Monday, November 14, 2016

America has a new President.
On November the 9th 2016, America and the world woke up to a challenging new reality.

Donald Trump has defeated Senator Hilary Clinton, to become the 45th President of USA.

And although both him and his predecessor, President Barack Obama, called for the aftermath of the elections to be a time for "uniting the country again," what we are witnessing is anything but.

There are ongoing protests that call for a new election, opposing Trump as president. On the other hand, there are numerous homophobic or racist incidents and attacks being reported, citing Trump's election.

Both groups have got the result wrong. The first group need to accept how democracy works.Trump either they like it or not was democratically elected,thus he will be the next American President.

The second is a hideous bunch of people, which thinks that by electing a populist, right-wing president, gives them the freedom to cause harm to a fellow human being. Their demeanor does not do any favor either to Trump and his work as their future president, their country, communities or themselves.

They believe that an outspoken anti-immigrant leader, automatically grants them the right to pour their bile into their communities, turning them as corrosive as they are. Similar incidents took place in the UK after the Brexit vote, which reveals that Western nations are not that tolerant and progressive after all.

It is becoming clear that such hatred was and it is always there. But because we like to show and nice face to society we don't discuss our views in fear of being judged. It only takes a Trump or a Farage to go public and the masks fall and show our true self.

This makes a valid point for open and early debates in schools or colleges. To educate as many young people as possible, about humanity and diversity. If we don't, they can always join any website to satisfy their curiosity for knowledge.

But as often the internet is full of bigots that spread their poison and influence our youths' minds, the result could be ever increasing populist and intolerant societies.

Not that hatred is the only cause for Trump's election. Sadly it is also despair and disappointment with our modern political and social reality. The elites of every western country got to complacent and arrogant. They ignored the needs of the people for too long, wrapped up in their own political career and corruption.

Now the people vote for outsider demagogues, that can only mean going backwards to all the good that we have achieved as a civilization. Yet sadly,we are going to keep all the negative aspects that led us to vote for populists in the first place.

Trump won't reverse globalization, he thrived from it too-he is a wealthy guy. He will just target and scapegoat all minorities or the poor. He already stated that he will deport about 3 million illegal immigrants from America. And that he will soon built the infamous wall that he promised, on the US borders with Mexico.

That will not only cost a lot of unnecessary money, he will ruin the country's relationship with its neighbor and close partner. That is not a way to settle things and promote your nation's interests.

He appears to be an ignorant man, arrogant and rude, a right bigot. If only he could be a bit diplomatic and political correct, then people would not react to him as badly. You can not be the President of a nation, representing it across the globe and openly speak with a derogatory language about neighboring countries and minorities.

It's wrong and you are going to have to use diplomacy in your appointment as a world leader, in order to gain support from other countries and keep the position of your nation as a leading and influential one.

Yet his victory is also a result from an equal bad opposition campaign. With all the dirt that the Clinton campaigners threw at him about how he treated women in the past, they might have helped him in his victory.

A lot of men of his age think as he does, they just keep it private. Trying to portray him as sexist because of his approach to women was a hit below the belt and it might have worked to his favor after all. The Clinton campaigners should have focused on his lack of experience to lead, rather than playing dirty.

And that is not all. The people of America wanted change and a new kind of politician and leadership,that would bring a new deal for them. But someone who could provide such change, without the controversial statements, was Senator Bernie Sanders which was defeated by Hilary Clinton.

Perhaps the American establishment arrogantly fought so hard to get rid off a leftist outsider, confident that a populist like Trump could never win the elections and beat Clinton. But their speculations were wrong.

People in the western hemisphere, in both sides of the Atlantic, seem to be fed up with mainstream politicians and the establishment political parties which represent them. They want change and to shake things up, they seek a better deal and justice.

The issue is, are they voting for the right people to achieve their goal? It is debatable if populism, xenophobia, stricter border controls, Islamophobia, homophobia, conservatism and protectionism are the best solutions.

Especially when they are not the main cause to our problems, rather where our attention is drawn to. What about our political elite's corruption, intergovernmental-ism, lobbying from very wealthy and powerful companies that totally neglect the citizens' problems, whether they are native or migrant?

Besides, could Trump stick to everything he promised, without a backlash or opposition from the US Senate? Remember how hard was for Obama to achieve his reforms, even some of the most beneficial for the citizens.

If we examine the case of a much smaller country-Greece, which went the same way like America, we will see that often change is not possible or straightforward.

The Greeks were also fed up with the political system and voted for Leftist populists;Syriza and its leader Alexis Tsipras. Yet after the initial hiatus of their victory, the promising and defiant statements or minister appointments, their impact on Greek politics was more of the same with any of the establishment parties.

It remains to be seen if Trump can achieve his plans. Meanwhile, Europe must brace itself for major changes. Trump famously declared that America pays too much money to protect countries that "they've never even heard of".

And that from now on,all NATO members must pay more into the budget if they want US protection, plus he expressed his admiration for Putin.

A less US dominated and "protected" Europe might be a good thing. The problem is, will Putin and Trump cooperate to promote nationalism in Europe and divide our continent further, or will them two cooperate to end the West-East recent stand off?

Perhaps more EU integration could be the key and solution, to keep our western civilization still relative and influential in the globe. Hopefully Europe will stick to its values and become a beacon of the West, since America is for now choosing to turn its back to its own.

Sadly, the greatest impact of Donald Trump on American and global politics, will be-either he wanted it or not, deep division of class, race or religion. He and his European counterparts like Farage and Le Pen, bring out the worse in us and our societies.

They are reflecting our ugly side as a civilization right back at us and it is even more disturbing that people are not scared by it; they are actually inspired and act upon it.

Maybe Trump's intentions are anything but, it could be that politicians like him have deep patriotic sentiments and wish the best for their country. Unfortunately they achieve quite the opposite and humanity has been in this situation many times before.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

America decides. US Presidential Elections 2016.
The US Presidential Election Campaign is reaching its critical climax. On Tuesday November the 8th, the more than 200 million Americans eligible to vote, will finally get their chance. 

For the past few months, the debates and speculations have been intensifying, so much that one would wonder if he follows a major political decision or a scenario of a television drama series.

As usual, it comes down to the two main political powerhouses of the USA; the Republican and the Democratic parties. With Donald Trump becoming the first party's nominee, Senator Hilary Clinton is the Democrat's choice after defeating Senator Saunders.

The campaigns got really ugly, with "hits" both above and bellow the waste coming from both sides, that I personally forgot what each candidate originally promised or is standing for. 

In general the European media portrayed Trump as an anti-immigration, conservative, populist, wealthy "outsider," while Clinton is representative of the establishment and more mainstream politics, while being cheered as potentially the first woman president in US history.

Here in the other side of the Atlantic, it was mainly the "juicy" scandals and controversies that made the headlines regarding these elections. Clinton's e-mail gaffe, in which she used her personal address rather a government one for communicating state affairs, plus her funding from countries like Saudi Arabia-with poor human rights records, or her handling of the Benghazi tragedy grabbed our attention.

On the other hand, Trump was involved in so many controversies, that one would wonder how he continues being a candidate. From misogynist comments, to anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and xenophobic, his tax returns secrecy, openly supporting leaders like Putin, sexual misconduct accusations; the list could go on.

But somehow, nothing seems to put him out of the contest and secure Clinton's victory. It looks that people in both sides of the Atlantic, are fed up with mainstream politics and prefer to trust any outsider in hope that something will change.

And so far, little has been said about how the outcome is going to influence Europe. Being America's closest ally, our continent will inevitably be affected by who becomes America's next president. In addition as the US is the world's only "super-power," its foreign policy concerns us all. 

The most possible scenarios for Europe will be those; the "devil that we know"as if Clinton gets elected, things between US and our continent will remain pretty much the same and stable. 

Or we will have to deal with a very new and unpredictable reality if Trump wins; once he sticks to all that he says of course and doesn't backtrack on everything when he gets in the White House.

We have seen that happening in Greece,where people were fed with promises by the Left wing Syriza party that obviously could not be kept, since the previous governments already signed bail-out deals.

Similarly, we could assume that Trump will not deliver all his promises and that he uses populism, just to get elected. In the case of Britain recently, the UKIP led campaigns resulted in the country opting to leave the EU, yet we saw their leadership quitting soon after the result.

If Trump is the "inexperienced demagogue" that his opponents claim him to be, we could be seeing a very short Republican presidency.

Yet provided that he manages to deliver what he campaigns for, then we could have a very protectionist America, with a strong anti-immigrant sentiment that could spill over to Europe and other regions. 

His tolerance of Putin could mean trouble for Europe, or on the other hand end the decades old stand off, if the two of them manage to work and smooth their differences. Although it is unclear how this new status will affect our continent.

The NATO alliance may particularly be affected, since Trump clarified that America won't be willing to protect its allies, unless they are prepared to contribute more into the alliance's budget. Then Europe will have no choice but to create its own army, investing more in a single defense mechanism.

Outspoken and not as diplomatic in his speeches or approach, Mr. Trump could introduce us to a new era of international politics, that will certainly influence Europe's too. We might be seeing an empowerment of nationalist, protectionist or even Far-Right parties gaining even more power across Europe, dividing it further.

Another outcome of a potential Trump's victory, is that America could become more isolationist, weakening the West's influence. That could lead to a more multi-polarized world, with new emerging powers filling the gap. 

This is not particularly a bad thing, as long as Europe and other Western nations step in to safeguard their interests in the globe. But if they do not, we could be seeing the end of the world as we know it, with a declining Western influence and inevitably civilization. 

The only way Europe could keep safe and strong, if Trump sticks to what he promised during his campaign, is to unite further to avoid the bumpy road ahead of Trump's victory; he will definitely shake things up.

A multi-polar world may be a good outcome, that could lead to more equality among its regions. Yet all of us which comprise the Western democracies, will need to learn to live outside America's protective wing, but also shadow. 

That can be scary and dangerous as any change. But if Europe manages to cope and steps up its efforts for a greater say and responsibilities in the world stage, then this new reality could become an opportunity for us.

Clinton on the other hand will most likely stick to what are used to from the US, either some times we criticize and complain about it, or not. NATO and the West's military, political, cultural and commercial supremacy will continue, at all costs with the ways already known to us.

She is experienced and she has worked in the US government with different roles for decades now. She might belong to an elite of family political dynasties, that have ruled America and inevitably the world for decades, but she won't rock the boat. Thus, there will be little change of direction in our world.

This sounds less worrying and poses little threat to our way of doing things and what we are used to. The point is, is where we are satisfactory, fair and functioning for all of us enough, to not want to radically alter the status quo? And in the end of the day, it is not up to us decide.   

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Are Europeans mature enough, for true equality for LGBT individuals?
Alan Mathison Turing was a British pioneering computer scientist, mathematician, logician, and cryptanalyst who, working during World War II, succeeded with his team in cracking the “Enigma code” used by the Nazi command to conduct covert communication operations.

Because of Turing and his colleagues’ efforts,there is now general agreement that they shortened the war by at least two years, saving an estimated 17 million lives. Prime Minister Winston Churchill singled out Turing as the person whose work contributed the most to defeating the Germans.(LGBT Nation).

Turing was considered to be the father of modern computer science and was most famous for his work in helping to create the "bombe" that cracked messages enciphered with the German Enigma machines.

He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting a sexual relationship with a man.

He was given experimental chemical castration as a "treatment". His criminal record resulted in the loss of his security clearance and meant he was no longer able to work for Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), where he had been employed following service at Bletchley Park during the war. He died of cyanide poisoning in 1954, aged 41.(The Guardian)

Alan Turing,was finally granted a posthumous royal pardon in 2013 – 61 years after he was charged at Manchester police station over homosexual activity. (The Independent) It came after years of campaigning from LGBT groups and his living family relatives.

Subsequently this gave way for the "Alan Turing law,"that will effectively act as an apology to those convicted for consensual same-sex relationships, before homosexuality was decriminalized in England and Wales in 1967. (The Independent)

The reality for LGBT people is not too different today, despite becoming much better. Although we have established ever increasing freedoms and equality, things are still very fragile. 

With all the Far Right political parties gaining support all over Europe, it won't be hard to turn the tables and go backwards again. Because LGBT people are still discriminated upon, even in the most progressive nations. 

Being able to marry or live openly as a gay/bisexual person or having a gay pride, although a huge step forward, is not areal equality, rather acceptance and tolerance. A long road from the true goal that would allow all the Turings of this world to make it a better place to live.

Do we currently have numerous openly gay politicians, but also scientists, thinkers, people of influence that could change the world, or would any of you vote for an openly gay president?
Having a camp individual on the television and laughing at his antics or being amused by them is not tolerance and acceptance. You are stereotyping a whole group of people, making it difficult for great minds like Turing to showcase their effort and true goal, to prove that being gay is not all camp and laughs and drag.

Would you respect an openly gay person to represent you and your nation in international affairs, or would you admire an openly gay person enough for them to lead the country, teach your children, manage you at work, become a professor and a religious leader?

Or would you always prefer a stereotypical gay caricature to amuse you every Saturday night on the television? Think about it.

LGBT individuals will never be truly accepted and equal in our world, as long as they have to "come out" to everyone about their sexuality, as if they have to gain our acceptance, or rather permission to be who they are.

No "straight" individual has to explain themselves about their sexual orientation, beg for acceptance from their parents, explain themselves why, or fight for respect at work or school environment.

They can never be equals, as long as we stereotype them, inevitably and subconsciously creating a certain role for them to play in our societies, limiting their potential.

Nor they can have equality when they have to go to a ghetto bar or club, to find a potential partner or often socialize only with other LGBT individuals because the mainstream society rejects them.

We have created a very stereotyped image of them in our media and popular culture, which has to change. But for that to be achieved, humanity as a whole needs to come to terms with its true nature and sexuality.

Because it is not just the LGBT people that need to be liberated from gender stereotypes and roles, it is every single one of us.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Europe should stop bickering and start coordinating.
Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister, has recently unleashed an attack on Hungary, over its stance on the refugee crisis.

He told the German daily Die Welt that Hungary should be temporarily or even permanently expelled from the European Union.

Asselborn’s comments come days before 27 EU leaders meet in Bratislava to discuss the bloc’s future.

 “Anyone who, like Hungary, builds fences against refugees from war or who violates press freedom and judicial independence should be excluded temporarily, or if necessary for ever, from the EU.” Mr Asselborn stated.

He argued it’s the only way to “preserve the cohesion and values of the European Union.”

Hungary is holding a government-sponsored referendum on October the 2nd, seeking support for rejecting any future EU plan to resettle migrants among member states.(New Europe)

We are really getting tired in Europe, hearing our leaders bickering about who should be kicked out, or who is worthy to stay in. Each EU member state has its own history and past, that influences the way we deal with each upcoming problem.

Some European countries had been exposed to multiculturalism for far longer, thus having more time to adjust and get used to it. Either because they have been themselves colonial powers, or simply because economically they blossomed sooner than most newest "additions" to the EU block.

So to demand conformity or you are out, it is simply wrong and not helpful. I agree with Mr. Asselborn that the Hungarian stance on the refugee crisis is disappointing.

The central European nation's PM Viktor Orban, even claimed that the refugee crisis is a "German problem."

In reality it is a global problem, not just a European nor a German one. And since Hungary is part of both Europe and the world, it should- if it wants to be called a modern democratic European nation- play its role to tackle the crisis.

Europe should, instead of bickering within itself, work together firstly to deal with the issue. Secondly, work closely to convince other regions of the world to help out and do their part in this humanitarian crisis.

Attitudes like Mr Orban's do not help, so we are understandably getting Mr Asselborn's remarks; although they are not appropriate.

The EU should start showing unity and serious signs of cooperation and solidarity, if it wants to be taken as a serious contender in the globe.

It would best avoided to keep discussing about leaving or being kicked out of the block. The problem is that we have now too many governments in EU, with so many different agendas.

Not all are committed to the same vision for Europe, while unfortunately almost all still prioritize national agendas over a common European one.

It is particularly sad to see not just Hungary, but many other "new" EU member states, dropping their enthusiasm for the block, once the obligations of their membership appear.

Yet, threatening them with expulsion or ridicule them as a country for the statements of their politicians in not constructive either. It simply crystallizes the public support around their leaders.

Europe does not need anymore star politicians looking for publicity. Nor it needs more political intrigues,that do nothing more to give more food to the story selling hungry media.

What the continent needs is inspirational leaders to offer solutions and bring a new vision for its future.

We should have dealt with the refugee crisis locally, years ago when it first manifested itself. We lacked leadership then and so we do now.

Instead of taking action on a national level for something that affects everyone on the continent, or blaming and threatening those who do not follow the consensus, it would be great if for once we witnessed true diplomatic and leadership skills from more of our leaders.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

European or Atlantic military alliance?

This summer it was not just the EU that was rocked by doubts as a block. The world's mightiest military alliance-NATO- has also had its share of uncertainty, caused by remarks made from some of its members' prominent politicians.

Jeremy Corbyn has called for NATO to be "closed down", in mid August. The British Labour leader said the military alliance was an "engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies" and called for it to "give up, go home and go away."

His comments quickly sparked condemnation by many defense chiefs, warning that his comments about the organisation are "weakening western civilization”.

Mr Corbyn was also criticized after he refused to say whether he would defend a NATO ally if it were invaded by Russia. (The Telegraph)
His remarks came less than one month of those of Donald Trump.

The US Republican Presidential Candidate, struck his most stridently isolationist notes recently.

He declared that NATO’s principle that an attack on one is an attack on all, should be conditional on every member country paying “their fair share”.

“I want to keep NATO, but I want them to pay,” Trump told a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “I don’t want to be taken advantage of . We’re protecting countries that most of the people in this room have never even heard of," he added. (The Guardian)

Resulting from the above remarks, Ex-NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has argued in a recent interview, that Putin will have free reign to launch attacks with Mr Corbyn in No.10 and loudmouth Donald Trump in the White House.

NATO's "collective defense" principle says an attack on one is an attack on all, and Mr Rasmussen claimed Mr Corbyn's inaction leaves Europe weakened.

He said: "I think his refusal to clearly state that as a possible prime minster of the UK, he would not be sure that he would defend NATO allies has really, really undermined the credibility of NATO.

The former NATO Secretary, added that it is unlikely that the Russian president would launch an open attack on the West, but that he might engage in a sinister "hybrid warfare".

Mr Rasmussen warned that tactics seen in the annexation of the Crimea might become much more common if Mr Corbyn was in charge. (Daily Star)

Meanwhile, calls from within the EU for the creation of a European army are getting stronger and more vocal, following the Brexit.

The European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker, declared that an EU army would enable the EU to “fulfil” its mission to the world.

He added that Europe’s image in terms of foreign policy, has been tarnished and that the continent was not taken “entirely seriously” as a major power.

Czech Republic Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has backed plans for a European Union military force to help tackle the threats of extremist militants, Russian aggression and the migrant crisis.

Although he insisted the new army would not threaten NATO, but would act as a “more actionable and reliable partner”. (The Sun) Poland, Hungary and Germany have also openly expressed their support for such army recently.

The above statements and developments, indicate that Europe is about to go through significant change and reforms. And it is about time.

Our continent can not rely always on our American allies for protection. Firstly although it may cost us less,it leaves us contingent on USA. Thus we can never have our own independent foreign policy as a continent.

Secondly it is getting clear that both the UK and the US are shifting their focus away from Europe. After the Brexit, Britain could potentially cause similar ripples in NATO with Corbyn as leader, while if Trump get elected and sticks to what he says, the alliance membership will become more costly.

Not only European states will have to follow America in their wars, but also pay more into the alliance's budget and take more responsibilities, while serving US interests abroad.

Consequently, it would make sense for Europe to form its own military and establish a different kind of alliance with America. One that will be between equal and similarly engaged super armies, a North American and a European one, potentially joined by other Western nations like Australia and New Zealand.

It will not be currently wise for Europe to abandon NATO altogether, given the increasing instability that spreads right to its doorstep. We still need a back-up support from our allies in NATO and beyond.

Until we develop our own defense,we will have to get the most out of USA and the UK, their knowledge and infrastructure,before we become coordinated militarily.

With its own military, Europe will gain confidence and could eventually be taken seriously as a world power.

Right now, with Russia as well as America influencing passively or actively our internal and foreign affairs, our continent remains nothing more than a trade behemoth; the world's biggest market, without its own security or ability to defend itself.

Naturally any European citizen would wonder what benefits will such development offer him. Besides, shouldn't the world become less militarized, less hostile to each other?

Ideally, yes it should. We must start spend less in weaponry and our arms industries, while investing more in education, science and technology.

Yet sadly the world is not ideal yet. Until we can achieve peace globally, we still need an army for defense, security and dealing with natural and humanitarian disasters in Europe and beyond.

With its own army, Europe could become an alternative to America's version of world security. It should promote its own vision and voice in the world, that must of course be different from US foreign policy.

We could either counterpart or compliment America, depending our own interests, ideology and view of the world; not quietly follow our US allies.

Only then Europe can shape our world-for the better I hope-according to our values. When it gets actively involved, stops being a follower and just a market. When it's been seen by the rest of the globe as a a region that they can turn to when in need. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Europe:To ban the burkini, or not to ban?
It has been one of the most talked and divisive developments in Europe this summer; some French municipalities have been banning the use of the "burkini" in their beaches.

The mayor of one of these seaside towns on the French Riviera has declared "if you don't want to live the way we do, don't come."

"You have to behave in the way that people behave in the country that accepted you, and that is it," Cogolin Mayor Marc Etienne Lansade told CNN.

The ruling came after more than 30 French towns banned the swimsuit, which covers the whole body except for the face, hands and feet and is worn mostly by Muslim women. Officials have said the ban on the outfit was a response to growing concerns about radical Islamic terrorism. (CNN)

In some occasions, like in the picture above in Nice, women were forced to remove their garment by policemen. Even more disturbingly, there have been reports that some of the people witnessing the occasion, were shouting ‘go home’, while others were applauding the police.” (The Guardian)

This is a worrying development, that is affecting not just France but the rest of Europe too. The continent's public opinion has been long debating its values and where our multicultural model is heading.

In addition, France is not the only country that is experiencing a crisis of cultural, political and societal identity. The refugee crisis, the EU expansion to the East, the euro-zone crisis and the recent Brexit, have all added further stress to Europe's selfhood impasse.

Some cases like that of the Brexit, are actually a pristine indicator of the massive shift or confusion of the European public opinion, on its identity or future.

Our continent is changing that is for sure. Free movement of people, an ever changing society, economy and political environment are forcing Europe to reinvent itself. And as in every transition period, a massive soul searching is always under way.

European people, like every single person going through change, are trying to imagine or create a future model that they will like to follow and aspire to. Some are trying desperately to hold on to what it is, others are striving to go back to what it was, while only few are looking to the future, open to all possibilities and outcome.

Countries like Britain chose to look backwards and turn to the British Commonwealth for stability and security. Whilst many new EU member states like Hungary and Poland, are trying to resist change and keep things as they are.

Migrants pose new challenges and they will change the current demographic, societal, cultural and political homogeneity of these nations. Especially when we are talking for migrants of different race, religion or cultural background.

Very few European nations still fully embrace modernity and the inevitable change that is bringing. What is happening in France is not just a French problem and could potentially spread to other nations.

Especially if the terror attacks on European soil continue. People need scapegoats when threatened, they want to see someone paying for their misfortunes and fear. Humans used to sacrifice animals or even each other when faced with phenomena they did not understand or could not control.

As Europe is faced with an ever growing threat from Islamist extremists, anything that reminds of them will become a target. There is no doubt that the burkini ban incidents are directly linked to the recent terror attacks in France; a knee-jerk reaction deriving from anger and fear, plus the very statement that Europe's enemies would love to receive.

It the mentality of the herd; if you wanna live among us, look and behave like us or we will kick you out of our group. It's a very primeval, deep rooted thing and it affects all nations.

It does make sense of course, when you move in one country and take its citizenship, you should abide by its laws and values. Currently secularism, freedom and democracy make up the core of our values.

But is a dress code representative of those and if yes, is forcibly removing it also doing justice to our principles? I personally detest burkas or niqabs as I see no point of any religious dress-code at this day and age.

I do not believe that any dogma and the obvious declaration of it such a burka, have any place in the Europe that we are trying to build.

Yet I also think that policing and forcibly making people to abandon their own values, no matter how un-European they may be, has anything to do with the society I would like to live in.

Assuming that we start accepting policing and dress-code control on Muslim people in our continent, who could be next? Which group will we have to "conform" to fit our values in the future?

If we are so weary of our culture and we think that we need to "protect" or "safeguard" it from foreign influences, then perhaps this is a sign of how weak or declining this culture of ours is.

We should be looking at why people who have been living in our continent for decades or even were born here, have failed to integrate in our societies.

Integration comes with acceptance and education. It comes with equal opportunities and recognition. Being an immigrant myself, I must confess that all the times I felt anger towards my new host country, were when I felt rejected by its society and in return I was rejecting anything indicative of its culture.

So if these non-European individuals show signs of "rejecting" our values, perhaps they are doing so because they do not feel welcomed or part of our societies. Or maybe they are not inspired by them. Thus certainly forcefully making them remove their garments is not going to help.

You do not "force" anyone to accept your culture or values, you incite them to do so, you make them feel that abandoning their old ways is making sense for their future. If they do not, then we ought to firstly look where we as a society has failed, then debate on if they really belong here or they should be "going home".

If we decide that we do not want immigration into our lands, then we should stop bragging that we are an open and tolerant continent and call a spade a spade; that we do not wish to live in a multicultural society, we reject the current economic model that is promoting it and we prefer to live in social nationalism or something similar.

But could we accept the consequences, do we really know what that will mean and how will affect our lives?

The future European continent is in our hands. We are designing it right now with our decisions, our votes, our actions and what we stand for. It is a work in process that will take a long time.

We can either become like those nations that we so much criticize on their lack of tolerance and openness, or we will become the complete opposite to them and stick to it. This will be our statement and our answer to their inhuman, conservative, outdated, oppressive lack of progress and modernity. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is it terror or fear that spreads over Europe?
For the past year Europe seems to be facing an increasing threat from terrorism in its own territory.

Our continent of course is not unfamiliar with terror attacks; in the past there were numerous indigenous, separatist terrorist groups and organisations operating in many Western European nations.

Yet nowadays we come against a new threat, this time seemingly from outside of Europe. Since last November and the terror attacks in Paris, we are witnessing a surge in terrorism incidents committed by Islamist groups, most claiming their allegiance to ISIS.

After France which finds itself as a primary target, Belgium and Germany have also been attacked. The latest attack took place today in Normandy, where two terrorists killed a priest and held hostage four more in a church attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. (CNN)

Such development is very worrying and not just because it poses a threat to our lives, but our values. The more such atrocities are escalating, the more nationalism and far right groups will be rising among the European population.

And with them, xenophobia and particularly Islamophobia will become widespread, while our societies will become increasingly conservative full of fear, suspicion and intolerance.

Borders may be reinstalled, threatening the much hated by the nationalists Schengen Agreement. Surveillance, military and police interference or presence may also become the norm for all of us across Europe. In addition traveling could become much harder.

In the past our continent had the Soviet Union to fear and in need to protect itself from, shaping our collective culture and public opinion. Could we possible be faced with a new long term threat, as serious as that of the Cold War?

One would wonder who would benefit from this and why the phenomenon is happening. Are the Islamists truly in war with all the Western societies and if yes, can they really win? Perhaps this new "threat" has one aim; to reshape our societies and mentality by inciting fear.

We need to note that what is happening now in Europe, is a reality for far longer and more severely in Islamic nations throughout Asia and Africa. We may be shocked about the barbaric attacks, but Europe is not the sole epicenter of such terror.  

Muslims still constitute the majority of the victims of such Islamist groups, so to believe that this is a clash strictly between Christianity and Islam is mistaken, perhaps even dangerously misleading.

There are of course those who chose to blame immigration and the arrival of refugees from Syria and other Islamic countries, for these attacks.

Yet millions of Muslims have been living peacefully and fully integrated in our societies for decades. Think of all the doctors, nurses, barbers and convenience store staff that you have encountered throughout your lifetime.

People that served you, cared for you or even saved your lives. We need to remind that to ourselves before a collective hysteria against all people from different faiths occurs.

Europeans must realize that we can not avoid migration, as long as our continent remains one of the richest regions of the planet and while there is still huge inequality in living standards and opportunities throughout it.

Furthermore, Europe's very economy is based on migration and multiculturalism. Our economic model is designed around the inequality between wealthy native Europeans and the hardworking, lesser paid newly arrived migrants.
If we decide now that we do not want immigrants arriving in our lands, then we have to be prepared to take up all the jobs that they were doing all this time.

Immigrants have been the pillar of our economy by working harder, getting paid less and paying more taxes.

So that we can claim our benefits and free education to expand our opportunities, enjoying some of the highest living standards in the globe.

Maybe instead of branding people dangerous, we should be looking at what forced these individuals to turn to violence and terror. Has our societal and economic model failed them, or could this not be strictly a class of civilizations, but rather a manifestation of the Western values' foundering and decline?

A lot of the terrorists were second generation immigrants, born and bred in France or Belgium. Perhaps we must focus on what made these young individuals to chose and die for their religion, instead of making the most of what our societies have to offer.

We need to examine why some groups want desperately to spread fear and terror across Europe, while bringing us in direct collision with countries straight at our doorstep. And as in any quarrel,not all blame can be laid on one side.

What have Europe and the West done over the past decades, to place our continent among the targets of such groups?

It is evident that there are forces constantly trying to create a clash between Eastern and Western values; exploiting old fault lines between them, but only to serve their own agendas.

We apparently feel so threatened by Iran and its nuclear ambitions, that we need to shield ourselves. Consequently we spend an enormous amount of money installing missiles pointed towards them, instead of investing these money in solving many of our societal problems.

On the other hand, the leaders of the Islamic world prefer to blame the West for their failures and their declining outdated values, instead of proceeding in deep reforms, intercultural dialogue and modernization.

Therefore, the attacks on European soil are the result of decades old serious mistakes, both from Western and Eastern leaders. They preferred to maintain a dangerous and outdated division of our worlds instead of trying to eliminate it, in order to safeguard the ideological, financial and political interests of local elite groups.

Either those are the reluctance to modernize the Islamic societies, bringing them in-sync with the rest of the developed world, or to maintain the monopolies of the oil and arms industries of rich Western nations.

As result, we are having disillusioned Muslim youths thinking that they are doing God's will by killing innocent people. In addition, the European continent is falling for the propaganda of hate, fear and intolerance once again.

We can never forget where it led us the last time though. Plus that the majority of the victims of the horror which was unleashed, were Christian and European.

Europeans ought to remain very vigilant in these emerging challenges. They should not allow these events to destroy what our continent has achieved and where our societies have managed to reach.

Europe must not roll back into nationalism, conservatism and intolerance, limiting our freedoms and opportunities for equality and personal development. If the current agenda is to make us give up our freedoms for stricter, imposed "security", then our answer should be defiant.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Will Europeans finally make a decision on their own future?
For the past seven years Europe has found itself in an ever deepening predicament.

In the beginning was the euro-zone crisis, which threatened to break Europe's single currency.

Then the refugee crisis threatened the Schengen Agreement and the very unity of the EU's member states.

The crises in Ukraine and the Middle East have also tested Europe's ability to lead, offer solutions or decisively respond to potential threats.

Finally, after years of struggling to deal with the rising Euro-skepticism and the numerous far-Right movements across the continent, the EU is losing one of its oldest members; the UK has finally voted to leave the union.

It seems that Europeans have lost faith and trust not only in the European project, but their own governments too. Sadly, they seem to want to destroy their biggest collective achievement; the creation of a stable financially, socially and politically continent for the past six decades.

 The only country that still puts effort in the European project is Germany, naturally to safeguard and promote mainly its own interests. 

It is currently the only European country who shows leadership and ambition, when dealing with any of the crises.
The rest of EU member states, still live in a post war, post communist era, nation centric and conservative reality.

But the world is changing and will be very different in the next decades. The harsh reality is that we either all adapt or fail. 

The Brits decided that they are out, the French show weak determination to lead, the Southern states are too absorbed in their own corruption, the BeNeLux and the Scandinavian countries show little resistance to the German hegemony, while the Eastern European nations seem to be in it just for the money. 

They have little vision for Europe's future and they do not embrace totally the West's ambitions. This is evident from how easily they turned the page, once they were faced with the refugee crisis. Even the very EU enthusiastic Poland turned Euro-skeptic, voting in a government that reflects their new approach to migration.

One would naturally put all the blame in the corrupt and decadent national governments of Europe. They do not present the reality and how the EU works to the citizens, in order to safeguard their own political ambitions and the interests of national elites.

As result, the EU is often used as a scapegoat by them, while the citizens have a very distorted view on how things work on European level. Most politicians continue to use EU membership as a platform to promote not necessarily their voters' interests, rather their own agenda.

We haven't seen many national heads of government, openly speaking for the EU and its role in modern Europe. There has been little praise by any European prime minister or a member of his cabinet, of the importance and achievements of the EU.

Most of them prefer to stick to populism and feed national agendas, maintaining the focus of their citizens on national issues.

Yet they now seem to fear the growing German hegemony over the continent. They could of course compete with Germany for leadership, by actively showing involvement, interest and ambition in the European project, instead of blaming the Germans of "taking over". 

Understandably Germany's leadership comes with good and bad effects for the rest of Europe. Naturally they promote their own interests first then the continent's. But until other European states get seriously involved, raise their voice to counterpart that of Germany's, then they should not complain.
The Germans are the only ones who try to bring the continent into the next phase of the global reality. Which will be a multi-polar, ruthless and competitive world.

The problem is that Germany is building up its economy to the detriment of the other surrounding, weaker countries.

That is not a reason for them to want to leave the EU, or hate and fear Germany altogether. European nations of the periphery should unite and place this pressure on the EU institutions to stop Germany from dominating and start sharing and cooperating. Or at least limit its force and dominance.

If they remain disengaged and divided, they can have no expectations from Germany to "save" them or take their needs into consideration, while trying to keep Europe as a relevant player on the new global reality.

Our continent at the moment is in dire need of leadership and unity, that only Germany is seeming to be keen on. All European national governments must be forced by us, the citizens, to get vocal on Europe and engage fully with the European project, integrating further our countries with each other.

Further integration is either we like it or not, the safest bet in securing our continent's wealth and stability in the future.

Alternatively European economies and societies risk being broken up and becoming even less competitive. Going back to individual states, could mean that only few will survive the impending global competition. Not all European countries have the resources or capability to stay relevant.

While being independent and making your own decisions seem more appealing on every country's electorate, we seem to ignore that the world is changing. Europe is not the center of the globe anymore and in the future, it will become inevitably less dominant.

So what will it be; isolationist, protectionist, conservative and nation centric mentality and policies, or should Europe be preparing for a more integrated and globalized world. Can nationalism save us, our way of living and our societies?

Let us not be fooling ourselves anymore,postponing important decisions that can guarantee our future generations' prosperity. We need to make up our minds and take responsibility for our own decisions. Blaming the EU or our governments is easier but in the end, we vote for our own leaders and we still have a voice and power.

Change is always scary but as it is inevitable, it is preferable to get engaged and contribute to our countries' and societies' evolution and reformation, rather becoming an obstacle. Will Europe look better in the future as a divided continent, with ever competing small states for the little resources we have left?

Or will it look better as a community of integrated, but sovereign nations that share resources while promoting prosperity and stability for every one in the continent? We should be striving to create an equal continent, of equal nations, comprised of equal societies and equal individuals. And that has never been achieved by nationalism and populism.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Could Brexit be a blessing in disguise for Europe, or its doom?
Europe's worse nightmare became a reality, after last Thursday's British EU referendum result; one of the block's oldest members has voted to leave the union.

With 51.9% of the votes, the United Kingdom will be leaving the EU by 2019. Many EU officials and politicians have called for a quick "divorce," to avoid damaging long term Europe's economy by dragging the negotiations for too long.

The outcome was expected. For many years, not just Britain but all of the continent's governments were allowing populism to thrive. They failed dealing with the economic crisis quickly enough and in addition, they made serious mistakes when responding to the Syrian refugee crisis.

They forgot that populism always wins. It is easier for people to understand an argument about issues that affect them directly, in the plain language that demagogue Far Right or Far Left politicians were using.

Instead of this, national governments were continuously scapegoating the EU for all that was wrong in their economies. They have purposely avoided explaining to their citizens how the block works and what benefits it offers.

And that simply to engage in political games, with aim to gain an upper hand in their country's internal politics, while perpetuating their rule and power. They ignored the interests of the ordinary people and deliberately allowed them to be misinformed for years, to serve local elites. 

They never wished for the EU and its institutions to replace them in the hearts and minds of the voters. Why would they after all? They preferred citizens to trust them when it came to dealing with issues that were of concern and keep voting for them.

But it was not the EU that failed the citizens during the economic or the refugee crisis.Its institutions did not have much say on how each state would deal with the amount of people pouring from the Middle East. 

In each case, it was the national governments that decided which policy they would follow, opening the borders like Germany or Sweden, or hermetically closing them like Slovakia and Hungary to refugees. It was our own rulers who were delaying the process and hindering a quicker response to the problem.

Additionally, it was not the EU that followed disastrous economic policies for decades, leading to the economic crisis which affects millions of Europeans now. Each national government has either decided alone or in agreement with its EU partners and the block's institutions and laws, which they have accepted and voted for, on their financial policies. 

Where the EU is largely at fault, is that they remained too detached from the citizens for decades. It mainly focused on the financial nature of the union, while it did little to remain relevant in the citizens' every day expectations and problems.

In addition, it responded in a very technocratic- often arrogant- manner to the financial crisis, ignoring the warnings or voices of analysts with a different approach. 

They acted with absolute disregard to the ordinary peoples' needs while they were quick to appease European banks. Thus proceeding with disastrous austerity policies, in the case of states like Greece.

As result, the EU became the poster-child of the euro-zone crisis even though it was not entirely its fault. it comes to Britain itself, its political leadership allowed for decades wealthy populist con-men to brainwash and misinform people through media, misrepresenting the reality on the country's EU membership.

On that, most recent British politicians are to be blamed not just David Cameron. They allowed the bubblegum of "Britain is Great and we pay too much in Europe" to go on for years.

Maintaining this arrogance and nationalism among the political elite and the people, resulted in the populist politics bursting at their faces in the recent referendum.

Subsequently we witness an extraordinary set of developments, as an aftermath. David Cameron himself announced his resignation by October. The Labour Party is in turmoil facing a number of resignations, while Scotland and Northern Ireland expressed their intentions of looking into ways to leave the UK altogether.

The Scottish in particular, which voted for staying in the EU are causing the most ripples. The country's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, hinted at how undemocratic it would be for Scotland to be dragged out of the European Union, after having voted by 62% to remain.

Mrs Sturgeon has appeared to suggest that the Scottish Parliament could block Britain's exit from the EU, or it could hold a second referendum to leave the centuries old union with the rest of the Kingdom. Could this be the end of the Europe and Britain as we know it?

In a worse case scenario if the UK leaves the EU, we could see the dissolution of the country and Scotland and N. Ireland rejoining the block in time. Yet Britain's departure could cause negative side effects throughout the continent.

Most European Far Right leaders, like France's Marine Le Pen and Holland's Geert Wilders have hailed the British referendum outcome, hinting that they will try to achieve the same for their own countries.

If they succeed, we will have the dissolution of the EU, a work in progress since WW2 and the most admirable achievement of Europe. The economic, social and political chaos that will follow, should scare any reasonable person in this continent. 

Additionally we could see the return and rise of fascism, nationalism, xenophobia and extremism in Europe, in forms that we haven't experienced since the end of the last big war.

On a more positive tone, it will never come to this. If Britain eventually leaves the union, it will most likely join EEA/EFTA, thus not much will change. But it will take a lot of negotiations and political skill from their part, to convince the rest of Europe to accept them as a member of these blocks. 

As the remaining European powers will most likely want to make an example of the UK and punish it, in order to forbid other Euro-skeptic nations attempting something similar. Just as they humiliated Greece so that other member states could hastened reforms, Britain could pay a high price in order to punish all these states who also might want out. 

Another positive outcome from this referendum, could be that the rest of Europe may proceed with further integration now. Britain was always the most vocal member state advocating against such development and since now is on its way out, pro-European and federalist powers could finally achieve their goal.

If of course others don't decide to leave. Britain has a lot of allies and close partners in the union. Sweden, Denmark and Ireland, all joined the block because Britain did initially. 

The case of Ireland is particularly interesting. The small nation shares close economic ties, plus the only land borders with the United Kingdom. What will happen to it when Britain leaves? While the Irish are pro-European and most likely to integrate themselves further in EU by joining the Schengen Agreement now that Britain is out, things could go the other way too.

If the Germans and the French are not careful and push too hard for fast and uncompromising federalization of Europe, they could hurt Ireland's economy even further. Because the country is closely relying on Britain, with a Brexit it will become one of the worse affected nations in the EU.

If the Franco-Germans corner the small nation to abolish its corporate taxation system and harmonize it with the rest of Europe, they could also push the Irish out of the union and in the hands of the British-Americans out of desperation. 

These are of course scenarios, as there are many who believe that the UK won't have to leave the EU after all. 

British Labour MP David Lammy has called on Westminster to "stop this madness" and to vote against the referendum decision to leave the EU. He claims that the the referendum was an"advisory, non-binding referendum."

"We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end through a vote in Parliament. Our sovereign Parliament needs to now vote on whether we should exit the EU."
(The Independent)

In addition there is a petition which has already gathered over 3 million votes, calling for a second referendum. Could the above developments indicate that the British citizens and leadership do not really want to leave the EU?

Is all this fiasco with the referendum an effort to expose, silence and finally eliminate Britain's Euro-skeptics? They have been blocking their country's further integration into the union, plus the EU's progress in a fully fledged functioning federation.

Could their victory become their end? It is debatable if they have the skills to lead Britain and navigate it out of the mess they brought the country in. If there is any chance of getting rid of them for good, it could well be to seemingly get their way, fail and disappear for good.

If the UK leaves the union, then forced to rejoin due to the extreme economic penalties it could face, it will then be forced to join both the Schengen Agreement and the euro-zone. Could this disastrous outcome become the Euro-skeptic's Pyrrhic victory, which could lead to a better EU and Europe? 

A reformed EU, that will be kick-started by Britain's departure and the need for further coherence in the remaining member states, could just be all that Europe needed all these years. The union has hit a wall; politically, financially and socially.

Could the outcome of the British referendum, actually be a blessing in disguise for both the UK and our continent? 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Brexit threat is seriously looming over Europe.
As the date of the British referendum on its EU membership approaches, the country finds itself evenly split while Europe holds its breath.

This will be the UK's most important decision in its modern history; it will not only impact the nation's future, but also that of the whole continent and even the global economy.

As result one would expect the British electorate to be looking at the wider picture, rather focusing on populist and nation centered arguments. But they do not.

The debate on the UK's EU membership is not new. Ever since I started blogging around 10 years ago, it has been brewing in the European bloggosphere and it was one of the most heated debates, together with the potential Turkish EU membership.

British Euro-skeptic bloggers have been long arguing about their country's EU membership contribution, immigration and loss of control over important decisions. In addition they were keen to convince their leaders to get Britain in a trade agreement with Europe, similar to that of Switzerland and Norway.

It was very hard to convince them about the difference between being a small rich country, yet with little voice or influence in the world like Switzerland and being one of the leading economies in Europe; just as Britain is.

The EEA/EFTA Agreements may seemingly offer unlimited freedom to conduct business with third countries. Yet when dealing with the EU, all EFTA/EEA nations must comply with numerous laws and legislation that they haven't even voted for.

The so called "fax-democracy," where a large bulk of the laws you must adopt as government come to you by fax from Brussels in order to remain part of the Free Trade Area, is not something the UK should be aspiring to.

A former pioneering outward looking nation, will potentially cut ties with its own backyard in order to create new ones with its former colonies and emerging economies. 

And that desperate act is caused mainly by the one sided mentality, questioning who pays more in the EU budget. It is true that the UK contributes more than most other countries. But it is, just like Germany and France, one of the main long term beneficiaries from their membership.

Most multinational companies and banks have settled in the UK because of its EU membership, to access the world's biggest market. They have transformed the country in the economic powerhouse that it is today.

Britain's economy is not an industrial one any longer; it is based on exporting services, predominately financial ones and mainly to the rest of Europe. Why would anyone reinstate regulations and laws that have been abolished in order to make the exportation of these services easier, to seek trade with former colonies?

Besides will these nations be willing to accept British economic influence and dominance as before, now that the world is transforming to a more multi-polar diverse global economy?

 Let's face it. The Western economies, including Europe and Britain have been declining in terms of wealth and power over the past decades, while new economic blocks have been emerging. 

Is it wise for Britain to leave its cradle now, while it should be integrating totally with the rest of Europe, leading, transforming and even dominating it.

Why hand over the EU to the Germans or the French, while the British could and should be fighting to stay in and taking over.
Not that the arguments that the Leave campaign supporters are putting forward, are invalid or irrelevant. They are simply rather European issues, not strictly British.

Sadly the EU has been focusing for decades now on its financial nature, rather trying to remain relevant to its citizens, their needs or aspirations. There are few true direct benefits that we citizens get out of our country's EU membership. 

The freedom of movement, to be able to travel, work, study and trade anywhere in the continent are the most obvious. But in times of an economic downturn, in a very unequal economically continent, with austerity and unemployment affecting all countries, it is hard to convince citizens to look at the bigger picture.

Populism, nationalism, xenophobia and extremist radical political ideas take hold and it is easier to manipulate public opinion; just as it has been happening not only in Britain, but the whole of Europe for the past decade.

Particularly in the UK,populism and Euro-skeptic propaganda reached to such level, that we are now potentially faced with the departure of one of the EU's oldest members and main economic power engines. 

Could this lead to the block's disintegration, if other countries chose to leave or join an outer, less integrated European club?

The debate in Britain now is so heated that something unthinkable happened last week. For the first time after many decades in Europe, we had a politically motivated assassination. 

Jo Cox, a Labour Party MP as well a pro-European, was shot and stabbed in her constituency of Yorkshire, northern England. (MarketWatch)

The killing, for which a 52-year-old local man has been charged, caused the suspension of referendum hostilities for three days, depriving the Brexiteers of much-needed momentum, affording the Remain camp an equally needed emotional rallying point and ensuring that the final stages of the struggle will be far more low-key and even-tempered.

All this, together with a general wave of revulsion about the killing and the view that the alleged murderer (who gave his name in court as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”) was a home-grown right-wing political extremist. (

The incident and its significance might have been watered down by the media, in order to keep the public calm and not incite further divisions or violence. Yet we can not ignore the fact that such episodes usually happen in countries that the UK was so critical of, regarding their political systems. 

It is truly worrying to witness it in the UK, which used to be a beacon of liberalism and modernity in Europe. If Right wing radicals have moved on from killing Leftist supporters like the case of Breivik in Norway, to killing elected MPs and prominent politicians, what does the future hold for British and European politics?

From my experience during the Irish referendums on the Lisbon Treaty, it is hard to convince the electorate to vote for something that they do not understand and you have difficulties explaining in plain language. 

It is even harder to convince them, when all business and political leaders insist on a YES vote, simply because "it is good for the country." While populist, opportunist political personas debate in simple terminology and about problems that directly concern the voters.

In reality, no matter the outcome of the referendum we must realize that this is a battle between different elite groups in UK. One has interests outside, the other has interests remaining in the EU. They have invested in their cause, or their businesses are losing out by being in.

Sadly, all they need is our "approval" which in nothing more than an endorsement of their interests, to make it seem more "democratic" and compatible with the values they have incited in us. 

The U.K. will be fine both in and out the EU after all. The issue that we as citizens must be focusing on, is what kind of Britain, Europe and world we want to leave for our future generations.

Shall we give in to nationalism, protectionism, xenophobia and reverse all that we have achieved all these decades? Or shall we continue in our efforts in creating a more equal Europe?

Not that our continent is perfect at the moment; far from it. But European unification was always a work in progress and there are many issues still to be dealt with, in order to make a better continent.

Europe should become a beacon of human rights, equality and prosperity that could lead by example and help other regions overcoming their problems. It is also in our interests as citizens to want to achieve this goal.

If you are worried about "immigrants coming over and taking your jobs," then I am afraid there is not better solution to this problem than encouraging financial prosperity elsewhere in Europe and the world.

And that can only happen by sharing resources and knowledge, fair trade, regional integration and continuous cooperation between the future integrated economic blocks across the globe. 

You will not have your interests served by perpetuating the current unequal economic system, that creates poverty elsewhere abroad.

Should a YES vote is passed in the UK, we could get a chance that if managed properly by our leaders, it could send a message to the rest of the world. 

That Europeans do not give in to populism and nationalism, that we have our views set differently for our future. That Europe should remain united working for equality and prosperity and that other regions should follow its example.

If a NO vote is passed, then other countries may follow Britain's lead and Europe will return to protectionism, nationalism and borders. And the chance for any constructive change forward will be lost for our continent.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Europe is showing its true, ugly-very ugly self....!!
Observing the recent developments in Europe, one can not but feel utter shame and disgust.

The refugee crisis that has been troubling our continent for the past year, has finally managed to bring the EU on the verge of disintegration.

The Schengen Agreement, that offers us citizens one of the greatest benefits from our country's EU membership, is under threat.

In most countries, the Far-Right is gaining support, fences are being put in place, anti-immigrant protests and sentiments are on the rise, while our governments are still debating how to respond.

European nations haven't managed to coordinate their efforts in dealing with this challenge. While some, like Sweden and Germany, have done more than their fair share, others preferred to do the minimum possible.

Most Eastern European states, have turned even anti-European and decided to vote in governments that are openly Euro-skeptic, anti-immigrant and conservative. Empowering of course the British skeptics, which since the very beginning of this humanitarian crisis, found just another reason to turn their backs to the rest of Europe. They have now added the immigration crisis into their list of reasons to leave the EU.

Poland has turned a page and from one of the most enthusiastic new EU member states, they have now elected the far-right Law and Justice party (PiS) in both chambers of parliament. It has spent its first two months in power tightening its grip over the security services, the constitutional tribunal and the civil service. Soon after that, it has been purging the country’s public media. (The Economist)

Poland, together with Hungary now form a rising Euro-skeptic block in the Eastern Europe, promoting, nationalism and populism, where there once was optimism and hope for the European project. Naturally bringing these two countries in collision with Germany, who seems to be increasingly the only nation still supporting European integration.

Others like Slovakia and Cyprus, have openly stated that they would only accept Christian refugees, while the Baltic states have also turned sour on the idea of accepting Muslims.

In this absolute ugly mess, Greece's EU partners shamelessly have often called for the country to be kicked out of the Schengen Agreement, because apparently "it can not guard its own borders!"

This is plain scapegoating, just as they did with the euro crisis. Instead of admitting that the euro-zone was very badly designed, they blamed all its failures on its weakest link.

Now they are placing Greece again on the defendant seat, blaming it for the worsening refugee crisis. It is a disgraceful claim, as Greece once again is being unfairly treated by its so called "partners".

First of all Greece has mainly sea borders with its neighbor-Turkey, which the Europeans decided to give 3 billion euro in order to bribe them and make them help Europe with the problem. To no avail of course.

It is very difficult to guard such extended shorelines against such volumes of people arriving; no nation was ever prepared for such thing. But a continent with some of the most prosperous nations of this world, should have been.

It is Europe collectively that should have already coped on and created a unified force to deal with the problem; either a common European army or an empowered FRONTEX, in which all EU countries would contribute and be part of.

Greece is not the desired destination for the refugees, the rich states of the North are. Thus making this problem a European one, not just a Greek or Turkish one.

In addition, Greek migration minister Ioannis Mouzalas has revealed that a Belgian minister suggested Greece should "push" refugee boats "back into the sea" to help solve the migration crisis on the country's shores during a meeting in Amsterdam. (Sputnik News)

There are simply no words to describe the above statement. It is at least vile and outrageous. If Greece ever openly proceeded in such practices, I am sure that countries like Belgium would be the first to throw stones at it for being undemocratic, breaking humanitarian laws, non fitting for the European family etc.

But behind the scenes, the rich European states are unveiling their true selfish, arrogant and fascist face. If they really cared about solving the refugee crisis, they would have acted years ago. This problem has been accumulating, confined in the borders of Jordan, Turkey and Iraq for years now.

Why hasn't Europe, too absorbed by sorting out its own finances, foreseen the potential disaster and done something about it? Assist the Middle Eastern countries and help the refugees to stay in the region. Offer them humanitarian assistance and use diplomacy, to convince other rich nations of the world to contribute in this effort.

Now that the crisis has reach a breaking point, they are seeking someone to take the blame and be ridiculed. And so it is Greece again who must answer for the mess, while the finger must be pointed to the rich Western European countries and their arms industries who have been supplying weapons to the region, fueling this disastrous conflict, while they are making profit out of it.

In addition, Europe's governments and media must answer for their support of US foreign policy in the region, supporting the Syrian rebels and fanning the conflict in order to destabilize the region. Once you meddle with other countries' internal affairs, who must be able to accept the consequences. Most EU governments have been supporting America and its policies in Syria.

Also we must not forget that Europe has been where Syria is now in the past, after WW2. Especially the Eastern European countries, which have seen waves of refugees escaping to the Western part of the continent over the past decades, one would expect them now to be very supportive towards the Syrians.

It was not long ago, that the stereotype of the "Polish plumber" stealing jobs from Western Europeans, was also shaming our continent. Europe has become an ugly place to live and I am increasingly disgusted with where the continent and the EU are heading.

My view of Europe is an open society with open internal borders, a beacon of humanity and prosperity that's true to its values that it so much prides itself of. There is so little of this on display nowadays and as Europeans are increasingly turning more xenophobic and nationalist, I hold little hope for a future united Europe, that will be a happy place to live in.