step one for Emmanuel Macron. Step two is nailing down the parliamentary majority France’s youngest-ever president needs to be effective. That happens in legislative elections that promise a monumental shake-up of the National Assembly and the consolidation of Macron’s grip on France’s levers of power.

Not only is the two-round vote, this Sunday and next, expected to install hundreds of new faces in the 577-seat lower house, but many will likely be first-time lawmakers, making good on Macron’s campaign promises to take a broom to established, old-style politics.

Half of the candidates for Macron’s fledgling Republic on the Move! party have, like him, never previously held elected office. They include an award-winning mathematician, a former female bullfighter and the ex-head of an elite French police unit that took down an Islamic State cell, among others.

With pollsters projecting a possibly dominant majority for Macron’s camp, the election could add real clout to the measured and studied air of authority the 39-year-old has cultivated in his presidential role since the very first minutes of his May 7 victory.

Much of Macron’s early muscle-flexing has been symbolic, most notably his knuckle-whitening handshake with U.S. President Donald Trump — aimed, the French leader later said, at showing that he is no pushover.

But a large, compliant majority in parliament would arm Macron with the actual power to quickly start legislating and launch his promised program of remedies for the persistent, chronic unemployment and other economic difficulties that have sapped France’s weight in Europe. He intends to speedily reform France’s labor codes, aiming to create work by injecting greater flexibility into the labor market and by boosting job-training.

Battered by the electorate that gave Macron a comfortable winning margin over far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the presidential vote, his weakened political rivals fear that another surge of support for the president’s candidates in the legislative ballot could make him almost untouchable and limit their tools and abilities to keep his ambitions and legislative program in check.

Political scientist Dominique Moisi says the legislative election is a “decisive piece” in the consolidation of Macron’s presidency. When the former banker and economy minister launched his wild-card bid for the presidential Elysee Palace in 2016, challenging the monopoly on power of France’s established parties on the left and right, his chances of winning the succession of presidential and legislative votes looked remote-to-nil. Now, Macron’s gamble is close to paying out in full, and the mainstream parties are in disarray.

“He’s on course to be a new De Gaulle if he makes the reforms he wants to,” Moisi said, referring to the hugely respected founding father of modern France, wartime hero Gen. Charles de Gaulle. “There is a risk that he will have too much authority given the fact that he has some sort of authoritarian personality in him. But that is what France needs right now.”

For Macron’s rivals, the election is their last best chance to clip his wings for the next five years until the next electoral cycle. Le Pen is hoping the record support for her National Front in the presidential vote will translate into more seats in parliament than the two held by the party in the last legislature. Similarly, far-left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon also is banking that his strong fourth place in the presidential ballot will help secure legislative seats for himself and his candidates.

The left and right mainstream parties, the Socialists and conservative Republicans, are hoping to limit their losses, having been spectacularly sanctioned by voters in the presidential vote. For the first time, neither of them made the decisive May runoff vote that was contested between Macron and Le Pen.

To win in the first round Sunday, candidates must win an absolute majority of votes cast and the support of at least 25 percent of registered voters in their constituency. Otherwise, the contest moves to the second-round vote the following Sunday.

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Britain Again Faces Comparative Novelty of Minority Rule

European countries are used to hung parliaments and forming coalition governments — or being governed by minority ones. But they are more unusual in Britain, partly because of Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system.

However, several elections resulted in minority governments in the early part of the 20th century and, more recently, some governments have begun with outright majorities which then were lost because of resignations, by-elections and defections.

The Labour Party had a three-seat majority after the 1974 general election but, by 1977, it lost its majority status and remained in power because of a pact it formed with the Liberal Party.

And John Major’s Conservative government started out with a 21-seat majority in 1992 but, by the 1997 general election, it became a minority.

Here is a list:

1910-1915: Liberal minority governments under H.H. Asquith seen as among the most decisive and creative in British history, managing to pass major legislation.

1924: Labour minority under Ramsay MacDonald lasted 10 months and achieved modest success in domestic policy.

1929-1931: Labour minority government, again under Ramsay MacDonald, was blown off course by the Great Depression.

February-October 1974: Harold Wilson’s Labour Party formed a minority government for seven months until a second election gave it a three-seat majority.

1977-1979: Labour under James Callaghan governed for nearly two years as a minority administration until it lost a vote of confidence that was carried by a single vote. It was buffeted by economic crisis and strikes.

2010-2015: Labour’s Gordon Brown waived his right to form a minority government, giving way to the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to enter into a coalition government. Arguably, it was the most successful coalition government in British modern history. It ended in 2015 when David Cameron Conservatives won enough seats to govern outright.

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Britain Thrown Into Political Uncertainty; May Battles to Lead Minority Government

Britain was thrown into political uncertainty Friday after Labour, the main opposition party, made an extraordinary electoral comeback, denying Prime Minister Theresa May and the ruling Conservatives a majority in the House of Commons, largely due to a surge in youth voters.

In what will rank as one of the most remarkable elections in modern British history, May’s gamble to expand her party’s parliamentary majority failed spectacularly, raising doubts that she will be able to lead a minority government with the support of Northern Ireland’s Unionists.

Calls mounted from the Labour Party, the leaders of third parties and some Conservatives for the prime minister to step down.

The embattled prime minister announced from the steps of Downing Street after seeing the queen that she would start forming a government. The speech – with just a mention of the Unionists and the support they would provide her minority government – offered little recognition of the rebuff she had hours earlier received at the polls. It was a speech May could have given had she scored a big win.

“What the country needs more than ever is certainty,” she said. May claimed that as the biggest party in the House of Commons, Conservatives could provide that certainty. May said she would form a government that will take Britain out of the EU. She said her government would crack down on Islamic extremism.

May will likely face a vote of confidence in the House of Commons next week.

Despite their anger at her decision to call a snap post-Brexit referendum election and her conduct of the party’s campaign, Conservative lawmakers appeared ready in the short term to back her.

If May were to lose the Commons confidence vote, it would give Labour a chance to form a coalition of its own, or seek to govern as a minority government, although it is unclear if Labour would be able to do so.

​Calls for May to step down

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was all but written off at the start of the election campaign seven weeks ago, called on the prime minister to resign, saying she should “go and make way for a government that is truly representative of this country.” He said Labour had denied her a hard Brexit’ mandate.

“We are ready to do everything we can to put our program into operation,” he added.

Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, removed from the Cabinet by May and now editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, told ITV, “I doubt she will survive in the long term as Conservative party leader.”

Former Conservative minister Anna Soubry said May should take responsibility for a “dreadful” campaign.

Among Conservatives there was clear fury at the result, a seismic political shock that could trigger a second election within months. Few commentators appeared to believe that a minority Conservative government is sustainable for more than a few months. “Does she really think she can blunder on?” said Lord Ashcroft, a former Liberal Democrat leader.

​Brexit not the only issue

Exit polls late Thursday, suggesting Britain was heading for a hung parliament, prompted gasps at Conservative Party headquarters in London.

May focused her party’s election campaign on Brexit, saying she would be able to bring the strength necessary to get the best deal for Britain with the European Union.

At the start of the campaign it looked as if she might pull off a landslide victory, but opinion polls showed the race tightening, and May came under criticism for running an aloof campaign that took voters for granted.

A turning point appeared to come when the parties unveiled their election manifestos. The Conservatives had to backtrack on plans to make the elderly pay more for residential and social care.

May spent more than half of the election campaign in Labour-held seats, demonstrating how confident she was of making gains from a Labour Party led by the most left-wing leader in its history, a man the press sees as a throwback to the militant 1970’s.

With more than a week to go before Brexit negotiations, it remains unclear whether Britain will have a government in place to take on the formal talks — or whether the government that starts the talks will be the one that finalizes them.

European officials and lawmakers warn that a hung parliament could be a “disaster” that hugely increases the chance of Brexit talks failing. They said political uncertainty would likely delay talks, with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, questioning whether he would have someone to really negotiate with about Brexit.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s Brexit representative, described the result as “yet another own goal” for Britain.

Some analysts compared the political situation to 1923, when Conservative Stanley Baldwin failed to win a parliamentary majority, struggled on for a few months as prime minister and then lost a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The king then had to ask Labour to form a minority government.

The election result also throws into doubt whether Britain will now seek the hard Brexit that May and the right-wing of her party have been advocating. There is now likely a majority across the parties in the new House of Commons for a softer Brexit, one that might see Britain remain in the single market.

“What it means is we will have pressure in the House of Commons for a soft Brexit,” said Jack Straw, a former Labour foreign minister. “The math and chemistry in the Commons will be pushing away from a hard Brexit,” he added.

Leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage complained about the election result in a tweet, saying May’s failure had put Brexit in jeopardy. Some commentators argued the election could be seen as a second referendum on Brexit, a vote about a hard’ or soft Brexit,’ certainly when it came to the youth vote.

Hundreds of thousands of people ages 18 to 34 registered to vote before last month’s closing date, including more than 450,000 on the final day. Voters ages 18 to 24 appear to have voted heavily in favor of Labour.

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Pence Expresses Support for Cyprus Peace Talks

Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday that the United States supported peace talks on Cyprus aimed at reunifying the divided island.

Pence hosted Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades at the White House on Thursday. The White House said Pence expressed hope that Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders “will agree to a settlement that would reunify Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation to the benefit of all Cypriots.”

Pence also thanked Cyprus for its support for the Middle East peace talks and the fight against Islamic State.

Anastasiades said that he invited Pence to visit the island and that “what satisfied me most is that the U.S. acknowledged the role Cyprus plays as a result of its excellent relations with all its neighboring nations.”

Cyprus has been split between a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north since 1974, when Turkey invaded in response to a military coup aimed at unifying the island with Greece.

The south is recognized as the sole Cypriot government, while only Turkey recognizes a separate Turkish Cypriot north.

U.N.-sponsored reunification talks have been slow because of several sensitive issues, including Turkish demands that Turkish forces be allowed to stay on the island. The Greek Cypriots want them to leave.

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Diplomats: US Wary of French Push for UN to Back Sahel Force

The United States is wary of a French push for the U.N. Security Council to authorize a West African force to combat terrorism and trafficking in the Sahel region because it does not want the world body to help fund it, diplomats said on Thursday.

France circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Tuesday to the 15-member body that would approve the force using “all necessary means” and ask U.N. chief Antonio Guterres to report on options for U.N. support to the operation.

Closed-door negotiations began on Wednesday, and diplomats said the United States would prefer the council give its blessing in a statement instead of a resolution and encourage bilateral support for the West African force.

The European Union has already committed $56 million to the Sahel force.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The United States is a council veto power along with Russia, China, France and Britain.

The vast, arid Sahel region has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups — some linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State — that European nations, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked.

“The African Union and the secretary-general have asked the council to authorize this Sahel force,” France’s U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, told reporters on Thursday. “It is important that the whole Security Council gets united behind this draft.”

The United States is currently trying to cut the cost of U.N. peacekeeping and is reviewing each of the 16 missions as they come up for Security Council renewal. Washington is the largest contributor, paying 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion peacekeeping budget.

President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 proposed budget would cut $1 billion from the U.S. contribution to U.N. peacekeeping, although Republicans, who control both houses of Congress, and Democrats have said they do not support drastic cuts.

Last year, the Sahel nations — Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania — proposed establishing special units, each of around 100 well-trained soldiers, which would be deployed in areas where jihadist groups are known to operate.

They would complement the efforts of regular armed forces, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali and France’s Operation Barkhane, which has around 4,000 troops deployed across the five Sahel countries.

France intervened in 2013 to drive back militants who had seized northern Mali a year earlier. However, militants continue to attack Mali and its neighbors.

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Standing Rock Tribe’s Fight Against Pipeline Goes Global

Native American activists from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in the U.S. state of North Dakota, have gone global with their fight to stop fossil fuel corporations from possibly fouling water sources by transporting oil on indigenous lands.

Peaceful protests that began April 1, 2016, to try to stop construction of the Dakota Access pipeline largely died down in February when the main protest camp was cleared. Oil drilling began on June 1.

While they may have lost this battle, the activists say the war is far from over. They say the fight for indigenous rights continues to be waged on many fronts nationally, and moves to expand it globally already have begun.

Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the Dakota Access pipeline developer, disputes the tribes’ claims and says the $3.8 billion, 1,885-kilometer pipeline is safe.

Rachel Heaton, a member of the Muckleshoot Tribe and an indigenous leader among Dakota Access pipeline opponents in Seattle, is one of four “water protectors” touring various countries and cities in Europe to try to drum up support for their cause. She said Native Americans plan to hit corporations and banks where it hurts most — in their wallets.

Credit Suisse targeted

“We are going around and sharing our stories as well as talking to the banks here in Europe that are invested in the fossil fuel projects on our lands,” she said. “We are here to ask the banks to divest from the fossil fuel projects as they are contributing to the genocide of our people, the environmental racism that continues to take place, as well as the violation of our treaty rights.”

She said the group of water protectors had come to Geneva to confront Credit Suisse, which is one of the largest financiers in the Dakota Access pipeline.

“They are invested in the fossil fuel projects on our lands that again continue to oppress our people. So we are here to send a message to Credit Suisse that they need to divest from these projects, as well as invest in policies that protect our indigenous nations,” she said.  

The activists were not successful in their quest. Credit Suisse refused to meet them. But the group said it would not give up, because the bank has invested $1.4 billion in fossil fuel projects on indigenous lands, making it the leading investor among all European banks.

The group, which began its European tour in Paris on May 20, has managed to ruffle the feathers of a significant number of shareholders in other banks as well. They crashed shareholder meetings at BNP Paribas, Natixis Bank and Societe Generale.

“We were not welcomed,” said Heaton. “We were muffled out. We were booed. Some of the board members that were present avoided us. They went around the room and tried to avoid our question. They would not answer it,” she said. “They did not say they would divest. They did not respond to us at all.”

‘We will continue’

Heaton said indigenous people would not be deterred by these setbacks. She told VOA that trying to get banks to divest from fossil fuel projects was a long process.

“We will continue to be a voice,” she said. “We will continue to express ourselves in the way we have and continue the civil disobedience, taking people out of their comfort zones until these banks and these nations get the message.”

Nataanii Means, an Oglala Sioux and Navajo activist and hip-hop artist, agreed that native communities would continue fighting for their rights.

“We have been fighting this kind of fight for years, and we are going to continue to fight it because it affects our communities first,” he said.

“We are suffering the highest rates of cancer. We are suffering the highest rates of sex trafficking per capita. We are suffering the highest rates of suicide per capita.

“Our communities are on the front lines literally because we are affected first by these extraction companies — oil extraction, gas extraction and fracking,” he said.  

While in Geneva, the activists networked with United Nations officials, civil society and nongovernmental organizations. They met with Mayor Guillaume Barazzone, who pledged his solidarity with their cause.