Thursday 24 April 2014

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Where is Europe set to go after the 2004 and 2007 enlargement waves? Are the Western Balkans next to join? Can the other ex-Yugoslav republics be kept out once Croatia has become an EU member state? And most controversially: What future for Turkey and Europe?

 

Acting against Euroscepticism

Posted by on 02/04/14

The European Union has unified the continent like never before. It has been instrumental in shaping the progress of its countries and people by promoting fundamental freedoms. But given these upsides, why isn’t the Union more popular amongst its citizens? Numerous reasons exists in giving substance to the criticisms, but three points stand notoriously firm:

  • The structural complexities surrounding the EU
  • The misinformation and the lack of information within the EU
  • The recent recession and its handling by the EU

The first point entails the complex structure of the Union’s political structure; its system is indeed confusing, considering the vast amounts of agencies operating around it that are likely to be unknown to the public. Since it is more than a confederation of states but not a federal entity, the EU’s unique structure is something unprecedented and requires time for the people to comprehend the complexities.

The second point hints to the lack of knowledge EU citizens have regarding the EU, which leads to misconceptions surrounding the institution. It has been suggested to citizens that the Union is a bureaucratic nightmare filled with unelected seniors who enact policies that affect them. Of course, such notions lead to people thinking that they do not have a voice in influencing EU policies. As such misconceptions grow, EU critics in the media take advantage of the citizens’ ignorance to fuel their agenda.

The third point signifies the citizens’ dissatisfaction regarding the recent economic crisis. This has led to the rise of populist anti-EU parties who resort to propagandizing acts, which include national politicians pinning the cause of their country’s crises to Brussels. The increasing support for Eurosceptic parties in the recent months has been alarming; when Eurosceptic politicians gain fame, the development of the Union becomes threatened because their extreme advocacies against EU policies reach the point where they spread nationalist views that lead to xenophobia and intolerance. Such policies of course lead to undesirable and regressive political ramifications that are contrary to the principles of the EU.

In the midst of an economic crisis where the Union is doing everything it can to fix it, citizens cannot afford to have their national politicians to resort to petty pinpointing and sensationalizing that merely hardens the EU’s work and progress and depraves the EU’s name.

The dangerous nationalism that caused World War I may be getting a comeback with the rise of right-winged anti-EU parties. What’s alarming is that these insurgent parties are likely to succeed in the upcoming European Parliament polls, which needs to change. Citizens must realize that their platforms are misleading and regressively delusional, and they must give their fellow citizens the incentive to take action, because the truth is they really don’t want to live in the delusions of Eurosceptics.

Thus, the fate of EU development falls under their hands. The low voter turnout in the previous European polls must not be repeated because if EU citizens really don’t want to adhere to policies that will threaten basic fundamental freedoms, they need to vote, and vote for the right party.

Even if one isn’t too enthusiastic on the EU, voting still helps for it is the first step. The next step is to then regain the enthusiasm and advocate reform. The Lisbon Treaty was the first step in enhancing the Union by simplifying its structure; but the EU needs more than that, the EU needs to take further steps in integration, namely the commitment to a collective ideology of citizens in bettering EU development. This is done by setting aside their differences and starting to cooperate with one another and by promoting a union of citizens instead of a union of member states.

http://i.imgur.com/I3JQUdx.jpg

Courtesy of the European Commission

 

Ucrania escenario de guerra fría: ¿a qué espera la Unión Europea para ser mayor?

Posted by on 02/03/14
By Jesús González Ucrania se desangra ente divisiones políticas, enfrentamientos sociales y bancarrota económica. Rusia aprovecha la circunstancia tratando de recomponer sus fronteras sobre su sueño imperial zarista o de los soviets. Y mientras la Unión Europea, que tiró la piedra y escondió la mano en la plaza de Maidán en Kiev, como si fuera mayor de edad en el contexto mundial, ahora se arruga recordando que es un simple adolescente jugando a ser adulto...

Ukraine: We must look forward

Posted by on 27/02/14

I would like to recommend to you an article by the Members of the Board of Yalta European Strategy (YES) calling upon Russia and the European Union to „support harmonious economic development of Ukraine”.

Marek Siwiec

Yalta European Strategy (YES) is the largest social institution of public diplomacy in Eastern Europe, providing an open and equal dialogue on global issues affecting the European Union, Ukraine, Russia and other countries.

Ukraine: We must look forward

On Maidan, flowers have replaced the cobblestones and barricades. They honor the heroes who fell one week ago for Ukraine and who will live in hearts forever. Their example is humbling.
But their disappearance must not – cannot – lead to the split of Ukraine: this would be to betray them in the most shameful way, to betray those who died so that Ukraine could live!
The Ukrainian people did everything they could and more: those who did not die fought, and those who did not fight showed their support in a thousand ways, which allowed Maidan to withstand day after day.
The Ukrainian people will, by vote, continue their efforts to re-establish the rule of law, wipe out corruption and embed democracy more deeply in Ukraine, so that everyone can live there in peace.
However, this time, the Ukrainian people cannot do it all alone. They are going to need help – they already need help.
It is no longer the time for great declarations of intention, cautious diplomatic statements or evasion: it is time to act.
We therefore call upon Russia and the West, especially European Union to assume their common responsibility: to support the harmonious economic development of Ukraine. We therefore ask them to set up a conference on the future of Ukraine as soon as possible.
Nothing substantial or sustainable will be accomplished unless these two historic partners of Ukraine reach an agreement.
If this means making compromises, then let’s make them! Ukraine and the Ukrainian people deserve better than a game of role playing in which each participant occupies a position that closes the door to any hope of progress.
If this means looking towards the future, then let’s do so! Ukraine and the Ukrainian people deserve to have everyone looking forward today and to have us all looking in the same direction.
The people of Ukraine need an act that shows the European Union’s recognition for all those who fought for its values – why not immediately rescind the revocation of the visas of Ukrainian citizens looking to travel to a member country of the European Union?
The people of Ukraine need urgent assistance to meet their immediate financial obligations – they are counting on Russia and the European Union to provide this assistance.
To pick itself back up, Ukraine is going to need the Ukrainian people, but also the European Union and Russia. It is up to the people of Russia and Europe to give the Ukrainian people back the ability to move forward together.
YES will be happy to organize such a conference in the historical Livadia Palace in Yalta, Ukraine, if the support of an independent NGO can be helpful. We hope the West, especially the EU, and Russia, will be ready to act.

We say to them: do it!

The Members of the Board of Yalta European Strategy

Aleksander Kwasniewski, President of Poland (1995–2005), Chairman of the Board of YES;
Pat Cox, President of the European Parliament (2002-2004); Mario David, Member of the European Parliament; ; Stephane Fouks, Vice President, Havas Group and Executive Co-Chairman, Havas Worldwide; Victor Pinchuk, Founder of YES, Founder of EastOne Group, Founder of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation; Alexander Rahr, Senior Advisor, Wintershall Holding; Research Director, German-Russian Forum; Jean-Pierre Saltiel, President (1998–2004), Rothschild Сonseil International, France; Marek Siwiec, Member of the European Parliament; Javier Solana, High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union and Secretary General of the Council of the EU (1999-2009)

Ukraine: the day after

Posted by on 24/02/14
By Marek Siwiec For the last several hours I have been trying to settle up my thoughts about what is happening in Ukraine. The agreement entered into by Sikorski- Steinmeier- Yanukovych- Yatseniuk- Klitschko- Tiahnybok on Friday initiated “a cooperation of all parties for the sake of its implementation”. It was, however, not until the following day that the facts about the escape have come to light. That day the history started to create a new scenario - a scenario of revolution.

EU brokered agreement in Kiev: A short-term success

Posted by on 23/02/14
By Bernhard Schinwald The EU foreign ministers made it. In an unprecended act, they were able to broker an agreement between President Viktor Yanukowych and the opposition to avoid the worst. The tinderbox called Ukraine remains calm – at least for now. Now, to secure lasting peace in the Ukraine both side finally have to acknowledge the interests of each other and agree to keep the country out of any geopolitical ambitions.

Bosnia needs much more serious Efforts to qualify for EU Membership

Posted by on 21/02/14

It is almost two decades since Bosnia ended its civil war, more than 10 years since the EU has recognised the country as a potential member and six years since the country has signed a ‘stabilisation and association agreement’ (SAA) with the EU which is still not in effect. It has fallen far behind neighbouring Croatia that has succeeded in joining in July 2013 and Serbia that has obtained candidate status in 2013.

This delay is essentially due to the inability of its political class to put their house in order and tackle political and constitutional reforms that are a precondition for membership.

It has failed to simplify its 1995 governance structure which had been meant to last no longer than three years or.

Its governance is therefore far too complex, inefficient and expensive for a country with less than four million people, divided into the Bosnian-Croatian federation (!), the Srbska Republic and ten cantons towered by a central government with three rotating presidents.

No surprise that it has not been able to make optimal use of the huge amounts of foreign assistance that it has received from 1996 onward to rebuild its infrastructure and modernise its institutions. Unacceptably high unemployment, especially for youngsters, has become endemic and is posing increasing social and political unrest.

The lack of good governance accounts for the poor business climate and the high corruption index. And it keeps fomenting periodic uprisings across the country, one of which we are witnessing presently with young people demanding jobs, better education and higher living standards.

As long as this situation persists EU member states will, rightly, feel no incentive to push for accession. It is up to the Bosnian political class to make their country fit for it. This should imply profound constitutional changes, as Bosnia will be unable to function as an effective member state with its present constitution.

The EU Commission has left Bosnia for too long in the shadows, preoccupied with more pressing problems in its wider neighbourhood. The new Commission would be well advised to recommend the Bosnian authorities to define the road-map that might finally lead to membership.

Eberhard Rhein, Brussels, 12/02/2014

How can Ukraine get out of the political dead-end without blood?

Posted by on 19/02/14

Ukraine has ended up in the political dead-end. And both the power and the opposition have many of those who would like to resolve the political crisis using the power scenario. As a result of the three-months political confrontation the national economy is also plunging deeper into the crisis. The government tries hard to provide the timely payment of pensions, social payments and salaries to workers of the budget sphere. In addition, the debts for the Russian gas have started to increase with incredible pace. Obviously, if the political destabilization continues, the government shouldn’t count on the very necessary external financing for the state budget deficit.

There is no doubt that depending on political affiliations it is possible to look for those guilty in the most dramatic crisis in all modern Ukraine’s history either in Russia or in Europe. But it seems that it has a purely internal reason. And the way-out of it will have to be found within the country.

Excessive centralization of power, lack of effective checks and balances rooted in the Constitution of Ukraine lies at the bottom of this crisis. Under such circumstances the winner gets everything, and evil be to those who lost.

In conditions of extreme mistrust between political forces it was an excessive hope to expect that they were capable of introducing necessary amendments to the Constitution. But in the meantime, this political crisis won’t be able to last that long, economy will simply not withstand it.

Therefore, to my mind, antagonistic political forces need to reach an agreement about the convocation of the Constitutional Assembly according to the experience of Iceland, for instance.  Representatives of different political parties, different regions of the country and national ethnic groups have to participate in it. Citizens of different social and age layers of the population, labor unions, non-governmental public organizations, religious confessions also need to be represented in it.

It’s clear that legislators and especially constitutional law experts have to be among them.

Their task has to be to write the text of the new Ukrainian constitution.

I don’t attempt to describe here everything which needs to be reflected in it.

I’d like to note only that the new constitution should provide much more powers to the local governments. It also has to provide much more effective mechanisms protecting the rights of opposition, yielding it more control functions.

Personally I believe it would be appropriate to essentially reduce the term of office to deputies of all levels — starting from local ones to the parliament. From the current five years to three or, even, two years. For example, re-elections of Congressmen in the US are conducted every two years.

Under such circumstances both those who won and those who lost are compelled to be in a continuous contact with voters and prepare for new elections.

But it is also important to ensure that the main condition for the participation in the Constitutional Assembly should be an obligation taken from the citizen that he/she will not work in governmental bodies and local governments, participate in elections to the parliament and local government bodies, be a judge or occupy senior positions in law enforcement agencies within next ten years. Under such conditions there will be a lot more bases to hope that its members will write this constitution not for themselves.

The new constitution needs to be ready as soon as possible – no more than three months. Afterwards, it has to be voted on at the all-Ukrainian referendum.

As to the government, the best way-out is to create a purely technocratic government for this time.  And members of the government have to make a commitment they won’t participate in the following presidential and parliamentary elections. Then they will think much more of how to conduct economic reforms and get the national economy out of the crisis, than about their own ratings.

The offered mechanism of crisis recovery has nothing new in it. In different countries and at various times basically such recreation of the state has already taken place. But for this purpose representatives of different pro-governmental and oppositional political forces need to have more responsibility and sacrifice not to allow for much more blood, than the blood that has, unfortunately, already shed in Ukraine.

 

Scotland and Europe: both Cameron and Salmond must play fair with the voters

Posted by on 17/02/14
By Andrew Duff Scottish independence does not secure Edinburgh EU membership per se, as European Commission President José Manuel Barroso stressed the scenario would be unprecedented. Many stumbling blocks lie on the path towards membership, including the euro, the ever-changing acquis communautaire and the required unanimity amongset member states.

The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Between Chances

Posted by on 13/02/14

Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is an artificial administrative creature made by foreign powers in Dayton agreement on 1995. It has two political semi-independent entities (federal units) – Serb dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) inhabited mainly by Croats and Bosniacs. The 2014 unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in the northern town of Tuzla on 3 February 2014, but quickly spread to multiple cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Sarajevo, for social reasons with the aim of overthrowing the government. The riots are the most violent scenes the country has seen since the end of the Bosnian War.

Bosnian flag with explanation
The three points of the triangle represent the nation’s three ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The triangle itself represents the geographic shape of the nation itself. The colors represent neutrality and peace, whereas the stars represent Europe.

Over the last several days Bosnia and Herzegovina saw widespread unrest as protesters clashed with police and burn government buildings, leaving scores injured and arrested, mainly in the ethnically mixed parts of Bosnia that are governed by the Muslim-Croat Federation (FBiH), while minor protests took place also in the Republika Srpska (RS) towns of Banja Luka and Bijeljina. 30 years ago Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympic Games, now however instead of the Olympic flame Bosnians cheered to the flames that engulfed government buildings.

Cumbersome system without national identity

Despite international community’s state building efforts in Bosnia the country is splitting parts, Since war foreign aid has exceed USD 90 bn for this artificial creature designed in Dayton agreement aiming multi-ethnic state with EU perspective. As a result Bosnia is now even more divided, with less national identity, 20 percent of population living under the poverty line, with a nightmare triple administration plus international supervising making the country one of the worst place in Europe to do business west of Ukraine (according WB ease of doing business index), even as it seeks to join the European Union. The EU has demanded that if Bosnia wishes to join to EU, it must create a stronger central government. Negotiations – led by EU and U.S over constitutional changes to strengthen the central government have been long and unsuccessful.

The 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina serve as the second-level units of local autonomy and federal units of the of FBiH while the other political entity of BiH, the Republika Srpska (RS), has a centralized government and is divided directly into 63 municipalities. In addition the ethnically diverse Br?ko District is a division of its own under the direct jurisdiction of BiH. One peculiar aspect in BiH administration is discriminatory election process based to Dayton scribble. Bosnia’s constitution allows only the members of the Constituent Peoples – ethnic Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Muslims) – to stand for election to either the three-member Presidency or the House of Peoples. Non-constituent Peoples – defined in the Constitution as ‘Others’ like Jewish and Roma people – can only stand for election to the lower house, being denied their right to full participation in the political process.

The political crisis which has escalated in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2006, degenerated after the 2010 elections into an all-out political war in which each and every party – or even party faction – fought each other in various combinations, making and breaking alliances on almost daily level. This situation blocked the country’s reform agenda and forced the EU to halt the accession process, suspend 47 million euro of pre-accession funds for 2013 and postpone preparations for a new pre-accession package that was supposed to provide hundreds of millions of euros in grants for the period 2014-2020. Political chaos was also directly reflected in the economic and social situation, with rampant unemployment rates and rising poverty levels.

Roots of protests

Can any country survive without some minimal mutual self-identification across its citizens as a whole? If the shared non-ethnic Bosnian identity is taking steps backwards does this not mean that this artificial western desk-drawer plan is doomed to fail? I am afraid so but maybe it is loss only for those top-level designers not for local population. (More e.g. in Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Social divide in BosniaSome sights about anger among ordinary Bosnian citizens have been seen during last couple of years. The tragic massacre in Srebrenica on July 11th1995, has ever since been traditionally used by the Bosniac and Serb leaders as a valuable propaganda resource for promoting religious and national divisions between the Bosniac and Serb population. In 2012, the rulers and their foreign sponsors were in for another surprise from the masses – and on the day of their perfect end-of-history-type ceremony, of all places. This July 11th, at the Srebrenica massacre commemoration in the Poto?ari Memorial Centre, the victims’ families demanded that no politicians give speeches. When that was ignored, the masses reacted with loud whistles and curses directed at the leaders of Bosnian parties. The loudest whistle was reportedly received by none other than the American ambassador to Bosnia.

The Bosnian government is notorious for not taking decisions partly due competing interests of the entities. In 2013 some protests started after the constitutional court ruled that the current law on ID numbers is unconstitutional and the government was unable to propose a solution, resulting in newborns not being able to receive official documents like passports and are thus unable to travel even when for example in one case there was need to get urgent medical treatment abroad. Also similar case was the dispute in Bosnia about veterinary and sanitary inspections. As Bosnian politicians were unable to agree on who is to carry out the inspections, thousands of Bosnian farmers could not export their dairy products to Croatia once it came EU-member with more rigid controls.

The Bosnian Spring turned violent

Since the 1990s, all levels of government have shown utmost insensitivity to the social and economic destitution of citizens, youth, and particularly marginalised social categories. This kind of systemic institutional violence, political abuse of power, incompetence and neglect has planted seeds of anger and frustration. For nearly twenty years people of BiH have suffered under the administration of a vicious cabal of political oligarchs who have used ethno-nationalist rhetoric to obscure the plunder of BiH’s public coffers. (More eg from Al Jazeera Balkans, who maybe has the the best reporting on the events)

Bosnian demonstrations in 2014

Whatever the roots of protests are it seems clear that now people say out loud that they have had enough of poverty, indifferent authorities, rotten values in society, bad governance and outside masterminding. Dissatisfaction with the economic and political system in the country has pushed diverse groups to unite in protest.

The protests began in Tuzla, organised by the workers of former state companies, who protested against not only the closure of companies, but also corrupt privatisation processes. These groups voiced their grievances already January 2014, demanding resignations and broader changes within the economic and social system.

On February 4th 2014 protests gained momentum when other societal groups like citizen’s associations, youth, pensioners and war veterans came out on the streets with workers in Tuzla and later in Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica and other cities too. The events were similar like earlier during “Arab Spring” as the demonstrations involved many different groups of people and were not centrally organised. While organizations differed their demands were similar: government resignations, reduction of salaries for high-ranking government officials, free and quality social services, etc.

Thousands of disgruntled workers, demobilized soldiers and unemployed youth poured onto the streets as angry protests were spreading from Tuzla to other parts of FBiH. In Tuzla the situation quickly ran out control after thousands of protesters surrounded the cantonal government building. Police started firing tear gas and flash-bang grenades but after a brief clash with demonstrators, police special forces retreated and a number of protesters entered the abandoned government building and started ransacking and burning it. So far heads or governments in four cantons have resigned. Large amounts of historical documents were lost when sections of the Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina were set on fire.

Dissatisfaction with a political system that does not work for the people of the country is vast and growing. Eighteen years of evidence has demonstrated that the constitutional and electoral systems put into place to end the war have worked well for the political elites for and their elaborate systems of patronage. But the rest of the country – the overwhelming majority of citizens of all national persuasions – has been left out. Public opinion polls conducted in 2013 show a clear foundation for reform, and show that all citizens – Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs and the oft-neglected “others” – want constitutional reforms based on real issues and interests, which break the stranglehold of the parties that dominate political and economic life.

watch?v=QFjsxj42jYI?feature=player_detailpage&w=640&h=360

Class struggle instead of ethnic one

The roots of the present protests in Bosnia-Hercegovina are more based on social questions than ethnic intolerance like before. After bloodshed in the country in the 1990s there was some violence for example between Croats and Bosniacs. Beside this ethnic tension there has been now nearly two decades of privatisation, plunder and peripheral gangster capitalism, as well as the constant humiliation by the structures of the Western guidance – Office of the High Representative (OHR).

The younger generations took to the streets in the manner of protesters of “Arab Spring” a couple of years ago demanding some form of change in their living conditions and ousting the ruling elite. After Tuzla the feeling of empowerment spread throughout Bosnia like wildfire, mostly with the help of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, like in “Twitter or Color revolutions” seen earlier in Iran, Moldova etc. Although the movement originated in the workers’ protests in Tuzla, organised labour has so far not taken a lead nor any political party. Demonstrations started as spontaneous outbursts of popular anger without clear class or ethnic line.

After Tuzla people in more than 30 Bosnian cities protested demanding better living standards and government resignations. The widespread unrest saw protesters clash with police and burn government buildings, leaving scores injured and arrested. (More e.g in BalkanInsight )

Earlier dispute was between Serbs and Bosniaks as well between Bosniaks and Croats and ethnic divisions are deepening at time when Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the stage of transition from an international protectorate to one responsible for its own reform dynamics. The recent unrest is making new more severe division between the ruling elite and the rest of population. Instead of developing its “European perspective”, Bosnia-Herzegovina going backwards remaining an unwelcome, dysfunctional and divided country, with an aggrieved Bosniak (Muslim) plurality, a frustrated, increasingly defensive Serb entity, and an anxious, existentially threatened Croat population. (More about Dayton and situation in BiH e.g. in my article “Bosnia Collapsing)

The protests were primarily carried by Bosniaks, the Muslims and took place in the Federation and in areas with a Bosniak majority. With this overall observation one should note that the protests also took place in Br?ko and Mostar, two cities that are multiethnic.Violence in Mostar against the city and cantonal administration and the HQs of the two dominant ethnonationalist parties SDA and HDZ is significant. There is no doubt that the institutions of the Croat-Bosnian FBiH are more dysfunctional than the Serbian RS with its cantons. In the RS, the government has been more successful in buying social peace and controlling the public space.

Demonstration from demonstrators perspective can be followed from their FB-site .

Bosnia uprising 2014 map

Avoiding the “Arab Spring” failure

After spontaneous uprising the masses managed to formulate at least in Tuzla common demands to express their fundamental interests as seen in Declaration of Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton:

Declaration of Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton

7 February 2014. Today in Tuzla a new future is being created! The [local] government has submitted its resignation, which means that the first demand of the protestors has been met and that the conditions for solving existing problems have been attained. Accumulated anger and rage are the causes of aggressive behaviour. The attitude of the authorities has created the conditions for anger and rage to escalate.Now, in this new situation, we wish to direct the anger and rage into the building of a productive and useful system of government. We call on all citizens to support the realization of the following goals:

1) Maintaining public order and peace in cooperation with citizens, the police and civil protection, in order to avoid any criminalization, politicization, and any manipulation of the protests.

2) The establishment of a technical government, composed of expert, non-political, uncompromised members. [They should be people] who have held no position at any level of government and would lead the Canton of Tuzla until the 2014 elections. This government should be required to submit weekly plans and reports about its work and to fulfil its proclaimed goals. The work of the government will be followed by all interested citizens.

3) Resolving, through an expedited procedure, all questions relating to the privatization of the following firms: Dita, Polihem, Poliolhem, Gumara, and Konjuh. The [government] should:

+ Recognize seniority and secure health insurance of the workers.
+ Process instances of economic crimes and all those involved in it.
+ Confiscate illegally obtained property.
+ Annul the privatization agreements [for these firms].
+ Prepare a revision of the privatization.
+ Return the factories to the workers and put everything under the control of the public government in order to protect the public interest, and to start production in those factories where it is possible.

4) Equalizing the pay of government representatives with the pay of workers in the public and private sector.

5) Eliminating additional payments to government representatives, in addition to their income, as a result of their participation in commissions, committees and other bodies, as well as other irrational and unjustified forms of compensation beyond those that all employees have a right to.

6) Eliminating salaries for ministers and eventually other state employees following the termination of their mandates.

This declaration is put forward by the workers and citizens of the Tuzla Canton, for the good of all of us.”

To save the achieved results of uprising and to keep the dynamic of the movement alive on grassroots there is some guidelines made by Tuzla activists:

Proclamation to the people of Tuzla from The Marxist organization Crveni:

The cantonal government of Tuzla has fallen, but a new one can be set up tomorrow! The prime minister resigned, but the tycoons remained! Some functions are lost, but bank accounts are still intact! The victory you just won can only be preserved through further victories!

In order to achieve this, it is of upmost importance and urgency to take the following steps:

1. Do not leave the streets! Do not go back to your homes, because in all likelihood you will find new formations of armed forces on the streets when you wake up tomorrow. Stay in touch with each other and do not let yourselves get arrested and isolated as individuals!

2. Enforce order and discipline on the streets yourselves. Violence is only useful if it is not mindless and when it is utilised for the defence of the people against government despotism. Don’t allow small-time thugs and police provocateurs to sabotage the protests by looting or by causing mayhem and fear. The city is yours – let it function under your supervision and for your own benefit.

3. Organize popular councils in your neighbourhoods, based on direct democracy and the imperative mandate of delegates. Establish a democracy that you deserve! The existing parliamentary structures have shown themselves as a cesspool of corruption and nepotism and as a springboard for the personal enrichment for the oligarchs and those politicians on their payroll. Your struggle has above all else shown that it is only the organized masses of working people who can establish order in the interest of the majority. So establish that order and do not let anyone impose someone else’s patronage over you again!

4. Demand the return of economic power into the hands of the people and democratic control over the economy! The oligarchs, who flatter themselves as “job creators” – although it was because of them that tens of thousands lost their jobs – have already shown what happens when you leave the economy in their hands. Demand the annulment of all privatizations of big industry and the financial sector, as well as the placing of factories, mines and banks under democratic control of the popular councils! Should the federal government refuse to comply, enforce these demands yourselves – you’ve already shown that you can!

5. Do not buy into the politicians’ ruses such as their “patriotic” slogans! Do not allow the social revolt to turn into an ethnic conflict! The political and economic elite now counts on a conflict between the protests within the two entities and between the cantons that have a Bosniak and Croatian majorities. Do not let yourselves be deceived! The question of the cantons and entities has to be settled as the result of a democratic decision of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such a resolution is only possible after a people’s government, led by the masses of all Bosnian peoples, has been established.

Reactions

Surely, the recent events must have terrified the ruling elite, as well as the foreign occupation structures, neighbours too are shaken as similar problems are reality in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia (FYROM) too. The current EU’s High Representative Valentin Inzko has even threatened to send EU-troops (EUFOR) to calm situation.Use of violence during the protests, the burning of buildings and finally of a part of the archives of Bosnia in the presidency building have led to media and politicians in and outside Bosnia label protestors as “hooligans”. This underestimates protestors as many citizens who went to the streets feel that they cannot change the government through elections and they have good arguments to think so. There was not looting and violence of the protests was directed at buildings of the government, in particular cantonal administrations, the state presidency and some political party offices.

Serbian government vice president Aleksandar Vucic held a meeting in Belgrade with Milorad Dodik, president of RS to discus the ongoing unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Serbia as a signatory country of the Dayton Agreement is interested in the stability of the region and is advocating resolving conflicts peacefully and in a democratic way,” Vucic said at a joint press conference held after the meeting. “There is no need to resolve problems by setting fire to public buildings and beating police officers,” Vucic added. According to the president of Repubika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, the aim of the protests is “also to destabilize Repubika Srpska and further involve the international community” in the country’s politics.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic visited Mostar, a town in Herzegovina, where Croats are in the majority, saying that he came to call for the peaceful resolution of the unrest. “I came here to calm the situation,” said Milanovic, adding that the protests are result of the incoherent policy of European Union, which doesn’t know what to do with Bosnia. Meanwhile most Bosnian Croats see Mostar as their “capital” and many of them have a vision about forming a third, Croat-dominated, entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Both Serbia and Croatia are signatories of 1995 Dayton Agreement which ended the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international response to the protests has been confused, displaying the gap between international actors and the reality on the ground. The EU, its officials and EU’s foreign ministers repeated the phrase that citizens should have the right to protest, but that they should remain peaceful.

Way forward

The country’s asymmetric entity structure has left one entity, Republika Srpska, with a unitary structure and a strong notion of statehood, while Bosniaks and Croats are forced together into the other entity, FBiH, an unwieldy improvisation governed by hundreds of ministers. As result the systemic gap between the two entities renders the country disintegrated and administratively dysfunctional. A radical way out from situation could be dissolution of the whole BiH, integrate RS with Serbia, FBiH’s Croat dominated cantons with Croatia while Bosniac dominated cantons could seek their national identity from the rest of Bosnia.

From my point of view the protests which indeed have succeed to change rulers at regional level I see, opposing EU’s centralized dreams, now possibilities to create a new “lighter” administrative system, based to cantons in FBiH and stronger local level administration in RS. So Bosnian Spring in best case may give a boost to more decentralized and administrative easier Bosnia, which also can be kept less corrupted and more democratic.

It is impossible to guess the outcome but from my perspective Bosnia is now between changes. People in many towns have demonstrated that together they can have influence at local level. Together without ethnic or religious tensions they can avoid failure like it happened with “Arab Spring”. What is clear is that the current political elites, at least in the Federation, have widely lost their legitimacy. It also for the first time politicians became afraid of citizens, some cantonal governments resigned and some reportedly even left the country. A wider impact might be that the ruling class in Zagreb and Belgrade, fearing what this might mean for Croatia and Serbia respectively, immediately took political action. The reactionaries will try to undermine the impact of recent events, but the wheels of history cannot be driven backwards. There is real change for progress by creating new power-structures at local level.

On the opposite there is also change that counter-move by centralized establishment will win with help of EU and US. Bosnia has struggled under the most cumbersome political system in Europe created by the American-brokered and EU-backed Dayton peace accords. Constitutional reforms are needed and apparent political stability should be replaced by a new long-term strategy. However, if they are again conducted by the same power elite than before, the results will again lack the democratic legitimacy and nothing will change. In my opinion a new kind of engagement by both the US and the European Union is needed to replace the failed policies and approaches in Bosnia. EU and US should take new approach with Bosnia, the protests should be welcomed, old power structures and elite ousted and real implementation and progress led by masses at local grassroots level facilitated. By this way I think that “Bosnian Spring” could be flowering.

Small fishes win one big one

Geniuses prepare revolutions. Romantics make them. And the rascals? They enjoy the fruits of it all

Posted by on 10/02/14
Some people are schocked by this title? Please read on, it comes straight from a Ukrainian proverb. Let me first introduce this unusual guest post on my blog, coming from demonstrations in Kyiv. Ukraine’s turmoil, civil war or second orange revolution – pick your own view – is often featured on EurActiv. This refers to [...]

A false formula for the Ukrainian politics

Posted by on 09/02/14
By Yevhen Magda In the well-known novel “The Twelve Chairs” the charming speculator Ostap Bender defrauded money from trustful businessmen-nepmen under the slogan “The West Will Help Us”. It will be sad if the Ukrainian politicians will act using these same principles.

Turquie : une loi « orwellienne »

Posted by on 06/02/14

Paisible, Angela Merkel a répliqué avec son sang froid habituel que personnellement elle avait un grand scepticisme à l’égard de cette candidature, que cela restait un objectif pour le très long terme (donc pas pour elle, est-il sous entendu) « Nous sommes dans un processus de négociation qui a un certain résultat et pas de délai fixe ». Ce voyage officiel en Allemagne a coïncidé avec l’annonce du vote par le Parlement turc d’une série d’amendements très controversés renforçant le contrôle de l’Etat sur internet. Une manière inédite d’assurer la promotion d’une candidature difficile ?

 Erdogan a demandé un plus grand soutien de la Turquie : « Nous attendons de l’Allemagne qu’elle nous soutienne sur le chemin qui mène à l’UE et sur le processus d’adhésion ».Nous souhaitons que l’Allemagne s’engage plus fort qu’elle ne l’a fait jusqu’ici ».Se rendant dans le pays qui compte la plus grande communauté d’origine turque hors de Turquie (trois millions de personne), le premier ministre a mis en avant le rôle que son pays pourrait jouer dans la prévention ou la résolution de certains conflits régionaux, « une contribution considérable ».

La chancelière s’est dite favorable au déblocage du chapitre 23 sur « l’appareil judiciaire et les droits fondamentaux » et 24, liberté,sécurité, justice. Son ministre des affaires étrangère, Steinmeier, a souligné «  que la porte doit restée ouverte pour la Turquie (…)Nous sommes de ceux qui disent que c’est probablement mieux d’ouvrir les chapitres 23 et 24 qui traitent des droits de l’homme, de la justice et de bien d’autres choses et puis d’entrer dans une discussion sérieuse et viable sur² ce à quoi ressemble la situation en Turquie en  ce moment ».

 Or c’est le lendemain de la visite que le  Parlement turc a voté (mercredi 5 février au soir) une série d’amendements très controversés renforçant le contrôle de l’Etat sur internet, malgré les violentes critiques de l’opposition qui a dénoncé un texte "liberticide" à l’heure où le gouvernement se débat dans un scandale de corruption sans précédent. Après quelques heures à peine d’un débat très animé, les députés du Parti de la justice et du développement (AKP) au pouvoir, qui dispose de la majorité absolue, ont adopté sans surprise et sans difficulté ces nouvelles dispositions.

 Présentés dans le cadre d’un projet de loi fourre-tout par un élu de l’AKP, ces dispositions visent, selon leur rapporteur, à "protéger la famille, les enfants et la jeunesse". « Vous tentez d’imposer le fascisme a tenté de répliquer l’opposition. Tout au long du débat, les députés de l’opposition ont multiplié en vain les interventions, parfois violentes, pour dénoncer la "censure" imposée par ce texte jugé "liberticide". "A votre arrivée au pouvoir, vous parliez de renforcer la démocratie en Turquie, aujourd’hui vous tentez d’imposer le fascisme", a lancé un élu du Parti républicain du peuple (CHP) Hasan Ören, "souvenez-vous qu’Adolf Hitler a employé les mêmes méthodes lorsqu’il a pris le pouvoir en Allemagne". "Chaque jour notre démocratie régresse, ces mesures sont purement liberticides", a renchéri un de ses collègues du Parti pour la paix et la démocratie (BDP, prokurde), Altan Tan.

 Entre autres mesures, ces amendements autorisent notamment l’autorité gouvernementale des télécommunications (TIB) à bloquer, sans décision de justice, un site internet dès lors qu’il contient des informations portant "atteinte à la vie privée" ou des contenus jugés "discriminatoires ou insultants". Ils permettent également à la même TIB de requérir auprès des fournisseurs d’accès et de conserver pendant deux ans des informations sur les sites visités par chaque internaute.

 Dès mercredi soir, de nombreux internautes ont réagi avec véhémence contre le nouveau texte, qui amende la loi sur internet mise en place en 2007 par le Premier ministre islamo-conservateur Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Le régime Erdogan a asséné un nouveau coup aux libertés en Turquie", a déploré le célèbre éditorialiste Hasan Cemal.Ces derniers jours, de nombreuses ONG turques et internationales, mais aussi l’Union européenne, à plusieurs reprises,  et les Etats-Unis, ont multiplié les mises en garde contre le nouveau texte.Reporters sans frontières (RSF) a dénoncé la "cybercensure" et le Comité pour la protection des journalistes (CPJ) une "dérive vers l’autoritarisme sur internet" dans un pays déjà classé comme "le principal emprisonneur de journalistes au monde".

Le gouvernement turc a balayé toutes les craintes d’un revers de main. "Il n’y a pas de censure sur internet", s’est agacé lundi le vice-Premier ministre Bülent Arinç, "nous sommes bien plus libres que beaucoup d’autres pays et nous respectons la liberté de la presse".

 La Turquie, en peloton de tête des censeurs du web : mais depuis plusieurs années déjà, la Turquie de Recep Tayyip Erdogan figure dans le peloton de tête des pays censeurs du web.

Dans un "rapport sur la transparence" publié en décembre, le géant de l’internet Google  l’avait classée au premier rang, avec la Chine.Des milliers de sites internet ont déjà été bloqués par les autorités d’Ankara. De 2008 à 2010, la plateforme de distribution de vidéo YouTube a ainsi été interdite pour avoir diffusé des images montrant des supporteurs de football grecs se moquant des Turcs.Lors de la fronde antigouvernementale de juin 2013, M. Erdogan avait lui-même qualifié le réseau Twitter de "fauteur de troubles".

 Avant même le vote de la loi, le gouvernement a donné, une  semaine auparavant, une illustration de l’application qu’il pourrait faire du nouveau texte. Le TIB a ainsi ordonné à un député de l’opposition et à plusieurs médias de retirer de leur site internet le texte d’une question au Parlement dans laquelle il mettait en cause, sur la foi d’écoutes téléphoniques, l’intervention personnelle du Premier ministre dans le rachat de médias "amis".

 "C’est un nouveau pas vers la création d’un Etat orwellien", a déclaré à l’AFP Yaman Akdeniz, professeur de droit à l’université privée Bilgi d’Istanbul, "la Turquie avance vers la surveillance de masse de tous les internautes".

   Rappelons que la Turquie est en 2013 pour la deuxième année consécutive la championne du monde pour le nombre de Journalistes emprisonnés. Elle devance de peu l’Iran et la Chine. Elle a 40 journalistes en prison, sur 211 le deuxième total le plus élevé depuis 1990. La reprise(formelle et limitée) des négociations d’adhésion à l’automne dernier n’a eu aucun impact, cette reprise pourrait même faire croire, disent certains, que Ankara n’a pas trop à se soucier de ses politiques répressives et le ton du discours à Berlin de Erdogan en est une preuve supplémentaire. La légère chute du nombre de journalistes emprisonnés , passant de 49 à 40, n’indique pas une volonté réelle de mieux respecter les droits de l’homme et l’Etat de droit. Les libérations de journalistes ont été « procédurières » et ne résultant pas d’un changement fondamental d’une législation par essence liberticide. Les manifestations du printemps dernier sur la place Taksim ne semblent pas avoir convaincu le premier ministre de revoir ses méthodes autoritaires. La Commission européenne où Erdogan était en visite il y a peu de jours a fait immédiatement savoir par son porte-parole, quelques heures après le vote, qu’elle « était préoccupée » : les citoyens ayant droit à la transparence et  la Turquie doit tout faire en tant qu’Etat candidat à l’adhésion pour se rendre conforme aux normes européennes.

 Pour en savoir plus :

 

      -. Reporters sans frontières : le parlement doit abandonner son projet de loi liberticide http://fr.rsf.org/turquie-censure-d-internet-le-parlement-17-01-2014,45743.html

       -. Classement de la Turquie (159ème sur 179)Lettre ouverte à François Hollande à l’occasion de son voyage en Turquie (27 janvier 2014 Chronique du Harcèlement des médias en Turquie depuis janvier 2014. Les journalistes une nouvelle fois boucs émissaires  de la crise politique (25 décembre 2013). Trois journalistes condamnés à la prison à vie (5 novembre 2013) http://fr.rsf.org/turquie-turquie-12-03-2012,42031.html

       -. Ranking 2013 des journalistes en prison http://cpj.org/fr/2013/12/journalistes-emprisonnes-dans-le-monde-le-2e-total.php

 

 


Classé dans:Droit à l'information, DROITS FONDAMENTAUX

EU-Serbia Accession Talks: good news

Posted by on 05/02/14

On January 21st, the official negotiations with Serbia on its accession to the European Union were opened at the first meeting of the Accession Conference at the Ministerial level. The EU delegation, headed by Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Evangelos Venizelos, presented to the Serbian colleagues the “Negotiating Framework” which takes into account the experience of the most recent EU enlargements and on-going accession negotiations. It reflects as well Serbia’s own merits and specific country characteristics. The main aim of the launched negotiations is to prepare Serbia integrally to adopting the EU legislation and ensuring its full implementation and enforcement within the state.

AEGEE-European Students’ Forum would like to express its satisfaction within the recent developments in the EU-Serbia relationship.

Serbia, a country shattered by bloody fratricidal wars back in 1990’s as a result of the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and who suffered successive reductions of their territory, has progressed a lot within the frame of  the Stabilisation and Association Process for the Western Balkans. The government in Belgrade has implemented big steps towards establishing competitive and well functioning market economy, thus making the country a reliable regional partner of the European Union.

In addition, within the recent months, the Serbian Government has shown a strong commitment for further deepening its relations with the EU, based on the common and shared values. The Serbian authorities have also undertaken visible and constructive steps towards the peaceful settlement of the existing conflict with Kosovo.

AEGEE, as an organisation striving for socially, economically and politically integrated Europe, would like to welcome the ongoing developments and launched EU-Serbia Accession talks. We have local representation in 4 Serbian cities (Belgrade, Kragujevac, Niš, Novi Sad) and we consider that the strong involvement of the civil society, and namely the young people and youth organisations, is vital for development of multilateral discussions over the EU accession process and talks.

The Republic of Serbia has stepped on a fundamentally new stage of its development through initiating the accession talks with the EU. Meanwhile, we would like to highlight the necessity and urgency of sustainability of the undertaken reforms namely in the fields of good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption policy, independence of key state institutions, protection of ethnic minorities and enrooting of active business environment in the country. Only in case of strong commitment to implement the respective reforms, the EU accession talks may be beneficial for the Republic of Serbia.

Armenak Minasyants, Policy Officer for European Neighbourhood Policy of AEGEE-Europe

 

Eastern Partnership: Don’t bar the bear

Posted by on 05/02/14
By Bernhard Schinwald To this day, the EU secures the peace, supports political and economical progress and sets a clear agenda in its neighbourhood policy in the Balkans. The same policy towards the east, however, is everything but a success. If the EU wants to stick with the Eastern Partnership, it at least has to find a way to include Russia – ideally with as a full member.

Risks of political confrontation in Ukraine

Posted by on 29/01/14

If two months ago I wrote about the tasks facing Ukraine in connection with a possible signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, now I’ll have to write about something absolutely different.

Now Ukraine is on the verge of a civil war and disintegration.  And although the first steps, made on January 28 by the power and the opposition, reduce the possibility of the worst scenario of the succession of events a little bit, but all the risks remain there.  In this context it is necessary to understand that the armed conflict and disintegration of Ukraine may be much more dangerous, than the conflict on Balkans.

Ukraine is an industrial state, with powerful technogenically dangerous objects, such as chemical productions, nuclear power plants, two of which are located in the Western Ukraine, near the EU countries.

Besides, Ukraine has got the gas transport system which is second most powerful in Europe.  And in addition, the greatest gas storages in Europe are located on the western border of Ukraine, and they are important for stable gas supply of the European countries.

Besides, taking into account the highest transit status in Europe, several important transit corridors pass through the territory of Ukraine.

Therefore, in case one of the parties of the confrontation attempts to solve the sharpest political conflict in all modern history of Ukraine by means of force, all this can lead to the worst scenario. This will inevitably cause serious problems for the neighboring European countries, beginning from the flow of refugees and finishing with technogenic catastrophes.

 

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