The Refugee Challenge Calls for Exceptional Urgent Measures

By Mirjam van Reisen* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

BRUSSELS (IDN) – With the 28-nation EU desperately trying to find a solution to the unprecedented inflow of people seeking international protection and a better life, the size of the problem and the political battlefield are seriously damaging European cooperation and undermining citizens’ trust in the European project.

However, the proposals presented by the European Commission six months ago were reasonable and fair. Strengthening EU’s diplomacy to resolve the Syrian conflict, stepping up assistance to the countries neighbouring Syria, reinforcing external border controls and relocating 40,000 refugees based on a fair distribution key – all these made complete sense and could have been an adequate answer to the situation, at that point in time.

But Member States didn’t play ball. The shameful lack of solidarity, pure selfishness and political short sightedness of a number of (especially new) Member States frustrated any attempt to manage the situation in a reasonable and serene way. Despite all the (European) Councils, precious time has been lost and the situation today is worse than ever before, threatening to hurt the very fundaments of the EU.

Minor Compromises Are Worthwhile For Better EU-Turkey Relations

By Michael Leigh* | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

Sir Michael Leigh is a Senior Advisor at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

WASHINGTON (IDN | GMF) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s dash to Istanbul on October 18 was a gift to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Erdoğan is hoping that his Justice and Development Party (AKP) will regain its majority in the November 1 general election, after a setback last June, enabling him to call a referendum to strengthen the president’s constitutional powers.

The outcome of the general election could, therefore, settle Turkey’s political fate for years to come, and accentuate the country’s drift toward authoritarian, sectarian rule.

The chancellor’s visit, in the midst of the refugee crisis and after Turkey’s most lethal terrorist attack in decades, was intended to win the Turkish president’s support for a joint action plan to stem refugee flows that are undermining the EU’s internal open borders policy. Merkel’s trip followed the postponement of the European Commission’s annual report on Turkey until after the Turkish election. Insiders claim that the delay occurred for internal procedural reasons.

EU Gives Additional Funds to Promote Entry into Force of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

By Ramesh Jaura | IDN-InDepthNews Report

BERLIN (IDN) – With a view to promoting entry-into-force of the nuclear test ban treaty, the European Union (EU) has decided to increase its support to the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) by contributing an additional amount of 3 million euros (about 3.9 million dollars). This brings the bloc’s voluntary financial contributions since 2006 to a total of some 19 million euros (nearly 21.5 million dollars).

Poland Asked to Reduce Reliance on Fossil Fuels

By Jaya Ramachandran | IDN-InDepthNews Report

PARIS (IDN) – In a carrot-and-stick approach, the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has commended Poland for having combined robust economic growth with reducing some of the pressures on its environment since it joined the European Union in 2004. At the same time, it asks Poland to decrease its economy’s reliance on fossil fuels and make growth greener.

India-Denmark Relations at Their Lowest

By Shastri Ramachandaran | IDN-InDepthNews Viewpoint

NEW DELHI (IDN) – The Royal Danish Embassy in New Delhi is a reminder that Denmark has fallen off the map of India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). Neither the change at the helm – from Manmohan Singh as prime minister to Narendra Modi – nor foreign secretary Sujatha Singh being replaced by S Jaishankar has altered Denmark’s situation.

The Government of India (GoI) barely acknowledges the Danish embassy as a diplomatic entity, which is kept out of official programmes. However, the embassy does not deny a visa to any Indian, including journalists, who want to visit the land of Hans Christian Andersen, known for famous fairy tales, including The Little Mermaid and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

Wanted A ‘Global Europe’

By Shada Islam* | IDN-InDepth NewsViewpoint

BRUSSELS (IDN) – Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini’s appointment as the new European Union foreign policy chief offers the opportunity for an overhaul of EU foreign and security policy.

With many EU leaders, ministers and senior officials slow to respond to world events given Europe’s traditionally long summer break, the 2014 summer of death and violence has left the reputation of ‘Global Europe’ in tatters, highlighting the EU’s apparent disconnect from the bleak reality surrounding it.

When she takes charge in November along with other members of the new European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, Mogherini’s first priority must be to restore Europe’s credibility in an increasingly volatile and chaotic global landscape.

It cannot be business as usual. A strategic rethink of Europe’s global outreach is urgent.

Freedom Of Religion Or Belief Crucial To EU’s External Policy

By Valentina Gasbarri* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

ROME (IDN) – Fundamental freedoms and human rights are at the heart of the founding treaties of the European Union (EU) and these are protected under member states’ national legislation. The Charter on Fundamental Rights also sets out the civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.

In November 2012, the Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged the commitment and activities of the EU in reconciliation, democracy, promotion of human rights and enlarging the area of peace and stability across the continent, and awarded it the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a universal human right, freedom of religion or belief (FORB) is a priority under the EU human rights policy. The EU defends and promotes freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled, within and outside the EU. The EU Guidelines on FORB, adopted early in 2013, underline the 28-nation bloc’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of this universal human right without any discrimination.

What Russia Learnt From Chechnya Before Ukraine Foray

By Brenna Owen | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KINGSTON, Canada (IDN) – The view that Russian President Vladimir Putin has consolidated and strengthened Moscow’s power is commonly held and, indeed, holds much truth.

Domestically speaking, Putin has effectively reconstituted Russian state power – aided in part by the appeal of his charismatic ‘strongman’ image. What has emerged is a system of competitive authoritarianism in which Putin governs through formal democratic institutions, but violates rules and processes to such an extent that his regime fails to meet universally accepted democratic standards.

In addition to an iron-fisted grip on domestic politics, the perception exists that Putin’s foreign policy is a testament to Moscow’s strength. For instance, Putin’s close association with the relative stabilization of Chechnya conferred on him the mantle of legitimacy and lent him popular electoral support.

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