Europarl: Tajani in Salvini’s shadow…

With Matteo SALVINI, MEP, leaving the European Parliament (EP) to lead one of the key economies of the European Union as a prime minister, the EU Institutions face one more set back. However in this particular case with Lega Nord chair ascendance, an extra turmoil is left behind in the Europarliament. 

The incumbent president of the EP Antonio Tajani lost his bid for premiership in Italy, after a short involvement in election at the side of Silvio Berlusconi, his former boss and powerful friend. Many ask, if the EU institution head should demonstrate such a passionate involvement in national politics, ready to ditch his office in Brussels for a glimpse of hope to become a national leader, to succumb to magnetic powers of the Eternal City…

However one can’t step into the same waters twice, Tajani returned to Brussels ‘on his shield’. An initial concept to ‘civilize’ far right Lega Nord in alliance with Forza Italia is in tatters –  it is Salvini, who surfaced as a victor, returning to European Parliament “with his shield”.

And now… There is the ‘loser’ of EP president from a  party, which scored so low in the elections; roughly half of Italy is in Eurosceptic camp, and another congregation which he treated like a nuisance ascended to command. Tajani compromised himself, demonstrating his EU office is his ‘second to best choice’  to his own detriment, and what a disservice to declining European project! Vanitas vanitatum!

#RoadToBrexit as a daydream

Undoubtedly the Manson House speech of the Prime Minister Theresa May has many virtues, offering constructive proposals for Article 50 agreement.  In general it is also attempts to appeal to common sense of the EU leaders, and is reflecting an intense search for the best possible new formula for matching interests of both parties, instead of fitting into old EU dogmas of ‘four freedoms’. May’s vision of the basis of post-Brexit engagement is orientated towards future: robotics and artificial intelligence, the new technologies and most of all the British genius, which brought the nation to the forefront of the Digital Revolution. But can this dazzling and dynamic new engagement attract Brussels?..

If we agree on the leading role of the “outstanding individuals” in sculpturing history, and take a close-up on European Union protagonists influencing Brexit negotiations, we’ll see that they function in totally different modus operandi than the looking forward British PM. The European Commission president (the ‘Prime Minister of Europe’) Jean-Claude Juncker is concerned with keeping the EU project intact in its original form, repeatedly referring to the forefathers – Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet who resurrected Europe from the ashes of the WWII on entirely new basis. Devoting his life to the ideas of the United States of Europe, Juncker’s major preoccupation is the risk of Brexit provoking a collapse of the entire 70 years old architecture, erected gradually after the European Coal and Steel Community united in 1950 in order to secure lasting peace.

Ideologically Juncker faces similar problems in dealing with Brexit as the Pope, who faced unpleasant news from a rebellious English King, rejecting to acknowledge his authority, and thus pay tribute to the Holy See. Juncker’s preoccupation is not to let the heresy to spread, subsequently the creation of a new ‘dynamic and vibrant’ engagement with London would be detrimental to the original project, showing to the other member-states, that life outside the EU can be so much better than inside.

In this case May’ appeal to embrace together the wonders of Digital Revolution falls on deaf ears: Juncker, as usual, is looking backward, contemplating ashes of the WWII. Keeping in mind the origins of the European project, the protection of its ‘sacred’ four freedoms from British ‘heresy’ becomes paramount. Allowing the new engagement to be a success means to give in to those, who ‘betrayed’ the great idea of Schuman, and  ‘tricked’ Britons into the trap of leave vote – an unthinkable compromise for such a ‘guardian’ of the EU Treaties as Jean-Claude Juncker.

In this context one can not exclude the ‘no-deal’ scenario, when the UK faces Brexting on WTO rules. Anyway, when dealing with dogmatics, it would be useful to keep an ace up the sleeve:)

 

The Cheat La Tour

Citizens versus ‘United States of Europe’

According to the YouGov poll published 30% of Germans and 28% of French support the idea of the United States of Europe, while 33% and 26¨% respectively, disagree. In other countries, such as Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and the UK, the population largely opposed the proposal, with around half of the respondents speaking against the idea.

Earlier this month in Germany an SPD party convention  former president of European parliament Schulz suggested transformation the European Union  into a the “United States of Europe” by 2025 and adopting a constitution, realising the dream of the block’s forefathers: Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet.

 

 

Saint-Petersburg bomb explosion named “incident”

The victims of the bomb explosion in Saint-Petersburg supermarket are ironic about the qualifying of the blast as a “murder attempt in public place”: “Assassinating us for food baskets?!”. The official version is obviously doubtful, taking into consideration the fact of the home-made engine spreading shrapnel or “frag” – fast-moving pieces of metal thrown off by a detonation, leaving 10 people seriously injured, and one in a critical condition. Among wounded is also a pregnant women.

The investigation is led by the National anti-terrorist committee, however the word “terrorism” is avoided in public discourse; the video with major suspect entering the supermarket, and some other images of the interior with damages were published by the anti-terrorist committee as well. The obvious official hypocrisy has political  reasons.

Petersburg media interpreted the approach of the authorities as an attempt to play down the gravity of the situation, damaging New Year celebrations atmosphere in town. The issue is particularly delicate, because the blast happened in the home city of the incumbent and future President of Russia Vladimir Putin, who will be re-elected on 18 March under slogans of “stability” (read “stagnation”). The terrorist act during festivities, committed by an individual of “non-Slavic” appearance, as the investigators stated, is seriously undermining the Disney-land image of happy and stable Russia the clans at power are attempting to project, justifying their choice for continuity of Putin’s unchallenged reign.

The rise of Islamists in Russia is aggravated by open border with the Central Asian countries, influenced by Islamic State radicals, who are constructing a belt from Iraq to Afghanistan, via Central Asian countries, regrouping their forces after the major defeat of the Caliphate in the Middle East.

Leonardo as a Gastarbeiter

Josef et Mary

The comparison of modern asylum-seekers and migrants to Holy family, fleeing King Herod 2017 years ago, pronounced in the Christmas Eve prayer of Pontifex is at most extravagant allusion even in terms of Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s atypical for high clergy personality.

In first place as the ultimate authority in interpretation of The Bible, Pontifex should have known, that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were not looking for an asylum abroad, but were moving within the Kingdom of Herod, although this is not the essential criticism.

The Biblical episode can not serve as a model delivering a solution of a problem of refugees, because first of all they became too numerous in modern word to accommodate in ‘rich’ countries. Pontifex continuous reproaches of Europeans for not doing ‘enough’ for asylum-seekers and migrants do not lead to the root problems resolution – the poverty in the countries of origin, and protracted conflicts, some of which date to epoch prior to  Jesus birth.

A simple gesture of kindness of good Samaritans does not offer a key to the complex phenomenon of mass migration to Europe, neither does it help in their further integration. On contrary its simplification leads away from the effective answers.

The example of Sweden is a convincing evidence that the kindness Pontifex requires as a solution is an illusion.

Praised for its hospitality, receiving more than 160 000 migrants from Africa and Middle East since 2015, Sweden has been rapidly degrading into a Third world country, with a correlating  rate of crimes, and growing no-go zones.  Apparently Pontifex omitted that nowadays migrants do not always have the gentle nature of Joseph!

“The integration [of immigrants]  does not go as it should. We had a problem with it before the autumn of 2015, when Sweden accepted a wave of migrants. For me it is obvious that we cannot accept more asylum seekers than we can integrate. It will not be good either for people who come here or for the whole society,” said the Swedish Finance minister Magdalena Andersson. Her words are the epilogue to the mass-scale experiment of a promoted by Pontifex model.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus as a son of asylum-seekers. The parallels are far to simplistic and linear to respond to the unfolding demographic crisis in Africa with eight children per women born in poverty. The allusion  would sound grotesque if articulated by someone else than the Bishop of Rome: asylum-seeker Joseph… And Leonardo as a Gastarbeiter.

Welcome Gastarbeiters they will paint you smile of Mona Lisa! 🙂

Mona Lisa Duchamp

 

Catalonia taking flight

Anna van Densky, OPINION. While the entire world watched events at Iberian peninsula, the president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker  looked at stars, visiting Kourou space centre in French Guiana – spaceport of France, shared with European Space Agency (ESA) for launch of Ariane6  in 2020 project.  Contemplating stars and accepting fate at a moment of birth of a new state in Europe, most probably, is the best thing to do, when there is no power to reverse events: following Brexit, one of the richest EU regions of the Mediterranean – Catalonia, has floated away.

While Madrid is obsessed with the direct rule over breakaway region, Barcelona is celebrating freedom of  Catalan Republic, waiting for recognition to come.  Although president of European Parliament Antonio Tajani ensured “no EU member state will recognize the independence of Catalonia,” the reality indicates otherwise:  politicians, feeling huge sympathy of public towards Catalonia, started to express their support:

Next to Slovenia, Finnish parliament is going to debate on the issue the next week:

On the other side of the world, Argentina will debate whether or not Catalonia is recognized, while Venezuela has always been on the side of the Catalans. The first signs of recognition will inspire the following, allowing Catalan Republic to breath freely, brushing away the threats from Madrid.

Appointing his deputy as a governor of Catalonia, Prime minister Rajoy is clearly uninterested in Czech-style ‘velvet divorce’, but attempts keeping the rich region under control by means of repressions. Punishing Catalans might be also seductive for the EU political forces at power, presuming that Barcelona sets a bad example for the other multiethnic states in the EU, encouraging them to search for independence, scattering Europe in micro-states. From the other hand there might be those who like the idea, for example, the federalists, who don’t mind Europe of micro federal states, run from Brussels.

The fears of ‘cracks’ in Europe are not caused by Catalonia, the tectonic ‘seismic’ effect came from collapse of the USSR, changing map of Europe, and opening space for new independent states, each of unique pattern, dependent of geography, infrastructure, history and culture.

Some of the new European states are stuck by misfortune, trapped in absurd of political prejudice, like Macedonia, blocked from joining the EU by neighbouring Greece in a name dispute. There are also positive examples, like Czechs and Slovaks, who had improved relations and economic ties after splitting up. However Catalonia, with it highly developed infrastructure, and a long coastline, with Barcelona among top 20 EU ports, does not need to search for a pattern to follow among any of existing models of new European states, it has all necessary elements to develop it own unique way.

Regarding the negative attitude of #Rajoy government towards Catalan independence, it does not make much sense to try to re-enter EU, where Spain would do its best to prevent Catalans to join. Pulling down EU flags along with the Spanish ones confirmed Catalans have no illusions about their possible future in EU27 bloc.

Aware of the EU deadend, Catalans are looking another direction, as the leaked vice-President Oriol Junqueras report suggests, visualising joining  EFTA common market with Iceland, Switzerland Norway and Liechtenstein.

Within this perspective, next to Brexit, Catalan departure from the EU is second blow to the image, and even more so for the budget of the bloc.

When stars are fading away from the EU flag, thinking about travelling through space to stars with Ariane6 is truly comforting idea:  per aspera ad astra!

 

 

 

 

 

Catalonia: rise or fall?..

Anna van Densky, OPINION On contrary to what many in Madrid and Brussel hope, the aspiration of independence of Catalans, and problem it poses to Kingdom of Spain, and a number of European countries concerned with separatists movements, this dream of independence will not fade away. There were around 70 states after the WWII, and now at the UN there are more than 200, and their number is continuing to grow, so independence is clearly a world trend to stay.

The trend which insures that Mariano Rajoy and all successive governments will be facing a constant pressure from the Catalans, both citizens and political class, aspiring freedom. The only viable solution is in following Czechoslovakia model of separation, known as ‘velvet divorce’ diminishing related damages of all kinds, and removing combustible of a potential conflict in future.

In case of unconditional recognition of Catalan independence by Spain, the breakaway region can stay in the EU, NATO and continue to cultivate close economic ties with Madrid. It would be a mutually beneficial relationship between two countries, and also for the larger EU community.

However it is highly unlikely that Rajoy government will accept this ‘velvet’ way of dealing with the issue, as the entire world have seen his choice of repression as a method of resolving the political crisis. Usually gurus avoid to speculate on the future, pointing at the absence of a crystal ball, but in some cases the forecast is easier to model, because the situation is typical, occurring many times before.

In Catalan case there are three possible scenarios, and among them one is highly hypothetic, mentioned above ‘velvet divorce’.

The two other are rather standard: or Carles Puigdemont without delay declares independence based on the results of the plebiscite, and moves on with the state construction agenda outside the EU, with support of some of the European countries, and some of EU member-states, recognising free Catalan Republic, or he loses momentum.

In case Catalans lose the momentum,  Rajoy would go into offensive with multiple Court cases, accusing Catalan politicians of coup-d’état – the blame already articulated by Spanish diplomats in mass-media. In this case, Puigdemont will face 14 Stations of the Cross literally, not allegorically, because Spanish courts will charge him with treason.

The most active members of political elite would face the similar fate, and the independence movement would be ‘beheaded’, which is a rather standard scenario repeated many times through history.

The other practical step would be taken into direction of undermining the economic base for independence, with the removal of key financial and industrial players from Catalonia. (The process has already started with the relocation of offices of Spanish banks). Is is already clear that Madrid would prefer to sacrifice economy and living standards of the population, punishing Catalonia,  for the sake of the unity of the Kingdom.

Logically, facing the betrayal of the EU, rejecting to protect human rights of Catalans, denying them the right of self-determination, and referring to the situation as to an home affair of Spain, Puigdemont has no much space for maneuvering  horizontally, but only between raise and fall vertically. The clock is ticking, so are the risks of postponing the independence declaration for tomorrow, that might never come…