EU perspective for Western Balkans

“The EU reaffirms its unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. Building on the progress achieved so far, the Western Balkans partners have recommitted to the European perspective as their firm strategic choice, to reinforcing their efforts and mutual support. The credibility of these efforts depends on clear public communication” – says the EU Sophia Summit Declaration on Western Balkans.

“The EU is determined to strengthen and intensify its engagement at all levels to support the region’s political, economic and social transformation, including through increased assistance based on tangible progress in the rule of law, as well as in socio-economic reforms, by the Western Balkans partners” – the Declaration continues.

“The EU welcomes the Western Balkans partners commitment to the primacy of democracy and the rule of law, especially the fight against corruption and organised crime, good governance, as well as respect for human rights and rights of persons belonging to minorities. Their effective implementation of reforms rests on these foundations. Civil society and independent media play a crucial role in the process of democratisation.”

Armenia political crisis deepens

Armenian opposition leader Nikol Pashinyan has failed in his bid to become interim prime minister short of eight votes. The next step in legal procedure is the second Parliament sitting in a week time, expected to end in the similar stalemate, leading to dissolving of the institution, and snap elections. However, Republicans hope to organise the process, continuing to cling to power against all odds.

After a day of debate in the Parliament, Pashinyan  didn’t receive enough support despite being the only candidate for the post, while collecting 45 votes, eight short of the 53 he needed to have a majority in the 105-seat legislature. 

In  a very intense and sharp debate all parties had a consensus on keeping the matter as ‘interior policy problem’, without challenging any issues of foreign policy, and respecting international agreements and obligations, namely vis-à-vis Russia, the European Union, the Council of Europe and the other international organisations. They also agreed that the only way of the impasse lies though general elections.

However  the ruling Republican party was not willing to abandon power without resistance, motivating their disagreement to endorse the candidacy of Pashinyan as interim PM in his lack of a governing experience, especially taking into consideration complexity of military-political situation with  the frozen conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The denial allowed Pashinyan to remind to his opponents that  Nelson Mandela became South African President after long stay in prison brought to power by will of people, which is a decisive force in a democratic process. In his exchange with MP he also presented his views on a broad spectrum of issues, including Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, relations with Russia, Georgia, and denied any personal contacts with Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and Georgia’s Mikhail Saakashvili.

“Grilled” in a tough American style by MPs  Pashinyan said he would increase defence budget, blaming that last 15 years government failed to level military might with Azerbaijan. He also vowed to create conditions for repatriating Armenians from abroad, including those who would bring investments, linking the process to a substantial reform of system of justice, liberating it from its ‘totalitarian mentality‘. He put to shame Republicans, blaming them temptation to curb the judiciary to serve their political interests, even degrading to keeping ‘prisoners of thought’. The substantial amount invested in judiciary was spent on exterior – buildings and judges outfits, but not on establishing of its independence, he added.

An issue of ethnic minorities took a special place in a debate: Pashinyan insisted they don’t have political freedoms, and are almost obliged to be loyal to a dominant political force, the practise he would certainly end, opening to them an opportunity to join political life, and to choose freely, including joining the opposition.

However it was the question of children and youth that fueled most anger from the Republicans who considered Pashinyan  crossed red lines, inviting schoolchildren to join the protests. They received an answer that it is an experience, and education of civility, which would stay with them, and hopefully pass on to the future generations. The position forced one of the MPs to leave the audience in a protest for 10 minutes.

The rejection of Republicans to accept  the will of people, endorsing the only candidate as an interim PM to organise snap elections, caused the continuation of protests.

Pashinyan called the citizens to go on with actions of civil disobedience, he also addressed transport workers asking to join the strike to ensure a total paralysis, forcing ruling party of Republicans to accept the democratic transition without further delay.

 

 

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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’

 

 

 

Taliban as a part of “social fabric”

After a decade of military campaign, and removal of troops under the pretext of fulfilled mission, Afghanistan shocks the world by the spectacular resurrection of Taliban: according to the BBC studies the Islamists are controlling significant territories, leaving to government just one third, and even though it is not free from terrorist attacks.

Sadly, the longevity of Taliban, and other Islamic radical ideologies in Afghanistan would be impossible without support of a significant part of population, disregarding the efforts of the West to introduce the democratic values by military and the other means.

Afghanistan returns to Taliban as its point of departure. In Europe Muslim girls, whose mothers were wearing mini skirts, sincerely prefer burqas, or at least scarfs to flaunt their belief in the streets of European cities, the cities in which they were born, but don’t appreciate, prefering to associate themselves with Medieval societies their parents fled.

Nowadays they say, that Taliban is a part of Afghanistan “social fabric” – how European “social fabric” will look like in 10-20 years, if the levels of Muslim migration remain the same?

 

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.

 

 

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!