Friday 6 March 2015

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MyN exhibition: Aalborg’s best photos

Posted by on 26/02/15
Aalborg city lights: the winning picture

Aalborg city lights: the winning picture

 

On February 27th the Turbine Gallery in Nordkraft will close the doors of the exhibition displaying neighbourhood photos from Aalborg and three other European cities.

 

Stunning photos portraying the spirit and life of Aalborg, Birmingham, Lisbon and Milan  were captured by their citizens as part of MyNeighbourhood project. All four cities competed to find the best local photography, a difficult choice to make among the many beautiful portraits of the cities and their people. The winners were selected in each city through a vote of local residents.

 

The exhibition opened in Aalborg on January 26th to disclose the winner and welcome all interested spectators. More so, the campaign didn’t have to end here – all photos have been included in the exhibition! What better than to share your glimpses? Since its opening, the exhibition has attracted many interested visitors who wanted to see a new yet local view of their city.

 

The exhibition closes on February 27th. Open all days from early morning until late night (7.00-23.00).

 

The exhibition

 

Where to go? The exhibition takes place in the Turbine Gallery in Nordkraft at Kjellerups Torv, Niveau 3, 9000 Aalborg.

 

What is Nordkraft? Nordkraft once supplied the people of Aalborg with electricity. But now, the old, coal-fired power station in the center of Aalborg has been converted into one of Europe’s biggest and most impressive culture and activity centres.

 

Want to learn more about MyNeighbourhood? Visit our blog and click here to get involved on the platform and in your neighbourhood!

Why Germany’s identity will define the future of Europe

Posted by on 22/02/15
By Rebecca Harding, CEO of Delta Economics Germany holds the answer to Kissinger’s question: “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?” It needs - metaphorically - to pick up the phone.

La France, championne d’Europe des expulsions de Roms

Posted by on 09/02/15

La situation des roms ne fait que refléter la situation générale à l’égard des migrants. L’intégration des Roms se poursuit péniblement, certes la situation est à certains égards plus critique encore dans les pays de l’est. Chacun a conservé présent dans sa mémoire les affrontements entre le président Sarkozy et Viviane Reding pour le compte de la Commission européenne, ces deux acteurs ne sont plus là , mais les chose ne semblent pas avoir sensiblement changé.

 1-. Les Roms

Il n’y a pas de trêve hivernale pour les Roms des bidonvilles français. En 2014, quatre habitants des bidonvilles sur cinq ont été expulsés. Une proportion visiblement plus élevée que dans les autres pays européens où l’intégration des Roms n’est pourtant pas non plus assurée. C’est l’occasion de fournir quelques chiffres qui ne changeront rien à la situation et n’apporteront pas un peu de clarification, une clarification qui serait susceptible d’apaiser les polémiques. La politique européenne de l’immigration reste encalminée. « encalminé »se dit d’un bateau à voile qui n’avance pas faute de vent ou d’une simple brise.

 300 Roms sont expulsés en France chaque semaine, et en 2014, ce sont 13483 d’entre eux qui ont été délogés, selon la Ligue des droits de l’homme et le European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC, centre européen des droits des Roms).En 2013, Manuel Valls, actuel premier ministre, avait fait l’objet d’attaques vigoureuses et à l’ouverture d’une procédure contre la France suite à des déclarations concernant le manque de volonté des Roms de s’intégrer à la société française. « Nous le savons tous, la proximité de ces campements provoque de la mendicité et aussi des vols, et donc de la délinquance. […] les Roms ont vocation à revenir en Roumanie ou en Bulgarie », avait-il déclaré.

 Des propos qui illustrent la stigmatisation et la marginalisation des Roms en France.

Si aucune statistique officielle ne peut étayer ces propos, le réseau de la ligue des droits de l’homme est formel : les préfectures françaises seraient les seules à s’acharner autant sur les camps de Roms. Surtout, les opérations de démantèlement contreviennent aux recommandations du Conseil sur l’intégration des Roms.Daté de fin 2013, ce texte directement adressé à la France appelait les États membres à « s’assurer que les expulsions forcées sont faites dans le respect des lois européennes ainsi que dans le respect de la Convention européenne des droits de l’homme ».

 La situation est pareillement critique dans les pays d’Europe de l’Est Dans les pays de d’Europe de l’Est, même si les expulsions sont moins fréquentes, le racisme envers les Roms est très profond. « Dans ces pays, la discrimination est structurelle », explique Manon Fillonneau, chargée de mission Droits de l’homme pour l’ERRC. En Hongrie ou en République Tchèque, « des enfants roms sont placés de manière abusive dans des écoles pour handicapés mentaux » a-t-elle ajouté. En 2013, « [les enfants roms] représentaient près de 30 % des enfants inscrits dans ces classes », rappelle un communiqué de presse d’Amnesty International.Le 25 septembre 2014, la Commission européenne a ouvert une procédure d’infraction contre la République tchèque pour violation de la loi relative à la lutte contre la discrimination en vigueur dans l’UE.En 2012 en Serbie, près de 1000 Roms ont été expulsés d’un bidonville à Belgrade et relogés dans des conteneurs en métal. En Roumanie, les Roms sont expulsés et souvent contraints de s’installer près de décharges publiques.

Si la France et d’autres pays de l’UE marginalisent les Roms, d’autres parviennent à développer des politiques d’intégration. C’est le cas de la Finlande par exemple, qui depuis le début des années 1970 fournit un logement à tous les Roms du pays, ou de l’Espagne, qui travaille à insérer les Roms via de vastes programmes sociaux. Moins d’expulsions, plus d’intégration :« Il faut mettre un terme aux évacuations forcées de bidonvilles non accompagnées de solutions durables d’hébergement, car ces évacuations ne font que déplacer et amplifier les problèmes. Il est, en outre, impératif de donner la priorité à l’accès de tous les enfants roms à l’école. Il n’est pas acceptable que dans un campement comme celui où je me suis rendu à Marseille, aucun des 25 enfants qui y vivent depuis près de deux ans ne soit scolarisé », a déclaré Nils Muižnieks, commissaire aux Droits de l’Homme du Conseil de l’Europe.

 La solution est pourtant claire : reloger les Roms de manière sérieuse et durable. En ce sens, la Ligue des droits de l’homme et le ERRC ont rappelé qu’il serait nécessaire, dans un premier temps, de sécuriser les bidonvilles en mettant en place un accès à l’eau et à l’électricité. Puis, lorsque la population sera stabilisée dans ces lieux de vies, ces bidonvilles pourront être résorbés petit à petit et les familles relogées une à une.

Même si l’UE insiste depuis longtemps sur la nécessité d’une meilleure politique d’intégration et met des sommes très importantes à disposition via son Fond social européen, elle n’a toujours pas mis en place d’initiatives contraignantes. « L’intégration des Roms est avant tout une responsabilité des Etats membres. La Commission a mis en place des stratégies et un cadre juridique, mais sa responsabilité s’arrête là» , explique la Commission.

 2-. Quelques chiffres sur l’immigration pour 2014

 Le 15 janvier 2015, ministère de l’Intérieur a publié une première estimation de l’immigration et des naturalisations en France en 2014.

 En 2014, la hausse du nombre des visas demandés et délivrés est surtout due aux visas de court séjour Schengen (+16,4%). Les pays où sont délivrés le plus grand nombre de visas sont la Chine (+58% par rapport à 2013), l’Algérie et la Russie. La délivrance des premiers titres de séjour progresse légèrement. Si l’immigration de travail augmente de 9,7% (dont +19,8% pour les scientifiques) et l’immigration à motif humanitaire de 16,8%, ces deux sources d’immigration ne représentent qu’une faible part des titres délivrés. L’immigration familiale, la plus grande part du flux migratoire, reste stable (-0,9%), comme l’immigration étudiante (-0,7%). Les sorties du territoire d’étrangers en situation irrégulière sont en légère hausse à 27 606 après 27 081 en 2013. Parmi ces sorties, 15 161 sont des éloignements contraints qui font suite à une obligation de quitter le territoire. Après six années de hausse consécutive, le nombre des demandeurs d’asile diminue de 2,6% de 2013 à 2014. Le premier pays de provenance des primo-demandeurs d’asile en France en 2014 est la République démocratique du Congo, suivie de la Russie et du Bangladesh. 2014 a été marquée par deux opérations spéciales d’accueil concernant la Syrie et les chrétiens d’Irak. Le nombre d’acquisitions de la nationalité française par décret et par déclaration à raison du mariage a connu une hausse de 10,9%.

Conformément au code de bonnes pratiques de la statistique européenne, la direction générale des Étrangers en France du ministère de l’Intérieur a mis en place depuis 2013 un calendrier de publication des statistiques annuelles entrant dans le champ de la migration et de la protection internationale.

 Ce rappel ultime est sage, l’UE gagnerait beaucoup a harmoniser sa façon de percevoir ces phénomènes si complexes et à mettre fin à ce patchwork inextricable au sein ce chaque Etat membre et globalement au niveau de l’UE. Confrontée à un autre patchwork concernant la propriété intellectuelle et le droit d’auteur, l’UE vient de prendre le taureau par les cornes en vue de simplifier et de donner plus de visibilité au niveau européen. La situation actuelle la pénalise trop sévèrement sur le plan économique, pour continuer dans ce désordre. L’UE serait bien inspirée d’en faire autant pour tout ce qui relève de l’immigration, à commencer par tout ce qui semble relever de la méthodologie. La politique de migration souffre d’un déficit de connaissances, cohérentes et harmonisées.

 

Pour en savoir plus :

-. Dossier sur les Roms dans Nea say http://www.eu-logos.org/eu-logos_nea-say.php?idr=4&idnl=3393&nea=153&lang=fra&arch=0&term=0

 -. Communiqué de presse du 15 janvier 2015 : Diffusion des informations statistiques annuelles en matière d’immigration, d’asile et d’acquisition de la nationalité française, Direction générale des étrangers en France – Ministère de l’intérieur

 -. Les immigrés récemment arrivés en France : une immigration de plus en plus européenne (novembre 2014), Insee Première n° 1524 – Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee) 

-. Les pratiques dans le service statistique public, selon les principes du code de bonnes pratiques de la statistique européenne, Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee)

 Lire aussi sur vie-publique.fr

 . Immigration : les chiffres 2006-2007

-. Chronologie : histoire de l’immigration en dates

-. Immigration familiale versus immigration de travail ?

-. Entrée, séjour, travail, éloignement : le statut des étrangers

-. La politique de l’Immigration dans le contexte européen

-. Communiqué de Presse : diffusion des informations statistiques annuelles sur la délivrance des titres de séjour http://www.immigration.interieur.gouv.fr/Info-ressources/Actualites/L-actu-immigration/Communique-de-presse-Diffusion-des-informations-statistiques-annuelles-sur-la-delivrance-des-titres-de-sejour2

-. Les immigrés récemment arrivés en France http://www.insee.fr/fr/themes/document.asp?ref_id=ip1524

-. Le code des bonnes pratiques de la statistique européeene http://www.insee.fr/fr/insee-statistique-publique/default.asp?page=qualite/pratiques.htm

 


Classé dans:IMMIGRATION, Politique d'intégration

La méfiance vis à vis de l’Europe repose (aussi) sur des incompréhensions interculturelles

Posted by on 08/02/15

Le vote grec bouscule les européens. Nos concitoyens ont l’impression que la solution est inextricable et que l’UE n’a pas réussi a stabiliser le processus d’accompagnement de ce pays en grande difficulté. Lorsque l’on prend part à une discussion le sujet tourne essentiellement autour de des problématiques économique, financière et monétaire.

Mais si ces dimensions sont bien réelles, elle sont pas les seules. Je m’interroge sur la dimension interculturelle c’est à dire sur la capacité mutuelle qu’ont les citoyens européens a comprendre les divers systèmes de sens liés à ce que sont les état-nations.

Car c’est finalement par le prisme des cultures nationales que se comparent les attitudes et comportements de nos cousins européens, leurs attentes et leurs aspirations. Et si le dialogues entre européens se fait difficilement j’observe que c’est en raison d’une méconnaissances des pratiques de nos voisins et l’inexistence d’une culture commune  notamment institutionnelle.

Car c’est bien chacune des cultures nationale qui est mis en évidence par les état-membres. Jamais la culture européenne. Un exemple : à la suite des attentats du 7 janvier la question de la laïcité est revenue en France sur le devant de la scène médiatique et politique. Ce qui a été mis en avant ce sont les valeurs de la République. Pourtant dans les autres pays de l’Union la liberté d’expression et le vivre ensemble existent aussi. Et les autres pays de l’UE supportent également le risque terroriste.

Si les valeurs républicaines sont importantes et nécessaires a rappeler (en France). Elles ne sont pas les seules. Les valeurs européennes communes auraient pu et dues être également positionnées. D’une part parce que elle sont rappelées dans les préambules des traités, que nous disposons de la citoyenneté commune et que d’autre part les questions sont sinon européennes au moins mondiales et souvent régionales et pas seulement nationales. Et enfin, l’Union européenne est notre dimension territoriale commune d’appartenance.

Ne pas faire état systématiquement de notre appartenance à l’Union européenne éloigne les européens de leur dimension territoriale d’appartenance et ramène l’Europe à une seule dimension économique. Ce qu’elle n’est pas. Si elle est Marché Unique elle est aussi un espace de liberté, de libre circulation et d’installation. Bref un lieu de vie quotidienne et d’émergence d’un modele social particulier.

Comprendre l’Europe, développer la citoyenneté commune et le nécessaire sentiment d’appartenance à l’Union passe par un travail collectif et interculturel.

En effet les interprétations et la manière d’aborder le vivre ensemble different en fonction des cultures nationales. il convient donc de poser les élément d’une culture commune.

Pour cela une éducation  à l’Europe est nécessaire. Elle doit être proposée de façon identique à tous les enfants et jeunes européens. L’entreprise et le monde associatif ne doivent pas non plus en faire l’impasse notamment parce que le management  et la gestion des entreprises et des organisations se pense à un niveau international. Les cultures organisationnelle sont aussi européennes.   L’enseignement de l’Europe, cette éducation à la chose européenne, doit intégrer les formes de cultures transnationales. Ce qui permettra de comprendre par le même fait les pratiques liées aux religions ou propres a des régions. L’enseignement de l’Europe doit être institutionnalisé pour socialiser car on ne peut compter seulement sur la bonne volonté des citoyens. Et le fait de ne pas saisir les contours et méandres de la construction européenne peut être source d’angoisse et d’inquiétude, de méfiance vis à vis de l’UE.

Les européens ont besoin de simplicité, de liens d’amitiés, de dissipation de la méfiance, d’éloignement de l’incertitude. Cela passe par une diffusion à bon escient de l’information, par des organisations concrètes, des événement sociaux communs, a commencer par ce qui existe déjà et par exemple, le 9 mai comme journée officielle fériée et célébrée.

 

Speech on Anti-Semitism at the Council of Europe by European Union of Jewish Students President

Posted by on 27/01/15

During her speech at the Council of Europe, in commemoration of the Holocaust, Mrs. Braden Golay, president of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS), reiterated the promise many of us make on this date each year: “Never again!”

Watching her, I realized how little we know about keeping the Holocaust from reoccurring. The wave of anti-Semitism sweeping over Europe and permeating every college campus in the US is indicative of our inefficiency at curbing, much less reversing anti-Semitism.

Mrs, Braden-Golay promised to “remember, understand, recognize, and act.” But she never as much as implied what that action might be. I believe she means well. It felt as though she really wanted her final words to come true. She ended her speech declaring that “the most meaningful way, we as a society can honor all those lives destroyed, is to remain resilient against the divisive forces of fear and hate. …And let us take together, first thing tomorrow, action.”

But what action would that be? Not a word was said.

I would therefore like to make a suggestion as to the action we must take in order to combat anti-Semitism. Let us take her final words of the speech and put an emphasis on two words: “together” and “divisive.”

Indeed, the forces at play are dividing us. They are causing our people to divide and splinter us into factions and fragments. This disunity is precisely what causes our predicament.

When we are together, we are strong. We are strong not because we join our forces against a common enemy. It is rather that when we are together, our very unity strengthens us. We became a nation when we united at the foot of Mt. Sinai, and in a sense, we stopped being a nation when we were exiled two millennia ago, due to our unfounded hatred of each other.

But there is more. Today it is not enough to unite in the face of anti-Semitism. As the world is crumbling under the divisive forces of power struggles among superpowers on the global level, and as people are growing increasingly alienated from each other on the personal level, the remedy of unity is imperative to our survival. People seem to have lost their ability to connect. They find refuge on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, but a screen cannot compensate for the loss of human connection.

The remedy the world needs is to be able to unite, feel close, connected. Without human solidarity our society is doomed.

Before the Temple was ruined, this solidarity held us together. It is what enabled us to maintain the humane society we had developed when the world around us was utterly barbaric.

Now that the world is regressing once again into barbarity, it needs the remedy of unity more than ever. The only ones who can offer it are we, Jews, provided that we reawaken it within us in order to convey it to the world.

We often contemplate our role as Jews. We debate on the meaning of being “a light for the nations,” and try to figure out what that light might be. It isn’t all that complicated. All we need is to unite among us, without any oppression and without forcing anyone to become someone else. We should simply unite above our differences. By that, we will set an example of unity and solidarity to the world, and they will do the same. By so doing, we will become “a light for the nations.”

We are already being watched much more closely than we’d like to be. So we must leverage on that intensive scrutiny and offer something valuable to the world. We’ve offered numerous brilliant scientists, authors, economists, and physicians to the world. Have we ever been thanked for it? We haven’t. But have we ever asked ourselves why we are not winning gratitude? Is it because the entire world is ungrateful, or because it is simply not what they want from us? I think it is the latter.

What we can and must do now is unite, establish solidarity and mutual guarantee (a.k.a. mutual responsibility), and show it as an example to the world. They cannot find the way to unity without us, and they will not leave us alone until we learn how to unite among us, and promptly after, if not during, show them how to do it, too.

 

Michael Laitman is a Professor of Ontology, a PhD in Philosophy and Kabbalah, and an MSc in Medical Bio-Cybernetics. He was the prime disciple of Kabbalist, Rav Baruch Ashlag (the RABASH). Prof. Laitman has written over 40 books, translated into dozens of languages; he is the founder and president of the ARI Institute, and a sought after speaker. His latest book, Like A Bundle of Reeds: why unity and mutual guarantee are today’s call of the hour, explains the root, cause and solution to anti-Semitism.

He can be reached through: www.michaellaitman.com.

Twitter: @laitman

 

The Catholic Church should review its Encyclica of Human Life

Posted by on 23/01/15

It is 50 years since Pope Paul VI proclaimed the famous Encyclica of human life asking the 1.2 billion Catholics living today on earth to regulate births exclusively by “natural means”, i.e. abstaining from sexual intercourse during the periods of ovulation.

This appeal has failed. The Church has vastly over-estimated the intelligence and discipline of the believers to regulate births in a way, which contradicts Nature calling for sexual activity during the fertile days of the cycle.

The Catholic Church therefore has to acknowledge its responsibility for the ultra-rapid global demographic growth, with more than doubling of the population from 3.4 to 7.3 billion people during the last 50 years.

Countries with Catholic populations have seen their population grow faster than non-Catholic countries. In South-East Asia, Catholic Philippines continues to be the country with the highest fertility, three children per woman, though fertility more than halved since the mid-1960s.

Thanks to legislation introduced since 2012 against the frantic opposition from the Catholic Church the Philippine government has been enabled to offer all women free access to the public family planning service, which gives a fair chance to the country to reduce fertility rates to the replacement level of two within less than two decades.

But this is not good enough for Humanity. The Church wields big influence in many sub-Sahara African countries where fertility rates continue to be excessively high.

If it were to preach its African disciples that 2-3 children are enough and encourage governments and international donors to introduce education for all girls and the beginnings of old -age pension systems, it would help global population stabilise below the 10 billion that are being projected by the UN for the middle of the 21st century.

This would help reduce misery and poverty in Africa, Latin America and Asia and make a big numbers of human beings healthier and happier.

Pope Francis would have the power to introduce such a reform. He has openly declared that Catholics should “not breed like rabbits”; he knows more about the misery in slums than any of his predecessors. Hopefully, he might realise during his forthcoming visit to Africa that the message of “Human Life” is too demanding for the masses of uneducated women and therefore cannot work.

In one or two years the time might be ripe for revising the “Encyclica of Human Life” which however brilliantly written has put some dust on since 1968!

Brussels 20.01.2015 Eberhard Rhein

 

Iohannis of Romania/Luxembourg

Posted by on 19/01/15
Romania has surprised Europe by electing Klaus Iohannis, an ethnic German, as president of the country. There has been much speculation about an imminent powerful link of Romania to Berlin. It seems that Mr. Iohannis is also perfect in relating with the European Commission. Jean Claude Juncker, the ex-Luxembourg prime minister, has recently said that [...]

France’s excessive laïcité

Posted by on 18/01/15

In the wake of the tragic massacre of cartoonists from Paris on the 7th of January, most major news services around the Western world, from The New York Times to The Guardian and Deutsche Welle, have highlighted in editorials the dire living conditions in which many French Muslims are forced to live.

 

To be sure, poverty, exclusion, lack of employment prospects or the harshness of ghetto life in the suburbs surrounding major French cities cannot excuse the killings that have taken place, nor any other terrorist action for that matter. They do, however, help explain them and at the same time they highlight the decades-old neglect displayed by French officials when dealing with the plight of citizens of Arab origin.

 

A closely related issue is that of intolerant secularism, which over the last few years has prompted actions such as legislative measures directed against the Islamic dress code and has condoned – through the Charlie Hebdo cartoons –  repeated attacks against core Islamic religious values or symbols. Alas, the Catholic foe had been vanquished at horrendous human cost during the French Revolution: the republicans’ search for new religious scapegoats should relent before it is going to be too late.

 

Born in a European capital…

Posted by on 16/01/15
Many have asked me if the title of “European Youth Capital 2015” is important to Cluj (Romania). Concrete benefits can still be seen from the period in which Sibiu (also in Romania) carried the title of “Cultural Capital” in 2007, but what matters is the great European symbolism for Cluj. Although I live in the [...]

‘Grace of Monaco’, Charles de Gaulle and Vladimir Putin

Posted by on 30/12/14

Recently, on a transatlantic flight, for lack of better ideas, I watched a new film “Grace of Monaco”, released in May 2014. I expected a romantic melodrama about a famous actress who gave up her professional career after a marriage to a prince. And, considering that the role of Grace Kelly is played by Nicol Kidman, inevitably, also a certain number of risque scenes.

However, it became apparent fairly quickly that the producers and scenarists of this film were guided by very different, cleverly constructed, essentially geopolitical ideas, far from the slogan “make love” and much closer to the slogan “make war”. As the film progressed, it became clear to me that the key aspect of the film was not the question of romantic entanglements and individual crises of conscience as I had expected, but that it was an attempt to re-write one period of Cold War European history in accordance with the needs of contemporary Anglo-American foreign policy. The main message of the movie, in fact, had very little to do with the fate of the unhappy beauty Grace Kelly, but much more with the political attitudes and actions of the French president at the time Charles de Gaulle. The story about Grace was nothing more than a convenient instrument to demonize de Gaulle and blacken his political reputation before not only the American, but also the global film audiences.

In the film, De Gaulle is presented as a brooding tyrant, almost a Hitler’s twin brother, who, as a proof of his irrational Nietzschean will-to-power, wants to occupy and, in the long run, destroy the peace-loving and prosperous Monaco. But, right then, on the scene appear considerate and well-meaning American advisors and intelligence operatives who successfully assist Grace and her husband prince Rainier to prevail over the terror of the French. And so, the good guys (plus a girl) win over the bad guys. De Gaulle’s intentions are frustrated and blocked, his allies within Monaco publicly humiliated, and all the rest can now live happily ever after.

The real story, however, that at the time Rainier ruled Monaco in the manner of an authoritarian medieval monarch, that for a long time he did not recognize even the basic democratic principles of the ordinary citizens, and that the statelet was a gamblers’ and smugglers’ paradise was swept under the rug. The film viewers are served an aestheticized caricature in line with the existing Anglo-American hegemonic interests, instead of being shown a complicated geopolitical reality where, very often, behind the dignified words and humanistic discourse lurk the forces of evil and death.

It is very important to note that, in light of the current political and economic processes in Europe, the demonization of de Gaulle is not at all accidental. Ever since the end of the World War II, he was seen as a formidable political obstacle by those circles who wanted to make a yet another Anglo-American colony out of Western Europe. He famously talked about Europe “from the Atlantic to the Urals” in his 1959 Strasbourg address, that is to say, Europe, which includes Russia, but perhaps not Great Britain. Because of such authentically integrative (continentalist) political ideas, which de Gaulle advocated with no less courage and determination than he had when he fought Nazis during the WWII, he was a frequent target of planned violence. Certain experts have counted more than thirty assassination attempts. After one such attempt in 1966 for which there is credible evidence that it was related to the activies of Anglo-American intelligence agencies (whose networks often included former Nazis) and coordinated by certain clandestine structures within NATO, de Gaulle ordered the withdrawal of France from the NATO command and control mechanisms as well as the expulsion of NATO headquarters from Paris. The NATO leadership then moved to Brussells where it is located to this day. A few years ago, though, they have started building a new headquarters complex, the financing of which led to a scandal in which, among others, the former NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen was also implicated. Nothing in NATO can pass without a scandal (which, however, is soon enough swept under the rug).

The last act of resistance of the French foreign policy against the “Atlantic” vision of Europe was offered by the president Jacques Chirac in 2003 when he refused to agree with the participation of French troops in the invasion of Iraq. This led to such an anti-French hysteria in the dominant American political circles that even certain common terms of English language were changed. For instance, two Republican Congressmen, one of which chaired a committee who had oversight over the work of the Congress cafeteria, initiated the re-naming of “French fries” to “Freedom fries” and of “French toast” to “Freedom toast”. But, when Chirac’s successor Nicholas Sarkozy brought France back into NATO, there was nothing to impede the French fries being triumphantly restored in the cafeteria menu.

The biggest problem with the “Atlantic” vision of Europe which de Gaulle and Chirac both resisted is that it is, in essence, impossible to realize. For this reason, it is the incubator of permanent political and economic instability on the European soil. This vision demands the subordination to the Anglo-American interests not only the dominant European economies, the economies of Germany, France, Italy and others, but also of Russia. While Russia was led by the president Boris Yeltsin, the Russian elite accepted this inferior geopolitical status which led to the horrific abuses of ordinary citizens by domestic and foreign predators and criminals. However, things began to change already towards the end of the 1990s, when the prime minister became Yevgeniy Primakov, but they reached a full geopolitical turn (that is, a revolution in the astronomical sense of the term) during the third mandate of the president Vladimir Putin.

That the “Atlantists” will neither tolerate nor forgive Russia these acts of resistance is shown by the flare-up of war in Ukraine, the ring of sanctions which is getting tigher and tigher and which led to the 25 percent fall in the value of the ruble since the beginning of the year, and the sudden, artifically engineered fall of the price of oil, one of Russia’s key exports.

At the end of October, Putin delivered an important address at the meeting of the Valdai International Forum organized by some of the best known European politicians and intellectuals. In many ways, it resembled de Gaulle’s Strasbourg speech. Putin’s proposals, it seems to me, represent one of the last chances for the peaceful settlement of global problems before the possible onset of a nuclear Apocalypse.

I wonder whether the Montenegrin ruling political elite and their media amplifiers undestand that Europe is one step from the abyss. Instead of parroting the ten points from NATO propanda leaflets, by choosing the policy of military neutrality, they could give an authentic contribution to the calming of passions and the reaching of reasonable agreement among the Big Powers.

This article was originally published in the Montenegrin daily newspaper Vijesti on November 13, 2014. It was translated into English by the author.

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To hell with ethnic purity

Posted by on 18/12/14

The French, who for so long talked about ‘nos ancêtres, les Gaulois’, may have felt justified in not looking too closely at their antecedence. The Germanic element is in fact more important: according to Luigi Barzini, the Italian author and politician, almost half the inhabitants of present-day France are the descendants of Germanic tribes.

As Graham Robb points out in his book The Discovery of France, “The Celtic and Germanic tribes who invaded ancient Gaul and the Frankish tribes who attacked the ailing Roman province had almost as many different origins as the population of modern France. The only coherent, indigenous group that a historically sound National Front party could claim to represent would be the very first wandering band of pre-human primates that occupied this section of the Western European isthmus” (what Norman Davis calls “the European Peninsula”).

Even 500 years ago, there were few communities in Europe that could reasonably claim, had they wanted to, to be ethnically homogeneous. In fact, they had better things to do with their time. In the intervening half-millennium, those communities that could have made this assertion have seen their claims made even more tenuous by migration and miscegenation. Italy, for example, saw the settlement of the Germanic Langobardi - the ‘long-bearded people’, today’s Lombards – and the short-lived incursions of the Visigoths and Ostrogoths who sacked Rome.

The Iberian peninsula provided the setting for a series of Germanic civilisations: first and fleetingly the Vandals, who gave their name to Andalusia, later the Suevi (the Swabians again) and the Visigoths. Spain was a very cosmopolitan place. Other settlers in that particular piece of God’s Earth, some temporary but most of them permanent, included the Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Arabs, English and French.

In fact there is genetic evidence of a population movement through Spain that brought Stone Age man up the Atlantic coast to the British Isles (except that at that time these islands were still land-linked to the Continent, which made matters easier for the migrants). The genetic marker in question is particularly prominent in the Irish county of Connaught (98.3% of all men, according to a recent study by Trinity College scientists) – a phenomenon that may also owe something to the land clearances imposed on the Irish by their English masters later on.

The Celts, because they ended up in the most inaccessible corners of Western Europe – Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany, Galicia and northern Portugal – have managed to maintain some sort of ethnic identity. Yet even the most idiosyncratic of the Celts, the Irish, cannot evoke their Celtishness much beyond the limits of their cultural traditions. Historian E Esteyn Evans believed that the genes coming from English settlers there exceed those deriving from the Celts, and that “those coming from older stocks would constitute the largest proportion” (a reference to the earlier Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic settlers).

In his book The Language Instinct, Stephen Pinker observes that “race and ethnicity are the most minor differences of all.” The human geniticists Walter Bodmer and Luca Cavalli-Sforza have noted a paradox about race. “Among laypeople, race is lamentably salient, but for biologists it is virtually invisible. Eighty-five percent of human genetic variation consists of the differences between one person and another within the same ethnic group, tribe or nation.”

Many communities arrive at apparent homogeneity through a gradual process of miscegenation combined, in some cases, with their relative isolation. Portugal is a good example, but in its case as in many others the brew is like a minestrone soup, where one spoonful looks just like another, yet each spoonful contains enough ingredients to confound any claims to homogeneity.

Maybe the Swabians again – descendants of the Suevi, one of the Alemanni tribes that crossed the frozen Rhine in AD 406 – have a case for some degree of genetic continuity. Poachers turned gamekeepers, they won the right from an enfeebled Roman Empire to guard its frontiers. The consequence today is a community of common origin that extends along both banks of the Rhine through four countries from France’s Alsace to include Germany, Switzerland and the Austrian Vorarlberg.

Do national hymns matter?

Posted by on 14/12/14

Countries have national hymns which are singed at celebrations, solemn occasions and sport events. Less known is that the Council of Europe and the European Union have the same anthem – “Ode to Joy” with words written in 1785 by the German poet Friedrich Schiller and music composed by Beethoven in 1823 (his 9th symphony).

The anthem isn’t supposed to replace the national anthems of the Member States. But no doubt the lyric of the European Anthem sounds more peaceful than most national anthems. It pays tribute to joy which unites all human beings and celebrates their brotherhood.

National anthems vary greatly in wording and usually pay tribute to the history, nature or government of the country. Countries which have been independent for centuries highlight the glory of their history. Countries which lost their independence express longings to become independent again.

This was illustrated when the Museum of the Polish-Jewish History was recently inaugurated in Warsaw. It stands in what was the heart of Jewish Warsaw before WWII. Its core exhibition is a journey through 1000 years of Polish-Jewish history.

It’s partly a conflict-ridden history where Jews and Poles lived in a kind of symbiosis with intertwined economies for hundreds of years. In many smaller places Jews were in majority. Churches and synagogues were often built close to each-other.

Jews were welcomed by the catholic kings of Poland in the 13th century or even earlier. The first coins in Poland have Hebrew letters. No expulsions took ever place from Poland. Religious tolerance was legislated.

Poland became the center of the Jewish world in Europe with a unique form of self-government during the commonwealth of Poland and Lithuania in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In the period between the two world wars the Jews in Poland had developed a multi-facetted civil society with their own schools, media, political parties and cultural organizations.

Journalist and historian Anne Applebaum – well-known for her history of the Gulag in Soviet Union – attended the inauguration of the museum and wrote a moving article. Poles and Jews share a common history that is shown in Warsaw’s new museum.

Both Poles and Jews lost their independence in the past and were dreaming about national liberation. That is also reflected in their national hymns.

”For those who live in larger nations, I’m not sure that this emotion is even comprehensible. But those who live in small nations can perhaps empathize with one another somewhat better,” Applebaum writes.

She quotes the Polish anthem, written during the Napoleon wars, which starts with the words: “Poland has not yet perished, so long as we still live.”

The Ukrainian anthem, with words originally written in 1862, from an era when Ukraine did not figure on any maps of Europe, starts with similar words: “Ukraine has not yet perished, nor her glory, nor her freedom.”

In this context, she could of course also have mentioned the Israeli anthem, Hatikva (= Hope), written in the same period when so many nations yearned for freedom. “Our hope is not yet lost, the hope of two thousand years, to be a free people in our land.”

Pegida-Demonstrationen

Posted by on 09/12/14

Ganz gleich, was der einzelne von den “Pegida”-Demonstrationen in Dresden und andernorts halten mag – eines zeigen sie exemplarisch: Immer mehr Bürger lassen sich offenbar schnell für ganz große Themen und Anliegen mobilisieren, weniger jedoch für die konkrete politische Arbeit vor Ort. Denn es ist ja nicht weniger als die Sorge vor der Islamisierung des Abendlandes, die die selbst ernannten europäischen Patrioten jeden Montag auf die Straße treibt. Das Feindbild Islamismus stiftet Identität. Hinzu kommen bei vielen Demonstranten Ängste, Deutschland könne womöglich die zuletzt stark gestiegene Zahl von Flüchtlingen und Asylsuchenden nicht aufnehmen, ohne dass entweder die einheimische Bevölkerung benachteiligt werde oder aber religiöse Konflikte derart zunähmen, dass der einzelne Bürger um die Sicherheit auf den Straßen fürchten müsse.

Doch simple Sichtweisen und lautstarke Parolen haben selten dabei geholfen, einen nüchternen Blick auf die Realität zu werfen. Gerade einmal 0,4 Prozent Muslime – gemessen an der Gesamtbevölkerung – leben in Sachsen, der Ausländeranteil beträgt etwas mehr als zwei Prozent. Die sächsische Landeshauptstadt ist von einer Islamisierung in etwa so weit entfernt wie Dynamo Dresden vom Gewinn der Fußball-Champions-League. Und auch das angeblich christliche Menschenbild, auf das sich viele Demonstranten im vermeintlichen Kampf gegen die Islamisierung berufen, wäre ein ziemlich krudes. Nein, es liegt nicht daran, dass in Dresden nur jeder Fünfte überhaupt noch einer christlichen Kirche angehört. Das Verhältnis von Mehrheit und Minderheit ist ein schwieriges an der Elbe.

Vielmehr ist es generell ziemlich unchristlich, in dem Fremden erst einmal eine Bedrohung zu sehen, es ist ziemlich unchristlich, mit seinen Positionen vor allem unter sich bleiben zu wollen, und es ist ziemlich unchristlich, statt der Nächstenliebe die Karte der Abgrenzung beziehungsweise der Abschiebung auszuspielen. Und sind wirklich die Muslime schuld, wenn in Deutschland immer mehr Menschen aus der Kirche austreten, wenn Gotteshäuser geschlossen und christliche Glaubenstraditionen verdunsten? Wenn es den “Pegida”-Demonstranten in dieser Hinsicht ernst wäre, böten sich ihnen fantastische Betätigungsfelder.

Das direkte Gespräch, der Streit, das Ringen um die Wahrheit ist aber offenbar nicht die Stärke vieler “Pegida”-Anhänger. Denn wer zum Beispiel die Politik ständig auffordert, die Sorgen der Bevölkerung ernst zu nehmen und zuzuhören, zugleich aber den Diskurs meidet wie der Teufel das Weihwasser, macht sich unglaubwürdig in der politischen Arena. Die “Pegida”-Bewegung mag für einen Montagabend lang das Bedürfnis befriedigen, sich unter Gleichen zu fühlen – auch Ängste können dort artikuliert werden. Eine realistische Auseinandersetzung mit der politischen Situation in Europa ist das aber noch lange nicht.

Die Sorgen der Demonstranten gilt es gleichwohl ernst zu nehmen. Denn wer eine Stimmung politisch zu lange ignoriert, wird erleben, wie sich ein Problem verselbstständigt, schlimmstenfalls in Aktionen, die weder europäisch kultiviert noch christlich zu nennen sind.

Europäische Sprach- und Kulturarbeit auf der Krim

Posted by on 12/11/14

Die Bundesregierung hat ihre Förderung der auf der Krim lebenden deutschen Minderheit eingestellt. Das bestätigte das zuständige Bundesinnenministerium der “Neuen Osnabrücker Zeitung” (Donnerstag). Grund sei, dass der Geldfluss über den in Kiew ansässigen “Rat der Deutschen in der Ukraine” mittlerweile “faktisch nicht mehr möglich” sei. “Ein weiteres Problem ist, dass Zahlungen in Rubel als Anerkennung der Legitimität des Anschlusses der Halbinsel an Russland gesehen werden könnten”, erklärte ein Sprecher.

Die Gelder aus Deutschland flossen bis zur Jahresmitte für Sprach- und Kulturarbeit, aber auch für soziale Unterstützung. Zur deutschen Minderheit zählen sich offiziell rund 2500 Bewohner der Krim. Real sind es vermutlich deutlich mehr. Nach dem Anschluss der Halbinsel hatte Russlands Präsident Wladimir Putin die deutsche wie auch tartarische Minderheit offiziell rehabilitiert. Russland sicherte beiden Gruppen im Sommer auch Rechte zu wie etwa die Schulbildung in eigener Sprache.

Das Bundesinnenministerium betonte, es prüfe, wie die Förderung der Krim-Deutschen fortgesetzt werden könne. Allerdings werde mit Russland nicht darüber verhandelt, da Deutschland die russischen Behörden dafür nicht als legitimen Ansprechpartner betrachte. Anders als der “Rat der Deutschen in der Ukraine” hatten sich die Krim-Deutschen im Frühjahr klar für einen Anschluss der Halbinsel an Russland ausgesprochen und die neue Regierung in Kiew kritisiert.

Sermons on Jewish holidays

Posted by on 16/10/14

In his article “The community of expulsion” (INYT, 7 Oct), Roger Cohen complains that he did not hear any sermon about Israel and the Palestinians when he visited his reform synagogue in London during the recent Jewish high holidays. Although he understands that these holidays “are days to look inward”, he thinks that the rabbis should have addressed the recent Gaza war in their sermons.

We should be happy that they did not. Most people follow the news from Israel. They are not interested in listening to political sermons in the synagogue – whether pro- or anti-Israeli government – and to be told what to think. During Rosh Hashana and Jom Kippur they want to come closer to their religious sources and listen to sermons on spiritual and moral topics.

Cohen’s quote from Stefan Zweig on how all Jews, irrespective of belief, origin and age, became a “community of expulsion” during the Nazi regime is touching. He could however have added that the Jews became a defenseless community of people condemned to death by the Nazis. Surely Cohen does not claim that the Palestinians, though many of them in exile, face the same situation.

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