Special Edition Editorial Team Christian Diemer Editor
Edgar Gerrard Hughes Editor email@example.com
Pako Quijada Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Matt Shearman Editor email@example.com
Olimpia Pârje Editor
Michael O’Keeffe Editor firstname.lastname@example.org Proofreaders Lucy Duggan Edgar Gerrard Hughes Michael O’Keeffe Contributors Johanna Meyer-Gohde Aleksandra Luczak Lilian Maria Pithan Barbara Péterfi Fernando Burgés Davide Colombini Mirza Mustafić Armin Peter Thanasis Troboukis Svjetlana Rezo Adam Reichardt Photographic contributors Cover photo “Oiseaux sur une antenne” by Frédéric Bisson (CC BY 2.0)
Pages 5, 34, 35 Chris Askelund (All rights reserved.) Pages 9, 11, 17, 19, 25, 30, 33 Pako Quijada (All rights reserved.) Pages 36, 37 “Jobs Help Wanted” by Photologue NP (CC BY 2.0)
Pages 38, 39 “231 - Polish flag” by Trevor (CC BY 2.0)
Pages 40, 41 “Hostel” by Marcell Dietl (CC BY 2.0)
“Types” by Chris Askelund (CC BY 2.0)
Pages 42, 43 “Vertical” by Rafael Edwards (CC BY 2.0)
Pages 44, 45 “East Side Gallery” by Rae Allen (CC BY 2.0)
Pages 46, 47 “Kiss of Death” by Judith (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Moving around in Europe is fun and exciting – to provide a platform for that was one of the aims of Europe & Me when it was founded in 2007. The EU may never have done anything better than enable people to study abroad, to party transnationally, to end up in bed beyond borders – and thus to experience, even in the most mundane everyday details, diversity not as a threat, but as a constellation of new possibilities. Obviously travelling around in Europe is far more than just fun and exciting. And while those bellyaching about the bureaucracy and elitist aloofness of the European project should be reminded of Europe’s fun side, it may even seem inappropriate to highlight this in the light of Eastern European regions on the verge of a civil war or worse, and with peace in Europe facing what some call the most worrying crisis sinced the end of the Cold War. Yet there is often a close connection between the things that make Europe so enjoyable to live and travel in and the dark and cruel sides of our shared homeland. It is not only young Ukrainians who might have something to say about that: tragedy looms at every corner when you’re on European soil. Past tragedies may even be the common ground on which the new, fun Erasmus friendships grow. Present ones could be as well. What is tragic – or revealing of European hypocrisy – are the attempts of those outside Europe to get in. What can be tragic – or surprisingly easygoing – are the stories of those trying to make a living in a crisis-shaken Europe. What can be tragic – or simply hilarious – are the motivations of people travelling through Europe. What can be tragic – or pink and fluffy – are the love stories connected with migration. And what can be tragic – and at the same time enriching and fascinating – is the Erasmuser’s journey towards his or her own transnational identity. Those stories and many more have been told in the first Europe & Me Young Journalist Award, launched in the past year in order to foster a fresh, personal, transnational journalism that is able to reflect the realities in which young Europeans are living. It is our utmost pleasure to present the ‘best of’ in this Special Edition. Assembling the winning and runner-up articles as well as the shortlisted pieces, it is an edition on the move itself: featuring travelling and migration more or less explicitly in all of the award articles; presenting ten authors from eleven (!) countries; put together by an editorial team spreading from London to Skopje, from Brussels to Kraków; and all in all a very moving read. These articles are complemented by the “Modern European” series, the collaborative result of April’s award workshop, which brought winners, runners-up, and shortlisted award participants together with the Europe & Me team and New Eastern Europe Editor-in-Chief Adam Reichardt, for an intense weekend of journalistic training in Berlin. If the stories in this special edition show anything, then it’s this: whatever Europe may be conceived as, it is not abstract or intangible. Europe, in its positive and negative sides, in its cheerful and tragic dimensions, is experienced and grasped personally in a multitude of ways. It is moving, heartfelt, at times painful. It is ourselves. In the name of the entire Europe & Me team, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to making this project possible. First of all, the authors who with their stories, contacts, creativity, and dedication have given this booklet its content. Secondly, those who have supported the project, namely the generous Körber Foundation as the main sponsor of the project. For a list of all partners and supporters, please see page 48. I wish you an enjoyable transnational read, and stay tuned at www.europeandme.eu
*Images retouched and adapted by Pako Quijada Layout and design by Pako Quijada
Christian Diemer Executive Director of E&M email@example.com
What is Europe all about? And what does it mean to be a (good) European? These are the two core questions that young European authors answer in this collection of articles that was published as a result of the Europe & Me Young Journalist Award. Eleven authors share their perspectives on Europe – its benefits, its disadvantages and its challenges – from their own very personal points of view. Each of their unique stories contributes to a young European narrative that is well worth listening to. Europe has so many different stories that it is impossible to identify a single European narrative. Therefore, it is our conviction at the Körber Foundation that sharing and discussing all of Europe’s different stories is the key to our common future – even if these stories are difficult and touch upon painful experiences in the past and the present, or tackle unsolved challenges linked to history, identity, democracy and social justice. This is what we work for in our two main initiatives for young Europeans, the EUSTORY history network and FutureLab Europe. Both initiatives provide a platform for youth and young professionals within the EU and beyond to develop and deepen their skills as responsible citizens. Within the EUSTORY Network we enable young Europeans to research a (hi)story within their own regional and family surroundings. In 24 European countries, civil society organizations conduct national historical research competitions for students. These students learn to question the stories they are told, turning to witnesses for answers and searching archives in their quest. They learn to make up their own minds, connect their findings to their current life and environment and thus look far beyond the limits of their front yard. Once they have completed their research tasks within the national competition, they get the possibility to meet awardees from the other EUSTORY competitions. In the course EUSTORY history camps and projects they discuss historical-political issues of current relevance, learn to compare different perspectives and thus overcome divisions. Their work as well as their research culminate in the realisation that even for one single event in Europe’s past and present, the stories are manifold. And the young Europeans learn the dangers of telling only a single story. Like blinders, these single stories lead to one-dimensional perception, to stereotypes and to separatism. FutureLab Europe, a common initiative of ten European foundations coordinated by the Körber Foundation, provides a platform for talented and committed young Europeans from the networks of the partner foundations to develop their ideas for the future of Europe and share the ideas and the results of their work with decision-makers both on the national and the European level. FutureLab Europe is an interdisciplinary cross-border laboratory for Europeans aged 20-30, which aims at supporting them to identify challenges in the fields of democracy, participation, equality of opportunities, identity and identification of 21st century Europe. On the background of these challenges, FutureLab Europe gives young Europeans from currently 27 countries the possibility to come up with their opinions and strategies on how to proceed with our common European project. What does this all have to do with Europe & Me, and in particular with the Young Journalist Award? Just about everything! Europe & Me, with its many freelance and voluntary young contributors from all over Europe, inside and outside the EU, presents one of the best ways to counter the dangers inherent in a single story. The online magazine and the blog provide manifold perspectives and at the same time room for a true European interaction. The magazine was founded in September 2007 by eight young Europeans who had a clear vision: to create a young, transnational European public space for all those who are interested in contributing to the European narrative, whatever this might be. We hope you enjoy the journey across Europe through the stories in this publication. But again, this should be only the beginning. We are looking forward to hearing your story, too – be it your personal one or one you deem important; through EUSTORY, through Europe & Me, FutureLab Europe or by any other means. After all, that’s what Europe is about.
Gabriele Woidelko Program Director, Education, Körber Foundation
Europe & Me
Young Journalist Award
A bus to Europe
Aleksandra Luczak & Johanna Meyer-Gohde
origins on 12 Juggling wine & crackers Roman holiday, Hungarian style
Lilian Maria Pithan
geopolitics 16 The of Khinkalis EU exit and Italian migration: The end of Roman Britain Davide Colombini
Leaving the promised land
Braving the waters
Germany and the Western Balkans: a love story
Armin Peter & Thanasis Troboukis
The art of editing
Edgar Gerrard Hughes
Young Journalist Award the workshop
YOUNG JOURNALIST A project organised by Europe & Me with support from Körber Foundation.
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN?
Illegal job agencies in London: The downsides of migration
Hostel goers guide to dorm room denizens
the European dream: 38 Living Polish nights at Café Orchidea
Svjetlana Rezo LEGS
Hashtagged memories from the East Side Gallery
Aleksandra Luczak & Johanna Meyer-Gohde
42 BABY Sex tut
gut: explore your body in Berlin
Lilian Maria Pithan
Art on the wall or Wall on the art? Fernando Burgés
Acknowledgments & Thank you’s
A lifestyle magazine for young Europeans by young Europeans
SIXTH SENSE means “keen intuition” - the blogging platform that brings our transnational approach to current affairs. As well as live reporting from exciting events around Europe, the Sixth Sense has regular columns covering a range of topics from political debates to European films you shouldn’t miss. It’s also where we publish reader submissions. BRAIN contains articles in which our writers think seriously about Europe - here the reader finds myths unravelled, politicians criticised and history looked at afresh. HEART gives our readers a ‘European feeling’ - here the writers might interview an artist on the subject of European identity, tell love stories or delve into people’s feelings about the European past. DIAPHRAGM offers entertainment - it mocks European legislation, provides interactive quizzes and puzzles and gives fun tips for how to emulate great Europeans from times gone by. BABY explores sexuality in Europe - it breaks taboos, conducts exciting interviews with ‘sexperts,’ advises readers on what to expect from dates in different European cities and takes them on journeys through European sexuality in different times and places. LEGS symbolises travel and progress - here we give advice and information on European careers, discuss transnational opportunities with employers and with young people who have chosen to work abroad, and report on fun ways to travel across the continent.
Europe & Me is an online lifestyle magazine created by young Europeans for young Europeans. Its motto is to ‘make Europe personal’, because Europe is often only identified with politics and bureaucracy. The magazine was founded in September 2007 and first published in July 2008, and since then we’ve been writing about every possible “Europe” - the Europe of young masters students, the Europe of Chernobyl survivers, the Europe of the European Commission, the Europe of immigrants and the Europe of ex-pats. During the last six years, the magazine has published a new issue every three months and built up an online community of more than 4,000 participants. More than one hundred authors have written for the magazine. The founding team comprised eight people with six different nationalities, and the writers and readers come from a hundred different countries. Editors, authors and community work together voluntarily for a common goal: to capture the feeling of a new, transnational lifestyle. The magazine is not funded by the EU or affiliated bodies, although we have received some prize money and some funding for individual events. All participants are independent volunteers. Find out more about our partners at europeandme.eu. In 2011 the project was awarded the European Charlemagne Youth Prize recognising Europe & Me’s contribution to the development of European citizenship and identity. A MAGAZINE FOR THE WHOLE SELF E&M believes that if Europe is understood as nothing more than a political unit with corresponding institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg, this will hardly encourage people to identify with it. Hence, the central aim of E&M is to make Europe more personal. Taking this aim seriously meant designing a magazine for the whole self. Accordingly, the concept of E&M relates to the human body as a symbol: Brain, Heart, Diaphragm, Baby, Legs.
europeandme.eu OUR TEAM Christian Diemer Edgar Gerrard Hughes Olimpia Pârje Philip Wallmeier Matt Shearman Ivan Grozdanovski Pako Quijada Rike Maier Catarina Gomes Michael O’Keeffe Jose Luis Villalta Fabian Pregel
Project Manager Project Manager Sixth Sense Sixth Sense Brain Heart Heart / Design Editor Diaphragm Baby Legs Tech Editor Tech Editor
Founders: Lucy Duggan, Margarita Ivanova, Kristin Kruthaup, Hanna Pilawa, Eva Sablovska, Christopher Wratil. Advisory Board: Lucy Duggan, Christopher Wratil, Johannes Himmelreich, Helya Houshmand, Laura Knierim, Carmen Kong, Martin Maas, Marta Martínez, Juliane Schmeltzer Dybkjær.
In Autumn of 2013, E&M launched the first E&M Young Journalist Award in order to foster journalism from a genuinely transnational perspective, and to give a platform for young Europeans to tell their stories. E&M was looking for engaging journalistic articles of 1,500– 2,000 words, written by under-30s living in the EU, partner and neighbouring countries, who are not professionally employed as a journalist. Submissions could be on any European topic as long as it was approached transnationally (in a way that makes it directly relevant to at least two European countries). SELECTION PROCESS Contributions were assessed on: Demonstrating a fresh, individual approach and writing with a distinctive journalistic style. Successfully including and reflecting on the experiences and opinions of young Europeans, and utilising a transnational approach (ensuring relevance to two or more European countries). Well-evidenced writing that demonstrates original research. This may be in the statements of protagonists, testimonies, experts, academics, journalists, representatives of different positions or parties to a conflict etc. The use of audio, video, multimedia etc. as supporting materials or as part of the text was encouraged. It was, however, not essential. Young writers from all across the EU-28 have followed the call – and even from decisively beyond, such as Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Macedonia, Cyprus, Turkey, Tunesia, and Canada. WINNERS From this multitude of entries, the E&M editorial board selected eight articles to be sent to a global panel of European experts and professional journalists to select a winner and two runners-up. The articles were drawn from a stunningly broad range of topics and perspectives, and we were excited by the way so many writers captured transnational journalism at the core of their writing. We believe that the list of articles assembled in this edition represents some of the best current young journalistic writing on Europe: Armin Peter, from Germany, and Thanasis Troboukis, from Greece, have interviewed Pakistani immigrants waiting in front of the embassy in Athens – not to get into the EU, but out of it. Barbara Péterfi, 23, from Hungary, evokes an unexpected dimension of what dolce vita in Rome can mean: an ordinary working day of Hungarian beggars. Davide Colombini, 23, from Italy, investigates what a British departure from the EU might mean for the tide of Italians who have flooded into London. Fernando Burgés, 28, from Spain, whisks us off to Georgia to shed light on what people out there think of themselves and of Europe. Johanna Meyer-Gohde, 28, from Germany, and Aleksandra Luczak, 27, from Poland, have talked to people waiting at the Berlin bus station – a snapshot portrait of ambitions and goals that could not be more diverse.
Lilian Maria Pithan, 28, from Germany, has written a personal piece on how complex and ambiguous the question of identity gets in a European context – and on what a relief this can be. Mirza Mustafić, 26, from Bosnia and Herzegovina, shows how hypocritical European refugee policy is, and – in light of the Lampedusa tragedy – urges to focus the humanitarian driving forces behind illegal immigration. Svjetlana Rezo, 25, from Croatia, retells the story of Germany and the Gastarbeiter from Ex-Yugoslavia as a story of two lovers trying to get along. From this shortlist, in the jury session of 11th of February, the winner and two runners-up have been determined. The jury found that Johanna Meyer-Gohde’s and Aleksandra Luczak’s piece “A Bus to Europe“ portrayed an almost allegoric dimension of Europe in a particularly convincing, atmospheric way. Lilian Marian Pithan and Barbara Péterfi have been named runners-up. JURY BOARD E&M is proud to have brought together a jury of renowned European journalists to select the final winning articles. The composition of the jury was as follows: Martin Meister, jury president. A graduate in biology and philosophy, Martin Meister has worked for the Stern, GEO Wissen, GEO Wissenschaft, GEO TV, and GEO kompakt. Since 2008 he has been editor-in-chief of GEO International. Nicola Davis is commissioning editor of Observer Tech Monthly. She has previously written for The Times, The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement and has worked with the Campaign for Science and Engineering. Nadja Dumouchel works as a film commissioning editor for the european cultural TV channel ARTE in Strasbourg. As a polyglot, she is dedicated to the international art house film scene. Addicted to all forms of writing, she not only works on screenplays for the cinema with authors from all over the world, but also writes film criticism for the cultural magazine NOVO. Andreas Müllerleile works for the European Council of Foreign Relations (ECFR). As a media savvy EU specialist, he has been involved in a variety of online projects and initiatives. He is the co-founder of bloggingportal.eu and has been an editor at Th!nk about it and Ideas on Europe. He previously worked for the European Foundation Centre in Brussels and interned at the Delegation of the European Commission to Romania as well as at the Goethe Institute in Bucharest. He is is currently completing a PhD in European Studies at Loughborough University (UK). Adam Reichardt is the Editor-in-Chief of New Eastern Europe, a quarterly news magazine covering Central and Eastern European Affairs. He previously spent eight years in public policy in Washington DC, as well as a large portion of his studies in Kraków, Poland, where he now permanently resides. Christian Diemer has been an author, editor and project manager for Europe & Me since 2009. Having studied composition and musicology in Weimar, Germany, he is currently writing his PhD on traditional music in Ukraine.
“Do you know how I can get to Krakow from here?” asks a young guy on platform 30. Rafał, a graduate of fine arts from Poland, has just arrived from Spain. “A flight to Germany was cheaper and Berlin is almost Poland,” he explains. How he is going to continue his journey he doesn’t yet know. “That’s how you end up here,” he says and his gaze wanders sceptically around Berlin’s central coach station. The Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof known as ZOB was built in the 1960s in former West Berlin and has never been renovated since. The shapes and colours arouse a feeling of nostalgia. The “Terminal Café Superman” is closed, grass is growing through the cracked asphalt and every corner smells of urine. Most of the lockers have not been opened for weeks – how else could you explain the “90 Euros” blinking on the fee displays? Inside the waiting room, tired travellers are dozing off on dazzling orange plastic seats. The radiator has been taken over by a bearded homeless man, spooning canned soup into his mouth. This Sleepy Hollow atmosphere is not disturbed even by motley streams of passengers: they continuously flow in through the station as if through a sluice, only to disperse in all possible directions soon after. Even without catching a bus you feel like you’ve been taken to a different world – visiting ZOB is a good remedy for wanderlust. The gateway to Eastern Europe About 150 buses come and go from the ZOB every day. Most of them are domestic connections, about 40 leave for foreign countries. A few of the latter head for London, Paris, Barcelona and Zurich while three out of four turn East. The timetable offers a kaleidoscope of destinations, from Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic to Grozny and from Klaipėda in Lithuania to Bucharest. “A gateway to Eastern Europe,” as the station is called on its website. The Slavic murmur is drowned out by the German-only loudspeaker announcements. “Neither me nor my colleagues speak Russian,” admits the station’s traffic manager. “But there are English announcements for buses heading for Copenhagen, Amsterdam or London.” The kiosk in the waiting hall advertises itself with a cosmopolitan photo depicting an English-speaking business newspaper, a French croissant, an American donut and a glass of Turkish
visiting Berlin's coach station
tea. Russian daily papers, and Macedonian and Bosnian women’s magazines wait at the newspaper stand. At the nearby bistro you can order both Currywurst and Döner, buy sweets and souvenirs. When it comes to Berlin-themed refrigerator magnets and key rings, Poles and Russians are particularly good customers, the young female salesperson reports. “There are all kinds of people coming here, really all kinds,” she says. “For me it’s hardly ever a problem to communicate, I speak German, English, Chechen and Russian, that’s enough.” Racing to catch up The red bus is one of those coaches at the ZOB whose engines seem to sound livelier, whose bumpers shine brighter and whose drivers smile in a more easy-going way than others. Young up-and-coming bus tour companies from Central Europe thrive these days, with slogans like “fun & relax” or “szybko, tanio, komfortowo” (“fast, cheap, comfortable”). The young passengers who have gathered in front of the red bus with their backpacks, smartphones and laptop bags look almost like a class going on a school trip. Among them is Rafał, who got a ticket to Warsaw and decided spontaneously to visit some friends. Others travel from Germany to Poland to maintain their longdistance relationships and careers. Like Magda. She boards every Friday; the weekly to and fro is not really exciting anymore, rather an essential nuisance. She works in Berlin and studies accounting in Poznań. “I choose a coach because it’s convenient and offers a direct connection to Poznań. And there is even free WiFi.” No romanticism of a voyage here - it seems to be nothing more than a leap over the non-existent border, a short trip, during which you keep yourself amused with Facebook and Youtube videos or dash off some business e-mails. Washing machines and sliced bread Magda disappears inside the bus. Its departure reveals a neighbouring platform. There is a group of people waiting with lots of luggage: boxes, baskets and those huge, square plastic bags known for their stability and volume. Two boys are heaving a washing machine from a shopping trolley to the luggage room of the bus. Where are they taking it? “Tuzla,” answers one
Aleksandra Luczak Aleksandra lives in Berlin, but was born and grew up in Łodz. She studied German Philology and East European History in Poland, Great Britain and Germany. She has learnt her most valuable lessons through hitch-hiking, couchsurfing and wandering through cities and landscapes in good company. Aleksandra is a freelance translator and interpreter, passionate about literary reportage and railway stations.
of them, pronouncing the word like Too-zla, with a buzzing “z” in the middle. For the last year, he tells us, he has been living in Berlin-Marzahn in a home for asylum seekers. The boy next to him, his brother, has to return to Bosnia today. “No asylum,” explains Kasim and turns his attention back to the washing machine. There is another family standing next to them. Memo, the father, is saying goodbye to his wife, two kids and his brother. Their asylum extension has been refused. In about 24 hours they will be back in Bosnia and it is not certain when they will see each other again. “It’s better for all of us if I stay here,” says Memo after a while, thoughtfully: “Bosnia isn’t any good.” After the bus is gone, he will be the last to leave the platform. “When I travel to Bosnia today, I feel like a foreigner. The life down there has changed since the war.” An elderly woman standing nearby is accompanied by a Croatian friend; they met in Berlin forty years ago. She wants to go to Tuzla on holiday and to see her family. Unlike her fellow passengers she has just a small suitcase. Smoking a cigarette, her friend remarks: “People take all kinds of stuff. Even sliced bread, although it’s something they have in Bosnia as well. Or clothes they get from the Red Cross, to sell them back home. It’s a slightly different audience.” From A to B On platform number 17 there is a huge crowd waiting. A bus has just arrived. Its route: Düsseldorf via Berlin to Kyiv. When the bus driver opens the cargo door, the sound on the platform can only be described as wailing and gnashing of teeth. The huge pile of luggage can’t possibly fit alongside all the bags that are already inside. “Those are Russians, they take half of Germany with them,” a man curses in German with a strong Berlin accent. Still, he wants to place his own parcel on the bus, although he is not going anywhere. But the driver remains unbending. Mesta net – no space. Right beside them there is a bus heading for Riga, where another person gets lucky. A woman hands over a small red plastic sack to the driver. An agreement is reached, some Euro banknotes are passed from hand to hand, names
Johanna Meyer-Gohde Johanna, born in Berlin in 1985, studied Creative Writing, Journalism and East European Studies. She has lived in Warsaw, Nowosibirsk, Greifswald and Hildesheim. She has worked in different online and print editorial offices. Johanna likes cities, bus stations and carrot cake.
written down on a casual scrap of paper. After the deal is closed, the woman lights a cigarette and watches the driver carefully until the bus door shuts with a hiss. For her family? “You shouldn’t talk or write about it,” she waves her hands as if to deny something. Missing the bus With a whirl of exhaust fumes, buses leave one after another, carrying away the passengers. The temporary gap will be filled immediately, the sluice gates never close. In the last ten years the annual number of departures and arrivals has risen by 50 percent and is expected to increase further still. Since long-distance bus services were liberalised in 2013 and the network of domestic German destinations is being expanded, plans for the renovation of the ZOB are under consideration. The station will adapt to the cityscape of the district, which is dominated by the International Congress Center and the Trade Fair building. It is said that 2014 will be the year when it will get a modern, European face. After that you won’t probably come across these three men who sit in the furthest corner of the station, where buses rarely stop. They pass around a bottle with fanta-coloured contents to the accompaniment of heartrending Russian chansons coming out of a small radio, singing along with husky voices. You probably won’t meet Ivko either. “Empty bottles, empty bottles,” he mumbles every now and then, plastic bags in his hands. Some passengers rushing off the bus from Zurich hand him what remains of the fizzy drinks they had taken on the journey. For each bottle Ivko can get up to 25 cents. Two years ago he left Belgrade to escape the economic situation in Serbia and try his luck in Germany. However, for half a year now the master baker hasn’t had a job, so he keeps prowling around the coach station. Sometimes he bumps into buses leaving for Serbia. “I don’t know whether I would like to go back. There are no jobs there either,” he says. Then he goes away to look for empties inside the nearby dustbin. Like a castaway offshore in Berlin, diving for bottles as if expecting there to be messages which could help him escape. Perhaps the ZOB is not only a place to cure wanderlust, but homesickness as well.
Amid the hustle and bustle of an early evening get-together, young people in artistic outfits are exchanging greetings, business cards and la bise, chatting away happily over wine and crackers on the capital curb. In this kind of situation, the question I most love and dread usually hits me fairly early on: “Where are you from?” What could be absurdly easy often transforms into an intermittent Q&A session in the course of which I will earn the badge of either “the French girl who isn’t really French”, “the world-savvy European who talks about India a lot” or “the German who confuses everyone because she seems so French”. While this cross-cultural riddle solving can be interesting, sometimes even hilarious, over wine and crackers, it is more than a casual guessing game. Wherever you are born, you will be graced, among other things, with a mother tongue, fond childhood memories of funny TV programmes, certain culinary preferences, a specific school education and distinctive social quirks. It is as much about the Sendung mit der Maus as about Bordeaux and your sense of humour – or the entire lack of it. But what happens once you leave home to travel and live abroad, studying at various universities, adding to your language repertoire, falling in love with someone from another country or realising just how great the French apéro culture or British online magazines are? “Well, that one is a little bit difficult.” Tim Mac an Airchinnigh, who was born and raised in Dublin and is now studying for a PhD at a Parisian university, gives another stir to the espresso into which he has just dropped a sugar lump as I ask for his thoughts on the concepts of origin, belonging and “feeling European”. How many homes for one identity? After prolonged stints in London, Switzerland and Australia, Tim feels a bit at odds between France and Ireland: “I think
a lot of emigrants will identify with the feeling that we pay return visits to an increasingly foreign country. We lose touch with how the new buses work, who the local celebrities are, the changing price of drinks or groceries.” Tim still returns to Dublin fairly often, but at the moment he is very happy with Paris as his new home of choice. Just think of the unique café culture, lovely food and wine, the luxuriously blasé feeling of a late Sunday afternoon. Tim’s identity might have been largely moulded in Ireland (he moved to France in his early twenties) but nowadays Paris with its myriad of little cafés and brasseries has a definite home feeling to it. The first time I went back to Germany for a visit and noticed that I felt foreign, I thought I was in for trouble. After three years in France, living on Proust, modern art and apéros, Germany seemed increasingly odd to me. Not only did it elude me why pedestrians waited patiently at red lights, but I also couldn’t stop laughing every time someone awkwardly tried to shake my hand. Yet, I liked the happy politeness of young people as well as the fact that everyone at the supermarket brought their own shopping bags. However, none of this could make me forsake France and fall back in love with Germany. Three more years and plenty more countries (mainly Asian) under my belt, the question has only become the more acute: Where are you from? From “New Europeans” to the “Euro generation” While we amble along the Canal Saint Martin, weaving our way in and out of a crowd of Saturday night art spectators, Sladjana Perkovic inadvertently smiles as I drop the origin question. “When I speak French, people often ask me where I’m from. Before I used to explain my origins, but now I’m not in the mood for that any more. So I say I’m French, but that French is not my mother tongue.” Born in Banja Luka, a city in the north-western part of Bosnia, Sladjana came to Paris in her early twenties to study politics and communications. After seven years in the capital, she is not only a lovely incarnation of the quintessential Paris chic, but has also been a French citizen for the past twelve months. As we stop to look at an art installation – a suspended ice ball that slowly dissolves into the shimmering waters of the canal – Sladjana explains that to her France doesn’t seem like a foreign country at all. “I have two homes: one in Paris and one in Banja Luka. I feel
Lilian Maria Pithan Lilian works as a journalist and translator for various European and Franco-German online magazines. Born and raised in Southern Germany, she has spent most of her adult life travelling Europe, Asia and Oceania to satisfy her unquenchable thirst for art, culture and human history. Lilian likes Japanese literature, British humour and sweet Gujarati curry and can’t wait to explore China at the end of this year.
French and Bosnian at the same time, but when I’m abroad I feel European.” In recent years, the number of young people who, like Sladjana, agree on “European” as a second nationality has been constantly growing. International studies like the “Youth and European Identity Project” (2001-2004), initiated by researchers from different European universities, as well as most recently the 2011 Eurobarometer survey on “New Europeans” have shown that an increasing number of under25-year-olds identify simultaneously as German, Czech or French as well as European. The list of midwives to this “Euro generation” is long, with Erasmus, Schengen and EasyJet among the most widely cited. Still, it is not just about less bureaucracy, more study loans and cheaper tickets. Feeling European, as grand as it may sound, is also a mindset of curiosity, adaptability and cultural passion.
sometimes wonders just when this French self of his emerged. But instead of seeing it as a danger, he enjoys being able to switch around. French or Polish, Spanish or Bosnian, German or Irish: whoever said that we could only be one thing? Sladjana speaks Bosnian every day for work and still feels very close to Banja Luka. She also agrees, however, that seven years in France have changed her a lot. As we walk down the canal towards the Place de la République, where an installation by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya envelops passers-by in a gentle mist, Sladjana is thinking about moving. Where to? She has not decided yet: maybe Bosnia or maybe somewhere entirely different. Around us we can only dimly perceive the shapes of the many young Parisians who are manoeuvring through the mist, giggling and laughing at the top of their voices every time a volley of wetness showers them from above.
Multiple personalities for the European self
Less politics, more passion
As the notion is gaining more validity, we passively, and sometimes actively, nurture our image as “young Europeans”, until we can’t solely call ourselves Irish, Bosnian or German any more. This realisation gently oozes in, most often with a reshaping of our social behaviour. The French custom of exchanging la bise in various social contexts is only one habit among many. Language also has its part in this subtly orchestrated personality development. The more fluent we become in another language, the more often we think and dream in it, the more it unveils new facets of our personality. We are still sitting in the same café, three espressos down the line each, when I ask Tim if he has ever felt like he was suffering from a language-induced multiple personality disorder.
It might be that we are a very fortunate lot, privileged when it comes to social background, education and opportunities in life. But identifying as European is becoming less elitist and is often more of a geographical lifestyle choice than a political motto. Of course, we know that we owe our new freedom to the EU, but we have come to relate to it on a more personal level. It is no secret that this is exactly what Europe and the EU need: less politics, more passion. Less paperwork, more crackers. More often than not, our visions of Europe are sparked on a stroll to our favourite Parisian café, during an exchange year in Dublin or on an evening out in Banja Luka.
With a little laugh, Tim assents. “Yes, it’s very real and very odd. I think it’s only when you reach a good level in a foreign language that you realise the new personality you’ve developed in the meantime. There’s the obvious aspect of speaking in a way that you would never do, with phrases and tones you would never use in your own language. But no matter how well you speak, there will always be a lack of mother tongue nuance in your new language, which makes your foreign persona more blunt, more audacious, with an entirely different sense of humour.” Tim, who speaks English, Gaelic and French,
Waiting yet again for the inevitable question, this time over beers and a different kind of crackers on another capital curb, I am surprised to notice how I am beginning to face those four little words with less dread and more of a sparkle. Where are you from? Without over-simplifying or hiding away in mysterious generalisations, I embark on a discussion about what my cultural background is, where I have lived and where I am currently living, happily juggling my European identities – and everyone else’s too. Yes, I am German. And yes, I feel French. I often live in Paris, but you will also find me in London, Berlin, Delhi, or even Melbourne. I am a city lover, an Asia fan, a foreign culture addict, and definitely European.
ROMAN HOLIDAY HUNGARIAN
a different meaning of a borderless Europe
travel in two to three week sessions and rarely speak Italian. For many of them, these constant begging trips to Italy become a way of life, a promise of Canaan in the Schengen Area. Gabor was in Rome for the first time at the age of 12. Now 23 years old, he has visited the Italian capital repeatedly. Besides that he spends the summers in the north-east coast of Italy, around San Benedetto. At first glance, you might take him for one of those fortunate, well-travelled persons who can afford to go to tourist paradises despite their young age. However, our hero is sleeping on cardboard boxes and showering in a washbasin throughout his vacations. He kneels on the promenade and begs for money, along with many fellow Hungarians. “The first time I went to Italy was with my brother and his wife when I was 12,” Gabor remembers. “Now they are a 40-something married couple who have everything at home, in Hungary: a nice house and even animals in their own garden. What they don’t have is a normal paid job.“ Maybe both of them could work for 70-80 thousand forints (250-300 euros) per month, but they say this amount of money would not be enough for managing their entire household. So instead of working for the minimum wage in Hungary, they were in Rome for the last three weeks and came home with 2,000 euros. At current exchange rates, this is six times higher than the Hungarian monthly minimum wage. They have been doing this for years now: three weeks in Rome, and then a few days back in Hungary. They also have a 15-year-old daughter. She stays at home alone, taking care of the house and the animals. Sometimes her grandmother comes over to help her, as long as the parents are “doing their business” in Italy. They say it’s still worth it. Begging is essentially a seasonal business, as the weather is a major determinant of the money-making opportunities. Still, the most courageous practitioners shuttle between Italy and Hungary throughout the whole year, even in winter. They come from various age groups: the youngest ones are under 20, the oldest around 40 years old. Most are men. The collective is based on loose kinship, composed of relatives and friends who are mostly coming from Budapest and North ern Hungary, the poorest region of the country. They usually
It is hard to accurately estimate the exact number of Hungarians involved in this industry. Not even Gabor himself has more than a rough idea: “I’m sure that there are hundreds of people like us in Rome, of whom I only know of 20-25 Hungarians in my own neighbourhood. And I am only talking about a relatively small slice of the city that I’m familiar with. Rome’s huge, and we mostly spend our time in our own region and did not really leave that zone.” Dolce vita versus hard reality Where do those people sleep? A member of the group recalls the scene of six to eight years ago: “At the banks of Tiber, the old cardboard houses were still there. The locals called that place the ‘Terrace’. Everybody knew that this place were inhabited mostly with Hungarians. In this little cardboard commune people had cooking equipment, so they had all kinds of comfort. Since then, these houses have been demolished, but the Hungarians did not disappear.” The retaining power of the community has great importance among them. While they spend the day alone carrying out their activities in their own spot, the Hungarian friends gather in groups at nightfall to talk over a bottle of cheap wine. Some spend the night alone. The married couple sleeps in a caravan, but there are also people who spend the nights at the locked and fenced patio of a supermarket which opens 8 a.m. in the morning. The local Caritas organisation provide them blankets, and they make their own ‘beds’ from a few cardboard boxes. On the subject of personal hygiene, they say they are able to use a washbasin every two to three days. Sunny spring days and summertime can make their life much easier in that sense. During these months, most of them leave Rome and choose one of the seaside resort towns. This move is advantageous for several reasons: they can attend to their ablutions in the sea, while the influx of foreign tourists in the summer is very conducive to good business.
Barbara Péterfi Originally from Hungary, Barbara is a graduate in both International Relations and Media and Communications, who therefore has an international focus and a great interest in the newest online media tools. In September 2013 she started a new life in Denmark. Currently an online reporter, a Youth Goodwill Ambassador for Denmark, and also a Master student at Åarhus University, she is deepening her knowledge in the field of international project management and online journalism.
A 35 euro per day job However strange it may sound, the daily schedules of the beggars are similar those of people working in traditional jobs – or at least, so they claim. “We also have our daily routine. I drink my cappuccino every morning, just like any true-born Roman, then go out to the promenade to earn money. In the evening, I like to sit down in an internet café, to read online about domestic happenings, and maybe skype with my Hungarian friends. As a beggar, you work eight hours a day on average, but on the unlucky days, you need to work overtime.” About 30-40 Euros can be expected per day as a fixed income, but if you can find a good location, it is possible to make much more. “At Easter, for example, Italians are giving away a lot of food. I got so many snacks that day that they did not fit in my backpack,” says Gabor. His working facility is just a small cardboard sign on which the phrase, “I’m hungry, give me a little help for life,” is inscribed in Italian. However, there are some developed strategies for making better money: one of his companions is trying with dogs by his side to ensure success, as he has learned over the years that the passers-by tend to give more money to people in animals. Rome turns a blind eye In most major Italian tourist cities – such as Verona, Venice or Florence – begging on the street is prohibited, with the interests of the local population and hundreds of thousands of tourists in mind. In contrast to these regulations, it seems like begging is going through a renaissance in Rome. Both the city government and the newly elected mayor, Ignazio Mario, include the prohibition of begging on the Eternal City’s streets among their aspirations. However, according to the Catholic Church’s position, the poor have a fundamental right to beg and receive charity that laws cannot overrule. In any case, Roman authorities have yet to impose a penalty on beggars. As a result, hundreds of beggars are present in the busier streets, and this ‘niche market’ was also noticed by the members of the Hungarian group. How then can practical relations with the Roman authorities be imagined?
“Of course, I meet a police officer almost every day,” one of the beggars explains. “Some of them just disapprovingly smile into my face, then there is the other type, who takes me to the police station. However, this is mostly a formality: they ask for my passport, ask why I’m in town. Then I try to explain them with the help of my limited Italian vocabulary that I have gained through the years. Sometimes they threaten me, saying that I better leave the city as soon as possible, but most of the time, after five to ten minutes they let me go back to the street. I think they do not know what to do with me, and they do not seem to be very wanting either.” Is kneeling on foreign streets worth it? As citizens of the European Union since 2004, Hungarians can also enjoy the salutary effects of the free movement of people in the Schengen Area. They can travel without a passport and go to work in any member country of the Union with equal rights according to the principles of the EU. However, there are some stowaways of the EU that do not appear in any public record or statistic. As the Hungarian state and the destination state’s administration is only aware of a list of persons who have officially logged in to work or look for work, they usually do not know much about these free riders. What they have in common is a sense of hopelessness in Hungary, since a large part of the Hungarian working population’s wage does not even reach the level of an Italian beggar. “Of course I did try to make it in Hungary“, states Gabor. “I live in a small village near Miskolc. When I managed to find a job, I had to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to catch up with public transport, and I came home after 11 o’clock in the evening. I earned 430 forints, or if you prefer, one and a half euros per hour, for being a waiter. I had to work on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve for that money. Then, when the holidays were over, my boss said that my trial time has expired, and unfortunately he does not require more of my work. For one and a half euro per hour…!” Gabor sighs angrily, and concludes: “For me, there is nothing wrong with the Italian conditions. Here at least I know why I’m doing this, and at the end of the day there’s twice as much money in my pocket than the salary that I could earn in Hungary with 15 hours of daily manual labor.”
“Georgia is not ready to join Europe,” states the young Avtandil unhesitatingly while standing on the pavement, struggling to get us to the other side of a road in central Tbilisi. “People here do not like to fasten seat-belts, and it is rare to come across a pedestrian crossing.” Avta, as his friends call him, is a Georgian student born after the country reclaimed its independence. He lives in the capital around which Georgian life orbits, a bustling city at the dawn of a nation on the make. Somewhere in between the Soviet era and the post-modernity, the Caucasus has become more than ever a singular region in international relations. Stuck between the Black and Caspian Seas, perched on top of a vast wellspring of oil and gas, below the powerful Russia and above the thorny Middle East, the Caucasus countries are fragmented political states with disputed borders, limited democracy, minority issues, persisting conflicts, and corruption. Amidst this complex mosaic, the youth born after the disintegration of the USSR seem to be facing an identity gridlock: is it towards Western Europe or Russia and the East that they look in pursuit of integration? Assembling the identity puzzle is not an easy task, because the strategic compasses in the Caucasus do not seem to orient themselves in the same direction. Although they belong to the same enclave, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan do not share a regional identity nor any sort of common political, security and economic agenda. Missing the resources to bridge the gap among the three countries, the European Union, Russia and other external powerful actors play a geopolitical chess according to their own ultimate interests. Last Autumn, the period of elections which took place almost at the same in the three countries caught the European Union’s attention. Heated debates among members of European Parliament, country experts, election observers from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and representatives from the embassies revolved around the state of
HOW THE EUROPEAN UNION SEES GEORGIANS AND HOW GEORGIANS SEE THEMSELVES
democracy and the use of election monitoring in general. But on one point at least there has been a consensus: the European perception of the region is incredibly hazy. The European Union is interested in the Caucasus, isn’t it? So, what role should Europe play in the region? The answer to that question depends on who you ask. According to GerbenJan Gerbrandy, member of the European Parliament, the EU does not really care about the Caucasus. But that statement is curiously contradited by his countryman Michiel Servaes, spokesman for Dutch Foreign Affairs, who emphatically insists that Europe should pay a great deal of attention to the region. Not only for its obvious colossal energy source, he argues, but for security reasons as well: Europe’s stability is directly impacted by its neighbours, and with regional geopolitics in mind, faulty diplomatic skills of the European Union could be costly to all. From a Western European perspective, the region looks like a tripod that will not stand still. Armenia is seen as a relatively isolated country with few reliable friends. The Armenian government’s recent refusal to discuss further agreements with the European Union has been understood as a clear signal of its orientation towards Moscow. Azerbaijan, meanwhile, suffered an appalling lack of transparency in its latest elections, and the general state of affairs in the country, with its very professional propaganda machine and its clear preference for relations with Russia, makes fruitful dialogue with the EU impossible. With Armenia and Azerbaijan as dead end alternatives for the moment, the lights of the European Union in the region are focused mainly on Georgia. Experts say that the recent regime change was relatively smooth and successful, with an acceptable level of transparency in the process. Besides, the Western standard of good behaviour comes with a cherry on top: the conflict with Russia for Abkhazia and South Ossetia provoked a divergence of the Tbilisi government from Moscow, leaving an influence vacuum in the country that has been filled up with Western actors.
Fernando was born in the chaos of São Paulo, Brazil, but due to Catalan roots, he also has Spanish nationality. Because, as he says, the world is too big and life too short, he has tried to travel as much as he can and has lived already in Geneva, London, Budapest and Amsterdam. He holds a degree in International Relations, a postgrad in Nationalism Studies and is currently concluding his Master thesis at the University of Amsterdam. He is a writer, a pro-Palestinian activist, a Balkan music lover and an adorer of Pablo Neruda. Fernando dreams of somehow crossing the Bering Strait one day. He considers Europe to be his trampoline to the world.
So Georgia shall be Reflecting this reality, the European Commission – through Youth in Action, a programme whose aim is to inspire a sense of active citizenship, solidarity and tolerance among young Europeans and to involve them in shaping the Union’s future – has been directing a lot of attention to the country. With a total budget of 885 million euros for seven years (2007-2013), the programme supports a large variety of activities for young people and youth workers, and since 2012 it has devoted a great portion of this budget to the South Caucasus countries, especially Georgia. Several projects take place in the country, with the goal of bringing together young people from different European countries to share their ideas about integration with people from the Caucasus on a non-political level. Youth exchanges like these consistently show that the Georgians are going through an intersection of generations: their parents might still have the Georgian-born Stalin to rock the cradles of their imaginations, but the ones born after the collapse of the USSR no longer look to the past with nostalgia. The picture is quite blurry: the youth today makes eyes towards Western Europe and craves Georgia-EU partnerships that could allow them to travel, work and study freely around the continent; but at the same time, they fear that over-exposure to Western world could harm their rich culture. If now they are able to speak English, the fear of having their beloved and unique language threatened by obsolescence is a big issue. Although most of the youth would prefer to strengthen ties with Europe rather than with Russia, it is rare to find a Georgian family who do not have a Russian relative. The bottom line is that, while the memories of the past wars are still fresh, the new generation is predisposed to peaceful solutions to whatever dispute may occur over the borders under Russian control. Proud of their culture and strongly tied to its roots and land since the early years of life, the young Georgians do not seem to carry the burden of the past and rank the will to travel
as the greatest of all gifts. In a private school in Batumi, a seaside city on the Black Sea, 15-year-old teenagers draw their future with enthusiasm. Although all of them wish to go abroad to study - especially to Germany - they all express a desire that is rare to find in today’s migratory fluxes to Europe: the definite intention to return. An identity mosaic Avta does look forward to a further integration of his country with Europe. He has an iPod and consumes popular Western culture. At the same time, he patiently dedicates his best efforts to teach the ritual of properly eating the national dumpling, called Khinkalis, that is consumed in industrial quantities all over the country. Given that McDonald’s is highly reputable and the avenue that leads from the airport to downtown Tbilisi is named after George W. Bush, it looks puzzling to place in the same framing the enormous pride of the Georgian country in all its cultural expressions: language, food, traditions and history. The full picture of this identity enigma makes it hard for those foreigners who attempt to find a black or white answer to the question: after all, in which direction are they gazing? During the two decades since it regained independence, the main objective of Georgian foreign and internal policy was to disassociate itself from its Soviet past and to shift its orientation westward. The country is still shaping its identity and it seems that the current population is one of the last to deal with a clash of generations, in which both mentalities – Soviet and globalized – interact with each other. In contrast to its regional neighbours who seem determined to walk away from Europe, it seems that the Georgian pro-Western policies will become stronger with time, especially since the country will soon be run by the current youth and upcoming generations, whose intentions have become clear already. If Georgia manages to secure the self-preservation of its cultural, political and religious heritage, the best of the both worlds will be in the hands of its cheerful and hospitable people. Whether their drivers will reconsider the seat-belt utility and the pedestrians’ right to cross the street safely, well, that may take a little longer.
THE END OF ROMAN BRITAIN
Italian immigration: growing numbers
Walking past Moorgate tube station, in the heart of the City of London, you can see a huge picture showing a man trying desperately to reach the surface of the sea, while a heavy ball fastened to his leg is drawing him down. The sign above the picture says, in bold: “Britain should get out of Europe”. Subtitle: “Britain could slash immigration. A third of Britain’s immigrants are Europeans, whom the government cannot turn away”. The man, of course, represents the United Kingdom, while the ball is the European Union. A few steps further you can see another advert, with the same man flying over the sea, lifted up by a huge balloon. This time the sign says: “Britain should stay in Europe”. These adverts are part of a campaign by The Economist called “Where do you stand?” and they are a clear indication of the fact that immigration from the EU has become a crucial issue in the UK. If you have visited London in recent years, you have probably noticed that the number of East Europeans, Spanish and Italians that live and work here is steadily increasing. In recent months, the most Eurosceptic newspapers of the British press, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, have pointed out that EU immigrants are having a heavy impact on British state coffers. These issues are contributing to Euroscepticism among Britons, who are preparing for a referendum on whether or not to leave the European Union between 2014 and 2017. Italy is one of the European countries that has contributed most to the rise of EU citizens living in the UK. So how would a British withdrawal affect Italian immigration?
“The intolerance towards EU citizens concerns the people coming from Eastern Europe, such as Poles, Romanians and Bulgarians, more than Italians,” says Enrico Franceschini, London correspondent for one of most important Italian newspapers, la Repubblica. However, some Italian observers recently described migration to the UK as a “nation on the run”, evoking something more profound than simple physical movement within the EU. According to the Italian embassy in London, almost 200,000 Italians live in the UK, most of them in London. However, these figures include only the Italians who subscribed to the AIRE, the civil registry for Italians who live abroad. The actual number of Italians who live in London is therefore probably higher. One thing is sure: the figure is rising sharply. In the last 18 months, more than 90,000 Italians moved to the United Kingdom. Unemployment benefits: not a privilege for foreigners The Daily Telegraph reports that there are 600,000 EU citizens living in the UK who claim unemployment benefits. This is going to cost the NHS (Britain’s healthcare system) £1.5 billion. The source for these figures is a study by the European Commission, which shows that EU immigration to the UK increased by 42% in the last six years, probably because of the Eurozone crisis. The European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, who sponsored the study mentioned by the Daily Telegraph, is trying to make it easier for EU citizens to claim British benefits. One of the immediate consequences of a UK exit would be the reversal of this tendency. But are
Davide Colombini Davide Colombini, Italian, has studied History in Milan and Journalism in London. He is passionate about books and nature and loves to demolish other people’s certainties by revealing them that he has never drunk coffee. Investigative journalism is his main interest.
foreigners, especially Italians, prevalent among these claimers of public money? “If I could choose one word to describe Italian immigration to London, I’d pick ‘poverty’,” says Antonio Esposito, 27, founder of Living London Way, a company that helps Italians planning to move to London find a cheap place to stay. “Italians migrate because they have to,” he added, “most of them wouldn’t leave Italy at all. I’ve realised that the average age of my customers is gradually growing. At the beginning there was just guys in their twenties, but now grown men in their fifties are sending me e-mails about moving here”. From Esposito’s experience, Italians do not claim unemployment benefits: “As far as I know, if you come from abroad with a dream, you try to accomplish it, instead of living like a virus. And, by the way, with £50 or £60 benefits a week, nobody will be able to live here.” Furthermore, a recent study by Christian Dustmann (University College London)) and Tommaso Frattini (Università degli Studi di Milano) helps to clarify this “benefit issue”. “The perhaps most important finding of our analysis is that immigrants are overall less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, and similarly likely to live in social housing as natives in the same region”, the researchers say. Generally speaking, it seems that the UK national economy benefits from the presence of EU immigrants. This does not mean that there are not concerns about benefits, but that it is largely Britons who claim them. The research suggests that there is an entire segment of the British population living exclusively on benefits. According to this study, most of them are incentivised to stay unemployed
by the welfare. “Some differences do emerge between im migrants from the European Economic Area (EEA) and those from outside Europe (non-EEA). Whereas EEA immigrants have made an overall positive fiscal contribution to the UK, the net fiscal balance of non-EEA immigrants is negative, as it is for natives”, they add. Data shows that the migrants who have moved to London since 1999 have given 30% more to the UK than they have received, paying to the state around £25 billion. In the end, research of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research points out that British com panies are likely to hire foreigners because they are often better qualified and harder workers than the British, especially in some sectors in which Britons simply don’t want to work any more. Consequences for EU students Alongside the Italians who move the UK to find a better career, there are also the ones who move to study in an English university. How is a potential withdrawal going to affect them? The Daily Mail highlights the fact that British taxpayers are lending more than £100 million to EU citizens who come to the UK for their studies, claiming that more than half of the money is unlikely to be repaid. If the UK does leave the EU, tuition fees for EU students will double, rising from an average £8-9,000 to up to £18,000, because they will be considered international students. The consequences of this are hard to foresee: the most likely scenario is that it would be hard for most of the students to pay those fees and only few of them will manage to borrow more money from UK banks. Studying in the UK once it has left the EU will probably become a privilege for wealthy youngsters.
MIGRATION INTO EUROPE
$2,000-$5,000 per person, but an average Eritrean earns $800 a year, a Somali just $600.
The Lampedusa tragedy, in which over 300 migrants died after their ship sank off the Italian coast on 3rd October 2013, has brought widespread public awareness of the shadowy face of immigration policy in Europe, throwing into the spotlight a segment of European society that has been in the shadows for a long time. According to Fortress Europe, an Italian organisation that monitors migrant deaths, over 19,000 people have died trying to reach Europe since 1988, the vast majority of them in the waters of the Mediterranean and Atlantic. No one knows for certain exactly how many people have arrived illegally or died trying, because their identities are known only by their families and close friends. The UN has recently determined that there are more refugees now than at any time since 1994, which means the issue of mass migration, legal and illegal, is only going to get more significant. There are 16 million recognised refugees living in the world. 1.5 million of these refugees live in the 27 countries of the European Union (now 28) plus Switzerland and Norway. The countries of the EU have vastly different immigration policies, but in general all of them make a distinction between refugees and asylum seekers. Refugees are often documented people who have taken shelter in another country while asylum seekers have to prove their claims to receive refugee status, usually in the country they are seeking to settle in. In spite of the legal framework in place, actually getting to the EU and gaining the right to settle there remains a tremendous challenge. Migrants come to Europe for a host of political, economic and even environmental reasons. The lack of opportunities to provide for themselves and their families in their own countries in their is the main driving force that each year motivates tens of thousands, mostly young men, to make the perilous journey to Europe in search of a better life. The largest number this in 2013 migrants came from Syria, a country in the midst of a fierce civil war that has claimed more than 100,000 lives; Somalia, a “failed state” since 1991; and Eritrea, a closed-off dictatorship. The cost of making the journey by boat from North Africa to the southern coast of Europe ranges from
Migrants and their families obtain the necessary money by saving their earnings, selling off their personal possessions, from television sets to farming implements, and / or from taking out a loan. The last option especially puts them and their families at greater risk because the loans are taken, sometimes from banks but also from unscrupulous moneylenders, on the assumption that the migrant will be able to pay back the loan in the future. There is no such guarantee. The European Right’s Response The unwillingness of many EU countries to take in larger numbers of migrants is often linked to high levels of unemployment in most of the member states, an impact of the global economic crisis, and the perceived negative social effects of migration. Thus, the political issue of migration is reflected in its economic and social effects. The right wing in Europe has especially attached itself to the position of restricting or totally halting further migration and even evicting immigrants. The political right across Europe in particular have argued that unemployment and state expenditures will be lowered if the number of migrant workers is reduced. Furthermore, from a cultural point of view, many populist politicians doubt the ability of the migrants to integrate or accommodate themselves to the predominant social norms. Even worse, the spreading of negative views on immigrants by political groups can produce violent consequences on the streets, as witnessed by the public, increasingly common attacks on legal and illegal immigrants in Greece by the right-wing extremists of Golden Dawn. Meanwhile, some countries, such as France and the UK for instance, have supplied Syrian rebels with weapons, but refused to allow the refugees and displaced persons to settle in their countries, preferring instead to provide temporary humanitarian relief through the UNHCR in such countries as Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. The Experience of ‘other’ Europeans This year has witnessed a surge of asylum seekers from the Balkans, which has been a relatively peaceful if unstable
´ Mirza Mustafic Mirza, born in 1987, comes from Zvornik, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He holds a BA in History and Social Studies, along with a minor in Political Science, from Western Kentucky University in the United States. He is currently living in Bosnia and engaged in the NGO sector as a social activist and organiser.
region in Europe, Travelling to Sweden, Germany and other northern European states, migrants aim to escape. The unemployment rate is 25% in Serbia, over 30% in Macedonia and more than 40% in Bosnia & Herzegovina (the countries of origin for most of the Balkan asylum seekers), reflecting the economic collapse that came about during and following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990’s. A great number of these asylum seekers, desperate to escape the bleak economic conditions in the Balkans, were lured by rumours and false promises of easy access to housing, employment and social programs, but the reality they encountered was very different. In spite of first-hand testimony and evidence that the conditions for new arrivals were not what they hoped for, many of these poverty-stricken ‘other Europeans’ were willing to sell off virtually all of their remaining valuable personal possessions for a bus ticket to Stockholm, Berlin or Luxembourg and a dream of living and working within the EU. One young man from North-Eastern Bosnia related his experiences of travelling with his cousin in the hope of gaining asylum in Sweden. Upon arrival in Sweden, they were placed in a semi-rural collective centre around 20 km from the city of Mälmo with asylum seekers from other parts of the world. They were each given an allowance of the equivalent of around 200 Euros per month, but the bus fare to the grocery store and back alone was seven Euros. The asylum seekers did not have the chance to work until their cases were determined. While his cousin returned to Bosnia after just one month, he stayed for over two months until he was forced to return because the Swedish Government refuses to recognise economic refugees from the Balkans as legitimate asylum seekers. Conservative politicians from Sweden and other countries affected by the influx of Balkan migrants are pushing hard for the reintroduction of visa requirements for the citizens of the Western Balkan countries. The treatment these migrants received is just one case in many indicative of the growing feeling that non-EU immigrants are no longer welcomed by the governments of the EU member states. In 2010, over 150 young Afghan refugees were moved to a “reception centre” after a public outcry over the fact that many of them had stayed for more than a year in a tent camp under a bridge over the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris.
Asylum seekers in Germany (Europe’s largest economy), for example, are required by law to live in the city or town where they were initially issued a stay of deportation. They usually live in government camps with very poor living conditions and receive an allowance of 400 Euros per month, but are not allowed to work for more than one Euro per hour until their official status is determined. This in itself is a very lengthy process. Finding a European Standard Why are there different standards for EU and non-EU migrants? Within the European Union, for example, Spanish and Portuguese workers who are unable to secure employment in their own countries are able to go to Germany, the UK or even outside of Europe to such countries as Argentina, Mexico or Brazil, countries whose economies are experiencing growth. But Romanians and Bulgarians had to wait out seven years of migrant worker controls after their country joined the EU in 2007. Those who are not from the EU member states have very limited rights until their legal status is determined and will likely face de facto discrimination, especially with regards to employment. Answering the question of why tens of thousands of people come to the EU legally and illegally is the key to understanding how best the EU can respond to non-EU migration. As long as people are willing to put themselves and their families at grave risk in the hope of attaining a better life, even a zero immigration policy will not prevent some people from trying to enter if they feel that the rewards far outweigh the risks. Therefore, the EU and its individual member states should develop a sensible migration policy that takes into account the root causes of migration and sets an optimal number of new arrivals that a state can absorb. This should take into account a variety of factors, including labour needs and occupational shortages. Promoting peace in conflict zones and sustainable economic development in underdeveloped regions will also certainly encourage many people to look for prospects in the countries they originate from. Criminalising and putting the blame squarely on the immigrants, especially the illegal ones, is a policy that has had only tragic consequences. A humane approach is required to deal with this humanitarian crisis.
There is a hustle at the Pakistani Embassy in Athens. About 70 men stand waiting outside the washed-out concrete building with tinted windows to apply for passports. Many of them have entered the country illegally and destroyed their papers to conceal their country of origin and avoid immediate deportation. Now that the crisis has a firm grip on Europe, they want to return home. But it is not only economic pressure that are driving them out of the country: xenophobic attitudes have increased significantly in Greece. Goon squads of the right-wing party Golden Dawn roam through Athens with baseball bats and dogs, beating up anyone they take for an immigrant. Among the men in front of the Pakistani embassy, everybody is deeply afraid of them. “If they see an Afghan, Pakistani or Bangladeshi at night, they beat him half to death and take his passport, money and mobile phone. Then they leave,” says Muhammad, an unremarkable, slim man with light gray wisps in his hair. The 28-year-old came from Pakistan to Greece nine years ago. Now he wants nothing more than to return. He does not want to reveal his real name, nor does he like being photographed, not even from behind. He has been waiting in line with some friends for a few hours. They form a cluster around Muhammad and follow the interview attentively. “Before the crisis, life here was very nice, but now there are only two or three days of work per month,” says Muhammad. “I leave my house only to go to work and then come back immediately. After seven o’clock in the evening I don’t go out any more.” A harsh social climate Just like many other undocumented migrants, Muhammad was smuggled in by traffickers via Iran and Turkey. He accepted the rigours of the perilous journey, hoping for a better life in Europe. That was in 2003, and the trip cost him 4,000 Euros. Muhammad says that he had worked in the steel and aluminum industries for several years. Then things became increasingly difficult. Now the crisis has devoured almost all of the jobs that were given to illegal immigrants, often underhandedly. Among Greeks, unemployment is high; it currently stands, according to official estimates by the International Monetary Fund, at 19.4%. The actual number is likely to be higher. On top of that, the Greek government had to cut benefits and subsidies within the frame of drastic austerity measures. This economic pressure, combined with an increasingly harsh social climate, drives ever more illegal immigrants back to their home countries. With police and state authorities unable to cope with the migration problem, right- and left-wing parties are gaining popularity. The extreme nationalist party Golden Dawn achieved 7% of the vote in the last election and now holds 21 seats in the Greek Parliament. A growing number of Greeks long for law and order – no matter who enforces it. One of them is Nikias Naoum, who stands in front of his family-owned grocery store and casts annoyed looks at the Paki-
stanis. The small shop is only 200 yards away from the Pakistani embassy in the upscale Kolonaki district of Athens, and the waiting line often reaches up to his door. “It’s been going on like this for 5 years now,” says the athletic 54-year old. “Every day a different crowd, always new faces. Completely unorganized, they are sitting in everybody’s doorways. Can you imagine how many there are?” Moreover, according to Naoum, the Pakistanis do damage to his business, even though some would buy drinks from him: “I pay rent to have this shop here. And they just come and sell rice and chicken and whatnot to their people throughout the day”, he says. Nikias Naoum feels that the officials, especially the police, do nothing to stem the chaos. In some parts of Athens, business owners call the right-wing militias of Golden Dawn for help if they have the impression that there are too many illegal immigrants in their street and the police stand back. Nikias Naoum says that he personally would not go that far: “I’m not for the Golden Dawn. But unfortunately, if it needs to be done with Golden Dawn, then this has to be the solution, because this mess can’t be happening like that every day.” Nobody knows exactly how many migrants and refugees currently live in Greece. There is hardly any reliable data. One thing, however, is certain: A large number of them stay in the country illegally. General Patroklos Georgiadis from the Greek Ministry of Public Order and Citizen Protection estimates that 500,000 legal and as many illegal immigrants live in Greece – combined they make up roughly 12 percent of the population. A large number of illegals go underground in Athens. Asylum on a Saturday morning “Greece has become the main entry point for migrants in recent years,” says Ketty Kehayioylou, spokeswoman for the UNHCR in Greece. Due to the border fence along the Evros river, the flow of migrants has shifted to the Greek islands since August this year. Ketty Kahayioylou observes the recent developments with concern: “Many of those who are arrested and deported by the police are in need of international protection because their lives are in danger if they go back,” she says. Claiming asylum is a very difficult process for newcomers: “In Athens, you can only put in a claim for asylum on Saturday morning. Twenty people per week are granted access to this procedure”, explains Kehayioylou. “The authorities say they are operating at capacity. Moreover, Athens has only 1,000 accommodation places for asylum seekers – that is not enough by far.” According to Kehayioylou, the recognition rate is very low; approximately 30% of the cases were decided positively in the second instance. Her hopes now rest on the action plan that the Greek government decided on in August 2010 to create an improved asylum system. In examination centres, migrants and refugees are supposed to be examined by doctors and questioned by psychologists to determine whether they are in need of asylum. Greece’s current system is chronically overstretched with the constant onslaught
Armin Peter Armin was born in Munich, Germany. He did his Bachelor studies in political sciences at Freie Universität Berlin and American University in Washington D.C. He is a scholarship holder of the Journalist Academy of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation. Currently he studies in the Master of Public Policy program at Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and works as a freelance journalist.
of newcomers. According to General Secretary Georgiadis, the action plan is still in the transitional phase: “I believe that we are on the right track and that we will have cleared 55,000 pending asylum procedures until Christmas,” he explains. Dimitris K. Christopoulos, vice chairman of the National Human Rights Commission of Greece, is of the opinion that the Greek government uses its “policy of chaos” to exert pressure on other European countries: “Greece is the European ambulance for illegal immigrants. But there is no hospital,” says Christopoulos. “In order to show Europe that we are not even able to be the hospital, they hold the immigrants in most inhumane conditions. Simultaneously, Greece thereby sends a signal to people in Africa and Asia, saying: Don’t come here, it’s living hell for you.” More European Support for Greece The overcrowded Greek detention centers, where illegals are often held in custody for months until their deportation, have been sharply criticized by EU officials over the last two years because of non-compliance with European standards. General Secretary Georgiadis counters: “Staying in a detention center is still better than having to sleep in a cardboard box in the street. Besides, it took Europe a long time to understand Greece’s problem.” To relieve the pressure on the periphery of the continent, several European countries – among them Germany – have suspended the controversial Dublin II Regulation. It stipulated that asylum seekers who have arrived from a safe third country can be deported back there if their claim is not accepted. Thus many asylum seekers who had made it to Germany were sent back to Greece in case of arrest. Beyond that, Germany dispatches asylum experts of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees as well as federal police forces for Frontex operations and on a bilateral basis, according to a spokesman of the German Foreign Office. Furthermore, Germany supports proposals at EU level that will grant Greece an easier access to funds. According to Christopoulos, however, asylum seekers are not the most pressing problem: “Even if Dublin II became a fantastic thing overnight, we’d still have the problem of some 400,000 illegal immigrants who do not intend to apply for asylum”, he says. His proposal: a campaign to register all illegal migrants in Greece. “No one knows about how many people we are talking about,” says Christopoulos. “If we had a tangible number, we could go to the EU and other countries and ask them to share this burden with us. Greece is unable to absorb so many people in its market.” Voluntary departure For many thousands of fortune seekers who are stuck in Greece, the promised land of Europe has become a trap. In Greece there are no jobs due to the crisis, while an official asylum application is usually futile. And travelling to other EU countries has become difficult, especially without papers. Those who can afford it pay for the homeward journey
written in collaboration with
out of their own pocket. Often they have to rely on traffickers again, as a legal exit is impossible without a passport. Some illegals, however, get the opportunity to leave Europe with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It offers a chance get out of the country in safety and dignity. “In recent years we have had an ever-increasing number of migrants who wish to voluntarily return home,” says Daniel Esdras, chairman of the IOM. Pakistanis, Afghans and Senegalese sit waiting in the ground floor of the run-down building, holding their documents. Behind a squeaky wooden door on the first floor, Daniel Esdras sits at his cluttered desk. It is stifling hot, the October sun only held away by a few faded wooden shutters outside the windows. “When we ask people why they want to go, they say that it used to be easier to get to other EU countries,” he says. “They also find no jobs due to the crisis, and they don’t feel safe anymore because of the growing xenophobia in Greece. Some come here with wounds or broken hands, saying that they were attacked in the street.” Restart in Pakistan The voluntary repatriation program started two years ago with 400 migrants, and has been expanding ever since. 6,000 undocumented immigrants have been flown back from to their home countries by the IOM so far. The return of 7,000 people costs about ten million euros. Three-quarters of the cost is covered by the European Commission, the remainder by the Greek Government. Given the steady increase in demand, Esdras is not worried about the project’s future. The Ministry for Public Order and Citizen Protection confirms that more funds are earmarked for 2013. The IOM not only provides an airline ticket, but also 300 euros for each outbound traveler to facilitate the start of a new life in their home country. “Many illegals who would have a good chance to get asylum often don’t apply,” says Daniel Esdras. “They tell me that even if their claim was granted, they would still have no job and no roof over their head. Therefore, many people prefer to return – even to countries like Iraq or Afghanistan.” Ali Wakas managed to get a ticket to his home city of Lahore, Pakistan through IOM. Now he grins from ear to ear: he cannot wait to go back home. “I’ve lived here for seven years, but now there is no more work,” he says in fluent Greek. In addition, Ali repeatedly stresses that he is deeply afraid of the “Golden Dawn”. According to Ali, some of his friends already got beaten up badly. The 26-year-old doesn’t know yet what to do in Pakistan. “Maybe I’ll open a store”, he says. Getting out of Greece, out of Europe, is all that counts for him right now. And so Ali is waiting at Athens airport with 26 compatriots, accompanied by two IOM staff. They will fly via Doha to Lahore, Pakistan in order to start from scratch again. Ali Wakas is looking forward to it.
GERMANY AND THE WESTERN BALKANS
Germany: in the Balkans also known as “Eldorado”, “the Promised Land” or the land where we will find our future – or at least our pensions. Hand in hand with this utopian vision of Germany goes the word Gastarbeiter, a well-known term that is also completely integrated in the many languages spoken in the countries of the western Balkan region. If you are from the Balkans at least one close family member (read: every male member capable of physical work) went to Germany as a Gastarbeiter. As time passes, this term evolved and the relationship between the countries went through different stages. What at first was supposed to be a sophisticated bilateral agreement with mutual benefits, turned out in the end to be a cheesy soap opera love story. Back in 1968, West Germany signed a bilateral agreement with Yugoslavia which allowed the recruitment of Gastarbeiter for jobs that required modest qualifications. This agreement was not made because Germany cared deeply for workers from the former Yugoslavia or because workers from this region have been known for their work ethic, but because Germany was experiencing rapid economic growth and needed labour – as much labour as possible. And thanks to the capitalist logic of managing business, that labour had to be as cheap as possible. Of course a salary is relative, depending on the specific point of view: what for one worker is below any acceptable standard, for another worker could be a straight lottery win. Unfortunately for some, the agreement had an expiration date. But many workers were not ready or willing to leave Germany. Chapter one: The love affair An affair involves at least two lovers and a mutual benefit of getting together – it could be love, money, security or all combined. Which isn’t really that different from the reasons countries for which sign bilateral agreements, is it? Germany was in great need of labour due the economic growth and the potential of becoming a leading nation. In this love affair Germany plays therefore the role of the strong man who needs to work on his personal growth with the intention to become a successful and powerful leader. On the other side we have
workers from socialist countries who for various reasons (politics, education, war) can’t find a job in their home countries, or who have a job but can’t make enough money to feed their whole family. Or perhaps they simply want extra cash for luxury items such as cars, houses or vacations. They play the role of the girl in need who neglects her own necessities in order to be fully dedicated to the needs of her chosen man and to get stability in return (being of emotional or financial nature). At this point we can see a classic heterosexual love story plot. This specific phenomenon is very well expressed with the popular saying: “Behind every successful man there is a woman” or in other words, behind every successful economic power there are exploited workers. Anyway, the lovers met, saw that they could give each other what they needed and fell rationally in love. But let’s not jump to conclusions. Being in love can easily be compared with being hungry, it is not consistent: it comes and goes, depending on the available resources. So after we find a suitable candidate to fulfil our basic needs for ‘love’, the initial infatuation and the feeling often described as “having butterflies in my stomach” (or money, depending on the point of view) disappears, leaving only the harsh realities of everyday life. Chapter two: The break-up After a while this relationship is no longer sustainable. The disappointed lover returns home because her services are no longer needed or her beloved man has replaced her by younger mistresses. But she does not give up so easily. After sleepless nights in the family house, jealousy begins to obsess the broken heart. The question arises: “How can I be dumped so easily after I gave him my best years?” The heartbroken lover sees only one way out of a situation that seems almost hopeless – revenge. The persistent lover keeps returning to the place where she first found love even though there is a restraining order (Immigration Act) against her. The last desperate step of the lover is an attempt to seduce her beloved with a clear goal – a baby whose right cannot be denied. In the Balkans this is known as “the second generation of Gastarbeiter”. The outcome of this scenario is uncertain: will it help to reconnect the wayward lovers or will they become
Svjetlana Rezo Svjetlana describes herself as a cyberpunk-loving, beer-drinking and imgur-addicted nonconformist who jumps out of every box someone tries to put her in. After a few years of living driven by the ideas of the socialistic system and dreaming of revolution while being a student, she is now a part of the capitalist society, working too much and daydreaming less. Originally she is Balkan, but she considers herself more a European – in her opinion it is pretentious to feel like a citizen of the world and pathetic to be defined by nationality. For her Europe is the rebel without a cause among the continents.
allies in order to give the child a better future? As in most love stories, our story between Germany and the workers from the Western Balkans is doomed to fail. One side may love more, get overly attached and at the end feels exploited and discarded. The inevitable scenario between lovers happens, the making up, the fighting, making new rules, fighting again, adjusting rules, making up… but predictably the final step is divorce with the agreement for shared custody. Chapter three: The children
the houses, the police, the corruption, the prices. But then again they love to be in this weird circumstance because they feel loved and admired. They experience things they never could and would back in Germany, like getting drunk for ten euros, driving drunk, bribing cops or anybody else who could do something for them, telling stories about the hard life in Germany or in other words acting like they are in Wild Wild West in the role of Clint Eastwood. And they get used to it. But at one point they have to go back to their ‘civilised West’ with real roads and laws they actually have to obey.
Sure thing when it comes to divorce, children always suffer the most. This has even more consequences when the parents are from completely different cultures and have different expectations. “The second generation of Gastarbeiter” likes to go for a week or two during the year to their home countries in the mountainous peninsula. Here, unlike in their father’s place, they feel superior. But this superior attitude makes them unwelcome in their mother land. However their fathers’ money is more than welcome. In the end we have this win-win situation.
And here the problems begin. Once they have learned ‘the Balkan way’ of getting things done – that is, the easy way – they try to apply it in Germany. Quickly they find out that this is not really going to happen and they alienate themselves from the Western culture, living in the society, but by their own rules, more and more alienated from it. This is a completely different love story however. The second generation of Gastarbeiter is not fully integrated in Germany or in one of the Western Balkans countries. They are considered immigrants in both both motherland and fatherland.
This brings us back to the evolution of the term ‘Gastarbeiter’. So, the mother came to give love without any desire for assimilation or integration, learning only words and phrases that were needed to survive the everyday life, with the hidden fancy that the hard work and effort will help the people left behind in the unfortunate home country. Earlier the term ‘Gastarbeiter’ was used to express that someone lives in hard conditions in a foreign country, trying to provide for their families. It was considered to be the ultimate sacrifice: being away from their loved ones, not being able to see their children growing up, to teach boys how to shave and girls how to cook and to be without any opinion of their own. On top of this they were taking a great risk leaving the wife at home without any supervision.
Chapter four: The faith in love can be restored
But today it’s often an insult to call somebody a Gastarbeiter. It stands for the spoiled children of the second generation. They come on their shiny horses called Mercedes or BMW to the unpaved roads in the hinterlands and complain about it. In fact, they complain about everything: the roads, the nonexistent street lights, the conditions they have to sleep in,
Love, like hunger, cannot easily be ignored. Germany knows to appreciate the effort and the work that helped making it a world power. Being the considerable lover that this country is (also again in need for love/labour) it gives the lover from the former Yugoslavian countries, living in poor conditions and without any hope for a ‘better future’, another chance, hoping to make things finally right. Only this time with a better regulated prenup: the lover needs to show some qualifications, also to know the language and has to show the will to forget inapplicable customs from the Balkans, which also means to respect the terms and conditions and to know when it’s over and at what point the break-up is inevitable. In return Germany is willing to give them more rights and a status that will make them more than the second class citizens they used to be. The lover from the Balkans is excited, already packing their things, although the prenup is not quite ready yet. But who cares; if you see love you have to hold on to it, don’t you? Is love going to win this time? Or are we going to witness a love story more tragic than Twilight?
ART OF EDITING
“Editing requires the strange ability to stand in the place of the reader and the author simultaneously,” says Adam Reichardt to the group of young writers assembled around him for the Journalist Award workshop. The words are a quotation, but they are at the heart of the message Reichardt has come to deliver: that good journalism must not serve exclusively either its producers or its consumers, but hold both in mind always and at once. “The editor,” as he puts it, “is a gatekeeper.” Reichardt’s insights are not founded on abstract theories. As editor-in-chief at New Eastern Europe, he grapples with the many challenges of transnational journalism every day. New Eastern Europe is a quarterly magazine that covers events in the former Eastern Bloc with the objective of enhancing understanding of the region and creating a dialogue between East and West. The articles it publishes are lengthy and rigorously researched, but since they are intended for a general audience they must not be overly academic. Reichardt’s daily endeavour is to convert complex arguments and dense analyses into something mentally nourishing for the relatively uninitiated. “The magazine doesn’t exist for us,” he explains.
that he personally dislikes – such as his own publication. He encourages young journalists not to bind themselves to the conventions of mainstream publication styles but to explore the burgeoning alternatives. Blogs, for instance, win favour among readers “not for the stories they’re covering but for the bloggers themselves.”
From its basis in the practice of editing, Adam Reichardt’s seminar session roves over topics from social media to style. One subject that immediately captures the attention of his audience is the internet’s impact on journalism. Some of the workshop participants suggest that media overload is catastrophically crippling our ability to concentrate on substantial texts, and Reichardt to some extent agrees. “Readers are overwhelmed with information and need to pick and choose,” he argues. But for him the sheer volume of bite-size articles online offers print journalism an opportunity: many may turn to physical publications for deeper, more long-form reporting.
After these engrossing digressions, however, Reichardt returns to his main theme: the balancing act every editor must perform. He talks participants through the lifecycle of a story submitted to New Eastern Europe, from its arrival in his inbox to the moment it is set in print. Translation is the first challenge, and not just only in the most obvious sense: “Translation is not just about translating language, but also mindset and mentality,” Reichardt says, exploring one of the greatest challenges in transnational journalism. “There’s a big difference between the way a classical Slavic writer thinks and the way a typical Anglo-Saxon thinks.”
Another impact of the internet, Reichardt suggests, is that it provides a platform for ‘niche media’ – an industry term
Now the translated article is edited, followed by thorough proofreading. Then it is edited and proofread once again. Now it becomes clear what Adam means by his concept of ‘gatekeeping’: the proofed article is returned to the writer for authorisation before at last being processed into a layout and going to print. Finally, after a third, fourth and fifth proofreading session, the article goes to print. From an external perspective, it may seem daunting to realise how much work goes into every single article produced for a publication like New Eastern Europe. But the lesson that comes with this knowledge is double: learning about how an editor thinks can help young writers to anticipate their editor’s demands while also preparing them for editorial responsibilities of their own. Europe & Me thanks Adam Reichardt for his generosity and for sharing his wisdom in the Young Journalist Award workshop.
INTERVIEW E&M'S EDGAR GERRARD HUGHES TALKS TO ADAM REICHARDT ABOUT TRANSNATIONAL JOURNALISM, EDITING AND PARTICIPATING IN THE YOUNG JOURNALIST AWARD
What does transnational journalism mean to you? Why does it matter and what particular challenges does it create? When I hear the expression ‘transnational journalism’, I often think about it as a genre of journalism that aims to translate stories and ideas meant to be understood by a wide group of people: writing not bound by borders. This is a different style of journalism, however, since its focus is so much wider than one specific state or nation. The audience for transnational journalism is a global one with differing understandings, experiences and contexts. This is a challenge to those journalists who are writing for this audience, because the message and story has to be understandable to so many different types of people. But at the same time, transnational journalism is an opportunity to educate and break down stereotypes. National mass media have become quite sensationalist these days and with many social frustrations in local areas as the result of the stagnant economic situation, mass media easily exploit stereotypes and ignorance. Transnational journalism has the ability to respond to this and provide a deeper point of view. Of course, reaching a wide audience is still difficult and creating a demand or generating interest for the types of stories that are produced in transnational journalism remains a challenge for editors and journalists alike. What role should the media have in creating a better Europe? First, I think the media need to understand that creating a better Europe is something that is in their interests. As I mentioned earlier, it is unfortunately not the case with many mass media outlets that exploit stereotypes and fears, since that is what sells better. On the other hand, the media also like to tell ‘human stories’, which appeal to the audience’s emotions rather than their analytical intelligence. This can be positive as it may expose an audience to new ideas through these moving stories. So there are opportunities to focus on subjects besides fear and division. Hence, the media could use their power to unite; not divide. I think this is the role they could be doing better across Europe. A big challenge for any pan-European media organisation is language. English is probably as close as Europe gets
to a common language, although in truth there is no common European lingua franca. Transnational journals like Europe & Me or New Eastern Europe recognise this and publish in English. But these do not have the potential to reach every one and as yet there is no real pan-European media – aside perhaps from Euronews (which is television). Presseurop, which was an online news portal translating newspaper articles from and into ten different languages, attempted to bridge the national media gap; but it never reached its potential and became dependent on EU funding. When that was cancelled recently, it was sadly forced to shut down. What will you take away from your experience as a judge and mentor for the Young Journalist Award? I was very impressed by how there still is a younger generation of Europeans who feel ‘European’ and who have a very positive, enthusiastic approach to journalism. All too often we hear the negative side of the European story, so it was a breath of fresh air to see young people engaging with each other, wanting to learn from each other as well as network. I was also impressed with both their writing and their style. I think all of the short-listed submissions were written by nonnative speakers of English and they all did a very good job at portraying the story to the reader in a foreign language. This is not easy. At New Eastern Europe we translate the majority of our texts since most of our authors do not write in English. So, I was pleasantly surprised to read such high quality writing among the submissions. Does print journalism have a future, or will we all soon be paperless media consumers? And does it matter? I do not see the digital revolution and internet age replacing print. The same was said when radio and television were invented. In fact, they have all just become other means of communication. But I do believe that digital-based media will have an effect, as it already has, on the mass media, such as printed daily newspapers. It will require a new approach to media production. In this age, the phrase “innovate or die” is more relevant than ever. Those who will embrace the digital revolution and be a part of shaping it will thrive. Those who think they can survive doing what they always have will face problems.
But will it replace print? I don’t think so, because people still like to have a physical book to hold in their hands when they are reading. That is why I believe it is niche media that will be able to succeed in print. Short news stories of the type you would find in a daily can be found online easily and for free. We read them every day to stay on top of current events and that is what is causing competition for newspapers. The longer form of journalism, like essays and analysis, will still be embraced in print. Why do you prefer to read long form journalism in print rather than online? This style of journalism requires more concentration on the part of the reader. It is more like reading a book. In this day and age, we read short news stories, like in a daily newspaper or online, in between other tasks. We sometimes even just scan the story to get the gist of the message. The longer form of journalism, which is found more in niche magazines like New Eastern Europe, demands that the reader focuses on the article and reflects on the message. And I think that in this hyperactive world where we live and work, we still need that time for our brains to slow down and focus. Reading a book or longer types of essays is one way to do this. Should transnational publications written in English aim for the same norms and standards as those written by Anglophones, or is it sometimes appropriate for the texts to retain a sense of foreignness in their tone and style?
the editor. A style guide is one way an editor can maintain a standard for the publication and address any ambiguities in the English language as well as help avoid common errors. What is the most common mistake you have to correct while editing New Eastern Europe? Beyond general English errors, which are common but at the same time easy to edit, I often find the author either assumes that the reader already knows a lot about a certain topic or that the author does not write to his or her audience. This is the majority of my editing work. Not only do we have to translate the words of the text, but also the mentality of the author so that it is understood by our readership. I try to remind my authors that their text needs to be written for a wide international audience, but since many of them are such great writers in their own language (we often publish local journalists or writers) it’s hard for them to alter their style. What is the most valuable piece of advice you could give to an aspiring writer on European topics? The best advice I could give to an aspiring writer is to just write. The more you do it the better you get at writing. Even if you write to yourself, write. Beyond that, read a lot – especially the same type of genre in which you aspire to write. This helps you feel the nuances of the style and also encourages you to experiment with the language.
This is a very difficult question to answer. Typically, we should aim to write for our audience. But that is not a simple matter when our audience is composed of readers from all over the world. On the other hand, we need to make a general assumption that our readers are well educated and will understand complex ideas portrayed in English – even if it is not their first language. If a text is written in English with a foreign-sounding touch, I suggest not retaining that sense of foreignness: if you do it is a distraction to your Anglophone audience, who will notice this straight away. At the same time, your non-native English reader should also not get used to seeing something that is not proper in English. That is why style is so important for
Every now and then, critical minds ask the question: what is ‘Europe’? Where is this ‘Europe’ actually taking place, and how can it be said to have tangible relevance? There are many ways in which to respond to such critical questioning. One can point out of a train window and say: there, behold Europe. One can invite them to the local pizza man and say: taste Europe. One can point 200 (and a half) years back to the Battle of the Nations, 100 years (WWI), 75 years (WWII), or 25 years (fall of the Iron Curtain), and say: feel, and cry Europe. One can argue about energy efficiency, carbon footprints, and the future of the human race and say: envision Europe. One can claim that Europe is a life-style to experience, a state of mind to inhabit. That it is a modus to perceive through, to face our complex world in its unreduced complexity, and to enjoy this. One can tell that Europe is romantic, sexy, smart, or hip. Yet few responses are either as convincing or as fun as that of gathering young Europeans in one place, encouraging them to interact, collaborate, and befriend each other, and to say: meet Europe. This is what we have done. If the Europe & Me Young Journalist Award was launched to invite young Europeans to tell their stories how they see, taste, feel, bemoan, arouse, envision
and conceptualise Europe, the award ceremony’s role was to bring these young Europeans together. At the beginning of April 2014, the authors of the eight most compelling stories chosen by judges from among the Young Journalist Award entries were invited for a densely packed weekend. The agenda: to celebrate their success, to jointly work and perfect their articles, to exchange ideas, give feedback, and network with each other – and to lay ground for this print edition as an equally tangible as transnational result of both competition and workshop. It was the submitted articles themselves that formed the basis of the intense two-day workshop. The program started straight off with a first session on Friday afternoon, in which each participant was to introduce the concept behind their submission, and to describe the inspiration and research that lay behind it. Given the abundance of possible associations, remarks, dead ends, and new ends, in the workshop itself there was time for scarcely more than a teaser. But even these brief introductions engendered conversations that would long outlast that session: deep into the evening’s award ceremony, snatches of debate over the articles’ subjects could be overheard as participants tucked into homemade salads and wine.
Hosted at Citizens of Europe’s office in Berlin-Treptow, the award ceremony had workshop participants and organisers, E&M editors, seniors, partners, and friends keep a tryst to get acquainted to each other and to celebrate the inaugural award together in a relaxed, sociable environment. The award certificates were handed over to winners and runnersup by E&M Executive Director Christian Diemer, before opening the artisanal buffet. Where does Europe take place? Pesti of Swiss-German origin and Mediterranean-style potato salads suggested how revealing intercultural misperceptions and transnational mingling can be – and how good they can taste. The following day we welcomed into our midst Adam Reichardt, editor of the excellent New Eastern Europe magazine. His two-hour talk gave our young journalists valuable insights into the mentality and expectations of an editor – “a gatekeeper,” as Adam put it, half author and half audience. Armed with Adam’s wisdom, the workshop set about on a collaborative ‘silent editing session’, interactively critiquing one another’s articles and debating questions of style. Finally, for the second half of Saturday, came the surprise package of our workshop weekend: without warning our intrepid reporters were sent out onto the streets of Berlin to
hunt down a story on the subject of “what makes a contemporary European”. It was a hectic few hours, but somehow every one of the participants returned with a quirky angle on the topic and the sapling of an excellent piece. If any proof was needed that a lovely transnational story can be found nearly in every corner of our daily surroundings, this print edition’s second part has cast it into a colorful and vibrant testimonial. When our participants were asked what they would remember about the weekend, they mentioned many things, but one response kept on recurring: the chance to meet such an inspiring group of writers and friends. Europe & Me did all we could to make the workshop fun and fulfilling, but ultimately it was the journalists themselves who made the weekend such a memorable event. We couldn’t agree more with Adam Reichardt’s concluding remarks: knowing that such brilliant and passionate Europeans are out there, stretching themselves to connect with one another and with a world beyond their national borders, is enough for a satisfying answer to the questions on where Europe takes place – tangibly, and certainly most enjoyably.
EUROP We gave our workshop participants a mission: to search for the embodiment of contemporary Europe in Berlin and produce an article for a mini issue of E&M. We present to you the BRAIN, HEART, DIAPHRAGM, BABY and LEGS of Modern Europe!
BRAIN Migrating within Europe has always been considered one of the most enriching experiences for young Europeans. But since the beginning of the Eurozone crisis, for more and more European citizens migration has become an inevitable destiny rather than a free choice. Among the people forced to move to the richest part of the continent in order to find better prospects, there are many who don’t speak the language of their new country. Such people are vulnerable fraud, and job agencies are among those capitalising on their situation. One of the favourite destinations of young Europeans looking for a better future is London. As a consequence, the British capital is the place where young migrants are more likely to be swindled. UK legislation forbids employment agencies from asking for money to find jobs, and so does European law, but this does not prevent illicit job centres from spreading on London’s black market. These illegal agencies aim at swindling the most inexperienced people, usually young immigrants who can barely speak English and have never worked outside their home country. Giuseppe is a young Italian who lives in London. When he first arrived here, five months ago, he found a job in one of those agencies. After only two months, he decided to quit and
report the agency to the police. “The victims of this agency are 90% young Italians and Spaniards who moved to London to find a job and improve their English,” he says. “Most of them are between 18 and 25 years old.” According to Giuseppe, the agency present you with a contract in which they offer a package of services, such as helping you open a UK bank account, finding you a house and (by verbal agreement only) a job within 30 days. The price for these services fluctuates between £60 and £200. The money is supposedly returned after a month in case the agency fails to find a job. “In my experience, that happened only three times, when the swindled customers came into the office intimidating the staff,” Giuseppe says. Another victim is Diana, a 28-year-old Italian optician who came to London to attend an English course. “I knew my English was not good enough to work with English speaking colleagues,” she says, “so I decided to find a parttime job as a waiter while I was attending the course.” They found her a job as a cleaner. She cleaned the toilets of a hotel without gloves for a couple of days without any pay. Then they offered her a £12 a day salary, far below the legal minimum wage. Of course, she decided to quit.
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN?
Gianluca, 47, Italian, has a similar experience to share. Pushed by the dire situation in Italy, he came to London and started to look for a job through the agency: “I paid £150 and they found me a job as a cook’s assistant in an Indian restaurant in Russell Square. I’ve worked there for two weeks, but they’ve never paid me.” Andrea and Marta, a couple of Spaniards in their twenties, came to London from Alicante. They both wanted to find a job and decided to rely on one of those agencies. They paid £100 each, but the agency failed in finding an occupation for Marta and sent Andrea to an Indian restaurant in which he worked without pay for a week. “Every day, after the end of the shift, I asked the owner for my money. He usually delayed the payment and sometimes he gave me £20, cash.” After four months, the owner of the restaurants started to give him shorter shifts and, gradually, stopped calling him. In the past, some investigative reporting uncovered the system used by those agencies to swindle young migrants. The agencies usually have an agreement with a network of small restaurants that are always looking for cheap manpower for short periods. These people are provided by the agency. The most naïve migrants are sent to the restaurants for short
periods. They think they have found a job, but they end up been exploited and then fired without warning. A lot of the founders of these agencies are migrants as well: Italians, Spaniards, Eastern Europeans. They take advantage of the confidence they inspire in their compatriots to cheat them. Fortunately, a shelter for frauds seems to have come out from the community of migrants itself. Valerio Lollini is an Italian blogger based in London. His fight on the internet begun in September 2013, when he created the blog “Truffe a Londra” (Italian for “Frauds in London”) to denounce the illegal agencies and to collect the testimonies of Italian migrants who were damaged by them. The motivation that lead him to the decision of starting this ‘battle’ comes from a bad experience he had with an illegal agency. It seems that the disease is developing its own antibody.
n bi m lo o C
HEART On Friday nights when spring is in the air, Berlin turns into a party mecca. Crowds of young people from all over the world fill the colourful nightlife districts and stand in line trying to get into one of the legendary techno clubs. Young folks – many of them newcomers, tourists or Erasmus students – sit in front of fancy bars, listening to alternative street musicians. Compared to that, Nauener Platz is a place of the old establishment. It’s located in the former working-class area of Wedding, known for low rents. Turkish beats pour out of big cars passing by Kebap House, Asia Food Bar and Café Orchidea. At Café Orchidea Friday night is Polish night. “Private function”, announces a sign at the door, a message emphasized by the broad-shouldered doorman guarding the entrance. “We don’t want Turks and Arabs here,” the bartender explains, while colourful beams of light sweep across the empty dance floor. The party won’t begin until 9 p.m. A bunch of guys drop anchor at the bar, smoking cigarettes in silence, watching Polish TV commercials running with the sound turned off. Gambling machines ring now and then in the background. The place fills up gradually. “Hey, you!” – a tipsy young guy at the bar desperately wants to get the bartender’s attention. As she shows no reaction, he tries some of the most common female Polish names: “Basia? Zosia? Agnieszka?” – “You can talk like that in the playground, here you say excuse me,” she tells him off. Her name is Sylwia. Bleached blond hair, strong arms, she is the heart of the place. She knows who deserves some words of comfort and who should get a blunt reprimand, who likes it shaken, who stirred. At first glance Krzysztof could pass as an Erasmus student. Wearing fashionable jeans and t-shirt, the 24-year-old from the northern Polish region of Kashubia smiles in an easy-going way. “I’ve lived in Berlin for three months now,” he says, sipping his beer, “before that I lived in Denmark.” But Krzysztof didn’t go abroad to savour a multicultural experience or live the Erasmus lifestyle. Six days a week, up to eleven hours at a stretch, he’s to be found on a construction site. As a builder he can earn twice as much in Germany as he would in his home-country. “In Poland things are getting worse and worse, prices are growing, wages are not. I have to consider whether I buy a roll for 50 groszy [around 12 cents] or for 35 groszy. And if I take a girl to the cinema, I can’t afford to buy her popcorn or cola.” In the meantime the room has filled with people welcoming one another with emotional hugs and kisses. Several men and women in their 50s are gathered around a table, crowned by a bucket with an bottle of vodka in ice. They are all dolled up: tight black leather trousers or mini skirts with a snakeskin pattern combined with fancy glittery pullovers, high heels, jewelry. Men wear sporty jeans and t-shirts and have sprinkled themselves generously with eau de cologne. The in-crowd dances energetically, the air is heavy with flirting, boosted by the MC, who only speaks Polish: “Anybody interested in some sex tonight? After a drink it will be easier!” he works his magic. He’s not much older than Krzysztof and works on a construction site during the day as well. When he wields the microphone, the casual evening turns into a real gig: “This song Wiesia dedicated to Janeczka,” he announces. And then he sings, “Life consists of moments, moments that fly away like butterflies…” He is word-perfect when it comes to disco polo. It’s the kind of music that might have poured out of any Polish tape recorder in the 1990s – melodramatic lyrics about crazy and treacherous love, underlined by a handful of keyboard chords and simple beats. After the song is over some men release their partners politely with an old-school kiss on the hand.
Krzysztof hangs around at the bar. Like a few other young guys next to him he keeps an eye out for any females of pre-retirement age, to whom he could offer a beer with a shot of raspberry juice (girls’ stuff in Poland when it comes to booze) and boogie to some disco polo smash hits. Still, young women are a rarity here. “All my friends stayed in Poland. I don’t know anybody in Berlin, I don’t speak German. Life here is not a bed of roses like some people in Poland think,” he explains. Having to share a room with four of his colleagues in a flat offered by the company also doesn’t make for a proper private life. “Hey girl, look at that white teddy bear which will remind you of a young boy”, a scrap of a song flies over from the dance floor, supported by the MC’s voice. Krzysztof wrinkles his nose. “It’s not my favourite style of music, but it’s fair enough for dancing,” he says, “simply typical wedding music.” It’s a slow one – the men hold their dancing partners tightly in their arms, some splash out on a rose, offered by Indian traders who enter now and then, to show their affection. The red-and-white island of Café Orchidea is not as isolated from the rest of Berlin as it seemed at first glance. “Not even the owner is a Pole,” Sylwia reveals, changing the ashtrays. “People often think that a place called Orchidea must be a brothel. But orchids were simply the favorite flowers of the first owner’s wife. She was Polish,” she adds. Founded in 2004, just in time to attract the Polish pioneers of EU immigration, the café turned into an asylum for the old community who longed for traditional Polish small town discos. In the beginning, it used to be a kind of a bistro with traditional Polish cuisine. “We used to cook, my mum helped out: bigos, pierogi and beetroot soup...” Sylwia remembers. Later on she came up with the idea of introducing the ‘live’ singing which made Café Orchidea unique. The place changed over time though: “Once, normal people would come. Now, as everyone can easily get social benefits in Germany, many weirdos turn up.” Krzysztof cannot imagine staying abroad, as many of his older colleagues did. “I still feel like going back,” he says. At least every second weekend he tries to cover the 450 km separating him from his hometown, his family and Leba, a small seaside town which he loves for its parties. Luckily he owns a car. “I don’t want to live in a big city, I don’t want to live abroad. I want to have a small house in the countryside in Kashubia, with a lake and a jetty,” he confesses. In the early hours the party people drift apart. Some wander along the vodka trail to the next Polish pub, others drag their chicks home drunk and giggling. Krzysztof returns to his flat, he has to get up early. He might pop in to grab a beer again soon if “Orchidea” happens to be on his way. Unless he finds work in another country. The older regulars will come back tomorrow. “We’re always here. Polish people like to have fun, they drink, dance – and the stress is gone!” one of them remarks. “Germans meet at the bar and just talk, talk, talk...” Luckily at Café Orchidea, every night is Polish night.
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN?
nights in Cafe Orchidea by Aleksandra Luczak & Johanna Meyer-Gohde
DIAPHRAGM Gender: Most likely female Age: Mid-twenties Travelling with: Three gadgets at least (human company is less relevant). First thing they want to know when arriving in a hostel is of course the Wi-Fi password. They don’t waste any time. Immediately after the connection is established they post, comment, like, hashtag, check-in, tag, upload, search, update, scroll up and down. You will probably have a nice conversation with them till you give them your Facebook contact. After that, they disappear and you never see or hear from them again until eight months later, when they post “Happy Bday” on your Facebook Wall. This individual is capable of living offline for a very short while for activities such as sightseeing, but only because they need some material to share when the next Wi-Fi connection appears. Moreover, at the first McDonalds or Starbucks they will stop and connect just to upload something and if possible wait for just a while to see the first reblog, like, retweet or comment. They wouldn’t act like this but they owe it to their followers, friends and fans. They are the stars of Instagram and famous on Twitter – although it’s worth as much as being rich in monopoly. Catch phrase: “What’s the Wi-Fi password?”
by Svjetlana Rezo Travelling is a magical thing, and magical things usually include mythical creatures. But not like the happy girl in a tampon commercial – no, nothing like this. In a specific environment, the mythical creatures we are talking about can really be found. If you look closely and open your eyes and mind you will discover that Europe’s youth hostels are home to an array of fantastical specimens. Here are just a few…
Gender: Mixed group Age: Mid-twenties to late thirties, because there is always an older guy with them. Travelling with: Three to five like-minded people. This group consists of recently graduated young Europeans, with degrees in Drama, Art or Philosophy. They have come to see an avant-garde art show or to visit an international meeting with an over-ambitious theme, like “How to end wars by riding bicycles” or “Cotton t-shirts: the key to world peace”. They don’t want to be associated with cheesy tourists or hippies in search of life’s meaning. They are here on business and they act like it. You can easily spot them because they are just a little over-dressed in comparison to the crowd. They usually sit in a circle around the table, not letting anybody approach, using quotes from Hemingway, Plato and Freud to create a dialogue that shuts out any unwelcome intruders. Catch phrase: “Indeed, the possibilities for dematerialization, penned up by this process that mark one domain in which the force of the regulatory law can be against itself to spawn rearticulating that call into question the hegemonic force of that regulatory law. Also, I like Dadaism.” 40
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN? Gender: Not relevant Age: Early twenties Travelling with: This character appears in a group of five or so people. Most likely they are recent graduates. They are to be found in countries and cities that are famous for cheap booze and they drink more than anybody else in the hostel, but mostly can’t handle it. This type is easily recognizable, but you don’t have to look for them: they will find you. Oh yes, they will inevitably find you. You know when? At the exact moment you reach that beautiful nirvana-like phase of sleep. While returning wasted to the dorm room, he/she will hit against a bed, chair, backpack or the guy who has sneaked in and sleeps on the floor and then say “sorry” around thirty times. He/she will then start laughing at the hilarity of the situation until they have to get up and puke. They will apologize again in the morning so we shouldn’t give them a hard time about it – at least not until we see them the next day with a cocktail at the hostel bar. Catch phrase: “Woooohooo!!” Gender: Not relevant Age: Late twenties or early thirties Travelling with: Mostly alone, two travellers’ tops Everywhere you have been they have been too, probably several times. They have had experiences far beyond anything you could ever imagine in they have places you don’t even know exist. But you shouldn’t feel bad: it’s not your fault they know more, have a better timing and are more in tune with the locals. While around this individual choose your words carefully because they will jump at any chance you give them to rub their adventures in your face. Catch phrase: “Oh it’s a shame you haven’t been tealeaf picking in China. You have no idea what you have been missing.”
Gender: Most likely male Age: Mid-twenties Travelling with: He is alone, but lives the life of thousands. He is frustrated from years and years of vacation with his parents and younger siblings. In the most devastating phase of puberty, his parents made him wear stupid hats and dragged him around the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world, wearing Hawaii shirts and taking a countless amount of precious family pictures. And he refused to enjoy any of it. While on the road, the natural habitat of this type includes any bench, wall or chair in the most abandoned part of a city, where he sits reading his book, drinking a beer and trying to bum pot from the locals. This hipster-like individual refuses to visit any site where a sane first-time visitor might be found. In rare cases his search for his identity and the spirit of a city results in a Google search: “Twenty things not do in Berlin”. Catch phrase: “I am not a tourist! I am a citizen of the world.”
Gender: Male Age: Anywhere from “just turned eighteen” to “please don’t ask” Travelling with: Fifteen people at least. They have come for a festival, a concert, a DJ, or a hedonistic combination of all three. But despite starting out with a plan, they are soon simply going with the flow. They drink from the moment the plane/ bus/train arrived at the destination and they are the loudest in the hostel. They break bottles, jump through windows and talk to everybody. If you are not scared off by their behaviour they can be pretty good company. The main reason of their trip is forgotten after the first three bottles of hard liquor. Some stay drinking at the hostel bar, other sleep there, a few actually make it to one of the many rooms they’ve reserved. The luckiest ones end up remembering why they have come for in the first place and they make it to the “event”. Oh, and when you wake up for breakfast the first thing you see is at least one member of this group with a beer at the bar. Catch phrase: “What was I saying again?” 41
Sex tut gut Explore your body in Berlin by Lilian Maria Pithan
“Breathe into it slowly. If you feel pain, try to ease into the sensation. Feel your body.” While a motley crowd of young Berliners are writhing with pain and pleasure caused by hot wax dripping on their bare skin, Catarina Brazão quietly moves around the room, individually encouraging and supporting the nine participants of her aptly named workshop Sex Tut Gut (“sex is good for you”). “Make sounds and move your body if that helps you deal with the shock and heat.” Tonight’s session topic is “wax” which, Catarina explains, is in its melted form a perfect tool to experience your body in exciting and new ways. What seems at first sight like an unusual method of exploring sexuality is part of Catarina’s project to help people reconnect with their bodies. “I believe that you have to awaken your body consciousness to reach your potential. Free your body to free your mind!” It is no accident that Catarina’s workshops find such an avid audience in Berlin, the Old World’s cultural melting pot where Swabian mentalities clash with East German nudism, gender fuck movements collide with Muslim belief systems and Mediterranean flirtatiousness runs into German walls of awkwardness. Walking around posh Prenzlauer Berg or multicultural Kreuzkölln, the spectator will notice that, despite sexual liberation and gender empowerment, sexuality remains a puzzle in the 21st century. When did hipsters start dressing like school children? Why is sex omnipresent although we rarely speak about it openly? What is really going on under the sheets? Explore your body with a twist Catarina, who was born in Madeira and came to Berlin as an Erasmus student in 2007, was a practising psychiatrist before turning to holistic body work in 2010. Although many of her treatments are sexological, her work isn’t focused on the genitals only. “The somatic approach isn’t about sex really, but about mindfulness and awareness. Sexuality comes into play at a later point because once you’re really embodied, you’ll realise that everything is sensual and sexual.” This is why she and Federica Fiore, an alternative practitioner and dancer from Italy, encourage body awareness in unconventional ways. “In our workshops, we’re covering topics like body composition, self-pleasuring and erotic constellations in a playful and down-to-earth way”, Catarina explains. “We were surprised to see how well this concept worked! At the end of our sessions, everyone is happy, although some people are completely naked and others completely clothed.” Among the participants, you will meet young couples as well as single people of all age groups, genders and cultural backgrounds. After all, in the quest for a more wholesome sexuality, everyone is in the same boat. “If we’re honest, no one ever taught us anything. When we were adolescents, we just learnt to get rid of our erotic energy as fast we could”, Catarina points out. “I have always enjoyed masturbation from a very young age, but in the last couple of years I have expanded this into a true practice of self-pleasure and self-love.” This is one of the many things she is eager to share. At the same time, she emphasises that feeling out of touch with your body is far
from being a specifically female problem. “Surprisingly, men face almost the same issues as women. Very often, they are being mechanical and unable to savour the sexual experience.” “It’s just the genitals after all” That is why Catarina, with her German colleague Mareen Scholl, offers sessions in Genital Meditation, which aim to contribute to individual erotic embodiment. Through three different strokes which are slowly applied to the genitals for periods of up to 15 minutes, the practice invites to simply enjoy a “healing touch” without being obliged to give anything back. “It’s just the genitals, it’s just sexual energy. It’s yours and it’s not a bad thing to feel it,” Catarina emphasises with a smile. “In our sex lives however, we always want to give something back, to a point where we can’t focus on simply receiving and feeling pleasure anymore.” The Genital Meditation workshops seem to be especially appealing to women, although Catarina has noticed an increase in the number of men interested in refocusing on their bodies as well. Even though Catarina has been based in Berlin for several years now, she is also organising workshops in other European countries aimed at raising awareness of the need for unity between body, spirit and mind. “This is not just about the stereotype of Northern Europeans being cold and inhibited. I see my work affecting people in Portugal, the Czech Republic and Spain just as much.” According to her experience, people from supposedly “sensual countries’ simply have different problems with their bodies. “Just because Mediterranean people are more flirty doesn’t mean they are better lovers,” she adds, laughing. Giving attention to the body as a whole While the drip of hot wax on bare flesh continues, provoking the occasional scream, sigh or groan, the atmosphere at the Sex Tut Gut workshop is relaxed. Some participants are visibly experiencing their bodies in different ways, exploring their personal approach to sexuality by themselves or in pairs. Others are simply becoming more aware of their bodies. “It’s a very interesting process”, Catarina whispers with a smile. “Once you become truly embodied, the genitals are just another part of your body and almost lose their exciting quality. When you begin to accept and to respect your whole body, you’ll also love yourself more.” As young Berliners start rethinking their concepts of the body and sexuality, they are embarking on a long journey that is sure to lead them to unforeseen and exciting regions. And those won’t lie solely between their legs. Links For more information about Catarina’s workshops and treatments visit www.catarinabrazao.com More about Genital Meditation: www.genital-meditation.com
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN?
LEGS Slightly confused with the rear camera of her phone, Natalia stretches her right arm and calibrates the target for a few seconds until she manages to squeeze her smiling face and the colourful graffiti behind her in the same shot. The ideal angle - she seems to ponder after instantly reviewing the photo - appears to be the one that frames the right side of her face and the left portion of the gallery. Another click and mission accomplished: Natalia immortalises her presence in front of the iconic East Side Gallery. With a simple Facebook upload, the cement blocks standing behind the young Italian girl change in meaning, becoming something odder than their original purpose: from a dreadful physical barrier erected to oppose other ideologies and restrict free movement, the Wall is now a pilgrimage point for tourists. This symbol of surveillance and blockade has gone through a radical transformation in mood and the sign of current times comes with an ironic taste: some of the visitors who have wi-fi on their mobiles deliberately “check-in” at the Wall on their social media profile. The 1.3 km long remaining section of the east side of the Berlin Wall was painted in 1990 by artists from all over the world who tried to portray the euphoria of change and the hopes of
Art on the wall or
Wall on the art? by Fernando Burgés
a whole generation for a thriving, borderless future, post-Cold War. Three decades later, the site has become a major sightseeing spot in Berlin, with its touristic glory shining among the top of the “most recommended attractions” in the city, according to TripAdvisor, the online tourist checklist bible. Every day, visitors from all over the world queue patiently, hoping to capture their favorite artworks without any other tourists spoiling the shot. Such is the volume of people following this photo ritual that the pavement often ends up getting blocked. Popular among all ages, the East Side Gallery may provoke different thoughts in its visitors, but from Russia to Mexico, Turkey to China, few people diverge from the almost standardised behaviour of tourists visiting the site. Vivid memories of the Cold War years strike the older visitors, whose gazes at the Wall seem to be shrouded in a hazy remembrance of the icon that drew the line that separated two worlds in the twentieth century. In turn, those born after 1990 are clearly more thrilled with the colourful coverage of sprays and brushes and the numerous opportunities for photographs. Although hordes of more senior tourists hop on and off private tourist buses at Mühlenstraße, the younger generation
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN? seems to top the number of visitors. When asked what the main interest in the visit is, the overwhelming majority of the post-Wall generation seems to share an unanimous consent, expressed in its most minimalist form: “It’s cool”. A “must do”, a young French couple argue, while standing in the queue to take a photo in front of the all-time favourite Gallery painting, the “fraternal kiss” between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, by Dmitri Vrubel. The meaning of the East Side Gallery? “The art that stems from freedom of expression,” says Andreas, a Swiss backpacker, shortly after making way for a hasty young Japanese couple and their camera with its massive lens.
luxury block of flats. The episode became another chapter in the battle to reclaim Berlin from developers and managed to mobilise a large number of people.
Many things have changed since the feared grey wall was converted into the longest open air gallery in the world. Along with the unification of Germany, the urban transformation in the surroundings has been constant. In July 2006, to facilitate access to the River Spree for a huge cutting-edge event hall, a 40-metre section of the Wall was moved to the West. A hostel boat is anchored on the bank of the river, and beach bars and a hectic souvenir shop dominate the nearby area. InMarch 2013, hundreds of protesters gathered at this stretch of the Wall for an angry stalemate with developers, who re moved a small section of the structure to make way for a
Amidst the locals who are keen to preserve the history of their city, older visitors for whom the wall recalls the past and the young, eager for the aesthetic experience above all, the remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall has become a zone of multiple meanings. Among the frenzy of flashes, it seems unclear now which perception prevails: the Wall itself or the East Side Gallery per se. The way people relate to it, in all its forms, has merged into something rather intriguing. What once was meant to keep watch on the people of East Germany is now something to be watched.
Since 1961, The Berlin Wall has somehow become a representation of the city’s zeitgeist. Whether a Cold War leftover, a uniquely popular open air Art Gallery or a site for the local struggle against gentrification, the Wall assumes multiple identities. Conceived to have a practical role, its subjective meaning over time has been shaped and reshaped by the eyes of the beholder. In today’s case, the eyes and the camera’s lens.
Have you noticed that this year is the 25-year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and with it the Iron Curtain separating Eastern and Western Europe? One quarter of a century has passed, an entirely new generation was born and raised in a different world, globalized and interconnected, where borders – at least in Europe – are mere signs on the side of the road rather than menacing barbed-wire fences which tragically bisect individual lives and families. Today anybody who wants to can hitchhike the length and breadth of the continent, from Poland to Portugal, from Norway to Greece. So what does an old, scribbled “Wall” really mean to the Erasmus generation in the middle of their Eurotrip? Two o’clock on a sunny Sunday afternoon and we are drifting amid the flood of tourists along the East Side Gallery. Shouting groups of Spanish students, Chinese backpackers and teenagers on a school trip from Turkey: all together they are checking in and tagging themselves at the “Berliner Mauer”. After the Berlin Airport, the Hauptbahnhof, and the TV-Tower, the Berlin Wall is the fourth most popular spot on the social media map of the German capital, with more than 90,000 Facebook check-ins. As we stroll along, the crowds condense in front of one particular piece of graffiti. Here, tourists have to queue and wait patiently with their cameras in their hand to get a perfectly set shot with that special piece of the Wall. As we wait in line and everybody is getting ready for a Facebook or Instagram post, I suddenly hear myself asking the Chinese girl next to me: “Excuse me, do you know who the men in this picture are?” “Ahm, no, not really.” I can’t help myself and continue: “so why are you taking pictures of it?’ She replies with nothing but a timid smile, and just in case, takes two more photos with her iPhone. Alert: photo opportunity! Later on, the mystery of the illustrious graffiti seemed to be solved. An Australian couple told me that the popular image depicts a kiss between former Soviet and Eastern-German leaders, meant to signify the brotherhood between the former Soviet Union and Eastern Germany. To be more specific, as confirmed by several people, from a middle-aged Swedish man to an Austrian fellow, one of the two is definitely Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union. After a few more minutes of waiting, spent lipstick-fixing and quickly combing their hair, it’s now the turn of two Turkish girls to pose in front of the famous background. One of them is holding a Berliner Weisse beer can, while the other one is wearing an “I love Berlin” bag as a status symbol for the picture. “You should kiss each other” – shouts someone from the crowd, referring to the theme of the graffiti in the back. With no intent to generalise, after spending one afternoon at the very same spot next to the Wall observing the tourists, I can state that at least half of the crowd actually had no clear idea what they were photographing. Or perhaps I was so unlucky that during one whole afternoon, I couldn’t meet a single visitor who could properly explain that this best-selling photo-op represents Erich Honecker (General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Eastern Germany) and his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev kissing, as a symbol of socialist love and brotherhood. The piece, created based on the picture of the kiss taken at the 30th anniversary of the founding of the German Democratic Republic was painted on the Wall in 1990 and entitled “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love”. As Mark Twain once said, “fame is a vapour, popularity is incident,” which is too bad for poor Brezhnev and Honecker: they might be partners in the most photographed same-sex kiss in the history of Instagram, yet the majority of posers have no idea what having this image on this wall really means.
Is there a difference between tourists and travellers? Where the Wall opens up to the river promenade, I found a “Souvenir Shop” dedicated to the memories of the bipolar era. Bound by the first impression of the trashy appearance from the outside, I was even more amazed by the creativity of human nostalgia, welcoming me inside the shop. An armada of miniature Trabants, fake East German visas, and even old soviet military badges – all below the price of 20 euos. When I asked the Indonesian shopkeeper about thee best-selling product in this cultural flea-market akin to a trip back in time, she pointed to the small pieces of coloured debris next to the cash register. “Berlin Wall 1989”, says the tiny inscription on the transparent socket of each little stone piece. It was as if someone had slapped me on the face with a strange reality. On my way back from this small socio-cultural experiment, I couldn’t help but wonder: is this how it feels like to visit the Berlin Wall today? We tag ourselves at the famous East Side Gallery, and then buy pieces of coloured debris for 15 euros, which might just as well have come from the weekend house of the Indonesian shopkeeper. Regardless, we later put them on the shelves in our living rooms, as a proof of traveling – to strengthen the feeling that we own the memory and the spirit of the place. If I had spent this afternoon near the Pyramids in Egypt or the Statue of Liberty in New York, I would have probably come to the same conclusions, as consumerism is everywhere around us. Then the real question remains: have we reached a point in history when we are ‘consuming’ travels instead of actually enjoying them?
WHAT MAKES A MODERN EUROPEAN?
#hashtaggedmemories from the East Side Gallery
by Barbara PĂŠterfi
THANK YOU’S AND ACKOWNLEDGEMENTS The Young Journalist Award was made possible by the collaboration, funding and kind volunteering from a number of international partners and individuals. Europe & Me would like to thank the following groups for their contributions, without which E&M’s Young Journalist Award would not have been possible. Main Funding Partner - Körber Foundation as the main funding partner - in particular Gabriele Woidelko and Kirsten Elvers for providing advice and support throughout every stage were essential to this project Workshop Partners - Hertie Foundation for hosting the workshop sessions in Berlin - Citizens of Europe for hosting the award ceremony in Berlin - Adam Reichardt, who provided an editorial seminar to workshop participants Judge Panel - Martin Meister, GEO International - Nicola Davis, The Observer Tech Monthly - Nadja Dumouchel, arte - Andreas Müllerleile, European Council of Foreign Relations - Adam Reichardt, New Eastern Europe - Christian Diemer, Europe & Me Award and Workshop organisation - E&M editors Christian, Edgar, Pako - With thanks to the E&M editors Ivan, Matt, Olimpia, Philip, and Rike Print Magazine E&M editors Christian, Edgar, Matt, Michael, Olimpia, Pako Design and production by Pako Quijada Europa Neuer Ideen e.v The E&M Young Journalist Award was organised in co-operation with Europa neuer Ideen e.V. / Europe of new Ideas, the legal association which is behind E&M. Finally, Europe & Me would like to thank all the young Europeans who entered the Young Journalist Award. We hope that you will continue to read and write about Europe, consider writing for Europe & Me magazine, and look out for the second Young Journalist Award at the end of 2014!
This publication was part of the Young Journalist Award project organised by Europe & Me, together with the legal association Europa neuer Ideen e.V.
This project was financed with support from Körber Foundation. The content of the magazine does not necessarily reflect the views of Körber Foundation and they cannot be held responsible for them.
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Published on Jun 1, 2014
This Special Edition of Europe & Me includes all the winning articles of the Young Journalist Award and content created during the workshop...