Belarus future and EU aid

Anna Van Densky OPINION #Belarus #Minsk #Lukashenko #BelarusProtests #Tikhanovskaya

The proposal to facilitate the engagement into “political dialogue” between the discredited Lukashenko regime and people of Belarus the EU has announced, looks like a stillbirth already, because the entire crisis is created by the blunt refusal of compromise between the authoritarian model, and democratic pluralism. Moreover it is impossible for Lukashenko to accept any compromise, because it will mean the definitive dismantling of his rusty “last dictatorship of Europe”.

Reacting upon the political crisis the president of the EU Council Charles Michel delcrared the start of the work on creating of the sanctions lists of the leading figures from the government responsible for repressions of the protestors, however they will remain a higly symbolical gesture in absence of the real political process of democratic transformaiton of Belarus.

The stubborn refusal of Lukahsnko to leave, his clinch with power, creates new, but predictable trubles, and a substantial challenge to the EU diplomacy, claiming ambition of being a global player.

However there are effective ways for the EU to promote democracy and political pluralism in Belarus instead of focusing on the punitive symbolism of sanctions. While the opposition leader, and the major challenger of the incumbent President Lukashenko, Svetalana Tikhanovskaya expressed her readiness to become a national leader in the transition period in order to organize new free and fair elections, the EU could give an unequivocal political support to her plan.

The proposal of leading the country towards new elections means that Svetlana Tikhanovaksya submits her personal victory in order to create opportunities for Belarus political Renaissance, opening the way of participation to all political prisoners and other candidates who were barred from the elections process at the intent of Lukashenko, who was announced an absolute victor of the elections, with the 80% of vote. The result has been widely considered considered as falsified not only by Belarus people, but also by the EU foreign ministers.

The question is if the European Union will support Svetlana Tikhanovakaya the same way as they supported Roza Otunbayeva, the President of the transition period in former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan 10 years ago, after they overthrew of their dictaror. Then the top EU diplomat Baroness Ashton proposed to support Kyrgyzstan “politically, financially, technically” in order to ensure fundamental rights and freedoms to Kyrgyz people.

The role of the EU insitutions will be crucial in overcoming the political crisis and conducting democratic reforms in Belarus, establishing genuine pluralist political system, representing broad spectrum of interest and arbitation. The void, the absence of meaningful offer for practical aid from the behalf of the international community, reducing the EU role to the punitive measures as sanctions, will certainly allow the crisis to become protracted, and costly in all the senses to Belarussian people.
Moreover it might deteriorate further, creating conditions for chronic confrontation between people and Lukahsnko apparatchiks, and part of the police and military, still defending the discredited regime. This will lead to general fatigue, and loss of opportunities for promotion of genuine democracy. (Formally Belarus Republic is a democratic state).

In this context plagued by refusal of the authoritarian Lukahshenko regime to accept the justified demands of the people of Belarus, the EU aid to opposition, led by Tikhanovskaya and supported by the majority of citizens, is becoming pivotal in introduction of the democratic change to ensure definitive collapse of the last dictatorship of Europe. However the time is crucial to avoid new victims in the ongoing struggle between antipodes without any perspective of compromise. Instead of attempting to reconcile irreconcilable in the best interest of Europe is to invest in Belarus progress without delay.

Belarus: Lukashenko poisoned chalice

Anna van Densky OPINION Isn’t it time for Alexander Grigorievich to book one-way ticket to Dushanbe? He is very fond of mountain landscapes there, and, he himself has repeatedly stated that he «loves» Tajikistan for «similarity» to Belarus. No wonder – Tadjik President Rahmon will soon face the challenge of the fifth re-election, however in less lively political context.

Anyway, from the common sense perspectvie one way ticket to Duchanbe is much better than spending time in a prison cell in The Hague. And after what Lukahsenko has done, there is no chance of a quiet and serene old age, enjoying Belaveja forest in his native Belarus.

Ordering crakdown on peaceful protestors, claiming they are «people with criminal past and unemployed», Lukashenko demonstrated to what extent he lost touch with the reality, conducting Stalinist repressions in the digital age. Opressing the citizens of the Republic for their refusal to believe that his 80% eelction victory was genuine, he slided along the downspiral of self-destruction. However his poisoned chalice of elections triumph turning into a disaster was entirely self-inflicted, and rooted in his Europe Last Dictator dramatically outdated authoritarian style.

Nowadays the images of Belarus police violence, causing bruises, wounds, broken heads and arms, and videos of complainants of torture under arrest, all these images are floating across social networks around the world among four billion users!

The EU had no choice but start preparing “strong measures” in response to Lukashenko massive abuses of fundamental rights of the citizens of Belarus, addressing an old problem of the «Last Dictator of Europe».

However, not only the West is shocked by Lukashnko assault for life-long preisdency after 26 years of uninterrupted autoritarian rule, but appartnely Moscow is also concerned about the revolution he provoked by brutal power grab. After all Kremlin is also obliged to think about the image in the global world, and is not eager to convert Russia to a grave-yard for the political corpses of failed dictatros.

So the only way out is a ticket to Duchanbe (Stalinabad). And with some luck Alexander Grigorievich gains some prominence there, advising President Rahmon whether to run for the FIFTH TIME in October, or maybe hand over the post to his eldest son, or even someone else …

Once upon a time just a chairman of a collective farm in a poor village in Belarus Soviet Republic, nowadays Lukashenko has such a rich experience of a statesman that he can easily capitalize on his services to other presidents for life, willing to keep the grip on power for long. He can advise them on mistakes to be avoided, using his own scandalous affair of falsifications of elections, causing his downfall.

Surely Lukashenko advice will be in high demand, and even a commercial success, and when the list of the dictators will come to the end, he could buy a farm and start doing what he does best – raising chickens 🙂

Cock-a-doodle-do!

Hagia Sophia: Turkey move towards Sultanate

Anna van Densky OPINION Today visit of the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell to Ankara would be also highly emblematic, demonstrating the capacity of the bloc to stand for the European values, namely the human rights and freedom of religion. The wish of the President Erdogan to transform the emblematic Byzantine temple into mosque, caused vivid concerns of 300 million of Orthodox believers across the world, who consider their rights to be violated in case the building to be converted to a place of worship.

City of Istanbul Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) monument has rich, centuries long history, but nowadays it has also an immense political significance for both the East and the West, symbolising the crossroads of two civilisations. The situation of cultrual balance has changed recently, when an association started pursuing the cancellation of the 1935 decision that transformed the emblematic temple into a museum, and demanded the re-establishing of the Muslim cult, and group prayers. Not without sympathy of the President Erdogan himself, who said it is an internal issue, and any expression of an opinion from outside would be considered as attack on Turkey “sovereignty“.

A court decision is expected within fortnight mid-July.

The former Orthodox Byzantine cathedral, later converted to mosque is at the center of a modern dispute between Turkey’s secular Ataturk heritage, and President Erdogan attempts to include religion into basement of his autocratic rule. The argument that surfaced at court in reality reflects the entire process in Turkish society, representing two Turkeys, one looking inwards, and the other outwards. The opportunity to pray in the UNESCO World Heritage monument is more that an argument between a possibility to convert a museum into mosque, it is a historic battle between secularism and striving for the EU membership urban part of Turkish society from one hand, and from the other hand religious conservatism, shifting the country further and further away from the European values.

The Council of State – the highest legal authority – listened to arguments of lawyers for the Association for the Protection of Historic Monuments and the Environment on July 2, the group claiming for the Hagia Sophia to be transformed to mosque.

If the court decides in the NGO’s favor, it will impose the entire transformation of the historic building of Byzantine times, which has been a symbol of the city’s status as a meeting point between the East and the West, and the Muslim and the Christian worlds.

Constructed as a temple, after it was completed in 537 the Hagia Sophia was immediately central to early Christianity and its vast cathedral dome was admired by generations as a marvel. In 1453, when the Ottomans conquered the city previously known as Constantinople, it became a mosque by force. However 500 years later it was converted into a museum soon after the choice of the Turkish society for of modern and secular state was made.

Constructed as a Byzantine architectural masterpiece, Hagia Sophia was completed in 537. Today, it is one of the world’s most popular attractions, and UNESCO World Heritage, with millions visiting every year, the magnet of the historic Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. At present there is no clarity on how this monument would function in case transformed into place of Muslim worship.

Lately hardline President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who made Islam an integral part of his political agenda, has set his sights on the building. In a campaign speech ahead of local elections last year, he said it had been a “very big mistake” to turn it into a museum.

However Hagia Sophia’s mixture of religion belongings made it so symbolic for Turkey, predominantly Muslim, but founded in the early 20th century on secular ideas of separating religion and state.

Erdogan, and the Turkish association in the court case, certainly have many supporters, especially in the country-side.

Some experts presumed that the there should be shields, covering Byzantine Christian mosaics which are not compatible with the Islam cult. The other big issue is the building maintenance, and monitoring of the artefacts by specialists. In case it becomes the worship place, the jurisdiction would change, creating uncertainty for the restauration specialists examining the site to ensure its conversation.

However there is little doubt what the Court decision will be, after last month announcement President Erdogan made, while meeting ruling party officials:

“Allah willing, after the decision by the council state, we will pray in the Hagia Sophia”.

The European Commission, the guarding of the treaties, and the counterpart of Ankara in accession talks considers that the monument should be regarded as UNESCO World Heritage, the emblematic place for tolerance and dialogue.

EU migrant “children” syndrome

Anna van Densky OPINON German government appeals for compassion of Europeans, calling for creation of coalition of willing to shelter “children” from Greek migrant camps. However similar to the situation of the previous wave on migrants in 2015 there is no criteria of determining age of an individual, claiming to be a child.

The overwhelming majority of migrants and their children have no birth certificate not because they have lost it, or, as some sceptics presume, they have thrown documents away, but because there is no established practice of population registry in their countries of origin. Subsequently their birth certificates or passports have been never issued in first place, and while arriving to Europe they are not passing any procedures to determine their physical age.

For obvious reasons the parents are interested to present information, helping their children and themselves to leave the camps as soon as possible for more comfortable locations. Nowadays in total absence of medical checks, any narrative can pass as Europeans have discovered, when the Swedish social worker Alexandra Mezher, 22, was stabbed to death in ‘child‘ refugee centre, by a Somalianminor“, who in the cause of prosecution has been identified as an adult.

The victim complained to her family that being a professional in child care she is confronted with the situation of being a guardian of “big powerful guys aged up to 24“.

However they are not only security reasons which are completely neglected by the EU-member states Interior ministries, but the whole set of socially meaningful consequences, deriving from a natural migrant impulse to diminish the age of a child: it will not only allow to benefit longer from allocation of children alimony, but also impact the future of the family, allowing them to reunite on European soil.

The plan set by Angela Merkel to help a group of 1,000 – 1,500 children identified as being “particularly in need“, transferring them from Greek camps to the EU will also open gates for their parents and other underaged siblings to come to Europe.

The decision of sheltering unaccompanied children under the age of 14 or
children in need of urgent medical assistance in accordance with Merkel plan will provoke further abuse of children as “keys” to enter the EU.

Meanwhile the Dutch government made public its position indicating to absence of any plans to host migrant children from Greek camps to the Netherlands. However the goverment is prepared to contribute to initiatives to improve the situation in the camps, Prime minister Mark Rutte said on March 6.

The decision is based in lack of enthusiasm the proposal met in the parliament last week when the four coalition partners plus far right and Christian parties voted against a motion which would have committed the Netherlands to accepting migrant children.

Dutch refugee NGOs have called on local authorities to ‘show leadership and generosity’ by bringing 500 “refugee children” from Greece to the Netherlands because they are currently living in appalling conditions.

However there was some response on the municipality level: the city of Leiden was first to express readiness to accept some of the children – around 25 according to Dutch broadcaster NOS.

We are talking about children whose parents have died or are missing and who are living on Lesbos in terrible conditions,’ mayor Henri Lenferink said on the same day of March 6. ‘Leiden has always been a city of refugees and I am fully confident we will be able to look after these children properly.’ Greece asked EU countries to take in 2,500 children last October.

Turkey currently hosts over four million migrants, many of whom are claiming refugee status, and the EU is committed to assist Ankara in dealing with this challenge. The EU
Facility for Refugees in Turkey is committed to assist Turkey in dealing with this challenge. The EU Facility for Refugees Turkey, managing a total of two tranches provides for a joint coordination mechanism, designed to ensure that the needs of refugees and host communities. Apparently the President Erdogan finds the pledged funds of
EUR6 billion insufficient.

Zelensky NATO performance

Anna van Densky OPINION UkrainePresident Volodimir Zelensky declarations at NATO headquaters could be hardly considered as good news for inhabitants of Donbass – joint drills in July with Alliance vessels in Black Sea can not be mistaken for a flight of a dove with an olive branch.

Zelensky is ready to negotiate Donbass conflicts, but only in the context of NATO integration. It means to continue imposing on Russians in Donbass the vector of development they had initially rejected – to choice a camp of Russia’s foes. But not only, it means the complete submission to a totalitarian Ukraine language law, stripping Donbass of their minority national and linguistic rights, destroying their identity.

National identity became a huge problem for ethnic Russian on the terrotries of the former USSR, when a number of former Soviet Republics have chosen for openly anti-Russian policy, eradicating Russian language and identity in contradiction with international law, and European values. Ukraine has taken an aggressive stance against Russian minority, who voted for its independence unaware it would be the beginning of the end of their national identity profile.

President Putin promise to facilitate the procedure of issuing Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens of Russian origin, based on widely used practiced of jus sanguinis, accepted by the majority of the NATO allies, has caused concerns of the Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He said it would ”destabiliseUkraine, omitting the fact, that the opposite, namely the attempt to eradicate Russian identity is behind the political turbulence of Ukraine, degrading into an armed conflict.

The denial of the fact that the Ukrainian state, being composed in different political contexts from different territories with autochtone populations, causes tensions fueling into conflict. In rejection of human rights, identity rights, linguistic rights of Russian, Hungarian and other minorities, Ukraine weakens the state, wasting a great deal of time and energy for suppressing the justified claims.

The declared by Jens Stoltenberg Ukraine-NATO drills in Black Sea in July, will serve as demonstration of power to Moscow, senseless and dangerous, enhancing Russia, the nuclear superpower to protect its borders, and assume it role as a guarantor of psychical survival of Donbass populations, threatened to be exterminated by Ukrainian neo-nazi as it happened in Odessa massacre (2014),  where they cremated Russians alive.

The official restoration of fascism in Ukraine took place in 2010, when President Yushchenko attributed status of national hero of Ukraine to a nazi criminal and terrorist Stepan Bandera, who led extermination of 300 000 Jews in Ukraine in a number of huge pogroms.

Jens Stoltenberg underlined that NATO is an alliance of democracies, subsequently the West should require respect of democratic values first, before undertaking rapprochement with Ukraine, contaminated by neo-nazis. The enforcement of Kiev  by NATO without demanding authorities to assume their responsibilities to respect democratic values, and minority rights will also nourish the most marginal political forces, interpreting the rapprochement as la carte blanche to return to Stepan Bandera ideology of Ukrainian nationalism.

#YellowVests: reporter Gaspard Glanz handcuffed

Anna van Densky: According to reports from Paris reporter Gaspard Glanz has been handcuffed. Arrests have multiplied, also a journalist from French newspaper Le Figaro has been taken to custody by an agent of anti-riot police during 23 week of protests of Yellow Vests named Acte XXIII. The Vth Republic under Macron‘s leadership swiftly degenerates into Banana Republic, using police batons to oppress wide-spread public discontent. Citizens with shot off eyes, ripped off limbs, and reporters handcuffed – is that EuropeanRenaissanceMacron’s party “En Marche” is marching to?..

“I adore to inhale the smell of tear gas in the morning“, wrote Gaspar Glanz on his Twitter micro blog page. “Ideals are peaceful history is violent” is the second line, defining his vision.

One tries to prevent independent journalists by fear. The censorship of absence on spot” Gaspard Glanz writes, explaining governments’s policy towards independent press, covering Yellow Vests protests against Macron‘s presidency.

 

Brexit Summit or Article 50 Fata-Morgana

Anna van Densky OPINION The House of Commons approved Theresa May‘s postponed Brexit deadline until June 30, which the British Prime minister will defend today at the European Council in Brussels. The text was approved by 420 MPs against 110.

The leader of Brexit party Nigel Farage has been ironical about  the upcoming meeting referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the “bossBritish Prime Minister is going to consult.

However there is a clear message from Brussels to the Westminster – there will be no other deal, but the endorsed one, although the additional political declarations are possible. No need to add that they are not legally binding, and are not an integral part of the Article 50 Agreement.

In fact the additional time, if given to May government, is granted for making an extra effort to pass a the deal via the Westminster. The entire political struggle is about changing perception not the essence of the Agreement reached.

Shifting of the deadline to the end of June 2019, as President Macron is intended to offer, will result in participation of the UK in the EU parliamentary elections, because there is such an obligation for a member-state in the Treaty. (Image above : Europarliament, Strasbourg). In case the Remainers win a majority of seats among UK MEPs in the European Parliament, they will have an opportunity to reverse the Brexit process in a different ways: postponing further or calling for the second referendum. As Theresa May warned – the rejection of her deal might also mean never leaving the EUBrexit will be gradually transformed into elusive Fata-Morgana.

 

 

France: Mutilation of democracy

Anna van Densky OPINION The images of a Yellow Vest protester with a ripped off hand agonizing in arms of street medics, attempting to deliver first aid, is hundred times more shocking, because of the place of the incident – the National Assembly of France – the parliament, the democratic institution, representing citizens.

If such an image had come from Venezuela there would have been an immediate call for a Security Council meeting for discussing the violations with human rights there, and most probably to make the resolution more convincing, the Americans would sent there a couple of missiles, just to be sure the warning is taken seriously.

However if the events are taking place in a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and founding member of the European Unionthere is nobody to remind the French government about the respect of human rights. Equally silent is the European Union, proudly celebrating the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), a milestone document, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (10.12.1948) at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France.

While Europe is celebrating the Declaration, it is also carefully watching the compliance, but mainly in oil-rich countries, like Venezuela, where you have to be careful with human rights, or you are risking to lose everything like it happened with the leaders of Iraq or Libya after the riot in Benghazi…

Benghazi. The most striking is the silence of the leading French human rights defenders like Bernard-Henry Lévy, known as BHL, who was promoting the intervention to Libya without the UN resolution, insisting the international organisations are far too slow to react adequately on ongoing human tragedy there. But nowadays who from famous French human rights defenders is  standing against mutilation of citizens, manifesting their indignation with the government’s policies?..

Mid-January the LCI TV channel has revealed statistics pointing at 1700 wounded, among them around 100 people with serious injuries.

Among grave injuries the most common were head wounds,  and often with serious consequences, leaving people with lifelong disabilities: 13 have lost an eye since the beginning of the movement as a result of police shooting. There were are 9 (+1) hand injuries caused by grenades; 5 in the leg, one in the reproductive organs, and one in the foot. The wounded are mostly men. There are 10 women out of 93 cases, according to BFMTV assembling data mid-January.

Nevertheless the numbers of injured and mutilated don’t motivate international organisations, obliged to defend human rights, to say a word on French government repressions, reducing the human rights to a tool of foreign policy, a reason to interfere in home affairs of the other countries, especially those which are oil-rich…

GJ target

Sanchez: Venezuela-Catalonia ambiguity

Anna van Densky OPINION Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez  has announced that  people of Venezuelamust decide their future” in a striking contrast with his interior politics of systemic denial of Catalan people to decide upon theirs.

The stunning discrepancy between Spain‘s government position will create even deeper schism between Barcelona and Madrid, but even more so between Madrid and Catalans because of the justified sentiments of discrimination, contrasting with international pace of Sanchez, profiling himself as a promoter of democracy and freedom. Myopic, influenced by foreign powers, Socialist government is sliding into turmoil, actively engaging in the US geopolitical adventures, and completely neglecting the basic freedoms and rights of its own citizens. After the statement in support of Venezuelans there is no argument left to deny the Catalans their right to decide.

In the coming hours I will contact European and Latin American governments,” said Sánchez, adding that Guaidó must now “call free elections as soon as possible” because “it is the people of Venezuela who must decide their future, and the international community must respect and verify the outcome.

Spain officially recognizes Juan Guaidó, the leader of the National Assembly, as the interim president of Venezuela” – Sanchez confirmed.

Meanwhile the pro-independence Catalan politicians are transferred to jails in Madrid, where the prosecution is seeking prison terms of up to 25 years for 12 Catalan politicians on charges of “rebellion” and “misuse of public funds“, after the failed attempt at breaking away from Spain in 2017.

EU Xmas without soul

At present only for a split of Europeans Christmas is about a church going, but for the overwhelming majority, it is a family reunion, and a holiday time: sumptuous dinner, and presents with ribbons under decorated tree. The EU leaders have not much different from the citizens views on the ancient celebration of Jesus Nativity.

On Christmas Eve only one EU leader openly associated himself with the festivity – the president of the European Council Polish Donald Tusk, who even posted a video of him singing a carol on the occasion.

The European Parliament president Antonio Tajani mentioned the Nativity of Jesus celebrations in the context of Christmas shopping, while the president of the Commission JeanClaude Juncker did not mention it in his Twitter micro blog at all.

The attitude shows further detachment of the EU project from the original dream of Robert Schuman to create a “community of peoples deeply rooted in Christian basic values’.  The European project “can not and must not remain an economic and technical enterprise; it needs a soul, the conscience of its historical affinities and of its responsibilities In the present and in the future, and a political will at the service of the same human ideal’ he wrote.

Following Schuman‘s footsteps the president of the European Commission Jacques Delors  also openly practiced his Catholic faith, disregarding the EU secular nature. warning that the project has to develop a ‘soul of Europe‘ to inspire the citizens, because with material dimension only it runs high risk of collapse. The “game will be up” he said if the EU will not develop “spirituality and meaning”.

Next devote Catholics in position of leadership were Belge  Herman van Rompuy, the president of the EU Council,  who reportedly is a Jesuit regularly visiting to monasteries, and the speaker of the European Parliament Polish Jerzy Buzek, who also did no hide his devotion.

However the overwhelming number of the EU citizens identify themselves as Christians (76.2% Pew Research 2010), and most probably the majority of the European Parliament politicians too,  at least they made such an impression, when they welcomed the Argentinian Pope Francis (2014) in the European Parliament, Strasbourg. Although the visit raised brows of many critics questioning if the EU as a secular project should give a floor to a clergyman, especially after Lisbon Treaty, underlining the secular nature of the EU project.

The ongoing ambivalence is also reflected in the culture of political parties, because the leading political force in Europe is the Christian Democrats-Peoples Party. And it was Chancellor Angela Merkel, a daughter of pastor, who said:  “we don’t have too much Islam, we have too little Christianity”, responding to the citizens complaints. Curiously both  European most powerful leaders are daughters of clergymen: Merkel and May. British Prime minister confirmed during a radio emission that Christian faith ‘is part” of her. “It is part of who I am and therefore how I approach things’ Theresa May added. However she always preferred to keep her faith as a part of private life, strictly separated from politics.

While the EU leaders adapt their communications to secular trend, and modern vision of religion as a matter of private life, the Christians remain the most persecuted community in the world. The report issued the beginning of this year claimed 250 million of Christians are facing threats. According to the latest Watch List researchers estimate 1 in 12 Christians live where their faith is “illegal, forbidden, or punished.” 2018 World Watch List,  reported the previous year 3,066 Christians were killed, 1,252 abducted, 1,020 raped or sexually harassed, and 793 churches were attacked.

North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, – a few to mention in a list of 50 countries across the world where Christians face threats, or are under extinction.

However, on Xmas Eve the EU strictly secular leaders prefer to keep silence, point to good shopping, or at maximum post a video of their own performance of a Christmas carol song, while the millions of people suffering the most outrages violation of their freedom of religion. Their unwillingness to pay attention to the problems of persecuted Christians looks like the worst of Jacques Delors nightmare – Europe without soul.

Christian map