#BLM war on idols

Anna van Densky OPINION Ancient Greek philospher said – Patna Rhei – everything flows. Stepping out of the confinement the Europeans found themselves in a different world, violently torn apart by phanthomes of the сolonial past.

Black Life Matters #BLM movement touched Brussels, de facto the European Union (EU) capital, by pogroms of the luxury stores, but not only. The degradation of public life into a bitter argument over the colonial past has occurred suddenly as a skeleton fallen out from the closet.

People use politics not just to advance their interests but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against” Samuel Hantington wrote in his famous “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order”. Apparently a new episode of the clash is gaining momentum.

Unfortunately during this clash in Brussels the rule of law was completely buried in avalanche of emotions, detached from realities, and pursuing the fantômes of the past. The wave of the monuments vandalisation ended in a proposal for creation of the Belgium parliament commission for Truth & Reconciliation aiming at the appology for the colonial atrocities in Congo Free State in times of king Leopold II. “We, the Socialist party, believe that there should be an apology,” said group leader Meryame Kitir. However is the apology enough to build bridges between communities?

The statues of the public figures, causing the whirlwind of emotions, like the one of the Belgium king Leopold II in the first ranks, the one who owned Congo as his personal property, are perceived differently by Europeans and Africans within their retrospective cultures. If Belgiums mostly see in them the relics of the past, the Africans have much more lively and mysterious ways of relating to the sculptures as idols, materialising the idea, insuring its longevity.

For African ethnic religions, the idols are sacred tools to influence life through mysterious rituals, and even more, they are integral part of life, participating in their own invisible manner through emanation of energies. Originally they were named fétiche by Portuguese colonizers who introduced the word to set a clear difference between African idols and Christian saints, however this verbal distinction did not prevent Africans to look at the European sculptures though the prism of the own perceptions.

Another emblematic figure – Julius Ceasar was vandalised in Zottegem, Belgium, most probably in analogy with Christopher Columbus attacked in the U.S., because Caesar conquered the territory of present-day Belgium, and integrated it as a province into Roman Empire. Furthermore, it was Julius Caesar who gave the name of “Gallia Belgica“, leaving the description of the local tribes. However he also had diffiuclies there, facing a revolt just four years after the conquest.

Two thousand years later Belgica experiences the other type of migration, than Romans led by Ceasar – a total of 31,600 people have crossed into Europe illegally in 2020 so far, a drop of only 6% from the same period in 2019. Over 5,500 have reached Europe via the so-called ‘Central Mediterranean route‘, from North Africa to Europe, including 1,000 migrants in May.

Yet Libya continues to act as a magnet for migrants who come there in hope to make cross the sea and reach the European coasts, settling in one of the rich countries of the continent.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that in February 2020 there were at least 654,000 migrants gathered in Libya in view to cross the sea.

The top five nationalities were Nigerien 21%, Chadian 16%, Egyptian 15%, Sudanese 12%, and Nigerian 8%. Men constituted 89% of migrants, women 11%, and 7% were minors of which 24% were unaccompanied. On average the fee to reach Libya mounts up to $1,000.

Various projections indicate that mid-century African population will double reaching 2,5 billion threshold, while the Europeans will decline to 450 million. However if current trend of migration flows from Maghreb coast continue with the same frequency and intercity, from 150 to 200 million of Europe inhabitants will be from African descent.

In spite this impressive perspective of the “Africanisation of Europe” the politicians have no strategy of adaptation of European cultural environment to upcoming “African Age“. With the fast-growing African population in Europe, the request to abandon the Eurocentric concept of history was not totally unpredictable, on contrary, it was quite a logical outcome of the demographic trends. In these cirucumstances the vandalisation of the sculputres of the historic figures are emblematic, but not essential in adaptation demands of the newscomers.

The profound meaning of the transition from quantity to quality, which Hegel was highly likely the first to articulate, was one of several ways of explaining change and the mechanisms of social transformation. Unfortunatly so far both the European Union and national politics in the member-states have been ignoring the ongoing tectonic demographic transformation of the continent.

Hakuna-matata modus is over. Time to say patikana, and face and advantages and challenges of the imminent change.

Belgium Prime Minister Michel resigns

After four years of ruling Belgium’s government  has fallen on the issue of migration after the country’s parliament rejected an appeal from prime minister, Charles Michel, for its support for a minority administration.

Prime minister Michel was forced to offer his resignation to the King Phillipe, after the Socialist party, in alliance with the Greens, proposed a vote of no confidence.

The country is now facing the snap election in January. The head of Michel’s party said the opposition had rejected the government’s “fair offer” in order to secure a “political scalp“.

The Socialist opposition and Greens wanted a trophy and have it”, said David Clarinval, chairman of the liberal Reform Movement party.

Charles Michel has scarified himself for Migrant Compact signature in Marrakesh, angering so many of his compatriots, tired from imposition of flows of migrants.

 

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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Oostend: Japanese garden

The garden reflects in the ‘Kaiyusschiki’ style and includes water features, bamboo, statues and a rock garden. Wander the winding paths or simply relax and enjoy the peace and quiet with your own personal moment of zen.

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Commissioned by Royal family of Belgium, it is situated in the city center, close to the beach, and villa of legendary Queen Astride.

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King Philippe, the prince then, inaugurated the garden in 2001 in presence of the architect Takeshi Savano, who created the masterpiece on territory of 2500 square meters, Shin-Kai-Thei – a little island of Japan in Belgium.

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Carps, typical inhabitants of a pond in an Asian garden, are supposed to bring luck to contemplating waters visitors.

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Address:
Koningin Astridlaan
Oostend 8400
Belgium
+32 59 80 55 00

#Liège: ‘prisoners of believe’

Anna van Densky, OPINION It was in exceptionally gloomy day in Belgium in spite of the sunshine: two police agents stabbed and shot dead – Soraya and Lucile;  one passerby civilian – Cyril just 22 years old shot dead, and a number of wounded police agents – all  in the city of Liège – a ‘capital of Wallonia’, otherwise famed by its rich cultural history.

Today outside Belgium, Liège is well-known for its University, attracting students from all over the world, but for those who are fans of crime novels, Liège is celebrated for being a birthplace and a favorite setting for the stories of George Simenon, the third most popular writer in French language, a creator of the legendary character commissaire Maigret, the ideal detective, who mastered psychology.

The city has drastically changed since those days Simenon had been describing. There are no more squalid little streets, without lanterns, and shabby houses – a usual background for Simenon crime scenes, but in the modern surroundings  the profession of a detective is as much in demand as in  those days.

Contemplating on Liège shooting we expect many questions to be answered: why a certain Benjamin Hermans 36 years old, native of Rochefort, a small town next to Liège, decides to spend his short “family” leave from a prison for killing police agents, his compatriots, in name of the Great God of Muhammadans – Allah Akbar?..What makes him to socialize with Islamists in prison? Why he decides to convert to Islam? And why above it all, the administration of the prison, knowing him as an extremely violent and marginal character, accepts the risks to release him for “socializing” in town?..

There are no simple answer, but they needed to be found honoring the memory of the victims – Soraya, Lucile Garcia and Cyril. We also need the conclusions to avoid new losses in future. However, today everything is shrouded in gloom.

Are we all just “hopeless prisoners of what we chose to believe”?..

 

 

#FutureofEurope: MEPs fail to show up

Belgium Prime Minister Charles Michel received warm welcome from European Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani,  who stressed the importance of these debates on #FutureofEurope with European leaders, which ‘enable us to look ahead at what we can do together: member states, Commission and European Parliament”. However we did not receive any confirmation for the ‘importance of the debate’ from the behalf of the overwhelming  majority of MEPs, who simply failed to show up.

A few of Parliament’s group leaders praised Michel’s commitment to a strong Europe that delivers  added value to citizens, referring to the city of Brussels not only as the capital of Belgium, but also as the heart of the Europe. However, their compliments did not sound very convincing in a big void space.

One can question if the idea to give the PM speech of such a paramount significance in Brussels during mini-plenary was such a good idea, and wouldn’t it be better to follow the established format of presenting Belgium in Strasbourg? But this thought by no means diminishes criticism towards MEPs who regard their participation in mini-plenary as ‘benevolat‘. It is definitely not.

The nonchalant attitude is especially detrimental in view of upcoming European elections. In case the citizens will adopt the symmetrical attitude towards MEPs and ignore polling stations, the European Parliament would simply suffer lack of legitimacy, dramatically affecting the #FutureofEuope, at least its #EU dimension.

Will Puigdemont follow fate of Companys?

After the rigorous action of German police, stopping Catalan independence leader upon the EU arrest warrant, issued by Madrid, the major question arises: will  German judges condemn Puigdemont to follow the fate of President Companys (1882-1940), who was detained by Gestapo in France and handed to Spain?

Rajoy Puigdemont
President of Catalonia Carles Puigdemont next to Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy

The President of Catalonia from 1934 and during the Spanish Civil War , Companys was detained in France, where he lived in exile,  and handed over by the Nazi secret police Gestapo in a formal procedure to Spanish state, where under the dictatorship of Gen.Franco the President Lluís Companys i Jover was tortured in prison, and executed by firing squad in 1940.

Carles Puigdemont at Lluis Companys i Jover tomb
Carles Puigdemont at Lluís Companys i Jover tomb

The lawyer of former President of self-proclaimed Catalan Republic said that highway police had stopped Puigdemont on Sunday (25.03.2018) after he crossed the border from Denmark to Germany. He also confirmed that Puigdemont had been on his way back to Belgium after his trip to Finnish Parliament. A spokesperson for Puigdemont made the following statement:

“1. President Carles Puigdemont was retained in Germany when he was crossing the border from Denmark, on his way to Belgium from Finland. 2. The treatment has been correct in every moment. At the moment he is in a police station and his legal defense is already activated. 3. The president was going to Belgium to put himself, as always, at the disposal of the Belgian justice.”

Madrid assess the independence movement in Catalonia as a ‘plot’ against Spain’s legal and constitutional order. The charges carry up to 30  years in jail. Catalan politicians are accused of rebellion, contradicting the principle of self-determination of people enshrined in UN Charter.

 

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!

 

Mogherini ignores Sophia mission failure

The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini ignores the obvious Sophia operation failure in Mediterranean, in spite of the clear will of Belgium to cancel the participation of their vessel in sea rescue mission. Mogherini also pretends to be unaware of the assessment of the House of Lords, openly stating the EU mission has failed to prevent massive migrant smuggling to Europe.

Ahead of the Council meeting the Foreign minister of Belgium Theo Francken clearly stated during a national TV programme that his country has the intention to end Louise-Marie frigate participation in the Mediterranean operation, because of the double message it sends inspiring more migrants to undertake the risky journey in a hope to be saved and transported to European coasts, thus not only saving lives but also  increasing flows of the ‘illegal migrants” eager to gamble.

The UK House of Lords report on Sophia mission is even more eloquent in its assessment, entitled: “Failed Mission”. The major recommendation is to disrupt the business model of smuggling networks through required ‘concerted action’ at Libya’s southern land border.

The Council agenda foresees discussion on migration, focusing on the situation on the Central Mediterranean route. Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and William Lacy Swing, Director-General of the International Organisation Migration will both take part in the discussion.
Grandi is also known for his criticism of the ‘xenophobic climate’ in Europe vis-à-vis mass migration from Africa and Middle East.

Merry Christmas!

memling-madonna

Hans Memling (Memlinc) (c. 1430 – 11 August 1494) was an Early Netherlandish painter, born in Seligenstadt/Germany, who was the last major fifteenth century artist in the Low Countries, the successor to Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden, whose tradition he continued with little innovation. Born in Seligenstadt, near Frankfurt in the Middle Rhein region,  it is believed that Memling served his apprenticeship at Mainz or Cologne, and later worked in the Netherlands under Rogier van der Weyden (c. 1455-1460).

(Hans Memling source: Artmight)