Eurosphere agenda: “Row over Syria policy

The presidents of Russia and the United States met to discuss a policy on Syria at the start of the week. Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad remains the main bone of contention between the two leaders. According to some commentators Putin has pushed through his strategy of including Assad in the fight against the IS terrorists. Others stress that he simply wants to divert attention from the Ukraine conflict and cast Russia as a superpower.

Why don’t Syrians stay in Turkey?

Why are Syrian refugees leaving the relative safety of Turkey and choosing instead to undertake the dangerous journey to Europe?

Syrian refugees and migrants gather on their way to Greek border near Edirne, Turkey.Sahan Nuhoglu/Demotix. All rights reserved.While EU leaders at the 23 September emergency summit on the refugee crisis struggled to reach agreement on how to cooperate, they all seemed to agree with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s observation that “solving problems of [the EU] external borders is not possible without working with Turkey”.

Syria is the origin of many of Europe’s current security problems. Four years after the war there started, the West has no strategy for ending it; but neither does anyone else, including Russia.
It is understandable that Western leaders who have failed to end the war in Syria over the last four years should now be clutching at straws. They still need to clutch at the right straws, however. There are more ways to make things worse in Syria (and neighbouring countries) than to make them better. The EU needs to re-examine what it is doing, and have achievable objectives rather than lofty aspirations; and it should understand that all the other players in the conflict have their own objectives, most of which are incompatible with the West’s.

Between Russia and the west

Dysfunctionality in Serbia and Bosnia reflects the larger economic conflict between Russia and the west.

Catalonia’s elections have caused more problems than they have solved. It is time for both Spain and Catalonia to start a national dialogue to reform Spain’s model of regional government. Otherwise, Catalonia will become Europe’s next crisis.

Volkswagen staff ‘acted criminally’

Olaf Lies, a Volkswagen board member and economy minister of Lower Saxony has told Newsnight some staff acted criminally over emission cheat tests.

Corbyn: Britain ‘can and must change’

Jeremy Corbyn says people do not have to accept inequality – and promises a “kinder politics” – in his Labour conference speech.

The end of a decade: what happened to Roma inclusion?

Ten years ago the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 was launched. Now that the Decade has been formally closed, it is time to reflect on the results.

Riot police expel 130 Roma asylum seekers from refugee camp in Bron, France. serge mouraret/Demotix. All rights reserved.

The UN’s refugee agency says the number of migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean into Europe this year is more than double the total for 2014.

Germany raises bar for Balkan migrants

Germany’s cabinet approves a new asylum law aimed at reducing the number of migrants arriving from Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania.

“Blood cell counting”: the Croatian refugee crisis

Croatia is the latest Balkan country to find itself hit by the wave of refugees trying to reach western Europe. What have the reactions been there?

Volunteers and refugees at Opatovac transit camp in eastern Croatia.

Greek tragedy for education opportunities

Debt crisis has been ‘catastrophe’ for Greek students

Executive ‘horse-trading’ united Scotland: the Scottish constitutional convention and its relevance today

The constitutional convention changed Scottish politics through hard earned consensus building. The Scottish experience could be a driving force in mending broken British democracy.

Flickr/ Andy Hay.Some rights reserved.

Rebecca Harms, Co-President of the Greens-European Free Alliance, has spoken out about effective controls at the EU’s external borders.

The limits of Europe

openDemocracy is partnering with European Alternatives to explore the Transeuropa festival. Here, the Co-President of European Alternatives tells us what he hopes to find at Transeuropa.

In the Greek myth of Europa, the beautiful Phoenician woman of that name, born in Tyre (now in Lebanon), is abducted and raped by Zeus, perhaps on the island of Crete. Her three brothers go out searching for her, each in a different direction. While searching for Europa Cilix founded Cilicia (now Anatolia); Cadmus founded Thebes in Greece, bringing the alphabet with him, and Phoenix went into North Africa and founded Phoenicia. None of them found Europa.


Pundits often point to the US as a model for Europe. They should be looking east instead, writes Amit S. Mukherjee.

French radios rebel over music quota

Stations boycott existing rules in protest at plans to make them play more French music.

Anarchism in Makhno’s homeland: adventures of the red-and-black flag


Anarchism may be a popular political brand in Ukraine today, but it’s not anarchism as we know it. на русском языке

The Republika Srpska referendum and the Bonn powers

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) once again finds itself in a perilous situation, as a referendum in Republika Srpska (RS) has the potential to disrupt its entire state structure. Where to turn?

Milorad Dodik president of Republika Srpska. Wikimedia. Public domain.Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) once again finds itself in a perilous situation, as a referendum in Republika Srpska (RS) has the potential to disrupt its entire state structure. Called by RS president Milorad Dodik, the referendum seeks to negate the authority of the state court of BiH, the prosecutor’s office and the Office of the High Representative (OHR), currently led by Valentin Inzko, in Bosnia’s smaller entity.

VIDEO: Two Uber bosses on trial in France

Two executives from the low-cost taxi service Uber have gone on trial in France over various charges including engaging in deceptive commercial practices.

Franco-Dutch deal ends Rembrandt spat

France and the Netherlands agree to buy two 17th-Century Rembrandt wedding portraits, settling their differences and preventing a bidding war.

Islam and refugees: some observations from Samos

Refugees are entering a Europe that sees some of them as terrorists and Islamist extremists. The reality is that the vast number of refugees are victims of terrorism themselves.

Refugees at Samos port. Stefanie Eisenschenk/Flickr. Some rights reserved.These past few days have seen some important statements from both the municipality and the regional authority concerning its strategy for managing the refugees coming to the island over the coming (colder) months. These statements at least show that the local authorities are preparing for the winter and contrasts sharply with their lack of action earlier in the year

VIDEO: In Calais Jungle as weather cools

Conditions are only likely to worsen at the “Jungle” in Calais as winter arrives – Murad Shishani reports.

VIDEO: The migrants ‘outsourced’ to Slovakia

Austria is “outsourcing” some of the people trying to claim asylum there – the first 100 have just arrived in Slovakia, as Bethany Bell reports.

How long can Merkel’s open-door policy last?

How long can Merkel’s open door to refugees last?

PHOTO: Marcelo Baglia. Used with permission.

PHOTO: Marcelo Baglia. Used with permission.

Anti-Semitism in Muslim communities and Islamophobia in the context of the Gaza War 2014: Austria and Germany

There are significantly different motivations among Muslims with Palestinian, Lebanese or Turkish backgrounds. However, the experience of marginalisation and discrimination is a major element in the construction of identity.

mirror racisms

The new phenomenon of so-called ‘Muslim antisemitism’ is complex. It is seen as a central characteristic of a ‘new antisemitism’, a term that has itself causedmuch controversy since the beginning of the Second Intifada, which led to a wave of antisemitism in some European countries.


What the city of Paris looks like without cars


Paris, this is your city without cars.


Germany faces far-right radicalisation over refugees

A German spy chief warns of radicalisation as this year alone has seen 22 arson attacks against refugee shelters.

Faultlines, refugees, and the law

The refugee crisis in Europe has challenged many accepted truths, and shown that the solution lies in applying international human rights law to override political manoeuvring.

Volunteers prepare to welcome 1,000 refugees at Dortmund station. (Felix Huesmann/Demotix)Volunteers prepare to welcome 1,000 refugees at Dortmund station (Felix Huesmann/Demotix)In her excellent article referencing the refugee crisis, Jennifer Allsopp pointed to a fault line which social and cultural practice have tried hard to obscure. She noted the fact that  “it is men who are the protagonists of the current refugee crisis. …they have begun to weave a new narrative around what it means to be vulnerable, to be a man and to be a refugee. They depict new masculinities of war that challenge the militarised assumptions…”

Pro-independence supporters likely victors in vote described as the most important in Spain’s recent history.
We look at the left-wing politician’s election as leader of the Labour Party and the subsequent ire of the UK media.

MAIN FOCUS: EU tackles refugee crisis | 25/09/2015

The EU will step up its help for the refugees in Syria’s neighbouring countries. It plans to set up hotspots in Italy, Greece and Bulgaria to make registration easier, and Frontex is to receive extra funding. At last the EU is showing that it is still capable of action, some commentators applaud. Others criticise Europe, saying it is outsourcing the management of the crisis.

VIDEO: Refugee crisis: Food and phone charging

The BBC’s Mark Lowen reports from a sports stadium on the Turkey-Greece border where agencies are providing shelter and food to refugees trying to reach Europe.

German regions get more migrant funds

Germany’s federal government doubles its aid for regional states, to €4bn (£3bn; $4.5bn), to help them cope with a record influx of migrants.
Catalan independence debate gets personal ahead of vote

Picture of the last pro-referendum demonstration in Barcelona, Catalonia, on September 11, 2015. Image from Twitter.

Picture of the last pro-referendum demonstration in Barcelona, Catalonia, on September 11, 2015. Image from Twitter.

In Volkswagen emissions fraud scandal, proprietary software is the real villain


“Proprietary software is an unsafe building material. You can’t inspect it.”

The Refugee Crisis: Separating the Conspiracies from The Conspiracy
Center for Research on Globalization
From there, they were smuggled into Tal Abyad, a border town used by ISIS as a gateway from Turkey, on two buses rented by the MIT [Turkish intelligence]…which it said were stopped by police a day after the operation following a tip-off that they were
The Refugee Crisis: Separating the Conspiracies from The Conspiracy™CounterPunch

Populist hegemony in Greece

The electoral victory of Tsipras over his political opponents signifies the triumph of energetic populism over docile liberalism.

In Giuseppe di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, Tancredi Falconeri, a descendant of the dying Sicilian aristocracy, asserts that, “for things to remain the same, everything must change.” Not quite so with Alexis Tsipras, the young leader of the youthful left-wing party in crisis-ridden Greece. If there were to be one, his dictum would be exactly the opposite: “If everything is to change, things have to remain the same.” And, ho, in the third electoral contest since the beginning of the year, the winner was the same as in the previous ones: Syriza, the party led by Tsipras. So, what exactly happened in Greece’s last election? Why? And, what is in the store for this country?

Press freedom: How the EU struggles to match action with values

Press freedom is a reliable barometer of the state of democracy. But the EU’s failure to live up to its own standards undermines its influence on the rest of the world, argues Jean-Paul Marthoz.

A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) recommends that the EU establishes a Rule of Law mechanism, to keep member states responsible for upholding fundamental values and freedom of expression, and that Article 7 be used to punish countries that curtail media freedoms.

US President Obama and Russian President Putin presented opposing views on the fight against the IS terror group on Monday in New York. It’s already far too late to bring peace to the war-torn region, some commentators argue. Others are optimistic that the chaos in Syria can be stopped with Moscow’s help.

The good, the bad, and Corbynmania: how to defend the BBC

Not all defences of the BBC are good. What can the Corbyn insurgency teach us about how to make a progressive case for the corporation?

In the company of good books: recommended reading for Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn will no doubt discover that the wisdom of crowds isn’t always enough nor is meeting with busy world-famous economists and other wise-men and -women four times a year. Here are some books to hone his arguments and stimulate and inspire the intellectually inquisitive mind.

The distorting effect of debt and how to avoid socialising losses and privatise the profit

Winter is coming!

With winter approaching, the journey that refugees face to reach Europe is becoming ever more dangerous. Why are they being denied safe passage and what can be done to help?



EU Pledges $1.1 billion to Help Syrian Refugees

European Union leaders have pledged another $1.1 billion to help U.N. agencies supporting Syrian refugees in the Middle East, making the announcement at a summit held in Brussels on Wednesday evening.


I know the fear and hope of those seeking refuge in Europe

If I could send a message to European leaders it would be this. Understand why people risk everything to reach Europe. Show them the same humanity being shown by ordinary citizens.

War graveyard from 1992-5 Bosnian war.


Croatia Bans Entry of Serbian Vehicles

Updated | Relations between Serbia and Croatia hit a new low on Thursday as Croatia banned Serbian-registered vehicles from entering the country, in a bitter ongoing dispute over the flow of migrants across the border.


Protests in Calais: valuing human complexity in crisis

Thoughts on the UK media’s representation of the refugee crisis, from a day of action and protest in Calais on Saturday 19th September. In the midst of political maelstrom, migrants are fighting for their humanity along with their rights.

Catalonia: no fast track to independence

As much as many people deeply disliked the way the PP was facing the elections, they feared the prospect of a wide open scenario with no guarantees whatsoever.

One year ago, failing to win the independence referendum, Scottish PM Alex Salmond swiftly resigned. This has not been the case of President Artur Mas. At the end of the day, Spain, as the local cliché goes, is different, and Catalonia remains part of Spain.

European union – a cosmopolitan legal space

Porous borders really mean the acceptance that human beings move across borders, and that they should be able to move without being criminalized. The political philosopher in interview with Slawomir Sierakowski.

Rescued refugees shipwrecked off Libya arrive in Palermo.Rescued refugees shipwrecked off Libya arrive in Palermo. Demotix/ Antonio Melita. All rights reserved.

In an interview with Sud-Ouest, Matthias Fekl threatened to “call a complete halt” to the TTIP negotiations if things do not change. EurActiv France reports

European nations overwhelmed by the biggest refugee crisis since World War II may end up boosting their economies if they just let the migrants in, analysts say.

On 14 September 2015 the EU General Affairs Council (11966/15) took note of the European Commission’s letter of intent (11693/15, available in 23 languages)regarding the Commission’s work programme for 2016, scheduled for adoption on 27 October.
The letter, dated 9 September, from president Jean-Claude Juncker and the first vice-president Frans Timmermans offers some general remarks as well as an outline of future initiatives and activities, grouped under ten priorities.

UN ‘shocked’ over Hungary migrant clash

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says he is “shocked” after Hungarian police fire tear gas and water cannon to force migrants back from its border.

Looking for European alternatives in Belgrade

openDemocracy is partnering with European Alternatives to explore the Transeuropa festival. Here, two of the organisers explain why they chose Belgrade as the location for this year’s festival.

Definitions of Europe seem always to default to the European Union. And if you live within the geographical bounds of this narrow definition of Europe, odds are you feel far removed from the democratic decision making process. And legitimately so. But there are a vast amount of Europeans with even less democratic influence, namely those residing in European countries that have not been granted entry to this exclusive and deeply flawed club. Where EU residents face a democracy deficit, the residents of non-EU European countries must live by its dictates, without reaping its benefits.

Serbia has been at the heart of the ongoing refugee crisis. It is time for the EU to reward its actions by opening the first negotiation chapter, writes Stevan Randjelovic.


The ‘jungle’ in Calais, now home to around 3,000 refugees, is nothing new. For over 20 years, migrants have gathered there in the hope of reaching Britain.EurActiv France reports.


The popular tourist destinations of Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes will be among the first Greek islands to lose their preferential tax rates under the country’s new bailout deal, the government said Monday.


Ali has travelled from Syria to the migrant camp in Calais, but is afraid his disabilities will make it impossible to get to the UK.

Refugee crisis: EU summit amid resentment over quota deal – as it happened

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