Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dear Nationalists.

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21710276-all-around-world-nationalists-are-gaining-ground-why-league-nationalists
As Europe -and in fact the whole world- is increasingly gripped by successive waves of populism and nationalism, one can not be indifferent any longer.

I observe nationalistic people boast about their history, their country's economy, a very successful popular individual that comes from their country, their culture and lifestyle.

"Proud to be Irish, Greek, American, British" or whatever else is often used by people as a boastful expression for something they haven't achieved.

Or the recent "make America great again" and "taking back control," for Britain or any other euro-skeptic movement across the continent. " Greece for the Greeks, France for the French" and there is no space for anyone outside our tribe.

So all the above make me wonder; what are you so proud off? Your history may be part of your heritage and should be commemorated undoubtedly. But it wasn't you who achieved all these greatness, it was your ancestors, often numerous generations back.

Your national sports team winning, or one great athlete, actor, musician, artist or scientist excelling in international competitions or becoming successful, should not be making anyone "proud" apart from their nearest and dearest.

Except maybe your national sports team winning, which should give you some joy and satisfaction, there is little reason for such tribalism. Because that is exactly what it is; every nation uniting behind their "warriors" that beat and dominate over another tribe's. A bit primitive I think, the demonstration of such passionate emotion over a game.

Your country's economy is the result of successful financial policy decisions, that have been adopted often by previous generations. But not just that. Certain countries in favorable alliances. political blocks or geographic locations have positioned themselves as "elite" nations that have an advantage over other nations which less luck in their connections and "friendships".

So to be "proud" over often pure luck, is a bit daft. Finally, a nation's culture is often created by the constant mixing and influencing by other cultures from nearby nations, but also from countries far away since we live in a globalized world.

In an ever changing and hopefully uniting humanity, what should actually make a nation proud? Shouldn't be any development, policy or decision that positively influences and affects not only the citizens of this certain country, but also acts as a beacon that kick-starts a positive change for all human kind across the world?

Like when Ireland approved by popular vote to give same-sex couples, full and equal rights on marriage. That can stand as a beaming example, that could positively influence other nations to follow suit, extending equal rights for all LGBT individuals across the world.

Sweden is another case on its human rights activism and how it reacted on the refugee crisis that affects recently Europe. And not just this particular time.

Similarly, how many Greek islanders reacted to the scores of refugees being washed on their homeland's shores, the compassion and humanity they demonstrated, that is something that makes me proud as a Greek personally.

The above examples are just a few. Yet sadly, they do come fewer and fewer in our modern society. People need to be proud for something, to place themselves above others or other nations.

Well why can't these reasons be about the ways that your country stood as an example, pushing humanity ahead, modernizing and positively contributing in our collective global heritage currently, not just about its past achievements.

A bit of healthy competition acts as good motivation, but ultimately the goal should be focused on the greater good of the human kind.

If we keep looking back we can never move forward. If strive to look down on others, we can never be equal and develop together-or at all. If we only try to better ourselves, we leave many others behind. And this is not the way that humanity should be looking into the future, there is no benefit to live in an extremely unequal world.

We are making history as we speak. All of us, with our choices and policies we adopt, with how we treat other nations, minorities in our country and abroad. If we show our worse self towards everyone else outside our "tribe," what will future generations be "proud" of us after all?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Europeans are shooting themselves in the foot with populism.

http://humanistfederation.eu/our-work.php?page=the-european-union-and-the-challenge-of-extremism-and-populism
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has warned that Europe will fall “over the edge” unless the European Union scales back its ambitions and mainstream politicians start listening to the demands of voters flocking to populist parties.

In an attempt to diagnose the populist surge that has dominated European politics in 2016, he stated that Europe cannot push its project over the edge by pushing for "more Europe.”

He was referring of course, to those who wish to shift powers from member states to Brussels. “We are losing the population in the process,” he added. (New Europe).

It is rather disappointing that Europeans chose to turn to so called "populist" parties, either Far Right or Leftist ones. Yet it is totally understandable.

For decades their opinion was being ignored, both by their national elites and governments and the EU itself. Only recently the European institutions really opened up and reached out to the public, in an effort to make themselves approachable and offer the public greater knowledge about their function.

On the other hand, national governments were often scapegoating the EU, using it to appropriate any successful developments and policies. There was rarely any considerable effort in engaging the public with a pan-European movement of civil society.

In addition each of them, in a desperate effort to promote not their country's interests necessarily-rather their own and of those who fund them, they adopted disastrous financial and social policies that brought Europe in economic decline.

The citizens not only were inadequately informed, but even when they were given the option to vote in referendums, their opinion was largely rejected until they voted again for the desirable outcome. That has inevitably created a growing mistrust and suspicion among the European electorate, mainly on the EU's undeniable democratic deficit.

When the economic crisis exposed the euro's weaknesses, another blow to the confidence of Europeans on the continent's most ambitious project has been delivered. A single currency was set for Europe, without a common taxation system or political integration. It was certainly not a functioning monetary union.

The result was a near collapse of the euro, which required massive and painful sacrifices from the voters, to stabilize the continent's banks and save the single currency. Yet, it is becoming obvious that all the measures that have been adopted, haven't decisively solved the problem. Because ultimately, in order the euro to survive it needs further political integration.

As if the economic crisis and the austerity measures that followed were not enough, the prolonged war in Syria and other regions in Europe's neighborhood, resulted in a massive refugee and migrant influx in the continent.

That further challenged the European public's openness and tolerance. Populist groups and figures took advantage of the situation and promoted scaremongering and further confusion, in order to gain more power and influence to satisfy their ambitions.

In some countries they are currently doing very well, threatening the established parties. And while it is great to see the governing elites, finally being punished for their corruption, bad choices and disastrous policies they've adopted, the alternatives are also horrifying.

It is sad to see that we are running out of options in Europe, to really transform our continent. The establishment parties have lost the trust of the voters, yet their challengers give few solutions too.

Apart of course from populism and knee-jerk reactions like abolishing the euro, withdrawing from the EU and restricting immigration and the free movement of people within the EU.

The citizens need to understand that migration, the euro as an idea or the EU with its single market and the free movement of people, are not the real problem. If there were properly dealt with or established, then their impact on our everyday lives would be minimal or even positive.

And it is not that the electorate totally rejects the idea of "more Europe", rather that it lost its faith in it. Yet that is the fault of the national establishment politicians.

http://www.martenscentre.eu/blog/european-political-parties-and-rise-populism
They have purposely disconnected communication between the EU and the citizens, with result the ever growing discontent of voters about EU affairs. 

More Europe, aka more transparency, democracy and less inter-governmentalism is the solution to the EU crisis.

But sadly our elites don't want to lose power, by handing power to a fully functioning European democracy. 

So we go in circles and the whole European project and the continent itself is on the brink of collapse. It is disappointing that the people will chose to abandon what we have achieved over the past decades, to go back to what we had before that, while thinking that we will maintain the same benefits.

If the euro goes, then the transition back to national currencies may not be as smooth as we wish it to be. Are Europeans ready to pay the price of further economic depression that a eurozone dissolution could bring?

The free movement of people is one of the few real benefits that we citizens, get with our country's EU membership. Why would anyone want to see it gone, just because our outer borders are under pressure from refugees and migrants? A decisive, comprehensive and unanimously adopted policy to tackle the problem should be preferred, but again our governments are the problem.

They are failing to agree on how to deal with the issue, plus they haven't done anything to establish a closer policing collaboration to safeguard Europe internally. Instead they chose the easy option to suspend the Schengen Agreement.

In addition, they are underlining the issue of migration and the refugee crisis, way too much to distract the European public opinion from other burning issues that we should be focusing on; like the state of our economy and the political deadlock that we find ourselves in.

In other words, for a national politician to draw caution on pushing for "more Europe," as it may harm the EU as a project is really misplaced. If our governments wanted it, "more Europe" would have been a reality already and it would have been successfully established.

All it needs to gain the hearts and minds of the voters, is to be fully functional, beneficial to them, transparent, democratic and offering solutions to their problems. Something that our national governments also want to offer us, to prolong their stay in power and relevance. That is the real reason why it hasn't happened already.

Thus the problem is not that the citizens are afraid of "more Europe," rather that they are unaware of how it will be shaped and how it will affect them. But that is something that our national governments should be responsible of clarifying and working on, yet they are not.

Citizens need solutions to the problems they are facing. Ultimately they do not care where they will come from. Let us not shoot ourselves in the foot by limiting our potential and opportunities, taking away our achievements and benefits, when we really want to punish our national governments.

We may think that anti-establishment political parties will offer us solutions, but these won't come by reversing what we have achieved so far. And are we sure that their policies that include the limitation of rights of minority groups, won't later be applied on us gradually?

Allowing more opinions and voices in Europe's political reality is always beneficial and our continent certainly needed new ideas.

The problem is, these parties in their majority are not placing anything new on the table, rather want to take us backwards to what we had previously, prior the creation of the EU; that is more than 50 years ago.

Change should always bring us forward, to prepare a Europe for the future reality of a multi-polar world. But they have nothing to contribute towards that.

Monday, November 14, 2016

America has a new President.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/america-divided-donald-trump-wins-historic-us-election-victory-1590591
On November the 9th 2016, America and the world woke up to a challenging new reality.

Donald Trump has defeated Senator Hilary Clinton, to become the 45th President of USA.

And although both him and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, called for the aftermath of the elections to be a time for "uniting the country again," what we are witnessing is anything but.

There are ongoing protests that call for a new election, opposing Trump as president. On the other hand, there are numerous homophobic or racist incidents and attacks being reported, citing Trump's election.

Both groups have got the result wrong. The first group need to accept how democracy works.Trump either they like it or not was democratically elected,thus he will be the next American President.

The second is a hideous bunch of people, which thinks that by electing a populist, right-wing president, gives them the freedom to cause harm to a fellow human being. Their demeanor does not do any favor either to Trump and his work as their future president, their country, communities or themselves.

They believe that an outspoken anti-immigrant leader, automatically grants them the right to pour their bile into their communities, turning them as corrosive as they are. Similar incidents took place in the UK after the Brexit vote, which reveals that Western nations are not that tolerant and progressive after all.

It is becoming clear that such hatred was and it is always there. But because we like to show and nice face to society we don't discuss our views in fear of being judged. It only takes a Trump or a Farage to go public and the masks fall and show our true self.

This makes a valid point for open and early debates in schools or colleges. To educate as many young people as possible, about humanity and diversity. If we don't, they can always join any website to satisfy their curiosity for knowledge.

But as often the internet is full of bigots that spread their poison and influence our youths' minds, the result could be ever increasing populist and intolerant societies.

Not that hatred is the only cause for Trump's election. Sadly it is also despair and disappointment with our modern political and social reality. The elites of every western country got to complacent and arrogant. They ignored the needs of the people for too long, wrapped up in their own political career and corruption.

Now the people vote for outsider demagogues, that can only mean going backwards to all the good that we have achieved as a civilization. Yet sadly,we are going to keep all the negative aspects that led us to vote for populists in the first place.

Trump won't reverse globalization, he thrived from it too-he is a wealthy guy. He will just target and scapegoat all minorities or the poor. He already stated that he will deport about 3 million illegal immigrants from America. And that he will soon built the infamous wall that he promised, on the US borders with Mexico.

That will not only cost a lot of unnecessary money, he will ruin the country's relationship with its neighbor and close partner. That is not a way to settle things and promote your nation's interests.

He appears to be an ignorant man, arrogant and rude, a right bigot. If only he could be a bit diplomatic and political correct, then people would not react to him as badly. You can not be the President of a nation, representing it across the globe and openly speak with a derogatory language about neighboring countries and minorities.

It's wrong and you are going to have to use diplomacy in your appointment as a world leader, in order to gain support from other countries and keep the position of your nation as a leading and influential one.

Yet his victory is also a result from an equal bad opposition campaign. With all the dirt that the Clinton campaigners threw at him about how he treated women in the past, they might have helped him in his victory.

A lot of men of his age think as he does, they just keep it private. Trying to portray him as sexist because of his approach to women was a hit below the belt and it might have worked to his favor after all. The Clinton campaigners should have focused on his lack of experience to lead, rather than playing dirty.

And that is not all. The people of America wanted change and a new kind of politician and leadership,that would bring a new deal for them. But someone who could provide such change, without the controversial statements, was Senator Bernie Sanders which was defeated by Hilary Clinton.

Perhaps the American establishment arrogantly fought so hard to get rid off a leftist outsider, confident that a populist like Trump could never win the elections and beat Clinton. But their speculations were wrong.

People in the western hemisphere, in both sides of the Atlantic, seem to be fed up with mainstream politicians and the establishment political parties which represent them. They want change and to shake things up, they seek a better deal and justice.

The issue is, are they voting for the right people to achieve their goal? It is debatable if populism, xenophobia, stricter border controls, Islamophobia, homophobia, conservatism and protectionism are the best solutions.

Especially when they are not the main cause to our problems, rather where our attention is drawn to. What about our political elite's corruption, intergovernmental-ism, lobbying from very wealthy and powerful companies that totally neglect the citizens' problems, whether they are native or migrant?

Besides, could Trump stick to everything he promised, without a backlash or opposition from the US Senate? Remember how hard was for Obama to achieve his reforms, even some of the most beneficial for the citizens.

If we examine the case of a much smaller country-Greece, which went the same way like America, we will see that often change is not possible or straightforward.

The Greeks were also fed up with the political system and voted for Leftist populists;Syriza and its leader Alexis Tsipras. Yet after the initial hiatus of their victory, the promising and defiant statements or minister appointments, their impact on Greek politics was more of the same with any of the establishment parties.

It remains to be seen if Trump can achieve his plans. Meanwhile, Europe must brace itself for major changes. Trump famously declared that America pays too much money to protect countries that "they've never even heard of".

And that from now on,all NATO members must pay more into the budget if they want US protection, plus he expressed his admiration for Putin.

A less US dominated and "protected" Europe might be a good thing. The problem is, will Putin and Trump cooperate to promote nationalism in Europe and divide our continent further, or will them two cooperate to end the West-East recent stand off?

Perhaps more EU integration could be the key and solution, to keep our western civilization still relative and influential in the globe. Hopefully Europe will stick to its values and become a beacon of the West, since America is for now choosing to turn its back to its own.

Sadly, the greatest impact of Donald Trump on American and global politics, will be-either he wanted it or not, deep division of class, race or religion. He and his European counterparts like Farage and Le Pen, bring out the worse in us and our societies.

They are reflecting our ugly side as a civilization right back at us and it is even more disturbing that people are not scared by it; they are actually inspired and act upon it.

Maybe Trump's intentions are anything but, it could be that politicians like him have deep patriotic sentiments and wish the best for their country. Unfortunately they achieve quite the opposite and humanity has been in this situation many times before.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

America decides. US Presidential Elections 2016.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/0/us-election-2016-polls-and-odds-tracker-latest-forecast-in-race1/
The US Presidential Election Campaign is reaching its critical climax. On Tuesday November the 8th, the more than 200 million Americans eligible to vote, will finally get their chance. 

For the past few months, the debates and speculations have been intensifying, so much that one would wonder if he follows a major political decision or a scenario of a television drama series.

As usual, it comes down to the two main political powerhouses of the USA; the Republican and the Democratic parties. With Donald Trump becoming the first party's nominee, Senator Hilary Clinton is the Democrat's choice after defeating Senator Saunders.

The campaigns got really ugly, with "hits" both above and bellow the waste coming from both sides, that I personally forgot what each candidate originally promised or is standing for. 

In general the European media portrayed Trump as an anti-immigration, conservative, populist, wealthy "outsider," while Clinton is representative of the establishment and more mainstream politics, while being cheered as potentially the first woman president in US history.

Here in the other side of the Atlantic, it was mainly the "juicy" scandals and controversies that made the headlines regarding these elections. Clinton's e-mail gaffe, in which she used her personal address rather a government one for communicating state affairs, plus her funding from countries like Saudi Arabia-with poor human rights records, or her handling of the Benghazi tragedy grabbed our attention.

On the other hand, Trump was involved in so many controversies, that one would wonder how he continues being a candidate. From misogynist comments, to anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and xenophobic, his tax returns secrecy, openly supporting leaders like Putin, sexual misconduct accusations; the list could go on.

But somehow, nothing seems to put him out of the contest and secure Clinton's victory. It looks that people in both sides of the Atlantic, are fed up with mainstream politics and prefer to trust any outsider in hope that something will change.

And so far, little has been said about how the outcome is going to influence Europe. Being America's closest ally, our continent will inevitably be affected by who becomes America's next president. In addition as the US is the world's only "super-power," its foreign policy concerns us all. 

The most possible scenarios for Europe will be those; the "devil that we know"as if Clinton gets elected, things between US and our continent will remain pretty much the same and stable. 

Or we will have to deal with a very new and unpredictable reality if Trump wins; once he sticks to all that he says of course and doesn't backtrack on everything when he gets in the White House.

We have seen that happening in Greece,where people were fed with promises by the Left wing Syriza party that obviously could not be kept, since the previous governments already signed bail-out deals.

Similarly, we could assume that Trump will not deliver all his promises and that he uses populism, just to get elected. In the case of Britain recently, the UKIP led campaigns resulted in the country opting to leave the EU, yet we saw their leadership quitting soon after the result.

If Trump is the "inexperienced demagogue" that his opponents claim him to be, we could be seeing a very short Republican presidency.

Yet provided that he manages to deliver what he campaigns for, then we could have a very protectionist America, with a strong anti-immigrant sentiment that could spill over to Europe and other regions. 

His tolerance of Putin could mean trouble for Europe, or on the other hand end the decades old stand off, if the two of them manage to work and smooth their differences. Although it is unclear how this new status will affect our continent.

The NATO alliance may particularly be affected, since Trump clarified that America won't be willing to protect its allies, unless they are prepared to contribute more into the alliance's budget. Then Europe will have no choice but to create its own army, investing more in a single defense mechanism.

Outspoken and not as diplomatic in his speeches or approach, Mr. Trump could introduce us to a new era of international politics, that will certainly influence Europe's too. We might be seeing an empowerment of nationalist, protectionist or even Far-Right parties gaining even more power across Europe, dividing it further.

Another outcome of a potential Trump's victory, is that America could become more isolationist, weakening the West's influence. That could lead to a more multi-polarized world, with new emerging powers filling the gap. 

This is not particularly a bad thing, as long as Europe and other Western nations step in to safeguard their interests in the globe. But if they do not, we could be seeing the end of the world as we know it, with a declining Western influence and inevitably civilization. 

The only way Europe could keep safe and strong, if Trump sticks to what he promised during his campaign, is to unite further to avoid the bumpy road ahead of Trump's victory; he will definitely shake things up.

A multi-polar world may be a good outcome, that could lead to more equality among its regions. Yet all of us which comprise the Western democracies, will need to learn to live outside America's protective wing, but also shadow. 

That can be scary and dangerous as any change. But if Europe manages to cope and steps up its efforts for a greater say and responsibilities in the world stage, then this new reality could become an opportunity for us.

Clinton on the other hand will most likely stick to what are used to from the US, either some times we criticize and complain about it, or not. NATO and the West's military, political, cultural and commercial supremacy will continue, at all costs with the ways already known to us.

She is experienced and she has worked in the US government with different roles for decades now. She might belong to an elite of family political dynasties, that have ruled America and inevitably the world for decades, but she won't rock the boat. Thus, there will be little change of direction in our world.

This sounds less worrying and poses little threat to our way of doing things and what we are used to. The point is, is where we are satisfactory, fair and functioning for all of us enough, to not want to radically alter the status quo? And in the end of the day, it is not up to us decide.   

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are Europeans mature enough, for true equality for LGBT individuals?

http://www.rutherfordjournal.org/article040101.html
Alan Mathison Turing was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, and cryptanalyst who, working during World War II, succeeded with his team in cracking the “Enigma code” used by the Nazi command to conduct covert communication operations.

Because of Turing and his colleagues’ efforts,there is now general agreement that they shortened the war by at least two years, saving an estimated 17 million lives. Prime Minister Winston Churchill singled out Turing as the person whose work contributed the most to defeating the Germans.(LGBT Nation).

Turing was considered to be the father of modern computer science and was most famous for his work in helping to create the "bombe" that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.

He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting a sexual relationship with a man.

He was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment". His criminal record resulted in the loss of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where he had been employed following service at Bletchley Park during the war. He died of cyanide poisoning in 1954, aged 41.(The Guardian)

Alan Turing,was finally granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2013 – 61 years after he was charged at Manchester police station over homosexual activity. (The Independent) It came after years of campaigning from LGBT groups and his living family relatives.

Subsequently this gave way for the "Alan Turing law,"that will effectively act as an apology to those convicted for consensual same-sex relationships, before homosexuality was decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967. (The Independent)

The reality for LGBT people is not too different today, despite becoming much better. Although we have established ever increasing freedoms and equality, things are still very fragile. 

With all the Far Right political parties gaining support all over Europe, it won't be hard to turn the tables and go backwards again. Because LGBT people are still discriminated upon, even in the most progressive nations. 

Being able to marry or live openly as a gay/bisexual person or having a gay pride, although a huge step forward, is not areal equality, rather acceptance and tolerance. A long road from the true goal that would allow all the Turings of this world to make it a better place to live.

Do we currently have numerous openly gay politicians, but also scientists, thinkers, people of influence that could change the world, or would any of you vote for an openly gay president?

http://www.pbase.com/kinginexile/image/66539019
Having a camp individual on the television and laughing at his antics or being amused by them is not tolerance and acceptance. You are stereotyping a whole group of people, making it difficult for great minds like Turing to showcase their effort and true goal, to prove that being gay is not all camp and laughs and drag.

Would you respect an openly gay person to represent you and your nation in international affairs, or would you admire an openly gay person enough for them to lead the country, teach your children, manage you at work, become a professor and a religious leader?

Or would you always prefer a stereotypical gay caricature to amuse you every Saturday night on the television? Think about it.

LGBT individuals will never be truly accepted and equal in our world, as long as they have to "come out" to everyone about their sexuality, as if they have to gain our acceptance, or rather permission to be who they are.

No "straight" individual has to explain themselves about their sexual orientation, beg for acceptance from their parents, explain themselves why, or fight for respect at work or school environment.

They can never be equals, as long as we stereotype them, inevitably and subconsciously creating a certain role for them to play in our societies, limiting their potential.

Nor they can have equality when they have to go to a ghetto bar or club, to find a potential partner or often socialize only with other LGBT individuals because the mainstream society rejects them.

We have created a very stereotyped image of them in our media and popular culture, which has to change. But for that to be achieved, humanity as a whole needs to come to terms with its true nature and sexuality.

Because it is not just the LGBT people that need to be liberated from gender stereotypes and roles, it is every single one of us.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Europe should stop bickering and start coordinating.

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/luxemburgs-asselborn-wants-hungary-thrown-eu/
Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, has recently unleashed an attack on Hungary, over its stance on the refugee crisis.

He told the German daily Die Welt that Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the European Union.

Asselborn’s comments come days before 27 EU leaders meet in Bratislava to discuss the bloc’s future.

 “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.” Mr Asselborn stated.

He argued it’s the only way to “preserve the cohesion and values of the European Union.”

Hungary is holding a government-sponsored referendum on October the 2nd, seeking support for rejecting any future EU plan to resettle migrants among member states.(New Europe)

We are really getting tired in Europe, hearing our leaders bickering about who should be kicked out, or who is worthy to stay in. Each EU member state has its own history and past, that influences the way we deal with each upcoming problem.

Some European countries had been exposed to multiculturalism for far longer, thus having more time to adjust and get used to it. Either because they have been themselves colonial powers, or simply because economically they blossomed sooner than most newest "additions" to the EU block.

So to demand conformity or you are out, it is simply wrong and not helpful. I agree with Mr. Asselborn that the Hungarian stance on the refugee crisis is disappointing.

The central European nation's PM Viktor Orban, even claimed that the refugee crisis is a "German problem."

In reality it is a global problem, not just a European nor a German one. And since Hungary is part of both Europe and the world, it should- if it wants to be called a modern democratic European nation- play its role to tackle the crisis.

Europe should, instead of bickering within itself, work together firstly to deal with the issue. Secondly, work closely to convince other regions of the world to help out and do their part in this humanitarian crisis.

Attitudes like Mr Orban's do not help, so we are understandably getting Mr Asselborn's remarks; although they are not appropriate.

The EU should start showing unity and serious signs of cooperation and solidarity, if it wants to be taken as a serious contender in the globe.

It would best avoided to keep discussing about leaving or being kicked out of the block. The problem is that we have now too many governments in EU, with so many different agendas.

Not all are committed to the same vision for Europe, while unfortunately almost all still prioritize national agendas over a common European one.

It is particularly sad to see not just Hungary, but many other "new" EU member states, dropping their enthusiasm for the block, once the obligations of their membership appear.

Yet, threatening them with expulsion or ridicule them as a country for the statements of their politicians in not constructive either. It simply crystallizes the public support around their leaders.

Europe does not need anymore star politicians looking for publicity. Nor it needs more political intrigues,that do nothing more to give more food to the story selling hungry media.

What the continent needs is inspirational leaders to offer solutions and bring a new vision for its future.

We should have dealt with the refugee crisis locally, years ago when it first manifested itself. We lacked leadership then and so we do now.

Instead of taking action on a national level for something that affects everyone on the continent, or blaming and threatening those who do not follow the consensus, it would be great if for once we witnessed true diplomatic and leadership skills from more of our leaders.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

European or Atlantic military alliance?

This summer it was not just the EU that was rocked by doubts as a block. The world's mightiest military alliance-NATO- has also had its share of uncertainty, caused by remarks made from some of its members' prominent politicians.

Jeremy Corbyn has called for NATO to be "closed down", in mid August. The British Labour leader said the military alliance was an "engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies" and called for it to "give up, go home and go away."

His comments quickly sparked condemnation by many defense chiefs, warning that his comments about the organisation are "weakening western civilization”.

Mr Corbyn was also criticized after he refused to say whether he would defend a NATO ally if it were invaded by Russia. (The Telegraph)
http://www.lakeshorelaments.com/?m=201404
His remarks came less than one month of those of Donald Trump.

The US Republican Presidential Candidate, struck his most stridently isolationist notes recently.

He declared that NATO’s principle that an attack on one is an attack on all, should be conditional on every member country paying “their fair share”.

“I want to keep NATO, but I want them to pay,” Trump told a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “I don’t want to be taken advantage of . We’re protecting countries that most of the people in this room have never even heard of," he added. (The Guardian)

Resulting from the above remarks, Ex-NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has argued in a recent interview, that Putin will have free reign to launch attacks with Mr Corbyn in No.10 and loudmouth Donald Trump in the White House.

NATO's "collective defense" principle says an attack on one is an attack on all, and Mr Rasmussen claimed Mr Corbyn's inaction leaves Europe weakened.

He said: "I think his refusal to clearly state that as a possible prime minster of the UK, he would not be sure that he would defend NATO allies has really, really undermined the credibility of NATO.

The former NATO Secretary, added that it is unlikely that the Russian president would launch an open attack on the West, but that he might engage in a sinister "hybrid warfare".

Mr Rasmussen warned that tactics seen in the annexation of the Crimea might become much more common if Mr Corbyn was in charge. (Daily Star)

Meanwhile, calls from within the EU for the creation of a European army are getting stronger and more vocal, following the Brexit.

The European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker, declared that an EU army would enable the EU to “fulfil” its mission to the world.

He added that Europe’s image in terms of foreign policy, has been tarnished and that the continent was not taken “entirely seriously” as a major power.

Czech Republic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has backed plans for a European Union military force to help tackle the threats of extremist militants, Russian aggression and the migrant crisis.

Although he insisted the new army would not threaten NATO, but would act as a “more actionable and reliable partner”. (The Sun) Poland, Hungary and Germany have also openly expressed their support for such army recently.

The above statements and developments, indicate that Europe is about to go through significant change and reforms. And it is about time.

Our continent can not rely always on our American allies for protection. Firstly although it may cost us less,it leaves us contingent on USA. Thus we can never have our own independent foreign policy as a continent.

Secondly it is getting clear that both the UK and the US are shifting their focus away from Europe. After the Brexit, Britain could potentially cause similar ripples in NATO with Corbyn as leader, while if Trump get elected and sticks to what he says, the alliance membership will become more costly.

Not only European states will have to follow America in their wars, but also pay more into the alliance's budget and take more responsibilities, while serving US interests abroad.

Consequently, it would make sense for Europe to form its own military and establish a different kind of alliance with America. One that will be between equal and similarly engaged super armies, a North American and a European one, potentially joined by other Western nations like Australia and New Zealand.

It will not be currently wise for Europe to abandon NATO altogether, given the increasing instability that spreads right to its doorstep. We still need a back-up support from our allies in NATO and beyond.

Until we develop our own defense,we will have to get the most out of USA and the UK, their knowledge and infrastructure,before we become coordinated militarily.

With its own military, Europe will gain confidence and could eventually be taken seriously as a world power.

Right now, with Russia as well as America influencing passively or actively our internal and foreign affairs, our continent remains nothing more than a trade behemoth; the world's biggest market, without its own security or ability to defend itself.

Naturally any European citizen would wonder what benefits will such development offer him. Besides, shouldn't the world become less militarized, less hostile to each other?

Ideally, yes it should. We must start spend less in weaponry and our arms industries, while investing more in education, science and technology.

Yet sadly the world is not ideal yet. Until we can achieve peace globally, we still need an army for defense, security and dealing with natural and humanitarian disasters in Europe and beyond.

With its own army, Europe could become an alternative to America's version of world security. It should promote its own vision and voice in the world, that must of course be different from US foreign policy.

We could either counterpart or compliment America, depending our own interests, ideology and view of the world; not quietly follow our US allies.

Only then Europe can shape our world-for the better I hope-according to our values. When it gets actively involved, stops being a follower and just a market. When it's been seen by the rest of the globe as a a region that they can turn to when in need. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Europe:To ban the burkini, or not to ban?

http://metro.co.uk/2016/08/24/dear-france-the-most-powerful-points-about-the-burkini-ban-6088342/
It has been one of the most talked and divisive developments in Europe this summer; some French municipalities have been banning the use of the "burkini" in their beaches.

The mayor of one of these seaside towns on the French Riviera has declared "if you don't want to live the way we do, don't come."

"You have to behave in the way that people behave in the country that accepted you, and that is it," Cogolin Mayor Marc Etienne Lansade told CNN.

The ruling came after more than 30 French towns banned the swimsuit, which covers the whole body except for the face, hands and feet and is worn mostly by Muslim women. Officials have said the ban on the outfit was a response to growing concerns about radical Islamic terrorism. (CNN)

In some occasions, like in the picture above in Nice, women were forced to remove their garment by policemen. Even more disturbingly, there have been reports that some of the people witnessing the occasion, were shouting ‘go home’, while others were applauding the police.” (The Guardian)

This is a worrying development, that is affecting not just France but the rest of Europe too. The continent's public opinion has been long debating its values and where our multicultural model is heading.

In addition, France is not the only country that is experiencing a crisis of cultural, political and societal identity. The refugee crisis, the EU expansion to the East, the euro-zone crisis and the recent Brexit, have all added further stress to Europe's selfhood impasse.

Some cases like that of the Brexit, are actually a pristine indicator of the massive shift or confusion of the European public opinion, on its identity or future.

Our continent is changing that is for sure. Free movement of people, an ever changing society, economy and political environment are forcing Europe to reinvent itself. And as in every transition period, a massive soul searching is always under way.

European people, like every single person going through change, are trying to imagine or create a future model that they will like to follow and aspire to. Some are trying desperately to hold on to what it is, others are striving to go back to what it was, while only few are looking to the future, open to all possibilities and outcome.

Countries like Britain chose to look backwards and turn to the British Commonwealth for stability and security. Whilst many new EU member states like Hungary and Poland, are trying to resist change and keep things as they are.

Migrants pose new challenges and they will change the current demographic, societal, cultural and political homogeneity of these nations. Especially when we are talking for migrants of different race, religion or cultural background.

Very few European nations still fully embrace modernity and the inevitable change that is bringing. What is happening in France is not just a French problem and could potentially spread to other nations.

Especially if the terror attacks on European soil continue. People need scapegoats when threatened, they want to see someone paying for their misfortunes and fear. Humans used to sacrifice animals or even each other when faced with phenomena they did not understand or could not control.

As Europe is faced with an ever growing threat from Islamist extremists, anything that reminds of them will become a target. There is no doubt that the burkini ban incidents are directly linked to the recent terror attacks in France; a knee-jerk reaction deriving from anger and fear, plus the very statement that Europe's enemies would love to receive.

It the mentality of the herd; if you wanna live among us, look and behave like us or we will kick you out of our group. It's a very primeval, deep rooted thing and it affects all nations.

It does make sense of course, when you move in one country and take its citizenship, you should abide by its laws and values. Currently secularism, freedom and democracy make up the core of our values.

But is a dress code representative of those and if yes, is forcibly removing it also doing justice to our principles? I personally detest burkas or niqabs as I see no point of any religious dress-code at this day and age.

I do not believe that any dogma and the obvious declaration of it such a burka, have any place in the Europe that we are trying to build.

Yet I also think that policing and forcibly making people to abandon their own values, no matter how un-European they may be, has anything to do with the society I would like to live in.

Assuming that we start accepting policing and dress-code control on Muslim people in our continent, who could be next? Which group will we have to "conform" to fit our values in the future?

If we are so weary of our culture and we think that we need to "protect" or "safeguard" it from foreign influences, then perhaps this is a sign of how weak or declining this culture of ours is.

We should be looking at why people who have been living in our continent for decades or even were born here, have failed to integrate in our societies.

Integration comes with acceptance and education. It comes with equal opportunities and recognition. Being an immigrant myself, I must confess that all the times I felt anger towards my new host country, were when I felt rejected by its society and in return I was rejecting anything indicative of its culture.

So if these non-European individuals show signs of "rejecting" our values, perhaps they are doing so because they do not feel welcomed or part of our societies. Or maybe they are not inspired by them. Thus certainly forcefully making them remove their garments is not going to help.

You do not "force" anyone to accept your culture or values, you incite them to do so, you make them feel that abandoning their old ways is making sense for their future. If they do not, then we ought to firstly look where we as a society has failed, then debate on if they really belong here or they should be "going home".

If we decide that we do not want immigration into our lands, then we should stop bragging that we are an open and tolerant continent and call a spade a spade; that we do not wish to live in a multicultural society, we reject the current economic model that is promoting it and we prefer to live in social nationalism or something similar.

But could we accept the consequences, do we really know what that will mean and how will affect our lives?

The future European continent is in our hands. We are designing it right now with our decisions, our votes, our actions and what we stand for. It is a work in process that will take a long time.

We can either become like those nations that we so much criticize on their lack of tolerance and openness, or we will become the complete opposite to them and stick to it. This will be our statement and our answer to their inhuman, conservative, outdated, oppressive lack of progress and modernity. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is it terror or fear that spreads over Europe?

http://www.debatingeurope.eu/2016/03/14/prevent-another-terrorist-attack-europe/#.V5fTxrgrLIU
For the past year Europe seems to be facing an increasing threat from terrorism in its own territory.

Our continent of course is not unfamiliar with terror attacks; in the past there were numerous indigenous, separatist terrorist groups and organisations operating in many Western European nations.

Yet nowadays we come against a new threat, this time seemingly from outside of Europe. Since last November and the terror attacks in Paris, we are witnessing a surge in terrorism incidents committed by Islamist groups, most claiming their allegiance to ISIS.

After France which finds itself as a primary target, Belgium and Germany have also been attacked. The latest attack took place today in Normandy, where two terrorists killed a priest and held hostage four more in a church attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. (CNN)

Such development is very worrying and not just because it poses a threat to our lives, but our values. The more such atrocities are escalating, the more nationalism and far right groups will be rising among the European population.

And with them, xenophobia and particularly Islamophobia will become widespread, while our societies will become increasingly conservative full of fear, suspicion and intolerance.

Borders may be reinstalled, threatening the much hated by the nationalists Schengen Agreement. Surveillance, military and police interference or presence may also become the norm for all of us across Europe. In addition traveling could become much harder.

In the past our continent had the Soviet Union to fear and in need to protect itself from, shaping our collective culture and public opinion. Could we possible be faced with a new long term threat, as serious as that of the Cold War?

One would wonder who would benefit from this and why the phenomenon is happening. Are the Islamists truly in war with all the Western societies and if yes, can they really win? Perhaps this new "threat" has one aim; to reshape our societies and mentality by inciting fear.

We need to note that what is happening now in Europe, is a reality for far longer and more severely in Islamic nations throughout Asia and Africa. We may be shocked about the barbaric attacks, but Europe is not the sole epicenter of such terror.  

Muslims still constitute the majority of the victims of such Islamist groups, so to believe that this is a clash strictly between Christianity and Islam is mistaken, perhaps even dangerously misleading.

There are of course those who chose to blame immigration and the arrival of refugees from Syria and other Islamic countries, for these attacks.

Yet millions of Muslims have been living peacefully and fully integrated in our societies for decades. Think of all the doctors, nurses, barbers and convenience store staff that you have encountered throughout your lifetime.

People that served you, cared for you or even saved your lives. We need to remind that to ourselves before a collective hysteria against all people from different faiths occurs.

Europeans must realize that we can not avoid migration, as long as our continent remains one of the richest regions of the planet and while there is still huge inequality in living standards and opportunities throughout it.

Furthermore, Europe's very economy is based on migration and multiculturalism. Our economic model is designed around the inequality between wealthy native Europeans and the hardworking, lesser paid newly arrived migrants.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-36416929
If we decide now that we do not want immigrants arriving in our lands, then we have to be prepared to take up all the jobs that they were doing all this time.

Immigrants have been the pillar of our economy by working harder, getting paid less and paying more taxes.

So that we can claim our benefits and free education to expand our opportunities, enjoying some of the highest living standards in the globe.

Maybe instead of branding people dangerous, we should be looking at what forced these individuals to turn to violence and terror. Has our societal and economic model failed them, or could this not be strictly a class of civilizations, but rather a manifestation of the Western values' foundering and decline?

A lot of the terrorists were second generation immigrants, born and bred in France or Belgium. Perhaps we must focus on what made these young individuals to chose and die for their religion, instead of making the most of what our societies have to offer.

We need to examine why some groups want desperately to spread fear and terror across Europe, while bringing us in direct collision with countries straight at our doorstep. And as in any quarrel,not all blame can be laid on one side.

What have Europe and the West done over the past decades, to place our continent among the targets of such groups?

It is evident that there are forces constantly trying to create a clash between Eastern and Western values; exploiting old fault lines between them, but only to serve their own agendas.

We apparently feel so threatened by Iran and its nuclear ambitions, that we need to shield ourselves. Consequently we spend an enormous amount of money installing missiles pointed towards them, instead of investing these money in solving many of our societal problems.

On the other hand, the leaders of the Islamic world prefer to blame the West for their failures and their declining outdated values, instead of proceeding in deep reforms, intercultural dialogue and modernization.

Therefore, the attacks on European soil are the result of decades old serious mistakes, both from Western and Eastern leaders. They preferred to maintain a dangerous and outdated division of our worlds instead of trying to eliminate it, in order to safeguard the ideological, financial and political interests of local elite groups.

Either those are the reluctance to modernize the Islamic societies, bringing them in-sync with the rest of the developed world, or to maintain the monopolies of the oil and arms industries of rich Western nations.

As result, we are having disillusioned Muslim youths thinking that they are doing God's will by killing innocent people. In addition, the European continent is falling for the propaganda of hate, fear and intolerance once again.

We can never forget where it led us the last time though. Plus that the majority of the victims of the horror which was unleashed, were Christian and European.

Europeans ought to remain very vigilant in these emerging challenges. They should not allow these events to destroy what our continent has achieved and where our societies have managed to reach.

Europe must not roll back into nationalism, conservatism and intolerance, limiting our freedoms and opportunities for equality and personal development. If the current agenda is to make us give up our freedoms for stricter, imposed "security", then our answer should be defiant.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Will Europeans finally make a decision on their own future?

http://one-europe.info/europe-in-crisis-end-of-the-eu
For the past seven years Europe has found itself in an ever deepening predicament.

In the beginning was the euro-zone crisis, which threatened to break Europe's single currency.

Then the refugee crisis threatened the Schengen Agreement and the very unity of the EU's member states.


The crises in Ukraine and the Middle East have also tested Europe's ability to lead, offer solutions or decisively respond to potential threats.

Finally, after years of struggling to deal with the rising Euro-skepticism and the numerous far-Right movements across the continent, the EU is losing one of its oldest members; the UK has finally voted to leave the union.

It seems that Europeans have lost faith and trust not only in the European project, but their own governments too. Sadly, they seem to want to destroy their biggest collective achievement; the creation of a stable financially, socially and politically continent for the past six decades.

 The only country that still puts effort in the European project is Germany, naturally to safeguard and promote mainly its own interests. 

It is currently the only European country who shows leadership and ambition, when dealing with any of the crises. 

http://www.voxeurop.eu/en/content/article/1108051-we-are-all-germany-s-mercy
The rest of EU member states, still live in a post war, post communist era, nation centric and conservative reality.

But the world is changing and will be very different in the next decades. The harsh reality is that we either all adapt or fail. 

The Brits decided that they are out, the French show weak determination to lead, the Southern states are too absorbed in their own corruption, the BeNeLux and the Scandinavian countries show little resistance to the German hegemony, while the Eastern European nations seem to be in it just for the money. 

They have little vision for Europe's future and they do not embrace totally the West's ambitions. This is evident from how easily they turned the page, once they were faced with the refugee crisis. Even the very EU enthusiastic Poland turned Euro-skeptic, voting in a government that reflects their new approach to migration.

One would naturally put all the blame in the corrupt and decadent national governments of Europe. They do not present the reality and how the EU works to the citizens, in order to safeguard their own political ambitions and the interests of national elites.

As result, the EU is often used as a scapegoat by them, while the citizens have a very distorted view on how things work on European level. Most politicians continue to use EU membership as a platform to promote not necessarily their voters' interests, rather their own agenda.

We haven't seen many national heads of government, openly speaking for the EU and its role in modern Europe. There has been little praise by any European prime minister or a member of his cabinet, of the importance and achievements of the EU.

Most of them prefer to stick to populism and feed national agendas, maintaining the focus of their citizens on national issues.

Yet they now seem to fear the growing German hegemony over the continent. They could of course compete with Germany for leadership, by actively showing involvement, interest and ambition in the European project, instead of blaming the Germans of "taking over". 

Understandably Germany's leadership comes with good and bad effects for the rest of Europe. Naturally they promote their own interests first then the continent's. But until other European states get seriously involved, raise their voice to counterpart that of Germany's, then they should not complain. 

http://radugolban.ro/articole/the-shadow-of-german-imperialism-in-the-eu
The Germans are the only ones who try to bring the continent into the next phase of the global reality. Which will be a multi-polar, ruthless and competitive world.

The problem is that Germany is building up its economy to the detriment of the other surrounding, weaker countries.

That is not a reason for them to want to leave the EU, or hate and fear Germany altogether. European nations of the periphery should unite and place this pressure on the EU institutions to stop Germany from dominating and start sharing and cooperating. Or at least limit its force and dominance.

If they remain disengaged and divided, they can have no expectations from Germany to "save" them or take their needs into consideration, while trying to keep Europe as a relevant player on the new global reality.

Our continent at the moment is in dire need of leadership and unity, that only Germany is seeming to be keen on. All European national governments must be forced by us, the citizens, to get vocal on Europe and engage fully with the European project, integrating further our countries with each other.

Further integration is either we like it or not, the safest bet in securing our continent's wealth and stability in the future.

Alternatively European economies and societies risk being broken up and becoming even less competitive. Going back to individual states, could mean that only few will survive the impending global competition. Not all European countries have the resources or capability to stay relevant.

While being independent and making your own decisions seem more appealing on every country's electorate, we seem to ignore that the world is changing. Europe is not the center of the globe anymore and in the future, it will become inevitably less dominant.

So what will it be; isolationist, protectionist, conservative and nation centric mentality and policies, or should Europe be preparing for a more integrated and globalized world. Can nationalism save us, our way of living and our societies?

Let us not be fooling ourselves anymore,postponing important decisions that can guarantee our future generations' prosperity. We need to make up our minds and take responsibility for our own decisions. Blaming the EU or our governments is easier but in the end, we vote for our own leaders and we still have a voice and power.

Change is always scary but as it is inevitable, it is preferable to get engaged and contribute to our countries' and societies' evolution and reformation, rather becoming an obstacle. Will Europe look better in the future as a divided continent, with ever competing small states for the little resources we have left?

Or will it look better as a community of integrated, but sovereign nations that share resources while promoting prosperity and stability for every one in the continent? We should be striving to create an equal continent, of equal nations, comprised of equal societies and equal individuals. And that has never been achieved by nationalism and populism.