Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why have barriers when voting for the EP?

During the last European Parliament elections in 2009 I tried to practice my democratic right and vote. But I found out the last minute that I could not.

Because while I registered myself on the electoral register in Ireland, I did not do so with the Dublin City Council's records.

I thought that being registered as a voter, would entitled me to vote both for the local and European elections that took place the same day in Ireland.

When I arrived in the poling station, they told me that I could not vote for the European elections, only for the local ones. Because I had not filled out a form declaring that I would not vote again in another country.

It is required to register in both lists, in order to vote. Once to put your name on the voters' registry of the country and a second one, to declare that you are only going to vote once during the European elections. You will have to repeat the second procedure in every European election in order to vote.

I thought that I could not vote because I had to vote for Greek MEPs only and that I was not allowed to vote for Irish ones. It seemed to me like a joke the whole thing, because I've been living in Ireland for so long and knew more about Irish political reality than the Greek one. Besides, it is what happens in Ireland that affects me directly, not in Greece.

When I contacted the responsible authorities in Brussels to complain about it, I received an e-mail from the Ombudsman saying that these kind of regulations are put in place, to prevent people voting in one country then going to vote in another country again.

So let's say that I voted over here in Ireland, then took the plane all the way down to Greece and voted again, thus placing two MEPs in the European Parliament (EP) to represent me. It doesn't sound right! I understand of course that such regulations most likely apply to people that live in neighboring countries, like Belgium and Holland.

We generally have a very low turn out in the European elections during the last past few years, so it is unlikely that anyone will make the effort in voting twice. People are simply either not interested, nor convinced that it will make any difference.

In some countries the turn out has been as low as between 20-30 % of the eligible voters. Instead of trying our best to bring people to the poles and increase their interest for the elections, we are placing more red tape and restrictions.

Why put so much legislation into these elections, while it should be as easy as the national ones. Just register and you can vote. We could harmonize our voters' records and once you move in another country and register there to vote, your records could be moved with you in your new country of residence.

Of course there are other things that Europe and EU must solve first than linking their electoral records, to re-enact the interest of the voters for the EP elections.

Better and fairer media coverage of news coming out from Brussels for example. Citizens rarely see any broadcasting or updates directly from the EP, while usually they receive bad news about new EU regulations coming from there.

But at least we could make it easier for citizens that live in another EU country to vote, but are caught up and confused in all the paper work and typicality. When voting for the EP, I do so for the betterment of Europe and to promote my interests according my everyday reality in the country that I live.

Generally we should re-engage the EU citizens' interests for the European Elections, by perhaps reassuring them that there is a real benefit. It is in their interests to have a functioning EP, that it is working for them and it promoting their interests.

Also we could educate our youth during the last year at school and before becoming full citizens, about their rights as voters in national and European elections. Everything I have learned so far, I did so by doing hours of research, contacting the authorities, being hours on line searching different EU portals on issues like this.

The information I gathered was because of my own initiative, while it should be more accessible to our young people via our educational systems.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What type of multicultural model for Europe?

Europe now-days seems indeed like a middle aged lady, that looks for an identity, a way to move forward and reinvent itself. There are plenty of debates of how to form a European federation, conscience and populace, or how to integrate the various ethnic groups that live in our continent. 

During those debates we hear many different opinions that come from different lobbies or interest groups, all with different vision or agenda about the future of Europe. 

Some political or social groups dream a different model of society, that in their opinion would make our world better. The most liberal of these groups support that we should not focus so much on our national heritage and identity, but we should all become citizens of the world.

History as it is being taught in our schools is one of the things they would love to change, as they are against in cultivating any nationalistic sentiments. That of course is a very radical point of view, because history if is taught the right way, can teach us a lot of our past mistakes and how to avoid repeating them. When we are mature enough we could learn from it and move on to the future with knowledge, not ignorance.

They also promote a new kind of citizenship for the world, a multicultural model that must be safeguarded and promoted in all corners of the Earth. States must be comprised by as many ethnic groups as possible, of all religions, races, and cultures. In other words what we already observe in Europe and other regions. Holding a passport and being a citizen of a country now-days, does not mean that you are ethnically German, Irish, Danish or Greek, rather that you are citizen of this country. 

And rightly so,when you live in a country for so many years pay taxes and contribute, you are a citizen of this country. In fact you become a citizen of this country the very moment you get a job there and start paying taxes. But then why in our passports they still use the term "nationality?"

To me nationality is your ethnic background, something that you are born with and never changes. Citizenship is referring to the state you live in and have your rights, totally different meaning. Being a non national, but a citizen of a country should not mean that you have less rights than the citizens of the predominant ethnic group of the state. But can we be as mature in Europe, or do we still need to feel that our countries are representing an ethnicity as well? 

The nation state was the most wanted model for Europe in the past and most countries tried to integrate and absorb all ethnic minorities. They tried to create a homogenous nation state, promoting one language, consciousness, religion and tradition. Now Europe went to the other "extreme" and our leading elites are trying to create quite the opposite.

Though I agree with the second position, I disagree with their methods. They follow the recipe that to them was apparently successful in USA, by creating a melting pot. The freedom of speech, the democratic right to express freely your opinion, becomes a right to believe any religion and any version of history or culture you want. In the end you end up with people with no ethnic heritage, though with various ethnic backgrounds. But why do we have to assimilate all people or cultures into one?

If they want to make nations to come together and create a successful multicultural society, they must proceed and encourage the opposite. Promote each others' heritage, culture and history onto all other nations, so we can get to know each other better and come closer. The continuous cultural exchange will eventually bind us all together, by creating a culture with elements from all ethnic groups.

Instead they are inspired and follow the American model with all its faults, since America is not the best example of a successful society. They are trying to "Americanize" us all, with the dominant capitalist multicultural "Anglosaxon" culture being promoted upon us all. 

If they want us though to accept such thing, we need to be part of it and see people from Greece for example, the Greek language, culture and heritage, being promoted all over Europe. And vise versa, cultures from all over the continent promoted within Greece. 

In Europe we are already in an "integration mode" and this is the best way to proceed with the integration process, by keeping our culture and heritage as well. Otherwise people will probably reject such new culture as something foreign, if they do not see parts of their own cultural elements in this new European or global culture. 

The world is far more interesting place because it has so many different races, languages, ethnic groups, religions and cultures. Just like biodiversity to biology, the variety of human cultures enriches this planet, even though sometimes it causes problems. We got to understand that the problems arise from the other, darker side of the human nature that is called greed and power mongering. 

Some global elites, in their frustration to control the planet by making everybody feel connected and think the same, are promoting globalization and multiculturalism. In Europe and most of the Western world, this process is particularly obvious. We listen to American music, watch American movies, TV programs, reality television. 

Why would it be wrong to have a more diverse model of this new cultural and political ideology? It is called "multiculturalism" after all, so where is the diversity in it? Even the EU's motto is "United in Diversity". We do not have any French music hits lately, any Italian actors, Czech directors, Greek painters, Estonian movies, Polish designers, Romanian fashion designers or Finnish celebrities.

Instead we get TV shows like the "A country" has Talent, cooking and singing contests or competitions in all countries and languages. The same program but in different language. Nothing to promote intercultural dialogue, our national or European culture and heritage. Rather turn Europeans into Americans and model the future European population after the American one. 

Erasing the rich cultural background of Europe or other regions of the world is not the way forward. We need to preserve it, promote it and be proud of it. Encourage multilingualism and people to discover and experience as many European cultures they can, by the establishment of music festivals and other art oriented events, by traveling, appropriate TV programs and a different education system in our schools.

Only then multiculturalism will succeed, when we are all feeling that we are part of it and contribute something to it. When we are proud of this new cultural project and not feel threatened by the loss of our own heritage. Right now, the "Americanization" of Europe has only bad effects. It is time to redesign our societies and Europe should not be adopting just one, capitalist, Western and consumerist culture. 

Being different is nice and dialogue is good. Being proud of who you are and where you are coming from is an advantage. Respecting and understanding other people's culture is a virtue. Adopting a new way of life and enriching your heritage with so many others is what created human civilization so far. Trying to control it or create one single superior global culture, led to fascism and authoritarian empires in the past.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Did you know about EURES, and the Single Market?

This is the video of mine, that will be shown in the EU Single Market Forum which I will attend. The forum will take place in Krakow, Poland in October. It is organized by the Polish EU Presidency, the European Parliament and the EU Commission. Hopefully will write about it and you will find it informative . Enjoy it.


You may find out more about EURES here:  http://ec.europa.eu/eures/home.jsp?lang=en

You may also find the declaration of the Single Market Forum in Krakow here: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/top_layer/docs/simfo-declaration-op-conclusions_en.pdf

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A rogue statelet of Europe, ridicules the whole continent.

It has been 20 years since the independence of FYROM, or the "Macedonian" state and the occasion has been celebrated throughout the country. But with an on-going dispute between the country and Greece about its name and Bulgaria about its language, this country seems to be followed by problems but supported by the powerful.

At their national celebrations on their independence day, they gathered around the statue of Alexander the Great, "cleverly" named as "The warrior on a horse" to avoid challenging Greece, wearing ancient Macedonian soldier uniforms for the men and high priestesses for the women.

The statue of Alexander the Great cost millions of euros to build, in a country that unemployment and poverty are ravaging the people. Instead of trying to create jobs, work on their EU accession commitments and solve their issues with their neighboring countries of Greece and Bulgaria, never mind the inter community differences, they prefer wasting money on a propaganda. They are trying desperately to create some sense of an ethnic coherence and historic continuation, by stealing other nations' heritage.

And not just from Greece but from Bulgaria as well, since building a statue of Alexander the Great was not enough, they have now one of the Bulgarian Czar Samuel, also claimed to be "Macedonian." They were parading in their main squares with flags that include the Greek and Bulgarian parts of the European region of Macedonia, yet they refuse to admit that they have any territorial interest in these regions.

They were also using Greek symbols like the Sun of Vergina as their own again, never mind the fact that the crowds that gathered in those national day celebrations were shouting anti-Greek slogans. And Greece's European partners are still interested in admitting this country in EU.

This country is ruled by the megalomaniac lunatic Mr Gruevski, who rules the country in no different way that Gadaffi ruled Libya, or Kim Jong-Il rules North Korea. He and his government are trying to convince both their nationals and the global community that the real threat comes from Greece, when they are the ones who are lying to their people and deprive them of any prosperity and a chance to enter the European community.

They have created a rogue state in Europe, preaching a false history and modern reality to their nationals, while keep attacking Greece with propaganda in any international event, media, organization, forum or gathering they can find. Their expatriate communities are also taking part in all this, especially those from Australia, Canada and the USA.

When in a recent exhibition in Britain, British historians admitted the Greek heritage and history of Ancient Macedonia, Europeans are still ignorant about it and support the idea that Greece should give its position up and allow this state to enter the European family. And the only purpose of this is so that a number of hardcore federalists, can fulfill their new map of a United Europe with all states being in it.

Macedonia should be a region of Europe, not a country or a nation. There is no Macedonian language, these people speak a Bulgarian dialect and here comes their dispute with Bulgaria itself. My mother is a native Greek Macedonian, that are indigenous to the region. There are Greek Macedonians, Slavic Macedonians and Albanian Macedonians in modern Macedonia, a region of Europe that is comprised by many ethnic groups, so none should be monopolizing its name.

The heritage though of the ancient Kingdom of Macedon remains with Greece,as is the heritage of all ancient regions that the Greeks once lived like Sicily, their colonies in Asia Minor and throughout the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. And that is non negotiable.

Unfortunately such obvious solution is not promoted to the European citizens because of the vested interests of certain groups and the role of the media. Countries like Turkey, the Netherlands, USA and the UK who have heavily invested in FYROM, support their cause in order to make money out of their trade with their country.

Turkey especially is very active in the region, to promote and safeguard its interests in the Southern Balkans. An enemy of my enemy is my friend and so the Turks are very involved in FYROM, as well as in Albania and other countries in the region with Muslim populations. The reasons are of course very obvious. 

Like Kosovo, FYROM is supported by these foreign investors and the international community. These new nations of Europe could not support themselves after their secession from the former Yugoslavia. But the corrupt Gruevski administration uses these money for propaganda and not to better their citizens' living conditions.

As if it is more important to prove to themselves and the World that they are the descendants of Alexander the Great, rather becoming a rich and prosperous country. That makes them an ideal EU candidate state naturally.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Democracy then and now....

Democracy in Ancient Greece, its cradle, was a right and privilege but not only for the elected few or the rich and famous! Every free man that was eligible to be a citizen of Athens could and should take part in the political life of his country; the "koina". Any free citizen could participate as equal if he wished, in this direct form of democracy. It was not the representative type of democracy as most of us are used to now days, rather a more Swiss style democracy.

The first democracies in the World though, were not without faults: the position of women and the slaves, but also the numerous rules on who could be eligible to be called a citizen, thus be able to practice his rights and participate, made valid points for criticism in ancient and modern times. Nevertheless, what the ancient Greeks managed to do, is to offer humanity new political systems other than kingdoms, empires and the laws of most nomadic peoples of the ancient times. It is not by chance that many of the basic political terms in our everyday vocabulary are borrowed from the ancient Greeks: monarchy, aristocracy, tyranny, oligarchy and democracy.

The architects of the first democracies of the modern era, post-revolutionary France and the United States, claimed a line of descent from classical Greek demokratia - 'government of the people by the people for the people', as Abraham Lincoln put it. But at this point it is crucial that we keep in mind the differences between our and the Greeks' systems of democracy - three key differences in particular: of scale, of participation and of eligibility.  (taken by the BBC History website, http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/greeks/greekdemocracy_01.shtml)

We will now focus on differences and comparison between Democracy during the ancient times and how it evolved in the recent years. Today Capitalism prevails and the Markets and the Banks can dictate nations. Money is the only thing worth fighting for and making a profit is the only reason for progress. Nations can be rated by private agencies, and their population can be forced to accept their wishes through their Governments, dictating the future of those nations for generations to come. Our media are controlled by the rich few of this World and they are shaping our perceptions, while they are influencing our beliefs, our needs, the way we think and see this World. This is the freedom of speech that our media are so proud of.

So in our modern times your freedom is the freedom to buy and get rich, to consume, the freedom to be part of the system. You can use of course your democratic right to buy with credit that you can not possibly repay and put yourself in heavy debt, so that you achieve this freedom to consume. You may use to democratic right to vote for your favorite act in the X-Factor or any other reality TV nonsense that they want you to watch. You may use your votes to decide which celebrity you want to watch being kicked out of  similar rubbish shows and you may use your voice to grasp the 15 minute fame they promised you. You are free to believe what they want you to believe, as long as you do not question how the system works. 

You are free to feel special, demand and know your rights: as a consumer. Everyone out there is there to serve you and you may use your democratic rights to get the "customer service" you deserve. Be pleased that you can spend and consume, because that is what is going to bring you happiness. If any employee in a company that you may go to fulfill your democratic need to be served and pampered, does not satisfy your freedom to do so, you may again use your democratic right to complain and make his/her life more miserable, even lose his job!

Again democracy and freedom is something that we can give to an unfortunate nation that can not experience it, let's say Iraq and Afghanistan, with an invasion and bombings. It is our democratic right and obligation to give those people the freedom they so desperately need, either they want it or not. If they do not, they simply do not know it...yet! Since when democracy can be imposed with weapons, is something I can not fathom. And all that so that we can create new markets, new free people and nations that will use their democratic right to consume, thus supporting the Capitalist system and making some people very, very rich!

That is what Capitalism has done to us, with the Western mistaken idea of "freedom" and "democracy." Instead of being an active citizen and be part of the governance of your country, they just turned you into a manic consumer. Instead of having an opinion on how your country or the society you live in should deal with the arising challenges, they want you to have an opinion on each celebrity and their moronic lifestyle. And no wonder; they are the best advertisement for the lifestyle they want you to have, they are the ambassadors of this new Western version of "democracy" and "freedom".

Instead of getting involved in the political life of your country, you are being part of every reality TV show, in order to become another celebrity; and of course avail the lifestyle that is forced upon you with thousands of advertisements bombarding you everywhere from a young age. So who represents you in the Parliament then and what is your relationship with your "representatives?" How can you check their work and actions, on what criteria you vote for them, and how much our Governments really represent us? Well if you can question all the above and even ponder on them, then you have just made the first step in releasing the true Democrat in you!

Well done!