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eurovisie a publication of the study association for european studies


Volume 14, Issue 4 - May 2019


Editorial office: Kloveniersburgwal 48, room E2.04/2.05, 1012 CX Amsterdam Editors-in-chief: Nikolai Markov, Anna Boyce Editors: George Bandy, Hanna Blom Jorens Jakovlevs, Jyry Pasanen, Cara Räker, Marthe de Roos Design: Daniël Adam With contributions by: Joep Leerssen, Frederique de Ridder

Editorial Nikolai Markov


or the upcoming SES Conference, entitled LinkedEU: Europe’s Place in the World Global Issues and Foreign Policies, we as eurovisie have of course taken it upon ourselves to offer a variety of articles connected to Europe as a global actor. If you are looking for an overview of EU action around the globe or other political manifestations of how “well” Europe acts, you will be disappointed. If, however,


you would like to see the theme of this year’s conference critically explored from various approaches - from arts, over national politics, to European consciousness, and more - you just might hang on. Much in the spirit of our approach until now, nothing is taken for granted and perspectives are offered to reconsider. Bare with us, great times ahead!











“Come on. I don’t have any problem violating my insights in practice” - Slavoj Žižek




n London, Alice Proctor - an Art History student - has begun conducting ‘Uncomfortable Art’ tours around a number of the city’s biggest museums. The purpose of these tours is to confront visitors with the harsh reality of how many of the pieces on display in these museums have been acquired and to counter the one-sided narratives presented by the institutions. Despite Europe’s colonial past now being discussed more than ever, the fact of the matter is that remnants of this past still form an intrinsic part of European heritage, the issue is that most of the time this is not being challenged. I grew up in Bristol in the UK, which once was one of the leading ports in the slave trade. I spent much of my childhood walking up streets with names such as Farr’s Street and Colston Avenue and attending music events at the Colston Hall - never did I think to question the origins of the names these streets and venues bore. As it happens Thomas Farr and Edward Colston were prominent figures in the slave trade, from which they made vast amounts of money and earned the prestige that led them to have buildings and streets over the city named after them. Over the past few years campaigning by the city’s Afro-Caribbean community, alongside the refusal of bands such as Bristol-based group Massive Attack to play at the venue, has led the Colston Hall to vow to change its name following renovations due to finish in 2020. However the issue remains, the legacy of colonia-

lism quietly lives on within European nations. Museums in Europe are amongst the most problematic culprits when it comes to masking the colonial past. Looking around museum exhibitions displaying objects from different cultures, descriptions of pieces often state that they were “donated” or “acquired”, this kind of elusive language often means that the objects came into the museum’s possession through the means of colonisation and plundering. Most of the time, the story of how these objects ended up halfway across the world is not touched upon, instead, they will be coupled with a simple description of what the museum’s curators believe they were used for or signified. In late 2018 members of the East African, Maasai tribe travelled to Oxford in order to visit the Pitt Rivers Museum, where a large collection of objects belonging to the tribe are on display. The visiting members were shocked not only by the sheer number of objects in the museum’s possession but additionally by the incorrect way in which many of them were described. For example, an object stated by the museum to have no known purpose, in fact, plays a crucial role in circumcision rituals. The Maasai delegation were also surprised to find a number of sacred objects which one should only come into possession of through inheritance - hence indicating that the means by which the museum came into their possession were less than ethical. Here we see the problem is twofold, not only are museums covering up the


origins of their collections, but they are misrepresenting them and thus, the cultures they originate from. The issue with material remnants of the colonial period is that they have become hyper-visible. So much of what is visible not only in museums but within the very fabric of European cities, contains complex histories which have thanks to their constant presence have become untold histories. One initiative attempting to address this invisibility in Amsterdam is the ‘Black Heritage Tour’, a sightseeing tour through the centre of the city which traces the history of the slave trade and recently discovered stories from Amsterdam’s black community. Initiatives such as this counter this hyper-visibility and bring to the forefront forgotten histories and stories. So why aren’t museums doing the same? Recently the ‘Benin Bronzes’ were returned - on loan - by the British Museum to Nigeria. Nigeria had been requesting their return since the country gained independence in 1960. As it stands many museum objects and art pieces are being returned to their country of origin, but only at said country’s request. So whilst European countries appear willing to address their colonial past and return objects acquired through colonialism, they are not actively doing so. Previously there has been international pressure on European nations to issue public apologies or statements of regret to their ex-colonies, but the sincerity of these apologies is somewhat lost when objects stolen and looted from ex-colonies remain estranged from their countries of origin. European


nations act as if colonialism is part of the past, something that should be forgotten and that both the coloniser and colonised should move on from. However, it is impossible for previously colonised nations to overcome their traumatic past when they are physically separated from their heritage. In order to facilitate better future relations, it is imperative that European nations not just wait for the requested return of an object in their possession, but rather proactively go about returning objects they know do not belong to them. The NMVW (The Netherlands’ National Museum for World Cultures), has vowed to return art and museum objects procured during the colonial period, much of which is displayed in Amsterdam’s Tropenmusuem. In total there are over 375,000 objects dating back to the period, thus undoubtedly this will be a lengthy process, nevertheless, this is a positive example as it shows a European nation acting off its own initiative rather than only in reaction to an ex-colonies request. In addition, the previously mentioned Pitts River Museum in Oxford is also actively countering the aforementioned hyper-visibility. They are instigating a program where they engage ‘originating communities’, in order to ensure that the objects on display in their museum are understood and described correctly, therefore better representing the originating communities. These are examples of positive action challenging the structures which have for so long denied ex-colonies their agency and served as an obstacle to nations trying to move on from the colonial past.





he establishment of ‘Forum voor Democratie’ in 2016 was, during its initial phase, seemingly not to make a significant difference within the Dutch government. However, FVD’s political success and its gained popularity within two years are undeniable now. Like many other political parties, the FVD does not fail in announcing success and presenting its methods logically. The party namely presents itself as a diverse group of people, willing to support national values and standards. Yet the execution is rather doubtful. Opinions within the party vary to such an extent, that there is no consensus within it about a Nexit. The cofounder, Henk Otten, recently exposed a more concerning development of the younger generation that is active in the party. The younger party members and supporters perceive themselves to be in an abandoned position, created by their political predecessors. They speak about this generation being the result of a ‘demographical experiment’, in which migration and multiculturalism made for diluting their place in the nation. Upholding a victim role at the face of migration logically leads to members and supporters favouring the remigration of minorities to redeem themselves from it. The second reason behind their achievements is that the establishment of the FVD is another event that contributes to the trend that has been going on in Europe in the last decade.


Not just the FVD in the Netherlands but also the Swiss People’s Party, the Freedom Party of Austria and the Five Star Movement in Italy are examples of relatively young parties that gained popularity in a short period of time. European states experience their political newcomers to be economically internationally focused, but politically nationally focused. It is the response to increasing demands for new aims within European politics, which reflect a desire for clarity and security out of frustration now. The traditional parties cannot seem to address that feeling properly. Even though these young parties support different nationalities, they claim a similar thing, which is: progress can be found anywhere but in the now. Progress is found in the past, when for example the democratic ancient city-states were established, or when the Enlightenment freed the men out of their nonage attitude. But most importantly, progress is found in the future, after a Nexit, Swexit, Brexit, Frexit etc. is achieved. In other words, progress can only be found in ruptures. Hence, adjustments to the already existing policies will not benefit the state. No, it is necessary to let go of the existing order, it is necessary to turn 180 degrees. Politicians are good at presenting the same old issues using different words. Thierry Baudet takes this game to a next level. In other words, it is destined for a very few to make sense out of his rhetoric. Terms that are commonly used

in his vocabulary are: oikofobie, the phobia of one’s own national identity due to leftist/ multiculturalist attacks on it; baantjescarrousel, the ‘job-carousel’, referring to the bureaucracy behind Dutch politics, which according to him makes for political power positions to remain destined for the elites; and ‘parijkartel’, i.e. ‘party-cartel’, referring to the coalition in the Dutch cabinet, which is said to make for parties to never fulfil their promises because they have to conform to coalition terms. Actually, if we follow the logic of these central terms through then the simultaneous application ‘oikofobie’ and ‘partijkartel’ to the Netherlands becomes an impossibility. Supporting Dutch values includes the Dutch style of governing. A central model of consensus decision-making is namely considered to be a Dutch invention: the Polder model. According to this logic the fear of embracing our own national values and standards is created by people, who actually embrace our national values and standards. Furthermore, analysing his use of diction will not clarify which audience he addresses. Despite the fact that the FVD does not intend to address the intellectuals, his speeches have become, without the use of Google, impossible to fully understand. From the image of an seemingly irrelevant splinter-party to gaining 13 seats in the first chamber in the provincial elections -

who is this universal group of supporters, that is mobilized by Thierry’s language? It is fair to say that the current attitude of populism in the Netherlands has matured within a pseudo-intellectual sphere created by the newcomer. Many speculations are made to explain this process. There are many believers of the idea that the PVV lost its conviction, especially in the provincial areas. Could it have been, that this image of right-wing conservative supporters, is too confronting to accept in the 21st century? If so, then what stimulated right wing voters to feel the urge to shift to the new “intellectual” track? It is no news that charismatic leaders commonly appeal to the masses. A mediator, who claims to support the periphery and at the same time understand the language of the Hague and Brussels, is a gift. In reality, he becomes a leader, who is capable of translating frustrations into promises, to then translate these promises into a new language. It leaves supporters, who want their voice heard through him, to not actually understand anymore what they will stand for in his support. FVD’s mediation of center and periphery becomes a trick, an illusion to channel frustration into votes. The pseudo-intellectual mask works.



For the first time in American art history, an entire exhibition is dedicated to the colourful, wall-covering, abstract paintings of Hilma af Klint by HANNA BLOM


he main gallery of the Guggenheim Museum in New York shows The Paintings for the Temple, large canvases in hues from dusty orange to pale pinks and lavenders, tumbling compositions of circles, spirals and pinwheels, hiding mysterious letters and words. The Paintings for the Temple seem utterly contemporary, made-yesterday fresh. Shockingly, they were created in 1907, predating Picasso’s cubism, predating Mondriaan’s geometric work, even predating Kandinsky’s abstractionist art; this Swedish artist beat them to the punch and American art critics now have to rewrite the story they have been telling about modernism. Hilma af Klint was a Swedish abstractionist, schooled in portraiture and landscape painting, and absolute pioneer in modernism. She grew up surrounded by nature and, through her parents, gained interest in botany and mathematics, two large sources of inspiration on her later work. After graduating from the Royal Art Academy of Fine Arts with honours, she earned a scholarship in the form of a private gallery space, in the main cultural hub of Stockholm. The death of her younger sister prompted her interest in spiritism and occult writings to take off, and, together with her friendship with anthropologist Rudolf Steiner, set off a new era in her art. At the academy, she met artist Anna Cassel, with whom she and three other artists formed De Fem, an all female art society involved with spiritual and paranormal activities. It is important to note that like in the rest of the world, the Swedish art scene was dominated


by men. The esoteric, mystic subdivision of the scene was, however, the one where female artists took reign. De Fem shared a strong belief in the existence of a reality beyond the material world. They met on a regular basis to study mediumship as a means of communicating with this spiritual dimension. They would meditate, analyse texts from the New Testament, but most importantly hold seances in which they made use of automatic drawing and writing, and took vigorous notes of the contact that was made. From the automatic drawing, af Klint developed a geometrical visual language with which she was able to conceptualise forces from the inner and outer worlds. After ten years of holding seances with De Fem, one of the spirits they contacted gave Hilma the task to start The Paintings for the Temple, one that she took on and worked on for a year in isolation. She attempted, and to her own accord succeeded, in making the invisible, visible. This inclination of hers should be linked to a similarly timed discovery of subatomic particles, radioactivity, and the X-ray, which for spiritualists confirmed a godly, invisible realm of existence. Her task in this was that of a medium, aiding outside forces in what they wanted to get on paper. She took a leap into full, nonobjective abstraction. We cannot fathom today how revolutionary her work was back then, and to know that she did it relatively detached from everyone else is wild. As af Klint’s work gains notoriety through her Guggenheim exhibition and she earns a

well-deserved spot in the major canon, her story has to be factored into an already figured out narrative of abstract art. Just in 2013, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, arguably one of the most authoritative voices in the American contemporary art scene, held an exhibition called Inventing Abstraction, 1910-1925. The museum celebrated the centennial of the development of abstraction as it moved through a network of modern artists, af Klint’s peers. Among others, Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondriaan and Kazimir Malevich reigned supreme in the exhibition, unsurprisingly, as they were and still are majorly attributed with being the first real abstract artists. Af Klint, preceding these artists and their endeavours, was nowhere to be found. MoMA cannot be expected and never insinuated that they covered all of the movement, but this selecting of names and exhibiting their works of art is essentially canon-making. Hilma’s work had already been shown in Europe since the eighties, like in Haarlem and Being left out of any larger story than that of her own life and maybe the small realm of Swedish female esoteric artist in early 19th century can, for a part, be ascribed to the artist herself. The paintings that made their way to the public eye were the naturalistic landscapes and portraits she studied to make and sold to keep herself afloat. The work that she is now being praised for, the large collection of paintings covering human life, she explicitly mentioned in her testament to keep hidden. They were only to be made visible to the public 20 years after her death. This wish of hers is now easily framed as af Klint knowing that only after this time would people be ready, but the truth is that we do not know why she did this. Aside from this hinderance for her glory, pre and postmortem, the reason why her abstract paintings are so fascinating is that she worked secludedly. After she received the task to create paintings such as the Largest

Ten, her creating took place in a near vacuum, where she did seem majorly influenced and did things which would only be done years later, by artists who did not know of her. In the 2013 MoMA exhibition, a large diagram was plastered on one of the walls, covered with names of abstract artists connected to each other with lines, representing the personal contacts between them. A need for a coherent story with clear causal relationships becomes evident, and someone like af Klint would float on her own in this diagram. Not then, not now does Hilma af Klint fit into the narrative of early 19th-century modernism, and that is why she went on to create her own world, where she and other female artists were able to practice their art and mediumship and work out incredibly detailed and well-documented theories about life and existence. The entrance of this Swedish witch-lady in the major art canon as the pioneer of abstract art is and should just now be considered as a gift. Simultaneously, it offers an answer to Linda Nochlin’s 1971 essay, “Why have there been no great women artists?”; there have been, we just did not know how to tell their stories until now.



JOEP LEERSSEN Scene: a smoky backroom, in the cloud, under the roof of the Bushuis, whatever. (the Eurovisie editors): “Could you do something on our conference topic? - Europe as a World Actor?” (ruminating professor): “Europe as a World Actor… a title that makes you rub your chin and rifle through that mental rolodex of World Actors… Arnold Schwarzenegger? John Cleese? And then, after a while, you get it. Of course. Marcello Mastroianni. Now *there* was a world actor. Suave, effortlessly elegant, a little bit louche and at the same time when he lit up a cigarette you could see he was conflicted about some things, though trying not to show it. Made Bogart look like a thug. Marcello embodied Europe as an actor the way Robert Plant did as a rock singer. Now, take Jeanne Moreau by contrast…” (the Eurovisie editors): “You’re off-topic! To begin with we haven’t seen any of this black-and-white stuff and anyway that’s not what we meant at all!” (ruminating professor): “Oh?... Hang on, sorry, OK, take two. (clears his throat) Europe as a World Actor. Yes. Well, I mean, Antarctica doesn’t really qualify, does it?


So that leaves a rather limited field of candidates. About one tenth of a Eurovision Song Contest. Not exactly a Cast of Thousands, don’t you agree? More something like a Beckett play, or Pirandello...” (sharp intakes of breath from the Eurovisie editors) (ruminating professor): “… or Strindberg. Anyway, All the World’s A Stage, and Europe, too, has to «fret and strut its hour» upon it. A tale – so the Macbeth quote goes on to point out – told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (the Eurovisie editors, through gritted teeth): “We hear you…” (ruminating professor): “But that’s the point really, isn’t it? Hacks hamming it up everywhere, strutting their stuff and bellowing their sound and fury… and what happened to the suave understated subtleties of old-school acting? Knocking them dead with one raised eyebrow or a slight catch in the timing of a question … The world now is a Star Wars or Indiana Jones franchise, all in-your-face hard power and bombast straight from the Donald Trump Subtlety Supply Stores,

with no room in those production values for soft power… spy movies go for the Harrison Ford or Tom Cruise model, forget the sadness of Alec Guinness or Das Leben der Anderen. Europe was all about soft power and the world has become too noisy and too hard-nosed for that.” (the Eurovisie editors): “Oh. Aha. A bit meta, no? Europe as an oldtime movie script?” (ruminating professor): “An old movie classic in the Netflix years… The Twilight Years; old stars reminiscing about their glory days and ancient sins while the world is moving on. What’s in it for them except reruns in arthouse festivals? There, my dear fellows, is Europe for you. Heading into the sunset. Going very gently – or not – into that Good Night.” (the Eurovisie editors, wearily): “Yeah, meta, we get it, let’s wrap this up. You used to be great in movies.” (ruminating professor, channelling Gloria Swanson): “I’m still great! It’s the movies that have got small.”






itizenship is a matter of life and death. This was made abundantly clear in the case of Shamima Begum and her newborn child, who were recently denied the right to return to the UK from Syria. Home secretary Sajid Javid announced that Begum would be stripped of her UK citizenship, claiming that she would not be made stateless as she is eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship. This was not the case: Shamima Begum remains stateless, and so did her newborn son, until he died only weeks old, at a Kurdish-held refugee camp in Northern Syria. Home secretary Sajid Javid has been accused of stripping Begum’s citizenship in order to garner right-wing Tory votes as he is angling a leadership challenge to Theresa May. So not only has Javid potentially broken international law by making Begum stateless and contributing to the death of her child, he probably did so because of a cynical careerist calculation.

but we must remember that she did so as a minor. No evidence of her committing a crime (bar joining the group) in Syria has surfaced. Even if this was not the case, she should be allowed to return to the UK to face trial, like in any normal situation. Furthermore, hundreds of jihadis have already returned to the UK and are either on trial or under surveillance, but the Home Office decided to make the most vulnerable among them an example. In the end, she is not the responsibility of the Syrian Kurds who hold the territory she finds herself in or the Syrian Government of Bashar al Assad, but the responsibility of the United Kingdom. Her situation is the result, yes, of horrible personal decisions, but also of the failure of the British school system, of the police and of British society at large. For instance, her school and the police knew that one of her friends had left for Syria some months earlier, but failed to inform her parents.

Shamima Begum was groomed, manipulated and eventually convinced to join ISIS in Syria as a fifteen-year-old child in 2015. Supporting a terrorist organisation such as ISIS is morally reprehensible, joining them even more so,

What is so harrowing about this case is that it shows the increasing fragility of citizenship rights in the UK and elsewhere. This is especially true for people of colour, who already risk deportation if they cannot prove their “conti-

nued presence” in the country. The removal of Begum’s citizenship sets up a precedent where even proving one’s continued presence may not be enough; the UK government is exploring the possibility to take away anyone’s citizenship who is deemed “other” enough. In the case of Begum, this was done as a result of internal party politics, with no respect for international law. Similarly, right-wing parties in Finland want to be able to remove Finnish citizenship from dual citizens who have committed crimes of “sexual or violent nature”. In the Netherlands, a law was passed in 2017 that allows the stripping of citizenship from “foreign fighters”. The execution of laws like these will predominantly target people of colour and lead to human rights violations like in the case of Shamima Begum. The Begum case also points to the Janus-faced quality of citizenship. On one hand, citizenship gives ‘us’ rights (although as we have seen, these rights are not eternal), the right to healthcare, the right to education and travel et cetera. On the other, citizenship excludes. The vast majority of the people on this planet do not enjoy these rights that we are so proud of. For so-called “undocumented migrants”, the UK truly is a hostile environment, as they cannot seek any kind of government assistance without severe risk of being deported. Here, citizenship is a tool of demarcation: it is one of the qualifiers with which it is determined how easy and carefree, or how violent and precarious our lives will be. In this way, citizenship is a form of necropower. Necropower is a term coined by philosopher Achille Mbembe, meaning the political power to decide how and whether people should live. In the case of Begum and her child, the removal of citizenship can be seen through the lens of necropower. The Home Office decided, under the leadership of Sajid Javid, that it was politically worthwhile to remove Begum’s citizenship and condemn her to statelessness and her child to death. In the case of “undocu-

mented migrants”, they have fled life-endangering circumstances in their regions of origin, only to face inhumane and exploitative conditions in the “West” due to their exclusion from citizenship and the criminalisation of their very presence. These measures, and their results, are the crystallisation of the idea that our freedom is dependent on the unfreedom of others. Citizenship is of course not the only determinant of how our lives will be. Indeed, in the case of Shamima Begum, her racialised identity has been far more determining. Begum was a UK citizen, but as Ash Sarkar, journalist and lecturer at the Sandberg Instituut writes: “Sajid Javid and the media at large have used Shamima Begum as a proxy for something else: a Briton who was never truly British, the criminal who is unworthy of being even tried under British law, the exception who stands outside of humanity”. The removal of her citizenship points to a renegotiation of British identity: away from a colonial understanding of hierarchical togetherness to a more explicitly racial and exclusionary white identity. This is also clearly visible in the Windrush scandal, where at least 83 people previously considered British enough have been wrongly detained and deported. Critically, the reason why the Begum case and the Windrush scandal are scandals at all is that the victims are still somehow perceived as being connected to Britain. Not to minimise the suffering of anyone, but this hierarchy of attention is even visible in the reporting of the Windrush scandal itself. Most of the media has been focused on deportations to the West Indies, missing the suffering of people considered to be lower on the hierarchy of Britishness such as West Africans and South East Asians. The suffering of people on the lowest rungs of this unjust hierarchy, such as undocumented migrants or Yemeni civilians is often completely ignored. To come back to Shamima Begum and


the question of citizenship, this case is indicative of a wider necropolitical struggle that should be seen in the context of the Windrush scandal, the so-called refugee crisis and the rise of fascism around the world. The removal of Begum’s citizenship is a dangerous precedent, allowing the UK government to continue shrinking the legal definition of Britishness while sustaining the deportations of all it deems unfit and unwanted. Despite its current exclusionary character, citizenship is not a concept corrupt to the core. The ideals of equality before the law, cooperation and civic participation that citizenship represents to some are not bad in themselves. Clearly, the problem with citizenship is that it is an arbitrary and exclusionary institution, the benefits and disadvantages of which are distributed unevenly across the globe. The core


values of citizenship as a concept can only be realised through the dissolution of the narrow and repressive system of national citizenship and the construction of a global citizenship. A first step on this long road could be the institution of a global minimum wage, where every worker in the world would be guaranteed a certain level of compensation for their work. Such an initiative could start breaking down the barriers between countries by making labour arbitrage more difficult, and it could prove important in the building of universal citizenship. Here is another idea: let the people affected by a decision take part in the decision-making process. It would seem to me that this is a fundamental aspect of democracy, but it is violated every day in the exclusion of non-citizens. In academic jargon this concept is called “politics of presence�, but for me, it is just common democratic sense.




n October 12, 1956 a covert KGB operation to detain Adolfas Ramanauskas, known by his codename Vanagas – the Hawk, the last commander of the Lithuanian Partisans took place in rural Lithuania. In the aftermath of the Second World war, groups of underground resistance fighters across the Baltic states known as the Forest Brothers took up arms and waged a guerilla war against the Soviet regime. Finding refuge and shelter in the dense forests of the Baltic region, these partisan groups had developed well-defined chains of command and organizational structures, and enjoyed widespread support from rural populations. By 1956 however, all resistance


had been suppressed. The once powerful Union of Lithuanian Freedom Fighters, which in 1949 had signed a declaration assuming the responsibility to lead the restoration of independent democratic Lithuanian state and had effective control in rural districts was pushed underground. Its leaders were killed, their supporters and family members – imprisoned or deported to Siberia. At the time of the KGB operation, Vanagas, and his wife Birutė Mažeikaitė had been living in hiding for years. Once betrayed by a former classmate, the couple was taken into custody, where Vanagas was severely tortured and later executed, while Mažeikaitė was condemned to eight years in a Siberian prison

camp. This episode, while seemingly negligible in the wider context of Soviet atrocities in the Baltic states, has recently gained increased international attention due to its appearance in the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg. On March 12 of this year the chamber of the court decided to uphold a previous decision of the Lithuanian Supreme court, sentencing Stanislovas Drėlingas, a senior lieutenant of the KGB who participated in the detention, for genocide charges. The then 25-year-old Lithuanian former agent was sentenced as an accessory to genocide for which there is no domestic statute of limitations. The argument of the Lithuanian courts was based on the view that the partisans had played a key role in protecting Lithuanian identity and that by virtue of this they were the representatives of the Lithuanian nation as a whole. As Ramanauskas had been a prominent leader of the partisans – for his role he was posthumously recognized as the Head of the Lithuanian State by the national parliament and was given a state funeral in 2018 – his execution was construed as an intentional attempt to eliminate a part of the national group, which falls under the definition of genocide under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. While Drėlingas himself was not directly involved in the execution of Ramanauskas, the court ruled that as an officer of the security forces he must have been aware of the eventual fates of the two resistance members. His blind obedience to the orders was enough to constitute a human rights abuse, reminding us of Hannah Arendt’s insight of the banality of evil in the case of Adolf Eichmann, espousing the mundane mechanisms of the oppressive totalitarian state apparatuses. At the time, Drelingas should have been aware that he could be prosecuted for genocide in the future. This historic ruling sets a new precedent in

international law and sheds light on the contested memory landscape of the Baltic states. The court’s decision marks the first time that an international judicial institution has recognized Soviet atrocities in Lithuania as constituting a genocide, thus providing legitimacy to the grievances of many Lithuanians and others, who doubt the uniqueness of the Holocaust and claims that another genocide, perpetrated by the Soviets, took place in the Baltic states during and after the Second World. A greatly contested topic in many eastern European countries and Germany alike, the double genocide thesis draws an equivalence between the Nazi and Soviet crimes against humanity, and seeks equal recognition and justice for the victims of Stalinist terror. In the case of the Baltic states, said grievances of the national ethnic groups who suffered under the Soviets have completely overshadowed the remembrance and education on the Holocaust, which only recently has entered the public consciousness. In this contested memory landscape, the Holocaust has taken up a rather obscure and rather ambiguous role. As stories concerning war time collaboration and the details of Holocaust become more openly disclosed, the significance of preserving the mythical martyrdom of the national populations becomes ever more important. An example of this is the the unambiguously titled “Museum of Genocide Victims” in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius. The museum and its genocide research center use a broad definition of genocide, applying it to the political and social groups targeted by Stalin, even though only a few historians considered these events a genocide and it is not recognized as such under international law. While the suffering of the victims of Soviet terror is documented elaborately, up until recently the museum did not even have an exposition on the Holocaust, which was added only following international criticism. The omission is made even more remarkable by the scale of the Holocaust in Lithuania, as more than 90% of an estimated


250,000 Jews were murdered, surpassing the numbers in Germany, both in relative and absolute numbers. Lithuania is by no means a unique case, as in its neighboring countries Latvia and Estonia the word genocide has also taken on a life of its own. After regaining independence from the Soviet Union, the prominent historical memory myths focused almost entirely on the Soviet deportations and mass killings, which had been covered by the regime. Much in the spirit of authoritarian states, these countries set up “truth-seeking” historians commissions that were to uncover and safeguard the correct histories of the region. Increasingly, genocide became the go-to word, referring to the mass deportations to labor camps in Siberia. The emphasis on national victimhood and the collective forgetting of the Holocaust in the Baltic states has been criticized by various international bodies and observers. Doubts have been cast on the integrity of the legal systems of the Baltic states since not a single Nazi war criminal has been put on trial, while over a dozen ex-Soviet agents have been tried for crimes against humanity. In Lithuania, laws criminalizing Genocide denial have been proposed, while local collaboration with the Nazi’s is deemphasized and some of the most gruesome collaborators are still celebrated as heroes due to their strong anti-Soviet convictions. In Latvia and Estonia alike, the Soviet terror and deportations have officially been declared as crimes against humanity and in Latvia they have even been institutionalized as the Genocide Against the Latvian People by the Totalitarian Communist Regime. However, the extent of the criticism has never quite reached the scale of, say, Serbia, and was only a minor obstacle in the countries’ accession process. In fact, political activists and statesmen from


the Baltics have been successful at promoting their side of the story on a European level since joining the European Union. Despite being at odds with the supremacy of the Holocaust narrative in Europe, the efforts of Eastern European politicians and activists has paid off, as the memory of Stalinist terror has slowly entered the public consciousness of the west, as the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, established on 2009, is observed on August 23rd. The decision has been criticized by dissenting judges and legal experts for “expanding the scope of genocide far beyond the frame defined in today’s international criminal law” and for an alleged banalization of genocide, often called the ultimate crime. If the act of killing a single person can legally be considered genocide, the door to many claims of such kind may be opened, as many states may be tempted to follow Lithuania’s example in putting past offenders on the bench for the accused. A freer retrospective interpretation may benefit those who seek retroactive justice for themselves or their relatives but at the same time it may also open up old wounds and reignite tensions between ethnic groups. All arguments dealing with the definition and existence of a genocide are inseparable from discourses of national and international politics and have a significant effect on the communal cohesion and foreign relations of a given country no exception. How and if the Lithuanian government decides to employ its newly gained leverage. Whether the Lithuanian government decides to employ its newly gained leverage to seek symbolic justice for victims of Stalinism, or instead utilize it for purposes of cultivating mono-ethnic national narratives, remains to be seen. Whether it will be used to seek justice for victims of Stalinism or instead be utilized for purposes of nation-building by cultivating national myths, remains to be seen. The international recognition of the genocide against the Lithuanian people is yet another example of the constant presence of memory contestations in Eastern Europe, even in the era of integration and globalization. Competing interpretations of historical events play an immeasurable role in determining our subjective collective positioning in time and space. Because of this, narratives that exclude other groups or attempt to present an absolutist interpretation of history are unwelcome as they render any productive discussion impossible. In places like Lithuania where events from a bygone era are still a common cause for disdain and antagonisms between groups and people, an inclusive perspective that liberates people from the burdens and deeds of their ancestors is to be sought after. The instrumentalization of histories remains one of the most effective tools to forge unity and cohesion, as well as to sew seeds of hostility and disdain. As such it is to remain a preferred tool of democrats and authoritarians alike.




h tempora, oh mores! Where time and tradition have led us! A world that was at war twice, ubiquitous fear, hatred and destruction. From the ashes of this world, a new Eu-rope was supposed to rise and without a doubt, we did learn from history. We started building on a new sense of Europeanness that is based on cooperation through the pro-ject of European integration: First a trade union, then a political union on top, to make a European Union. For the latter, the only guiding maxim that matters, is formulated in the slogan: ‘United in Diversity.’ This is European Union: A tautology. ‘United in Diversity’ sounds extremely appealing but essentially, in itself, it does not carry any explanatory meaning. It even denies to do so. As Joep Leerssen has called it, the definition of Europeanness to be based on this slo-gan is ‘ramshackle, of course’. Maybe that is also representative of why the thought of European Unity to be based on a factor of division, namely that of diversity, makes for people too easily to lose their heads and jump at Europe. Keeping in mind the root of European integration itself, namely the Cold War context and blossoming of capitalism and free trade in the West vs. socialism and planned econ-omy in the East, a lot of critique was voiced as to whether the East-West divide could actually be overcome. In that context the opening of the Iron Curtain was felt as a phe-nomenon that enabled the possibility for the suffering East to be embraced by a new notion of Euro-


pean union. The only place that kept fighting this enlightenment appeared to be the Balkans. Turning the lessons drawn from European history on its head, our embracing notion of European Union became an impossibility once the long lost nightmare became reality again: Seemingly unsolvable and graphically brutal conflict based on the perception of diversity. The whole world was watching; we were locked to screens in disbelief of the horrid violence that was the reality “over there”. Shaking our heads in this time of blossoming, we looked to the edge of Europe, baffled and confused. Somebody tame these beasts! We need the whole world to pay attention and come to this place to figure it out! It has always smelled of blood and now it is being freshened up again! As Europeans, we cannot have that. Dealing with this savagery made for many questionable positions, a lot of confusion as to how to act and what to do to end the bloodshed. However, all acts of intervention only made the mess worse than it already was. Again, our dream was turned on its head. Everything that could be fathomed by the world community at large, failed. It was so unforeseen and yet so familiar. All the symbols to remind us of our central trauma emerged: Mockery on grounds of heritage that escalated into violence with the endgame of systematic eradication - towards a new order. And as aware as unaware we could be, everyone was

under its spell. Even though the symbols are so loaded and make us connect it with our central trauma, namely the remembrance of mass killing, hatred and destruction, we were clearly unable to step in at the moment and resolve this new tenacious hatred. Fortunately enough,

cing us that the Balkans do not belong but yet we see how they do in the mistakes that are made there. Slovenian philosopher Slavoj ŽiŞek, making use of Lacanian psychoanalytics, has fortunately developed the tools necessary to resolve our cluelessness. His work on ideology has

the killing has become a thing of the past, however our horror compels us to stick to searching for a continuity of the tensions that rose up to it. And even where it does not, it compels us to assess in terms of the recipes we have made to escape the trauma we are reminded of. It encroaches our vision onto the Balkans so much that we cannot re-solve the fundamental displacement we feel about the region. It is locked within Europe.

revolutionized the way we understand it, and introduced the Lacanian Real into the realms of political philosophy. The entire lead up to the point of the bloody Balkan shows not a schism but a two-way street, on which the travellers always seem to find themselves at opposite ends. No matter whether they are coming from Europe or the Balkans: Antiparallelity persists; an antiparallelity of ideology and identity.

Why? Why are the Balkans upside down to us? Antiparallel developments keep convin-

‘The Balkans is structured like the unconscious of Europe, das Unbewusste Europas.


Europe puts, projects all of its dirty secrets, obscenities and so on into the Balkans, which is why my formula for what is going on in [the Balkans] is not as people usually say, they are caught in their old dreams … they can’t face people here … ordinary, modern, post-modern … whatever reality. No, I would say they are caught into dreams but not into their own dreams, into European dreams. A French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze, had a wonderful saying – maybe you know it – where he says, “Si vous êtes pris dans le rêve de l’autre, vous êtes foutu” If you are caught into another person’s dreams you are fucked, finished.’ (Quote Žižek on the Balkan). Is European actorness not exactly defined in this moment? In the moment of, out of needing the truth for itself that it indeed has learned in order to maintain the fulfilment of its dream, it outsources the projection of catastrophe onto this (or any other) ever-backward region? Now before we speak of ‘othering’ and ‘orientalism’, Europe’s go-to explanations to claim that we know better because we see the injustice done to a self, I claim that it rarely helps the issue at heart. As Hegel has said, evil sits in the gaze of


the one seeing it, and we must think as much as act to overcome it, not just explain it and satisfy ourselves in the same old European spirit. The point in the end is simple. The dream to maintain European acting can only function in dependence on an outliving of the dirty, of the wrong somewhere, so that we are a-ware of what is wrong. It is locked in our gaze. What better place to project horror and head-shaking onto than the powder keg of the Balkan? Or any other kind of conflict we ‘cannot understand’ for we are too good to do so? It is not our fault because, as of now, it has never been and it will never be, for “we have learned”. We do not act to break out of our fortress and so we can fetishise our actorness. Word and deed smear into a gulp of satisfaction that enables as much as it disables. So for new European actorness it is: ‘Do as I say not as I do.’, for it only perpetuates the sustainment of a fetish, not a free act of itself. This is by no means coming even close to the embrace of agency that would define actorness up to today’s understanding of it, nor to an addressing of the issue at heart.


was placed second in the elections and in Italy, is the great-grandson of the former fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini running for the European Union elections as a candidate of the nationalist party called Fratelli d‘Italia (which can be translated to Brothers of Italy). Additionally to these problems, is the first member country leaving the EU on the 31st October 2019. Since their referendum held in June 2016, it is sure to say that the United Kingdom wants to leave the European Union. What will happen after the ‘Brexit’ is still unsure. It is especially unsure how the ‘Brexit’ will affect the European Union and its place in the world. Due to all, those crises, the position of the EU is getting more and more disputed. Another factor, which accompanies these discussions is that in different fields the influence of the European Union is getting more and more competition from different emerging global actors. These emerging countries are led by the so-called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). These countries are starting to compete with the European Union in different fields, for instance, economy or agriculture. Furthermore, are they influencing their specific regions more and more. For example, Russia is influencing Eastern Europe or China is getting influence on Asia, but also, for example, on Africa or the Middle East.

But how long will those statements be true? In recent years, the EU was preoccupied with the debt crisis, which struck in 2009 and was the biggest crisis of the young life of the EU. The effects of the debt crisis can still be felt today, for example, in the fragility of the European financial institutions and unemployment in many EU countries. Another crisis of recent years is the rise of populism in many EU countries, for example, in Germany was it a right-wing party called Alternative für Deutschland (AFD), who won 12,6 % of the votes in the last parliament elections. In France, was it the right-wing politician Marie Le Pen, who

How does the EU react to these emerging countries and how do they try to maintain their influence?



ne of the questions frequently asked nowadays, especially before the European Union elections of May 2019, is what place does the European Union occupy in our modern world? The European Union is a group of 28 countries that operate as a cohesive economic and political block. Nineteen of the countries use the euro as their official currency. Nowadays the EU says about itself that it plays an important role in diplomacy and works to foster stability, security and prosperity, democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law at international level. It is also seen as an important economic actor, because it is the world’s biggest trade block, being the world’s biggest exporter of manufactured goods and services, and the biggest import market for over 100 countries. The EU is also the world’s biggest donor in humanitarian aid.

The reaction of the EU can be seen through different actions. The Union is especially trying to strengthen its relationship with its different partners and so also to regain influence. The Union is also introducing new foreign policies towards other countries and regions to regain power and influence. These foreign policies also aim towards the emerging countries, for example with China, in order to cooperate with them.


But how can those policies look like? How effective are they and which role does the European Union play then nowadays in our world? These questions will be answered at the SES conference “LinkedEU? Europe’s Place in the World - Global Issues and Foreign Policies., which is taking place on the 15th of May at the Keizersgrachtkerk. During this conference, you will further deepen your knowledge of the European Union’s foreign policies and which role Europe plays in the modern world, through the eyes of its partners. You definitely ask yourself now, why this topic is so interesting. We as the Conference Committee chose this topic for a number of reasons, asking ourselves questions such as “What kind of image does Europe project after all its internal crises?” As students of European Studies, we often see European policies through European eyes - but this is flawed. By providing a perspective from the eyes of the EU’s partners, we hope to broaden your views on how the Union really operates. The timeframe of this event was also a happy coincidence, as the European elections are just one week after the Conference. During the conference, the main topic will be broken down in keynote speeches and different seminars throughout the day. The topics of these keynotes and seminars are Eastern Europe (through the case of Albania and the Western Balkans), European Union - African Union Relations, The European Union China’s Geopolitical Rise, and the Middle East and Europe. The topics will be treated by different experts reaching from researchers to politicians. As Eurovisie is a SES exclusive, we can treat you to a sneak peek of our speakers. The European Union African Union Relations Seminar, for example, will be held by Luckystar Miyandazi. Currently, she works as a Policy Officer for


Africa’s Institutions and Regional Integration Programme at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM), which is a leading independent think tank that wants to make policies in Europe and Africa work for inclusive and sustainable development, based in Maastricht and Brussels.. Here, she focuses on European and African international relations, policy and practice, with particular emphasis on tax-related topics at the regional levels and the international level. Luckystar Miyandazi will speak on “The Future of Europe-Africa Relations”. In her seminar, Luckystar will concentrate on the key priorities of EU/Africa relations and mention key dimensions, e.g. how to promote structural economic transformation through regional integration, trade and investment or how to boost the EU-Africa Peace and Security Agenda. However, she is only one of our specialized guests, with many more to be announced on our Facebook Event. After widening our knowledge, we will finish the conference with a final debate, moderated by Matthijs Lok. The debate will try to summarize the day and to answer all the remaining questions. Here, you as participants are especially asked to give your own opinion on the topic of Europe’s place in a world with increasing geopolitical competition from every direction. The conference will start at 11 o’clock and costs 7€ for SES members and 9€ for non-members (lunch included). The conference will be followed by a borrel at Lion Noir, where we can finish the day with some drinks and where you will have the chance to further discuss the topics with our experts. For more info, you can check out our Facebook event, easily found through the SES Facebook page or by accessing this link We are looking forward to welcoming you on the 15th of May!



alking about the EU’s external action would seem a miss without discussing how it affects the world outside. It’s not normally considered a military heavyweight like the US or Russia, it gets things done with a different approach. With a focus on Europe’s youngest country, George explores how the EU has developed its influence abroad.

in Kosovo in 1998 presented the EU with a challenge that they were not yet capable of taking on. The conflict, so close to the Union, came to symbolise the military weakness of the EU and dealt a serious blow to its international authority. The violence was ended instead by Operation Allied Force lead by NATO, with the Americans at the helm.

Having only declared independence in February 2008, Kosovo is Europe’s newest state, though still only partially recognised. Kosovo plays an interesting role in the current discussion, not just as an example of how the EU goes about being an international actor, but also because it’s considered as a turning point. It shows a shift from the soft power the EU endorsed for its first 50 so years to a more action-ready union. Now you can see the speeches of Merkel and Macron arguing for the need for an EU army. This is in some way where it started. Civilian and military are two traditional forms of power. Military power is the classic hard power, it’s about being able to enforce your will through physical means, whether that be in the form of direct force, sanctions or other punitive measures. Civilian power is a form of soft power commonly based on three main characteristics - the use of economic powers to achieve goals, the settling of disputes through diplomatic cooperation, and finally the use of international organisations to impose legally binding objectives. The outbreak of violence

As a result, the EU took to improving both its military and civilian capabilities to better prepare itself to assist in the continuing Kosovar situation on the ground and to better prepare for what future conflicts may arise. A quote from the European Council in 1999 when addressing the conflict, stated that the EU had a ‘moral obligation’ to respond to such a humanitarian crisis that was happening on its doorstep. It was felt the EU must do something, that it must place itself in a position where it can best respond to such crises. As of 2019, the EU has a far further developed foreign and security policy which governs its external action. At the moment there 6 ongoing military missions abroad and 10 civilian missions, with roughly 5000 people deployed between them. The main objectives are around peacekeeping, conflict prevention, international security, rule of law support, and support for refugees.


However, soft power is still the majority part of the EU’s repertoire. In general, such power is described as the ability to make progress through success cooperation, rather than coercion. It was first introduced by Joseph Nye, an American political scientist at Harvard. A significant element of this is the ‘power of attraction’ that allows actors to entice other parties to cooperate on the basis of admiration and a willingness to be a good partner. Normative power is a newer term coined by the British Professor Ian Manners to better explain the EU style - it’s the ability of an actor to shape the standards for what is considered “normal” in the international environment. It is the power to effectively mould opinion. In the case of the EU, it is the Union’s ability to diffuse its own norms and standards into the ideologies of foreign nations. One of the key attraction tools at the EU’s disposal is the temptation of union membership. In many cases in the Western Balkans, the EU has achieved significant developments in its relations with the countries by suggesting the possibility of joining the Union. Montenegro, Macedonia, Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and most relevantly Kosovo, are all examples of this. In the Kosovar situation, the EU has used this tool significantly, both to prompt developments in Kosovo itself as well as to improve relations between Kosovo and Serbia. The formal example of this temptation tool comes in the form of the Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAA) it concludes in the Western Balkans. They constitute the core of the EU’s neighbourhood policy in the region. These SAAs have been understood by countries in the region as a prerequisite on the path to EU membership. This is evident in the agreements themselves, with the recognition as a ‘potential candidate for EU membership’ for the associating party written in the Pream-


ble of the Agreement. Notably though the Preamble to SAA with Kosovo does not include this point, given that the EU positions itself as neutral towards Kosovo’s declaration of independence due to the five member states that don’t recognise it (Slovakia, Cyprus, Romania, Greece and unsurprisingly Spain). Rather in the case of Kosovo, the preamble talks of ‘establishing a close and lasting relationship […] which should allow Kosovo to further strengthen and extend its relations with the EU’. The main objectives of the association agreement mainly focus on supporting the efforts of Kosovo to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and political stability in Kosovo and better EU relations. Later in the Agreement, the conditions for the relationship are included, namely that Kosovo must commit to improving relations with Serbia as well as that Kosovo must cooperate with the EULEX mission. Given that Kosovo’s independence is not fully recognised it is interesting to consider how the EU could conclude such an agreement and what affect such an agreement has on the way other parties now view Kosovo. As already said, some of the language of the Kosovo SAA is different to that of others due to this position of recognition. A trick developed by the EU to side-step this issue was the asterisk solution. The asterisk that features after Kosovo’s name in the SAA was decided upon in an agreement between Kosovo and Serbia under the mediation of the EU. The asterisk is a disclaimer that the signing of any international agreement with Kosovo as the contracting party does not affect the official recognition of Kosovo’s independence on the international level. Positively, this does mean that Kosovo can sign agreements on its own behalf, though still an obstacle to full recognition. For Serbia the asterisk does not represent a fundamental change in their position towards Kosovo but more a compromise to continue with their EU accession.

There’s some imaginative thinking in the literature as to how the EU can pull Kosovo out of this recognition issue. One particular proposal is of an ‘EU Free Territory’. The author of which first notes the EU’s ability to solve all kinds of problems by innovating with new concepts of ‘special status territories or special membership territories.’ It would not be something entirely needed then for the EU, which already has a history of creating new forms of territory status. The Free Territory concept has arisen following the problems faced by the International Court of Justice when considering the case of Kosovo’s declaration of Independence. The core of the case is the debate between respect for sovereignty and the principle of self-determination. The results of the case did not provide an answer as to Kosovo’s recognition. (Of course it wasn’t expected that they would, if they did this would have a much bigger impact then just Kosovo, Catalonia would be the first to hang on the court case.) The inherent difficulties of the case noted as

‘[trying] to achieve an arrangement that would allow the parties to agree to disagree, or perhaps, to agree with diverging interpretation, or recognise without recognising.’ The uncertainty then of how to understand Kosovo’s position calls out for a more concrete solution from the EU. The Free Territory status would represent a legal confirmation of Kosovo’s separation and ‘at least partial independent international character’. The concerned parties (mainly Kosovo & Serbia) would accept such an agreement, the author argues, as it would remove the final blockage toward EU membership. More recent developments may be looking up for Kosovo. Rumour has it that there is an agreement set to be signed this June between Serbia and Kosovo that would settle the recognition issue between them. There’s pressure on both states to bring this to a conclusion. Once Serbia settles, many others are likely to follow.


SES Calendar European Elections Debate - 13th May

With our partners at the HvA and ASVA we are putting the focus on the upcoming European Par-liament elections with a debate on the biggest questions. For more information see the website.

LinkedEU - SES Conference 2019 - 15th May

This year’s conference dives into the question of Europe’s place in the world. How is the EU’s influence on the global playing field in these times of increasing geopolitical competition from actors such as China and Russia? What can be said for the the future of Euro-African relations and the EU’s role in the Middle East? With multiple keynote speeches and seminars, it promises to be an insightful day. Reserve your space now at nl/ses-conference-2019/

The Future of Europe- 6th June

Following out previous event on the conflict in the Donbass at the start of the year, we join again with PAX to discuss a different topic. This time Europe’s near future. What will Europe 2040 look like? Join us for a debate on the different scenarios currently being proposed as what is to come. Check out the Facebook event for more information.

The Futures Market - 13th June

Enjoyed the Career Dinner in January? This month we return again with another event aimed at those first steps of your career. At the Futures Market, we will be joined by variety of young pro-fessionals and academics who are in the early stages of their career for a series of presentations and discussion. Sign up now through the website!


(c) studievereniging europese studies 2019

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Eurovisie May 2019 - Conference Edition  

Eurovisie May 2019 - Conference Edition  

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