Friday, 20 June 2014

What is in the head of Mr Putin?

I am deeply worried. 
Although I am an optimist always trying to find the positive aspects of the situation I cannot help this worry. 
I am part of the generation of 1989. Which means my whole life (that I remember) so far happened after the dissolution of the Soviet empire in Europe. 
What is now happening in Ukraine is deeply troubling. I am troubled that apparently Mr Putin believes democracy is not good for Ukraine. This is how I see it. Maybe I am blind following mostly the western media (I do not really speak Russian)... but it seems to me that Russian tsar wants to turn back the time and rebuild the Russian empire like his predecessor Katherine the Great did in the XIXth century...
I am not a rioter. I do not like when presidents are destituted by protesting crowds. I much prefer elections. But what happened in Ukraine over the last 8 months is a very complex process with true societal basis. I hope Putin cannot turn back the clock.
Ukraine was a victim of the XXth century. You should read the recent article of professor Snyder. The inhabitants of the current Ukraine have a right for some peace... Why Mr Putin wages war? Is it because democratic Ukraine is a threat to his regime in Russia? I do not see any better response to this question. 

The current affairs in Poland with the wiretapping scandal are serious. But I see a strong potential link between the Putin's campaign in Ukraine and what is now happening in Poland. It is clearly in the interest of Putin to destabilize Polish government at this very moment. Poland was behaving too much pro the democratic developments in Ukraine... 
I am not saying the Polish government is clean and fine. But I think we should look beyond what is now going on in Poland. And this is deeply worrying.
So what will be next? Baltic states destabilisation? Lithuania is joining Eurozone next January. Will it be allowed to do it.... I hope I am just worried too much... But I am not sure. 
What is in the head of Mr Putin? How he sees the future of Europe and Russia? I hope we are not going into a war. But I think we should seriously consider this question. 1914 happened because some people miscalculated the situation. It was definitely not in the interest of the French, German, British, Russian, not to mention Poles and Ukrainians... Belgians to spend 4 years if the trenches. Let's try not to slip to the abbys again! 
The only way to redeem the past is to change the future! 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Juncker versus Cameron - or how personal is the EU politics?

I have attended a conference in the Centre Edelmann yesterday about how the press perceives EU election process and results. Here is a couple of points:
1. In international press nobody gets what the EPP and S&D are, not to mention Liberals or Greens. But personalities play well. It is easier to build stories on them.
2. The press coverage was concentrated on the 2 big contenders: Schultz and Juncker. Apparently the scene was set by the first debate in France24. Poor Verhofstadt.... did not make it...
3. The Schultz-Juncker duel played really well in Germany in the last phase of the campaign. This creates a very tough situation for Merkel, as she needs to respect the democratic logic that came with it. It will be hard for her not to respect the official narrative that 'Juncker' won it. Even though in fact he did not... as most of European public did not notice....
4. We are now in a process of nomination of the Commission president that is hard to predict. This alone is a very interesting novelty for EU commentators.
5. The EP is exploiting its 'democratic legitimacy' to its limits. But European Council has a 'democratic legitimacy' as well. I would even claim that by the participation rate in the elections (EP - 43%) the European Council of elected leaders has much higher legitimacy (national elections turnout tends to be higher).
6. Now the game seems to be between Juncker and Cameron who voiced his strong veto. Can UK block the third Commission president in a row (Jean-Luc Dehaene, Guy Verhofstadt, now Juncker)?
7. The UK situation will be one of the key thing to watch over the next months. UKIP win shakes the whole political system.
8. Hollande has officially backed the presidential contest in these elections. Now it is actually France that gives a strong backing to Juncker... very interesting element.

The EP made a campaign under the slogan 'this time is different' Clearly it looks like it is. But before we jump into the nomination process we should spend some time and reflect on the Eurosceptic votes in UK, France, Italy (Grillo), Germany (Alternative fuer Deutschland) etc. Next time it might be quite different again...