Sunday, July 20, 2014

Europe's neighborhood is in flames: Ukraine and Palestine.
The past few days we have witnessed the world going crazy. Two ongoing conflicts-one very old and one recent-got out of control, resulting to the deaths of hundreds of innocent people.

On Thursday (17th of July 2014), a Malaysian passenger airplane was shot down over Eastern Ukraine, allegedly by Russian separatists. As result, 298 passengers were killed, all of them civilians that had nothing to do with the regional conflict.
During the same week, we had the flaring up of the Palestinian fighting, with Israeli forces invading the Gaza strip again on Thursday. This conflict lead to another 310 human lives being lost in Palestine, plus two in Israel.

Overall in one week we had over 500 deaths in Europe's neighborhood, as result of land, political, ethnic disputes and power struggles.

During this time Europe is absorbed by its own internal problems, in the aftermath of the European elections and the slow decision process in agreeing the next EU Commission leadership.

Since the elections, the candidacy of the former Luxembourgian  PM Jean-Claude Juncker for above post dominated the European leadership's interest, while the public was absorbed by the FIFA World Cup football games. So the developments in Ukraine slipped for a while as top story of interest in our continent.

But Europe can not be passive anymore, as this time the victims are not just Ukrainians. With the MH17 aircraft tragedy, not just Europe but the whole international community is directly involved. Out of the 298 people who perished in this atrocity, none of them were Ukrainian or Russian. They died because of a war that apparently until now had nothing to do with them.

The victims are from many different nationalities from all over the globe, so as result the war in Ukraine affects all these countries. And that is not all. Because many of the passengers of the tragic flight were leading researchers and campaigners attending the 201th anniversary AIDS 2014 conference in Melbourne- Australia, their loss affects humanity itself.

Thus this time Europe and the international community as a whole, can not remain just observers in this conflict. So far the EU and the US have imposed sanctions against top Russian officials and offered financial aid to Ukraine. This hasn't worked.

It would be unwise to to enter an open war with Russia and its oligarchs, as this could have even worse implications. But we could work to unite the rest of the world against the Russian separatists, or any other extremist element in Ukraine. Draw in the international community and place sanctions on all those who are to blame from either side, or offer an overall support to the country.

Europe and America can not and should not try to find solution to the problem on their own. The ongoing conflict of interests between Eastern and Western powers, is the main root of the problem in Ukraine and it has played a role in the disputes in the Middle East too.

The Europeans and the Americans must involve the governments of other countries and organizations, putting aside any personal vendettas with Russia and its leadership. If the more countries of this world isolate the Russian leadership, the pressure will be greater.

This tragic accident offers a chance for a global, united response against the actions of Russian interests in Ukraine, but also all the shortcomings of the Ukrainian government itself. As long as Europe and Russia struggle over the country there will be no solution to the conflict, with the very danger of becoming one day, as old as the Palestinian one.

A conflict that if the international community really wanted it, it would have been solved already. Sadly, the interests of the big powers of this world, are not really interested for a handful of Arabs living in Palestine. Although the Palestinian side has a fair amount of blame in the problem, if Israel and its allies really wanted a solution they already have it in their hands: it is called capitalism!

As long as the people of Gaza and Palestine are isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, with no opportunities and with very low living standards, the easier it will be for Hamas, or whatever other organization to find willing recruits.

When Gaza's youths have no future and prospects like the young people in Europe, plus when they see their family being killed in Israeli air strikes, it is easier to radicalize them and make them fire these rockets. If they "enjoyed" capitalism like the rest of us, or they had wealth similar to those of many other Arab states, the last thing they would want is to be killed in an air strike.

These options may look far fetched and impossible, but as long as our leadership insists on the ones they have been working on so far, I afraid that nothing will change. Ukraine is on Europe's borders and is a problem that won't go away, since Russia is equally trying to promote its own interests in the region.

This world edges dangerously closer to a bust up and this is a prospect that should terrify us all. It is now clear that as long as Ukraine is unstable, the rest of Europe will be affected directly. It is not something that is happening only in Ukraine, it is something that happens in Europe and the great number of European victims in this tragedy confirm this.

With this blog-post I wish to offer my condolences to all the families affected in these tragedies.

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