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January 20 2014

European Citizens Call for the Protection of Media Pluralism

For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and 'like' the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

Website: MediaInitiative.eu. For updates follow @MediaECI on Twitter and ‘like’ the Facebook page European Initiative for Media Pluralism.

“European institutions should safeguard the right to free, independent and pluralistic information”. The quote, from the Media Initiative website, summarizes the main idea behind a pan-European campaign that aims at urging the European Commission to draft a Directive to protect Media Pluralism and Press Freedom.

The Media Initiative is running a European Citizens’ Initiative - a tool of participatory democracy “which allows civil society coalitions to collect online and offline one million signatures in at least 7 EU member states to present directly to the European Commission a proposal forming the base of an EU Directive, initiating a legislative process”. The petition is available in 15 languages and can be signed online:

Protecting media pluralism through partial harmonization of national rules on media ownership and transparency, conflicts of interest with political office and independence of media supervisory bodies.

A short video presents the campaign:

Reposted bycheg00 cheg00

July 13 2013

How Europe's Solution for Economic Crisis is Actually the Problem

Europe's current crisis is more than economic. Between the German government advocating a dangerous austerity policy and European authorities lacking any other suggestions, it is clear that the 2008 financial crisis is no longer solely responsible for the downward spiral of Europe.

The GDP for countries in Europe has fallen by a considerable amount: 5.3 percent for Greece, 3.9 percent for Portugal, 4.1 percent for Cyprus, 2.3 percent for Italy, and two percent for Spain. This is without even mentioning the recession into which France is entering. In the first quarter of this year, the European Union economy contracted by 0.7 percent, or one percent when only taking into consideration the eurozone.

If it was only the 2008 economic crisis that was responsible for all this, Europe would not be one of the only one to suffer so much. For example, the United States, the birthplace of this crisis, registered a 1.9 percent increase in their economy in 2013 [fr] while their unemployment rate was at its lowest in four years.

Europe, which for a long time has aimed to maintain growth that compares favorably with  United States, now finds itself completely lost among incoherent policies and disputes between countries [fr].

One of the main reasons for this current instability in Europe is the evident failure of the European policy authorities when their proposals seem more than enigmatic. Restricting interchange fees as proposed by Michel Barnier, the European Union Commissioner for the Internal Market and Services, is a perfect example of is a perfect example of  the Commission taking measures that will not have any concrete impact.

Capping interchange fees, bank charges paid by retailers when they make a card payment, would not only increase personal bank charges [fr], as the banks would want to recuperate the money lost by this cap, but the retailers profit margin will also increase, as they rarely lower their prices just because their costs have decreased.

The other significant issue which has notably accelerated the decline of Europe is the restricted austerity policy which the majority of EU countries have undertaken. It would be more logical for Europe to take inspiration from the countries that have pulled through, i.e. the United States, in order to stimulate the market rather than only focusing on reducing the deficit.

Le taux de chômage des jeunes en Europe de 2005-13 via Les crises, domaine public

Youth unemployment rate in Europe between 2005-2013 via Les Crises – public domain

The most frustrating aspect about this issue is that the majority of the European leaders agree on this point, but no one dares to confront the life-long defenders of austerity, also know as « Sparkurs » [de] in Germany and its strict chancellor, Angela Merkel [fr]. But there are also critics of austerity on the German side. Last week, Gilles Moëc, head economist at Deutsche Bank, admitted to the news outlet Agence France-Presse that “there were some errors” [fr] in the selected strategy.

However, it's not as if the Merkel method was fully tried and tested, in fact, it was far from it. Portugal, for example, had never been in such a terrible state until it was subjected to the European austerity policy. In two years, its unemployment rate increased by 5.3 percent, its budget deficit by 1.1 percent. As for its public debt, it's now 123 percent higher than its GDP.

Julio Salazar Moreno, Secretary-General of Spanish worker's trade union USO, believes that the countries within the European Union need to stop with the austerity policy [pt], according to online newspaper Público:

Os países da União Europeia (UE) têm de parar “de uma vez por todas” com a aplicação de medidas recessivas, porque os cidadãos, alerta, estão a viver no limite dos sacrifícios

The countries within the European Union (EU) must refrain from enforcing austerity policies “once and for all” because the alert citizens are living at the very limits of their possible sacrifices.

The sledgehammer approach is just as inefficient for Greece, claims Gregor Gyzi, a president from a left-wing parliamentary group in Germany Bundestag by addressing the Greek readers [el] of news247:

οι επιβληθείσες, κυρίως από την γερμανική κυβέρνηση, περικοπές σε μισθούς και συντάξεις, οι απολύσεις και οι ιδιωτικοποιήσεις, όχι μόνο ώθησαν την Ελλάδα σε βαθιά ύφεση και κοινωνικά προβλήματα, αλλά κατέστησαν και αδύνατη την επιστροφή των δανείων στο εγγύς μέλλον

Imposed primarily by the German government, salary and retirement cuts, redundancies and privatisations, are not only going to push Greece into a major recession and cause social problems, but its also going to make loan repayments equally impossible.

Emigration figures for Europe are also far from surprising. In two years, 2.5 percent of the Portuguese population left the country. Who would have said ten years ago that today many Europeans would leave the continent to work in countries like Angola or Brazil?

Facing this alarming development, it is even more depressing to hear the responses of others, like that of the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, also the former minister of the Eurogroup, who recently gave his thoughts on the European crisis [fr] and concluded that what Europe needs is some “TLC”: a statement which speaks for itself.

April 12 2013

Three Options for Cyprus to Escape the Financial Crisis

The small island of Cyprus continues its race against bankruptcy. Following the European decision to tax all depositors, [fr] the Mediterranean republic faces a critical situation. Three options are emerging for the island: to carry out an agreement with Europe, to turn to Russia, or to declare bankruptcy and leave the Eurozone.

Origins of the crisis

This crisis arose after a significant loss in assets of the Popular Bank of Cyprus and the Bank of Cyprus, from the March 2012 debt restructuring plan in Greece. After which the two Cypriot banks found themselves obligated to seek recapitalization in capital city Nicosia [fr].

Private-sector solution?

Greek banks are closely tied to Cyprus. The Bank for International Settlements, [fr] or BIS, estimates the Greek banks’ investments in Cyprus to be up to 12.6 billion euros. This amount is about 28% of all Cypriot banks’ investments. Given this already high participation of Greek banks in the Cypriot private sector,  it rules out the possibility of further participation from the private sector in the island's recovery plan.

Les bureaux de Bank of Cyprus à Aglandjia via wikipédia CC-BY-2;0

The offices of the Bank of Cyprus at Aglandjia, via Wikipedia CC-BY-2;0

So, if Cyprus could contribute from its banks the sum of 7 billion euros, refused to them by Europe, out of the 17 billion euros which it owes, Europe would be obligated to give one more time to Greece [fr], further weakening the country. A renegotiation, particularly in the plan of the troika, would be risky. This is also partly why the Greek economy is affected by tax on deposits.

Furthermore, organizing a private-sector intervention in Cyprus might be frowned upon by investors. It should not be forgotten that “the Greek case” is expected to remain unique. Otherwise, it would be tempting for other countries now experiencing a complex economic situation, such as Spain, Italy or Portugal, to seek private-sector assistance as well.

The consequences of this would be irrevocable. For the market to finance vulnerable states would become complex, even impossible, and restructuring of public debt for other countries, and of the European Central Bank, would loom dangerously on the horizon. In fact, regarding the deposits, this is another “unique case” which Europe hopes to create.

The Social Democratic Party of Germany [fr], or SDP, wants to make an example of Cyprus, in order to stop the vote in favor of European aid in the Bundestag [fr], which is essential to Chancellor Angela Merkel. So, aid for Cyprus is not likely to occur without the support of the Bundestag. The SDP sees a reserve of money in Cyprus which is noted to be of Russian origin, and suspected to belong to the “mafia”. The private sector intervention did not really hit the wallet of Russia, so the European solution should focus on deposits. Since Cyprus refused to accept a drain of deposits more than 10%, so as not to ruin the reputation of its economic system, it was necessary to broaden its tax base, and to spread the impact across all depositors, including residents. But this could still be enough to push Cyprus into the abyss. This is why it rejected the European plan.

At this point, Cyprus finds itself faced with several possibilities. Given the intense reactions in Europe, and especially in Cyprus, during recent days, some of the European decision-makers seem to want to backtrack, regretting their original choices. We see attempts to reduce the participation of Cyprus in its own bailout. However, Europe may not accept an attempted renegotiation. The debate about the complete participation of the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) [fr], which oversees 5.8 billion euros in aid, still remains.

Alliance with Russia

The second solution would be for Cyprus to ally itself with Russia. Indeed, Putin wants to defend Russian assets on the island, asking, in exchange, for large concessions on gas, Russian military facilities, not to mention the recent discovery of an oil deposit off the island. Russia could repurchase Cypriot banks [fr], notably the Laïka Bank, the second-largest banking establishment on the island, in order to save 2.5 billion euros in recapitalization. Russian aid would probably be complementary to European aid, and undoubtedly there would not be any actual rupture between Cyprus and the Eurozone. For its part, Russia would gain significant influence in strategically important Cyprus. The island would safeguard the interests of Moscow in Europe, but would risk creating some problems in the future.

But Russia is apparently in no hurry to make a decision. Andrei Kostin, director of VTB Bank [formerly the Vneshtorgbank], announced on March 21 that his institution was not at all interested [fr] in buying bank assets on the island:

Sur place, il y a deux banques dans une situation critique qui ont besoin d'être assainies. Il serait absurde de prétendre que nous aurions un intérêt là-dedans. Notre seul intérêt, c'est de retrouver au plus vite la faculté d'effectuer les paiements et de gérer les comptes de nos clients.

First, there are two banks in critical condition that would need to be cleaned up. It would be absurd to suggest that we would have an interest in those. Our only interest is to regain the ability to make payments as quickly as possible, and to manage the accounts of our clients.

And he added that his bank would need to:

arrêter son activité et quitter purement et simplement le marché chypriote” en cas de “décisions violant le droit, dictées par la politique.

 cease its activity entirely, and simply leave the Cypriot market” in the event of “decisions which violate the law, dictated by politics.

Last resort – Bankruptcy

Finally, Cyprus can opt for the extreme but inevitable solution, if Russia and Europe deliver no proper support – bankruptcy. Then, recapitalization in Cyprus would be accomplished by banks issuing money.

That would mean leaving the Eurozone [fr], instituting strict controls over the flow of money, and blocking current accounts during the period of conversion to the new Cypriot currency. The island would be ruined, and its financial credit would be permanently damaged. This would be followed by a period of economic reconstruction under complex circumstances. And for the Eurozone, it would be a failure, and a disturbing precedent.

The final agreement reached in Brussels, with the intention to dismantle the largest bank of the country, and to tax bank deposits greater than 100,000 euros, is an ineffective hybrid solution, according to American economist Tyler Cowen:

 What will the price of a Cypriot euro be, relative to a German euro?  50%?  I call this Cyprus leaving the euro, but keeping the word “euro”, to save face.

March 20 2013

Cyprus Cuts Access to Banks Amid Bailout Crisis

If you are in Cyprus, your life's savings hangs in the balance, as the government deliberates a controversial €10 billion bailout agreement reached with the Eurogroup that puts the country's saving deposits down as collateral.

The unprecedented bailout measure threatens to snatch €5.8 billion from all savers in the country. Cypriots have had no access to their bank accounts ever since the government entered into the agreement on Saturday, March 16, 2013 and put all accounts on lockdown to avoid a bank run or a series of account withdrawals.

Leading up to the shock announcement, concern and uncertainity was abound among Twitter users in Cyprus:

‏@madamitsa: #Eurogroup go home, you're drunk.

@ktrnstefanou: Και έψαχνα στο λεξικό να βρω τι είναι εκείνο το watertight που περιείχε η δήλωση Λαγκάρντ. Μάλλον στα κρύα του λουτρού σημαίνει

@ktrnstefanou: And I was looking at the dictionary to find the meaning of “watertight”, mentioned in [Christine] Lagarde‘s announcement. Probably it means “left out in the cold [water]“

The most prominent feeling was the uncertainty on whether the night would end with a successful agreement or not:

‏@nchrysoloras: Official 1: “We don't yet have a DSA, but I believe we will by tonight” Official 2: “There is progress. Let's see”. #Cyprus #Eurogroup

At 2:00-3:00 a.m. in the morning, there were references about a “haircut” on bank deposits to use that as collateral for the bailout, and rumors that President Nicos Anastasiades had threatened to abandon all negotiations. While those were happening, Cyprus was in a carnival mood – the shock would come the next day:

‏@ZENONZINDILIS: Τι έκαναν οι Κύπριοι το βράδυ που παιζόταν το μέλλον τους #eurogroup; Ετοιμαζόντουσαν για αποκριάτικο γλέντι και γενικώς “δεν φακκούσαν πένα”

@ZENONZINDILIS: What were the Cypriots doing the night their future was on stake? #eurogroup They were preparing for carnival fun and generally “they didn't give a fuck” [idiom in Cypriot Greek]

The next day's reactions varied from anger and indignation to stoic acceptance. In social media platforms and mainstream media, the debate on whether the Parliament must approve the haircut plan or not remains and both sides have their own strong arguments; however, the true nature of people's uncertainty is that nobody knows the real consequences of each choice:

‏@ChrysanthosM: Άκου τι λέει ο κύριος στο ΡΙΚ Την επόμενη φορά θα προστατέψουμε τις καταθέσεις τους πάση θυσία: Και να μας έχουν εμπιστοσύνη οι καταθέτες!!!

@ChrysanthosM: Listen to what this gentleman says in CyBC. Next time we will protect their bank deposits at all costs: the depositors must have faith in us!!!

@antistrofos: Είχα διάθεση να μην κάνω κριτική μέχρι να δούμε τα έργα του. Η απάντηση ήλθε σαν αστραπή: Ακατάλληλος δεινόσαυρος, copy-paste Χριστόφιας

@antistrofos: I was not in the mood to criticize him [President Anastasiades] till we see his opus. I got a flash response: Ineligible dinosaur, a Christofias “copy-paste” [the previous President of Cyprus]

@iNeoNeo: Το ότι το τι γίνετε στη Κύπρο έχει μπει καθαρά στο κομματικό επίπεδο για νούμερα. Και αυτο είναι χειρότερο από κάθε μνημόνιο. #Cyprus

@iNeoNeo: What happens in Cyprus has entered the level of political parties and numbers. This is the worst thing, worse than any memorandum. #Cyprus

@SkonteBlogspot: Ψηφισα κ ´γω Νικο αλλα οσοι το ´καναν νομιζομενοι οτι θα βγει θριαμβευτης με τους Ευρωπαιους κ την Τρόικα, ειναι βαθια νυχτωμενοι

@SkonteBlogspot: I also voted for Nicos [Anastasiades], but all those who did it, thinking he will triumph over the Europeans and the Troika, are deeply benighted

@JamesKerLindsay: Probably a good thing that Google Translate can't get its head around Cypriot Greek this morning!

A part from the government's point of view and many citizens’ objection to Eurogroup's presumed blackmail, there is also a third approach in Cyprus, summarized in a post by blogger Strovoliotis, who supports the memorandum approval by Parliament from an oppositional point of view:

@Strovoliotis: Σας τα ‘λεγα εγώ, αλλά δεν έχει πλέον καμιά σημασία. Το κλειδί: Ψυχραιμία! http://wp.me/ptcq7-172

@Strovoliotis: I was saying all this from the very beginning, but now it doesn't even matter. The key: be calm!

As expected, the anti-Eurogroup statements that “no deposits’ haircut is going to happen” by President Anastasiades and Minister of Finance, Michael Sarris, were especially popular around the Cypriot and Greek-speaking web in general.


As the Monday parliamentary vote process was approaching, there were gradually more and more arguments that the unprecedented Eurozone's ministers’ decision is bad for the European Union. Many Cypriot social media users shared this article from the Economist:

‏@StavrosZenios: Τζιαι θέλεις τον Ικονομιστ να σου το πει? The Cyprus bail-out: Unfair, short-sighted and self-defeating-The Economist http://econ.st/Yijtsv

@StavrosZenios: And do you want the Economist to tell you the obvious? The Cyprus bail-out: Unfair, short-sighted and self-defeating-The Economist http://econ.st/Yijtsv

On Tuesday, March 19, the government's request to suspend all bank operations is being interpreted as an effort to emphasize the rigid nature of the Cypriot economy. Α possible bank run (domino of bank withdrawals) in Spain and other countries is already being considered a probable outcome:

‏@offshorebella: if they can do this to Cypriots they can do it anywhere. I reckon putting your money under the mattress is safer. #Cyprus #bankrun

@kik__14: To telos tis europaikis dithen enosis ine konta arxi genomenis apo aurio.

@kik__14: The end of the European purported Union is near, starting from tomorrow.

@MsDeeCM: Dear Italians and Spaniards, please do a #BankRun tomorrow morning. Lots of love, the people of #Cyprus. #CyprusBailout #EU

However, some Europeans didn't remain indifferent to the solidarity calls:

@Igualitarista: Spaniards using hashtag #somosChipre (we are Cyprus) out of solidarity & to oppose locking out depositors from their accounts.

Finally, the parliamentary vote process was postponed; thus, it's possible that banks will remain closed for the rest of the week:

@KallergisK: Cypriot sources say that the Cyprus bank deposits tax vote is postponed for Friday – all banks to remain closed to avoid a #bankrun #Cyprus

“Cypriot banks have frozen even interbank transactions”. Screenshot by @georgiemark at Twitter

 

Uncertainty now reigns over the bank system itself and the European Union's existence.

@zoemavroudi: ”This Union has been cancelled due to a technical issue. Cannot complete democratic processes at this time. Try again later.” #EU #Cyprus

User Coolplatanos has put on Storify the first reactions on the Cyprus haircut announcement in Greek Twitter-sphere.

November 20 2012

University of Cyprus Campaign - ‘Buy Cypriot Products'

Using the slogan “Agorazo Kypriaka” [Buy Cypriot products], the University of Cyprus website hosts an announcement by Rector Constantinos Christofides himself. Amidst the general economic crisis, University of Cyprus supports initiatives against unemployment and actively contributes to the cause, initiating a promotion campaign to encourage people to buy local Cypriot products while shopping.

 

 

September 11 2012

Kosovo: Prizren Comic Book & Cartoon Festival

Poster announcing Vesna Nichevska-Saravinova's participation at 8th Comic Book & Cartoon Fest in Prizren

A poster for the 8th Comic Book & Cartoon Fest in Prizren

Macedonian artist Vesna Nichevska-Saravinova blogged about her participation in the Prizren Comics Festival, organized by the Kosovo Comic Book Artist Association, Xhennet Comics [sq]. Four out of 15 featured artists at the festival were from Macedonia, Eddie Rebel reports [mk], alongside colleagues from Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, France, Kosovo, Bulgaria, and Bosnia.

August 11 2012

Cyprus: Remembering ‘Operation Atilla' Across Borders

Friday, 20 July 2012, marked the 38th anniversary of Operation Atilla, a Turkish military invasion in response to a coup in Cyprus supported by the 1967 Greek military junta.

The invasion resulted in deaths and missing reports of thousands, massive deportations of Greek Cypriots from the occupied northern part and flow of Turkish Cypriots from south to north. The island has been divided since along the Green Line; in 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus(TRNC) declared independence, but it is only recognized by Turkey.

Both sides commemorate the anniversary either as a grim day or a celebration day; and every year, sentiments and events are shared through mainstream and social media.

The island of Cyprus, divided, from Wikimedia Commons, original source: CIA World Factbook. Public domain.

In a speech on Thursday night, Greek-Cypriot President Christofias said:

Vindication can only happen with the end of the Turkish occupation and settling, and the reunification of the state and its people. […] If there is partition in Cyprus, this will be a victory of our country’s enemies.

On the northern part, hundreds of Turkish Cypriots gathered to celebrate the day as the “Peace Operation”. Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu said:

Greek Cypriots should “use common sense” and work towards finding a solution. […] Community is running out of patience and steps to take their place in the world will be “taken as needed”. […] If there was no “peace operation”, they would not have their state today.

@Infognomon Politika, a news blog focused on International Relations, Foreign Policy and Defense, dedicated a post [el] about the 1974 obscure events, entitled “Cyprus 1974: Five Myths About the Coup d' Etat”.

Haberler website published the news for “Peace and Freedom Festival” and Turkish President Gul's statement that:

[…] the Cyprus Peace Operation that occurred July 20, 1974 marked the beginning of Turkish Cypriots governing themselves and Turkey will always support them.

On Twitter, Greek netizens expressed their sadness for the day, with tweets such as the following, by Greek-Cypriot singer Despina Olympiou [el]:

@DenaOlympiou: Ωραία όλα, αλλα σαν σήμερα να μην ξεχνάμε τη θλιβερή επέτειο του νησιού μας. Κύπρος μου δεν σε ξεχνούμε κ ελπίζουμε..

All fine, but today let's not forget the sad anniversary of our island. My Cyprus, we don't forget you and we hope…

Lampros Konstantaras overreacts citicizing [el] the “invasion” and big popularity of Turkish daily TV series on Greek TV channels contrary to the sad anniversary:

38 χρόνια φέτος που η Κύπρος υποφέρει από την τουρκική εισβολή. Νεκροί, αγνοούμενοι, ξεσπιτωμένοι. Δείτε SILA και ΑSI για να τους τιμάτε

38 years now Cyprus suffers by Turkish invasion. Dead, missing, deported people. Watch SILA and ASI and [that's how you] honor them

A Few Turkish netizens also commented on the 1974 anniversary with tweets like the following [tr]:

@zeynepgurcanli: Bugun 20 temmuz. Kibris baris harekatinin yildonumu.

Today 20th of July. Anniversary Peace Operation in Cyprus.

There was also a Twitter dispute between some Greek netizens that summarizes perfectly the different thoughts and feelings on the 1974 event [el]:

@potmos: 38 σήμερα από την απελευθέρωση της Β. Κύπρου.

38 today from the liberation of N. Cyprus.

@adiasistos: @potmos Ποια απελευθέρωση ρε κοπρίτη; Εξυπνάδες είναι αυτά; Η Κύπρος είναι Ελληνικιά κ άμα δε γουστάρεις τράβα στη Κούβα! Ζώο!

Which “liberation”, you scum? Is this smart or something? Cyprus is Greek, if you don't like it, go to Cuba!

@arhetypo: @adiasistos @potmos και ποιοι είστε που θ'αποφασίσετε αν η Β.Κύπρος είναι απελευθερομένη η Ελληνική, ρωτήσατε τους Κύπριους;;

And who are you to decide if Northern Cyprus is liberated or Greek, have you asked the Cypriots?

@djidjikas: @adiasistos και όμως έχω την αίσθηση ότι τουρκοκύπριοι και ελληνοκύπριοι ζούσαν ειρηνικά σε κοινά χωριά για αιώνες… @potmos

And I still have the feeling that Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots were living peacefully together on the same villages for centuries…

@MrPinkEyesV2: @potmos αν απελευθερωνοταν καλα θα ήταν. Στην καλυτερη άλλαξε νταβατζη

If it was liberated, it would be fine. Best case scenario, the only thing that changed is the pimp.

August 07 2012

Cyprus: First Ever Olympic Medal at London 2012

The London 2012 Olympics will be a landmark in Cyprus' sport history. Twenty-two year old Pavlos Kontides, who is from Limassol, Cyprus, became the country's first ever Olympic medalist. Kontides won the silver medal at single-handed Laser class in Men's Sailing.

March 14 2012

Europe: Will ACTA Treaty Pass After Protests?

[All links forward to French articles unless stated otherwise.]

As of the end of the month of February 2012, the mobilization efforts of Internet users against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) [en] were still going strong. In fact, they may have begun to bear fruit.

By including infringements against the author's rights in its scope, this international treaty, which addresses intellectual property rights, also affects Internet content.

The ratification debates which were placed on the European Parliament's agenda on February 29, were put on hold in expectation of the opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The issue of the treaty's conformity with European Community law was brought before the court on 22 February by the European Commission.

No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo by Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo by Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

Taurillon, the “magazine of young Europeans -France” describes “Europe's about-face on ACTA“:

Si l’avis est négatif, l’ACTA n’a plus aucune chance en Europe. Mais en cas d’avis positif, le recours à la CJUE représente le double avantage de redonner au traité une certaine crédibilité, et de repousser son adoption à une époque suffisamment lointaine pour que la polémique se soit tassée et que l’opinion publique regarde ailleurs.

If the opinion is negative, ACTA no longer stands a chance in Europe. However, if there is a positive opinion, appealing to the ECJ would mean a double advantage by giving the treaty a certain credibility, and also pushing back implementation to a time that is far enough away when public debate has settled down and the public's attention is focused elsewhere.

Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson for la Quadrature du Net urges on the European deputies:

Les eurodéputés doivent résister à la stratégie de la Commission européenne, qui cherche à gagner du temps et à transformer le débat en une simple discussion juridique, et pour cela continuer à travailler au rejet d’ACTA. ACTA vise à imposer une tendance pour une politique globale du droit d’auteur qui est toxique pour l’Internet libre et pour les libertés. Le Parlement européen est le dernier rempart : il doit agir et adopter une position claire et forte, faute de quoi il laissera le champ libre à la Commission pour imposer une répression inacceptable.

The Eurodeputies must resist the European Commission's strategy of attempting to gain time and turning the debate into a simple legal discussion, thereby continuing to work towards ACTA's rejection. ACTA aims to impose a tendency for a global policy of author's rights that is toxic for the free Internet and for freedom. The European Parliament is the last line of defense: it must act and adopt a firm and clear position, otherwise it will leave the field wide open for the commission to impose an unacceptable repression.

For trucbuntu, there is no question of remaining passive while waiting for the Court to adjudicate:

Les citoyens de toute l’Europe peuvent contacter leurs représentants dans les commissions Commerce International (INTA) et Industrie (ITRE), qui se réunissent cette semaine pour discuter d’ACTA, et leur demander de continuer à travailler au sein de leur commission pour le rejet d’ACTA.

Citizens of all of Europe were able to contact their representatives in the International Trade (INTA) and Industry (ITRE) Committees, who met on February 29 to discuss ACTA. Many citizens requested their representatives to reject the proposal.

The website of the European Parliament explains the procedure and the issues of the treaty [en] that are under scrutiny, and has published ‘What you should know about ACTA‘ [en], a page of questions and answers. The ACTA workshop of the European Parliament has been the object of a storify [en] made by the Parliamentary services (link via Global Voices contributor Asteris Masouras [en]).

The organization AVAAZ submitted a petition to the European Parliament on 29 February with 2.4 million signatures against ACTA. The petition is still open:

Nous sommes vraiment proches de la victoire — notre pétition forte de 2,4 millions de signatures a ébranlé les responsables politiques partout en Europe et stoppé les censeurs. La Commission européenne est à présent en position de faiblesse et espère que la Cour de justice donnera son feu vert au traité ACTA en lui soumettant une question juridique très limitée qui recevra certainement une réponse positive.Mais si nous faisons résonner nos voix aujourd'hui, nous pouvons faire en sorte que la Cour examine tous les impacts légaux du traité ACTA et publie un avis qui fera toute la lumière sur cette attaque contre nos droits qu'est ACTA.

We are really close to victory — our petition, with 2.4 million signatures has shaken up those politicians in charge throughout Europe and stopped their censors. The European Commission is currently in a position of weakness and is hoping the Court of justice will green light the ACTA treaty by bringing before the court a very limited legal question, that will without doubt receive a positive response. But if we make our voices heard today, we will be able to get the court to examine all the legal implications of ACTA and publish an opinion that will bring to light the real attack against our rights that is ACTA.
No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

No ACTA - Strasbourg. Photo Christophe Kaiser on Flickr, CC-license-BY

Anti-ACTA parties continue to  strengthen their resources. New protests were set for 10 March, and torrentnews gives a list, with this appeal:

La liste n’est pas exhaustive, n’hésitez pas à nous contacter pour la compléter ;)

si certains se sentent l’âme d’un reporter- photographe en herbe, nous recherchons également des personnes pour faire un petit article photo du déroulement de la manif, rien de bien compliqué, comme fait ici pour Nice, Marseille,Bordeaux et Strasbourg.

The list is not exhaustive, do not hesitate to contact us to complete it ;)

If any individuals see themselves as budding photojournalists we are also looking for people to do a small photo story on how the protest unfolds, nothing too complicated, as it happens in Nice, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg.

For details on the elements of the debate, see also these linked articles from the Tribune on February 29, and Myeurop, on March 3. On Global Voices, see the laws SOPA/PIPA that set a precedent in the USA, here [en] and here [en]. Since the beginning of the protests, ACTA seems to have lost a lot of political momentum.

The title of this post is inspired by the end of the article “La liberté sur Internet : le filtrage de la discorde” which was published by the Institute of Research and Legal and Information studies and Communication (I.R.E.D.I.C.). It puts into perspective Internet blocking and debates the adoption of ACTA.

The original article in French was published on March 4. For background on the ACTA proposal, more articles can be found here [en].

March 01 2012

Global Voices Podcast: Remembering Our School Days

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

Hello World!

Welcome to the Global Voices podcast. In this edition we’re going to school. From extreme teaching on the Niger River, to hearing truths from our younger friends, and thinking back to some of the fondest or most memorable educational moments of Global Voices contributors.

So, what were school days like for Global Voices people?

An explosive memory

Paula GoesPaula Goes from Brazil is our multilingual editor. Here is one of her funnier memories from journalism school, where a “glow in the dark” potato-mayonnaise salad served at a superhero costume party caused a frenetic rush of students to the hospital, to the great amusement of doctors and passersby.

Everyone survived to laugh at the story years later.

Teaching the internet from a boat

In this episode we also have an amazing tale of teaching, boats and the river.

Eddie Avila, director of Rising Voices talks with Boukary Konaté in Mali about the Segou Villages Project that brought Internet to villages along the Niger River by boat. Read more about the journey that brought internet to 800 villagers and see Boukary's photos shared on Flickr.

An unforgettable teacher

Veroniki KrikoniMemories of school days may be closely linked to friends or enemies but they may also be related to places and of course teachers. Some say that it is both the best and the worst teachers that stay in your mind years after you have left school. Veroniki Krikoni in Greece shares a beautiful tribute to a time, place and a teacher.

Playground politics

Cyrus FarivarThese times of learning in our childhood can help to make us who we are today. Cyrus Farivar is a journalist, producer and author. He describes an impulsive moment in the playground that landed him in the most trouble he's ever experienced in school… after biting his friend.

Juliana RinconAlso recalling a formative moment on the playground, Juliana Rincón Parra from Colombia describes how she was forced to negotiate a minefield of gender politics in order to play a simple game of “house” with her friends.

How Ethan learned to type so fast

Ethan ZuckermanSchool can be a time where you realise where you may want to go later in life. But getting there is not always easy.

A boy named Ethan Zuckerman, who grew up to be the co-founder of Global Voices, tells how his struggles with handwriting in the 4th grade almost caused him to lose hope… until he learned to type. Fast!

Standing up to bullies

Having a hard time at school with teachers can lead to smart solutions as Ethan’s story proves. Unfortunately, some of us grew up surrounded with few friends and more enemies. Bullying at school is an international problem and finding the right answer is not easy.

Vuk's mom Danica RadisicOne person who has suffered at the hand of bullies is Vuk. He’s a 12-year old blogger and son of Danica Radisic in Serbia. Together they explained what happened and what school is like under this type of pressure. If you’re facing a bully, don’t go through it alone and find someone you can talk to, he says.

Studying abroad

Francois-Xavier Ada-AffanaFrancois-Xavier Ada-Affana is a writer and translator and describes himself on his blog as “a nice Cameroonian finding his way in the world.”

He tells us how studying international relations in Cyprus, Greece has helped shape his views on history and education, opening his mind to new cultures and people.

The long walk to school

Victor KaongaFor our final story we have a journey. A trip into the past, and the 3 kilometre path that Victor Kaonga walked to school each day in Malawi as an 8-year old boy, often in rain with banana leaves as umbrellas. Today, Victor is a broadcast journalist. Driving past the place where he used to go to school, he says, “The distance remains the same, it's only that now it appears much shorter.”

Thanks for listening

That’s all we have for this edition. School and educational stories are a reminder of the things that make us so similar no matter where we are in the world. The thing that brings us together are those years when we were all inexperienced. Now we can look back and wonder at what we have become.

Huge thanks to all of our contributors who took us back in their lives as well as those who shared a picture of education today. I think we all learned something!

Music Credits

In the podcast you can hear lots of lovely Creative Commons music. Thanks to Mark Cotton for his fantastic creations and thanks also to all of the wonderful voice over performances and clips that help to glue the podcast together. The Global Voices Podcast, the world is talking, we hope you’re listening!

Global Voices Podcast HomepageSubscribe in iTunes

October 18 2010

Europe: EU and LGBT Rights

By Filip Stojanovski

Katerina Todorovska wrote [MKD] on the Macedonia in the European Union blog about EU's imperfect record on LGBT rights and its positive influence in relation to starting the debate and improving tolerance in the Western Balkans, as Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia strive to join this supranational structure.

August 26 2010

November 09 2009

Video: The world commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall

Berlin wall by natalie maynor

Berlin Wall by Natalie Maynor

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a complex security structure that once divided East and West Berlin in Germany. Today we are showcasing some of the videos from throughout the globe that are being uploaded to commemorate this date and what it meant to barriers not only in Germany, but throughout the world.

In Germany, a series of giant domino pieces crafted out of foam were erected, to be toppled down to mark the end of the Cold War. This video by NoCommentTV shows the dominoes, which were painted by children in Germany and also by artists living in other areas where there are divisions and walls, being set up. This other video's embed option has been disabled, but you can view how the dominoes were toppled by clicking this link to see it on its YouTube page.

In Colombia, students reenact the fall of the wall, by taking turns to demolish a concrete slab:

From Germany, domino toppling fan Annodomino2007 has uploaded his own domino tribute to the fall of the wall, and also to the 10 year anniversary celebration which kickstarted his passion for dominoes:

In the USA, college students erected a replica of the Berlin Wall that could be written on, as a way to raise awareness:

From Mexico, VarinVxx uploads a video featuring another wall that is still standing, in: Is not Berlin, is not Palestine is US Mexico border The Wall of Shame in USA :


Krista Schyler
also makes the comparison between the Mexico/US wall and the Berlin wall, in this case, not only focusing on the impact on human migration, but from a wildlife conservation angle as well:

This pilot for a documentary by Ziashere showing s other walls that are still standingIn this pilot, one in Ireland:

This last video is 2 years old, but is still relevant: adamfilmaker interviewed youth both from the North and South of the Nicosia wall in Cyprus, a green zone patrolled by UN blue helmets that divides Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, earning the distinction of being the last divided capital of the world.

Image by Natalie Maynor used on post according to Creative Commons Attribution License.

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