The smoke did not completely succumb on the Scottish referendum to remain within the United Kingdom (UK). Again, British politics is in the hot spot as the question of whether the UK remains with the European Union (EU) is debated and put to a vote. Regarding this issue, two of the main political parties, the Conservatives and Labour, have divided at the national level and party leaders are found standing with opposition parties, adding a dash of flavour to the proceedings.
Both sides, with the enormous strength, are trying to convince the voters of their views, causing explosions in the social media. The British public are forced to watch this mockery of politics with of major political parties failing to stand with one voice within their own rankings. Subsequently, the major damage is endured by the Conservatives rather than Labour, because the ruling elite have to face the pressure of current affairs. Hence, the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is facing serious challenges even from the lack of unification his own party.
Furthermore, the domestic politics are currently demonstrating their confused stance. The leader of the UK Independent Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, is known for his controversial speeches on the subject of the UK membership in the EU, having previously blasted Cameron and George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, by stating that both men are living on “a constant diet of lies”.
The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has voiced his opinion and has stated that the UK leaving the EU will subsequently lead to the decline the value of pound. This statement was met by accusations by the Torries, claiming that the financial forecast stated by Carney was ‘phoney’ and made in the bid to remain in the EU. Additionally, Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London has publically dissociated himself from the statement made by the Bank of England. The resignation of Ian Duncan Smith the now former cabinet minister, from the Cameron government is costing more damage to the prime minister as Duncan Smith leads his exit EU campaign.
The split of the Conservatives is the ‘feel good factor’ for members of the Labour Party at the moment. With claims of the “National Health Service (NHS) at risk from Brexit”, the former Conservative Prime Minister, Sir John Major, is attacking and questioning his former political party for the reasoning behind the “late conversion” to backing to leave. What’s more there is the unusual united front of Major and another former Prime Minister and member of the Labour party, Tony Blair as the men stand together against the Brexit. The Guardian reported on the 9th June this year that together, Bair and Major have stated that “If Britain left the EU, border control would be introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic and the union with Scotland would be threatened”.
The other major concern for UK would be its future economic relations with the EU, should the country vote to leave. Germany and Netherlands are major exporters to the UK with majority of other EU countries being the buyers. If UK withdraws from the EU, it will inevitably have a huge impact on the British economy.
The Labour party has taken a pro-EU stance, however, a recent report says, “Labour voters in the dark about the party’s stance on Brexit”. Research by The Guardian conducted in May showed that the British public “did not know what Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thought or believed he was for remain but his heart isn’t in it”. To strengthen this argument, Tariq Ali, one of the Corbyn’s long-time allies said that personally Corbyn, “would be campaigning for Brexit if he was not the Labour Party leader”. However, the party publically contradicts this statement by claiming that their leader has always supported the ‘remain campaign’. Only the individuals know the truth about their stance. One thing is clear; their stance is strongly displaying their future political calculations.
If Britain votes for Brexit, the entire nation will be forced to do battle with countless problems in various forms and on numerous fronts. It could be argued that any cultural ties will get more direct influence if the vote is in favor of Brexit. However British citizens will not be able to enjoy the same freedom of EU travel in future with Brexit and should be compelled to get visa while visiting the EU. Communication between the EU and UK will also come under considerable threat. Furthermore perception of the UK will change substantially by EU countries and the rest of the world.
In this big policy debate, a contributing factor for the ‘leave campaigners’ is the recent flow of immigration from the EU into the UK and the currently confusing immigration policies articulated by the British government. If Labour policy bids welcome to the immigrant, then the Conservative government policy tends to ‘kick them out’. Needless to say, the two major political parties do not voice a consensus on the issue of immigration. Under a Labour government, immigrants were seen to be contributing for the UK pension fund. This is not ideal, particularly as the UK has expressed a wish to decrease the level of immigration, as this incentive increases the allure of the UK to immigrants over other countries. Furthermore, many places in UK the immigrants from the Eastern Europe are permitted to fill vacant jobs in the local area. This consequently raises a serious doubt that young British individuals are either able or interested in the same roles, further propelling local business owners to appoint these Eastern European immigrants.
It could be claimed that ‘leave’ campaigners would not realize that if the Brexit got more votes, the UK would potentially lose its moral support in the international system. This will impact the UK in the long run. At the moment the UK enjoys a certain amount of power to negotiate within and with the EU. This cannot continue if the UK is to cancel its membership.
Evidently, this is a crucial time for the British prime minister and undoubtedly Cameron will feel under as much pressure, if not more, than in the 2015 general election. Many believe that he is in the position to save the face value of UK as he knows better than anyone about any of the hidden impacts of a vote for Brexit. For this reason Cameron has come down heavily in reaching with his opponents in this direction, to keep the UK to board on with the EU bus. His style of working with the Labour London Mayor demonstrates this effectively.
A major exam the Prime Minister David Cameron will be writing on today (23rd June 2016). If the UK votes in favor of the Brexit, the opposition will ask the current prime minister to resign. This would have an enormous impact on and within the conservative party and the government, as well as angering millions of British voters across the world. Serious implications are waiting to face the UK. Leadership and economy are the big issues for the ruling elite to encounter. Finally, this would have a long time consequences on the unity of UK. The day will come when Scotland, Northern Ireland and potentially Wales, will make their own, independent call on their future. No one can predict when this would happen, if at all. What we can be more certain of is that United Kingdom in Europe means a united kingdom.
Europe tells Biden “no way” to Cold War with China
Amidst the first big transatlantic tensions for the Biden Administration, a new poll shows that the majority of Europeans see a new Cold War happening between the United States and China, but they don’t see themselves as a part of it.
Overwhelmingly, 62% of Europeans believe that the US is engaged in a new Cold War against China, a new poll just released by the European Council on Foreign Relations found. Just yesterday US President Joe Biden claimed before the UN General Assembly that there is no such thing and the US is not engaging in a new Cold War. So, Europeans see Biden’s bluff and call him on it.
The study was released on Wednesday by Mark Leonard and Ivan Krastev at the European Council on Foreign Relations and found that Europeans don’t see themselves as direct participants in the US-China Cold War. This viewpoint is most pronounced in Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria, Portugal and Italy, according to the study. The prevailing view, in each of the 12 surveyed EU member states, is one of irrelevance – with respondents in Hungary (91%), Bulgaria (80%), Portugal (79%), and Austria (78%) saying that their country is not in a conflict with Beijing.
Only 15% of Europeans believe that the EU is engaged in a Cold War against China. The percentage is so low that one wonders if there should even be such a question. It is not only not a priority, it is not even a question on the agenda for Europeans. Even at the highest point of EU “hawkishness”, only 33% of Swedes hold the view that their country is currently in a Cold War with China. Leonard and Krastev warn that if Washington and Brussels are preparing for an all-in generational struggle against China, this runs against the grain of opinion in Europe, and leaders in Washington and Brussels will quickly discover that they “do not have a societal consensus behind them”.
“The European public thinks there is a new cold war – but they don’t want to have anything to do with it. Our polling reveals that a “cold war” framing risks alienating European voters”, Mark Leonard said.
The EU doesn’t have the backing of its citizens to follow the US in its new Cold War pursuit. But unlike the views of the authors of the study, my view is that this is not a transatlantic rift that we actually have to be trying to fix. Biden’s China policy won’t be Europe’s China policy, and that’s that, despite US efforts to persuade Europe to follow, as I’ve argued months ago for the Brussels Report and in Modern Diplomacy.
In March this year, Gallup released a poll that showed that 45% of Americans see China as the greatest US enemy. The poll did not frame the question as Cold War but it can be argued that Joe Biden has some mandate derived from the opinion of American people. That is not the case for Europe at all, to the extent that most of us don’t see “China as an enemy” even as a relevant question.
The US’s China pursuit is already giving horrible for the US results in Europe, as French President Macron withdrew the French Ambassador to the US. The US made a deal already in June, as a part of the trilateral partnership with the UK and Australia, and stabbed France in the back months ago to Macron’s last-minute surprise last week. Max Boot at the Council on Foreign Relations argues that it is Macron that is actually arrogant to expect that commitments and deals should mean something: “Back in February, Macron rejected the idea of a U.S.-E.U. common front against China. Now he complains when America pursues its own strategy against China. What’s French for chutzpah?” What Boot does get right is that indeed, there won’t be a joint US-EU front on China, and European citizens also don’t want this, as the recent poll has made clear.
The US saying Europe should follow the US into a Cold War with China over human rights is the same thing as China saying that Europe should start a Cold War with the US over the bad US human rights record. It’s not going to happen. You have to understand that this is how ridiculous the proposition sounds to us, Europeans. Leonard and Krastev urge the EU leadership to “make the case for more assertive policies” towards China around European and national interests rather than a Cold War logic, so that they can sell a strong, united, and compelling case for the future of the Atlantic alliance to European citizens.
I am not sure that I agree, as “more assertive policies” and “cold war” is probably the same thing in the mind of most Europeans and I don’t think that the nuance helps here or matters at all. Leaders like Biden argue anyway that the US is not really pursuing a Cold War. The authors caution EU leaders against adopting a “cold war” framing. You say “framing”, I say “spin”. Should we be in engaging in spins at all to sell unnecessary conflict to EU citizens only to please the US?
“Unlike during the first cold war, [Europeans] do not see an immediate, existential threat”, Leonard clarified. European politicians can no longer rely on tensions with China to convince the electorate of the value of transatlantic relations. “Instead, they need to make the case from European interests, showing how a rebalanced alliance can empower and restore sovereignty to European citizens in a dangerous world”, Mark Leonard added. The study shows that there is a growing “disconnect” between the policy ambitions of those in Brussels and how Europeans think. EU citizens should stick to their sentiments and not be convinced to look for conflict where it doesn’t exist, or change what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears in favor of elusive things like the transatlantic partnership, which the US itself doesn’t believe in anyways. And the last thing that should be done is to scare Europeans by convincing them they live in a “dangerous world” and China is the biggest threat or concern.
What the study makes clear is that a Cold War framing against China is likely to repel more EU voters than it attracts, and if there is one thing that politicians know it is that you have to listen to the polls in what your people are telling you instead of engaging in spins. Those that don’t listen in advance get the signs eventually. At the end of the day it’s not important what Biden wants.
Germany and its Neo-imperial quest
In January 2021, eight months ago, when rumours about the possibility of appointment of Christian Schmidt as the High Representative in Bosnia occurred for the first time, I published the text under the title ‘Has Germany Lost Its NATO Compass?’. In this text I announced that Schmidt was appointed to help Dragan Čović, the leader of the Croatian HDZ party, to disrupt the constitutional structure of Bosnia-Herzegovina and create precoditions for secession of the Serb- and Croatian-held territories in Bosnia and the country’s final dissolution. I can hardly add anything new to it, except for the fact that Schmidt’s recent statements at the conference of Deutsche Atlantische Gesellschaft have fully confirmed my claims that his role in Bosnia is to act as Čović’s ally in the latter’s attempts to carve up the Bosnian Constitution.
Schmidt is a person with a heavy burden, the burden of a man who has continuously been promoting Croatian interests, for which the Croatian state decorated him with the medal of “Ante Starčević”, which, in his own words, he “proudly wears” and shares with several Croatian convicted war criminals who participated in the 1992-1995 aggression on Bosnia, whom Schmidt obviously perceives as his ideological brethren. The question is, then, why Germany appointed him as the High Representative in Bosnia?
Germany’s policy towards Bosnia, exercised mostly through the institutions of the European Union, has continuously been based on the concept of Bosnia’s ethnic partition. The phrases that we can occassionaly hear from the EU, on inviolability of state boundaries in the Balkans, is just a rhetoric adapted to the demands by the United States to keep these boundaries intact. So far, these boundaries have remained intact mainly due to the US efforts to preserve them. However, from the notorious Lisbon Conference in February 1992 to the present day, the European Union has always officially stood behind the idea that Bosnia-Herzegovina should be partitioned along ethnic lines. At the Lisbon Conference, Lord Carrington and Jose Cutileiro, the official representatives of the then European Community, which has in the meantime been rebranded as the European Union, drew the maps with lines of ethnic partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina, along which the ethnic cleansing was committed, with 100.000 killed and 1,000.000 expelled, so as to make its territory compatible with their maps. Neither Germany nor the European Union have ever distanced themselves from the idea they promoted and imposed at the Lisbon Conference as ‘the only possible solution’ for Bosnia, despite the grave consequences that followed. Nor has this idea ever stopped being a must within their foreign policy circles, as it has recently been demonstrated by the so-called Janša Non-Paper, launched a couple of months ago, which also advocates the final partition and dissolution of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Such a plan is probably a product of the powerful right-wing circles in the European institutions, such as Schmidt’s CSU, rather than a homework of Janez Janša, the current Prime Minister of Slovenia, whose party is a part of these circles, albeit a minor one. To be sure, Germany is not the original author of the idea of Bosnia’s partition, this author is Great Britain, which launched it directly through Lord Carrington at the Lisbon Conference. Yet, Germany has never shown a will to distance itself from this idea, nor has it done the European Union. Moreover, the appointment of Schmidt, as a member of those political circles which promote ethnic partition as the only solution for multiethnic countries, testifies to the fact that Germany has decided to fully apply this idea and act as its chief promoter.
In this process, the neighbouring countries, Serbia and Croatia, with their extreme nationalist policies, can only act as the EU’s proxies, in charge for the physical implemenation of Bosnia’s pre-meditated disappearance. All the crimes that Serbia and Croatia committed on the Bosnian soil – from the military aggression, over war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide, up to the 30 year-long efforts to undermine Bosnia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – have always had a direct approval and absolute support of the leading EU countries. During the war and in its aftermath, Great Britain and France were the leaders of the initiatives to impose ethnic partition on the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and now Germany has taken up their role. In such a context, the increasing aggressiveness of Serbia and Croatia can only be interpreted as a consequence of the EU’s intention to finish with Bosnia for good, and Schmidt has arrived to Bosnia to facilitate that process. Therefore, it is high time for the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina to abandon any ilussions about the true intentions of the European Union and reject its Trojan Horse in the form of the current High Representative.
Should there be an age limit to be President?
The presidential elections in Bulgaria are nearing in November 2021 and I would like to run for President of Bulgaria, but the issue is the age limit.
To run for President in Bulgaria a candidate needs to be at least 40 years old and I am 37. I am not the first to raise the question: should there be an age limit to run for President, and generally for office, and isn’t an age limit actually age discrimination?
Under the international human rights law standard, putting an age limit is allowed in the context of political participation under the right to vote and the right to run to be elected. Human Rights Committee General Comment No.25 interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that an age limit has to be based on objective and reasonable criteria, adding that it is reasonable to have a higher age requirement for certain offices. As it stands, the law says that having an age limit for president is not age discrimination, but is 40 actually a reasonable cut-off? National legislations can change. We need to lower the age limit and rethink what’s a reasonable age for President, and not do away with all age limits.
We have seen strong leaders emerge as heads of state and government who are below 40 years of age. Sanna Marin, Prime Minister of Finland, became Prime Minister at 34. Sebastrian Kurz, the Prime Minister of Austria, was elected at 31. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand, assumed her position at 37. So perhaps it is time to rethink age limits for the highest offices.
The US has plenty of examples where elected Senators and Congressmen actually beat the age limit and made it despite the convention. The age limit for Senator in the US is 30 years old. Rush Holt was elected to the US Senate at 29. In South Carolina, two State Senators were elected at 24 years old and they were seated anyways. The age limit for US president is 35 years old.
In Argentina, the age cut-off is 30. In India, it is 35. In Pakistan, it is 45 years old. In Turkey, it is 40 years old. Iceland says 35 years old. In France, it is 18.
Generally, democracies set lower age limits. More conservative countries set the age limit higher in line with stereotypes rather than any real world evidence that a 45 year-old or 55 year-old person would be more effective and better suited to the job. Liberal countries tend to set lower age limits.
40 years old to be a President of Bulgaria seems to be an arbitrary line drawn. And while it is legal to have some age limits, 40 years old seems to be last century. Changing the age limit for president of Bulgaria could be a task for the next Bulgarian Parliament for which Bulgarians will also vote on the same date as they vote for President.
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