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On July, 15th a group of military officials unsuccessfully attempted to overthrow the Islamic-conservative AKP-government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan which left 265 people dead. In the aftermath of these events, the Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and demands the extradition of the oppositional preacher Fetullah Gülen from the United States who is the alleged mastermind of the coup. Since then, the Turkish government has officially detained about 26,000 alleged Gülen-supporters. Moreover, several media channels lost their license, schools were shut down, and Erdoğan considered the reintroduction of the death penalty.
In response to this suggestion, Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini ruled out the possibility of a country that reintroduces the death penalty to become a member of the Union. Afterwards, the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım distanced himself from this proposal. Nevertheless, the relationship between Turkey and the EU remains strained. Germany in particular has been struggling to find a coherent strategy to deal with the authoritarian developments in Turkey as the following analysis will show. Partly due to the German guest worker policy in the 1950s, there are now about three million people of Turkish descent living in Germany, which is the basis for a traditionally close alliance between both Germany and Turkey and which makes it worth taking a look at the current state of the German-Turkish relations.
|Photo: duncan c (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0|
Europe is on the edge. Brexit, the anti-democratic developments in Eastern Europe with authoritarian governments in Poland and Hungary, and the rise of the far-right in Germany with the AfD and Pegida movement as well as in France (Front National) anticipate the imminent collapse of the European Union as the biggest peace project in our common history. Nevertheless, in all the debates on which direction our continent and the world should take, the political elite ignores young people. They fail to recognise that they cannot set the course for the future without paying attention to those who will be most affected by today’s decisions.
In the first Good Reads of 2016, former editor Frances Jackson shares a few articles that have got her thinking about Europe over the last few days. Read about contrasting efforts to integrate asylum seekers in Germany and Finland, the publication of a new annotated edition of Mein Kampf, and why the AZERTY keyboard could soon become a thing of the past.
Frances, former Diaphragm / Baby editor
IN search of a common ground
I suppose it’s inevitable that, in the face such a torrent of depressing news stories and seemingly insurmountable hurdles as is the case with the ongoing refugee crisis, we are drawn to examples of journalism that give us hope for the future. Certainly, I think that is what made Herbi Dreiner’s recent guest post for the Guardian stand out for me. He is part of a team at the University of Bonn that has started putting on physics shows with Arabic explanations to help engage young asylum seekers who are still finding their feet in Germany. I love the simplicity of the idea, its optimism and the way it encourages us to find a shared understanding, rather seeking to emphasise differences and deficiencies.
|Photo: Peter Alfred Hess; Licence: CC BY 2.0|
In the face of increasing calls for limits to be placed on EU migrants in her home country, E&M's Frances Jackson, a Brit based in Germany, wonders if she too is a burden on the state.
For the last four years, I have been living in a country that is not my own. I wasn't born here. I didn't grow up speaking the language. And if you stopped me on the street, I probably wouldn't – apart from a provisional UK driving licence that expires in 2017* – even have any proper ID on me, as I worry about losing my passport, so prefer not to carry it around every day.
Don't tell anybody, but I am one of those EU migrants you've heard so much about. I came to Germany – in part, at least – for the cheap higher education and have stayed firmly put since then, going as far as to secure myself a PhD scholarship in the process.
As Europe witnesses the largest wave of mass migration since the end of the Second World War, and anti-foreigner rhetoric continues to rise around us, creeping steadily into the political mainstream, I have been giving a lot of thought to my own status as a sort of "economic migrant". Does my presence pose a threat to the German way of life? Am I putting unsustainable pressure on the country's infrastructure? And if not, why not?
Alice Baruffato on the theme of Pegida
For sure, the far right movement holds the headlines and has conquered a firm place in the debate about European integration. But it also seems to have to face some internal problems and a general lack of supporters, as the anti-Pegida and pro-Europe movements are shouting out loud their ideas in many German cities.
Who is this "full-blood" Saxon ancestor fighting against? An imaginary enemy, finding himself alone on what he thinks is a battle field in the contemporary Saxony/Germany...
Photo: Tobias Melzer
St. Patrick's Day celebrations in the Bavarian capital
With Ireland and Irish diasporas around the world honouring their patron saint today, E&M photographer Tobias Melzer takes a look at continental Europe's largest St. Patrick's Day parade, an emerald extravaganza of good cheer and cultural diversity that has been held annually in the German city of Munich since 1995.
When it comes to exportability, there's no saint quite like Patrick. His appeal seems to know no bounds and St. Patrick's Day parades have caught on in just about every corner of the world. This year will also see a number of European landmarks, including the Colosseum in Rome, Montmartre's Sacré-Cœur Basilica and the London Eye being illuminated in verdant hues as part of Tourism Ireland's "Global Greening".
Though Munich is perhaps best known for its beer halls and Brezen, not to mention the world-famous Oktoberfest, there is a least one day a year when being Bavarian takes a back seat and the city embraces other cultural traditions. Now in its 20th year, the Munich St. Patrick's Day parade not only showcases the breadth of the Irish community's cultural endeavours here – everything from hurling to folk dance – but also gives a platform to other nations represented in the city. The 2015 edition, which took place last Sunday, featured contributions from as far afield as Slovenia. In a show of international understanding, leprechauns mingled with Lederhosen-clad musicians, a certain dark beer flowed freely alongside German Helles and even the lord mayor of Munich got on stage to sing a duet of "Whiskey in the Jar". Saint Patrick would surely have been proud.
With the New Year, Good Reads is back on track and our editors are going to keep on sharing the best online articles that got them thinking about Europe recently. This time around, freshly appointed Chris Ruff will be introducing himself to E&M readers by sharing some reflections on the way we consume news these days and also about the German Pegida movement.
Chris, Heart/Legs editor
2014: a year to forget
Whilst reflecting on 2014 around the dinner table with friends this Christmas, it seemed that none of us could remember a year with quite so many awful things that had happened. ISIS, the Ukraine crisis, Gaza, two (now three) passenger jets dropping from the sky leaving no survivors, terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Australia and elsewhere, schoolgirls captured in Nigeria – the list could go on.
2014 will certainly go down as a grim year for humanity. However, part of this phenomenon of negativity is due to the way modern news is consumed and distributed, lending an immediacy and urgency to current events. News is now omnipresent – available to us in more ways and at more times than ever before. Events are almost impossible to miss. As such, our perceptions about say, air travel, have been negatively influenced by what appears to be frequent crashes, although the data clearly shows that travelling by plane is actually safer than ever.
Yet despite the rolling 24-hour news channels and the pervasive impact of social media, journalism in 2014 has often felt stale or formulaic; perspectives on global crises have seemed like tired re-runs of old arguments, stuck in a by-gone era. It is for this reason that when a piece with genuine insight appears, such as this opinion piece by Jeffrey Sachs, it really makes you sit up and notice. Sachs, a former economic advisor to both the Polish and Russian governments following the end of the Cold War, eloquently describes the West's differing approaches to both countries and how this has had a profound effect on their subsequent development. In short, if the West had chosen to pursue a similarly conciliatory debt strategy with Russia as they did with Poland, the outcome would be very different. Instead, the US and Western Europe's desire to consolidate their victory with punitive measures has led Sachs to compare it with the aftermath of the Treaty of Versailles. The article adds even more, as it is written in first person on the basis of direct experiences.
Visitors can find such engravings in many areas of Berlin: they mark where
the Wall used to be.
With the gaze of all European media outlets focusing on the Berlin Wall and its historical importance, E&M wants to talk about the 25th anniversary of its fall from a personal perspective. This year, as an exclusive for our magazine, we are pleased to host the experiences of three young Italian women who spent two months in Berlin on a volunteering project at the Berlin Wall Memorial. Alice Baruffato, Eugenia Pennacchio and Veronica Pozzi, one of our Sixth Sense editors, share with us their feelings and their thoughts, developed over the course of their work at such an important place for the Europe in which we live.
Eugenia – The choice of building an historical memory by giving prominence to real life people
Behind the great history of nations and heads of state, there are the little, local stories and, behind these stories, there are real people, their lives, their emotions, their everyday experiences. As an historian I often forget that. I have been studying and analysing epochal events: wars, peace, their causes, the big protagonists of contemporary history and their actions, which seem to be solely responsible for the geopolitical context of the world where we live.
My decision to join a volunteering project at the Chapel of Reconciliation in Berlin, after having done academic research on the pacifist movements of East Berlin, was a good opportunity to re-live and to explain to visitors some of the pivotal events in the history of Germany and of the whole world. But I didn't imagine this two-month project would give me an approach to history and memory that was slightly different from the one I knew and had taken for granted before.
Photo: Christian Diemer
En route to Chernivtsi earlier this month
In this first installment of E&M's new special series On the Brink, Christian Diemer shares a Ukrainian driver's views on Putin, women and Europe. A word of warning, though: it does contain some colourful language.
"Ukrainians should erect a golden memorial to the sprinter"
For more than twenty hours, with just a few ten-minute toilet breaks, Andri has been sitting behind the steering wheel, hulking neck, bald skull, tracksuit bottoms. A golden sun set over the endless plains of eastern Poland hours ago, while the white van was sailing along towards the end of Europe. Past it, beyond the border, the sailing has turned to trudging, rolling, shoving. Deep potholes, ruts, clefts, rifts, lengthwise and right across, make the paved road an obstacle course, forcing the speed down to almost zero every few metres. Dawn is still far off. Howling diesel in a lightless night, curving in erratic wavy lines, the sturdy Sprinter fights its way to where it looks as though the fewest bumps and traps lurk (and that is, if at all, on the opposite lane, where else). "What would Ukrainians do without the Sprinter!", shouts Andri. "What those cars have to endure on our Ukrainian roads, and still they never break!"
Photo: Tobias Melzer (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Not even German supermarkets could resist showing their colours
E&M reader Stefan Kreppel gives his personal take on Germany's World Cup win in Brazil.
It’s the morning after Germany won the most prestigious title in the footballing world. I’m sitting on the train on my way to work, slightly hungover. The woman next to me has got herself one of those special issues that newspapers produce on such occasions and is reliving the most important moments of this World Cup for the German team.
The smile on her face reflects the feeling most Germans are experiencing after four weeks of soccer: satisfaction. Having fallen at the final hurdle in the previous four international tournaments, the title seemed long overdue in the eyes of the team, its fans and especially the media. Being the odds-on favourite to win transferred a lot of nervousness to the players, as well as to the people watching the match on one of the countless big screen televisions set up at public venues back home in Germany.
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