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

 

Tusk squealer’s help to Russian democratic opposition

With his public declaration of being “no fan of Russia”, the president of the European Council Donald Tusk offered a squealer’s help to Russian pro-European democratic opposition at crucial time of upcoming presidential elections, discrediting their giant efforts to convince electorate that Brussels is opponent of Kremlin, but not to people of Russia. Those, who wanted to vote for opposition to Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin, from now onwards know, that they have no friends in Brussels. The top political body – the EU Council – is chaired by an open russophobe – Donald Tusk. Many could guess previously, but this affidavit put an end to any doubt – a protagonist from Cold war times degrades the relations between Europeans and Russians.

However this ‘affidavit’ of Tusk disaffection to Russia is not only undermining the efforts of the opposition forces in Russia, because it clarifies that pro-European electorate do not have friends among the EU top players, but it also has put an end to the entire EU policy of promotion of European values, and democracy in Russia, entirely dependent on confidence of Russian people that the West wishes them well. After Tusk’s declaration this confidence was abolished: any offer from Brussels from now onwards is a poisonous chalice.

For those who followed Tusk activities from his appointment in an obscure procedure behind closed doors, the affidavit of disaffection to Russia is a finishing touch to his public profile: in opposition to the U.S. President Donald Tump, undermining the government in his native Poland,  and now openly declaring his confrontational attitude to the EU top trading partner, – Tusk demonstrates total absence of a diplomatic fiber. But not only, completely taken by his personal emotional perceptions, Tusk has been unable to raise above mediocre to level of a statesman with sense of responsibility and vision. Generously remunerated loyalty to the EU institutions, wrongly understood as an enmity to the world outside European Quarter, produced squealer’s help of an EU apparatchik, matching the worst examples of dogmatism of Soviet era, he is not able to step out.

 

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 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 in limbo

Anna van Densky, OPINION  The indecisiveness of the Catalan leadership, and seemingly endless diplomatic maneuvering of Carles Puigdemont opened a broad way to Mariano Rajoy government to launch an offensive. Rajoy has an advantage over Catalans – he is clear, but his opponent are not. If in the aftermath of the referendum the sympathies of the international community to freedom-aspiring Catalans were high, the following confusion about status declaration, and  a step back  in suspension took away large portion of this sentiment, drowning in doubt over region’s clarity of vision for its future. What do Catalans want?..

One can not spend month marching in the streets, waving flags, expressing will to become free, without considerable damages to economy, scaring business away with instability,  and in this regard Rajoy’s intention to go back to blacks restoring calm is understandable in essence, although unacceptable in form from a democratic perspective – restoring order by military means is at odds with so often proclaimed “EU values.”

However today Rajoy’s government is winning grounds, while Catalans losing, because of a protracted ‘limbo’  situation Catalan leaders have chosen for. Economic interests of majority of Europeans prevail over Catalan ideals of freedom, hovering high, but unable to materialize.

Carles Puigdemont received power from Catalans, but lost it in vain attempting to settle the argument with Madrid in ‘European” style of “velvet” revolutions – poor judgement of application of examples of other cultures within the Spanish context of post-Franco era. Too much time wasted on an illusion awaiting a ‘dialogue’, allowing Madrid diplomacy to advance…

Great Spanish protagonist Don Quixote tries to bring justice to the world, revive chivalry high ideals, but is doomed, when confronted with the realities of life. Classics are great due to their universal dimension – apparently there are also Don Quixotes in Catalonia nowadays. We sympathize with them, we feel compassionate towards them, but we don’t understand them: the moment we think we do, Catalan Don Quixotes surprise us, contradicting our premise.

 

 

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…

 

 

 

#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!