Eurozone: Agreement with Greece first step to overcome austerity

Greece has experienced painful years. The crisis has basically turned around Greek society during the past seven years. With the early Greek elections on 25 January 2015, the “radical” left-wing party Syriza triumphed with 36.3% while the established parties had to face huge losses. Greeks have enough of austerity policies; they want to regain some hope – and particularly change. Continue reading “Eurozone: Agreement with Greece first step to overcome austerity”

Charlie Hebdo: Do not allow them to win!

The discussion after the barbaric attack of Charlie Hebdo is one that has been seen before: the freedom of free speech and expression versus religious sensitivities. Cartoons about current political and social matters in a satiric way are seen as a key part of a free and democratic society and one of the big achievements during the enlightenment period by many in Europe, and even more so in France. Continue reading “Charlie Hebdo: Do not allow them to win!”

Macedonia’s way to an illiberal democracy

Macedonia’s accession process to the European Union (EU) is ever more under threat. It is not only the name issue with Greece, but it is the internal development inside the country that is much more worrying. As the latest report of the European Commission at the end of October shows, Macedonia is not progressing but is taking a couple of steps backwards. Continue reading “Macedonia’s way to an illiberal democracy”

Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes”

Over the period of seven months, I was part of “Somos CaPAZes”, an NGO consisting of students and young professionals who work with disadvantaged children in Bogotá. More precisely, we worked in peace education in Ciudad Bolívar, the poorest part of Colombia’s capital Bogotá. Continue reading “Reflecting on peace education with “Somos CaPAZes””

Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers

Third parties dealing with violent conflict through non-violent means has produced two types of people out there: human rights activists and conflict resolvers. From the outside it appears to be obvious that human rights advocates and conflict resolution practitioners would closely cooperate, or in fact are the same type of people because they work in very similar environments. However, they are not the same people and they can speak very different languages. Continue reading “Dividing lines between human rights advocats and conflict resolvers”

The rocky relations between peace and justice

How can we reach sustainable peace after violent conflict? We need to convince the conflict parties to halt the violence and bring the conflict to an end. We need to convince the belligerents, particularly the government, to address the structural violence in society that always exists in violent conflict. We need to achieve peace and justice to reach a stable and democratic society. Continue reading “The rocky relations between peace and justice”

Why peace is ideological in Colombia

Peace is not aspired by everyone in Colombia, despite the fact that the country is living in historic times to bring its civil war to an end, which has caused more than 220,000 deaths and 6,864,934 victims (mostly displaced people). In fact, the debate about peace is an ideological battle between the left and the right. Many armed actors are involved in violence, intimidation and in drug trafficking. However, the ideological view usually allows just a limited perspective one has on the conflict.
Continue reading “Why peace is ideological in Colombia”

Albania rewarded with EU Candidate Status

Albania received the official candidate status of the EU. The country in the Western Balkans has a population of three million people, 17% unemployment and is known for its endemic organized crime but also its beautiful beaches. It is likely that the talks for Tirana will last for many years. It will depend on the speed of reform and the political will and consensus how long Albania’s road to membership will take. Continue reading “Albania rewarded with EU Candidate Status”

Lithuania approved as 19th member of the Euro

The Euro remains popular. Lithuania declared that it wants to join the Eurozone in January 2015 and the Commission confirmed that the small Baltic country fulfills all the criteria. At the Brussels summit on 27 June 2014, the EU Council not only voted in favor of Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the EU Commission, and signed partnership agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, but importantly as well included a statement that Lithuania will become the 19th member of the Euro. I remember vividly that many of my friends in 2010 in the U.S. told me that the Euro would fall apart. Now, the Euro is back on his feet and enjoys popularity among member states. Continue reading “Lithuania approved as 19th member of the Euro”

The Formation of Three Right-Wing Alliances in the European Parliament

The EU-skeptical, ultra right-wing and right-wing populist parties in the European Parliament try to get themselves organized. Most likely there will be three EU-skeptical party families and one of them might be the third biggest faction. The project for a far-right party led by Marine Le Pen’s Front National will come into existence and also the future of Nigel Farage’s EFD seems to be now secured. All of these EU-skeptic parties have different aims, from leaving the Euro to abandoning the union. All three parties are not characterized by strength but rather weakness looking at their party programs. Continue reading “The Formation of Three Right-Wing Alliances in the European Parliament”