Tag Archives: democracy

Kosmolinks #18

  • This looks interesting. Don’t forget the other 5 parts! “Kevin Cyron, an American living in the Russian Federation who recently graduated with a Masters degree in Sociology from St. Petersburg State University, has agreed to Russia Blog publishing his thesis titled, “The Misconception of Russian Authoritarianism (doc)“.

  • More on the difficult relationship between Britain and the EU: “Britain is becoming semi-detached from the rest of the EU – and an establishment in denial of the political nature of the European project is to blame, argues Peter Sutherland”. Also read the response by Certain ideas of Europe here.

  • An opinion piece by Lisbeth Kirk: “In a word, the danger is not so much that the EU is perceived as undemocratic but that it is seen as increasingly boring and irrelevant.” She continues by asking “What if the US were like the EU?”

  • The European Commission will publish a progress report later this month, hopefully with some clear statements regarding corruption. A strong statement could be to trigger the safeguard clauses…

  • The Black Sea region, once on the periphery of European consciousness, has become the next frontier in transatlantic strategic thinking in terms of energy security, trade, migration and other key policy areas. In this volume leading international experts examine the new dynamics of the Black Sea region, including perspectives from the region, trans-regional issues such as energy security, cross-border conflicts, democracy, civil rights, the rule of law, and future relations with Russia, the EU, NATO and other key actors.

  • EU – Russia relations: A period of stagnation (2003–2006), followed by a period of depression (2006-present)…

  • The formation of a new government in Serbia offers modest hope of progress in its path to European Union membership, say Daniel Korski & Ivan Zverzhanovski.

  • Is the label “euroscepticism” misleading? The idea is that labels such “anti-EU” or “anti-Europe” would be more suitable to describe “Eurosceptics” since most people that would put themselves in this category actually oppose any Europe wide approach. Very interesting thought!

  • Interesting essay by Saskia Sassen: “It is surprising to see the high price in terms of ethical and economic costs that powerful ‘liberal democracies’ seem willing to pay in order to control extremely powerless people who only want a chance to work. Immigrants and refugees have to be understood as a historical vanguard that signals major ‘unsettlements’ in both sending and receiving countries.”

  • Populist movements are a threat not because they raise the issue of direct democracy, but because they advocate nationalist mobilisation based on xenophobia, writes Antony Todorov. Given the failure of the leftist projects of the twentieth century, it is telling that far-right populism is more anti-democratic in the new democracies of central and eastern Europe than in western Europe. Is populism identical to the crisis of democracy or rather a symptom of it?

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Kosmolinks #13

  • “Leak of latest European Commission proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, known as the ‘health check’. These proposals will form the basis of an internal Commission discussion on 14 and 15 May 2008. The agreed proposals are due out later in the month.” –  Is this the first online leak of an important EU document?

  • A new balkan blog with this hilarious post: “In the early days of the siege of Sarajevo in the mid-1990s, a photo of a half-ruined post office with three items of graffiti written on its wall captured the imagination of the world. The first graffito read “This is Serbia!”; the second stated “This is Bosnia”. And someone scrawled underneath, “No, you idiots, it’s a post office!”

  • Very interesting article about Jeffrey Berman, Barack Obama’s director of delegate selection…

  • Andrew Duff (MEP) on the Lisbon Treaty and the upcoming referendum in Ireland and why the Irish eurosceptics are wrong.

  • “Global Power Europe” makes the case for a more decisive European approach towards Ukraine. And this “firm commitment” is EU accession..

  • Another shocking story on human rights in the US: “The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.”

  • A CEPS research paper that looks at “serious limits across three strands of democracy policy – the magnitude of incentives offered in return for democratic change, the degree of critical pressure exerted for democratic reform and the scale of European democracy funding.”

  • This interactive map developed by CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe shows 50 damaging projects planned or already underway in Central and Eastern Europe at a total cost to EU taxpayers of €10 billion.

  • The new Lisbon treaty is (probably deliberately!) very vague on the issue of a EEAS (European External Action Service). Indeed, clarity is something else, as some of the rather basic things still need to be solved, for example the interaction between the Council, the Commission and the member state staff, the role of the European Parliament, the formal title of the head of the missions and the formal title of the delegations…as well as the question “where the EEAS and the foreign policy chief will be situated.” Luckily, only in 2010 the final proposal need to be finalised.

  • Good and comprehensive analysis of the election results in Serbia.

  • “Do we—Europeans—have the political vision and will to make it happen? Do we want to remain the shapers of history, or would we rather continue under the delusions so ruefully picked apart by people like Kagan?” (…) On the present trajectory, of declining European military budgets; ill-equipped and under-prepared armed forces; poorly crafted foreign and security policies, particularly on the part of European Union Member States like Germany, Italy and Spain, one could be forgiven for thinking that the European Union’s future looks rather bleak. And as Kagan warns us, we need more than hope to prove them wrong…”

ENP success in Belarus?

The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) has been criticised of being ineffective, under-financed and rather limited in scope. But now it seems the slowish EU diplomacy delivers some promising results…ok, maybe no quite yet results but let’s call it a window of opportunity. The last European dictator, Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenka responded to the “non-paper – What the European Union could bring to Belarus” in a ‘non -official’ speech. Vladimir Socor has the quotations of Lukashenko in the Eurasia Daily Monitor:

“We are [situated] in the center of Europe and we must be on normal terms with the East and the West.” Instead of a balanced policy, “We have been flying on just one wing for quite some time. (…) The lesson from the recent and ongoing conflicts with Russia over energy supply and transit is just how much we need investors from Europe and the United States.”

Interesting, so what happened to the famous unfinished Union of Russia and Belarus?

Lukashenka reaffirmed his recent vows to “never let Belarus be swallowed up by Russia,” not to introduce the Russian ruble in Belarus (“an oblique way to deprive us of our independence”), and to take reciprocal steps following “Russia’s destruction of our customs union”

This project seems quite dead. But while killing the relationship with Russia, he made some incredible remarks towards the EU, echoing the ENP vocabulary quite well (energy security, trade preferences, migration control)

“The West will not enjoy energy security without Belarus” (…) He called on the EU to open its markets for Belarus products and to allow them to compete without addressing the issue of quality (…) And he described Belarus as a shield for Europe against uncontrolled migration from the East, implicitly asking for compensation in the form of EU trade preferences.

So maybe Lukashenka becomes the second Voronin…who knows…? (in the sense that he ‘officialy’ broke with Russia and claimed to have turned towards the EU. However, his ENP record tells another story.)

Why not a referendum? Look at the polls!

OK, I know this is not very ‘democratic’ but I am happy that someone opened up the debate on the limits of participatory democracy. Lately, the idea of holding a referendum is often presented as THE one and only democratic instrument that we have (especially by Madame Royal). Strangely enough, only relating to EU issues, never because of domestic policies. Anyway,  after the failed referenda on the EU constitutional treaty in France and the Netherlands, we could clearly see in what kind of mess you can run with holding a referendum with uninformed people that lost trust in their national politicians.  (hope this is enough provocation for some mean comments!)

So, here is some food for thought from Michel Godet via eurotopics:

If we are not careful, participatory democracy may consecrate the triumph of self-interest in the short-term (the only unfair inequalities are those that we do not benefit from!) at the expense of long-term collective interest. The courageous decisions to be taken regarding the future are rarely consensual and if forecasting needs be participatory, the strategy that it inspires is up to the elected members of Parliament. It is up to them to demonstrate will power and courage in order to avoid participatory demagogy.

Here the link to the original article in French: Démocratie ou démagogie?