For the 70th anniversary of the russian patriarch Cyrill and for the 80th anniversary of pope Francis, there have been many meetings between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic one.
Card. Parolin and the russian foreign ministry Lavrov, on the 2nd december 2016, met secretly for determining the timing and the political opportunities of an official visit of Pope Francis in Russia, a state visit that, in card. Parolin view, could throw the Catholic Church as the main mediator among the East and the West, mainly with China and Russia, not to forget the indian and central asian interests and geopolitics vis à vis the euro- and the american system.
Card. Parolin never forgets to remember, both to ruling classes and the people, that the European Union is lacking real rayonnement and effective political power, and the cardinal Secretary of State knows very well, as a men of the Church, that only the Roman christianity, in its old relation with the greek and russian tradition, that by the way only the Vatican can build those “bridges” that neither the US nor the EU can build, now, with the ever increasing eastern and asian world.
The “materialistic empires”, as the Frére Charles De Foucauld named them in the early XX century, in our contemporary political situation have not so much appeal, and this happens mainly because of the failing myth of an economic perpetual and continous growth; and now the future asks us to be interpreted in symbols, myths, visions, hopes, even prophecies.
Of course, the Russian patriarch must win many resistencies, both in the community of the believers and in his hyerarchy, as it always happens when centuries of hate and fights come to a possible end, but now the cultural, religious, spiritual and even political climate is the best in many years for an effective relation between the East and Western Churches.
Now, in the russian public opinion, every door is open for the dialogue between the vatican and the Russian orthodox Church.
On the political and strategic side, there is a growing concern for the military pressure of NATO to the russian borders, that recalls of old “cold war” scenarios of war, those at the beginning of the XXI century.
The European union cannot even, and we saw that, the power of elaborate an alternative policy a bit different to the one defined by the United States, with its “unilateral sanctions”, defined against Russian Federations and other countries labelled as the “axis of evil”, and that happens both for the now relevant strategic irrelevance of the EU and for the economic blackmail imposed by Washington.
The “Office for Control of Foreign Assets” had, and I mean this only for an example, has filed the french firm Alstolm, with its business in high velocity trains, and Alstolm could get out of the penalty only selling to an american firm its electric sector to General Electric, in 2014.
BNP Paribas was forced, also in 2014, to pay 9 billions Usd as a fine for transferring due payments to citizens and firms living in countries subject to sanctions by Washington.
We don’t even forget that the german government refused to follow the US “lines” for the new commercial sanctions against the russian government.
The secretary of State in going to deliver antitank up-to-date armour to the government of kiev, and has already put a sum of 410 millions usd for the upgrade of anti-russian commandoes.
This is the real political and social context in which card. Parolin is going to meet the russian political and religoius èlites.
And now, in this psychological and political situation, that russia is going to build a new and culttral and religious identity, made up of traditional zarist and even soviet traditions, with an effective identity of a spiritual superiority from the slavic world in respect to the western, “materialistic” tradition.
We could even imagine that the “nihil” of the western civilization, today, could be better than many other philosophies used even today, nihilism ha the old dignity of a old-fashioned and even noble philosophy.
“future is uncertain, the past is unforesseable”, as an old russian saying tolds.
But now we see the founding of at least 30.000 new orthodox churches, in our last thirty years, 5000 only from 2010, and this marks effectively the renaissance of a slavic-russian new identity, as a new resurrection of the traditional orthodox religious identity.
The dream of Tolstoj is now becoming true.
But now, in Ukrajne and in many towns in the russian south, slavic orthodoxy is usually in contradiction with the the greek tradition, which is growing, and this is the mirror of a complex relation, in the eastern churches, between the closing against Europe and the competing reaffermation of an unity, in the orthodox tradition, of the eurasian culture.
And, even for that, Russia is thinking itself alone. The useless Europe, servant od the USA and now even of China, the unpredictable Trump presidency, the possible and unheard exchange between Usa and Russia, with a reasonable trade for Assad in Sirya and a foreseeable minor pressure in Ukrajne for Russia by the US.
This is the effective geopolitical landscape for the future visit of Card. Parolin in the Russian Federation.
We could define this political line, held by the Vatican, as an old and common term: dialogue.
- E. Card. Parolin goes to Russia, in Pope Francis’ terms, “to wear the garments of the others”.
Card. Parolin wants to understand the “other” and wear their suits, to comprehend his needs, that is his perceived rights, his ideology, his grievancies and rights.
By the way, the old ideologies that retain him to a failed and uneffective past.
In Pope Francis and in card. Parolin view, to held a presence, for the catholic church, in the orthodox traditional areas may have many true meanings: the Pope, as his first line, wants to reunite the eastern world to the Europe, and so to recollect the old line of cultural, religious, cultic traditions that unite the ancient and old members of the “Rus” of Kiev to the eurasiatic peninsula.
Saying it loudly, the Church of Rome knows very well that the progressive, and inevitable, farewell of the Usa from Europe, on e of the most evident results of the end of the “cold war”, and Eu is a slave of a “export economy”, wich is prone to foreign debt, and the Russia Federation could even experiment a strucural economic and political crisis which could even broke its state.
These are the real points that Pope Francis and card. Parolin are treating with the russian government and the orthodox church.
So let’s make the Catholic church the main trait of union between the russian culture, religion and state and, by the way, the eurasian and western world.
Possibly, with its new relation with Rome, Moacow could not be isolated and colud even talk, effectively, with the Usa and the irrelevant UE.
Nil impossibile volenti. And this is the best formula I found for the the trip card. Parolin is going to define with the russia authorities.
And we must know that the the special interest of the catholic church for the russian world is a recent or superficial one.
Card. Parolin reminds us that Zar Nikola I paid his visit to the Pope, then Gregorio XVI, in 1845, aand two years later the same Zar signed an “Accomodamento” with Pope Pius IX.
Now it comes to our memory the idea, explicitated by Pope Giovanni Paolo II, that we must think of an “europe from the atlantic to the urals”.
In a different line from that of Charles De Gaulle, this will be the main line for the next phase of the catholic foreign policy.
The “precarization of every linkage”, which is the main line of thought in theb woeld after the end of the “cold war”, and this may be the root of the old, and creative, idea of a “third war in pieces” , a strange and new panoplia of war by trade, by third parties, by old techniques of “peaceenforcing”.
Following the line of Pope Francis and card. Parolin, wars are mainly decided by incertain geopolitical future, economic and financial tensions, mailny of an illegal nature, cultural and ethnic conflicts, even of a so called “religious nature” to which neither card. Parolin nor the Pope rely any ground.
Even nationalism, that came to Europe after brexit, is not a real problem for Europe.
The Pope and card. Parolin think that nationalism may void the UE from its remaining values, and both think that nationalism may deprive Ue from its remaining value and leave Europe as a sum of uneffective national states.
In the East, in the Orthodox area, the vatican wants to give God to the men and the men to God”, waiting for the complete freedom of the different churches (also in China) and, by the way, the freedom of every religion, either catholic or national or even non-christian ones.
After card. Parolin went to Bielorussia and ukrajne, that shall be one of the main stones for the new really universal church, not referring only to a “western” christian tradition, and playing for a brand new relation between the church and the state, the real, future, game.
Time to Tackle the Stigma Behind Wartime Rape
The youngest capital city in Europe, Pristina, is the ultimate hybrid of old and new: Ottoman-era architecture stands amongst communist paraphernalia, while Kosovars who lived through the bloodshed of the 20th century share family dinners with a generation of young people with their sights set on EU accession.
This month, the capital’s Kosovo Museum welcomed a new force for change; Colours of Our Soul, an exhibition of artwork from women who survived the sexual violence of the Yugoslav Wars, showcases the world as these women “wished it to be.”
Colours of Our Soul isn’t the first art installation to shine a light on the brutal sexual violence thousands of Kosovar victims suffered throughout the turmoil of the conflict which raged from 1988 to 1999. In 2015, Kosovo-born conceptual artist Alketa Xhafa-Mripa transformed a local football pitch into a giant installation, draping 5,000 dresses over washing lines to commemorate survivors of sexual violence whose voices otherwise tend to go unheard. “I started questioning the silence, how we could not hear their voices during and after the war and thought about how to portray the women in contemporary art,” said Xhafa-Mripa at the time.
Victims, and their children, pressed into silence
The silence Xhafa-Mripa speaks of is the very real social stigma faced by survivors of sexual violence in the wake of brutal conflict. “I would go to communities, but everyone would say, ‘Nobody was raped here – why are you talking about it?’”, remarked Feride Rushiti, founder of the Kosovo Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (KRCT).
Today, KRCT has more than 400 clients— barely a scratch on the surface given that rape was used in Kosovo as an “instrument of war” as recently as two decades ago. Some 20,000 women and girls are thought to have been assaulted during the bloody conflict; the fact that the artists whose work is featured in the Colours of our Soul exhibition did not sign their work or openly attend the installation’s grand opening is a sign of how pervasive the stigma is which haunts Kosovar society to this day.
As acute as this stigma is for the women who were assaulted, it is far worse for the children born from rape, who have thus far been excluded from reparation measures and instead dismissed as “the enemy’s children.” In 2014, the Kosovar parliament passed a law recognising the victim status of survivors, entitling them to a pension of up to 220 euros per month. Their children, however, many of whom were murdered or abandoned in the face of community pressure, are barely acknowledged in Kosovar society and have become a generation of young adults who have inherited the bulk of their country’s dark burden.
A global problem
It’s a brutal stigma which affects children born of wartime rape all over the world. The Lai Dai Han, born to Vietnamese mothers raped by South Korean soldiers, have struggled for years to find acceptance in the face of a society that views them as dirty reminders of a war it would rather forget. The South Korean government has yet to heed any calls for formal recognition of sexual violence at the hands of Korean troops, let alone issue a public— and long-awaited— apology to the Lai Dai Han or their mothers.
In many cases, as in the case of Bangladesh’s struggle for independence, the very existence of children born from rape has often been used as a brutal weapon by government forces and militants alike. Official estimates indicate that a mammoth 200,000 to 400,000 women were raped by the Pakistani military and the supporting Bihari, Bengali Razakar and al-Badr militias in the early 1970s. The children fathered, at gunpoint, by Pakistani men were intended to help eliminate Bengali nationhood.
Their surviving mothers are now known as “Birangana”, or “brave female soldier,” though the accolade means little in the face of a lifetime of ostracization and alienation. “I was married when the soldiers took me to their tents to rape me for several days and would drop me back home. This happened several times,” one so-called Birangana explained, “So, my husband left me with my son and we just managed to exist.”
No end in sight
Unfortunately, this barbaric tactic of rape and forced impregnation is one that is still being used in genocides to this day. The subjugation of the Rohingya people, for example, which culminated in a murderous crackdown last year by Myanmar’s military, means an estimated 48,000 women will give birth in refugee camps this year alone. Barring a major societal shift, the children they bear will suffer ostracization similar to that seen in Kosovo, Vietnam and Bangladesh.
Initiatives like the Colours of Our Soul installation in Pristina are not only central in helping wartime rape survivors to heal, but also play a vital role in cutting through the destructive stigma for violated women and their children. Even so, if the number of women who submitted their paintings anonymously is anything to go by, true rehabilitation is a long way ahead.
EU–South Africa Summit: Strengthening the strategic partnership
At the 7th European Union–South Africa Summit held in Brussels Leaders agreed on a number of steps to reinforce bilateral and regional relations, focusing on the implementation of the EU-South Africa Strategic Partnership. This includes economic and trade cooperation and pursuing the improvement of business climate and opportunities for investment and job creation which are of mutual interest.
Leaders also discussed common global challenges, such as climate change, migration, human rights, committing to pursue close cooperation both at bilateral level and on the global stage. A number of foreign and security policy issues, including building and consolidating peace, security and democracy in the African continent and at multilateral level were also raised. Leaders finally committed to work towards a prompt resolution of trade impediments affecting smooth trade flows.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, represented the European Union at the Summit. South Africa was represented by its President, Cyril Ramaphosa. EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström also participated, alongside several Ministers from South Africa.
President Juncker said: “The European Union, for the South African nation, is a very important trade partner. We are convinced that as a result of today’s meeting we will find a common understanding on the open trade issues. South Africa and Africa are very important partners for the European Union when it comes to climate change, when it comes to multilateralism. It is in the interest of the two parties – South Africa and the European Union – to invest more. It will be done.” A Joint Summit Statement issued by the Leaders outlines amongst others commitment to:
Advance multilateralism and rules based governance
Leaders recommitted to work together to support multilateralism, democracy and the rules-based global order, in particular at the United Nations and global trade fora. South Africa’s upcoming term as an elected member of the United Nations Security Council in 2019-2020 was recognised as an opportunity to enhance cooperation on peace and security. As part of their commitment to stronger global governance, Leaders stressed their support to the process of UN reform, including efforts on the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council and the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly. Leaders reiterated their determination to promote free, fair and inclusive trade and the rules-based multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation at its core and serving the interest of all its Members.
Leaders agreed to step up collaboration in key areas such as climate change, natural resources, science and technology, research and innovation, employment, education and training including digital skills, health, energy, macro-economic policies, human rights and peace and security. The EU and South Africa will, amongst others, explore the opportunities provided by the External Investment Plan. Linked to this, Leaders committed to exploring opportunities for investment, technical assistance including project preparation, and the improvement of business and investment climates to promote sustainable development. Leaders welcomed the conclusion and provisional implementation in 2016 of the EU-Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Leaders also committed to find mutually acceptable solutions to impediments to trade in agriculture, agri-food and manufactured goods. They agreed to work towards a prompt resolution of these impediments.
Leaders welcomed the new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs put forward by the European Commission. They exchanged views on foreign and security policy issues, addressed a number of pressing situations in the neighbourhoods of both the EU and South Africa, and welcomed each other’s contribution to fostering peace and security in their respective regions. Leaders agreed to explore opportunities to enhance cooperation on peace and security, conflict prevention and mediation.
Leaders confirmed common resolve to reform the future relationship between the EU and the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. To this end they are looking forward to the successful conclusion of negotiations for a post-Cotonou Partnership Agreement, that will contribute to attaining the goals of both the United Nations 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development and the long-term vision for African continent – Agenda 2063.
Macron so far has augmented French isolation
French President Emmanuel Macron has recently criticized the unilateral pullout of the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) but at the same time expressed pleasure that Washington has allowed France and the other JCPOA signatories to stay in the Iran nuclear deal.
In an exclusive interview with the CNN, Macron said that he has “a very direct relationship” with Trump. “Trump is a person who has tried to fulfill his electoral promises, as I also try to fulfill my promises, and I respect the action that Trump made in this regard. But I think we can follow things better, due to our personal relationship and talks. For instance, Trump has decided to withdraw from the Iran pact, but at the end, he showed respect for the signatories’ decision to remain in the JCPOA.”
There are some key points in Macron’s remarks:
First, in 2017, the French were the first of the European signatories to try to change the JCPOA. They tried to force Iran to accept the following conditions: Inspection of military sites, application of the overtime limitation on nuclear activities, limiting regional activities, including missile capabilities within the framework of the JCPOA.
Macron had already made commitments to President Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push Iran to accept the additional protocols to the deal, and he pushed to make it happen before Trump left the JCPOA.
Second, after the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, although France expressed regret, they had secret negotiations with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the JCPOA.
The result of the undisclosed talks was deliberate delay on the part of the European authorities in providing a final package to keep the Iran deal alive. In other words, after the US unilaterally left the JCPOA, the French have been sloppy and maybe somewhat insincere about making the practical moves to ensure it would be saved.
Third, France has emphasized the need to strengthen their multilateralism in the international system and has become one of the pieces of the puzzle that completes the strategic posture of the Trump Administration in the West Asia region.
Obviously, French double standards have irritated European politicians, many of whom have disagreed with the contradictory games of French authorities towards the US and issues of multilateralism in the international community. Also, France’s isolation and its strategic leverage in the political arena has grown since the days of Sarkozy and Hollande. Some analysts thought that Macron and fresh policies would stop this trend, but it has not occurred.
First published in our partner MNA
Turkish Newspaper Implicates UAE’s Crown Prince in Covering Up Murder of Khashoggi
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al-Saud, and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, are close friends and allies,...
WEF initiative pledges to equip 20 million ASEAN workers with digital skills by 2020
A coalition of major tech companies pledged today to develop digital skills for the ASEAN workforce. The pledge, part of...
Revisiting the Qatari crisis
In 2017 the dispute between Qatar and a number of its neighbours Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Oman has...
What Remains of the Relationship between Russia and the European Union
We May Have Stumbled, but We Have Not Fallen Down On Friday November 9, 2018, Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz...
Trump Quietly Orders Elimination of Assange
On June 28th, the Washington Examiner headlined “Pence pressed Ecuadorian president on country’s protection of Julian Assange” and reported that...
High-Growth Firms: Facts, Fiction, and Policy Options for Emerging Economies
Policies to create jobs, promote entrepreneurship and growth are key priorities for many emerging economies. Designing and implementing reforms is...
Breaking down barriers for recycling industries
Standardization, awareness-raising, and regional cooperation – these were just some of the solutions to the many challenges faced by recycling...
- Centre and Calm Yourself and Spirit on Restorative Yoga Energy Trail
- Queen Rania of Jordan Wears Ralph & Russo Ready-To-Wear
- OMEGA watches land on-screen in Universal Pictures’ new film First Man
- Experience the Prada Parfum’s Way of Travelling at Qatar Duty Free
- ‘Get Carried Away’ With Luxurious Villa Stays and Complimentary Private Jet Flights
Intelligence2 days ago
Central Asian Jihadists between Turkey and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham
Southeast Asia3 days ago
Decoding The MoU Between India And Brunei For Space Research
Southeast Asia1 day ago
Letter to heaven: An eulogy to Luang Poo Boonyarith Bundito
Africa2 days ago
Zimbabwe’s Platinum Mine Opens For Foreign Investors
Middle East2 days ago
Saudi sports diplomacy: A mirror image of the kingdom’s already challenged policies
Culture3 days ago
Kashmir’s plural ethos and communal harmony
Americas1 day ago
Donald Trump and America’s People
Green Planet1 day ago
Why This Planet Is Becoming Uninhabitable