Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What has been achieved with austerity in Europe so far?

Last June the Greeks were called to vote on a new government. These last elections were actually given a referendum outlook by many in Europe; it was decision time for Greece and the Greeks had to decide if they wanted to continue being in the euro-zone and vote for a pro-austerity party, or risk to be kicked out of this special "club" if they voted for the radical leftist party, Syriza.

Under such pressure and with the use of lots of propaganda and scaremongering during the electoral debates, the Greeks decided to swallow the bitter pill of austerity in order to remain in the euro-zone.  Now the latest reports coming from many European officials and "analysts" say that Greece will leave the euro-zone anyway and in fact there are more austerity cuts announced for this winter! Are they joking us?

The Greek people can just hold their heads above water and they can not take any further reductions of their salaries. In fact austerity was so unsuccessful in Greece, simply because it did not push for any constructive reforms in the country, like the much needed tax system reform. The taxation system of Greece is rather outdated and purely unfair! The only thing that austerity has managed to achieve in Greece is the rise of far right and far left groups in the country's political life, the demolition of the Greek people's living standards and the total sell out of all national assets of Greece.

So excuse me, but to me this was the only reason that some wanted to impose austerity on the Greeks in the first place; the take over of all Greek natural resources and national assets and of course as someone had to pay for the damages in the banking system and cover the black holes that were created by the greedy attitude of the European bankers, well our elites chose the weakest links. Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus!! This is a disgrace!

Another thing that this austerity and financial crisis have achieved is the total division of the European population and the European public opinion. Our "national" media- the how national they are is another discussion- have been playing one nation against each other just like the Markets and the rating agencies like Moody's have. And of course that is for a reason! Divide and rule politics. Instead of mentioning the real cause of this crisis, the American irresponsible finances for the past few decades and the weaknesses in the euro-zone itself, they found it easier to scapegoat a few nations starting with the weakest.

The euro-zone was set up wrongly. It is not even a monetary union, rather just a currency union. Many countries with different economies just using the same currency! And the cracks became apparent only during the crisis. The euro-zone lacks a strong central bank and government and everyone was playing by their own rules, exposing themselves and all their partners who used the same currency to grave dangers and risks. Instead of naming those two factors our media blamed the Greeks. Now that Cyprus has also asked for a bail-out, a country that had a very strong currency and economy in the past and Moody's have threatened to downgrade Luxembourg, Germany and Holland, now our leaders have decided that something must be done about it....At last!! It is a case of when the fire is coming to your doorstep, the you realize that you have to do something to put it out, after it has already consumed the houses of your neighbors.

Meanwhile 2,000 Greeks are committing suicide each year because of the austerity and the economic crisis. That counts to a small town disappearing in Greece and in Europe if you like every year! And our leaders are still debating about it, they know what needs to be done they just don't want to do it! Because some will lose their interests and comfortable easy money and power. I wonder how our leaders can sleep during the night! I haven't seen a worse case of apathy, negligence, selfishness, stupidity and greed in Europe's recent history!

Will we ever see a true European solidarity?  And I do not mean more bail-out loans or money thrown into Greece and the other 4 EU states that have received similar "help" by the EU/IMF. It would be a case of solidarity if the loans came interest free. But now that there are high rates imposed on the loans, meaning that the lender countries will actually make profit out of these loans I see no solidarity there but an opportunity. And now that it became too costly, they just want to get rid of Greece out of the euro-zone, again for the detriment of the Greek people and their benefit.

I will bring the example of Italy. Many, many years ago, it was actually the South of the country that was rich and prosperous. After many wars that the country had endured things have changed, the industries have moved to the North and now it is the North that is the richest part. Why? Because simply they have won a few wars and they were favored by the victories of others. Something similar happened in the whole of Europe. It was always the South of the continent that was more prosperous and developed. After WW2 though things have changed dramatically and now most industrial activity on the European continent is gathered on the "North."

No, I am not suggesting that we should take all the industries back to the South, because that would mean a poor North again and we do not want that. What we would want though would be a fair and equal distribution of wealth, opportunities and industries throughout Europe, so that everybody can prosper and there will be no need for rich countries to carry the weight of the poorer ones. Our media have made this crisis all about the rich countries paying the mistakes of the poor, corrupt and dysfunctional states, something that is far from true. The crisis is about the interests of the rich few in the rich few countries and the preservation of the current status quo. Now why they are trying to mislead their citizens and make them think that it was the Greeks who caused all that and they should pay, well it is obvious; someone has to pay for all of that and it ain't gonna be the richer or strongest ones!

The only way to gain support by their citizens is this, but what they are actually doing is the widening of the gap between our communities, the mistrust and the lack of support for each other. How can you create a united Europe on this? How do our leaders believe that by allowing this to happen, the European project will eventually succeed, when the citizens think so bad of one another? Or do they actually want it to succeed? The Americans and the British must be rubbing their hands out of joy, as this is exactly what they wanted. To destroy any unification or harmonization in Europe, thus a Europe united challenging their hegemony. How can our leaders not be able to see this and do something about it?

To conclude to me this crisis exposed the real face of the economic system that we have created, the role of USA, Britain but also of the other European "powers" like Germany, France and their accolades like Finland, Holland, Belgium, Austria, Sweden and Luxembourg. Each to their own, allowing the Markets and the rating agencies to make huge profits out of the unfair competition against each other, the lack of unity, solidarity and the lack of trust. They play, they gain, we pay, go hungry and inevitably die! Not the Europe I want, not the Europe I have dreamed of!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Property and the Power of the Church in Europe.

During the past few years of the economic crisis, many weak points of the Greek society became apparent and obvious. All the cracks, all the mishandling. Of course the only ones who were asked to pay the price were the people who had nothing to do with it in the first place; the ordinary Greek families, the Greek middle class.

The rich elite, the Greek politicians and all their supporters or accomplices were not affected. Them and another surprising group of people, the Greek Orthodox Church! The Orthodox Church of Greece, like most Churches in Europe and the world, do not pay taxes to the state. I think because obviously they think that their property is not of this world but divine, given to them by God himself!

In Greece particularly, if you want to become a monk or a nun you got to have property. If you want to join a monastic sect, you got to offer them all property you have, all land and money. If you do not have anything to offer, well usually they let you wait or you never join. A friend of my aunt has MS (multiple sclerosis) and is bound to a wheelchair. His is devoted to God and one of his greatest wishes is to join a monastery and serve the God he believes in. He wants to find a purpose in his life. But no monastery will give him this satisfaction. He lives on social welfare you see.

The Greek Church owns a huge number of sites on Greek soil. And according to Greek law that favors this medieval system, any land that is owned by the Church can not be developed unless there is a church built in it. For that reason in the city I originally come from, Thessaloniki in northern Greece, in order to develop a piece of land and turn it in a huge shopping mall the COSMOS- MEDITERRANEAN, they had to built an orthodox church in the middle of it. Because that piece of land they wanted to develop, belonged to the Church fully or partially.

The thing that annoys me the most is the hypocrisy. How can any religion preach that if we have two coats, we have to give one to the poor, seeks to collect more and more property. And not just that. While the Orthodox Church has organized soup kitchens and charities to help the poorest during the crisis, it has not whatsoever offered any of its property to the state to help the repayments. Nor they offered to pay taxes and contribute to the country's recovery.

They are rather like the Pharisees that themselves seem to detest for crucifying Jesus Christ! Numerous scandals broke out as far back as I can remember with priests or monks getting involved in illegal financial agreements and transactions. The most recent and famous one, was the case of the Vatopedi real estate scandal where the monastery was trading low-value land for high-value state property in a deal with the New Democracy government of Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis. The cost to the state is believed to have been at least €100 million. 

The battles for power between the Orthodox Church and the Greek state go back as far as my childhood. When the Greek state decided that it would be more appropriate to remove the statement of religion from our national identification cards, the Church saw it as the new cards of the "Antichrist" and they campaigned against the new proposed cards. No wonder nothing progressive blossoms in Greece and not just because of the Orthodox Church, but of the rather Byzantine mentality that modern Greeks have.

As if the Orthodox Church was not bad enough for Europe, we also have something worse and more sinister; the Catholic Church. In Ireland they are responsible for the raping, beating and abuse of thousands of children under their watch. And not just in Ireland, but in Germany, Belgium, Austria and many other Catholic countries all over Europe and the rest of the world. 

Because of the poverty that existed in Ireland years ago and after the end of British rule, the Catholic Church took the role of the leading force on the island. Families had no means of work and survival and many kids were sent to boarding schools to get some education or to reform schools to be "educated" for being wretched, corrupt and poor! Most schools in fact were controlled by the Church back then. Even rich families often chose to send their kids in boarding schools to offer their kids "proper and good" christian education.

The result was beatings, rapes and in my opinion broken whole generations of people. The trauma caused by the actions of those priests can never be compensated, not that there was any true effort made. Nobody was jailed, or paid for what he had done. The victims basically just got an acknowledgement, an official apology from the Church of Ireland and the Vatican. That's all. 

What I do find hilarious about the Catholic preachings is the fact that while the priests were prohibiting everybody else to have a satisfactory sexual life, they were the only ones who seemed to have one. They banned and condemned sex before marriage, gay sex even masturbation. Yet it was acceptable between them to rape young boys and girls! 

Human sexuality goes hand in hand with human creativity and freedom of thought! Suppress human sexuality and you suppress our ability to express ourselves, to think creatively and freely. You create unhappy people who follow rules, human robots who obey and can be controlled. The Catholic Church knows this and they still insist to promote those views. 

Even worse are their crimes in Africa, where they suggest that people should not be using condoms to protect themselves from AIDS, rather abstain from sex altogether! If it was into my power, I would charge such people for crimes against humanity. But then again who would be open minded enough to support such move and who would be rich and powerful enough to prosecute them?

If we take to account the properties that they also own around Ireland and Europe, always the largest and best estates, it is easy to see how they maintain their rule and influence over the European population. No, I am not against God himself, I am declaring myself also as a Christian. I just do not follow any dogmas, as I feel they are just political divisions that came to be because of the power mongering and politics of our "religious" leaders. And I do not really think that the Church today really represents anything divine! If they did, they would not give so much emphasis in material goods.

Of course not only the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are to blame for everything. Some protestant sects are as bad, like some Presbyterian and other conservative sects. Likewise many Muslim sects, the so called "new" religion of Europe. As Islam expands in Europe, the last thing we want is another ultra conservative, fundamental Islamic expansion and establishment. 

Us Europeans have fought hard to liberate ourselves from the clutches of the mind control of the established Christian dogmas. I accept Islam in Europe and Muslims in our lands, but I would like to see a more liberal, secular European version of Islam to match our values. I would never want to see Shariah law in Europe, I am against any extreme and fundamental religious doctrine, either Islamic, Catholic or Orthodox.

What I would like to see is a total separation between the State and the Church, with the roles of the second being limited in a more humanitarian and spiritual role. Totally separated by politics, education, property, finances and money. There should be no religious schools and the subject of religion should be taught with no books, just open discussions and readings from religious books of all dogmas. 

The Church should not own any property and if it does it certainly should pay tax on it, just like the rest of us. It should donate all of the treasures they got to the state and to the people they supposed to be serving and have them in a museum for all the believers to have access to. Or dedicate this wealth in building hospitals, schools, libraries, parks, and sport facilities that we and our children need.

I am not preaching for a Godless Europe. Rather a more spiritual one, in which religion will be there to answer all questions of the people about God and help them reach a level of knowledge and maturity. Whenever Europeans want to explore their spiritual side, the Church should be there to assist them. Not try to manipulate and control them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How should Europe react to the worsening Syrian crisis?

For the past couple of years we are seeing a great animosity in our world. From our own economic crisis, to the turbulent uprisings in our own very neighborhood, with "the Arab Spring."

One after another, people in the Arab countries demand change in their societies and reforms. They want to get rid of the established elites and bring democracy in their nations. For the past one and a half year, Syria is the country that is in the eye of this storm of events in the region and the one that after Libya, has experienced the most violence.

Between 18,000 to 25,000 people have died already, between them 500 children. An outcry for the rest of the world, but still this carnage continues. Yet things are not as easy or straight forward as they seem. Russia and China, though critical of the Bashar al-Assad's regime and its actions, they block any foreign intervention especially from the West. Others like Iran, support the regime totally.

But we should not try to explain the events according our version or understanding of politics and social issues. The Middle East and Syria, have a different culture and if we examine their history, it was always violent and full of coups and instability that often was supported by powers outside the region.

For example in 1949 the democratic rule was overturned by a coup backed by America. And when a coup or a civil was comes to a nation, it leaves wounds that are very hard to heal. The country's old divisions between its religious and ethnic minorities have been ever since at odds in many occasions. Sunnis against Shia  Muslims, Kurds against Arabs, Christians against Muslims and vice versa.

And so because of  this mosaic of peoples, instability, need for social coherence, foreign intervention and with its important geopolitical position, Syria created its own peculiar to us political and social system. In this system certain clans gained more power and monopolized the country's politics. But why is the West so critical of this? The same happened in my native Greece where a similar situation exists, yet our partners seem to support and encourage it.

Nevertheless nothing justifies the violence and number of deaths that Mr. Bashar al-Assad's regime is bringing on to their own people. We are in the middle of a power struggle in the region that dates back centuries and is fanned by foreign powers, trying to protect their interests in the region.

So what should Europe do, to help the people of Syria? Is Syria the next Bosnia, and can Europe solve the crisis there with an invasion like in the Balkans?

We should be really careful in this conflict. The Russians have already sent troops down there and so have the Chinese and the Americans. Each one trying to protect their own interests. The Americans want a change of the regime, since the current one do not serve their plans for the region anymore. The Russians have a long trading relationship with the Syrians, especially with the arms trade.

They also have a naval base in Syria, the only one that remains outside their borders since the times of USSR and it is their only gateway to the Mediterranean. They are showing a great interest in the region, especially now that a huge amount of gas was found in Cyprus. The Russians are investing hugely on the island and they are prepared to defend their interests. Therefore they sent troops to the region, ever since Turkey started threatening Cyprus again.

So the Turks are in a power struggle with Russia, with the backing of their long standing allies the Americans. They also have interests in the region themselves, both in the Cypriot waters and the Middle East. A region that is located in their borders and they have long seen as an great importance. Turkey in the recent years have been trying to establish itself as a leading power in the region. They also support the Syrian rebels for all the above reasons, in hope to change the status quo in the country and promote their interests.

The Syrians on the other hand showed their teeth to the Turks, by shooting down one of their air-crafts that had trespassed their aerial space down. China, showing support for Russia have also got involved in the region. Can Europe enter such situation, we can not afford to enter a war right now. Our economies are not performing well at the moment and we have so many things to solve in our own back yard. But we do not want another Bosnia either.

I think we should only intervene under the UN lead, and only if we have to. The Russians won’t let go of Syria so easily, it is their only ally in the region. It is sad that the Syrian people must pay for the geopolitical games of power between East and West and the established powers of this World. But it has always been this way.

The Syrian situation is far more serious than the Yugoslavian war. It could implicate all major World powers, leading to a hot war that could spread in the whole region and even worse, become global. Can Europe be at odd with the Russians? We need them and unless we find alternative energy resources we can not be hostile to them.

And even if we do, Russia borders so many EU states and in the future they may become even more. We should re-establish new relationships with them, growing away from the Cold War days. But this requires effort and trust from both sides.

In my opinion we should give the UN full power and control over the situation, and if needed Europe will assist the UN and bring peace. But the question is, will the Americans allow it? They have ignored the UN so many times before. Europe is enough involved in hostilities and wars in the Arab world already.

Can Europe be seen to be siding with America once again and get involved in yet another conflict in yet another Arab nation? We could be giving more fuel to Islamic fundamentalists to promote their anti-Western propaganda, if we keep meddling in their affairs.

We should pressure the Arab League to take a more active and decisive role in the conflict. They have suspended Syria's membership in their organization so far, but perhaps they could get more involved. Their actions can not be seen as anti-Islamic or anti-Arab. They have to understand the importance of the situation and for once the Arabs must start uniting and speaking with one voice too, while getting more involved in global issues just as the Europeans are doing.

Europe has a great experience in negotiations and could play a decisive role as a peace broker, as a moderator for the conflict. We should not side with anyone in this conflict in the region.  I do not trust the Western media, after what they have been saying about Greece during the economic crisis.

Some say that the Christians of Syria are being attacked by those same rebels that the EU wants to support.  Why doesn’t Europe protect those people, are we using one-sided drama stories to justify our plans to expand our sphere on influence?

Europe should offer humanitarian aid in all sides of the conflict indiscriminately, we should be seen that we really care for the suffering of the people of Syria, not just for those who we support because our interests dictate so. We should not pour oil in the fire and side with either the Sunnis or the Shia, the Christians or the Kurds.

Diplomacy, aid, and the use of a united voice in the UN, while bringing on board the Arab League to try to bring knowledge and legitimacy in our peaceful involvement in the conflict, should be the preferred solution. For once Europe must start acting ethically, giving an example to the rest of the World.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The future of Euroland. Berlin, June 30th 2012.

Last Saturday the 30th of June, I had the honor to be invited in a workshop organized by the Euro-land-Citizens movement of the Newropeans magazine, in Berlin. The topic of this public debate was the future of the Euro-land (or euro-zone as most of us call it) and its democratization: "From the fiscal compact towards a Euro-land citizens pact!"

The initiative of such forum was taken to deal and discuss the European paradox; 300 million European citizens have no say in the decisions taken by our governments on the future of the euro-zone. The "Euro-land," is devoid of the least democratic institutions and processes to allow its citizens to influence decisions taken on their behalf. Lobbies of all kinds and external bodies, beyond any democratic control have more say in shaping the policies that define the euro-zone, than the citizens that live in it.

This adds to the socioeconomic current crisis  that engulfs the EU and Europe in a "undemocratic black hole." Under these conditions, it is urgent and essential to find alternatives to the current EU institutional procedures, because without the support of the people there is no democracy. Condemning democracy in Europe is also condemning its future.

The debate was performed in three languages, English, French and German, as the debaters and the attendees were from a variant background. People from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Greece, from different European organizations, media, student groups, political parties and lobbies. 

The opening was officially launched by Mrs Marianne Ranke-Cormier, editor in Newropeans and its President, Mrs Margit Reiser-Schober. After a short introduction to the cause and purpose of the debate we quickly proceeded in the first panel that was moderated by Mrs Reiser-Schober and comprised by David Nadasi from the French Pirate Party and Mr Massimiliano Gambardella, from the Friends of Beppe Grillo. The topic was the rise of the far right and far left parties in Europe and the search for new political ways of expression.

Mr Nadasi described his party's initiatives for democracy, mainly on the web. To be honest I never really thought much of any Pirate Party in Europe, until their campaign against ACTA. To me it was something unnecessary, as we have far more important issues to solve in Europe than freedom on the internet and  exchange of data. But after listening to Mr Nadasi and what his party is aiming for, I am not as skeptical anymore. Their party also stands for freedom of information on the internet, which is going hand in hand with the pluralism of the media and offers an alternative voice on political and social issues.

I only wish parties like these presented themselves differently to the voters, otherwise I do not see them flourishing anytime soon in countries like Greece or Ireland. But as Mr Nadasi explained to me in one of our discussions during the breaks, more and more people are showing interest in his party and that will bring more voices and ideas into their ranks. Perhaps then they will become more successful with the knowledge and support of those people.

Mr Gambardella offered a real eye opener point of view, from his country Italy. The MoVimento Cinque Stelle (or the Five Star Movement), is a new political group in Italy trying to fight corruption and the old established political elite. Its leader is Mr Beppe Grillo, a popular comedian and blogger. They support the idea that politicians should not be re-elected for more than one term, and that to be a politician should not be a profession, there should not be "career politicians." Its members are getting paid a minimum wage for politicians and they are trying to incorporate this into the country's laws. They also refuse to take a single euro as reimbursement of election campaign costs. 

Another populist party, or something that could give food for thought? All mainstream political parties loath or are afraid of what Mr. Grillo and what his party are promoting or standing for. Young Italians, fed up with their country's chronic corruption are turning to parties like the above for new genuine ideas. And how can you not agree with them. Perhaps the Five Star Movement has a real point, when they want to scrap "career politics." 

Even though I personally detest populist parties as they are only offering false hopes to the citizens (if they ever get into power, their policies won't be as break through as they promised before the elections), I totally embrace any suggestion that wants to end the reign of career politicians. In Greece we are suffering from the same plague for decades no, and personally I would love to get rid of our political elite. It is one of the main reasons why Greece and most of Europe is engulfed by this crisis. The nepotism and corruption of people who practice politics as a career choice, brought our countries to the brink of destruction.

The second panel of discussions was comprised by me, Christos Mouzeviris-a Greek blogger living in Ireland, Mr David Nadasi and Thijs de Wolff a Newropeans and a former AEGEE (Association des Etats Généraux des Etudiants de l’Europe / European Students’ Forum) member. It was moderated by another Newropeans member, Mrs Veronique Swinkels.

Our discussions evolved around solidarity in Europe, what it means and how it should be expressed or implemented. We quickly came to the conclusion that solidarity does not mean charity. Solidarity means to share and assist when needed, but not in the form that it is done today. Share resources, knowledge, experience to create an equal, democratic, stable and prosperous Europe for all its states. Assist countries that are in trouble but without the stigma, the slander and the sometimes unfair demands in order to offer this help. It must be offered unconditionally, provided of course the country in need shows responsibility and takes action to deal with the problems that it faces.  

It was very heartening to hear from my fellow debaters that people in Germany and Holland, are starting to understand now that it is not the fault of some countries like Greece the problems we face in the Euro-land. People in Holland in particular are now aware that the major fault is this capitalist "Anglo-Saxon" banking system and economic style.

And they want to change that, or they believe that something better and fairer must be created and implemented. The citizens of these countries do not support their leaders' views or actions and they are aware of the heart of the problem. Why their national media are keep bombarding them with inflammatory propaganda, it can be only explained as their need to cover their country's weak spots and the real root of the problem: the corruption and failures of the capitalist system.

And those failures were discussed during the lunch break that followed and I was more than happy to see how other open minded Europeans realize that we are all in trouble. Some more, some less. But sharing ideas and views with a lovely German lady, I was amazed to hear her telling me not to be envious of the "pristine" German system.

 "There is a lot of hidden unemployment in Germany," she said "and our society has become deeply divided and unfair." She went on to explain the failures of the German system and how it creates two kinds of citizens, how the often perceived German punctuality and perfectionism sometimes hides tragic stories of unemployment. "For all this efficiency you see around you, people have been fired and forced to freelance at their profession. And we all know how hard is to make a living from freelancing," she said.

Similar stories came from a Dutch attendee of the forum, that made similar comments for his country and how its economy resembles that of Spain in many aspects. A bubble economy, with the property and banking market in deep trouble. The only difference is that Holland found ways to cover the problems with "hidden" measures and for the moment is not as hard hit. If the crisis continues though, the cracks will most certainly come to the surface. 

Another example of "hidden" unemployment came from this Dutch man, but this time it was focused on Britain. A neighbor of his is a pilot and travels often to the UK. There he said, "they have three employees doing the job of one!" Meaning that in British airports, there are more employees that needed to do the same job as one employee in Holland and other mainland European countries. In that way Britain brings down the unemployment figures. How long can they afford to pay such expenses?

He also mentioned the fact that the Brits concealed totally the near catastrophic collapse they had in their banking system recently (mentioning the Barclays incident). Instead they focused on the troubles of the Euro-land to divert the public's attention and reinforce the belief to them that they are better out of the euro. With all the above examples it is clear the feeling that this corrupt system can no longer be supported and the frustration of the public exists in all European countries. It was wonderful to see that the European citizens have far more in common than they believe and if they sit down and discuss about the issues, they can find potential solutions and new ideas. I wonder why our leaders can't.

We returned to the forum and this time we had Pedro Simoes, a Portuguese graduate of the LEAP Academy speaking to us about the future of the Euro-land in the world stage. He focused on the idea of a Euro-BRICS closer cooperation, on the eve of an upcoming summit next year. The idea is supported by many in Europe, as a way to deal with the current economic crisis. 

The BRICS countries, comprised by Brazil, Russia, India, China and the recently added South Africa are a group of countries that will play a major role in the future global economy. They are forming a global lobby themselves with ever closer cooperation, in ambition to influence the world trade and economy. Many of us in Europe believe that we should form a closer partnership with all those countries and promote trade, but also form closer cooperation in other spheres like education. 

With student exchange programs between all the above countries and regions, we could enhance our knowledge and experience and learn new ways of doing things or dealing with problems. Most of us in the room agreed that Europe should look beyond its relationship with USA and seek to form new partnerships with the emerging countries, though we also agreed that this should not mean that we must end our traditionally close cooperation with America. 

Breaking the Washington consensus that was formed after WW2 and gave USA full monopoly and power in this world is essential, so that we can have a multi-polar and fairer global community. Some monopolies that were formed must be altered and it is in Europe's interests to encourage, exploit and explore those new relationships that could offer the continent new resources, trade, education and technology partners, so that we can better our economies. You may want to find out more about this initiative on Newropeans webpage (http://www.newropeans-magazine.org/content/view/13253/439/lang,english/).

The last panel of the debate was attended by Anna-Maria Hetze from Newropeans magazine, Mr Bruno Paul from Democratie Agile organization in France and Jose Ferro, a Spanish living in Berlin. It was moderated by Mr Ralph Pichler of Newropeans. The focus of this debate was the future of the Euro-land Democracy. In this panel we discussed the roles of the European Parliament, Commission and Council, the roles of our national media and the need to create pan-European media. 

Our national media are often owned by the ones who are trying desperately to protect their interests and monopolies, promoting protectionism in Europe and securing the current unsustainable status quo. We need to have an independent pan-European selection of media, TV channels, newspapers, magazines, blogs, on-line magazines and so on, to provide the European citizens with a more spherical, independent point of view, while promoting a less nationalist one sided and often biased source of information.

The failure to watch what is being discussed in the European Parliament or in the summits of the Council of the European Union was also mentioned. Especially in the case of the Council it was noted that our governments are promoting intergovernmental-ism, alas taking decisions behind closed doors and making deals or compromises without our knowledge or agreement. 

That leads to competition among member states that are striving to be more independent or have more power and influence on one another. The effect is a new wave of neo-liberalism, with the markets and banks playing one nation against each other to achieve what they want. And of course promote their interests and  of those elites whose interests are serving, ignoring the citizen's needs and interests.

For me forums and open public discussions like the above are what we need to solve many problems in Europe, but unfortunately they are not encouraged by our governments or being reported by our national media. Of course that is done on purpose. Because they offer a chance to the citizens to share information, discuss solutions, ideas, express their frustration and learn real facts about the situation that affects them.

It broadens their horizons and it is the essence of real direct democracy, encouraging the citizens' participation in their country's and Europe's political life. If only debates like the above were broadcasted in our national media and a much larger number of people had access to what has been discussed, I truly believe change in European politics would come faster. 

But Europe is being ruled by a conservative elite that dreads any change in the current status quo; that is why civilized and creative debates like these, featuring ordinary citizens with interest in their country's and Europe's politics, are replaced by chaotic, patronizing debates featuring only established politicians and journalists. Definitely a time for change!