AEGEE International Politics Journal

By Armenak Minasyants (AEGEE-Yerevan, Armenia)

I consider that not only for readers of our newsflash but as well as for everybody who lives on the Earth Planet it has already become obvious that the year 2011 is going to be really full of political processes, international developments, revolutions and etc. I also truly believe that for the most of my readers it is also obvious that during this last 4 months the world has changed greatly and the processes which have been initiated during this short period already could not be reversed back. And the only thing that we all have to do is to analyze these processes and try attentively to follow them.

This last week was also full of interesting things and I would try to present the most of them to you.

For our readers I would like also to state that I’ve decided to create a unique column in our each newsletter. That column would be called “Focus on” and in that part of the newsflash I would try to pay a special attention to the state, which leader has been the most active one during past week. So this time, Turkey may take my congratulations.

Syria; on the Edge of Revolution?

During whole week the protests in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad have shown no sign of letting up despite a fierce response from security forces. Amateur video posted on 13 April on the internet appears to show security forces opening fire on demonstrators in Latakia. There were similar protests reported in cities across the country, a repetition of unrest that has been growing over the past four weeks. For the first time the discontent showed its face on the streets of the capital Damascus. Another amateur video was posted on the internet purporting to show protesters openly chanting for the fall of the regime. Witnesses say bus-loads of secret police had been deployed.

Simultaneously, during this week the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addressed the nation in his first speech since anti-government demonstrations erupted two weeks ago. He denounced what he called a “conspiracy” in his country after recent political unrest in which more than 60 people have been killed. I may just add from my side that the protests of the scale seen over the last two-three weeks are unprecedented in Syria. Emboldened by emergency laws, the police state has previously crushed dissent. Initially, demonstrators limited their demands to more freedoms. But, increasingly incensed by a security crackdown, especially in the southern city of Deraa where protests first erupted, they later called for the “downfall of the regime”. Assad told a cheering parliament that clear instructions had been given not to harm any Syrian citizens during the protests. Despite him making it known that he was considering scrapping the emergency laws, arbitrary arrests in large numbers have continued across the country. Assad still has strong support; however, as Tuesday’s massive demonstration in the capital showed. The government-organised rally suggested Assad was seeking to address his people from a position of strength, adopting a strategy to counter unrest that was once unthinkable in the tightly- controlled Arab state.

More about Syria –

Terrorist Act in Belarus

The number of dead from the metro station bombing in the Belarussian capital Minsk has risen to 13. Five people, all Belarussians aged under 25, have been detained in connection with the April 11 bombing and officials have also linked them to two blasts that took place in 2005 and 2008 in which people were injured. Monday’s blast injured about 150 people when it tore through a packed metro station in central Minsk at evening rush hour. President Alexander Lukashenko, who has run the former Soviet republic since 1994 and tolerates little dissent, said this week investigators were still looking for those who had ordered the attack. Officials from the prosecutor’s office, police and the KGB security service told state television late on Thursday that the criminal probe could take several months.

You may find more updates on Belarus by this link


Libya; the Most Dangerous Place in the World

During whole last week fighting and clashes continues in Libya. This oil rich country day by day is becoming more unsafe place to live in. Every day hundreds of rebels and fighter of pro Gaddafi forces are wounded and killed in different parts of Libya, particularly in Misrata. Pro-Gadaffi forces have fired at least 100 rockets into the besieged city of Misrata according the rebels. It is the only rebel held bastion in the west of Libya. Human Rights Watch claims to have evidence that Gadaffi’s troops are firing cluster bombs into residential areas, which are forbidden by many international humanitarian conventions and the usage of such type of weapon is considered as a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Such type of ammunition has been used during different wars and the most interesting thing that it was mainly illegally used by Israel during the Gaza War of 2008, as well as by NATO forces in former Yugoslavia. The Libyan government challenged the Human Rights Watch Organization to prove it. Hundreds are reported killed in Misrata. Britain, France and the US have described it as a ‘medieval siege.’ Many are desperate to get out. They are relying on the sea to make their escape – more than a thousand civilians have already managed to board boats bound for Benghazi in the east where the revolution has its base. The International Organisation for Migration said that is just a fraction of those who need to leave. Rebels claim government forces have been shelling the main road to the port, targeting a main lifeline for trapped civilians. Aid workers said the continued shelling is making access impossible to and from many areas of the city.

Simultaneously on 15 April NATO organize conference on Libyan problem. There are signs that Britain and France might get the extra Nato resources they have needed to bomb Libya. At a meeting in Berlin y the two countries have been lobbying other allies to do more in the campaign against Muammar Gaddafi. Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Nato is absolutely determined to continue its operations as long as there is a threat against Libyan civilians. And it’s impossible to imagine that that threat will disappear with Gaddafi in power. Rasmussen said he had indications that allies would provide extra strike aircraft needed for the operation in Libya. Not all Nato countries agree. Spain has said no and so has Italy.

See more about Libya on


Unrest in the other North African State

Besides Libya the political unrest have been noticed in another North African state, that is in Algeria. The Algerian president has addressed his people on television for the first time in three months. Abdelaziz Bouteflika spoke for 30 minutes, promising change before the 2014 presidential elections. He has promised to finish off the institutions designed to reinforce democracy and to introduce constitutional amendments. Bouteflika also announced legislative changes and changes in the electoral law to make it more representative. Although Algeria has not seen national protests to the same degree as elsewhere in the Arab world it is experiencing local unrest on a daily basis in the capital.

The latest developments in Algeria

Burka Ban in France

I may definitely state that burka ban which has started to be implemented in France since 11 April is the most discussable theme of the week around the world. France started enforcing a new law that bans the wearing of full Islamic veils in public. It has taken more than a year of controversial debate and a stormy passage through the French parliament. The law is accompanied by an internet campaign to explain the new rule. Women who cover their faces in public, be it shops, schools, buses or hospitals, face a fine of up to 150 euros. Opponents say it violates European laws on religious freedom. Police say they will uphold the law, but many are not convinced by some arguments that it is essential to maintain security. Officials say police – many of whom also cover their faces occasionally – will not arrest every veiled woman they see. That is more interesting most of the polls organized through web show that most of the population of France says “yes” to this law (about 68%). But from my side I may just notice, that I surely believe that very soon we would see some interesting judicial cases not only in France but as well as in the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg Court), because in any case there would be persons who would consider that this ban and law in general directly contradicts to the demands and requirements of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the religious freedoms. So, it would be very interesting to see what legal approach would show the Court concerning this issue.

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Germany without Nuclear Energy

Germany must make a swift transition from nuclear energy to renewable sources, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday. She met with the heads of Germany’s 16 state governments to debate her energy blueprint for the future. Merkel stated that Germany is making a very ambitious attempt and there is a lot of political will to at least create a framework in which not only the exit is made clear but also in which it is made clear how an independent German energy supply can be achieved without nuclear power. Her comments mark a policy U-turn amid an emerging national consensus that Germany’s 17 atomic plants should be quickly shut following Japan’s nuclear disaster. No date has been set for their shutdown, although the opposition Social Democrats want all of them closed by 2022. Merkel’s plan will offer cheap credit to build wind farms but will also require new coal and gas plants to be constructed.

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Focus on Turkey

During the last week Turkey’s Prime Minister Mr.Erdogan in my opinion was the most active politician, as he made several important speeches and as always presented very interesting idea on different issues.

First of all, the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan promised to draft a new constitution and make Turkey one of the world’s 10 largest economies by 2023 as he launched a party manifesto on Saturday ahead of June elections. Opinion polls show Erdogan’s AK Party (AKP) comfortably securing a third consecutive term of single-party rule in the vote, on the back of a decade of economic success and political stability. Unveiling what he called the AKP’s manifesto for 2023, Erdogan offered few concrete proposals but said he would slash unemployment, build homes for the poor and push on with economic reforms that have transformed the Muslim country from an economic basket-case to a stable, fast growing economy. Erdogan has said he wants a strong mandate that will allow him to introduce a new constitution to replace the one drafted after a 1980 coup. On Saturday he repeated that pledge. A move to a more presidential form of government from the current parliamentary system is among changes being considered. Erdogan, who is believed to covet the presidency, did not mention plans for a presidential system in the manifesto. Formed as a coalition uniting religious conservatives with liberal and nationalist groups, Erdogan’s AKP has been Turkey’s dominant political force since it crushed establishment parties tainted by graft in 2002. Investors regard the AKP as the most market-friendly party, due to economic policies that have brought inflation to record lows, opened the doors to foreign investment and helped Turkey become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Secularist rivals accuse AKP of having an Islamist agenda. The AKP, which evolved from banned Islamist movements, denies this and says it is a Muslim version of Europe’s Christian Democratic parties.

And the second development in which the Turkish Prime Minister was very active was the plenary session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Wednesday. Gis speech was covered extensively by both the Turkish and foreign media because of Erdo?an’s rebuke of Europe. To European lawmakers asking questions about a variety of issues concerning Turkey, such as freedom of the media and the rights of religious minorities, Erdo?an told them to take a look at Europe’s own record on these issues before they bring Turkey’s shortcomings to everyone’s attention. He also accused Europe of failing to have sufficient information about Turkey. But everybody would surely remember this PACE session because of the debate between Mr. Erdogan and Muriel Marlan-Militelon, the French deputy, who asked the scandalous question the Turkish PM. The French deputy, which has the Armenian roots, asked Mr. Erdogan about religious freedoms in Turkey and about the remedies for their protection. The Turkish PM in a very interesting manner answered that the French parliamentary is speaking about something he is not aware of and it is obvious that he is clearly French, and in Turkey he is French, too. In Turkey, when a person does not know something or speaks out of context, it is said that they are from France.

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