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Saturday, 14 December 2013 10:46

#euromaidan

Ziemowit_Joswik

This time it is conspiratorial. From the clutches of the FSB, my friend, the politest, shyest, humblest young Pole I know, Z., has escaped. On a bus he has come, on a bus he will leave, appearing in Berlin for only a few hours before vanishing again into the East. Blackish clouds loom low over Warschauer Straße, where I wait for him, storm front Xavier blows squalls and gusts as he emerges. In the cellar of a Kreuzberg bar, where the world is upside down and no cellular phone can connect or be connected, E&M got this exclusive interview with Ziemowit Jóźwik, long-standing E&M author and the inventor of the #euromaidan.  

Published in Under Eastern Eyes

Over the past weeks Turkey has seen a great number of street protests and demonstrations in its biggest cities, from Istanbul to Ankara, Izmir and Antalya. Starting from a small demonstration the protests have grown significantly in size and structure with passing days and have been violently repressed by the police force according to sources on the scene. E&M author Siri Warrlich interviews a young European who has experienced the incidents in Istanbul at first hand.

Two years ago Heidi Hart came as an Erasmus student to Istanbul. Today, she still lives there – and since last weekend, a mask and swimming goggles belong to her everyday attire.

The house was completely contaminated with tear gas, so I am now staying with friends.

"İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı. I listen to Istanbul with my eyes closed.“ That is the first line of a famous poem by Orhan Veli Kanik, Turkey's Shakespeare. Istanbul on Wednesday night, 5 June 2013, not with closed eyes, but via skype, sounds like this: Cars honking, singing, whistling… are those cooking pots the people are banging against each other? My friend Heidi Hart, 24, holds her computer through the open window. "Soon, I will join them," she says and shows me her mask and swimming goggles. A little more than two years ago, the two of us together started our Erasmus journey from Mannheim, Germany to Istanbul. Heidi stayed – and recently became part of the protests.

Published in Contentious Europe
Monday, 15 October 2012 13:37

Change: How Badly Does Romania Want It?

As citizens, I think we all have an exhausting duty to know what our governments are up to, and it is cowardice or laziness to ask: what can I do about it anyway? Every squeak counts, if only in self-respect.” Martha Gellhorn, The Face of War

As the Indian summer of Romania’s political turmoil continues, it is clear the last hope for stability stands in the upcoming parliamentary elections this December. Yet “change” is a funny word for Romanians. No one believes it anymore. Hoping for change is considered naive and inexperienced, and talking about democracy is frowned upon in bitter speeches which ask: “What democracy?” For generations the general discourse in this apathy-hit country has been: “Get real, don’t bother trying to change things. God forbid you might get your hands dirty.” However, as grand as it may sound, the country is preparing for its most important elections since 1990. If ever there was a time to think, act, speak up and try to change things, that time is now.

Băsescu the survivor

As expected, President Traian Băsescu is back in his seat following the failure of last July’s referendum. Băsescu is nothing if not a survivor. He might subordinate the justice system and cut pensions, but he will also put on a t-shirt, hold a baby in front of the cameras, and people will buy it. The problem is that this referendum was a close one: although a little over 46 per cent of the registered voters participated, leading it to be declared invalid, 87.5 per cent of that group voted against the president, which adds up to 7.4 million people. If you consider that in 2009, Băsescu was elected for a second term with only 5.23 million votes, it’s safe to say the population doesn’t want Traian Băsescu as president. So why is the country still stuck with him? As Martha Gellhorn would say: “If we cannot blame our leaders (…) we can only blame ourselves.”

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
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