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Photo: Suzanne Alibert
What's it's like to leave your home behind and spend months visiting very nearly every country in Europe? E&M editor Rosamund Mather speaks with Suzanne Alibert about her project "Europe Next Door" and how it helps promote European values and reach out to young people in Europe.
E&M: Hello Suzanne! Could you briefly explain what exactly the project "Europe Next Door" is?
Suzanne Alibert: It’s a tour of Europe to meet young Europeans. I will be visiting 26 countries in the EU, plus Turkey and Iceland. During my travels, my aim is to see what the situation for people is like in each country and what they think about the European Union. I’m writing articles on my website during my trip, and when I’m back in France, I will write a book and do some conferences and photo exhibitions.
In this week's edition of Good Reads, the new editor of Sixth Sense Nicoletta Enria shares some articles about reversing gender stereotypes in Lithuania, the "rescue" mission Triton in the Mediterranean and the importance of appreciating street names when visiting a city.
Nicoletta, Sixth Sense editor
"They won the lottery"
The tense geopolitical atmosphere in Lithuania due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict has meant that the government has reintroduced conscription, which had been previously outlawed in 2008. I found this article from the Guardian’s Nadia Khomami particularly interesting, as it deals with a moving photography project by Lithuanian photographer Neringa Rekašiūtė and actor and TV host Beata Tiškevič-Hasanova in response to the reintroduction of conscription entitled "They Won the Lottery".
The photographs are truly arresting, portraying men in tears as a result of having been called up. However, what I found most fascinating is the reversal of male gender stereotypes, whereby the men in the photographs appear to be crying due to societal pressures for them to “man up” and not be cowards in the face of conscription. This piece casts a light on the rigid male stereotypes in Lithuania, which can be compared to those of many other European countries, and the aims of the project are to subvert and criticise them.
This month Alice Baruffato continues her series of cartoons for E&M and focuses on an evergreen European topic, alias the UK and its relationship with Europe. Following the general elections' results, David Cameron has re-confirmed himself as the leader of an island that seems to be sceptical about its future presence within the Union. To renegotiate the right of freedom of movement across Europe and to stop (il)legal immigration still appear to be top priorities in 2015 UK. But can Cameron stop the European train? Is it really worth it?
Photo: Christian DiemerIdyll with an egg-yellow Lada, on the shores of the Dnipro-Donbass canal.
In the final part of his exclusive series for E&M, Christian Diemer travels to Sakhnovshchyna in eastern Ukraine, where celebrations are also taking place to mark the anniversary of the village’s liberation during the Second World War. The atmosphere proves, however, to be very different from that of nearby Lozova, and just 150 kilometres to the east, war is again darkening Ukrainian skies.
At seven in the morning, Anna knocks on my door. I am supposed to be taking the elektrychka [regional train] from Lozova to Sakhnovshchyna at 8:46 a.m. Sakhnovshchyna, a small town with around 9,000 inhabitants in the Kharkiv region, is 50 kilometres from Lozova. The Red Army took a day to get there. Consequently, Sakhnovshchyna celebrates its city holiday one day later than Lozova.
But my friends have thought things over during the night. "It is written in your face that you are a foreigner", says Anna. "Times have changed. The war has attracted bad people to our region. It is dangerous for you to go by elektrychka. I will drive you to Sakhnovshchyna."
"Are you afraid to drive with me? I can drive. Only my car is very old." Actually I am quite OK with having company. Anna has a cheerful, vivid voice and laugh. And I immediately fall in love with her car. An egg-yellow Lada, ordered back in the 70s by some relative with good party connections. I can adjust the angle of my seat with a screw. When Anna brakes, my seat slides forward. However fast she drives, the speedometer stubbornly points to 0. And Anna goes fast, hammering over the potholes and crevices, slowing a little or pulling around hard only for the meanest traps. And I understand why this car is made for those roads. It swallows it all, uncomplainingly. "We don’t need a speedometer or a safety belt. These streets are our safety belt, our built-in speed limit. No one can go too fast on them anyway."
Photo: Christian Diemer
Lenin likeliness – as if time had stood still, young Lozovans carry remnants of the Soviet past across the parade
Following on from his trip to Korosten' for the pototo fritter festival, E&M's Christian Diemer is again caught up in a Ukrainian city's celebrations as Lovoza marks the 71st anniversary of its liberation during the Second World War and honours the veterans who fought to achieve that freedom. However, thoughts of a more current conflict are never far from the surface.
"You are not one of us", says the man with the beer on the opposite seat. "Where are you from?" Early morning, I am on the train to Lozova, province town between the eastern Ukrainian metropolis of Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovs’k. "Ich – heiße – Sergey – hoh", he pronounces the words like a pair of copulating elephants, to make me understand how much he likes the decisive, harsh, and "manly" German language, as he puts it. Russian, he claims, is a soft language. French is for women anyway. Sergey gives me one of his beers. He is of the opinion that we should solve crosswords together.
Sergey is Russian. He studied in Saint Petersburg for eleven years before coming to Luhans’k. Is he one of those that Putin claims to protect? "Putin is the second Hitler", he makes clear. "Russia is a dictatorship. Here in Ukraine, you can speak freely, there you cannot." Like many, he is sure Putin wants a land connection to Crimea, which would, apart from Donets’k and Luhans’k, also involve the port city of Mariupol’. He assumes Putin will go further too, taking Dnipropetrovs’k and Odesa. And who knows whether that will be it.
Sergey shows me his passport, a temporary one, he has lost the original. The authorities in Luhans’k offered him a new one, but from their new government, the LNR [Luhans’ka Narodna Respublika, Luhans’k People's Republic]. "What the hell for, I don’t want that, I want my Ukrainian passport!" He left for Dnipropetrovs’k.
With all eyes on Vienna for the 60th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, we've compiled a little quiz to mark the occasion. Put your knowledge of this annual celebration of music, glitz, glamour and voting for neighbouring countries to the test!
|Photo: Adrian Snood (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0|
Following Conchita Wurst’s win in 2014, the European pop extravaganza will take place tonight in Vienna’s Stadthalle, but when was the last time that Austria emerged victorious from Eurovision?
In the wake of last week's "Karlspreis" being awarded to Martin Schultz, president of the European Parliament, guest author Frank Burgdörfer reflects upon this predictable choice and suggests David Cameron as a better candidate given his European achievements.
The city of Aachen has awarded Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, with the "Karlspreis" – an annual prize named after the medieval emperor Charlemagne. It comes as no surprise at all, as the prize is usually given to people who hold key functions in European institutions. Thus the group of potential recipients is rather limited. Council president Donald Tusk and commission president Jean-Claude Juncker were already awarded the prize. As former president of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet got one previously, it will most likely be the turn of his successor Mario Draghi next year. Truly exciting...
Do not get me wrong: Schulz definitely has merits with regard to Europe. However, this is not exceptional because we as European tax payers remunerate him well for his work. He has indeed increased and consolidated the EP’s influence over the last years. Still, giving him an award for that is a bit like awarding the Pope for special achievements in the field of leading the Catholic Church.
Are there no committed citizens, innovate business men, progressive researchers or clerics building bridges in Europe? Cartoonists, journalists, historians, teachers or doctors, who have used their positions to give "exceptional contributions in political, economic or spiritual regard for the unity of Europe", as a declaration from 1990 puts it? It seems that the Charlemagne Prize actually puts the city of Aachen more into the spotlight than the awardee – which is in fact often the case with other prizes too.
They say a picture paints a thousand words, so we've set out to discover what photography might be able to tell us about today's Europe.
Here at E&M, we don't just want to know what young Europeans think about Europe, we also want to find out how they see and feel the continent. On the blog, we host a photo competition called Europe Through a Lens and regularly publish a selection of our readers' photographic work. All you have to do is submit images that you think best represent our selected European theme.
For the May / June edition of the competition, we've gone with the topic of "Colourful Europe" and can't wait to see what you come up with. So long as your photo has a component of colour, you're free to interpret the theme however you wish. Entries could be images of anything from a patchwork landscape in full bloom to a gaudy street festival – it's entirely up to you and your powers of imagination!