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Thursday, 21 June 2012 15:54

Football Diplomacy: Euro 2012

The imprisonment and alleged maltreatment of the Ukrainian politician Yulia Tymoshenko have, to some extent, overshadowed Ukraine's role as Euro 2012 host. Officials from Germany and the UK decided to boycott the tournament and José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, cancelled his trip to Ukraine. But what is the political effect of boycotting a sporting event and what are the implications for EU foreign policy?

When former Prime Minister Tymoshenko was sentenced to seven years in prison for abuse of office over a natural gas import agreement signed with Russia in 2009, she became a personified symbol of selective justice in Ukraine. Moreover, she has reported incidents of physical abuse during her time in prison and began a hunger strike, which increased international attention before the upcoming Football Championship. Simply ignoring these political developments for the duration of the tournament was impossible for European states, given that they have pledged to protect human rights.

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
Thursday, 24 May 2012 07:01

Good Reads Author Special 24/05/12

This week, two of E&M's best writers share their favourite European reads. From blog posts to essays, it can be anything that amused them, worried them or got them thinking about Europe.

ziemowit

Ziemowit Jóźwik

"The nation (...) like a poor cripple at the cross-roads lying"

There has been much discussion about Ukraine in Europe recently. As long as the former "orange princess" Yulia Tymoshenko remains in jail after a politically inspired trial, many European leaders have decided to boycott the upcoming European Championship. The EU-Ukraine rapprochement seems frozen. If you're looking for detailed information on what's happening and what's going to happen in the near future between Ukraine, the EU and - of course - Russia, here are two must-read articles: The Centre for Eastern Studies discusses "The crisis in EU/Ukraine relations surrounding Tymoshenko" and Veronika Pulišová describes Ukraine’s "in-betweenness" ("Between Europe and Russia") in New Eastern Europe.

Reducing the democratic deficit

According to Article 11 paragraph 4 of the Treaty of the EU and Article 24 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, the citizens of the EU have the right to invite the European Commission to submit the proposal of a legal act. As you probably know, since the 1st of April (the date the provisions came into force) several European Citizens' Initiatives have been announced. Perhaps these will be the primroses philosophers have dreamed of: the path towards transnational democracy or the European public sphere? Who knows. In any case, there's one initiative that you should pay attention to. On a blog with the exciting title Recent developments in European Consumer Law I found an article about the initiative "Fraternité 2020 – Mobility. Progress. Europe." It's brought forward by a youth initiative eager to persuade the Commission to enlarge the budget for EVS and Erasmus. We can only applaud and support! (And even though you might have no idea what CESL means and Directive 2008/48/EC might not sound very exciting - follow the blog mentioned above - we're all consumers, whether we like it or not...)

Greetings from the Iroquois of Europe

Finally, an article about something you've probably never heard of: the political traditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A federal state of many nations, cultures and religions that in the times of absolute monarchies was governed by parliamentary assemblies and a king who was elected (by the whole nobility). How was that possible? To discover the interesting stories of the Golden Liberty principle or the intellectual origins of the first European constitution - whose anniversary was celebrated both in Lithuania and Poland a few days ago - I very much recommend "The heritage of Polish Republicanism" by Krzysztof Koehler in the Sarmatian Review.

Published in Good Reads
Saturday, 24 March 2012 14:01

How I didn't make it big in Ukraine

Hayden Berry is Assistant Editor at New Eastern Europe and a Krakow-based musician. He recently played a few concerts in Eastern Europe. This is his personal account of his misadventure in Kyiv and how he missed his one shot at hitting the Ukrainian big time, originally published in New Eastern Europe.

On February 9th 2012, I flew into an icy Boryspil International Airport with my partner and a couple of friends. Poland had recently been experiencing sub-zero temperatures of between minus 15 to 20 degrees centigrade, and the news out of Ukraine, in which over 150 people had died as a result of exposure to extreme temperatures, had warned us to expect worse. As the plane touched down, the stewardess informed us that it was, indeed, minus 25 degrees centigrade and the passengers started the all too familiar ritual of putting on their hats, coats and gloves before disembarking onto the airport bus. The roads out of the airport were edged with billboards advertising EURO 2012 designed to hide the construction of the new VIP facility referred to as Boryspil 2, still as yet unfinished.

In the footsteps of Les Kurbas

We were in Kyiv to perform two weekend concerts at the Les Kurbas State Centre for Theatre Arts at the invitation of our hosts, a group of young people who organise concerts under the name AZH Promo, and the Polish Institute in Kyiv who provided funding for the event. Les Kurbas had been one of the most influential Ukrainian theatre directors of the 20th century until he was sent to Solovki labour camp and eventually shot on the direct order of Joseph Stalin in the forests of Sandarmokh. The theatre named after Les Kurbas is off the main street opposite the golden spires of the Saint Sophia Cathedral on Volodymyrs’ka Street and pays tribute to the man many claimed a genius. The theatre website ambitiously states that the centre aims to “to provoke experimentation and to create globally-constructive models for theatre as a builder of a national spiritual environment,” followed by a hope for the future: “The intellectual thought of new Ukraine and its culturology and art research, should reintegrate themselves into the European and world contexts from which they have been separated for well-known historical reasons.”

Published in Reader Submissions
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