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Category Archives: Europe
Fortress Britain is no answer to the political and economic challenge of Syrian refugees, let alone a moral one
The refugee crisis, the tip of an almost unprecedented human migration from south to north, faces the EU with a moral challenge that it is proving ill-equipped to meet. The Europe of values, reflected in the obligation for countries applying for EU membership not just to meet economic tests but to have democratic institutions and a proven respect for human rights, is under strain. Economic recession, the threat of terrorism and the rise of the extreme right are all weakening its institutional underpinnings: high ideals are always at risk from low politics. But this is no abstract question. It is an all-too-real disaster for hundreds of thousands of Syrians and others who are fleeing war and persecution and have endured perilous journeys to reach the southern fringes of Europe. It could also be dangerous for the EU itself.
Germany, partly for reasons to do with its history and its growing demand for labour, is emerging as the champion of the moral case. On Sunday, in a significant demonstration of its commitment to Europe’s fundamental values, the government unilaterally suspended the Dublin protocol, which obliges refugees to seek asylum in the first safe country they reach, for all Syrians. On the same day, the foreign and economic ministers co-wrote a 10-point plan for a Europe-wide migration, refugee and asylum policy founded on the principle of solidarity and “our shared values of humanity”. On Monday, Angela Merkel and François Hollande reiterated support for a Europe-wide solution – adapting Germany’s own internal system of distributing refugees fairly throughout the country – that was comprehensively rejected in June. Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, made his own call to arms, condemning in the name of Europe’s shared values those he accused of trying to cordon themselves off from “distress, fear and misery”, and the populist politicians who stirred up xenophobia in the name of winning votes.
Swedish woman who lost her uterus to cancer received her mother’s womb in pioneering transplant and got pregnant by IVF
A pioneering procedure has led to a baby being born from the same womb that nurtured his mother.
The Swedish mother, who lost her uterus to cancer in her 20s, said it was “unimaginable” that she now had her own child thanks to her mother’s donated womb.
Short-term measures like walls and fences in Europe won’t solve a migration crisis of this size. People who have risked so much will just find another way
When there is a will to migrate, there is often a wall to stop it. After increasing numbers of migrants tried to breach Spain’s enclaves in northern Africa in the 90s, the Spanish built a fence to block their path. Last year Bulgaria built another on its border with Turkey. And this summer, Hungary has followed suit – starting work on a fence that will supposedly separate it from Serbia, its southern neighbour.
Party formed after split from Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza, unlikely to succeed
An explicitly anti-euro, pro-drachma party has assumed the process of attempting to form a government in Greece, four days after prime minister Alexis Tsipras resigned to pave the way for snap elections.
Panagiotis Lafazanis, the Marxist former energy minister who on Friday formed his own movement of rebels after breaking ranks with Tsipras’s far-left Syriza party, was given a mandate to try to forge a new administration by president Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
The Hagia Sophia, Galatasary FC, Bosphorus views … there are so many ways of exploring Istanbul’s riches while keeping your lira on a leash
Planning some serious sightseeing? The Istanbul Museum Pass allows free entrance to a dozen of the city’s top sites, including the Topkapı Palace and the Hagia Sophia, plus discounts on a selection of other museums, shops, restaurants and activities. It costs a wallet-friendly 85 lira (£20 at current, favourable, rates) for three days or 115 lire (£27) for five days. Even better, passholders can jump the queues, too. Insider tip: although you can purchase your Müzekart from any of the participating museums, save yourself precious time by doing so at one of the quieter venues, such as the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.
Warplanes will train alongside Eurofighter and other Nato aircraft as ‘Russia’s military activity continues to be of great concern’, says air force secretary
The US is to deploy F-22 fighter jets to Europe as part of efforts to support eastern European members of the Nato alliance unnerved by Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.
When senseless brutality dominates the news, it’s easy to be overcome by despair. The actions of these men remind us that we don’t have to be impotent bystanders
“In times of crisis, the lesson would be to do something … don’t just stand by and watch.” So said Anthony Sadler, one of the men who prevented what François Hollande called “veritable carnage” on a French train on Friday evening. He and his two friends Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, and a British businessman called Chris Norman, have all received the Légion d’honneur for their actions. So too will a passenger who was shot, and a French citizen who also tackled the gunman and wants to remain anonymous.
The honour is well deserved. Their heroism is unambiguous, real and uncomplicated. They acted with no thought for their own safety and saved lives. It is not yet known what the motives of the gunman were, though he has denied mounting a jihadi attack. However, in a time when terror works exactly by inducing in most of us nothing but terrible imaginings and a resigned powerlessness, this story offers something else. We mostly do just stand and watch, I am afraid, because every day we are bombarded with imagery and information and security alerts about “terror” and have no idea at all about what we can do about it besides carry on. Many people tell me they no longer watch the news, not because they are callous but because they find it unbearable.
Politicians launch clampdown on historic naturalist sites that they say ‘offend morality’. The Moscow Times reports
Moscow nudists may soon lose their most popular beach as city authorities plan to expel them from the Serebryany Bor natural park.
Moscow City Duma deputy Lyudmila Stebenkova, who is spearheading the campaign, denounced the beach-goers as “depraved”.
The Islamic Republic is wary of foreign investors but will need them to ensure economic growth as sanctions are lifted
When I travelled to Tehran last summer to speak at an energy conference, I was inundated with a range of technical questions I couldn’t answer. Young men and women asked for drafts of my presentation, and later emailed me with queries, so revealing how educated and skilled is Iran’s rising generation.
The debate at the conference over Iran’s best model for economic growth – and whether it should expand ties with both Russia and the United States – illustrated a broad consensus in Iran on the importance of independent development and of attracting the kind of investment that will support this. The Islamic Republic’s founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s slogan of “neither east, nor west” summed up this aspiration.
Political mood becomes even more poisonous as former PM Antonis Samaras accuses Alexis Tsipras of acting like ‘drunk captain of a rudderless ship’
Confusion over the timing of fresh elections in Greece has threatened to jeopardise the prospects for a smooth transition to a new government and the ability of the debt-stricken country to meet the conditions of its €86bn bailout.
The election campaign intensified over the weekend with officials preparing candidate lists and the appointment of a caretaker administration after the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras refused to participate in talks with other party leaders to form a new government.