Februaryâ€™12 51th year / No. 47 / ISSN 2033-7809
The newsmagazine of European Democrat Students
Balkans, new page of Democracy p.18
North Korea - the future of necrocracy p.13
Democracy deďŹ cit chalenge Europe is facing p.10
Dear readers and friends of EDS! Welcome to Zagreb! The capital of the latest incoming European Union member state. We are honoured and privileged as well as thankful that our member organisation SO HSS is hosting our event. Furthermore, the theme of this event is the Democratisation Process in the Balkans / Promoting European Values and Human Rights. In this issue of BullsEye you will find articles dealing with the Balkans from many different points of view. You will also read articles about conflicts in other regions and different regionsâ€™ conflicts compared to those of this peninsula. We meet at our first event in 2012, our winter university, with a versatile programme, where we try many new approaches to working groups, and the concept of the event itself. We will also have a good selection of excellent guests, which proves to show the continuous interest in our great organisation. I am also very thankful for the 6 months that this bureau has been in office. Half year into our terms it is time to balance the past and make a final check of our course before sailing off to the end of our term. The Vice-chairs, Directors, and Secretariat will go through our internal evaluation so we can measure if our team has personally grown and their capabilities have increased. This year has started particularly positive, as EDS took part in the IYDU Council meeting in Sydney Australia. It had a positive outcome, as two Chairmen of European organisations entered the board (DEMYC and EDS). The finalisation of our Europe wide campaign is underway and shall be launched shortly after the winter university in Zagreb. Watch for our web site as well as an especially dedicated one: www.edsknowledge.eu. With this campaign we wish to stress the importance of higher education in times of crisis, that this is our way out of it, by investing in a more free university environment, where the young and creative mind is not straight jacketed by often obsolete national curricula. We firmly believe that Knowledge is Power, and the Europe of the next 20 to 40 years will yield the fruits we plant today. We thus urge all politicians of Europe that have a say in higher education, please do not stop the Bologna process, complete the reform fully, create an inspiring and rich environment on school campuses. Our campaign aims at collecting signatures to our online petition and we strive to get to as many members from our 1.6 million strong family as possible. The campaign will be formally over in the Council meeting in Antwerp/Brussels. We wish to increase awareness of this serious and important topic in Brussels and national capitals as well. I hope we will succeed in this endeavour, so we can say with pride and a smile on our face that we entered 2012, a remarkable year, with grandeur and success.
Juraj Antal, Chairman
Bettina Machaczek Bettina Machaczek-Stuth
Time in EDS
When I started at Hamburg University, there was still a strong ideological fight between the political parties. Communists and Marxists were still around and had a lot of money. In Germany they were sponsored by our “brothers and sisters of the GDR”, as we found out later. So in the middle of the eighties we fought our fights to gain seats in student parliament. After being elected as RCDS Chairwoman in Hamburg I got to know EDS. Since I always have been interested in European affairs I went to my first Summer University in Marbella 1986. It was a hard time for RCDS, since our “conservative” friends called us “communist approved”. This was a new situation: fighting in real life against Marxist ideas and here in the sun of Spain an intellectual fight about “social market economy and libertarians”. I admit: RCDS had just left EDS and the situation was tough for us. But, we, the new team in EDS, and with the advice of our “elder functionaries” like the “honourable” Stephan Eisel, decided to come back to EDS. This happened in Cyprus 1987. I was elected Vice Chairwoman. So I had a clear mission: to bring back RCDS once again to the heart of EDS. Why? Because it was true like it is today: if we want to have a voice in Europe, on educational and political matters, we need to be united! The left was always one. But though it took us time to find common solutions, we did it. I learned to listen to some very “strange” ideas, at least to our and my ears. But I also learned a lot about cultural differences which also influence the way you develop political ideas and attitudes. And I discovered that common views on topics unite us very strongly, no matter which cultural background we have. This developed my sense for cultural diversity and the different “languages” in which we sometimes talk to each other. As chairwoman I learned, for example, that it is very easy to work together
with a Scandinavian – being from Northern Germany/Hamburg. We talk straight about what we mean, polite but short and precise. But if you want something from a Mediterranean you need a thousand polite and rhetorical words to ask for something and you need to thank people in even more than a thousand words, and with even more ornate language. This is no judgment, but the sympathetic differences we have. And after this time, you like a good mixture of both “extremes“. But when we want to succeed together, we have to keep in mind each other’s way of handling things. So I learned a lot about the underlying, sometimes hidden problems when we talk about integration, migration and cultural diversity on a larger scale in our countries. It is something which has to be worked for, it does not happen by itself. In my time as a member of the State Parliament in Hamburg I found my EDS experience to be a great benefit. As a speaker for migration topics and for European affairs I had the chance to influence practical work on the political level – being a member of the governing party this was a good time. In my EDS time I was very lucky to be a part of the “Wind of change” –time of that historical period. Suddenly student politics became very real: I had the chance to discuss nights long with high representatives of the youth of the communist parties (mostly quiet “old” guys) of the Warsaw Pact. We took part in the so called “framework” Process, which was a part of the overall “Helsinki – Process”. We as EDS always were very clear that we would only participate in those conferences if we have free access to people we wanted to meet. We wanted to test Glasnost and Perestroika. Consequently we run a Campaign for “Freedom for Ida Nudel”. The jewish woman who was abandoned to soviet Moldova. We insisted during a Conference together with the European Young Christian Democrats to meet Cardinal Tomasek in Prague. He was under absolute control of the regime and we could only talk with him with a radio turned up loud in the background. We also met the “democratic hero” Vaclav Havel. The Young Socialists were helpful. Yes, and we protested to the Czechoslovakian Government when Vaclav Havel was arrested – and even got an answer. The thing I remember is my election in 1988 in Berlin – the last year of the Berlin Wall! After having celebrated our 50th Birthday last year I really learned that we now share history together in EDS. We are now different generations together. All the differences we may have in one sense or other: we love to discuss them, to test our opinions, and to stay friends for our whole lives.
R.I.P. – Václav Havel Matej Travnicek, EDS
First Czech and last Czechoslovak President
During Advent, on 18th December last year Václav Havel left us forever. A lot was written about Vaclav Havel, not only during his life but also after his death. Various authors were offering various views, often attaching their own personal remembrances, reflections, and opinions to them. So it is very difficult, almost impossible to write something new about Havel. There is no need, nor reason to write this article as Havel’s biography, a list of merits, or a summary of political opinions. Everyone can find such texts easily somewhere else and I modestly recommend it. I will rather try to explain Havel’s personality in the context of the Czech politics and public discourse.
King in the castle It is probably the long monarchist tradition, the example and conception of the “president-liberator” T. G. Masaryk (the first Czechoslovak head of state) and even the fact that the seat of what was previously Czechoslovak, and is today the Czech president is located at the ancient seat of Bohemian kings, the Prague Castle, that makes the Czechs feel or perceive their president almost as a monarch. This conviction had even strengthened in Havel’s presidential era, because in that time, rather than being connected with one political party, he was looking for support among various groups and fractions in many parties. This fact, in combination with his high moral reputation, intellectual profile, and dissident merit, caused Havel to be seen as standing above the political parties, apart from the day-to-day quarrels and to be exceptional. The perception of Havel as good king ruling the country wisely from the castle perched above the Vltava river was reflected most recently after his death. The arrival of more than a week of public nostalgia for the good times of President Havel was apparent throughout the society. At Václavské námĐstí, the main Prague plaza named after another Václav, the patron-saint of Bohemia, the people gathered to honor the memory of Václav Havel and among the many candles left, can be found a good number of messages, political as well as personal. One paraphrased Shakespeare, stating: “The King is dead, there is no next King…”
Special type of politician Havel was not an ordinary politician. In fact, he was not a politician at all. In the game of destiny he became a leader of dissent and then a president of Czechoslovakia. So, his political career was not a thing he was trying to achieve, rather it was something which occurred. In the beginning he was the one who opposed classical political parties and was proposing a new model of democracy named non-political politics. This emerged in a basic motto of Civic Forum, the principal platform and the base of the anti-regime movement during the Velvet Revolution. It stated: “Political parties are for partisans, Civic Forum is for everyone.” Despite not being a career politician, he realised the need for a stable base of supporters. However his attempts to achieve it in the form of some institutionalised group were unsuccessful. Firstly the social liberal Civic Movement failed in the 1992 general elections. Then he started to orientate towards sympathetic groups across political parties, NGOs and public life and occasionally supported some parties as a whole. But these supporters never reached a significant electoral gain. Havel was in practical
A symbol Havel did not achieve all he wanted in politics. But this task was not accomplished by anyone in politics and perhaps as well in life. Regardless, not achieving all, he did a great deal. He played an important role integrating the Czech nation into NATO and the European Union. During his presidency and even more in his later years he was functioning as a lighthouse of hope for every people suffering the rule of totalitarian regimes, as a man who promoted human rights worldwide and serve as a moral authority in his own nation. This lighthouse of hope, defender of human rights, and conscience of our nation left us and the world on Sunday December 18th 2011. We will never forget and still remember.
Jan Radzivil, Young Front, Belarus
A dangerous trend of “political” cases criminalization increased in Belarus. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled for some seventeen years, often says at press conferences that there are no “political” articles in the country’s Criminal Code, and therefore, there cannot be political prisoners. Erroneous logic: it is true that almost all the political articles (except the one that prohibits participation in an unregistered organization) have been excluded from the national law, but it does not mean that Belarusian authorities would not use economic and social articles against dissidents. So, Dmitri Dashkevich and Edward Lobov, youth leaders of the Christian Democratic Organization “Young Front”, continue serving their jail terms. They were both arrested by unidentified men just the day before the presidential election of 2011. Police accused the young people of an attack on passers-by on the street. The court could not prove the youngfrontees’ guilt, none of the alleged victims were present in the Courtroom. Later on, the truth was leaked
in the press about these “victims” - they appeared to be police officers. Nevertheless, Dashkevich received a 2-year sentence, Lobov – 4 years’ imprisonment . Officially – because of a social infraction. Could it be their politics? On New Year’s Eve a well-known human rights activist and vice-president of the International Federation of Human Rights Ales Belyatski received a 4.5-year prison term for alleged tax evasion. The authorities considered all the finances that for many years came to Belyatski’s bank accounts from international funds for the activities of the human rights centre “Vesna” as a personal income from which taxes must be paid. In spite of the fact that the public has collected about 100 thousand dollars to pay for the so-called “taxes”, Belyatski remains imprisoned as an economic criminal. Could it be his politics? Sergei Kovalenko, a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party, is now remanded in prison awaiting trial. Two years ago he made
a New Year present to all Belarusians – he put the national historic white-red-white flag on the main Christmas tree in his native city Vitebsk. The court committed the activist to three years of “home imprisonment”. It means that without police permission he cannot leave the city, must be at home between 20:00 and 06:00, the police have the right to come to him at any time. After the next police visit to him at 5 o’clock in the morning (Kovalenko has got two children, a 6-month son), he decided to talk to police about their recent visits. In response, the man was accused of violating the rules of serving the sentence and jailed before trial, where he has been on a hunger strike for a month already. A criminal recidivist, or could it be his politics? The “criminals” Nikolai Statkevich and Andrei Sannikov, former presidential candidates, remained imprisoned as well as six “penals” - anarchists who have been imprisoned for years because of their constant conflicts with the KGB. Criminalization of political offences is extremely useful for the authorities. First, the merger of opposition with “criminals” breeds mistrust in ordinary people towards government opponents. Second, it is rather difficult for international institutions to distinguish between “policy” and “criminal acts” not being here, in Belarus, at the place of events. European politicians prefer to stay aside from all criminal cases, even if the subtext of these cases is purely political – nobody is eager to have a spot on their reputation. What is the correct model behaviour to be found - between conscience and political career? The solution is rather easy - to act more boldly, as in Belarus as well as in any other authoritarian state politics dominates absolutely.
Uprising in Syria
Ana Janelidze, YSO Graali, Georgia
Syria has been a dictatorship run by the Assad family since 1970. In that year, Hafez al-Assad, the Defence Minister, launched a coup that put him in power. After the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, his son, Bashar al-Assad, became President of Syria. Both Assads used terror and force to hold on to power. On 15th March 2011, dozens of protesters in response to a call for a “Day of Dignity” marched in Damascus. As part of the “Arab Spring” rebellions throughout the Middle East, protests began in Syria, and rose to an anti-government uprising resulting in at least hundreds of deaths. The wave of Arab unrest that started with the Tunisian revolution reached Syria in mid-March 2011, when residents of a small southern city took to the streets to protest the torture of students who had put up anti-government graffiti. The demonstrations and an ongoing general strike have affected most of Syria. The bloodiest demonstrations thus far have been staged in the larger population centres, such as Homs, Hama, Dera, Jisr Al-Shughur, Bou Kamal, the suburbs of Damascus – including a few areas in the city itself – and some towns neighbouring the capital. What was taking place in Tunisia and Egypt undoubtedly played a significant role in encouraging the urban market traders to break the barrier of fear that had held Syrians in a stranglehold for forty years. As explosions and gunfire continued to ripple in Syria, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights raised the death toll from the Damascus government’s crackdown on anti-regime activists to close to 5,000 people. According to Navi Pillay another 14,000 people are believed to have been arrested and 12,400 are thought to have fled to neighbouring countries. She added that the country’s government should be referred to the International Criminal Court for its actions in cracking down on protesters. Still, there are many who oppose the regime yet are afraid to join the protest moment for fear of arrest, torture and death. On the other hand, it would be hard to think that the Assad regime does not have backers. These are mainly those who are close to the Baath party, or have business interests connected with it.
On 10th May 2011 the EU announced sanctions against Syria in response to the crackdown on demonstrators; the US imposed sanctions later in August. On 12th November 2011 the Arab League suspended Syria imposing economic sanctions such as a travel ban against scores of senior officials, a freeze on Syrian government assets in Arab countries, a ban on transactions with Syria’s central bank and an end to all commercial exchanges with the Syrian government. Within a month on 19th December Syria signed the Arab League peace plan, agreeing to let observers into the country. The mission was set up in December to monitor compliance by Damascus with the league’s plan to end bloodshed. The peace plan turned out to be controversial monitoring mission resulted in suspending and withdrawing the monitors from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states side because of an upsurge in violence. Even so, observers still remain in the country, though they now only number 110. The Syrian uprising has become rooted as a revolutionary movement that is progressing towards an inevitable, at least politically, change of regime. It is continuing to expand and is winning growing support among the Syrian people and internationally, in spite of the extent of the violence to which it is being subjected. The diplomatic focus now seems to be turning to
the UN Security Council, which will vote on a draft resolution on Syria prepared by Arab states, the UK, France and Germany - although Russia still opposes the move. The draft resolution also calls for further measures if the Syrian government does not comply. Those countries supported the league’s call for President Assad to hand power to a deputy, who would form a national unity government with the opposition within two months. But Russia, an ally of Mr Assad, has said it will not back the text. At the United Nations Security Council, Russia has repeatedly argued that its opposition to UN sanctions against Syria is consistent with a broader refusal to back outside interference in sovereign states, and an insistence that diplomacy is always preferable to coercion. “Russia may want to proclaim its independence from the West, but it does not want to look isolated either”. Many activists in the cities say they want to maintain their peaceful approach with the Free Syrian Army (“FSA”) protecting them and launching occasional attacks on the security forces. However, their patience is running thin. And with no real and material backing for the protest movement from the Arab and international community, there have been reports of civilians joining the ranks of the. FSA. So the longer the unrest goes on, the more civilians – including Christians and Kurds - would choose to take up arms against the government to protect themselves and make sure the uprising does not fail. The fact that the country is splitting along confessional lines is dangerous. In Lebanon, they had a sectarian civil war that pretty much destroyed the country. In Syria it is not a war yet, but it is starting to look like one. Homs, the centre of the uprising in the north, is paralysed and battered. Deraa, where it started in the south, feels as if it is being patrolled by an occupying army. Everyone seems to believe that the worst days still lie ahead.
aCtualities A few months ago, young Dutch, French and German-speakers launched a call for protests under the banner “SHAME.” Strong mobilization took place in the streets of Brussels. This demonstrated the will of the population. Other protests were held as a virtual sit-in outside the seat of government. And that, largely due to young people. The greatest shock was the devaluation of the country’s rating by Standard and Poor’s and the warning from the European Union of a penalty of between 700 and 800 million euros if we fail to approve a budget by December 31, 2011. For the people this was a misunderstanding! It was necessary that the financial world banged its fist on the table to push negotiators towards a final agreement. And finally, a 2012 budget through savings amounting to 11.3 billion euros. Belgium had no “full power government” during this period however we had a government ‘in current affairs”. Note that this cabinet had managed the financial and economic crisis very competently especially in terms of employment and particularly for “youth employment”. Jobs have been saved and even created. We owe this largely to Joëlle Milquet, former Minister of Employment and former President of cdH2. Who was appointed as home affairs minis-
ter in the new government. This is not to say that the problems are over, quite the opposite. Great challenges await the new cabinet; we cannot and must not seek to avoid austerity and rigour. I would go so far as to say that this is a key challenge particularly affecting I would raise a key challenge that affects young people and students: employment and more precisely unemployment. In general this is decreasesing: 7.6% in Belgium (February 2011) against 9.5% in Europe (February 2011, Eurostat). But youth unemployment remains high, 18.3% of Belgian under 25 were unemployed (September 2011). By comparison, 21% of young Europeans are unemployed. We have to face the hard reality that a degree is no longer a shield from unemployment. Young people who have not had the opportunity to obtain higher education qualifications must also be helped to gain access to the job market. Jobs are still there but it are not easily accessible for everybody. And it is understandable. We must give the means to students and the young to work in our country or elsewhere in Europe, where there remain great possibilities. Another challenge within the scope of Belgian community governments is the
cost and accessibility to education. We do not have to fall into the lies of the socialists, they want to allow free access to studies for everyone. This is simply impossible especially in times of crisis. Put instead more emphasis on individual support for young people; and help students who have the will to succeed even though they can not afford: this must be our priority. In parallel, we must promote technical studies for youngsters who are more manually orientated. We must invest in quality equipment for example and work to motivate teachers. And put the focus on “teaching alternatives” which work in Belgium. Under such schemes students go to school for two days a week and the other threethey work in a company and learn new practical skills for working life. Young people and students must remind policy makers that we are not only the future of society:We are already involved in today’s society. And the country must trust in us. Thereforeanother challenge of the future will be to invest in youth. Ronald Reagan said once : “There are no easy answers but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right”. We can provide a different answer, the true one!
A new Belgian government with huge challenges Nico Patelli, EDH Belgium
After more than 540 days of crisis, Belgium and especially the Belgians have a new government ... Finally! This is a victory of Democracy against the nationalists, a victory for the « common good ». This body constitutes 13 ministers and six State secretaries, three political families, six political parties1.
1 Our mother party, cdH is present in the coalition with a minister and a state secretary.
2 CDS mother, CD&V is also present with two ministers and two state secretaries.
Democracy consolidated in Latvia Krišjanis Bušs, International Secretary, UNITY Youth organization
It has never been easy to break free from the past, especially if it includes a 50-year occupation by a communist regime. After the reestablishment of democracy in Latvia, the political scene has been a puzzle to many foreigners. Parties come and go, coalitions form and crumble. There has not yet been a coalition that has managed to work a full 4-year term in the Saeima (Latvian Parliament). It is common for there to be as many as four different coalitions within one term.
With great hope, but little assurance we are starting to consider the possibility of a stable coalition, one that could work for the rest of the term. On September 17th we had a snap parliamentary election after the Saeima was dissolved by the president, whose first term was coming to an end. He was hoping to get reelected, but wasn’t. I will add that now he is the leader of a party that formed just before the snap election and bears his surname “Zatlers”. The consolidation of democracy - the process that transforms an undemocratic state into a thriving democracy, where political elites and the larger part of society hold democracy as self-evident - is an ongoing process here in Latvia. Recently many likeminded political parties have consolidated to form party alliances. For its 2 million inhabitants Latvia currently has 58 political parties, many of whom represent similar ideas and policies. The Peoples Party, a leading political party for many years, along with several others has ended its existence after charges of violating election laws, brought forward by the anticorruption authority, followed by a dramatic loss of support in the elections. The consolidation trend has led to the formation of one of today’s strongest and most influential parties. On the 6th of Augusts, 2011 Jaunais Laiks (New Era), Pilsoniska Savieniba (Civic Union) and Sabiedriba Citai Politikai (Society for Political Change) merged to form the political party Vienotiba (UNITY). The three youth chap-
ters of the parties have also merged to form the UNITY Youth organization. The merger began before the autumn 2010 election. In the beginning cooperation was irregular and full of doubt. The youth chapters met a few times a month to in-
form each other of planned activities, but nothing more. The relationship between the mother parties was also hesitant and the many power centres were still at odds. Still, work on the alliance’s platform was going well, so we can easily conclude that the issues were more of a personal nature, rather than ideological. After the election, which was won by the party alliance UNITY despite differences, the three youth chapters concluded that there are no rational reasons for not working together. The decision was made to move towards a closer relationship with the final goal being the creation of a new organisation. On November 11th, 2010 we formed the Unity Youth Council, in order to prepare the necessary outlines for the new youth organization, although there was still no timeframe as the mother parties were stuck in the process of creating one party. The snap election gave the consolidation process a much needed revival and a date was set for the merger of the three alliance parties into the single, center-right UNITY party. The youth chapters were quick to follow suit, as there already was an overall consensus on unification, and a date was set. Exactly one year after the Unity Youth Council was formed; it accomplished its main goal of uniting the youth of the parties. On November 11th, 2011 the UNITY Youth organization was established with the mission of becoming the leading youth political movement in the country. The motto of the organization is “United – to inspire and achieve”. It reflects the organisation’s goal of bringing the like-minded together to create change and make a difference. We believe we should encourage our peers by example. Only through working together will democracy thrive. The youth organisation emerged from the consolidation process as a stronger and more influential voice within the party. Presently we are working on a political program, which would be of interest to the youth of Latvia and attract the younger generation of voters. We also wish to continue the process of becoming a full member of the European Democrat Students and the Youth of the European People’s Party. *At the moment UNITY is the leading party in Latvia, with a strong commitment to democracy, the rule of law, the fight against corruption and to a stronger and more integrated European Union. UNITY is steering the long overdue reform process and has rebuilt the economy after it was severely affected by the financial crises.
Is the notion of the EU suﬀering from a ‘democ deﬁcit’ much exaggerat Christophe Christiaens, International secretary CDS 2009-2010
The (alleged) democratic deﬁcit of the European Union has been an issue of high salience for year with the public, politicians and the European institutions. It has been a powerful catchword, that can be easily manipulated by all those who are not really satisﬁed with the workings of the EU. Examples of this are eurosceptic parties like UKIP, labor unions like the Belgian ABVV and Europhiles like the Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit. The sovereign debt crisis and the ongoing establishment of a system of economic governance in the EU show that this issue is of rising important. More and more people claim that the system of economic governance and rounds of budget austerity are undemocratically ‘imposed’ on them. This issue is thus important for the long-term legitimacy of the European project. To understand the European democratic deficit we have to point out that the conceptualization of the EU as it is or as it should be will be very influential for the democratic criteria the EU has to fulfill. People who see the EU as a true federal state will compare it to the political systems in the member states, with parliaments, opposition, majorities and the alternation of government. Other people view the EU as an intergovernmental project and they will point
out that the national governments still control the EU through a complex system of checks and balances, but that the Commission is a source of ‘policy drift’. I would like to defend the middle ground and conceptualize the EU is a consociationalist system, as argued by Paul Magnette. This means that there is a fragmented political system where consensus and cooperation in the decision making is the norm. In this system the EU is democratically legitimized through both the European Parliament and the national governments. Other examples of consociations are Belgium, Switzerland and Austria. Taking representative democracy as the yardstick and defining the problem of the ‘democratic deficit’ as a problem of output and input legitimacy, I would like to stress three arguments in this article: First the EU doesn’t
need a majoritarian system to be democratic. Secondly the current system of democratic legitimacy through the national governments doesn’t suffice. And thirdly, the EU doesn’t provide for output legitimacy in the current economic and sovereign debt crisis. THE EU DOESN’T NEED A MAJORITARIAN SYSTEM TO BE DEMOCRATIC. The majoritarian/consensus distinction is seen as the key fault line in the debate about the democratization of the EU. But is the majoritairan system that good and can such a system applied in the European Union? First of all the real majority rule is quite rare in western democracies. Most countries have some sort of consensus mechanism build into the system. Secondly I want to argue that the EU is simply too fragmented to function or survive under a system of a permanent majority. The current system of the EU is still marked by the primacy of national entities, so the principle of ‘equality’ is very important in the EU, and as a consequence the smaller member states are protect through the voting rules in the Council and through the generous allocation of MEP’s. Thirdly, the lack of a strong European political identity in the EU means that governments or their citizens would simply not accept that they would be permanent in the opposition and outvoted by another group of parties or governments. You can see this on a smaller scale in another consociation, Belgium, where one of the biggest fears of the French-speaking parties is being permanently outvoted by the Flemishspeaking parties, who hold a majority of seats in the parliament. And last but not least, the
U mocratic rated? EU lacks a major political split on which the conflicts are polarized around. Instead we see a system of cross cutting cleavages where in one dossier left is pitched versus right, and in other dossiers neutralists versus interventionists, and so on. For instance the British New Labor party can in certain dossier stand closer with the German conservatives than with the rest of the PES. An example of this can be seen with the current crisis in the eurozone. The EU at the moment is more and more perceived as a ‘German Europe’. This is quite an important accusation, because the EU is at its core like the Visa credit card system: a decentralised network that is owned by all its member states and beneficial for the performance and stability of every member. The fact that the EU is being perceived as something which, without consent, forces certain issues on its member states can be dangerous for the legitimacy for the EU. Another example of this are the recent fears in UK politics and press of a eurozone ‘caucus’ in the Council of Ministers, so that the eurozone countries would in certain cases (like financial dossiers) vote as one bloc and outvote the non eurozone member states. So to the EU could and should, for a number of reasons, be a democratic system based on consensus. But are the member states that have come to consensus so transparent and democratic when it comes to their EU policy? THE SYSTEM OF DEMOCRATIC LEGITIMATION THROUGH THE MEMBER STATES DOESN’T WORK PROPERLY. National parliaments are recognized by the treaties as a pillar of democratic legitimacy in the
EU. Their oversight responsibility is supported by their access to information and their possibilities to guard of the principle of subsidiary. European integration has had an enormous effect on national politics. One facet of this is the phenomenon of deparlaimenarization, or the fact that European integration has led to an erosion of parliamentary control over executive office-holders, although this can also be explained in the general growth of the executive state in recent years. This is because governments use the relative lack of transparency of the EU institutions to strengthen their autonomy against their parliaments. Also parliaments show weak or only reactive involvement in the EU policy cycle. One reason for this is the fact that parliaments have little abilities to scrutinize their governments’ action in the EU institutions. This is very visible in the new member states in Eastern and Central Europe, but in the Nordic countries, and especially Finland, the parliaments can control and follow the government in its European policy. Another reason for this is that the membership of a European affairs committee in most member states carries little prestige (again except for the Nordic member states) and the EU is normally not a topic of high salience in the plenary sessions. As a consequence national MP’s show, in general, very little interest in European affairs, especially in ‘boring’ subjects like technical regulations. There have been some initiatives to correct this problem, like the ‘yellow card’ in the Treaty of Lisbon, but over the whole this remains an issue. For example, in the Belgian federal parliament the topic of the European Semester has, until very recently, been very low on the political agenda. So most national parliaments have little control over the actions of their governments in the European institutions, both through lack of interest and instruments. This doesn’t mean that all parliaments should pursue a detailed ‘tied hands’ strategy for their ministers in the council, as this would greatly decrease the effectiveness of the decision making in the council. Instead, national parliaments should take more interest in the policy cycle of the EU and set the general priorities for the EU policy of the country. So the European Union should be a democratic system based consensus, although the democratic legitimation through the member states doesn’t work perfectly. But does this system deliver the policy outcomes the public expects of it? The EU doesn’t provide for output legitimacy in the current economic crisis. As Alan Milward puts it so eloquently in his
book ‘The European rescue of the nation-state’, European integration gave the nation states back their legitimacy after decades of war and economic depression. Through the creation of a customs union and later a single market it created economic growth and allowed for the expansion of a generous welfare state. The fact that EU should legitimize itself through the concrete results it produces is also very present in the discourse of European politicians. If nothing, the current crisis and the current setup of the euro has shown that at the moment in the eyes of for instance a young unemployed student in Greece or a low paid German ‘arbeiter’ the EU does no longer exercise this sort of ‘output legitimacy’. The euro, but also the EU in general is seen more and more by some people as a danger to their prosperity than as the source of it, hence the rise of euroscepticism in some founding countries, like the Netherlands and Italy. Addressing this lack of output legitimacy should at the moment be more important to the EU than an institutional discussion about whether a Commission president should be directly elected or whether there should be a true European federation. CONCLUSION In this article I focused on analysing the EU democratic deficit, while conceptionalising the EU as a consociation. So is the notion of the EU democratic deficit exaggerated? I believe that EU doesn’t need a majoritarian system in order to be democratic. It can be democratic through the national governments and parliaments. But that in most member states, the government can make its EU policy without much democratic oversight from the parliament. Most parliaments have little control and oversight over their governments action in EU negotiations, both through a lack of interest and instruments. That problem should be addressed. But most importantly, the EU doesn’t provide for output legitimacy in the current crisis. The EU lacks results in its main policy areas: the economy and especially the Euro. It is a source of instability, rather than a source of stability and prosperity. So the democratic deficit is very much a reality, but at the moment it is very much focused on the wrong issues, such as whether the Commission should be directly elected or the European Parliament should get more powers. Instead one should focus on involving national parliaments more in their governments’ actions in the European Union and for providing more and better policy outputs for the European citizens, especially in the current economic and sovereign debt crisis.
In the eye of many people, the elections were rigged. To protest this, they held mass demonstrations and activated opposition groups. Ever since the first two decades of the twentieth century, there has been no similar mass movement in Russia. Kremlin answered to public appearances with crackdowns and arrests. Yet, people do not stop expressing discontent, though it does not seem to prevent Putin from continuing his political activity. He is calmly preparing for the presidential elections, which are to be held on the 4th March. A short time ago, for the first time in the his-
tory of the Russian Federation, the State Duma passed a new law, which now defines the term of office for president as six years. Accordingly, Putin is hoping to extend his presidential career for twelve more years. His rule is destined to be the second longest after the regime of Soviet Supreme Commander-inChief Joseph Stalin. One of the main sources for strong pre-election campaign advertising has also become Vladimir Putin’s website, launched on the 12th of January. What results may we expect from March 4th elections? To the eye, forecasting the results seems very easy. Keeping in mind the fact
Elections in Russia Tamar Baghishvili, EDS
Just recently, on December 4th, Russia saw parliamentary elections, which resulted in victory for Vladimir Putin’s United Russia. 12
that opposition groups in Russia are not active enough to defeat Putin in two months, it sure seems that we are going to find Putin in the presidential office again. However, two ways of weakening his power exist: first, an opposition party should offer a candidate with definite potential for becoming an arch-rival to Putin; or, second: to use economic levers until he loosens his grip. Unfortunately, so far, the Russian people do not have among them such a political leader for opposing Putin, who also reasonably continues keeping a stable tight rein on the economic situation. To bring a conclusion, I can predict that Putin’s rise to power on the 4th of March will be inevitable. Though, these elections are going to cause critical inner processes, such as active growth of public involvement into political life of the country. There is not going to be a breakdown of tides of discontent in Russia. The fight for changes may become a long-term procedure, but it is surely going to achieve its purpose. It is also a very important fact, that the group of people who manifest their dissatisfaction towards Putin, does not only consist of those who suffer poor financial conditions and think the government is to blame, but it mostly consists of a huge number of the middle-class intellectuals who do not want to see Putin in the government anymore and want to live up to development of democracy in their country. These very people have been moving against Putin and nothing seems to be able to stop them in the future. Yes, it is going to involve a considerable amount of time, but it is the only hindrance left.
reports On Monday 19th of December 2011 the world watched the hallucinatory images of thousands of hysterically crying North Korean citizens: The North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) announced that day that Kim Jong Il, their “beloved leader”, son of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the communist North Korea, died of a heart attack on December 17th. The leaders of the state announced an 11 day mourning period. And mourn the North Koreans did: There was a mourning parade through the city and 10,000 crying people came together in Pyongyang. 100,000 people participated in the 40km long procession to the mausoleum. During those days, the rest of the world speculated about the future of North Korea, about a possible change in the politics, about the capacities of the new leader, Kim Jong Un, and even over the cause of death of Kim Jong Il. Kim Il Sung founded the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 1948. He did not only introduced communism in the country, but also a huge personality cult. When Kim Jong Sung died in 1994, the chaos in North Korea was complete. Nobody knew how to handle the death of the leader: How do you separate the political body from the human body? The solution was that the dead Kim Il Sung was announced to be president for eternity. Lead by a dead leader, North Korea is therefore the first ‘necrocracy’ in the world. When Kim Jong Il took over, the propaganda machine made him as divine as his father. He was named the beloved leader, but this “beloved leader” ruled the country for 17 years with an iron hand. Kim Jong Il was known for his decadent life style, but his citizens did not have any political freedom and they could not get in touch with people not living in North Korea. The country is like a big prison, with the Kim dynasty as their prison guards. Because of bad governance the citizens do not have electricity and regularly they have to deal with famine. North Korea was also known as a country that regularly violated human rights during the dictatorship of Kim Jong Il: there are rumours that North Korea has several labour camps for political dissidents. But none of the above prevented the citizens gathering together in large numbers and mourning when the KCNA announced the death of Kim Jong Il. One of the reasons for those surrealistic group mourning sessions is the bizarre cult of personality that Kim Jong Il adopted from his father. In schools 50% of the lectures are ideological education. The ministry of propaganda tried to make Kim Jong Il a demigod, and even after his death they spread heroic stories about him. An example of this cult is that the KCNA announced that even
animals and nature are mourning: At the place of Kim Jung Ils birth ice would be broken by lightening because of his death. Since news leaked to the outside world of Kim Jong Il‘s deteriorating health in 2008, the world was speculating about his successor. In 2010 his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, accompanied him during official meetings and he was given the rank of general, which meant that he was chosen to succeed his father. Kim Jong Un is the third and youngest son of Kim Jong Il. There is not much known about this man. Even not about his exact age. Some sources say he is 29, but it can also be that the political elite has changed his date of birth, so that Kim Jong Un can become 30 in 2012, the year in which North Korea will celebrate the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung. Nobody knows how Kim Jong Un, also called the Supreme Leader, will lead the country and if he will make some changes. Amnesty International hoped that the regime would now be a bit more democratic, but some reports showed that there have been hundreds of employees eliminated already because they would have formed a threat against the new North Korean leader. Kim Jong Un is also said that he would be inexperienced in politics. Therefore North Korean watchers think he will follow the politics of his father. His uncle, a very important man in the North Korean government, will guide him during the first years together with a council of advisors who worked together with his father. Now the biggest consternation is over, there are still a lot of questions left about the Kims and about the future course of the country. First of all there is a mystery about the real death cause of Kim Jong Il. North Korea claim Kim Jong Il died of a heart attack that took place while he was on a business trip to China by train. The secret service of South Korea says however, that this train never left Pyongyang, and therefore there is a lot of speculation about the true cause of death and the true place of death. Also about the sincere feelings of the North Korean citizens, there is a lot of uncertainty: The Chinese and South-Korean people who work in North-Korea and stayed in the country during the 11 days of mourning, reported that they did not see much evidence of weeping North Koreans on the streets. Then there is the biggest question of all: what will the future direction of North Korea be? Speculations about North Korea, are always speculation about uncertain things: the country is so closed, there is almost no information about it and we know even less about what is in the minds of the power elite there. Also no other country has a positive influence on North Korea, not even its closest ally China. After the
North Korea Ann-Sofie Pauwelyn, EDS
The future of a Necrocracy death of Kim Jong Il, the world kept a sharp eye on everything North Korea did. This is understandable, as the country is the most militarized in the world, with a standing army of some 1.2 million, with a further 7.8 million in reserve, in addition to boasting a nuclear weapons program. After the death of the leader a lot of western countries hoped that the assumption of power would bring a change in the foreign policies of North Korea. Meanwhile we already know what the plans of North Korea are in the future: changing nothing. The new government announced that it would not change its course. There won’t be any negotiation with South Korea. They announced this with bold words: “We declare solemnly and with pride to the stupid political leaders in the world, among them the puppet government in South Korea, that they should not expect from us any change.” The regime further announced that it would take reprisals for the “unforgivable sins” the South Korean government has committed. They did not like it that South Korea did not sent an official delegation to visit the procession in North Korea. This is worrying because the conflict with South Korea became worse in 2010, when North Korea attacked a South Korean island and a war ship. Furthermore, this year South Korea, America, Russia and Taiwan have elections. The political situation in those countries could change and if they react negatively towards North Korea, this could be a provocation in the eyes of Kim Jong Un. What can the international society do against a possible attack of North Korea? Can the West put the safety of the South Korean citizens on the line if they want to interfere in North Korea? Will the situation of the North Korean citizens get better? South Korea has already announced that it is open for working on a better relationship with North Korea. But it looks like the international society still has to wait for clear answers.
Where is fundin where should i Kalin Zahariev, project coordinator, Vice Chairman, Output Policy and Research
In October 2011 EDS took a step further towards enhanced policy work by launching the Higher Education Research project. Main goals of the initiative are to provide input topics to EDS and to keep EDS focused on the actual HE issues. The following material is based on the second report resulting from the project and is focused on several aspects of the funding issue. Some of the data used is from 2008 in order to follow the stable trends before the crises. 14
EU Member States strive to integrate economies, markets, policies and institutions. In times of crises joint efforts are prioritised in order to save banks and companies and whole states. At the same time higher education (HE) is subject to national policies due to the perception of its secondary role. Higher education
is a crucial component and a long term solution in boosting EU’s economy and role on a global scale. Despite steps being taken, public investment in higher education is lagging behind the USA, Japan and some countries in Asia. This is due to the mismatch between knowledgebased economy concept and the actual political and financial priorities at an EU level. Although reforms have been under way since the 1980s, the pace of reform varies greatly between Member States and this has a negative effect on the overall approach to modernday concepts for higher education. This is why funding of HE and research is still a point on the agenda and it will remain so for many years to come. WHAT IS FINANCIAL AUTONOMY? Funding of higher education institutions (HEIs) is a key tool for governments to manage the respective policy and outcomes. Funding mechanisms are supposed to set specific behaviour of the target institutions, aiming at desired results. Regulations of the process balance between autonomy and intervention in order to meet users’ expectations. Autonomy of HEIs is closely related to funding and it is a process of deregulation - less government and more self-governance. Deregulation at the same time goes with competition. These notions vary greatly across Europe, especially regarding autonomy (financial, organisational and academic). The focus of this study case is funding and therefore financial autonomy will be given priority. The scope of financial autonomy is: • Accumulating revenues (tuition fees, administrative fees, etc.); • Setting tuition fees; • Managing external funds (from business and industry); • Ownership of land and buildings; and • Type of budget - block-grant (liberal, more governance) or line-item (restrictive, more
ding going and d it go? government).The majority of Member States (MS) have adopted the Block-grant budgeting principle. This is a positive trend that has to be encouraged in other MS. Block-grant budgets give more autonomy to HEIs, more governance instead of more government.
WHERE DO FUNDS COME FROM? A disturbing conclusion is that at European level government funding per student has not increased significantly before the crises. In addition, 2009-2011 is a crisis period when most probably that trend remains the same, if not worse. Thus new financial steering instruments and a diversification of resources are required. In addition, tuition fees represent large proportion of HEIs’ revenues. Their share has grown from 10 to 18 % before the crises which corresponds to the recent trend of tuition fee introduction. An argument against fees is that they create social barriers in access to higher education. Supporters of tuition fees focus on their positive influence on accountability of HEIs and competition between them. Commitment of students to their HE course is another positive aspect of fee introduction. However, an evident trend is that third party funds (grants, business, etc.) have become more important and many of the countries now have more than a quarter of their revenues generated from such sources. The United States and Japan raise a substantial share of funding from third party sources. Relatively low share for 3rd party funding is evident in many Southern / South-eastern European countries and it is a potential niche for future reforms. HOW IS RESEARCH FUNDED? A major trend is the gradual rise of competitive research grant levels across Europe. It means more competition is taking place among HEIs, which is a productive occurrence in the long run. The core reason for countries to introduce competition is to improve the quality of
research and outcomes. However, the percentage of operational grants for research is still very high on average. The period of crises might accelerate the transition to competitive grant schemes due to insufficient operational grant allocation. In future the relative weight of third party funding will grow significantly as state budgets have contracted in the years of crises. In addition, attracting funds is already a key tool in building a competitive image for European HEIs. The main obstacle to generating more private funding is the difficult transition from a passive to an active funding system where competitiveness is closely related to performance.
FUNDING MECHANISMS Funding models not only serve to allocate resources, they are increasingly being used as governance or management tools. This is why policy goals are being set and then a funding mechanism is implemented. On the other hand, transition from a certain model to another setting cannot and should not occur rapidly. An interesting finding is that some countries still relyon budgets based on past costs. Generally this financing model is least popular due to its inefficiency and does not precondition development. This is why formula funding as well as project-based funding outperform all other mechanisms. Institutional budgets are increasingly tied to specific teaching and research outcomes instead of directives or micro-management by the government. This trend has to be encouraged due to its efficiency and effectiveness regarding HEIs. DOES CRISIS COUNTERACTION EXIST IN EUROPE? After 2009 adoption of stimulus packages for HE systems is a very concrete and productive measure. 13 European countries have adopted and started implementing stimulus packages.
Part of these stimulus packages is target funding and it has mostly often been allocated to research and/or teaching. The bottom line is that many European governments seem to respond actively to the need to support the higher education sector in times of crisis, realising that it will support economies in future. Despite this, current levels of funding and future plans are not yet enough for Europe to achieve its ambitious goals.
WHAT DO WE, EUROPEAN DEMOCRAT STUDENTS RECOMMEND? The EU has to make a step further in cohesion in HE by providing more responsibilities to the European Commission in the field of higher education. A deeper synchronisation is crucially needed, if common European goals are to be achieved. At national level governments should: • Focus on performance, management by objectives, strategic planning, accountability, transparency and quality assurance. • Establish direct links between results and the amount of public funding allocated. • Diversify funding sources and partnerships with research institutes, businesses, and regional/local authorities. Further introduce competition-based research grants especially in South / South-eastern Europe. • Increase investment in innovation and research through performance-based and target funding. More emphasis should be put on structured partnerships with the business community. Introduce mechanisms and incentives in support of universities to develop better cooperation with the private sector in research and funding. • Ensure real autonomy and accountability for universities. More governance, less government should be the leading principle. Introduce stimulus packages to the higher education sector, especially targeted at research.
...and justice for all? Henry Hill, EDS
Self-Determination and the Serbs
The Balkan conflicts are inextricably tied to questions of race, identity and territory. The tragic collapse of Yugoslavia was marked by the clash between the irredentist aspirations of its various nationalisms. The wars that scarred the region were eventually ended by NATO intervention, and today the situation is monitored by international bodies such as the UN and the European Union. Whilst definitely a good thing, the fact that powerful foreign actors have such a massive influence over the course of events in the Balkans means that we have to take our responsibilities in the region very seriously. We must also make sure that we properly understand the assumptions – and prejudices – that underlie our policies. When it comes to the settling of disputed borders then this boils down to one question: is our policy to arrive at borders that strike as fine a balance as possible between the competing desires of the region’s peoples? Or is it to deliver collective punishment to the Serbian people for the crimes of the Milošević government? I ask because it appears that the foreign powers that are arbitrating the political settlement are operating a racially- or culturally-motivated double-standard. On the one hand, the borders of non-Serb states are held to be inviolable, despite large and geographically contiguous Serb populations being trapped within them. That has been our policy with the Republika Srpska and Krajina. On the other, Serbia herself can happily be partitioned if a non-Serb population wish it so. That has been our policy with Kosovo and would presumably be our policy should Vojvodina wish to secede from Serbia proper. So the question is what – other than its Serb character – makes the Repulika Srpska so different from Kosovo that the latter can be granted a right to self-determination that is denied the former? Yet this problem runs even deeper than that, because the indivisibility of non-Serbian states is held as inviolable even while those
states are being created from Serbian sovereign territory. Case in point: North Kosovo. North Kosovo is a Serb majority area that is geographically adjacent to Central Serbia. If it were allowed to remain within Serbia there would be no awkward boundaries or problematic exclaves to deal with. Surely North Kosovan Serbs have the same right to remain in Serbia as Kosovar Albanians have to secede from it? As an Anglo-Irishman, I can well understand the situation in North Kosovo because it mirrors the United Kingdom’s own experiences in Northern Ireland. Indeed, it is perhaps this experience that leads to Britain being one of the only international peacekeepers giving partition a fair hearing. In short, a stable and contiguous population find themselves entangled in a nationalist project to which they do not subscribe, and face being torn from a state of which they are loyal and contented citizens. As a democrat and anti-nationalist, my view is that in both instances partition (if not the eventual shape of that partition, which is more debateable) was the only just solution, because the alternatives are based on competing and equally valid nationalisms. For example, the Kosovar nationalist who asserts ‘North Kosovo is Kosovar’ is no different either rationally or morally from the Serb nationalist who asserts ‘Kosovo is part of Serbia!’ Each of them is doing exactly the same thing: claiming that they have the right to overrule a group’s self-determination on the basis of nationalist ideology. For the international authorities arbitrating the situation, declaring one of those statements a defensible fact and the other an irredentist outrage is nothing more than choosing an arbitrary favourite. That should not be our role. The just solution, in circumstances like these, is a partition that adheres as closely as possible to the desires of the people on the ground. No nationalist on either side should be allowed to lay claim to great swathes of people who do not wish to be part of their project.
The British Unionists who fought for the preservation of Northern Ireland’s place in the Union understood this well. In the preface to the pamphlet Against Home Rule: The Case for the Union the Conservative leader – and staunch unionist – summed up the case for partition: “Every argument which can be adduced [cited] in favour of separate treatment of the Irish Nationalist minority against the majority of the United Kingdom, applies with far greater force in favour of separate treatment for the Unionists of Ulster as against the majority of Ireland.” To paraphrase: As Belgrade cannot compel Pristina to be Serbian, so Pristina cannot compel North Kosovska Mitrovica to be Kosovar. As Belgrade could not compel Sarajevo to be Yugoslav, so Sarajevo cannot compel Banja Luka to be Bosnian. There is nothing to render one nationalism superior to the other. On the one hand, North Kosovo could remain within Serbia. Perhaps the three Albanianmajority districts of Serbia adjacent to Kosovo’s eastern border could be offered the opportunity to join Kosovo in exchange. As for the Western the double standard, the only possible stem that I can see is the legacy of Milošević and his cohort of Serb ultra-nationalists who tore Yugoslavia to pieces. The Serbs do not deserve the same rights to selfdetermination as the other former-Yugoslav peoples, the argument runs, because they caused all this horror in the first place. Yet this cannot – must not – be the international position. It goes without saying that Milošević, Mladić and Karadžić were monsters; that they and their followers must face justice and that their victims must see justice done. But key to their evil was its racism, the crime of treating human beings as indistinguishable representatives of their race or creed rather than individuals. We must not fall into the trap of exercising the reverse policy. We must always be vigilant that we punish the individual, and never the race. The people of North Kosovo should not have their right to self-determination abrogated because of the crimes of other Serbs.
Democratisation of Balkans Natalia Rencic, EDS
Democratisation process in the Balkan area is a ‘hot potato’ topic and a project with a slow, but hopefully sustainable further development. It is impossible to expect overnight a change of mentality, habits or beliefs which require a longer period of time and a strong personal and structural will. Besides the gap between theory and practice, the great problem is money which actually rules almost everything. There are many problems connected like corruption, rule of law abuse and criminal acts. And there are numerous examples of starting with the ﬁrst job when being 30 or even later because of lack vacancies. The other option for young people is to stay at home and wait, for sure the worst one, but highly present in the Balkans, where we can notice phenomena such as an inferiority complex with the West (many students don’t want to participate in the educations abroad because they think their English level is not perfect enough and sometimes they already assume as they would be perceived as “wild” Balkans) or resignation and passiveness. There is a direct correlation here with the older, previous communist indoctrination which is seeking the obedient, quiet small citizen, who would be happy with his job, payment, family and eligible to manipulation from the state or even the media; current political system, or some more or less visible hand (during the recent wars at least you knew against whom you were ﬁghting). Unfortunately, this is the sad reality of the last two decades-democracy in the Balkans, or to be on track with the current terminology, more precisely “Western Balkans”, which ironically looks like that small word on the paper it can (or will) change something. With the current level of resignation they (“ordinary citizens, who were not asked anything – even if they were, that was manipulated too) wouldn’t mind to be called (neo)Yugoslavs, if that it would bring them “that” kind of social beneﬁts and security. Here comes to mind a well known quote, at least for the Croatian part of the Balkans (geographically 47%) which says that “we don’t want to the East any more, but in the same time, we are scared of the West”. 18
theme It would be very interesting to do research of the quality of life, happiness and yugo-nostalgic feelings between all ex-Yugoslav states. So, instead of going towards Bangladesh, we’ve had all the possibilities and prerequisites for being Switzerland, but as its present shows, we could be in the end, a not so rich country in the heart of Europe. What are the consequences of that and who and for how long will we pay, remain the question. It’s enough to look at Kosovo, the youngest and poorest isolated country in Europe, with more than 1.3% population growth per year. In correlation with what was previously men-
tioned, it’s easy to take a look at predominant values, such as: level of trust, role of religion or civil society “shapes” within some individual society and in relation with Europe. In Croatia currently, but with the similar situation even in the neighbourhood, we are facing huge social and political changes, with the future even more impacted than it was in the early 90s. An unsuccessful transition problem is present more visibly today and for the majority of the people the current social situation is terrible. In a country with approximately several million people, unemployment rate is more than 16 % and if we exclude retired people and students, maybe half of the population is employed, which is not a proper formula for sustainable growth. Unfortunately, as it seems for my generation, the future will present huge struggles on every level and it will be interesting to observe the “path” of value development. Unfortunately, “money makes the world go round”, so we are not an exception. But, within the, let’s say, limited opportunities (poverty may sound too hard), a real value system will emerge. Civil society within current observations, in the Balkans, during and after the conflicts, has played a significant role in the process of reconciliation, trust building, and social development. And also the question plays a role whether society has been “created” from the “small people” which could be seen from the political and leadership establishment as insignificant and irrelevant, but sometimes also as a “stone in the shoe”. Not so long ago, we could every second day follow protests and strikes in front of presidential and governmental buildings in Zagreb. If mostly young “revolutionaries” haven’t been on the streets, there were fishermen in the coast areas or farmers on the roads of Slavonia. It’s a positive fact that this was the first situation after the war times that the country was united, but on the other hand, it’s significant that the young population doesn’t have any constructive proposition for the current situation, except destructive and extreme drive. Civil society had a great impact even in the media sphere, because with the IT development we’ve got alternative media such as Internet which was not present during the previous revolutions (for example so-called “Croatian spring” in the early 70s). Currently in Croatia, there is no significant difference between two main political parties, left and the right wing, but they are even united in their relationship towards Europe that’s our second biggest problem at the national level. And most probably, resolutions of those two “agonies” would have a determin-
ing significance for the future of my generation. As I can hear from many of my European friends, there is not so much “gross national happiness” within the Union. Except the “administrative octopus” and money suction, I’m just wondering about sustainability of some principles like solidarity or subsidiarity in the Union where money is the only God. There we are coming back to the values and religion issue, which are an interesting phenomena comparing happiness and integral quality of life of other European citizens with direct impact on democratization process, as a whole. But, to continue on the black humour path, if any of these unions or states wouldn’t fit well for my generation, there is always a “promised land” on the horizon, which for us was/is mainly the USA, far away enough and till now “open” enough. It’s true that during the last century each generation shared a significant phenomena, emigration to USA, Canada, Australia or Western Europe because of political or economic reasons. History is repeating, but sometimes it seems that we aren’t learning anything. Personally, although I was studying peace and conflict studies, somehow I’m more aware of conflicts and it is hard to believe that I survived my first and the only war in my life when I was seven. Hopefully, I’m wrong. Unfortunately, the “promised lands” of the late 80s and 90s, like Croatia or Hungary for example are far away from the “possibilities” which existed in those years. What is frightening, in the case of Croatia and the eastern neighbourhood, as the whole Balkan, is simply the impossibility for a few next generations to reach the social and economic base for growth as we’ve had before. Even with the ideal regional cooperation and integration, the destiny of us small Balkan states is very unpredictable. Maybe I’m too pessimist, but I believe that there is more possibilities for blood than honey (translation of Turkish word Balkan is honey and blood) as history shows. The languages of civil society would play a very significant role in that. It is interesting to take a look at the opinions of the young educated people coming from the Balkan area at the current level of democratization process. Blerina Danaj, Albanian student of physiology in Parma is well aware about the importance of peace and democracy: “I think that Albania after so many years of dictatorship needs a radical change. And the best possible process to represent that radical change couldn’t be other than democracy. Finally, Albanian people were free from all points of view. During the 1989-1990 it was visible to the entire world that Albanian people are brave
theme and courageous. Actually, until today we’ve made many steps ahead and we are always available to contribute to the world’s peace building, not just because there is the current peace in our homeland, but because everyone wants to bring peace and prosperity to his own people and many still can’t successfully achieve that. I think that young people from all around the world should unite in order to promote peace and stand up against wars. I’m aware that this could seem as an utopia, but sooner we start it is better, because the road towards the peace in the world is long and hard, but not impossible. “ MILAN GRUBETIC, young electrotechnical engineer from Kostolac in Serbia has described his view at the current situation: “When we look at the issue of democracy and the human rights in Serbia, I think that with the current and the four years leading of the “National union” government, we went some steps backwards. The state has control over all media, and those who are not willing to obey the “censorship of the leading power”, are condemned on the bankruptcy, what we see in the case of the ‘e-newspapers’, for example. By the reform of the legal system the independence of the judicial power isn’t achieved, but totally opposite, what we can see in the case of the verdict for the murder of the 28 years old French guy Brice Taton who was killed by the Serbian hooligans. Just 12 years after the October revolution when we removed the red dictatorship from the top, we have the situation that ministers are threatening the public and the protesters in their public speeches. Very important issue is the social security which is endangered in the case of the bigger part of our population, and thus they are not able to participate in the political life of the country, because their only preoccupation is their own survival. All these problems are base for the anger and revolt, so therefore I am afraid that the Balkan area would be for a long period of time ‘shaky’ zone. It’s also good area for the ‘fog selling’ or misuse of power, always at the border of the war or revolution. MIRANDA KAJTAZI, young lawyer and an active member of the Paneurope Kosovo is looking at the future with optimism, despite the current hardships facing her country: “Kosovo is part of Europe, of course geographically but not politically yet, because there are still several countries in Europe that do not recognize Kosovo’s independence. It’s going to take long time to convince them that our country is ready enough to become full member in European structures. Before becoming a member state there are many conditions set that our govern-
ment has to fulfil. These conditions are include political economic and legal conditions. In order to meet all these conditions our Government is very committed to fulfil and to push forward this process. We still have problems to fight the organize crime, corruption and to ensure an independent judicial system. Therefore, EULEX (an European mission) was established to help our authorities to fight against corruption and organized crime and to integrate minorities in Kosovo society .We are facing with so many challenges, such as unemployment and then visa liberalization process, which has blocked us. Kosovo, with the youngest population in Europe, with the highest rate of unemployment, with an economy which is nearly dead, with a fragile democracy, and most important, in the lack of professional capacities of European integration and international law field needs educated people, professionals and above all active persons dedicated at the phase of general preparation of our society for integration processes. Even though we have so many problems, I think that we will pass this test and hope to join European structures as soon as possible, because only in this way we can complete European community and provide peace and prosperity for the whole Europe.” HALIM SPAHIC, Islamic religion teacher from Novi Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in his view at the current situation in the Balkans he mentioned lack of democracy: “Unfortunately we don’t have proper democracy in our region. We have all ‘same’ old political leaders or similar mentality from the time of the former Yugoslavia. Just the outside forms and the outlook are different. For the true democracy we will wait for a long time. Social situation is very hard and there are no signs for some change in the near future. While politicians are taking care about themselves; ‘small people’ are desperate. There is no job, economy is gone or is in stagnation, and the young person doesn’t have any perspective. The country doesn’t have common strategy about any question, and while one man is building, two are destroying. One loves this country, and two are doing everything possible against Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is possible to find an analogy with the words of the writer Branko Copic: “where are the borders among the people? There is no in man Vlach or Turk. There is just a huge human despair and suffer. Equally of the Vlach or the Turk.” Ivana Puksec, young member of the Croatian Peasant Party and graduated MBA mentioned new challenges in the Balkan states: “Today, more than 20 years after the first hostilities in the region broke out; the new generation in the SEE countries is facing a new challenge.
It is time to close one chapter and to move towards a stable future in our common house Europe. And for this, knowledge, which lies not only in resources, but also in exchange of ideas, contacts and cooperation, will be crucial. In that respect, EDS Winter University 2012 “Democratization Process in the Balkans - Promoting European Values and Human Rights“, however small within the “big picture” it may seem, represents a step forward. To a more secure, stable and prosperous future.” BOZIDAR VUKOVIC, student from Montenegro underlined already mentioned opinions of the other young people from the Balkans: ”I’m not interested at all with the life in Montenegro. I am already abroad, searching for better life conditions and by this I will try to jump over the problems which is facing Montenegrin economy, before it allows and enables better life to its citizens and the society as a whole.” NIKOLA DEKOV, youth worker and Executive director of NGO ZONA from Kavadarci in Macedonia said: „At the moment politics are involved in every part of the society, including youth. Young people today are ready to kill in order to achieve career and to get money. Religion is involved too. There are some things which can destroy our relations, between the states of the former Yugoslavia, like religion, money, return to the recent history. Unfortunately, due to the poverty, it is possible to see growth of nationalism and radicalism among young people, and they are eligible to join any party or group which promise power and leadership. Youngsters today are political marionettes and the victims of the politics. It is enough to take a look at the recent handball championship held in Serbia. If that match was held in Iceland, would it be so much of hate visible? People will be curious about the result, but this event was very near to the recent bloody conflicts, in the ‘hot potato’ area. I think that this was manipulated by someone more powerful and that youngsters doesn’t want some new wars again. This what we have now is suicide for most of the states and the ordinary citizens. When I am looking at the further development of Macedonia, I see a very small stabile state with great potential. We should count in the future on resources, as the energy and tourism. NGO sector is currently facing some difficulties, as there are so many NGOs, and it is very simple to register one NGO, even without all the proper conditions and additional problem is the lack of transparency concerning the money and donations.“
SIXTEEN Jakov Devcic, EDS
16 – This is the amount in Euros, that Kosovo costs Serbia every minute. Based on a survey of the Policy Centre, a think-tank from Belgrade, from 10th June 1999 until today, the Serbian government has spent more than €6 billion. In addition the average salary in Serbia in 2011 has been €251. 43. Logically that means that every 15 minutes a Serbian average salary has been thrown out of the window for a small piece of land, which for 10 years has no longer been under the effective control of the Serbian state. So then, you should ask yourself, why the Serbian government is spending such a huge amount of money for a money sink. Some will answer, because it is still part of Serbian territory and some others argue, that Serbia has to support the Serbian citizens in Kosovo and to ensure the protection of cultural heritage. However, the question of whether this accords with the true situation on the ground in Kosovo must be posed. No, it is not. The Serbian government funds something which has already ceased to exist. Serbia did not lose its influence on Kosovo in the nineties. It lost its power over Kosovo a long time before that. And this is the reason why Serbia should stop throwing so much money at preservation of the parallel state structures in the northern part of Kosovo, where in some parts Serbs are still the majority. It is time to introduce a soft shift in Serbian foreign policy in relation to Kosovo. There are two key aspects to this. First, both Belgrade and Pristina need to find common ground in order to solve technical problems. Solutions to those problems which are affecting the daily life of Serbians and Albanians should be found. The second aspect is that the EU should keep on putting pressure on both parties to ensure that informal agreements between them should be respected. The EU as a normative power is important for Kosovo, as it is heavily dependent on financial support from EU donor countries. Without the financial support of the EU and the USA, there would be a big question of whether Kosovo could preserve its state structures. In this framework it is also important to question how the EU and the USA want Kosovo to get economically independent from them. On the other side, Serbia’s strategic interest is to be-
come a member of the EU. The EU underlined its normative power last December when the European Council decided not to grant Serbia candidate status because of a lack of cooperation of the Serbian government in relation to Kosovo. The Council will look again in March at whether Serbia has made enough of an effort in this regard. Efforts in the integration process are crucial for Serbia, as it faces strong economic problems and challenges. Because of the general bad financial and economic situation in Europe, Serbia is confronted with missing foreign investments which are very important for the strategic future development of the Serbian economy. In addition there will be parliamentary elections in Serbia in spring. And again the second most important issue after the economic problems will be Kosovo. Those two problems are linked to each other in a strong way. Currently the unemployment rate of the youth under 30 years of age is about 22%. Within this group there are many young people who are without any perspective. Because of their dissatisfaction with their situation these young people are open for the populist arguments of the radicals. This is, and will remain, a threat to Serbian society. By solving the economic problems Serbia won’t maybe solve its political problems like the issue of Kosovo in total. But by providing the people a higher standard of living and providing them a good social and educational system, Serbia will be in a stronger position vis-à-vis Kosovo. €6 Billion could have been invested in the social or in the higher education system. Serbia and its politicians should free themselves from the shackles of their troubled history with Kosovo.
EDS present on EPP Congress in Marseille
The second Council Meeting of the working year 2011/2012 took place in Marseille, France, organised by European Democrat Students (EDS) member organization UNI-MET France from 7 to 11 December 2011. The Council Meeting was linked to the EPP Congress which took place from the December 7-8. Over 70 participants from EDS member organisations were gathered at the event. On Tuesday, December 6, EDS Chairman Juraj Antal took part in a panel of CES and the North African Students from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia joined by Lebanese and other Middle Eastern students. The panel headed by the Director of the International Republican Institute, Jan Surotchak, was entitled, “Educational Reform in Northern Africa”. “EDS is willing and capable of providing young volunteers that have an experience with transitional stages after government changes” said Chairman Antal and “is able to assist by capacity building training of young North Africans to build up the grass roots of their new societies”, he concluded. At the same time EDS Secretary General Samuli Kauranne represented EDS at the EPP Political Assembly at the Senator Mayor of Marseille’s office. Furthermore, Chairman Antal met with Governor Tim Pawlenty ret., who held a business breakfast speech and both concluded that IRI and EDS’ efforts are in the same direction and have crossing interests. The EPP Congress gathered over 1300 delegates from all over Europe, including guests from the Arab Spring countries, the Middle-East and the United States. EDS helped the EPP Congress by providing 6 assistants that helped EPP with the registration. The first Plenary Session at the Congress was opened with a welcoming
speech by Senator Mayor of Marseille, JeanClaude Gaudin. EPP President Wilfried Martens and EPP Secretary General Antonio Lopez Isturiz welcomed all the delegates and guests of the Congress. That same plenary, Chairman Juraj Antal also made his speech; where he focused on the moral issue of this ongoing crisis, which in his mind is the loss of trust of EU citizens. Chairman Antal put the Economic crisis in Europe in the context of history, of the importance of the trust from society to the state, politicians and the EU as well as the importance of trust in each other, he also mentioned “Knowledge is Power” - a Europe wide campaign by EDS which focuses on Higher Education and Research, and will be launched in 2012. Chairman Antal called upon the Centre right in Europe, which is today represented by the EPP to take leadership and ask governments not to cut budgets on higher education in times of crisis, so the mistakes of the past are not relived. Other speakers at the plenary sessions at the EPP Congress was Eugenia Carr (Tymoschenko), the daughter of former PM of Ukraine that dedicated her speech to talk about the hope of freedom and to her mother as a symbol of fight of freedom in Ukraine. The Chairman of the EPP Group of the European Parliament, Joseph Daul called for Europe to choose the right decisions and build a strong house of Europe together. EDS supported the Congress Document “Moving Europe forward: A stronger Europe to stand for our Values and defend our Interests”, which was successfully confirmed by the delegates. On Thursday morning, Chairman Antal met with Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, and expressed his sincere support for the upcoming Presidentail elections in Finland hoping that Sauli Niinistö will be the second centre-right President
of Finland. EDS as the only EPP affiliate organisation doing so, organised a side-seminar with panel discussions. The first panel was about higher education institutes in USA and Europe; the advantages and disadvantages of public and private universities. The panel was led by EDS Vice-Chairman Jean-Baptiste Dabezies ret. with panelist José Canosafrom the Fundacion para el Analisis y los Estudios Sociales (FAES) in Madrid, and EDS Vice-Chairman Bernhard Krall. The second panel was led by EDS Vice-Chairwoman Cathrin Gräber ret., with the theme “The role of Europe in the world”. The panelists were Günther Krichbaum, Member of the German Bundestag, Head of Europe Committee, Jean-Dominique Giuliani from the Paris based Fondation Robert Schuman and Lithuanian MEP Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė. After the EDS seminar, the second plenary of the EPP Congress took place, and was opened by President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel. The plenary continued with a comprehensive list of speakers with almost all EPP heads of state in Europe, as well as President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and the President of European Parliament Jerzy Buzek that encouraged our political family to recreate the idea of a European dream and calling on them to make radical decisions. Both men reiterated that the EPP needs to face changes with regard to integration and appealed that politics have to deal with all the most important issues strategically. On Friday morning, it was time for a joint EDS and YEPP panel at Fort de Ganteaume on the topic of how to solve the debt crisis in Europe. The panel was
led by YEPP Vice-chairman Colm Lauder and featured French MEP Constance le Grip, UMP National Secretary in charge of International Commerce, Chairman of EDS Jacob LundNielsen ret. and Christian Kremer, Deputy Secretary General of the EPP as panellists. After the panel the two organisations were received by the Mayor of Marseille in the City Hall near the Old Port. Senator-Mayor of Marseille, Mr. JeanClaude Gaudin welcomed the delegates and pointed out that Marseille has a specific feature; it is the largest city in France with an EPP Mayor. In the afternoon the Permanent Working Group sessions took place at the Fort de Ganteaume. On Saturday December 10, the second Council Meeting of the working year 2011/2012 was held at Fort Ganteaume. The meeting started with guest delegations greeting the council members. This time EDS was hosting delegations from UNYM Georgia, represented by Archil Tsertsvadze, Studicentro Italy by Virgilio Falco, Juventude Popular Portugal, represented by its President Miguel Pires da Silva, NKSU President, Stephen Johnsen, and finally Chairman of our fraternal organisation DEMYC - Jani Johansson who greeted the Council by a letter due to his early departure. Then Chairman Juraj Antal reported on his work between the
Council Meetings. Discussion and adoption of motions and of the conference resolution followed. After an engaging debate, the Council finally voted in favour of the three PWGs’ motions, which were all passed by the Council Meeting. Furthermore, the Council voted in favour of the Conference Resolution entitled “Multiculturalism in Europe: Challenges and Opportunities”, which was also the topic of Marseille’s Council Meeting. The financial report and the last amendments to the 2011 Budget took place. The Campaign “Knowledge is Power”, which is going to be one of the strongest political tools of EDS this upcoming year, and the Higher Education Research Project were presented by the Bureau. Approaching the end, Romain Simmarano, Vice Chairman of EDS, stepped down from his position and an extraordinary election of one Vice Chairman will be held in Zagreb. Auditor for the financial year 2011 Vladimír Škola likewise stepped down and Thomas Benedikt Thaler was elected as a second auditor according the statutory requirements. Finally, the member organisations of EDS presented to the Council their latest news and updates before the council concluded to the tunes of the European Anthem.
Dear Heads of state, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends. LET ME START WITH A QUOTE: And I assure you that all the peoples and populations who are subject to his rule are perfectly willing to accept these papers in payment, since wherever they go they pay in the same currency, whether for goods or for pearls or precious stones or gold or silver. With these pieces of paper they can buy anything and pay for anything – Marco Polo’s travels This crisis has an economic aspect to it, but it has a moral one as well. Just as Marco Polo explained to the Venetians in his writing that the Chinese people of that age trusted that there is one currency which is paper and is backed by precious metals, they also believed the state. They had trust in the system that when they needed to, they could buy whatever they wanted with the money or exchange it to gold. Looking at today’s societies, they need to rebuild trust. Trust in the EU, the state, the politicians, their society- their neighbours. The great son of this country, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that in modern times (1830s) people no longer believe in nothing – religion, heritage, authority of any kind. – they will believe anything. So what is happening today? Do people believe their governments in Europe today? Do they trust each other? Trust cannot be imposed by the state upon us. It is created and earned by the people in the society. In a society that shares common values, behaves according to a certain set of rules and by the political elite informing them fully, swiftly and completely about issues that concern them. The lack of it creates panic, havoc and the rise of the Hobbesian state of nature – where life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. The European Union has done away with conflict. The Centre right in Europe led us and proved over the past 60 years that it delivers meaningful solutions and earned people’s trust. The Centre right today is represented by the European People’s Party. The EPP needs to show leadership in these hard times and the years to come. It needs to help regain trust of the citizens in the EU and their leaders. In my mind, one such trust building measure will be the new elections to the European Parliament in 2014. For the first time ever, coalitions might be formed, and with the direct elections of the President of the European Council and the Commission, I believe it is the right way to create one European demos. We the European Democrat Students are ready to do our share and help this great party – our mother party – in the successful realisation of our common future. Thank you for your attention!
University of Passau Bence Bauer, EDS
The most international university in Germany
The city of Passau, emerging from an old Roman settlement displays a long and extensive history with ups and downs. Being instrumental for German mythology, the city in the Renaissance times hosted the Treaty of Passau (1552) enabling religious tolerance and freedom. With its border situation between Austria and Bavaria (Germany) it often was subject to territorial shifts. However as one of the darkest points in history, German Nazi party loved to assemble in the huge Nibelungenhalle which has been finally demolished as of 2004. In the period after World War II, being situated in the southeast corner of Germany and being even more random in the free world, the city of today 50.000 inhabitants turned to a geographically isolated and far from everywhere point which was accompanied by a habitus so typical for provincial towns. Thanks to the University in Passau, established officially in 1978 and the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the city could open and liberate and thus became some years later one of the most dynamic and international spots in all Germany. The university is a master piece how to demonstrate change and the positive impact students can have on both education and surroundings. It also serves as a brilliant example how to overcome borders and open for the international world. Finally, all these points have been nurtured by the happenings of the annus mirabilis, the year of 1989, where the people could tear down the Wall and open the borders and new horizons. Starting from 1622 as a sub-division to educate chaplains and becoming 1833 a lyceum, the institution was transformed to the philosophicaltheological academy in 1923 (according to German Law you may not use the term “university” which requires several faculties). With the act taking effect on 1st August 1978, the academy was positioned as faculty in the newly to be established University of Passau. Teaching started as of 9th October 1978 with a very small number of 463 students.
Today, the university has four faculties (Humanities, Law, Economics and Informatics) and with in total over 10.000 students (one fifth of Passau’s population) and its 115 professors and 395 scientific employees it not only has an excellent ratio of student/staff, but it still one of the smaller and more intimate universities in Germany. This phenomenon is largely helped by a student-friendly campus system where all university premises gather along the Inn river, with a continuous green campus where the maximum walking distance is less than 10 minutes. Passau is moreover the most international university. It has a thrilling number of 205 (!!) international partnerships, serving as a basis for an absolute record of Passau students going for at least one semester abroad: 37% is the best such figure in all Germany. Vice versa, Passau attracts a good number of international students. 658 students in the winter semester 2011/2012 come from abroad, with Austria, Russia, China, Czech Republic and Hungary leading the polls. This quota is higher than the average in Germany and makes Passau an inclusive, dynamic international university with a high scoring all over the world. The campus thus is really a global village, with students coming from a range of countries. International activities and the view outside the usual spectrum have been in Passau on the agenda ever since. It was here where profession-specific foreign language classes have been starting for law and economy students and later became a model for similar instalments at other universities, using the teaching materials of Passau. And it was also in Passau where a brand new curricula was introduced for a brand new academic degree called “Diplom-Kulturwirt”, a mixture-education in the fields of economics, law and the humanities which prepared students with success for a career in international institutions, organisations and enterprises in a complex word, calling for interdisciplinary studies. As regards the connection between theory and
practice the above mentioned models alongside with a curriculum prescribing internships and a series of university-business cooperation models Passau is also often quoted as one the universities with the best interference of practical skills with theoretical knowledge. This fact is supported by many initiatives and start-offs originating in Passau. An active and numerous alumni network organisation creates the context of mutual support and links even after graduating. More than 60 student groups reflect the richness and diversity of student life and the commitment of students for a long range of goals, apart their regular curricula. Many of these student groups have been the starting points of international engagement and careers. Most notably we should not forget to make a hint to the local group of RCDS which for long time was the biggest group per capita and the living example of how professional student representation can be, enriched by an international outlook. Walking in its 35th calendar year of operations, the University of Passau in early 2012 can relate to its excellent reputation and brilliant rankings. Its attractiveness is very high and not all of the applicants can be granted a place. For a new university, the set of achievements in this short time span is remarkable and a good example worth to be followed. As for the City of Passau we can conclude that the university was not only a simple mechanism to create jobs and moving people here. It was an unexpected stimulus to transform the random location and backward atmosphere to an open, inclusive and dynamic place with international contacts and with an ambition linking the world. The several student generations socialised in Passau serve as shining example how to overcome geographical narrowness and old patterns. They make Passau to a place of excellence, opening the borders and setting new horizons. Finally, Passau could thus become a central place in Central Europe, creating the Eur
COUNCIL OF EUROPE Anika Sonnenberg, EDS
Council of Europe The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, France. Founded in 1949, it seeks to develop common and democratic principles based on the European Convention of Human Rights and other reference texts on the protection of individuals. When you type “Council of Europe” into Google, about 9.960.000 results turn up within a quarter of a second. These days there is hardly a better way to illustrate its significance. Today, it is enforceable across virtually the entire European continent, with its 47 signatory states and 800 million citizens. Nonetheless, the Council has not always had as many members as today. In fact, it was established through the Treaty of London in 1949 by only ten countries: Belgium, Denmark, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Article 1 of the Treaty of London states that “The aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members for the purpose of safeguarding and realizing the ideals and principles which are their common heritage and facilitating their economic and social progress.” Thus it is clear that membership is open to all European states that seek European integration, accept the principle of the rule of law and are able and willing to guarantee democracy, fundamental Human Rights and freedoms. It is important not to confuse the Council of Europe with other European bodies, such as the European Union and its institutions such as the European Commission or the European Parliament. For instance, in contrast to the European Union, the Council’s member states do not transfer any national legislative and executive power to it. They rather commit themselves through
conventions and common political decisions that are developed together. These conventions, however, are not legally binding as EU are directives. Another difference between the European Union and the Council of Europe is that the latter is geographically wider, including states as Turkey and Switzerland which are not members of the European Union. The current leader of the Council is Thorbjørn Jagland from Norway and the Deputy Secretary General is Maud de Boer-Buquicchio from the Netherlands. The President of the Parliamentary Assembly is Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu from Turkey, the President of the Committee of Ministers Ahmet Davutoğlu from Turkey and the President of the Congress is Keith Whitmore from the United Kingdom. To enhance its effectiveness and productivity, the Council of Europe works through bodies such as the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. The Committee of Ministers is the decisionmaking body. It is made up of the ministers of foreign affairs of each member state or their permanent diplomatic representatives in Strasbourg. The Committee of Ministers decides Council of
COUNCIL OF EUROPE Europe policy and approves its budget and programme of activities. The Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) is the deliberative body and driving force of the organisation. The Assembly has initiated many international treaties, helping to create a Europe-wide system of legislation. Its members are appointed by the national parliaments of each member state. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities is the voice of Europe’s 200,000 regions and municipalities and provides a forum where elected representatives can discuss common problems, pool their experiences and develop policies. It works to strengthen democracy and improve services at local and regional levels. Furthermore, there is the Commissioner for Human Rights. As an independent body, the Commissioner is responsible for promoting education, awareness and respect for Human Rights in member states. He therefore plays an essentially preventive role. In addition the Conference of INGOs includes some 400 international Non Governmental Organizations (INGOs). It provides vital links between politicians and the public and brings the voice of civil society to the Council of Europe, whose work benefits extensively from the INGOs’ expertise and their outreach to European citizens. Last but not least there is the Secretary General. Elected by the Parliamentary Assembly for a five-year term, he is responsible for the strategic planning and direction of the Council’s work programme and budget and oversees the day-today management of the Organization. The Deputy Secretary General is also elected for a five-year term by the Parliamentary Assembly, in a separate election to the one held for the Secretary General. One of the most famous achievements of the Council of Europe is the European Convention on Human Rights from 1950. Nowadays, all 47
member states are parties to the Convention. The Convention created the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as a permanent judicial body which supervises compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights. In fulfilling this task, the Court is the highest European court for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms and is open to states and individuals regardless of nationality. For instance, European citizens who believe that their home country has violated their fundamental rights can go to the European Court of Human Rights. The Council is – as is typical for public international law – financed by its member states, whose contributions are calculated according to their number of citizens and their gross national product. For instance, the overall budget in 2011 was 217.000.000 Euro. To ensure transparency, the budget for 2012-2013 can easily be consulted on the official website. The official languages are English and French. Other working languages are German, Italian and Russian. Coming from all 47 member states, over 2 000 permanent staff work mainly in Strasbourg, but also in other offices throughout Europe, joined by many more temporary employees. The Council conducts a wide range of activities and boasts many achievements. Some of its special priorities are the following: It protects the rule of law and fosters legal cooperation through some 200 conventions and other treaties, including such leading instruments as the Convention on Cybercrime, the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism, the Conventions against Corruption and Organized Crime, the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human
Beings, and the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine. Moreover, the Council supports media freedom under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. In addition it protects democracy through parliamentary scrutiny and election monitoring by its Parliamentary Assembly. It also assists in democratic reforms, in particular though the Venice Commission. It promotes cultural co-operation and diversity under the Cultural Convention of 1954 and several conventions on the protection of cultural heritage as well as through its Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, Austria, and its North-South Centre in Lisbon, Portugal. The Council further promotes the right to education under Article 2 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights and several conventions on the recognition of university studies and diplomas. It also advocates fair sport through the AntiDoping Convention and the Convention against Spectator Violence. Finally, the Council promotes higher quality medicines across Europe through the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines and its European Pharmacopoeia. To sum up, it is clear that the Council of Europe has become one of the most important European institutions of our time. It serves as a forum for political debate about democracy, the rule of law and Human Rights in order to enhance the mutual understanding within Europe.