In January 2015, the Tunisian Embassy in Brussels welcomed for the evening the members of the Youth Professionals in Foreign Policy. This was a new stage in the vast charm offensive launched by the Ambassador Tahar Cherif since, the dictatorship regime fell and his arrival in Belgium two years ago.
Four years ago, young people took he streets of Tunisia demanding for change and economic fairness. Most of them were educated but out of a job, hence they had nothing to lose. But now that the young democracy has a newly elected President and House of representatives, how can they answer to those young people’s demand? If youth protests started it, the diplomatic corps intends to finish it.
Between May 22nd and May 25th 43% of Europeans of age and registered on national listings when to the voting both to elect their 751 representatives to the European parliament (EP). Those elections where run from Brussels under the slogan “why this time it’s different”? This week meet Sajjad Karim who is running for the presidency of the Euopean parliament and says that it really is time for change!
Now that Mr Juncker is the head of the European Commission another battle will take place between July 1st and 3rd in Strasbourg. During those days (or session) the 751 elected Members of the European parliament will “elect” their president for the next five years. Or to be accurate they will elect two presidents for a term of two years and a half. Usually the presidency seat is “shared” by the centre-right or EPP group and the Social-Democrats or S&D group.
But a wind of change seems to be blowing on the European parliament and candidates of other groups have come out of the woods, backed by they respective parties, and declared themselves candidates. The first of whom Dr Sajjad Karim.
Sajjad Karim, a British Tory (Conservatives party) Member of the European parliament (MEP) sitting with the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR), has been a very active MEP for the past ten years on the committee of legal affairs. A few weeks ago he decided to through his hat into the ring and challenge the usual EPP / S&D understanding when it comes to the presidency of the EP. He wants a reformed parliament that will address citizens concerns and the direction the European union is heading to.
According to him, the latest elections results, that allowed a significant number of Eurosceptics to enter the EP is a signal that should not be disregarded. Hence his campaign to try and stir up things from within the institution.One might ask but what is the point as the usual deal is already in motion? Well the point is that Karim decided to try and understand the signal voters sent. He decided to do something about it and decided that it was time for the EP to forget about its old ways! He want out and said it to any journalist and MEP that will listen, he even launched a Twitter campaign using #Yesitstime as its motto.
Basically Karim positioned himself as true European politician, some might even say a true European leader.
Do not hesitate to engage and debate with him on those issues via Twitter.
The question #EusprYng asks is: is a European spring possible? Well, it seems that it can and it did but just outside of the Union’s borders in Ukraine.
This week Viktor Yushchenko, Ukrain’s former president and leader of the Orange Revolution is our special guest. He will tells us more about young Ukrainians and the events which took place last winter in Kiev, the capital, on the Independence Square or Maidan Nezalezhnosti.
On May 25th it was the European parliament elections but it was also election day in Ukraine were the Euromaidan protesters finally got what they wanted.The country is now led by a pro-European government and the country is once again under the 2004 Constitution and the Association Agreement is back on the table with parts of it already signed.
For that to happen a lot of people got injured and even lost their lives. It all started on November 21st 2013, when young people took the Independence Square or Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kiev also known since as Euromaidan. They decided to let Viktor Yanukovych, president of Ukraine at the time, know that they will not let him rob them of the possibility for their country to get closer to the European union financially and politically via an Association Agreement. Indeed, a few hours before that the president had decided to suspend all negotiations with the European Union regarding that Agreement as Vladimir Poutine, Russia’s president, was not going to “loose” a big country and client like Ukraine without a fight. At first the protest was peaceful but then on late November / early September things heated up when then the riot police was unleashed on unarmed protesters.
Viktor Yushchenko whom accessed the presidency of Ukraine under similar circumstances tells us more about the wind of change blowing on his country and how young people changed the course of their own lives and of others.
Here is a short presentation of the interview : click the link that will appear at the end to watch the first question. Mobile users: watch the videos here.
This week’s update is a little bit special as it’s not about one of EusprYng’s main characters.
No this week I have a special treat for you: an interview with Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He represents in a way both sides of this web-documentary. He started out as an activist in the streets of Paris in May 1968 and then he entered the European political arena where he stayed for the past 20 years. But this May, European politics will say farewell to one of its truest believer as he will not be on the lists of the Green party this year or even ever… He says he is too old for that now!
It seemed significant enough to start with his video. Because in a sense he embodies the spirit of EusprYng: the street facing the political system.
But if you know Daniel Cohn-Bendit you know he will not go without a bang! In this interview we talk about the upcoming European parliament elections, Radical left opposition leader and runner up for the European Commission presidency Alexis Tsipras and his party SYRIZA, and of course the possibility of a European sprYng.
In this interview Daniel Cohn-Bendit takes the example of Greece opting out of the Euro currency. More specifically, he talks about a Memorandum, which is the document (several in fact) that Greece had to sign and that forces the Greek government(s) among other things to cut civil servants pay. In exchange Greece receives money “from” the Troika i.e. the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In order to refresh your memory or to know more about that subject you can read the articles below. And if you really can’t get enough of that stuff you can also visit the official websites of the European Commission and the IMF (links also below).
Articles from The Guardian & The Economist
Link to a Wikipedia article:
Links to the European Commission official website:
Links to the IMF official website:
Do not hesitate to engage with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the main characters of EusprYng or me using social networks and this website.