Tag Archives: Europe

What is a viable solution to Europe’s refugee crisis?

While the EU is overwhelmed by the tasks of containing Russia, redirecting profligate southern governments, and by blocking terrorism, it is more attractive to hundreds of thousands of migrants than ever before. Whether this is a fatal, or welcome attraction, is hotly debated.

Germany, which for many played the role of the bad cop during the so-called Eurocrisis, appears now as the good angel in the migrant crisis. While the EU may be technically able to take in more than 1 million refugees and labor migrants in 2015 alone, even superficial extrapolations for the coming years clearly show that the EU cannot alleviate ongoing and deep crises in the MENA area as well as the Balkans by accepting millions of people.

So what could a viable solution look like?

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How should we view the staging of historical memory?

Anniversaries come and go, but now and then some are elevated to a specific interest, and play the role of a crucial date. This year, 2015, makes the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In May the Russian authorities organized a huge parade on Red Square in Moscow. Then, for the 3rd of September, the Chinese ruling party have planned something similar on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In both cases, some foreign governments faced the quandary of whether or not they should attend and participate.

The reason for this is not some small historical squabble over this or that detail, but rather the value of these commemorations within the current paradigm. In practice, history is not what has been, but rather what we need it to be today.

So what attitude should governments hold towards the staging of historical memory?

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Is Europe losing its guiding principles? Is Europe on a course to being fragmented?

Over the last decades, Europe was overwhelmingly considered as a success story – and rightly so. Sure, there were debates and problems, but not on core matters. On the contrary: the end of the east-west conflict, different rounds of enlargement, and the introduction of the Euro established the perception of an ongoing strengthening of Europe. This seems to now be coming to an end.

There are at least four crises where Europe is stumbling: first, the ongoing euro crisis. The referendum in Greece is irrelevant here. When the Greeks do not want to be humiliated, they are free to live by themselves. But the inability of the European agencies to accept their own rules, without bending them, is worrying.

Second, the apparent helplessness regarding waves of migrants moving toward Europe from Africa. Short-term assistance and mid-term signals are confused, and there is no coherent European response. Thirdly, the wavering positions toward an aggressive Russia. The only helpful response – a clear communication of red lines and their enforcement – is missing.

And fourthly, an unconvincing whining about continuing and clear violations of rules and standards by American spy agencies being active in Europe. Because the American nerve will listen to European concerns, a much higher European independence from the US would be the only solution.

In all these cases, the core problem is a confused (or missing) European signalling.

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Under what conditions should reparations and restitution claims be accepted?

Representatives of Greece are using the opportunity – their sailing along the shore of insolvency – to claim reparations, or interest rates for forced state loans from the German government during WWII. Germany has so far resisted these requests.

How many decades, or centuries, back is there a possibly legitimate basis for such claims? There are still the comfort women in Korea and China, asking Japan for justice payments. There are the successors of former slaves in the US and aborigines in Australia. In a more general sense, mutual territorial claims are one of the core issues between Israel and Palestine. Is it simply politically and socially wise to accept what happened in the past, mourn, and move on, giving up on all potential claims?

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How can we explain the renaissance of anti-Jewish sentiments in rather stable European societies?

The new war between Israel and Hamas is at least as violent as the two previous ones. And it does not look like as if it will pave the way for a viable solution of the Near East conflict. But the repercussions in the Western world seem to be different now. A significant wave of anti-Jewish sentiments and actions is covering French, German, and other European cities.

In this blog, we are not interested in addressing differences between criticizing Israel versus blaming Jews. Rather, we want to look into the aggressiveness of anti-Jewish manifestations, often carried out by rather young people, both migrants and locals.

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MH 17 plane crash in Ukraine: How can an ever more unreliable Russia be contained?

The situation in and around Eastern Ukraine reached a climax last week, when the Malaysian Boeing 777, flight MH 17, was downed en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 passengers and crew members, over the settlement of Torez, close to Donetsk and the Russian border. There is hardly a reasonable doubt that the plane was shot down by militia or Cossack groupings fighting for an independent Donbas, openly bragging their deed, inspired and supported by the Russian military. Increasingly it is becoming clear that Russia is moving away from being part of a solution for a new post-Cold War European order. Rather, it is major problem. Finally implementing level 3 sanctions and redistributing the 2018 World Cup will be debated now, once more.

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No Europe A La Carte: The EU needs Turkey far less than Turkey needs the EU

BY THEODOROS TSAKIRIS

The Turkish experiment in democratization has always been a complicated process. Erdogan, like Menderes in the 1950s, consolidated his power basis in contradiction to the secular kemalist guardians who always elevated the country’s Armed Forces as the true regulators of the Republic.

The big difference between Erdogan and Menderes is that Erdogan used the EU bid as a means of neutralizing the Military’s interventionism. The Generals knew and know that a potential coup d’etat would effectively terminate their country’s bid for EU accession.

As Erdogan consolidated his power and presided over an era of unprecedented economic growth he started to behave with the same level of arrogance that Menderes behaved towards the end of his ten-year term.

Erdogan will only become more aggressive and intractable in the domestic arena where his efforts to resolve the Kurdish issue ended in disarray, but in the absence of a credible alternative he is more likely to continue to consolidate his position and conquer the country’s Presidency.

In the foreign policy area, and Ankara’s relations with Athens and Nicosia, Turkish policies have remained as revisionist and uncompromising as ever. With regards to the Middle East where Ankara is perceived to play a major and positive role by some Europeans, Turkish Foreign Policy has lost almost all influence with the existing governments. Mr. Davutoglou’s “Zero” Problems Policy has managed to isolate Turkey from its former allies.

Turkey is no longer considered as a valuable ally or an honest broker by any of its Middle Eastern neighbors with the exception of the Islamic Brotherhood parties that are on the run everywhere in the region except the Hammas and Islamic Jihad Stronghold of Gaza.

Turkey’s Cold War with Israel continues and its relations with Iran have lost their special character ever since Turkey was forced to -by and large- implement the US/EU oil boycott against Tehran that is crippling the Iranian economy.

Europe has no responsibility for Mr. Erdogan’s excesses. The Acquis Communautaires are not negotiable because they constitute the least common denominator of the European consensus and the Spirit of the Acquis is the very epitome of Europe’s Political Civilization which Erdogan continuously violates.

Turkey always attempted to utilize its geostrategic location and the false pretense of hegemonic influence in the Middle East and the Caucasus to persuade Europeans that it should be exempted from the rules everyone else followed.

There is no Europe a la carte. You need to eat all the menu even if it included spinach whether you like it or not.

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For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a European country has sent troops into another country to support and enable secessionist sentiments. What tools and steps are available to stop the assault on an independent European country, and avoid setting a precedent for future cases?

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Ukraine Tinderbox: How should the international community react to Russia´s military moves in Crimea and what are the options for Russia and the EU if the announced referendum finds a majority voting for secession?

(Photo: E. Arrott/Voice of America)

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