Dutch to have their say on Ukraine’s road to Europe

“If we vote ‘No’ we would basically abandon the people of Ukraine, we should not do that,” A small group of people passionately argue on the square facing the Dutch parliament in The Hague. It is an unusually cold Monday night beneath the statue of William of Orange. The protesters are discussing a country to which none of them has ever been. Two young men try to convince an older man that he should not vote “yes” in the upcoming referendum, as this would provoke Putin and that Ukraine should solve its own problems with corruption before seeking closer ties with the European Union. These arguments can be read in any Dutch newspaper, in addition to daily stories about Ukraine and its politics.

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Nagorno-Karabakh: European dreams

Even before the polls closed, reactions from the international community came in. A spokesperson of the European foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini stated that ‘the European Union does not recognise the constitutional and legal framework of the elections’. The United States State Department indicated that ‘it will not accept the results of the elections’. Romania’s foreign ministry labelled the elections ‘illegal’. For Spain they were illegitimate. Ukraine stated that the results of the elections cannot have ‘any legal consequences’.

These comments were not made after the recent elections in Turkmenistan, where the current president was elected with 97.14% of the votes. Nor were they made after the presidential elections in Kazakhstan, which saw its current president re-elected with 97.75% of the votes in April.  These statements concerned an election which was described by about 100 international observers as ‘in line with international standards’, ‘orderly, free, secret and equal’ with a turnout ‘many European countries would dream of’. The only problem was that these parliamentary elections took place in an internationally unrecognised state: the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

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The Zapatistas at 20: Change without taking power

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‘We are sorry for the inconvenience, but this is a revolution’.1 This is what Subcomandante Marcos told a group of tourists who feared they wouldn’t be able to make it to their destination during the Zapatista armed uprising in the Chiapas, Southern Mexico. These words were spoken twenty years ago. Others may equally, if not more, have been disturbed. Such as the Mexican government which had just ratified the North American Free Trade Agreement treaty. Or those who thought this was the end of history. That liberal capitalism was the final horizon of humanity.

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Alsace fights back: a French David vs. Goliath story

In the December I was asked by openDemocracy to write an article about the ongoing protests in Alsace.

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An ocean of red and white flags filled the streets of the Alsatian town Colmar last Satuday. A crowd of mostly young people was walking behind a banner that read “Alsatians we are, and Alsatians we will remain”. Slogans affirming the identity of this border-region were chanted both in French and in German. The crowd had responded to the call of the autonomist party Unser Land to demonstrate against the plans of the French state to merge the Alsace region in a “mega-region” with Lorraine and Champagne-Ardenne. This would effectively deny Alsace any political existence.

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