Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

One dent at a time, Turkey’s nation-state edifice erodes

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“Happy is he who calls himself a Turk.”

One of the first things that catches your attention when you drive out of the airport of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s famous phrase engraved on mountain slopes in big white letters.

Bent on building a secular and modern Turkey after World War One, Ataturk carved a united Turkish nation out of the disparate ethnic and religious groups that inhabited the old Ottoman empire — sometimes by forced “Turkification” as was the case with ethnic Kurds.

That once-monolithic nation state is slowly being dented as pluralism becomes an acceptable fact of life in Turkish society.

Turkey’s announcement this week that it is preparing a “democratic opening” for Kurds has raised hopes the EU candidate country might launch bold reforms to end a conflict that has killed 40,000 people and brought pain to many more.

Czech presidency gets end-of-term report

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The Czech Republic has got what amounted to a disappointing end-of-term report from the European Parliament.

In a debate this week on the six-month Czech presidency of the European Union, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said that although the first six months of 2009 would go down in EU history as a demanding period, Prague had got through “without major hiccups”.

EU parliament gets a new head – does anyone care?

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 Pat Cox, Joseph Borrell, Hans-Gert Poettering and now Jerzy Buzek. What do they have in common ? For those outside the EU bubble in Brussels, Polish conservative Buzek was elected on Tuesday as the new president of the European Parliament, following in the footsteps of the others mentioned above.
    But does anyone really care ?
 I asked on Facebook if anyone could name the previous two presidents and from those of my friends who do not work in any of the European Union institutions, I received numerous responses ranging from Barack Obama to Seamus & Sheila McSpud.

 In his first media interview after taking over as the head of the EU’s directly elected assembly in 2007, Poettering told me he was going to make the European Parliament one of the best-known legislatures in the world.

EU President Sweden to lead by example on climate change

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A lush green residential area in the south of Stockholm embodies Sweden’s determination to lead from the front in its efforts to combat climate change during its presidency of the European Union.

 

A decade ago, Hammarby Sjostad was a run-down industrial area with pollution problems. Today it is an environmentally friendly suburb which exemplifies the battle against climate change – one of Sweden’s priorities in its six-month presidency which began on Wednesday.

EU vote result adds to Turkey’s membership woes

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The results of European Parliament election have caused deep concern in European Union candidate Turkey, where gains made by conservatives and some far-right parties have been read as a  clear win by the “No to Turkey” camp” and thus a blow to Ankara’s already troubled EU membership quest.

 

Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, Turkish  Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the vote as a “futile effort by those who cannot digest Turkey’s enormity and strategic importance”. He said politicians who vilified Turkey to win votes in the short term would be judged by history.

Should voting be compulsory in European Parliament election?

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As people across the European Union vote in a European
Parliament election
, is it perhaps time to consider making voting in each country compulsory by law?

The build-up to the election has been dominated by talk of voter apathy and how low the turnout will be at the polls. This has drowned out discussion of policies and how to bring about changes in government.

European Parliament campaign gets tough

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By Caroline Linton

The gloves are off in the run-up to this week’s European Parliament election

The Party of European Socialists (PES) has published a list of 11 rival candidates it describes as terrible and invites readers to complete the list by adding a 12th candidate of his or her choice. The PES’ centre-right rivals, the European People’s Party (EPP), has hit back by calling it ”cheap populism”.

Turkey, the EU and a love-hate relationship

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    French President Nicolas Sarkozy opens a jack-in-the-box  decorated with the EU flag, a boxing glove springs out and  knocks out the teeth of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan .

     “No more empty promises to Turkey,” a snickering Sarkozy  says.  The cartoon in daily Milliyet darkly panders to what most  Turks feel these days are the European Union’s true intentions  towards Turkey’s EU quest — no matter how many obstacles thrown  at its wheels Turkey surmounts on the long and winding road to  Brussels, it will ultimately be denied entry at the gates of the  promised land .

Fanfare but little substance at orchestrated EU-China summit

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By Tamora Vidaillet and Darren Ennis

Reporters at a long-awaited summit between the European Union and China in Prague Castle learnt more about the art of stage managing set-piece events than about the state of the EU-China relationship.

The Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency until the end of next month, pulled out all the stops to ensure security was tight for Wednesday’s fleeting visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a handful of ministers, who were kept away from journalists by barriers.

Ushered into a stuffy holding room hours before the meeting, journalists were kept from stepping outside even for a smoke for fear of escaping into the sprawling compound of the castle.

Back-slapping at the European Parliament – but also concerns

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Members of the European Parliament engaged in some mutual back-slapping at their final session this week before an election next month.

“Nowadays very few decisions are taken in the European Union without the express consent and participation of the European Parliament,” said the parliament’s president, Hans-Gert Poettering

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