Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

10
May

In a Europe struggling with a rise in Islamophobia, riven by debates about the flood of Syrian migrants and on edge over religious, ethnic and cultural disputes, London has elected its first Muslim mayor.

Sadiq Khan — a Labour Party leader, a former human rights lawyer and a son of a bus driver from Pakistan — was declared the winner after a protracted count that extended into Saturday. He will be the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital.

The victory also makes him one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the West.

London is hardly representative of Britain: About a quarter of its residents are foreign-born, and one-eighth are Muslim. And Mr. Khan is not the first Muslim to hold prominent office in Europe: Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, has had a Muslim mayor since 2009, and Sajid Javid is the British secretary of state for business.

Nonetheless, Mr. Khan, 45, won a striking victory after a campaign dominated by anxieties over religion and ethnicity. Britain has not sustained a large-scale terrorist attack since 2005, and its Muslim population, in contrast to France, is considered well integrated. But an estimated 800 people have left Britain to fight for or support the Islamic State. Dozens of assaults on British Muslims were reported after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

The Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, attacked Mr. Khan’s past advocacy for criminal defendants, including his opposition to the extradition of a man who was later convicted in the United States of supporting terrorism. Mr. Goldsmith said Mr. Khan had given “oxygen and cover” to extremists. When the Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, repeated those assertions in Parliament, he was accused of racism. Read more…

; MAY 6, 2016

28
Apr

A banner of Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer is covered with snow in Gnadenwald, Austria, April 27, 2016.

A ripple of concern shivered across Europe this week in establishment circles after a right-wing populist candidate stormed to pole position in the first round of Austria’s presidential election.

“Triumph for the extreme right,” proclaimed Spain’s El Pais newspaper. Britain’s Guardian warned of “turmoil” ahead. Italy’s Corriere della Sera bemoaned a victory for the “anti-immigrant far right” while Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung called on traditional political parties to “listen to this wake-up call!”

“In Austria, European governments see a mirror of their own future. Social tensions are rising,” noted another editorial predicting the rise of Europe’s far right.

But this writer wasn’t talking about Sunday’s vote.

Trotskyist journalist Peter Schwarz penned his thoughts 16 years ago, back in February 2000, when the Freedom Party (FPOe) first joined an Austrian government.

At the time, the party’s charismatic and controversial leader, Joerg Haider, had provoked condemnation at home and abroad with his praise for Hitler’s Waffen SS, with his strong anti-immigrant stance and Eurosceptic views. Read more…

Published on April 28 by Katya Adler in http://www.bbc.com

21
Apr

brussels 2brussels 1

 

 

#MIRinBrussels Fieldwork Experience

 

By Rimpal Kumbhani and Susan Guarda, MIR 2015/2016

After 5 months of vigorous coursework, it was finally time for the highlight of the MIR Program. From March 14th to March 18th, all 29 students, Executive Director Waya Quiviger, Academic Director Dan Kselman, and Program Assistant Angel Benito took a weeklong trip to Brussels, Belgium to experience and apply what was learned in the classroom. Each day started with an early wakeup call with the smell of brewing coffee, and warm complimentary continental breakfast, which was necessary to fuel the long agenda in the heart of the capital. The trip included a variety of visits and seminars given by both public and private organizations. The visits included the EU Institutions such as the Commission, Parliament and the Council. In addition to the EU institutions, MIR students visited the lobby firm Hill & Knowlton, newspaper Politico, the U.S. Commission to the EU and the global telecommunications company Telefonica, just to name a few. We had the opportunity to meet professionals from all over the world and sit through captivating seminars regarding the EU a global actor. The seminars motivated students to be interactive and ask questions about pressing issues.

 

 

Quotes from students:

 

“The highlight of the trip was when we visited NATO. We had Q&A sessions with 4 different personnel and I was able to get further information on a topic I had been studying in term 2, NATO’s role in the Ukraine conflict. For me this was an experience that I couldn’t have had elsewhere”. –Rimpal Kumbhani

 

“I was thrilled to go to the lobbying firm, Hill & Knowlton, and get a first hand experience on how the company operates. In general, the different visits gave us insight on how the public and private sectors are connected”. –Nina Volaric

 

“It was rewarding to get an insider’s view of the workings of the EU. It was truly a unique experience to get to interact with officials and experts in the field while exploring job opportunities”. – Susan Guarda

 

 

Looking back at the trip, it was a privilege to have visited the different organizations but even bigger privilege to be there under safe conditions. Our condolences go out to the families and loved ones affected by the Brussels attacks.

 

14
Apr

Out of Africa

Written on April 14, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Africa, Europe, Foreign Policy, International Development, Security

Agadez, NIGER — It’s Monday and that means it’s moving day in Agadez, the northern Niger desert crossroad that is the main launching pad for migrants out of West Africa. Fleeing devastated agriculture, overpopulation and unemployment, migrants from a dozen countries gather here in caravans every Monday night and make a mad dash through the Sahara to Libya, hoping to eventually hop across the Mediterranean to Europe.

This caravan’s assembly is quite a scene to witness. Although it is evening, it’s still 105 degrees, and there is little more than a crescent moon to illuminate the night. Then, all of a sudden, the desert comes alive.

Using the WhatsApp messaging service on their cellphones, the local smugglers, who are tied in with networks of traffickers extending across West Africa, start coordinating the surreptitious loading of migrants from safe houses and basements across the city. They’ve been gathering all week from Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Chad, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali and other towns in Niger.

With 15 to 20 men — no women — crammed together into the back of each Toyota pickup, their arms and legs spilling over the sides, the vehicles pop out of alleyways and follow scout cars that have zoomed ahead to make sure there are no pesky police officers or border guards lurking who have not been paid off.

It’s like watching a symphony, but you have no idea where the conductor is. Eventually, they all converge at a gathering point north of the city, forming a giant caravan of 100 to 200 vehicles — the strength in numbers needed to ward off deserts bandits.

Poor Niger. Agadez, with its warrens of ornate mud-walled buildings, is a remarkable Unesco World Heritage site, but the city has been abandoned by tourists after attacks nearby by Boko Haram and other jihadists. So, as one smuggler explains to me, the cars and buses of the tourist industry have now been repurposed into a migration industry. There are now wildcat recruiters, linked to smugglers, all across West Africa who appeal to the mothers of boys to put up the $400 to $500 to send them to seek out jobs in Libya or Europe. Few make it, but others keep coming. Read more…

APRIL 13, 2016

www.nyt.com

12
Apr

Brexit and the Balance of Power

Written on April 12, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in EU Expansion, Europe, Foreign Policy

Britain joined what became the European Union in 1973. This year, on June 23, it will hold a referendum on whether to leave. Should it?

Current polls show a closely divided electorate. Prime Minister David Cameron claims that the concessions he has won from Britain’s EU partners should lay to rest popular concerns about a loss of sovereignty to Brussels and an influx of foreign workers from Eastern Europe. But Cameron’s Conservative Party and his own cabinet are deeply divided, while London’s populist mayor, Boris Johnson, has joined the supporters of British exit.

The question of the costs and benefits of British membership in the EU divides the British press as well. Many mass-circulation publications support “Brexit,” whereas the financial press supports continued membership. The Economist, for example, points out that some 45% of British exports go to other EU countries, and that the atmosphere for negotiating a post-Brexit trade deal would likely be frosty.

Moreover, the EU has made clear to non-members such as Norway and Switzerland that they can have full access to the single market only if they accept most of its rules, including the free movement of people, and contribute to the EU budget. In other words, a Britain outside the Union would gain little in terms of “sovereignty”; on the contrary, it would lose its vote and influence over the terms of its participation in the single market. Meanwhile, rival financial centers such as Paris and Frankfurt would seize the chance to establish rules that would help them win back business from London. Read more…

Published on APR 11, 2016; https://www.project-syndicate.org

Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US assistant secretary of defense and chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, is University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Is the American Century Over?

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