Page 1

The magazine of European Democrat Students

Political Communication In A Changing Media Environment — Engaging Young People With Modern Communication Strategies ARMENIA 4 MINSK II 5 PUTIN 6 XI JINPING 8 SYRIAN CIVIL WAR 9 360° VIEW – SOCIAL MEDIA 10



No. 72 | April 2018 | 56th Year | ISSN 2033-7809

Dear readers, I am delighted to introduce you to Issue No. 72 of BullsEye, the official magazine of the European Democrat Students. This issue, the fourth of working year 2017-2018, will also be the last of the year, before we take a break and come back after the forthcoming Summer University. Taking this into account, I believe it is the time for us to draw some conclusions. For Tommi Pyykkö, Vice-Chairman in charge of the publications, and myself, this working year came with many challenges: we had to build on our predecessors’ (Silvie Rohr and Henrique Laitenberger) successes, keeping up to their level of excellence while implementing some changes relating both to the content and the form of our magazine. As we are looking forward to receiving your feedback on the present issue, my assessment is more than positive. I have to admit we could not attain all our goals. Nevertheless, I write these words with a feeling of satisfaction, especially considering my apprehensions before taking the job. I would conclude on this by saying that BullsEye is like the European Union: A work in progress. This being said, we have prepared a very diverse set of articles for the present Issue. As we will be discussing Political Communication and Media at the Council Meeting in Riga, Sabine Hanger, Sarah Wolpers and Neil Smart Costantino explored several aspects of this fascinating topic, especially in light of the latest developments in the news with regard to fake news, and the now notorious Cambridge Analytica whose influence on the Brexit referendum must still be clarified. In relation to that, Henrique Laitenberger wrote on the role of identities and self-perceptions on Brexit. In the Current Events section, we will discuss the reshuffle happening in many countries with regard to their political regimes: next to Pavlina Pavlova’s article on the evergreen Vladimir Putin’s re-election in Russia, we have a piece written by Vladimir Kljajic on the ‘unseen since Mao’ power grab made by Xi Jinping in Beijing. We will enquire, thanks to Anna Mkrchtyan, on the Constitutional Reforms Armenia is implementing, and on the Lebanese Elections, as Ramy Jabbour interviewed Chantal Sarkis, Secretary General of the Lebanese Forces. Building on that, Desislava Kemalova and Aura Salla will share with us some thoughts on the State of Democracy. Finally, we could not avoid mentioning the small revolution happening in the Berlaymont’s corridor: after years of self-seclusion, the European Commission is taking steps to add some military green to its traditional blue. As Mattia Caniglia will tell us, the Commission will have a role to play in the new EU defence triad centred on PESCO, CARD and EDF. This long awaited role is also related to the ever increasing nexus between internal and external security in all fields, as Anna Zahariadou, Kristina Olausson and Carlo Giacomo Angrisano Girauta will tell us. As I reach the end of this Editorial, I want to thank our Chairman, Virgilio Falco, our Secretary-General, Tomasz Kaniecki, and the whole EDS Bureau for the opportunity they gave me to work on BullsEye. Finally, I thank Tommi Pyykkö and our Editors, Kristina, Sabine, Sarah, Maciej, Mattia, Neil, Ramy, Teodoras and Vladimir for the pleasure I had working with them. Ad Maiora!





BE ON 14





I wish you a pleasant reading, Julien Sassel BullsEye Editor-in-Chief

ISSN: Print: 2033-7809 Online: 2033-7817

PHOTOS: Àkos Kaiser, Unsplash, Pixabay

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Julien Sassel

DESIGN: Markus Konow PUBLISHER: European Democrat Students, B-1000 Brussels, Rue du Commerce 10 TEL: +(32) 228 541 50 FAX: +(32) 228 541 41 EMAIL: WEBSITE: Articles and opinions published in the magazine do not necessarily reflecting the positions of EDS, the EDS Bureau or the Editorial team.

EDS VICE-CHAIR FOR PUBLICATIONS: Tommi Pyykkö EDITORIAL TEAM: Mattia Caniglia, Sabine Hanger, Ramy Jabbour, Vladimir Kljajić, Maciej Kmita, Kristina Olausson, Neil Smart Costantino, Sarah Wolpers, Teodoras Žukas CONTRIBUTIONS: Anna Mkrtchyan, Pavlina Pavlova, Elie Obeid, Henrique Laitenberger, Desislava Kemalova, Carlo Giacomo Angrisano Girauta, Anna Zahariadou, Aura Salla.

Publication supported by the Erasmus + Programme of the European Union and European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe. The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsment of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Welcome to our last issue of BullsEye for this working year. After our Winter University in Krakow last February, EDS has been actively elaborating the EPP strategy that will lead us to win the next European elections of 2019. During the second week of March, with the EPP Group at the Committee of the Regions, we launched the Local Dialogues, in attempt to relate with the citizens in view of the electoral appointment. At the first appointment in Sofia, EDS took part in a meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and President Joseph Daul. Moreover, with the Director of the Election Campaign, Dara Murphy, we have embarked on a path that will lead our as-


Dear friends, sociation to the center of the activities for the next elections. With the choice of our Spitzenkandidaten in November and a campaign that will take place between our students. in our universities. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of BullsEye and the Editor-in-Chief Julien Sassel for the professionalism with which they have modeled our magazine. For now, please enjoy reading the new issue of BullsEye and keep in mind that the EDS Bureau is always interested in receiving feedback, hearing your ideas, and discovering more ways to proudly serve students across Europe. With my best regards,

Virgilio Falco Chairman of European Democrat Students

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


The Latest Reforms in Armenia: Legal and Political Aspects On 6 December 2015, the people of the Republic of Armenia said “Yes” to the Constitutional reforms. As a result, the system of governing was changed from semi-presidential to parliamentary, with a clarification of separation of powers. Both the political and legal responsibilities of State authorities were increased. The process is underway. Upon the appointment of the Prime Minister of Armenia in April 2017, Armenia will totally become a Parliamentary Republic. The word Constitution stands for the democratic institutions, for people who share the values of freedom, equality, lawfulness and independence. When adopting a constitution, every nation hopes that it contains all the guarantees and solutions for all situations, those expected and those that are not. According to the Constitution, Armenia adopted a Parliamentary way of governing. Throughout history, Parliamentary way of governing proved to be one of the most democratic, so Armenians believed it was their best choice. Parliamentary governance will be a solid base to meet both external and internal challenges, to build and maintain a developed country (providing a shift from being a developing country to becoming a developed one) with the predominance of the great idea of the Rule of Law. The main step has been made. The referendum held in 2015 showed the majority of Armenians’ willingness to the new changes, to the stability and to the improvement of the governing system. We believe that the parliamentary way of governing is a step forward to our future, where there is no place for uncertain decisions, suspicious actions and activities. We have chosen the way of sustainable development for every citizen living in or outside the borders of the Republic of Armenia (RA).


The Constitution is the essential legal act in the internal legal system of every country. It regulates relations

between the state and citizens, specifying the rules of accepted behaviour as well as the structure of state. Every contemporary Constitution has two main features: 1. To guarantee the main rights and freedoms of people and; 2. To provide the legal basis for the democratic way of state governing. The idea that Constitutions are adopted for a long period of time is true. However, we cannot take into the consideration the fact that legal relations are dynamic phenomena and are always changing in short periods of time. Such changes can sometimes result in a discrepancy between constitutional provisions and political reality. On the other hand, the norms of the Constitution  state the regulations that are no longer relevant and applicable to the current scenario. Constitutional reforms aim to maintain the stability of democracy and democratic values in general. The political campaign of “Say Yes to the Constitutional reforms”, was held not only by the ruling party but also by the other political parties, including several parties from the opposition. This fact shows that the importance and necessity of changes were realised by the major part of our society. Of course, the perception of “importance” is very much evaluative. Challenges that are important for one part of society may seem less important for other parts, but this was

not the case. This was a new start for forming a more democratic legal system which will be based solely on appreciating human rights as a dominating value. As a result of political changes, the political and legal responsibility of all three branches of power will definitely increase significantly. The separation between judicial, legislative and executive branches will be visible not only on paper, but also in practice, for the benefit of citizens in their daily life. The concentration of power will be limited and will not be focused in the hands of one political figure. The parliament will have more legal and political mechanisms to influence the decisions made by the governmental authorities. State body that will be elected directly by the citizens of Armenia will be the National Assembly, which will become the only representative body. Today we can say that the Parliamentary way of governing is already part of our reality. It means that strong authorities and a strong opposition, will sustainably increase the role of political parties as the main players in the political arena. These reforms were a step forward towards a better governing system, anticipating security and progress of our beautiful country. Nevertheless, we have to remember that the Constitution only gives people the right to be free and happy, but we have to make sure to take this opportunity.

Anna Mkrtchyan



Minsk II – Where are we now? The second agreement of Minsk should have brought peace in Ukraine, but it failed. The Moscow led conflict in South-Eastern Ukraine is still taking place, and there is no quick end to it. Finally, there is a necessity for United Nations peacekeepers to take South-Eastern Ukraine back to order, and to finish the ongoing struggle. In February 2015 German Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande brought Ukrainian President Poroshenko and Russian President Putin together in Minsk to settle a peace plan for the war in Ukraine. This was seen as a point of a breakthrough after more than half a year of bloodshed in South-Eastern Ukraine. The so-called Normandy format meeting produced a 13-point plan to secure a ceasefire in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and an agreement of political steps to end the conflict. The deal should have brought a restoration of full Ukrainian sovereignty and authority in the regions where Russian sponsored and patronised separatists were fighting a war against Ukrainian forces. Furthermore, the withdrawal of all heavy weapons, the formation of a security zone of at least 50km, the effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime by OSCE, and a revocation of all Russian armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine should have been implemented by Minsk II. Though, after more than three years since the Minsk II was signed, it still has not worked. While the ceasefire has been held at times, it periodically breaks down as shelling and fighting across the line of contact flare up. According to various sources, since Russia started the war in Ukraine in the Spring of 2014, more than 10, 000 lives have been taken. The meaningful questions are; why the Minsk II is still not fully executed and who is responsible for the ongoing conflict on Europe’s Eastern border? If the Kremlin wanted to end the fighting, it could have done so. Russian military officers control most separatist units,

who are the most active military force in South-Eastern Ukraine. Mr. Putin could force any reluctant separatist group to accept the ceasefire by cutting off the flow of funding, weapons, ammunition, and supplies on which they depend. Also, Moscow could have made the ceasefire stick by pulling back the heavy weapons operated by separatist forces. Neither of this has been done. From Ukraine’s side, the three years old Minsk II called for elections in the rebel-held areas under a special law Ukraine promised to pass, and then, the day after the elections, the re-establishment of Ukrainian government control over the Eastern border. Ukraine also promised to amend its constitution to give the Eastern areas a special status and to invest in the territories’ economic recovery. Attitudes in Ukraine toward Minsk II have hardened over the past three years, understandably given how the conflict has dragged on. Therefore, while not able to carry out domestic legislative reforms, last fall Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko submitted a Ukraine bill which disavows promises made in the Minsk II, which was passed by Parliament. Hence, today the Minsk II, as a Ukrainian diplomat put it, is “like a vinyl record on which the music has run out but is still rolling, hissing, making background noise.” THE WAY OUT

Seeing the inability to implement the Minsk II, American and European officials proposed an ambitious idea for a U.N. peacekeeping force that would have a broad mandate to protect civilians and return the breakaway region to Kyiv’s control as per the Minsk agreements.

According to the Hudson Institute, in order for the peacekeeping mission to be successful, about 20,000 or more high-quality forces should be deployed in the conflict area. Though there are many obstacles to that. Firstly, the primary challenge for any international force deployment would be the immediate security situation in Eastern Ukraine. Moscow would need to withdraw its own regular forces from the region and pressure the leaders of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) to accept the peacekeepers and wind up their own military operations. Secondly, there is the civic aspect. A full-scale international administration of DNR and LNR on the Kosovo model is unlikely to win Kyiv’s support. Finally, Ukraine would need to accept; a high level of international oversight of elections to the Ukrainian parliament in the DNR and LNR regions, stipulated by the Minsk II and also longer-term socio-economic re-integration efforts. The chances of a peacekeeping force successfully deployed to Eastern Ukraine are currently low, but here we need firm action from European leaders. Chancellor Merkel and President Macron should try to revive Minsk II, by pushing Mr. Putin to cut all aid to separatists and withdraw every single Russian troop from Ukraine’s soil. This would be a needed point to allow United Nations peacekeepers into the conflict and the best way to end what is Europe’s deadliest, ongoing conflict.

Teodoras Žukas

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Six more years with Putin – what’s next? After the country went to the polls on Sunday 18 March, few were surprised in Russia and abroad that Vladimir Putin won the elections. He has dominated the country’s political landscape for the last 18 years and has already ruled for longer than any Russian leader since Stalin. Putin nowadays is as much a symbol of Russia as the Russian bear, the matryoshkas or the two-headed eagle. He has monopolised the country’s political landscape and become the sole face of the country. From an external perspective, offending Putin means offending Russia, and when speaking about Russia’s next steps, one unavoidably thinks in realms of what will Putin do. Internally, the Kremlin’s decades of strict control over state media and all the country’s political processes have produced a situation where it is possible to complain about corruption or poor socio-economic situation, but where criticising Putin personally is close to be perceived as an act of treason. Even more so, after annexing Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, criticism of the government came to be regarded as unacceptable. While one can question the official numbers, Putin is genuinely popular and enjoys high approval ratings.


The problem comes when defining what support means, after nearly two decades of a personality cult. As well-known Putin critic and chess champion Kasparov puts it: I’m fond of asking in response to Putin’s “popularity”; is a restaurant considered popular if it were the only one in town and every other restaurant was burned to the ground?! Challenging Putin would only be possible if there was an alternative, but the consequence of nearly two decades of managed democracy is that there is essentially no viable political path for any alternative to Putin. As a result, a defining feature of Russian voters is, unavoidably, apathy. Supporters or not, if Putin will be elected anyway, why should I bother to cast my vote? The public has low expectations and as claimed in a survey by Levada centre, conducting the country’s only independent surveys, very few Russians believe elections are a realistic means of changing anything. As real competition is traditionally absent, the authorities focused on the turnout of the elections as a crucial indicator of the leader’s legitimacy. Putin needed a strong turnout to keep potential challeng-

ers far and supporters close. As long as he can show strong public support, his place in the Kremlin is assured. For now, the Kremlin’s elites can sleep peacefully, though the dreamed 70/70 scenario - a 70% vote for the incumbent Putin on a 70% turn-out didn’t come true. The 67.5% turnout was respectable and the just under 77% support over-fulfilled the quota. In comparison, in the previous elections the turnout was 65.25% and the support for Putin 63.6%. Putin overpassed even his best result from 2004 – in overall numbers, the second presidency was supported by about 50 million people, the fourth one by 56 million. The elections results are thus better than six years ago. Aside from suspicions about rigged votes, which comes with each election in Russia, one must conclude that deservingly so, Putin sustained the atmosphere of crisis and exploited various international scandals. He has built his popularity on a ‘them against us’ rhetoric and awakened the need for solidarity towards him among Russian voters. The politician who was at the beginning of his presidency in the


early 2000s, a pro-Western island in a sea of anti-Western Russian elites, is now riding on a wave of the notion that Russia is attacked from all sides. Investigations of the alleged election meddling in the West, the International Olympic Committee’s doping ban, and the United Kingdom’s accusation that the Kremlin ordered a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian double agent –are all strengthening Putin’s internal position by creating an environment of threat and diverting attention from internal matters. Who could question Putin if the West is questioning us, the nation, through him?! So, what is next for the country under the new old leader? In international politics, not much. Russian foreign policy has been often demonised, particularly after the annexation of Crimea and involvement in eastern Ukraine. But the basic line remains simple. As with all players in global politics, Russia will have to react to rapidly changing situations, trying to reduce its risks, exploit its gains and retain its conquests. Russian foreign policy is more likely to be risk- evasive than risk-taking. There will be no change in their policies on the troubled frozen conflict with their western neighbour stance, which was reiterated by the

fact that the date of the election was moved to correspond to the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. Putin is determined to preserve his image back at home as a guarantor of stability and minimalise risks of any external disruption. This does not exclude a possibility of expansionist politics as we have seen in the recent past, but such actions would be acts of diverting attention from domestic crises or reactions to unforeseen circumstances rather than crafted plans.

2024 when finishing his mandate, and the Russian Constitution allows only two consecutive terms for the President - will be defined by regrouping around potential successors. He may decide to seek elimination of the constitutional limit of two consecutive Presidential terms, reshuffle for taking the seat as a prime minister as he did in 2018-2012 or appoint, or nominate, a loyal successor and hold the power from behind – as the personification of guaranteed preservation of the system.

If Russia changes in the next election cycle, it will not be due to external pressure, but because of internal tensions. So, what does Putin’s re-election hold for Russian society, who has given Putin a carte blanche for another six years? With record-high turnout and support we could assume that Russia is heading for a long period of stability or stagnation, depending on one’s perspective, but while the outside world is focusing on Putin, the skilfully carved vertical scheme of power in Russia is about to face crucial re-organisation.

Putin must prepare Russia for life after him, but he will be doing so in an increasingly difficult environment. Postponed painful economic and social reforms must be introduced, and the odds are it will be accompanied by social unrest. In the meantime, more dominant side-line players will be emerging, trying to secure their grip on power and get more autonomy for themselves. As appetite always comes with eating, their loyalty and relationship with state will be shifting as they become bolder in the pursuit of autonomy. The crucial question for Europe’s security is thus not what another six years with Putin will bring, but what will be coming after him.

When Putin came to power, he introduced federal reforms, which created bases for a vertical power structure in Russia – taking power from regional leaders. What could be his last term – he will be 72 in

Pavlina Pavlova

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


The Middle Kingdom’s Emperor Xi Jinping and the end to term limits In March 2018, China’s National People’s Congress amended the Constitution and allowed the President to hold office for more than the 10 years which was put in force in the Mao Zedong era. Is this a step backwards from democracy or a step forward towards a more efficient way to govern one of the world’s power? Mr. Xi Jinping was born in 1953, in Beijing, to a Communist party leader who served as deputy Prime Minister in the late 1950s, but because of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in 1966, his father was purged and Xi had to start his life in a rural village far from Beijing. In 1975, Xi was allowed to return to Beijing where he started his studies, and party activism. In 2007, he was promoted to top leader of Shanghai, and in 2013 he took the President’s office. The transition from a provincial politician to China’s paramount leader was very fast. Nevertheless, today’s Xi often quotes Mao Zedong, which is a big contradiction, considering his family’s tragedy and his liberal economic policy. In March 2018, in a carefully choreographed gathering of the members of the Communist Party of China, Mr. Xi Jinping was re-elected as the President of China and Parliament removed Presidential term limits. During the speech of the Premier Li Keqiang, in his 45-page address, he mentioned comrade Xi Jinping 18 times followed by pro-government propaganda coverage that overwhelmingly endorsed the end of limits on life tenure. The narrative is that it will ensure the stability at the very top echelon of the Chinese leadership and that it’s not only good for China but also for the world. Mr. Xi Jinping, for now, has shown several faces to the world. From the protagonist of free trade, anti-corruption campaigning, the creator of the ‘’Chinese dream’’ and the promoter of Chinese nationalism but also a Mao-style rule when it comes to dealing with opponents and media freedom. In the recent-

ly released World Press Freedom Index, published by Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), China is ranked 176 out of 180 countries, just a few places above North Korea—and President Xi is referred to as; “the planet’s leading censor and press freedom predator.” The Washington Post published a very interesting article titled ‘’China sends its top actors and directors back to socialism school’’. In December 2017, more than 100 of the nation’s top filmmakers, actors and pop stars were gathered for a day in the city of Hangzhou to be told exactly what that meant in practice, and to study the spirit of the 19th Party Congress, where Xi gave that speech and set out his “Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” Cynics would call this dictatorship with Chinese characteristics. Many think that the concentration of power in the hands of one person is highly unstable and represents a serious step backwards. In 1982. Mr. Deng Xiaoping and lawmakers approved a new Constitution which introduced limits on life tenure, and limits on terms, emphasising on collective responsibility. However, as New York Times noted, Mr. Xi showed his intent to stay in power last year, by refusing to promote a potential successor into the new Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s most powerful body. China’s Autocratic system of governance definitely faces a new era, shaped into one man from a one-party rule to a oneman rule. Western systems have become a taboo in China in recent years. The New York Times reported that in March, some bars in Beijing said they have been told by the local police to not let in more

than 10 foreigners at a time until March 22, after the end of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp Parliament. Mr. Xi aims to lead China’s national rejuvenation, by rebuilding China’s military. The changes regarding to term limit are embracing more repressive tactics at home, and aggressive foreign policies abroad. China’s internal problems are becoming more acute. Tensions are rising. The Hukou system, that is a governmental household registration system is producing more and more inequality. This is because it limits where a person is allowed to live, especially if one is born into a rural hukou – attempting to change to a more attractive residence or to an urban hukou can be extremely difficult, if not impossible. There are an estimated 282 million rural migrant workers in China. Unfortunately, China looks nothing like the hopeful East Asian transition stories of South Korea and Taiwan. In his recent book, ‘China’s Future? (2016)’, China scholar David Shambaugh ranks two scenarios to be the most probable: Hard Authoritarianism or Soft Authoritarianism. Viewing Xi Jinping as a deeply conservative leader, he assesses that it is more likely that Hard Authoritarianism will continue to dominate. On a positive side, ending term limit is good for long-term planning because Mr. Xi is here to stay for the foreseen future. We got it wrong when we thought in something that the Dalai Lama said; ‘’China has to go along with world trends. That is democracy, liberty, individual freedom. China sooner or later has to go that way. It cannot go backward.’’, but it looks like it does not have to and it will not.

Vladimir Kljajic



Syrian Civil War – An Unforseen Future 7 years in to the Syrian Revolution, can Assad still rule in Syria? He might remain in power but ruling the country would be a challenge. More than half a million dead, 11 million refugees, cities burned to the ground, hundreds of billions of US Dollars in reconstruction bills and one of the biggest humanitarian crises the world has ever known weren’t what the revolutionaries of 15 March 2011, dreamed of. What they had once expected to be an ousting of the Assad Baath dictatorship regime, similar to what happened in “Tunisia”, turned over the course of the years into a bloody civil war that ravaged the country. Oppression of the revolutionaries in the early months, the insurgence of

Moving back to current day, Assad can’t keep control. It is true that Assad was able to gain back territories he had formerly lost, but he did so with the support of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah fighters and other militias, coupling his military actions with Russian vetoes within the United Nations. The country is irreparably divided, to a point where it is becoming more and more difficult to imagine a path of reconciliation, rebuilding and restoring governance with Assad in power. The Assad regime has not only breached the Geneva Protocol, but has also been involved in the use of other norms of war such as ethnic cleansing and sexual violence as tools of

ia, the Free Syrian Army, Islamists, Kurds and the infamous ISIS, and fighters don’t just disappear. To top all of that, the cost of rebuilding Syria is estimated to be 250 Billion USD according the United Nation’s Special Envoy to Syria, Staffan De Mistura, a bill that neither Russia nor Iran can afford with their current economic condition. Russia has been trying to push the European Union to fund the reconstruction in Syria but the EU doesn’t seem to show any excitement for it . At the same time, it doesn’t seem that International Organizations are eager to join hands with Assad in an effort to rebuild the country.

“THE ASSAD REGIME HAS NOT ONLY BREACHED THE GENEVA PROTOCOL, BUT HAS ALSO BEEN INVOLVED IN THE USE OF OTHER NORMS OF WAR SUCH AS ETHNIC CLEANSING AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE AS TOOLS OF REPRESSION.” ISIS, proxy wars and foreign interference mutilated a once hopeful revolution and broke the country’s social structure. Flagged with the use of barrel bombs in air strikes, chemical attacks, inhuman assaults on civilians and sieges among other things, the Syrian war proved to be a realistic representation of the saying; “the end justifies the means”. During the course of the years, the Syrian war saw the power balance shift between sides repeatedly, along with a continuous exchange of territories between different players. The major turning point in the war was September 2015, for it saw the first direct military involvement of Russia giving the Assad regime a competitive advantage over his less fortunate opponents.

repression. It is also worth noting that too many players are involved in the Syrian war. The United States for instance, had previously announced plans to have an open-ended military presence in Syria with the goal of ensuring the defeat of the Islamic State, countering Iranian influence in addition to helping to end the civil war. Turkey is pursuing its own plans in Syria, the Iranians and Russians won’t make things any easier and it is very unlikely that the Kurds will give up control of the autonomous territory they have gained. Although it is unlikely to happen, it is still probable that the country would slip into another Iraq. Aside from foreign forces, there are different groups fighting in Syr-

The United States can still play a major role in shaping the future of Syria, provided it adopts a more concise strategy towards the Syrian conflict and a different approach towards the players involved in it. Victory in warfare is defined by defeating your opponents. But in a complicated situation such as the Syrian War, with all the factors that come into play; foreign interference, proxy wars, victory remains a wish in the eyes of its beholder. While Assad might win, his ability to rule such a complexity that he helped create is a hopeful one-sided act, with the future of Syria remains unforeseen.

Elie Obeid

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Not Only Facebook And Twitter – A 360˚ View To Engaging On Social Media It takes approximately three interactions with a potential voter to get them to vote for you. Since the existence of the internet accompanied by social media, there is no evident difference between realising this interaction in person or on a virtual basis. It is undeniable that Social Media is the most important target platform for campaigning in impending elections. Despite the fact that various platforms are a major influential instrument, they are also fast-changing ones; thus, benefiting from it can be more challenging than anyone could imagine. The key to understanding and, furthermore, properly utilise different social media platforms is knowing their purpose. Upon that, this article focuses on trying to take a 360 degrees view on how to engage on the diverse Social Medias. FACEBOOK – GREATNESS COURTS FAILURE

In 2018 Facebook has around 2.1 billion active users, 1.4 billion users log into their account on a daily basis, out of those 277 million people from Europe. It is obvious that Facebook does influence our society, which makes it incredibly important for politicians and governments. It has never been that simple to get in touch and interact with candidates and elected officials than it is nowadays, and it has never been as easy for them to get immediate feedback and response to their demands. The aforementioned influence has an astounding high potential for not only genuine response but also entails the risk of fake profiles and news, which found its acme in the U.S. Presidential election in 2016. The scandal implemented a non-transparent company which created, without the knowledge of the actual Facebook-users, personal profiles based on the data stored in their accounts. Subsequently,


they created a customised display for the election of Donald Trump and spread fake information about Hillary Clinton – all while Facebook was watching. After the presidential election and the increasing pressure on Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, the company changed their algorithm. After changing its algorithm in order to provide their users more often with posts from their friends rather than companies, Facebook published a statement saying: “One of the most important things we do is make sure our services aren’t just fun to use, but also good for people’s well-being and society overall.” This already had an impact and will continue to have one in the future, simply because there are, on the one hand, tons of other platforms already based on the spirit Facebook was created in the beginning and is now trying to get back to. On the other hand, it keeps investors from putting money into the platform if their influence is being cut.

Another, even more, important challenge Facebook is facing, is to win the younger generation. Although the number of Facebook-users is increasing, the age of the users is also growing exponentially. To interact especially with younger potential voters, politicians are forced to engage with other platforms, precisely, one that is owned by Facebook: Instagram.


A platform which might be even more important than Facebook one day, although the concept could not be easier. Instagram started as a platform used only for photography and has developed into a medium where people get designated as “influencers” because of their tremendous impact on primarily the younger generation. In fact, for politicians, Instagram is not as easy to use as Facebook, principally because the communi-


cation between users is not necessarily something Instagram aims at.

front politicians, for example, with their statements on specific topics.

cle is simply that they are not made for political discourse at all.

This is probably the reason why the younger generation is preferring it; it is directed on presenting your life in the best way possible and being updated on all of your friends’ lives without actually connecting with them.

It is self-explanatory how the influence works indirect and how important this medium therefore for politicians is.

In the very moment, you are reading this article everything said on the topic could have changed, but there are a few general statements that can be mentioned and are seen as “golden rules” which every politically involved person should follow:

Still, it would not be owned by Facebook if there was not a way to pay for the influence one is trying to set. Of course, one can pay for an advertisement and therefore increase their coverage. Another element Instagram has accomplished better than Facebook is the use of Hashtags. With them one can, in a very simplified way, spread a specific message under only one word. The Hashtag #metoo is the perfect example of how to start a movement by using just one word. However, the famous hashtag was made popular by another platform: Twitter.


Twitter is probably the only medium on which the influence on potential voters is not guaranteed by interacting with them directly. Although the popularity, it is different in every country, actually, the average users throughout Europe are mostly not “the average Jane or John”, but people involved in the public and journalists who write about them. Compared to other platforms, Twitter is often quoted in articles and those 280 characters, which one is allowed to use per post, sometimes replace press releases. Especially since every journalist or interested person can easily con-

As mentioned before, the Hashtag was made popular by Twitter, not knowing how the “#” in front of a single word could crash the climate on any topic. The best and at the same time worst example was the Hashtag used in the British campaign against remaining in the EU, #Brexit. The main goal of the Hashtag is basically to gather various statements on a topic by just looking through the categorical sources set by a simple hashtag. Twitter is known as a platform where every politician needs to be signed up, and as long as there is no other medium where journalists and people from the public eye are clustered in one bubble, Twitter will continue being incredibly important in elections.


Predicting on upcoming trends in the world of social media is very much like gambling. The most favourite platforms of 2017 are WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and The last one was invented in the same year and is therefore without any comparative figures. Especially Snapchat, Whatsapp and YouTube, three platforms not mentioned in the article, do have an enormous impact on the lives of younger people. The reason why they are not mentioned in the arti-

1. The same rule that is valid for billboards while campaigning goes for posts – you have three seconds to get potential voters attention – keep your message simple. 2. The saying for Las Vegas applies for Social Media in the exact opposite way: What is put on the internet, stays there, forever. 3. As sorrowful as it might be for some enthusiastic politician – virtual interaction is becoming more and more important. It is an easy calculation: You meet 10 people on one day in person, turn them into 100 by posting what you told those 10. 4. 90% of the time all those media are used on the phone. As much as every camera specialist might hate this but the key word is “portrait format” – always. 5. And last but not least: Never post something after 10 p.m. on a Saturday. Young people are always on their phones, but they also like to go out.

Sabine Hanger

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Social Media: From Instruments Of Democracy To Threat To Democracy? The importance of Social Media has grown exponentially over the past couple of years. One of the most notable campaigns to change the way Social Media is used in Politics was undoubtedly the Obama Campaign. Unfortunately, where mankind is involved, every positive thing that exists can be exploited in the interest of the few. This has seen the use of Social Media, at times, threatening the basics of democracy. Back in May 2012, the BBC claimed that the world is going through a ‘Social Media Revolution’. The words, “The world is changing at a speed we could never have imagined before”, have never been so accurate. Long gone are the days of a piece of news spreading through the newspapers, or sometimes even through Television News Stations. In this field, Social Media has surpassed orthodox means of spreading news. People nowadays find it easier to follow the news via Facebook or Twitter. Quite frankly, it is easier this way. What people are forgetting, however, is that not all sources have the same levels of veracity, and this is where the threats to democracy start to arise. Social Media in Democracy however does have its good side. Taking the Arab Spring as an example, the video of the Tunisian Rebel can be said to have started the revolutions in the region. If it weren’t for social media, who knows what the situation in these countries would be today. When Social Media was still on the rise, it was more of a gamble for Politicians, and even Governments. Its impact was not tested, as a result, only a few politicians who were bold enough to take the risk and switch to social media campaigning, managed to make the most of it; case in point, a certain Barack Obama. As time went by, Governments were starting to use Social Media not simply to get elected, but also to maintain a relationship with their electorate. Even Government Services were being shifted towards Social Media, to make life easier for citizens. All of this was beneficial, with people feeling closer to the decision-making processes and in-

volved in the things that will in turn affect them and their loved ones. Political Participation was on the rise too. It’s not just political participation that was on the rise, but also the involvement of people. Politicians were going to Social Media for opinions, discussions and even to make announcements. A new platform was ‘created’ and everyone was making the most of it. Having negative comments on Social Media is the last thing that any Public Official wants. So, it can be said, that in a way, the public was becoming all the more empowered through social media. Gone are the days of sweeping things under the carpet – a one minute Facebook search will dig everything back up. Everyone can be ‘easily’ held accountable for what they do and say. Unfortunately, with the power of holding everyone accountable, problems started arising. A lot of people, even governments and politicians started exploiting the power of social media to push forward an agenda that may not necessarily be genuine. Given that Social Media was now a hot area, it became an opportunity for exploitation. The phenomenon of ‘Fake News’ is one of the main ways that Social Media is today being used as a threat to Democracy as we know it. If one had to take a look at the Presidential Elections of the United States, the Trump Campaign focussed a lot on this area. Through the rise in news sources, that were not as reliable as others, Mr Trump continuously attacked the main media stations, which were not as fond of the idea of him becoming President. His continued rhetoric that these outlets were spreading the so-called Fake News, influenced people so much so that they started doubting outlets such as CNN, and turning

against them. Meanwhile, other sources started pushing forward the agenda that the Trump Camp wanted, and this started increasing the idea of unverified news portals. The basic values of democracy depend on the freedom of media, and social media allowed for this to be exploited. Essentially, anyone can open up a Facebook or Twitter Page and spread the ‘news’ that they want. Problems start when this is either not verified, or biased towards someone, or an idea. The alleged meddling in elections is another threat to democracy. Meddling in elections may not necessarily be exactly on the electoral process, however, it can also be in influencing the way people think. The Russian Government in particular, employs people to take over Facebook Posts and control the commenting and the way a message is received. As a result, people in general will end up influenced by the way the general public is influenced. After all, it is human nature that if the vast majority is swayed towards an idea, many will find it difficult to go against it. While everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, in essence, this goes against democracy in the way that people’s ideas are manipulated. Around 10 years ago, Social Media can be said to have been viewed as a beacon for people to come together and interact. A few years down the line, with so many possible exploitation areas, it is becoming a huge threat to democracy as we know it. The main idea behind Social Media was initially to bring people together, however, over time, through the misuse of some influential people, it developed into a monster that no one wants to poke in today’s world.

Neil Smart Costantino



TV & Newspapers In Campaigning – Are They Still Worth It? The modernisation theory presents that technological progress influences political communication. Since the 2012 US Presidential election campaign there is the impression, that politicians and political parties are doing only digital campaigning. On the one hand, current data shows that over 271 million Europeans are daily active Facebook users. On the other hand, there is a decline in newspaper circulation. This has raised the question, whether television and newspaper are still useful in election campaigns. To put it more dramatically: Is it time to say goodbye to the traditional media channels? First of all, media functions as a bridge between politicians and the people. For that reason, media transmits political messages. However, the media can frame topics as well as the politician’s public image in a specific way. But, internet technologies have weakened the power of the so-called mainstream media, especially that of newspapers as gatekeepers and controllers of the political agenda. Parties and its candidates have little influence on the media coverage. Furthermore, editors, who work for newspapers or TV-channels, have a limited space for political coverage. It is for this reason, that media outlets only present what would be of interest to their audience. The use of newspaper and television only allows a one-way communication. On the contrary, social media offers the possibility of interaction between the political candidate and its electorate. In addition, on social media there is no editorial control. For that, there is also a more open space for political topics. Compared to campaign advertisements on newspapers or on TV, digital campaigning has lower campaigning cost. Thanks to big data, it is also possible for political parties to get their message across to voters. Through Facebook’s special algorithms, target posts can thereby help to go viral and reach huge parts of the online community. While TVSpots cannot address a specific voting bloc, is it via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media possible to provide an

election advertising for a target group. Due to social media users can get involved in campaigns as online supports by sharing and reposting political messages.

parties the space for their political messages. Because of that minor parties can appear larger and more credible online than they are in reality

Let’s shift from social media to the use of television in campaigning. Parties can place their campaign adverts on television. Furthermore, in nearly every European country there are TV-debates between the Spitzenkandidaten of the main political parties. On this occasion, the candidates have the opportunity to present themselves in a specific way. For example, as a person who understands the political topic or who has a policy solution in mind. The TV debate is the most important campaign event. Nevertheless, it is only once in an election campaign. If one compares the Europeans users first source for news, the TV reached 50 Percent according to a current YouGov study. It sounds quite high but if ones consider the daily television viewers there is a decline. This also applies to the newspapers recipients only 5 Percent named the media outlets as their first information source. The only news source which increased consistently was social media. About 36 percent of European mentioned the internet, including social media, as their first information source.

It is clearly that TV, as well as the different newspapers, are getting less important in campaigning. However, digital campaigning is not yet as effective as most people believe. The biggest successes of this instrument have been noted with the electoral group, the so-called “Digital Natives”, aged thirty and younger. This youth generation is growing up with the use of Internet including social media and they are very political in the Web. For that, it is important that traditional media and social media go hand in hand to reach the best outcome in every election campaign.

Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that social media has already some difficulties in politics. Firstly, because of the networking ability, so-called Filter bubbles arise. Also, social media gives radical and minor

Today, social media platforms have become invaluable in disseminating information, especially to the younger audiences. Instead, the print media and TV still provide millions of voters with their main source of election news. In the future, when the Digital Natives grow to become the largest electoral group, the digital world will become even more crucial to campaigning. For that reason, it is important for political campaigns to have a strategy which combines the traditional media as well as social media, to reach all constituents which their political messages.

Sarah Wolpers

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


No Man is an Island? The Historical Narratives Behind Brexit In one year, Britain will formally leave the European Union. So far, so simple, so regrettable, so inevitable. Yet as the withdrawal date nears, uncertainty remains over what kind of Brexit will come out at the end of the line – not least because Britain is still in a process of soul-searching after the shock of 23 June 2016. Often, the most revealing glimpses into a nation’s psyche are offered by artefacts of popular culture – and even more so their reception. To impute any ulterior motives to Christopher Nolan and Joe Wright in the production of Britain’s latest films to have the Second World War as their subject matter would be very much misguided: both Nolan’s “Dunkirk” and Wright’s “The Darkest Hour” were conceived long before that fateful referendum of 2016 on the United Kingdom’s EU membership. However, undeniably, both Oscar-winning flicks have tapped into popular sentiment in a United Kingdom whose politics are still consumed by Brexit. Dozens of newspaper columnists and politicians seized upon the depictions of wartime Britain in their commentary of the Brexit negotiations: historian Niall Ferguson thus claimed that Nolan’s feature was a timely reminder that Britain’s had already “made the best of worse jobs” and accused those clamouring for a very soft or even a reversal of Brexit of a “defeatism” akin to that of Winston Churchill’s Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax who

favoured a negotiated peace with Nazi Germany.1 On the other side, The Guardian columnist Ian Jack lamented that Nolan and Wright had (albeit inadvertently) further stoked the nationalist fever behind Brexit with their works.2 Tellingly, more than a critique of two impressive feats of cinematography, these interventions are a testimony to the issue dominating British politics and society after the referendum: what kind of country the United Kingdom is – and what it wants to be. Indeed, it was arguably more this question than that over continued EU membership that eventually stood at the heart the referendum campaign. The competing understandings of British history offer a lens through which the political establishment of the country presently interprets Brexit. One may call it the “idealist” and the “realist” school. The “idealist” narrative is that of the Brexiters, for whom the story of the British is that of a nation persistently earning the highest accomplishments against the odds thanks to the ingenuity and determination

of its people. Dunkirk and the subsequent Battle of Britain epitomise this idea, though its supporters recognise this leitmotif throughout Britain’s history: Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg was keen to stress this at the last conference of his party, drawing a straight line of Britain’s progress from the medieval Magna Carta via the battles of Agincourt and Waterloo to the liberal Reform Act of 1832 to exclaim: “We win all these things.” Underlying this elegy is the idea of a “distinctive character of the United Kingdom, rooted in its largely uninterrupted history since the Middle Ages”, as Cambridge historian David Abulafia put it.3 Logically, such a nation does not need the European Union to be “great”. The “realist” school, predominant among Remainers and (it must be said) academic historians, takes exception to this unqualified British exceptionalism. Whilst proud Britons in their own right, they see the history of the British Isles as one offering greater complexity and nuance, as an open letter signed by several hundred historians in response to Abulafia stresses:

1 Niall Ferguson, “It Is Not Our Finest Hour But Brexit Must Stand” (23/07/2017) - 2 Ian Jack, “Dunkirk and Darkest Hour fuel Brexit fantasies – even if they weren’t meant to”, The Guardian (27/01/2018) - 3 David Abulafia, “Britain: apart from or a part of Europe? The ‘Historians for Britain’ campaign believes that Britain’s unique history sets it apart from the rest of Europe”, History Today (11/05/2015)



“BRITAIN’S PAST – AND, THEREFORE, ITS FUTURE – MUST BE UNDERSTOOD IN THE CONTEXT OF A COMPLEX, MESSY, EXCITING, AND ABOVE ALL CONTINUOUS INTERACTION WITH EUROPEAN NEIGHBOURS AND INDEED WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD.” “Britain’s past – and, therefore, its future – must be understood in the context of a complex, messy, exciting, and above all continuous interaction with European neighbours and indeed with the rest of the world.”4 Dunkirk and the ultimate victory over fascism were in this reading owed to more than mere determination not to surrender, but Britain’s success in forging an alliance with the United States and the Soviet Union. That Britain’s finest moments often yielded their greatest fruit in cooperation with other peoples and nations is key to this counter-narrative, championed in the political arena by former Prime Minister John Major amongst others. One can see how in their eyes Wright and Nolan, who has stood accused of understating if not omitting the role played by soldiers from France and the British colonies in Dunkirk, might be seen to buttress an exaggerated and reductionist ideal of British exceptionalism that many believe to have toxified the political discourse in the country and made Brexit possible. All these musings might seem, in and of themselves, far removed from the daily grind of the negotiations currently ongoing in Brussels under the aegis of Michel Barnier and David Davis. Yet it is instrumental to understanding the sluggish progress made thus far on

Brexit: until June 2016, both visions of Britain were in an uneasy coexistence, with the realists usually standing at the levers of power, whereas the idealists dominated the Tory backbenches and especially (though not exclusively) the right-wing publicist sphere. Ever since the EU referendum however, the idealists and realists have been competing for control over the nation’s future path. Within the UK Government, this struggle has become even more precarious ever since the Tories lost their majority in the 2017 General Election – a defeat that has pitted the committed Brexiters of the European Research Group (ERG) against the pro-European Tory parliamentarians of the so-called Team 2019. Both rebel groups have made full use of their power to force conflicting policy choices upon a Prime Minister presiding over a minority government, though the political momentum remains firmly behind the ERG and their allies in the Cabinet: they were the ones who set the country on course for a hard Brexit that would divorce the United Kingdom from the Customs Union and the Single Market. Fully within the romantic tradition of their view of British history, the Brexit idealists believe that Britain’s exceptionality alone guarantees a successful post-Brexit future to the United Kingdom.

That same belief underpins the conviction that the EU might eventually agree to a bespoke deal on the UK’s terms, even if it were to contravene the EU’s legal order. Their understanding of British history compels most Brexiters to believe that the only thing standing in the way of a successful Brexit agreement as they imagine is not political interest, but a European Union ideologically committed to refusing to accept Britain’s ability to succeed on its own. What Europe needs to understand about Brexit is that, at heart, it is not about the European Union – but Britain’s sense of herself. The divide runs between those who see the United Kingdom as a great power with a historic legacy that predestines it to further greatness and those who see Britain as a (globally speaking) medium-sized country whose greatest moments were owed to the international cooperation it championed and now needs to compete and sustain itself in a globalised world. A comprehensive post-Brexit deal in turn can only become possible once the Brexiters forsake their romanticism and engage with the realities – in Britain and in Brussels.

4 Various authors, “Fog in Channel, Historians Isolated - An open letter in response to the Historians for Britain campaign”, History Today (18/05/2015)

Henrique Laitenberger

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Interview: Chantal Sarkis On Lebanese Elections Chantal Sarkis was appointed secretary-general of the Lebanese Forces, becoming the first woman to hold the post in a major Lebanese political party. Hailing from the northern Akkar town of Al Qubayyat, Sarkis spent seven years as a political affairs officer at the United Nations. DR SARKIS. MORE THAN 1 YEAR FROM YOUR APPOINTMENT AS THE LFP SECRETARY GENERAL. YOU ARE THE FIRST WOMAN TO HOLD THE POST IN LEBANON AND MAYBE IN THE MIDDLE EAST. HOW CAN YOU EVALUATE YOUR WORK UNTIL NOW?

First of all, let me tell you that Dr Samir Geagea’s (LFP President) move to appoint me as Secretary General of the LFP was not the result of any pressure from the civil society groups, or a step to seek female quotas in the party. In our party, we believe that any qualified person should hold major responsibilities regardless of his/her gender. I am very grateful to have been appointed as Secretary General due to my qualifications in my political career. Frankly, I didn’t face any obstacles for being a woman in my leadership position in the LFP. Moreover, I would like to send a message to all



We are very glad to have the Parliamentary Elections in Lebanon in a few weeks’ time. The new proportional law will improve the representation of all the sectarian groups in Lebanon, especially minorities. The proportional system was not easy to agree on with Lebanon’s diverse confessions, political parties and regions. Regarding the results, I don’t believe that Hezbollah and their allies will have a majority in these elections as many are arguing. Most probably, no specific bloc will have a real major-

ity in Parliament. For the LFP, we are expecting an improvement and a bigger parliamentarian bloc. I believe that the LFP will be one of the few parties that will have a bigger bloc in 6 May 2018. WHAT ARE THE LFP’S MAIN SLOGANS IN THE COMING ELECTIONS? CAN YOU GIVE US THE MAIN FOCUS OF THE LFP CANDIDATES?

Sarkis: Our slogans and messages mainly concentrate on two important ideas. The need for a “strong state” and not “a state within a state”. We believe that the presence of Hezbollah militias all over Lebanon and their interference in the regional affairs (ex: Syria, Yemen etc.) are diminishing the role of our state and disturbing its relations with several countries. We will make sure to keep on resisting Hezbollah’s attempt to control our peoples’ decisions in all means. Another issue that is tackled in our slogans is the need



for transparency in the public sector. I am very glad to tell you that our current Ministers are playing a big role in promoting transparency and curbing nepotism in the government. We are sure that our success stories in the Ministries of Health, Information, and Social Affairs will continue after the parliamentarian elections.


We are really thankful for the International support in general and specifically for the EU’s continuous support to Lebanon. As it is well-known, Lebanon is facing different challenges due to the big influx of Syrian refugees into its territories in addition to the terrorist threat on our borders. These conferences are needed to bolster financial support. However, our government should work in

parallel to solve essential concerns that are holding our economic development back. For example, only supporting the State with additional soft loans without securing real reforms and fighting corruption will increase the deficit of the treasury and public debt. Large reforms that go beyond reducing the budget deficit are essential to get out of the financial crisis and regain the international donors’ trust; these include structural reforms in the Lebanese economy and public finances, in addition to reforming the electricity and other sectors. I am sure that the international community and specifically the EU will continue supporting our country, but we should make sure to lower the budget deficit, increase private public partnership and privatisation to regain the donors’ trust. MOVING TO THE REGIONAL ISSUES, SYRIA IS IN A STATE OF WAR AND A LOT OF STATES IN THE REGION ARE FRAGMENTING. WHAT ROLE DO YOU THINK THE EU SHOULD PLAY IN THIS REGIONAL TURBULENCE AND TO COMBAT TERRORISM?

ticated weapons. Even chemical weapons are being used against civilians, only a few kilometres away from our country. I believe that the international community and the EU should play a bigger role in Middle Eastern affairs and mainly, Syria. It is time to pressure the Syrian President to sit on the negotiation table. The EU’s concern regarding the threat of ISIS and other terrorist organisations is very understandable. However, I don’t believe that the military eradication of these organisations will totally remove their presence. If we don’t find a way to have inclusive systems for all the confessional groups in Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, then many of the excluded people will turn to the terrorist organisations. As long as a dictator regime like the Syrian regime headed by Bachar El Assad remains in power without any international pressure, we should expect the rise of another form of ISIS.

I am very concerned about the developments in Syria and other neighbouring countries. Hundreds of children and civilians are being killed daily with sophisRamy Jabbour

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Is there room for European Islam? Western Europes’ growing Muslim population has been the focus of debates on issues stretching from immigration policy to cultural identity to security. Many incidents have increased tensions between Western European states and their Muslim populations. The question of “The Islamisation of Europe” began to be especially raised after the increasing activities of Islamic Jihadist terrorist organisations in Europe such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The European States and the Muslims communities are facing similar question: To what extent will the Muslim identities and practices integrate into the European political and social life, and is there room for a European Islam? The current presence of Muslims in Europe can be traced back to their migration history to the continent since the end of World War II. Many of the Muslims especially from North Africa and Asia migrated to Europe for economic reasons and due to the European decolonization. The labor immigration in mid-twentieth century was facilitated by bilateral agreements between Western European states and Mediterranean counties with large volumes of Muslim populations. The conflicts in Bosnia, Algeria, Afghanistan and Syria, in addition to the difficult economic situation in many counties, have increased the number of Muslims in Europe coming as refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers. The challenge for the “liberal democratic Europe” by Islam started with the rise of the non-violent Islamist ideology. Moreover, the notion of the strict separation between state institutions and religious ones is rejected by Islam while accepted by Christians. The main difference between the two religions is the Islamic perception of their religion

as a basis for law and a way of life. Therefore, the preachers of the ‘’islamist ideology’’ are benefiting from this difference in perceiving the religion’s role. In addition to this, the identity crisis of young Muslims in Europe to pushes them for the “Islamisation of Europe”. Furthermore, a few Muslim-majority countries finance Islamist ideologies as part of their contention with the modern liberal world. The question of Islam’s ability to engage in European societies cannot be denied but should be tackled for the sake of the Muslim population and European society. Developments have so far shown the success of many Muslims adapting to their European surroundings. This is especially evident in the third Muslim generation in Europe, who learned the different languages to adapt. On the other hand, several reports mentioned that the rise of Islamism and precisely Islamist extremism in Europe is linked to several Gulf countries. As an example, William Patey, who served as London’s envoy to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 2006 to 2010, said that Saudi Arabia is responsible for promoting a hardline branch of Sunni Islam known as Salafism or, more specifically, Wahhabism, that have the potential to pave the way for individuals joining militant Islamist groups. The increasing number of Muslim preachers adopting the Salafist school of Islam will possibly lead to the support of a

large part of the Muslims to the “Islamisation of Europe” and the imposition of their values and customs on European society. In conclusion, the populist slogans and the actions of the far-right and xenophobic political parties will not lead to the disappearance of the “Islamist threat’’ to Europe, but will give this ideology a legitimacy in isolating the Muslim population in European countries. On the other hand, the danger of radical Islamist ideology in Europe, which has shown its ability to destabilize several European capitals, should not be underestimated. Moreover, the idea of integrating the Muslim society in Europe is not as easy as a mission as is expected by many European politicians. The best thing that the European leaders can work on, is to develop a plan to counter the Islamist extremist ideologies in Europe in parallel to their support for the change and the willingness for openness by Saudi Arabia’s current leadership. Some mosques with radical Islamist preachers are becoming refuge for many Muslims who are not feeling integrated into the European society. Therefore, by striking the Islamist radical organisations in Europe, who are promoting anti-integration stances, can contribute to a growing integrated and peaceful Muslim community in Europe as opposed to a society posing a threat to the future of Europe.

Ramy Jabbour



Corruption Of Democracy: When Rights Are Being Taken For Granted Throughout the history of human civilisation, men have never ceased to fight for rights and liberties. Since the dawn of democracy, there has been a perpetual struggle for more vast opportunities and instruments for shaping one’s reality. Let’s take a look at a brief retrospective of how the idea of human rights evolved on the European continent throughout the centuries. While the ‘rule of the people’ (literal translation of the Greek δημοκρατία) did come into being as a notion in the Classical Antiquity (around the 6th – 5th century BCE), there are more than a few reasons to attach a certain conditionality to the term. Suffice it to say that slaves in the Greek city-states did not have the status of citizens and were, in many respects, treated as objects rather than persons. It should also be noted that there was a significant difference in the status of the representatives of different social castes (clergy, militia, etc.). It is surely beyond doubt that the contemporary concept of human rights emerged with the Christianisation of Europe. The philosophy that man was created in the image of God carries in itself the idea that every human being is divine-like. Moreover, the concept of the immortal human soul makes the dif-

ferences in the social status appear less significant. On the other hand, the doctrine of the divine right of kings became a justification for absolute monarchy – a form of government which rests on the understanding that the monarch’s power is limited only by God’s justice. Therefore the people (subjects) cannot enjoy rights which limit the monarch’s autocratic power. Gradually the monarchy began to make concessions in favour of the Church, the nobility and eventually the individual citizens (‘subjects’). A pioneer document of foremost importance in that regard is considered to be The Charter of Liberties signed by Henry I of England which later became the basis for the historical Magna Carta Libertatum. Of course, these rudimentary documents were mostly meant to put an end to the excesses of the monarchs, to provide subjects with a minimum protection and to ensure the non-violation of at least the most basic of the individuals’ interests. In more recent times, i.e. the last couple of centuries, human rights have been proclaimed in different political documents throughout Europe and the US until their incorporation gave them a more global status in acts of interna-

The official magazine of European Democrat Students

tional law. As per the theory developed by Professor Karel Vasak of the International Institute for Human Rights and largely accepted in European legal doctrines, there are three generations of human rights. According to this theory, first-generation rights are the civil and political ones which include supremacy of the law and equality before the law, the freedom of speech and beliefs, the right to a fair trial, the presumption of innocence and the voting rights, among others. Second-generation rights are of economic, social, and cultural nature, such as the right to education, the right to employment, the right to healthcare, the right to social security, etc. The most progressive of human rights developed as late as the second half of the 20th century – those of the third generation – including the right to an ecological environment, the communication rights, the right to participation in cultural heritage et al. One quickly notices that historically the political rights’ establishment precedes that of the social and economic ones. The chronological order of the human right’s enshrinement in different political documents reflects the prioritisation of the rights in the societies’ value scale.


Let’s now take a closer look at the voting rights. In the European continent and the United States, the struggles for the right of suffrage and candidate eligibility have gone through many stages before achieving the ‘universal suffrage’ (although this term is not completely accurate) a.k.a. ‘universal adult suffrage’ that the societies from the European civilisational model enjoy today. Initially, the right to participate in the political life was restricted to male citizens of certain social status and estate, in some countries only to those pertaining to a certain religion and in some, namely in the US, to a certain race. Historically the property restrictions were abolished first. In France, the ‘suffrage censitaire’ was de jure replaced by the ‘suffrage universel masculin’ as early as 1793 (although it became applicable in the Second Republic – 1848). In the US the last state to abolish property-related restrictions to voting did so in 1856. In the United Kingdom, the ownership of property as a prerequisite for exercising voting rights was not completely abolished until as late as 1918 when the first Representation of the People Act was issued. Granting voting rights to both sexes though took more time. As a result of the decades-long struggles of the women’s suffragists, a franchise in the United States was extended to women on a federal level with the 19th amendment to the American Constitution, 1920. In the United Kingdom, ten years after the breakthrough of 1918, came the Representation of the People Act of 1928, also known as the Equal Franchise Act which included the representatives of both sexes in the electoral body. Voting rights


And so I can’t help asking myself – are we worthy of what our predecessors fought so ardently to give us?

subject to manipulation to this day. Some of the most common forms of unlawful interference with the electoral process include the use of phantom voters, voter intimidation – most often at the workplace, vote-buying, misrecording of votes, indirect violation of the secret ballot, and tampering with the electoral results. In recent years, workplace intimidation has been a powerful factor for swinging votes in the countries of Eastern Europe, especially in regions with high level of unemployment and poverty where the same employer employs the large part of the population of a town or village. The latter is usually a political dependant oligarch become a quasi-feudal lord. The financially dependent people, who usually live on the brink of poverty, for fear of losing their jobs, exercise votes under duress, suppressing their actual political preferences. What I consider an even greater blow to democracy is vote-buying since it involves the voluntary participation of voters who don’t act under threat or coercion but simply waive their democratic rights in exchange for monetary compensation. Although this considered a criminal offence in most jurisdictions, it is a crime much harder to discover since both parties act as accomplices and there is little, close to no likelihood of one reporting the other.

Electoral fraud or corruption of democracy has been known to exist throughout Europe and the US for centuries. Although it is true that most of these malicious practices have been forsaken in the larger part of the contemporary Western civilisation, we cannot and should not ignore the fact that in some countries of Eastern Europe, especially post-communist ones, elections are

Video materials showing the whole process of manipulation have been recorded with hidden cameras and broadcast by the media countless times after thorough journalistic investigations with reporters working undercover for months. This kind of footage has shown us atrocious sights, including threats of firing or withholding salaries and giving instructions to vote for specific parties

were granted to women in France almost a century after the property restrictions were repealed – only after the Second World War. It is not without a certain shame that we must note the fact that the racial discrimination in the US was at long last put to an end as late as 1965 with the Voting Rights of 1965. This brief historical analysis leads to a number of conclusions. Generations of people have dedicated their lives to the struggle for equal inclusion of as many human beings as possible in the political processes. Not so long ago our close ancestors have been discriminated against based on the social class they were born in, on the amount of property they owned or just because of the body they were born with. It is fair to say that without the political inclusion of the vast majority of adults, the later human rights probably would never have come to be recognised as such. The right to be a part of decision-making and therefore in a small way to shape one’s and one’s children’s present and future was the life crusade of so many people who realised that one could only live with dignity if one’s opinions and beliefs matter.


or candidates; the ‘negotiations’ for the ‘price’ of the vote and the guarantees that are to be given in order to prove that the voter’s part of the deal has been carried out. The very recent presidential elections that took place in Russia did not go without an abundance of such cases, also thoroughly recorded and broadcast. The deviations from the electoral process that we witnessed make me shudder at the thought that the President of the Russian Federation is a world force to be reckoned with. What saddens me more is that such malicious practices are not uncommon in some parts of our European Union either. We may seek the origins for these actions in many places. Certainly, faults in the national legislation can be found – either in preventing or in punishing such deeds, or both. The low economic status of some of the voters can be an explanation or even an attempt at justification of their actions. One might blame the EU institutions for not interfering enough when the inconvenient and unseemly truth is being mercilessly shoved into our faces. Whereas all this may be more or less true, I am inclined to search deeper into the roots of these abominations. The wonderful achievements of Western civilisation are irrefutable. It is beyond doubt that never in the history of humankind have people lived better than they do in the contemporary Western societies. Never has such a huge majority of the people enjoyed so many privileges. The average person today lives a longer, healthier, easier, and more

fulfilled life than the majority of the people on the European continent a few decades ago. A couple of generations now have been born in peace and have never known the horrors of the wars. The totalitarian regimes that governed parts of our continent until only thirty years ago seem to have been quickly forgotten as we now happily enjoy our rights and liberties – expressing opinions freely, being different and unique, and making personal choices that were forbidden to some of our grandparents. People today are so much accustomed to these social benefits that, alas, they are sometimes prone to take them for granted, and when one takes something for granted, they will stop cherishing it, which may easily lead to them being deprived of it. The unfortunate conclusion that can be legitimately drawn is that many people throughout Europe now have ceased to appreciate the opportunity to be a part of the political processes governing their society. Another proof for this is the low civic activity, especially among the young people. Is it paradoxical or is it natural that something that was forbidden and restricted was much more aspired, fought for and cherished than it is now when it has become universally accessible and guaranteed (in some countries even mandatory, at least de jure)? And whereas withholding from voting may be considered an immature, foolish or irresponsible behaviour, exercising de facto voting rights without investing an actual polit-

ical will in the act is purely cynical, and has a deeply demoralising effect on society and makes a mockery of the fights and struggles of our predecessors. Especially in an era when education is universal, free, guaranteed by the state, and mandatory, it is unforgivable to cast a ballot without the minimum diligence of informing oneself sufficiently to make a conscious choice, rather than exercise somebody else’s will as a mere pawn incapable of judgement and discretion. ‘Selling’ one’s vote for money, per se, is a phenomenon which can make me doubt the very foundations of modern democracy. I personally, as a citizen, feel disgusted, insulted and betrayed by the fact that there are people who are willing to sell their share in deciding my future for a meal’s worth. I don’t have the answers to the many questions I raise. I don’t have the solutions to the many problems that I name. I can only strive to raise the awareness of these issues with the deepest hope that if more people come to realise the jeopardy in which democracy is, we would be able, together, with common efforts, to save this most precious of civilisational achievements so that we, and our children, and their children after that, can continue to enjoy it and be proud to call ourselves Europeans.

Desislava Kemalova

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


The Case For A European Intelligence Agency “It is only the enlightened ruler and the wise general who will use the highest intelligence of the army for the purposes of spying, and thereby they achieve great results.” — Sun Tzu The European Union is on the verge of a dramatic choice: what role do we want to play in the world? There are no easy answers to such a question, nonetheless, if we assume that the EU is driven by the purpose of preserving its status as champion in the democratic and freedom fields, the answer is easy. We need to embrace the idea that

to defend Tallinn (used again as a mere example). Of course, the odds would have changed dramatically but they failed. A lack of ballistic missiles and poor intelligence, led to a coalition of European countries to face defeat in Libya. Luckily for them, Secretary Clinton came to help. Now the political situation has changed and we cannot predict if the Trump administration will

intelligence agencies around the Old Continent, with operatives specialised in a variety of fields due to their countries’ challenges. The main problem of having an intelligence system like that, with its only European arena in the Europol, is the lack of communication. In the intelligence community, communication is the basis of everything. Only one representative per coun-

“AT THE END OF THE DAY, WHY DO YOUNG AMERICANS HAVE TO DIE ON FOREIGN SHORES BECAUSE THEIR ALLIES DO NOT WANT TO SEND THEIR OWN PEOPLE TO BATTLE?” our current deterrent power is derisory. The only deterrent power the European nations have is Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, but there is a question, that it is not as clear as it used to be: is the President of the United States sacrificing DC to save Tallinn? In 2011, Sarkozy and Cameron tried to show that it was not a bipolar world anymore, from the defence perspective, but rather if we were ready to sacrifice Paris and London

give the same contributuions. At the end of the day, why do young Americans have to die on foreign shores, because their allies do not want to send their own people to battle? If we want to avoid triggering the situation where this question arises, or if we want at least to be certain of the outcome of this question, Europe has to enhance its military cooperation. This strategic decision is not comparable, from a logistical point of view, to the ultimate goal of having a European Army and yet the impact would be similar. We dispose of advanced

try takes a seat at the table and we are not even talking of military intelligence (at least not the whole of it). Just thinking of what a EIA with all these brave operatives working together, is a different picture then just 28 (soon 27) delegations in the same place with different interests. Our intelligence capabilities are not deficient but insufficient, and it is only up to our governments to decide if they want to meet the challenges of the 21st century world or not.

Carlo Giacomo Angrisano Girauta



European Police Cooperation A Hit Or A Miss? By the time that the conversation about further European integration became more and more intense, police cooperation was always a point on the agendas of those that would passionately be in favour of a common defence policy. Immigration and refugee flows, terrorist attacks, border security and other issues of high demand, brought common European police to the fore, with the idea to be characterised as a necessity from some and as an impossible scenario from some others. But what is the reality of this topic? What does truly common European police mean? Does it have a further potential or is it just a utopic idea of those who envisage the United States of Europe? To begin with, as police cooperation can be characterised the cross–border cooperation (under the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice) which ensures the control and guarding of the European borders. This has to always comply with the fundamental human rights and for the most part when it comes to serious crimes such as drug smuggling, trafficking, terrorism etc. Responsible for policy making regarding police cooperation is mainly the Commission and the member states, while the Parliament is merely consulted. The main European bodies for this aim are Europol, CEPOL, COSI and EU INTCEN, while more European agencies such as Eurodoc, FRONTEX, HERA have been founded for the same purpose. But in order to investigate the deeper meaning of police cooperation, we should take a closer look at the roles of those bodies. Do we have a European police system? While Europol, the most fundamental part of this cooperation, as an EU agency since 2001, helps national (police) authorities to function more effectively and exchange cooperation between them, its authority re-

mains limited, as it does not act like a law enforcement agency. CEPOL functions as a college for European officers, while at the same time the role of the Standing Committee on Operation on Internal Security (COSI) remains most likely on the consultancy level with its mission to be giving general directions and recommendations. Last but not least the European Union INTCEN, as a part of EEAS, assists in the police cooperation by evaluating the already provided by intelligence services data regarding terroristic plans. What we can extract from the above information, is that although the EU has developed a significant system towards police cooperation, it certainly lacks forces of repression. Still, and despite the fact that EUROPOL has made great steps towards investigation and cyber-crime (having now the ability to take part in investigation teams and to ask Member States to initiate criminal investigations) it has no right to make arrests or act like a law enforcement individual, as this right remains under the power of national authorities. A number of deadly terror attacks pushed the issue of further action higher up the agenda. EUROPOL also obtained the right to set-up specialised units for special threats, lay down the rules and provide a more robust data protection regime, enhanced governance and greater accountability for the agency. In addition to this, it increased its authority with respect to terrorism, cooperating as well with third–countries and non–EU bodies. The same problem was also brought up numerous times by the European Parliament, which underlined the necessity of further effectiveness of police cooperation, which in the European Parliament’s opinion is still at a very early stage. But is this true? Is it possible for the EU to have a more effective and real, law enforcement agency?

What would that mean for the EU and the Member States? It is true, that after various massacres all over Europe, many stalwarts of the European integration supported the creation of a European FBI – a law enforcement agency with real forces of repression, capable of executing arrests and detaining terror suspects. This does not necessarily mean that the union should establish a brandnew agency, responsible for the security of its citizens - it could simply mean giving the already existing body, EUROPOL, increased powers, as explained above. This idea, despite the support of many, in a period that Europe faces its most phobic times, also brings many concerns to those who still support the powers of the sovereign Member States. In the case that this scenario is implemented, it would automatically mean that the Member States would assign another part of their powers to the level of the European Union, at a time where Euroscepticism and euro criticism are on the rise. For many; “it would be scary to have police officers walking around, without them following the orders of the state.” On the other hand, considering that it is quite obvious that Member States themselves have failed to provide security to their own citizens – let alone to the citizens of the rest of the EU – further police cooperation fundamental, to say the least. In any case, in a complex system of 27 countries, where each decision affects the rest, something more needs to be implemented not only for the sake of the citizen’s security, but also for the security of the EU itself. And who knows? A step like this could easily be the precursor for further common European security policies.

Anna Zahariadou

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Democracy In Our Hearts – Building The Future Of Europe Aura Salla is working in the European Commission’s in-house think thank European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC), which reports directly to the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. She was involved in the making of the White Paper on the Future of Europe that was published in March 2017. Before joining to EPSC, she worked as a Member of Cabinet and Communications Adviser of Jyrki Katainen, European Commission Vice President responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness. She has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, a Sergeant in the Finnish Air Forces and in her childhood she named her dog after the European Currency Unit, ECU. We often refer to western values and the values of the European Union in our speeches. But today our most basic value – democracy – appears to be in crisis. For us, for Europe, democracy is everything. Undoubtedly, we are the most democratic continent in the world. We live in an era of disruption to politics and society. There are increased levels of anxiety and perception of threats, a decrease of trust and a growing polarisation. Democracy – as a mechanism to mediate between different groups in society for the common good – is under pressure – internally and externally, even in Europe. In 2017, the European Commission proposed five scenarios for the Future of Europe, in its White Paper. The idea was to bring forward the proposals as discussion points for EU leaders and citizens to get a clearer idea of the direction they want the EU take. Now, in Spring 2018, we can say that the approach exceeded expectations. The White Paper has been widely welcomed and seen as a positive move by researchers, experts, politicians as well as the public audience. The call for unity – rather than the scenario of a more multi-speed Europe – has been embraced widely. Of course, there were also critical voices. But

when expressing criticism, one should always bring to the table a better solution.

support from reasonable opinion leaders around the continent.

The discussion is ongoing, and we need to reduce the strong East-West, SouthNord divide and start thinking from a European perspective to bring in stability, growth and prosperity, as well as create a strong shield against the new threats we are facing in our societies. Citizens’ ability to discuss European issues is sometimes undermined. The EU needs to build trust through direct discussions and concrete actions. For example: How can the EU react faster and better on global issues? How can the Schengen area and the Eurozone be made so strong and attractive that Member States would not hesitate to join once they fulfil the criteria? Where would the future EU budget add the most value? How do we push for quicker implementation when it comes to creating a real digital and energy single market? How far are we ready to go to jointly secure our common borders and increase the internal safety of our citizens?

The digital age adds a new layer to an already fast-changing world. We, in the EU institutions, are widely optimistic about the implications of digital innovations, regarding enhancing deliberation, enabling more voices to be heard, making information more available. But we are also increasingly aware of the challenges to the democratic debate posed by technological innovations: The fake news phenomenon requires more media-literate citizens to discern fact from fiction. The emergence of automated accounts (bots), the spread of disinformation has never been easier. The speed of technological change is a challenge but not the technology itself. Well managed it will be a strong advocate of democracy. We are trying to make this happen every day.

The legacy of the crisis is showing, and concerns about the level of protection are growing. Populist movements are better organised than ever. We need to push back and show the real added value of the EU or we will lose the game to populist movements. Responsible parties should raise their voices and get strong

A window of opportunity is present with the forthcoming EP elections in 2019 – the first for a long time that will not take place in the context of a crisis. We should use this opportunity wisely to strengthen our democracy, as well as speed-up and deepen our debate on the Future of Europe. Consensus-building has always been the cornerstone of European democracy, and the only way to secure the defending, empowering and protecting union for us and the generations to follow.

Aura Salla



Cybersecurity in Europe When it was stopped after a few days of haemorrhaging around the world wide web in spring 2017, roughly 200,000 computers across 150 countries had been affected by the Wannacry ransomware cryptoworm. The scale of the attack was like no other experienced before causing total damages ranging from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. What have we learned since then and how can we ensure cybersecurity in Europe? A new invincible threat, Wannacry, marks an important mark in history when cybersecurity became well-known phenomena to most of society. One of the better-known impacts it had was the knock-out of British hospitals which forced thousands of patients to reschedule appointments. Adding to the uniqueness of the Wanncry attack is the declaration by NATO that the attack should be considered an act of war, thereby recognising cyberspace and thus the Internet, as a potential battlefield. The potential impact of cybersecurity weaknesses is very much an economic question. The damage from such a crime could reach $6tn by 2021, according to a report from Cybersecurity Ventures. The damages include the destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, stolen intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, fraud etc. The development of the Internet of Things makes the problem acute with 30 billion connected devices by 2020, at the risk of hacking will become even bigger. Both in terms of exposure and the number of potential weak spots. Perpetrators no longer have to break into our homes by physical force. It might be enough to hack the system responsible for the digital lock of your front door.


The EU is currently updating its legislative framework on the topic in the Cybersecurity Act. In autumn 2017, the European Commission announced a cybersecurity package to improve EU cyber resilience, deterrence and response further This in-

volves a mandate for the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) and the creation of an EU certification framework for ICT security products (‘the cybersecurity act’). Already two years ago, the EU institutions adopted the Directive on the Security of Network and Information Systems (from now on NIS directive). The main provision was the creation of a network of Member State Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs). The secretariat will be provided by ENISA, which under the current proposal will get more resources. In its foundation, the new cybersecurity framework is a good idea. It will hopefully contribute to ensuring at least a basic level of protection of devices in Europe against malware and hacking. Also, the cyber threat in its nature cannot be isolated to a defined territory as the traditional war. More cooperation on both a European and international level is thus a good thing, which is what the Commission’s proposal involves. However, while coordinate responses to cyber-attacks are a step forward (information sharing leads to faster countermeasures) weaknesses are bound to appear even in a gadget that has a cybersecurity certificate. The Wannacry attack showed one simple, yet big vulnerability. Almost all the computers reached by the malware had old operating systems where the user had not updated to a newer version. Mandatory security updates could thus be a solution. No matter how annoying it might be to repeatedly be asked to update the software on your computer or phone, this could be

a way to at least provide a basic level of safety for all connected devices. Such measures could also be justified by the fact that an “infected” device becomes a potential security risk in itself. Thus, it might not only cause harm to its owner but a million other users as the attacks are often designed to spread further in the interconnected system. This can be likened to vaccination policies. You get it even if you are not sick because doing so will prevent you being a “carrier” and spreading the disease further. These measures also proved effective in the case of WannaCry. For example, Estonia managed to keep the impact of WannaCry to almost zero by a large-scale targeted campaign in cooperation with private sector, asking people to stop using the obsolete system containing a critical vulnerability. To conclude, the EU is on the right track with the revision of the cybersecurity framework. Importantly now is to keep it on par with developments worldwide, and encourage EU member states to share information with one another. In our connected world, the response must also be built on cooperation, beyond national strategies. Finally, let us not forget our responsibility. Next time you are asked to update your software with new features, press “yes” and avoid the easy fault of procrastination. While there is no 100% guarantee, you will most likely be safer, and when the next attack comes, your device will not be at risk of spreading the “disease” further.

Kristina Olausson

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


The PESCO Awakens The activation of the Permanent Security Cooperation (PESCO) – the sleeping beauty of the Lisbon Treaty – could represent a historic moment for European defence, creating unprecedented momentum for enhanced cooperation. Whether or not PESCO will succeed at spurring progress in security and defence integration at the EU level will depend upon the commitment of the Member States and their willingness to make significant contributions to the project. However, given the discrepancies in military capabilities and strategic cultures between European countries, the road ahead is certainly not an easy one. A NEW CHAPTER IN AN OLD STORY

Last December the European Council adopted the decision to establish a European Union defence pact, known as; Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). The decision activates dormant Lisbon Treaty provisions (Articles 42.6 and 46, as well as Protocol 10) to establish a legally binding pathway to deepen defence integration among Member States that are capable and willing to do so. The 25 participants (all EU members but Malta, Denmark and the UK) have agreed on a list of commitments that include devoting 20% of defence spending to investment, increasing defence research and technology expenditure “with a view to nearing the 2% of total defence spending” and to “regularly increase defence budgets in real terms.” The aim is ultimately to improve the effectiveness of EU military operations and stimulate European defence capability development. The High Representative will be in charge of assessing compliance by participating Member States (with the – remote – possibility that individual States can be forced out), together with the European Defence Agency (EDA), which will also play a supporting role in capability development. The EDA will also act as a PESCO secretariat together with the EEAS, and particularly the EU Military Committee, which will have the responsibility of overseeing the operational aspects of the initiative. The launch of PESCO is the last step in a process that started with


the publication of the EU Global Strategy in 2016, which called for permanent and structured cooperation between Member States and the Union. Since then, a diffuse sense of insecurity, arising out of the British vote to leave the EU, Russia’s threats to European security, homegrown terrorism, a worsening situation in both the Middle East and North Africa and Trump’s intimations of a new American isolationism, led the EU27 to relaunch the idea of a European defence. In the second part of 2017, the European Commission presented a series of legislative proposals aimed at strengthening cooperation in the area: The Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) was launched, the European Defence Fund (EDF) was established, and an EU military headquarters was created in Brussels. While the CARD has to ensure the coordination of national defence plans and identifying strategic capability gaps, the EDF will support collaborative projects to fill those gaps, by financing military research (€90m in 2017-2019 and €500m per year after 2020) and co-financing development and the acquisition of capabilities (€500m for 2019 and 2020 and up to €1bn per year after 2020).


Historically, discrepancies in strategic cultures and security & defence objectives among Member States have always been the major problem in achieving European defence

integration. The first ambitious attempt to create a European Defence Community –back in the 50s – was blocked by France concerns with the possibility of creating a European Army. Since then different countries – especially Britain – have regularly opposed initiatives aimed at enhancing defence cooperation. The lack of political appetite and common intents among Member States have also blocked previous efforts to activate PESCO’s clauses contained in the Lisbon Treaty (e.g. in 2010 under the Belgian Presidency). Today, with the UK gone, the relaunch of PESCO seems to be very much the result of the combined efforts of France and Germany, the two biggest actors left in the European defence scenario. However, EU members - France and Germany in particular - still have divergent security agendas, different strategic priorities and contrasting views about cooperation. The current format of PESCO is itself the result of a compromise between Paris, calling for ambitious and exclusive cooperation with a focus on operational commitments, and Berlin, pledging an inclusive and integrationist model with a focus on capabilities development. The German approach has prevailed in the end, watering down the whole initiative: The participation of almost all the EU countries has led to less clear and binding commitments, creating space for disagreements and therefore jeopardising PESCO’s chance of success. For these reasons, despite the successful launch, the real challenge for


PESCO now lies in its implementation. Several countries’ levels of commitment leave room for some serious doubts. France, one of the driving forces of the new initiative, is simultaneously launching another defence cooperation project outside the EU framework: The European Intervention Initiative (EII). This initiative would provide the French government the possibility of joining forces with other European countries that are interested in acting militarily outside of existing EU and NATO structures, in a more flexible way. The EII could well be seen as a supplement to PESCO, but, at the same time, it could lead to France losing interest in the cooperation process. On the other hand, Germany has remained reluctant to use military instruments for managing crises and has treated the development of military cooperation within the EU, including PESCO, above all in political terms, as opposing the creation of additional divisions within the EU which could exclude the Central European member states. Worrying signals also come from Central Europe and Western Flank countries, which perceive the PESCO process sceptically. Not only do they oppose any possible duplications of NATO structures, but they also fear that PESCO would not benefit equally the development of defence industries in all EU countries. The divergences are also related to different strategic cultures. France is actively seeking to achieve a more emancipated European in the security and defence domains, and would like the EU to focus on the volatile southern neighbourhood. On the other hand, Germany is much more aware of its dependence on US guarantees and sees NATO – with its focus on the Eastern Flank – as the basis for both German and EU

security. There is also a difference in the strategic approach of countries like Poland, the Baltics and Romania, for which NATO steadily occupies the centre stage of their security and defence policies. A ROCKY ROAD TOWARDS A HAPPY ENDING?

The institutional momentum for the advancement of the EU´s security and defence is certainly there, regardless the different strategic views in Europe. Whether this becomes the impetus that Europe needs to reinvigorate the integration project - especially in light of Brexit and the resulting damage to the EU’s image and credibility abroad - remains to be seen. The PESCO awakening is indeed a historic moment for European defence, but the road to develop participating Member States’ defence capacities plagued by 20 years of under investment, fragmentation and national short-sightedness is at least unsettled. Even if EU countries combined are the second largest military spenders in the world, compared to half the defence budget of the US, they would only achieve 15% efficiency in comparison because of duplication of military capabilities in each Member State. NATO’s intervention in Libya in 2011, the problems in making the EU Battlegroups operational and recurrent deployment delays for many CSDP missions in Africa, further demonstrate that most countries lack many necessary capabilities. PESCO could address this situation and move Europe forward with increased autonomy, but to do so several steps must be taken in its implementation. The EDA has to rigorously fulfil the role outlined for it and assess the participating Member States’ contributions to the various PESCO projects in accordance

with the criteria they have agreed to and following the recommendations of the CARD. A set of compulsory requirements, financial incentives as well as potential sanctions should be set; and the EDF must ensure the legitimacy of the process by providing adequate financing, especially in areas where European arsenals are lacking; such as cyber, drones and artificial intelligence development. So far, out of the more than 50 projects put forward by the participating member states, 17 have been approved by National Defence Policy directors and officials from the European Defence Agency. Germany, Italy, France, and Greece are the leading countries for these projects, which will be launched in the following months. The only project with less uncertainty around it is a Dutch plan to enhance the speed of movement of military forces across Europe, by simplifying and standardising cross-border military transport procedures. It has already been endorsed by 21 Member States and the European Commission has commenced preparations to make it actionable. For the rest, it is to be seen how effective the implementation will be, as the different political visions will still divide the Member States making this phase turbulent. There might be potential withdrawals, and countries will fight to preserve their own defence industry. Restoring the strategic convergence between Paris and Berlin, and a general political determination will be necessary in order to overcome these challenges. However, if Member States will be willing to roll up their sleeves and start investing in the vision of collaborative defence, a miracle could happen and the sleeping beauty well and truly, awaken.

Mattia Caniglia

The official magazine of European Democrat Students


Europe to Translate In the course of political discussions about values, in the routine of duplication of bureaucratic institutional solutions and the arrest of political calendars, we very often forget about one. Throughout Europe, young generations are looking at us, and they are going to be making a big decision very soon, on what’s next for us Europeans. As time goes by, the distance between Brussels and young people is growing. How can this distance be reduced? The answer is simpler than we think. What do young people think about the European Union? What are the main reasons for people to be against it? How is their perception different from that of top EU politicians? This can be best analysed through the statements of young Europeans who voted to leave the community, in the United Kingdom. “The EU market is corrupt and created to benefit the elites. A single government, such as the British one, is better able to solve country problems without outside interference,” says 22-year-old James. “I define myself as a British, not a European, I want my country to develop free of corruption.” 21-year-old Charles adds. From these two coherent statements, unfortunately, not a very optimistic picture emerges. The Union is a home of corruption and evil elites. Is this part of the real image? When it comes to corruption, in 2014, according to the European Commission, bribery cost the EU economy at least EUR 120 billion a year, and the scale of pathology


“was breath taking”. Judging by these official communications, it comes to no surprise that young people voice the kind of opinions mentioned earlier on. Adding this kind of statistics to the stories about EU elites that are fed to the people by Populist and Eurosceptic Communities, we cannot be surprised that young Europeans are taking an anti-EU approach. Despite the fact that the European Union has been looking at modern solutions to fight corruption effectively. YouGov’s research, conducted by the European foundation TUI, indicates many interesting facts in the field of the worldview of young Europeans. Do young people love democracy? Not necessarily. Only 52 percent of young citizens in the EU think that democracy is the best possible system. The least supporters of democracy are in Poland and France (42 percent) and Italy (45 percent). The best supporters are found in Greece (66 percent) and Germany (62 percent). Surprisingly, more young people associate the European Union with a community of peace (44 percent) than with prosperity (29 percent). From this, it can be concluded that knowledge delivered in history lessons in schools is more strongly seated in the minds of students than everyday tangible economic proposals. Paradoxically, this unfortunately proves the truth of some theses; that EU elites that have lost contact with reality and are unable to communicate with citizens. This is very important as the communication between the citizen and the politician is an ac-

cessible way to have the public informed about the EU’s successes. The simplest example is definitely the success in the abolition of roaming. This marked a breakthrough, especially because of the fact that the life of everyone has been affected. Now when abroad, everyone can call their friends and use the internet safely. Here the European Union lifted the barriers and won with telecommunications giants. Through this, the next stage of European integration was implemented. The next step should be a huge information campaign throughout Europe. Billboards, internet promotion and outdoor events. One big show of support for the European Union. So that people, especially young people, would be able to pay attention to such a memorable moment and what it means for their everyday life. It is unbelievable that nothing has happened, or that no one has thought about it. Today may be too late, because the fact that roaming charges do not actually exist has become obsolete. EU politicians, above all from the European People’s Party, missed a great chance, and not for the first time. Even today, important changes are taking place at various levels of EU policy, winning the fight against geo-blocking. The introduction of the “portability” system, the free use of the content we subscribe to while traveling to other European Union countries. Successes that should be marketed wisely. But these cannot be ad hoc actions. We need a coherent strategy - af-


fordability, immediacy and simplicity of communication. We cannot constantly promote messages under the title: “another discussion on values took place in the European Parliament”. When young people read such messages, they think: some people sit in comfortable armchairs and talk, but we have to live here and face everyday problems. It is precisely because of the lack of such a strategy that young people associate the Union with history and not with everyday life. Eurosceptics and populists fight us by manipulating the emotions of the masses of people. The words “elite”, “corruption”, “refugees” are their main weapon, because they are simple, negative, and they work on the principles of anchor. What words should we choose in our communication tactics? “Mobility”, “freedom of travel”? These are just examples. But for sure, we should translate everyday benefits into emotions. The Erasmus programme is an unquestionable success of the Union when it comes to young people. As the great European writer Umberto Eco says, “Erasmus created the first generation of young Europeans. Such an exchange - the need to spend some time in other EU countries - should be obligatory.”. One of the first Polish Erasmus participants, later Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection, Aneta Wilmańska assessed that Erasmus strengthened her appetite to gain knowledge, learning about other countries, their

cultures and customs. The largest and the finest project for young people in the history of Europe. We should certainly emphasise more on its promotion. Are benefits such as Erasmus sufficient? Not for everyone. Statistics are not good enough unfortunately. Almost 5 million young people in the European Union between the ages of 20 and 24 are neither taught nor working. In Italy, this percentage even reaches up to onethird of all young people. What the European Union has enabled is certainly the freedom to work in other countries. Young people can look for employment throughout the community. Unemployment, though, on a smaller scale in the youngest group, is falling all the time. Recently, EU diplomats have obtained important guarantees for workers from other countries when negotiating Brexit conditions. Why wasn’t there a promotional strategy on this? And the biggest factions, such as the European People’s Party or the Party of European Socialists, have many tools to influence European public discussion. High budgets, an extensive administrative and organisational network, competent think tanks - these are components that must be used properly. The game is not just about winning over the Euro-enthusiasts in the next European Parliament elections. Our great task is to preserve a united Europe for future generations.

Big European parties have something else - young wings. Youth, student organisations that, after all, bring together active, young and well-educated people who intensely strive for more and more influence on decision-making processes. Some very good resolutions and ideas can come from these organisations. Actually, there are two things that European leaders of “adult party levels” should realize. First of all, they should listen to their younger colleagues from the lower levels of the party hierarchy when it comes to reaching the younger generation. Secondly, they should see that it is worth trying to transform their substantive, academic flair into concrete strategies, as time is of the essence. Young people often feel lost; they may be easy to manipulate and too open to marketing simplifications. That is why they become a prey for political skirmishers and instigators. Communication with them is difficult, but certainly not impossible. We must treat it as a challenge. It is worth translating the emotions for emotions and taking up the fight for the minds and hearts of young people for one simple reason; that our children should not learn about the European Union only from history textbooks.

Maciej Kmita

The official magazine of European Democrat Students



Julien Sassel (27) is a Belgian and Italian dual citizen and has been an active member in EDS since 2012. He has a Master in International Relations from the Université Catholique de Louvain and is currently pursuing the MA in EU International Relations and Diplomacy Studies at the College of Europe, in Bruges.

Mattia Caniglia (30). A Master in Strategic Studies and years of professional experience in international organisations gave him knowledge of global geopolitical and economic dynamics. He is currently collaborating as a political and economic analyst with media like Foreign Policy, Fortune China and The Guardian.

Sabine Hanger (22) studies Law in Vienna. Becoming member of the Aktionsgemeinschaft in 2016, she got elected 2017 to be the Chairwoman of AG Jus, offering a situation in which she is confronted with responsibility and political sensitiveness, but also opportunities to work with various people.

Ramy Jabbour (25) was born in Beirut, Lebanon. He received a degree in International Affairs and Diplomacy and currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Political Science at Notre Dame De Louaize. Ramy is currently the media and communication  officer in the Lebanese Forces Youth Association (LFYA).

Vladimir Kljajic (26) has a BA in International Relations. He is currently the Director of a small local cultural centre in Belgrade, Serbia. He is a supporter of EU integration, and interested in the impact of development aid. He likes to read books about politics and history.

Maciej Kmita (22) is alumnus of international relations study, 2nd year student of master’s degree in public administration. Councillor of polish town Pińczów. Assistant of the Polish MP. Vocalist and poet. His main interests are social policy, education and problems in Central and Eastern Europe.

Kristina Olausson (27) has completed a double-degree in European Governance and is working in the EU bubble, as she is being engaged in the debate on digital policy. She considers EDS as a creative platform on which to discuss issues on Europe’s future with likeminded, politically engaged and clever young people.

Neil Smart Costantino (22) is a Maltese Student, reading for a degree in European Studies with Contemporary Mediterranean Studies at the University of Malta. His main areas of interests lie in the fields of Human Rights, National and Foreign Security and Political Strategies.

Sarah Katharina Wolpers (23) is studying towards her Master of Arts in Governance and Public Policy at the University of Passau. Since 2015 she is an active member of RCDS Germany. Her focus of interest is political campaigning, higher education, digitization and European integration.

Teodoras Žukas (22) is a 4th year student at Vilnius University, Institute of International Relations and Political science; he is in his second year as Editor in BullsEye magazine. He’s academic interest lies in History of International Relations, Russia’s foreign policy and the Middle East.




Virgilio Falco (28) is the EDS Chairman. Graduated in Law and as a president of the Italian association StudiCentro, he worked on writing the reform of the school system in Italy. He has working experiences at the Italian Parliament and in private universities. He writes for the newspaper Il Foglio.

Tomasz Kaniecki (23) is a Polish law student and EDS Secretary General. His introduction to politics came in 2011. Tomasz writes his thesis on cybersecurity of critical infrastructure. In 2015 he was honourably awarded by the British and Swedish Embassies for the best student paper on the TTIP.

Sara Juriks (22) is from Oslo, Norway. She has a BA in Music, and recently finished her Masters in Politics at UCL in London. She has been active in politics since 2011, and was elected to the board of HS in 2016 where she is still an international secretary. Sara has been active in EDS since 2014.

Tommi Pyykkö (29) lives in Helsinki, where he has studied French, European Studies and Political Science at the University of Helsinki. Newly graduated and currently pursuing an EU-related career. His first EDS event was in 2015 and currently he is the Vice-Chairman responsible for publications.

Beppe Galea (21) is a European Studies graduate and now working as a journalist. In 2013 and 2014, he served as a Youth Ambassador in his region and he is an active member of SDM and The Scout Association of Malta. Europe is his passion and he likes to travel and share his European experience.

Pantelis A. Poetis (24), from Cyprus is Vice Chairman of EDS. He studied Law and International Relations - Global Political Economy at Middlesex University London. Pantelis holds the portfolios of Fund Raising, Statutory Amendments and Member-Organisations. He works at Dr Andreas P. Poetis LLC Legal Firm.

Carlo Giacomo Angrisano Girauta (21) is an ESADE Law and Global Governance student. He is currently the International Secretary of NNGG (Spain). As EDS Vice Chairman he assumed responsibilities in the social media team, in the EPP Working Groups and he is also responsible for EDS American Relations.

Robert Kiss (29) lives and works in Sfantu Gheorghe, Romania. He holds a BA in Business & Management from Corvinus University of Budapest, and a Msc in Economy & Tourism. Currently he is doing his PhD in Economics. He is active in EDS since 2014. As Vice-Chairman he is responsible for the Permanent Working Groups.

Mihaela Radu (26) is from Chisinau, Moldova. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising. Currently, she is the executive director of Dreamups, where she is developing the start-up community in Moldova. Mihaela is also a member of the PLDM National Political Council and TLDM.

Gergely Losonci (25) is a Hungarian MBA student at Corvinus University of Budapest. He worked in the European Parliament, currently works as a business consultant. He is the Deputy International Secretary of Fidelitas and a Vice-Chairman in EDS responsible for the activities related to the EU 2019 elections.

The official magazine of European Democrat Students

Libertas Ezako (26) lives in Namur, Belgium. She holds a Bachelor degree in Political-Sciences and pursues her Master’s degree in International Relations at the Université Catholique de Louvain. She has been a member of Jeunes cdH since 2015 and currently she works as a Deputy Secretary General in EDS.


european people’s party

FIND OUT HOW TO CONTACT US! Visit us at Rue du Commerce 10, BE-1000 Brussels, Belgium Visit our homepage at

Follow us on Instagram at

Like us on Facebook at

Read previous issues at

Follow us on Twitter at @edsnet

Contact us at



Bullseye 72 - Political Communication in a Changing Media Environment  
Bullseye 72 - Political Communication in a Changing Media Environment