Oostend in summer

Ostend is famous for its sea-side esplanade, including the Royal Galleries of Oostend, pier, and fine-sand broad beaches.  Ostend is visited by many day-trippers from all over Belgium heading to the beaches, especially during July and August. It is also appreciated by sailors, finding here a charming place to drop anchor, visiting numerous bistro and restaurants.

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The harbor is usually crowded in summer month, creating a picturesque setting next to the railway station.

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In hot day, the broad beaches are crowded, and experienced visitors come early in the morning hours to get the best places.

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Further from the town, more space with equally fine sand on broad beach.

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Oostend nowadays is truly international hosting visitors from all continents and cultures.

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Putin: Russian military presence in Syria will last as long as necessary

President Vladimir Putin assessed Russian engagement in Syria as a “unique experience” for military, and an “important mission” aimed at protection of interests of Russian citizens, he underlined that those who sacrificed their lives defeating terrorism will be “never forgotten“. The President said that Russian military presence in Syria is fulfilled within the framework of international law, and the assistance in big-scale combat operation of the Syrian army in not needed any more, while the major focus has shifted towards political resolution of the conflict. The comments were made during ‘direct line’ emission.

Thousands of insurgents accumulated in Syria, and it was better to neutralize them there, than let them enter Russian Federation through Central Asian open borders, Putin continued. At present there is no more need in  large-scale combat operations, the President ensured, while the political resolution of the conflict is on the agenda.

However two Russian military locations – Tartus and Khmeimim Air Base  in Syria will stay as long as “beneficial and needed” to defend Russian interests in this “close to Russia region“.

The President explained that there are no permanent constructions on the territory of both Russian basis in Syria , and in case of necessity,  the military can be moved out swiftly.

The experience in Syria is a precious for our troops, but Syria is not a test site for Russian weapons“, Putin continued, “Russian specialists adjusted already functioning systems to in the field, in the combat situations”.

A significant number of Russian officers and generals had an opportunity to participate in missions in Syria, accumulating experience of combat operations, allowing to make one more step to “perfect our military“.

 

EU Visa-free for Russians

Offering Russians unilateral visa-free to the EU – is one of the major proposals of the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats announced at a year conference on EU-Russia relations #EURussia, taking place on the third anniversary of Boris Nemtsov assassination.

The move is meant in ‘immediate and unconditional’ support of the civil society, experiencing difficulty of alienation from Europe, while regular Russians increasingly perceive the EU as an antagonistic power, especially after confrontation with the negative consequences of the EU Enlargement policy, leading to conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine.

“The biggest mistake on our behalf towards the West is that we trusted you too much,” President Vladimir Putin said. He underlined that the West, in their turn, made an unforgivable mistake – abused this trust.

Would the visa-free enhance exchanges, people-to-people contacts and heal the profound mistrust Russians feel towards the West? While Donetsk and Lugansk are under siege, and Russian children go to school risking being shot by shelling of Ukrainian army, while so-called ‘Syrian opposition’, supported by European, kills Russian pilots on counter-terrorist missions, – while the bloodshed is going on, it will be rather simplistic to consider that visa-free would restore the harmony. Although had it ever existed in relations between Europe and Russia?..

Children Donbass

Image: citizens’ journalism ‘Killed children of Donbass’

 

 

 

Ab absurdo: Puigdemont as asylum-seeker

Anna van Densky, OPINION The circulating in mainstream media hypothesis of President of Catalan Republic Carles Puigdemont escapade to Brussels in search of political asylum can’t be regarded otherwise as absurd.

First, if politicians have to flee Spain because of dissent, it will mean that Kingdom of Spain is not a democracy. (Political dissident from Span? Hmmm… It reminds me of something…)

Second, it would mean that organising plebiscite is a criminal activity, which will provoke a confrontation with the United Nations, being in contradiction with the most sacred part of international law – the human rights.

Third, the attack on human rights will torpedo the work of entire EU External Actions Service, discrediting their efforts to improve human rights situation outside the bloc.

Forth, it will reinforce the public sympathy for Catalans, and raise criticism against the European institutions for not respecting their own engagements, and principles. So many citizens will ignore the next elections to the European Parliament, which will be a blow to the EU credibility. Imagine if only 20% of Europeans come to drop ballots for EU?..

So there are some reasons for which Carles Puigdemont will be never charged for organising a plebiscite, and never arrested.

Unfortunately, the crisis government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy created will continue, however the EU can not afford to let it rub off its own image and activities, subsequently the EU will not allow Puigdemont to become Europe’s Nelson Mandela. The Brussels has many faults, but giving in to Madrid in human rights abuse means to agree to look like a theatre of absurd – a suicidal move for an already shaken by Brexit project. Ab absurdo!

 

#Catalonia: Madrid bankruptcy and EU27 insolvency

Anna van Densky, OPINION. The failure of Mariano Rajoy government to manage the political crisis in Catalonia, demonstrates the absence of real arguments to convince Catalans to stay in Kingdom of Spain, if  they had valuable reasons, we would have heard about them, and there would be no need to break fingers of voters to prevent them from dropping a ballot. It is time to admit: ‘The King is naked!’.

The UK government had a lot to offer to Scotland, so they were not afraid of a comprehensive discussion pointing at advantages for staying together. The Scottish referendum was a genuine democratic exercise of respect of right to self-determination. As a result the reason won over emotions, and seductive illusions.

On contrary, Madrid has no other arguments than to refer to the ‘law’, the Spanish politicians don’t want to change, and Constitution as if carved in stone. No one viable cultural or economic reason articulated, because they would be a pitfall of Spain: Catalonia has surpassed in all fields, and does not need to bow to Rajoy to ensure high living standards of their people, but it is Spain to lose the richest region of the Kingdom.

However those, who think about economy as a driving force of Catalan independence movement, are wrong, because it is strong national identity, that clashes with the Spanish dogma of superiority on grounds of historic ‘lineage’. It has been a long time, that Barcelona became a star among planet’s most prolific cities – one of the top 10 most visited tourist destinations in the world. The opulent cultural past and present converted Catalonia into a magnet for the artists, and Mecca of the art-pilgrims. But also students, attracted to Barcelona universities, and international schools, with UB as the leading education body of the country. In short, it is in realm of ideal that Catalans have taken the lead.

The  achievements of Catalans required a different kind of framework with Madrid, Spanish political class was reluctant to grant, responding with a riot police, leading to Rajoy’s  moral bankruptcy. The was hardly any newspaper’s front page in the world, without condemning decision to use force against peaceful Catalan plebiscite. The public opinion condemned Rajoy’s government choice of violence, but not the EU, referring to the issue as an internal matter of Spain. The failure of protection of Catalans as EU citizens, which is ‘legally’ central to the bloc, enshrined in all Treaties, means EU insolvency in issues of human rights. This betrayal of Catalan people by Brussels, opens the door to leave the EU without a regret.

By any means the in #EU27 Catalans will be donors, but not recipients, sharing their wealth with new member-states, the perspective which could be regarded in the framework of respect and recognition of Catalonia’s achievements, but not keeping them as subordinate second class citizens, risking to get their heads crushed if raising them. Ignoring the injustice, committed towards Catalans, the EU is a insolvent as a ‘Union of values’, applied selectively, and inconsistently. Praising  Kosovo ‘sui generis’, and Kiev’s Maidan revolution right to sculpture history, the EU suddenly switched to the ‘rule of law’ repertoire for Catalans when it suited its goals.

The hard work of Spanish police batons did it’s job, winning millions of friends of Catalonia all over the globe. There is no reason to fear unknown future, with Spanish banks leaving Barcelona in haste – there will be many of those eager to occupy the liberated spaces. Catalans won in people’s hearts, and there is no need to waste time  looking for fairness from the EU apparatchiks, because they are people who create history, not political chameleons in Brussels. #ViscaCatalunyaLliure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

#SOTEU2017: Apogee of dogmatism

#SOTEU2017. Startling by its neglect of the realities of life, the State of Union speech has been hovering high above like a banner dragged by a colorful hot air-balloon in blue sky to admire it for a few moments, before going back to blacks.
One could hardly associate numerous full of optimism slogans of president Jean-Claude Juncker with the grim realities of millions of Europeans struggling to make the ends meet. The magic formula ‘More Europe!’ – the ‘philosopher’s stone’ of the European bureaucrats, supposedly to turn everything into gold became a source of disquietude to extend, some block’s most prolific member prefered to end the engagement, concerned with the sovereignty.

The idea of moving towards the ‘United States of Europe’ – the ultimate dream of the forefathers of the project, resurrecting continent from the ashes of the WWII seem less appealing nowadays, in a totally different political context. The times have changed, but the eurocrats, unlike the rest of us have not changed with times:( remaining guardians of more than half-a-century old doctrines, that are clashing with for modern dynamic and flexible word.
The inseparable four freedoms of the EU became more of a problem, instead of a solution: open borders, and free movement cause insecurity, and is generally perceived as the major reasons of the UK break away from the block, but not but the eurocrats.

Simply brushing aside the problems related to the EU profound #Brexit crisis, Juncker ordered ‘fast forward’ to the bright future of the EU27, without any clarification how the intensified integration will be funded in absence of the UK, the second net contributor to the EU purse.

Juncker’s vow #Brtions will regret soon their decision to vote leave, sounded sinister, sensed as a threat, while the policy of making ‘negative example’ from the UK till now has been the only reaction from the EU institutions, eager to ‘receive’ a mega ‘allowance’ as if in divorce case. Making a scarecrow from the EU supposedly should stop anyone else from turning to a seditious idea of leaving the block regardless its results delivery.

With Geert Wilders (PvV) growing numbers of supporters in the Netherlands; narrowly defeated Norbert Hofer (FPO) in Austria; Marine Le Pen (FN) reaching the second round of presidential elections in France; with AfD flexing muscle, anticipating entering Bundestag in Germany, – within this political context the old EU doctrines look outdated. So does the EU leader, reminiscent of the late members of Politburo of the Soviet Union, loyal to the ideals of their youth, and unable to adapt to the changing world.

Fragilized by age, but refusing to assume the responsibility for Brexit as the major EU failure, still insisting on the marvels of the membership of the bloc, Jean-Claude Juncker looks like a relic of another era. In epilogue of the debating the State of the Union speech with the MEPs, publicly complaining about his health, he evoked an idea of necessity for an urgent renewal of the EU leadership. The need of change of generations obvious even for the most devoted Eurocentrics to avoid the imminent decline, and collapse like the late USSR.

EU migrant crisis deadlock

Although  focused on sanctioning Vicegrad4 (V4) group members – Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for their reluctance to accept the refugees and migrants after the wave of the terroristic attacks in Europe, the EU does not have a concept or strategy for long-term solution of the problem of illegal mass migration from Africa. Tactically forcing the V4 to accept some thousands of migrants will not lead to the a halt, or even a relieve in the  Italian shelters, but achieve the opposite,  encouraging new massive arrivals. Even if hosted  proportionately among all EU27 states, the migration problem  will not be an inch closer to its solution, on contrary to what the leader of the European Parliament Socialsits @GianniPittella MEP, might hope for, insisting that there is no other solution, but sanctioning V4:

Next to old rivalries and violent conflicts the West introduced the new once, as a result of a passion for regime-change Libya has been degraded from one of the richest African nations under Colonel Gaddafi rule to a failed state, terrorized by various groups of jihadists, whom he once fought. Failed state became an open gate for anyone in Africa interested to try his luck in Europe. Different sources mentioned 15 000 jihadists who have already infiltrated in Europe with migrants flow, waiting for a suitable moment to strike.

Until Libya remains no man land, the perspectives to curb the flow of migrants from Sub-Sakharian  Africa stay feeble: countries like Nigeria with two million people fled from the militant group Boko Haram’s violence since 2014, will continue to represent a reserve of refugees eager to risk their lives to reach Italian coasts.

At the moment  six million people are looking for an opportunity to cross Mediterranean, gathering at Libyan coast, according to a report leaked to Build newspaper. The plea of the European Liberals to relocate to each European town “30 migrants” doesn’t work either, because it will privilege the happy few, inspiring deprived millions to require the same treatment. The re-location of even one million of Africans to V4 countries will not resolve the problems of the entire 1,2 billion population of the continent, suffering violent conflict, poverty and famine.

The restrictive measures towards V4 will alienate the citizens of these countries from the EU project, which has been passing through turbulent times of Brexit – the decision largely taken in discord with the EU open door policy, and a broad gesture of Chancellor Merkel inviting one million migrants to Germany. Calais camp Jungle has also played its part, while Britons were casting a ballot in referendum to share common destony with Europe. (Photo: a migrant camp in France set ablaze in a brawl between two ethinic groups).

However not everyone shares the views on sanctions against V4 as a solution: the leader of the European Parliament Nordic Greens MEP Gabi Zimmer admitted that the sanctioning is not, she believes in solidarity, but she doesn’t precise where its limits are.

The dilemma for the East European nations is the choise  between European Funds they are threatened to lose and security.

“Wallet or life?”- for V4 to decide…