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Important News, Belangrijke nieuws, Nouvelles importantes, Wichtige News, Fontos hírek, Importanti novitŕ, Pomembne novice, Importante Notícias, Viktiga nyheter



Ing. Salih CAVKIC
Editor in Chief
by ORBUS.BE
info@orbus.be
www.orbus.be


 
No more Paris nor Brussels!
Stop terrorism!
We want to live in peace with all our neighbors.
  regardless of their religion, color and origin.
Therefore, we condemn any kind of terrorism!

*****
Ne više Pariz ni Brisel!
Stop terorizam!
Mi želimo živjeti u miru sa svim našim komšijama,
bez obzira koje su vjere, boje kože i porijekla.
Zato mi osuđujemo svaku vrstu terorizma!

Belga
Belang van Limburg
De Morgen
De Standard
Het Laatste Nieuws
La Libre Belgique
Nieuwsblaad

VRT
VRTNieuws

N-TV.DE
Deutsche Welle
West-D. Zeitung




The man of the year 2009
Guy Verhofstadt
Mr. Guy Verhofstadt

The man of the year
L'homme de l'ane
De man van het jaar
2009


A proven Democrat, protector and fighter for justice and human rights in the World.

Een bewezen Democraat, beschermer en strijder voor rechtvaardigheid en mensenrechten in de Wereld.

Un prouvé démocrate, protecteur et combattant pour la justice et des droits de l'homme dans le Mond.

Eine bewährte Demokrat, Beschützer und Kämpfer für Gerechtigkeit und Menschenrechte in der Welt.

Dokazani demokrat,
 zaštitnik i borac za pravdu i ljudska prava u Svijetu.





Maasmechelen Village
Belgium



The man of the year 2012


Mr. Barak Hossein Obama

The man of the year
L'homme de l'an
De man van het jaar
2012


Guarantee
peace in the world

Garantie
vrede in de wereld

Garantie
la paix dans le monde

Garantie des Friedens in der Welt

Zabezpečenie
mieru vo svete

Garancija
mira u svijetu





Prof. dr. Murray Hunter
University Malaysia Perlis




Eva MAURINA
20 Years to Trade Economic Independence for Political Sovereignty - Eva MAURINA




Aleš Debeljak +
In Defense of Cross-Fertilization: Europe and Its Identity Contradictions - Aleš Debeljak

ALEŠ DEBELJAK - ABECEDA DJETINJSTVA

ALEŠ DEBEJAK - INTERVJU; PROSVJEDI, POEZIJA, DRŽAVA




Rattana Lao
Rattana Lao holds a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently teaching in Bangkok.




Bakhtyar Aljaf
Director of Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia




Rakesh Krishnan Simha
Géométrie variable of a love triangle – India, Russia and the US





Amna Whiston
Amna Whiston is a London-based writer specialising in moral philosophy. As a PhD candidate at Reading University, UK, her main research interests are in ethics, rationality, and moral psychology.





Eirini Patsea 
Eirini Patsea is a Guest Editor in Modern Diplomacy, and specialist in Cultural Diplomacy and Faith-based Mediation
.




Belmir Selimovic
Can we trust the government to do the right thing, are they really care about essential things such as environmental conditions and education in our life?





Dubravko Lovrenović+
Univ. prof. Dubravko Lovrenović is one of the leading European Medievalist specialized in the Balkans, pre-modern and modern political history.




Manal Saadi
Postgraduate researcher in International Relations and Diplomacy at the Geneva-based UMEF University




doc.dr.Jasna Cosabic
professor of IT law and EU law at Banja Luka College,
Bosnia and Herzegovina




Aleksandra Krstic
Studied in Belgrade (Political Science) and in Moscow (Plekhanov’s IBS). Currently, a post-doctoral researcher at the Kent University in Brussels (Intl. Relations). Specialist for the MENA-Balkans frozen and controlled conflicts.

Contact: alex-alex@gmail.com






Dr.Swaleha Sindhi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration, the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India. Decorated educational practitioner Dr. Sindhi is a frequent columnist on related topics, too. She is the Vice President of Indian Ocean Comparative Education Society (IOCES). Contact: swalehasindhi@gmail.com




Barçın Yinanç
 It is an Ankara-based journalist and notable author. She is engaged with the leading Turkish dailies and weeklies for nearly three decades as a columnist, intervieweer and editor. Her words are prolifically published and quoted in Turkish, French an English.




 By İLNUR ÇEVIK
Modified from the original: They killed 1 Saddam and created 1,000 others (Daily Sabah)




Aine O’Mahony
Aine O'Mahony has a bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently a master's student of Leiden University in the International Studies programme.Contact: aine-claire.nini@hotmail.fr




Elodie Pichon

  Elodie Pichon has a  bachelor in Law and Political Science at the Catholic Institute of Paris and is currently doing a MA in Geopolitics, territory and Security at King's College London. Contact : elodie.pichon@gmail.com




Qi Lin

Qi Lin, a MA candidate of the George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs. Her research focus is on cross-Pacific security and Asian studies, particularly on the Sino-U.S. relations and on the foreign policy and politics of these two.





ALESSANDRO CIPRI
Born in Chile and raised in Rome, Alessandro Cipri has just finished his postgraduate studies at the department of War Studies of King's College London, graduating with distinction from the Master's Degree in "Intelligence and International Security". Having served in the Italian Army's "Alpini" mountain troops, he has a keen interest in national security, military strategy, insurgency theory, and terrorism studies. His Master's dissertation was on the impact of drug trafficking on the evolution of the Colombian FARC.




Ms. Lingbo ZHAO
is a candidate of the Hong Kong Baptist University, Department of Government and International Studies. Her research interest includes Sino-world, Asia and cross-Pacific.

Contact: harryzhaolin@gmail.com

 


Hannes Grassegger
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.

 

Mikael Krogerus
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based Das Magazin specialized journal.

 


Michal Kosinski
Scientific analysis

 

INDEX 2017

INDEX 2016


English
Important News


Dutch - Nederlands
Belangrijke nieuws


French - Français
Nouvelles importantes


German - Deutsch
Wichtige News


Bosnian-Bosanski
Važne vijesti






 



SPECIAL REPORTS MODERN DIPLOMATIE
SR15 Caspian Basin.pdf
FEBRUARY 2017  ISSUE 18



 

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

By: Tomislav Jakić

 

When a month ago Donald John Trump took over as President of the USA, there were – not many though – reasonable, cold analysts who, basing on his pre-election statements, predicted that a man who is going to wage war against the establishment (the empire) is entering a conflict with a very uncertain result. Some of them even did not hesitate to say that Trump is bound to lose this battle. Judging by what is happening now, those who spoke about a war with uncertain result were completely right and those who predicted Trump’s defeat might be right. We will see in a not very distant future.
Trump’s throne – if one can say so – was seriously shaken the moment when one of his closest associates, national security advisor general Michael Flynn, was forced to resign. And, let us not be misguided, not because he was “insincere” with vice-president Pence, but because he dared to contact, how horrific, the ambassador of Russia before the elections and – allegedly – spoke with him about the possibility of abandoning sanctions against his country. And when, immediately after that, White House spokesman said that Russia is expected to return the Crimea peninsula to Ukraine, there was no doubt whatsoever if Trump will be able to fulfill what he promised in the election campaign.

With those promises, the key ones, he managed – despite his lack of political experience, despite his sexism and despite his entertainment past – to arouse the hopes of all those in the world who were fed up with the American policy of interventionism and with imposing of what has been “sold” for decades as democracy, with massive help of an enormous army and more that 700 military bases around the world. Just to remind you: Trump explicitly promised that America will stop with imposing regimes, or as he put it in his inaugural address – the American way of life. And, very important, he expressed his willingness to normalize the relations with Russia, which were deteriorating rapidly and dangerously. General Flynn backed such a policy. And that is the reason why he had to go. His resignation is the first serious blow delivered by the system (establishment) against the new man in the White House.


After getting rid of Flynn, influential circles not only in the Democratic party (including the Clinton clan), but in the Republican party too (which never really got to terms first with his nomination as presidential candidate and after that with him as the President), as well as those who are often described as the invisible centres of influence, directing the politicians as actors on the stage, they all “smelled blood”. And this is not a conspiracy theory, this is something quite obvious to everybody who is willing to see, to hear and to draw the only possible conclusions from what he (or she) saw or heard, without becoming the victim or the hostage of anybody’s propaganda, regardless whose. Do not be mistaken: those who smelled blood will not stop.

And who is, after all, this general Michael Flynn? He is former chief of the US military intelligence, most decorated high ranking American officer on this position in the last two decades. From this position he was relieved when he dared to put into question the way the US intelligence community worked and its results (the very same intelligence community which spies for years now whomever it wants, around the globe, including heads of states, American allies; this is, by the way a proven fact!). Did he speak with the Russian ambassador prior to the elections? Yes, he did. Did he, by doing so, violate an old act (Logan act) which forbids, to put it in the most simple terms, private persons to engage in diplomatic activities? Again: yes, he did. But, did anybody invoke this same act when some 8 or 9 years ago a certain Barack Obama, at that time just a presidential candidate (a private person too) travelled around the world meeting heads of states and governments?


The answer is: no! Had Flynn have spoken with ambassadors of, let us say, Germany or France, nobody would have said a word. But he sinned, because he spoke with the Russian ambassador and Russia is, as everybody “knows”, an enemy of the West, an enemy of democracy, a power which is on the verge of sending its armed forces to conquer Europe (if one would believe the main-stream media, or for that matter, the Secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg).

On the tracks of the anti-Russian hysteria, which becomes more and more present for almost a year, Flynn was accused, without any evidence, that for him “Putin comes first and only than the US”. Demands are being made, imperatively, to investigate all links between the general and Russia. And all this only to be able to repeat the “old song” from the US election campaign: Russia’s role in the US presidential elections should be investigated (although this role was never proved by solid evidence, or what the Americans call “the smoking gun”, it was only talked about). And all of this to repeat that Trump is a puppet in Russian hands, backed now with the “expertise” of more than 30 “shrinks” who have concluded, on the basis of Trump’s behavior and his statements that he is not fit to be the President of the US.

And again: the story will not stop here. The empire (establishment) strikes back and hits a man who thought, because he practically alone, against all odds, won the presidential elections, that he can change the system. It is more than likely that he cannot. The war hero, CIC of the Normandy invasion and later US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was clever (or wise) enough to mention the military-industrial complex and its dangerous role only at the end of his term in office. Trump who cannot be compared with legendary Ike in any way, did practically the same thing in the first days of his mandate, challenging this system. And sealed, thus, his destiny – as it seems now. He will be, with the “logistic help” of the Europeans who are already describing him as somebody able to launch in the next two years “a cultural revolution” (allusion to communist China and Mao Ce Tung) either be chased out of the White House (under any pretext), or he will be forced to become a tool in the hands of others.


After all, one should remember Obama and his big promises with which he won the Peace Nobel price (hand stretched to the Muslim countries, a world without nuclear weapons etc.) He did nothing of that sort, but continued the policy of his predecessors, becoming “famous” because of his bombings of a number of countries and destabilizing the Middle East, not to mention the direct and indirect support to those who are today known as Islamist (djihadist) terrorists. In short: he allowed to be “eaten” by the system. And this is the least that could happen to Trump.

Why did this “deconstruction” of Trump begun with general Flynn? The answer is simple. Because the general backed the normalization of the relations with Russia, even more he backed the cooperation with Russia in the fight against global terrorism, which means stopping any support and help for the Islamists, who are still called by many in the West “opposition”, “armed opposition”, or “fighters against tyranny and for freedom”. The military-industrial complex lives from wars and it imposed on the West the confrontation with Russia, the policy of enlarging and strengthening of the NATO (which, being a genuine relict of the cold war, was called by Trump “obsolete”), the policy which resulted in bringing to Europe hundreds of American tanks and thousands of troops.

To put it quite simply: without the confrontation with Russia, without the continuation of the policy of imposing regimes and taking control over energy sources and main energy routes, there is no money, there is no profit. This is the reason why those who evaluated the fall of socialism in Europe as their final victory, only to see how Putin is putting into question this victory (namely standing up against a unipolar world), after absorbing the shock of Trump’s victory and his announced foreign policy, decided to take things into their hands again. Thus we may expect strengthening of anti-Russian sentiments (allegations of Russian meddling into elections, never proven though, are being repeated again and again, now prior to the presidential elections in France). We may expect a changed rhetoric both from President Trump and from the White house. And we should stop hoping for the end of the renewed cold war.


This war means profit and those who are making this profit are not prepared to let anybody else to take it from them, or to stop them making it at all; despite the fact that it is a bloody profit, “earned” at the cost to hundreds of thousands of human lives. General Michale Flynn made this experience. President Trump, this is what can be concluded now, has still to learn the lesson.
And the “rest of the world”? Well, those who survive, will tell the story.



Tomislav Jakić
(Author, born 1943. in Zagreb, is a Croatian journalist – TV and press - specialized in covering foreign policy. He served as foreign policy advisor to the second President of the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Stjepan Mesic)


February 21, 2017



Decriminalize Victims, please
 
Sooyoung Hu

 

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is a key document that defines the term ‘refugee’, outlines rights for refugees, and keeps States accountable for their actions. Important requirements to become a refugee include: facing a well-rounded fear of persecution, seeking asylum or refugee status in the first possible venue, and receiving a fair hearing from a person who is legally qualified (Lect, Nov.8). States have to uphold the non-refoulement principle-the practice of not forcing refugees to return to a country where they face serious persecution (UNHCR, 2010). The 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees form the legal framework. Although the legal framework provides a consistent set of requirements in determining who is a refugee and holds states liable for protecting the rights of refugees, violations occur.

How effective is the legal framework (and its enforcement) for refugees in protecting their human rights? It seems that the enforcement turns increasingly ineffective and inappropriate in safeguarding refugees’ rights. Let’s examine it on a comparative example of countries such as Australia, Turkey, the Czech Republic, and China (to name but few) that repeatedly fail to uphold the principle of non-refoulement, commit human rights abuses, and find ways to refuse accepting refugees.

Down-under or upside-down

Despite being a signatory to the 1951 Convention, Australia defies the non-refoulement principle, which violates refugee law. For instance, the boat Tampa rescued Afghanistan asylum-seekers who were on board a sinking Indonesian fishing boat (Lect, Nov.8). Although the closest port of rescue was on Christmas Island in Australia, the Australian government refused to allow Tampa to land any of the asylum seekers (McKay, Thomas, Kneebone, 2011). Australian Prime Minister John Howard was determined to limit the uncontrollable number of illegal arrivals and unauthorized asylum seekers in the country (UN: Australia, 2001). Over half of Australia’s population viewed asylum seekers as a deviant social group coming for a better life rather than helpless people fleeing persecution. This is because refugees are seen as exploiters of Australia’s welfare system (McKay et.al., 2011). In the end, the passengers were taken to camps in Naura while others were sent back to Afghanistan, disregarding the risk of persecution if they are sent back (UNHCR, 2006). By initially refusing to accept refugees and sending them back to Afghanistan, Australia fails to uphold the non-refoulement principle. Non-refoulement states that no contracting state shall expel or return a refugee to a territory where his life is threatened (Note, 1977). Even though Australia has legal obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, the Tampa Affair demonstrates the weakness of the legal framework in failing to effectively enforce refugee law and punish countries when they commit violations.

In addition to violating the core principle of non-refoulement, Australian detention centers do not comply with human rights protection such as the right to access medical care and freedom from degrading treatment. Detention camps for refugees have horrible conditions that negatively impact mental and emotional health. At the Naura camp, more than 30 children report sexual assault, and 1200 refugees suffer severe abuse and inhumane treatment (Australia, 2016). They experience indoor temperatures over 113 degrees Fahrenheit, use filthy toilets, and are hampered by severe resource constraints (Holzer, 2012). Thus, the legal framework is functionally inefficient because it fails to guarantee basic human rights that refugees should have. The violations against both non-refoulement and human rights undermine the stronghold of the legal framework and its protections, which further impact the attitudes of other countries.

Near (the) East – Nearer the Trouble

Similar to Australia’s case, Turkey faces international criticism because several Syrian refugees have been forcibly deported back to Syria by Turkish authorities in violation of the non-refoulement principle, putting them at risk of human rights abuses. About 80 Syrian refugees held at a detention center in the Turkish city of Erzurum were expelled (Letsch, 2015). In addition, they were tortured, beaten, locked in rooms, and forced to sign documents that state they were leaving Turkey out of their own free will (Ibid). These actions go against Article 1 of the Convention Against Torture, which states that any act by which severe pain is intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes such as intimidating or coercing something from a third person, is illegal (Grans, 2015). Refugees do not have access to interpreters who can translate the Turkish language on the document, and police officers forcibly use refugees’ fingerprints as signatures without permission. However, refugees cannot challenge their detention or deportation because they have no legal representation, and Turkey does not grant refugees a fair hearing. By forcibly deporting refugees, Turkey violates the provision that repatriation must be voluntary (Lect, Nov.8). Thus, the legal framework is unsuccessful in even giving refugees an opportunity to seek long-term, legitimate refugee status under fair means.

Polish the Czech or C(z)heck the Polish ?

In addition to Turkey, refugees flee the Syrian civil war to the EU, and of course within, to the Czech Republic, Poland and other Visegrád countries. However, the Czech Republic for instance intentionally violates human rights to deter them from coming in the first place. The refugees prefer Germany, but they are in no freedom to seek refugee status at a place they desire (Ibid). They must seek it at the first possible venue, forcing them to enter the Czech Republic (Lect, Nov.8). Refugees experience strip-searching and their money is confiscated to pay for their detention; additionally, the Czech Republic holds refugees in detention from 40 to 90 days in degrading conditions (Calamur, 2015). The Czech Justice Minister also describes the Bělá-Jezovqá detention center as worse than a prison (Ibid). This example demonstrates the use of systematic mistreatment towards refugees- to the extent of abusing their human rights but not to the point of death-to discourage them from trying to seek refugee status. The Czech strategy in intentionally failing to protect human rights causes the deterrence of refugees. In this case, the legal framework plays a role in granting refugees a chance to seek refugee status, but is still weak in protecting refugees’ freedom from degrading treatment once in the country.

In general, when refugees are placed in refugee or detention camps, they lack freedom of movement and do not have economic rights. Refugees are forced to stay in the camps because they have nowhere else to go, which restricts their freedom to move. A majority of the refugees cannot make future plans because they are not given a timeline of how long they need to remain at the camp (Training, 2001). This uncertainty restricts their ability to make economic progress, find a way to make a living, or find a permanent job. In fact, the protection of human rights for refugees is drastically inferior to that of trafficking. A Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Person (SRTIP) is appointed to focus on the human rights aspect of the victims of trafficking (Gallagher & Ezeilo, 2015). The SRTIP has the authority to monitor, advise, and publicly report on a human rights situation in a specific country. However, there is no appointed person to report human rights abuses for refugees. Although the legal framework allows refugees to seek haven in another country to avoid persecution, they are still subject to human rights abuses, just not to the extent of death. The legal framework, including the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, is inherently ineffective because it does not have monitoring bodies to reinforce the protection of refugees’ human rights and hold states accountable for violations.


Un/silky-smooth road

Although Syrian refugees going to the Czech Republic are at least given the opportunity to seek refugee status, the status of North Korean refugees crossing into China is highly debated, which affects their treatment and the benefits they are entitled to. The Chinese government insists that North Korean refugees are economic migrants seeking economic opportunity (Lect, Nov.8). The famine in North Korea causes too many North Koreans to cross over to China, which poses an economic strain on undeveloped border regions and disrupts China’s demography (Cohen, 2007). The legal framework holds very little power in compelling China to prioritize accepting refugees over protecting their economy. China is able to find a loophole in the legal framework by stating that famine does not necessarily equal persecution; therefore, China is justified in not accepting people simply trying to take economic advantage. The legal framework fails to clearly delineate the forms of persecution, allowing China to label North Korea refugees as economic migrants and not accept them.

However, North Koreans leave their country at risk of arrest and death if they are forced to turn back, which should not be an issue in the first place since repatriation should be voluntary under the Convention and Protocol. When they are turned back, they are tortured and persecuted because defection is a crime of treachery against North Korea (Robertson, 2012). This goes against the 1951 Refugee Convention that states that no state shall expel a person to another state where there are substantial grounds that the person will face torture (UNHCR, 1977). Forcibly repatriating the North Koreans is the same as subjecting them to death. Along with the threat of death, North Koreans have no determination process to which China is legally liable for. In this sense, China fails to uphold its responsibility as a receiving country that gives refugees a fair hearing, proving the inadequacy of the legal framework to manage the country’s adherence to the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol.

Furthermore, the politics of North Koreans’ refugee status overshadows the importance of abiding by the legal framework. The Chinese are motivated to avoid displeasing North Korea. China holds extreme power because it is the only country that has ties with North Korea and can address international concerns such as North Korea’s possession over nuclear weapons (Lect, Nov.8). Therefore, China has a strong motive to maintain its connection with North Korea. Thus, although China is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees and has the obligation to not forcibly repatriate refugees, China cooperates with North Korea to find defectors. China justifies turning in defectors by claiming that defectors are not legally considered refugees (Lee, 2016). Chinese citizens are even paid for turning defectors in (Ibid). Overall, defectors lack access to schooling, health care, and citizenship. Women defectors are also vulnerable to abuse and sex trafficking. They are often forced into marriages and sold to Chinese men (Yun, 2016). These human rights abuses demonstrate the ineffectiveness of the legal framework in functioning to hold states accountable for protecting refugees’ rights. In China’s case, the lack of clarity for “persecution” allows China to justify this mistreatment because defectors are not refugees, and China has no legal obligation to protect defectors’ rights. Thus, the legal framework is inadequate in its specificity.


Criminalize indifference and enforce acceptance

“Faced with aging domestic populations and following the logics of corporate expansion, the Western markets need migrants, but the ordinary citizenry does not want them. What changed in the meantime is the societal capacity to absorb those immigrants – and closely related to that – the psychological state of domestic populations. Therefore, many European political parties extended their agendas with more restrictive immigration policies.” – noted professor Anis H. Bajrektarevic in his inspiring work ‘JHA Diplomacy’ nearly ten years ago. “Shortsighted and opportunistic as it might be – it ignores the golden rule of migration: Once you cut off legal means, would-be immigrants just turn to smugglers.” – professor explained the phenomenon and predicted our currents nearly ten years ago.

In conclusion, the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, both of which form the legal framework for refugees, are ineffective in enforcing the acceptance of refugees with the option of voluntary repatriation and protecting their rights. Although Australia is generally accepting of refugees, the extreme influx of authorized asylum seekers has overwhelmed the country, causing Australians to view them as exploiters of Australia’s welfare system. Australia has violated the non-refoulement principle and subjected refugees to terrible conditions, which are violations of the legal framework.

The bigger implication is that disobedience has a cascading effect - Turkey, the Czech Republic and Poland, and China have also violated the non-refoulement principle and committed human rights abuses. While all three countries subject refugees to degrading treatment, Turkey forcibly deports refugees, the Czech Republic deliberately mistreats refugees to deter them from coming, and China outright rejects North Koreans as refugees. These examples indicate the weakness of the legal framework in granting refugee status in the long-term and protecting their rights. When looking at the bigger picture, installing monitoring bodies and regulatory agencies to supervise the adherence to the legal framework for refugees can strengthen the effectiveness of the legal framework.


About the author:

Attached to the US-based Berkeley University, Sooyoung Hu is a scholar at its Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies Department. Miss Hu focuses on international relations, international organizations and its instruments.


February 15, 2017


Honouring the recent official state visit of the Pakistani PM to BiH, Pakistan’s Diplomatic Magazine brings it on its cover page
The Diplomatic Insight JAN 2017.pdf



Big data and the Future of Democracy

(The Matrix world behind the Brexit and the US Elections)

by Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus

 


Hannes Grassegger
Autor


Mikael Krogerus
Autor


Michal Kosinski
Scientific analysis

“Aegean theater of the Antique Greece was the place of astonishing revelations and intellectual excellence – a remarkable density and proximity, not surpassed up to our age. All we know about science, philosophy, sports, arts, culture and entertainment, stars and earth has been postulated, explored and examined then and there. Simply, it was a time and place of triumph of human consciousness, pure reasoning and sparkling thought. However, neither Euclid, Anaximander, Heraclites, Hippocrates (both of Chios, and of Cos), Socrates, Archimedes, Ptolemy, Democritus, Plato, Pythagoras, Diogenes, Aristotle, Empedocles, Conon, Eratosthenes nor any of dozens of other brilliant ancient Greek minds did ever refer by a word, by a single sentence to something which was their everyday life, something they saw literally on every corner along their entire lives. It was an immoral, unjust, notoriously brutal and oppressive slavery system that powered the Antique state. (Slaves have not been even attributed as humans, but rather as the ‘phonic tools/tools able to speak’.) This myopia, this absence of critical reference on the obvious and omnipresent is a historic message – highly disturbing, self-telling and quite a warning.” – notes prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic in his luminary book of 2013, ‘Is there life after Facebook?Geopolitics of Technology’.

Indeed, why do we constantly ignore a massive and sustain harvesting of our personal data from the social networks, medical records, pay-cards, internet and smart phones as well as its commercialization and monetization for dubious ends and disturbing futures.

Professor Bajrektarevic predicts and warns: “If humans hardly ever question fetishisation of their own McFB way of life, or oppose the (self-) trivialization, why is then the subsequent brutalization a surprise to them?”

Thus, should we be really surprise with the Brexit vote, with the results of the US elections, and with the forcoming massive wins of the right-wing parties all over Europe? Putin is behind it !! – how easy, and how misleading a hell-is-other-people self-denial.   

Here is a story based on facts, if we are only interested to really grasp the Matrix world. There are no terrible Russians afer us!  The Iron Cage we constructed ourselves.   

*    *    *    *    *    *

On November 9 at around 8.30 AM., Michal Kosinski woke up in the Hotel Sunnehus in Zurich. The 34-year-old researcher had come to give a lecture at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) about the dangers of Big Data and the digital revolution. Kosinski gives regular lectures on this topic all over the world. He is a leading expert in psychometrics, a data-driven sub-branch of psychology. When he turned on the TV that morning, he saw that the bombshell had exploded: contrary to forecasts by all leading statisticians, Donald J. Trump had been elected president of the United States.

For a long time, Kosinski watched the Trump victory celebrations and the results coming in from each state. He had a hunch that the outcome of the election might have something to do with his research. Finally, he took a deep breath and turned off the TV.

On the same day, a then little-known British company based in London sent out a press release: "We are thrilled that our revolutionary approach to data-driven communication has played such an integral part in President-elect Trump's extraordinary win," Alexander James Ashburner Nix was quoted as saying. Nix is British, 41 years old, and CEO of Cambridge Analytica. He is always immaculately turned out in tailor-made suits and designer glasses, with his wavy blonde hair combed back from his forehead. His company wasn't just integral to Trump's online campaign, but to the UK's Brexit campaign as well.

Of these three players—reflective Kosinski, carefully groomed Nix and grinning Trump—one of them enabled the digital revolution, one of them executed it and one of them benefited from it.


How dangerous is big data?

Anyone who has not spent the last five years living on another planet will be familiar with the term Big Data. Big Data means, in essence, that everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make when our mobile phone is in our pocket, every "like" is stored. Especially every "like." For a long time, it was not entirely clear what use this data could have—except, perhaps, that we might find ads for high blood pressure remedies just after we've Googled "reduce blood pressure."

On November 9, it became clear that maybe much more is possible. The company behind Trump's online campaign—the same company that had worked for Leave.EU in the very early stages of its "Brexit" campaign—was a Big Data company: Cambridge Analytica.

To understand the outcome of the election—and how political communication might work in the future—we need to begin with a strange incident at Cambridge University in 2014, at Kosinski's Psychometrics Center.

Psychometrics, sometimes also called psychographics, focuses on measuring psychological traits, such as personality. In the 1980s, two teams of psychologists developed a model that sought to assess human beings based on five personality traits, known as the "Big Five." These are: openness (how open you are to new experiences?), conscientiousness (how much of a perfectionist are you?), extroversion (how sociable are you?), agreeableness (how considerate and cooperative you are?) and neuroticism (are you easily upset?). Based on these dimensions—they are also known as OCEAN, an acronym for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism—we can make a relatively accurate assessment of the kind of person in front of us. This includes their needs and fears, and how they are likely to behave. The "Big Five" has become the standard technique of psychometrics. But for a long time, the problem with this approach was data collection, because it involved filling out a complicated, highly personal questionnaire. Then came the Internet. And Facebook. And Kosinski.

Michal Kosinski was a student in Warsaw when his life took a new direction in 2008. He was accepted by Cambridge University to do his PhD at the Psychometrics Centre, one of the oldest institutions of this kind worldwide. Kosinski joined fellow student David Stillwell (now a lecturer at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge) about a year after Stillwell had launched a little Facebook application in the days when the platform had not yet become the behemoth it is today. Their MyPersonality app enabled users to fill out different psychometric questionnaires, including a handful of psychological questions from the Big Five personality questionnaire ("I panic easily," "I contradict others"). Based on the evaluation, users received a "personality profile"—individual Big Five values—and could opt-in to share their Facebook profile data with the researchers.

Kosinski had expected a few dozen college friends to fill in the questionnaire, but before long, hundreds, thousands, then millions of people had revealed their innermost convictions. Suddenly, the two doctoral candidates owned the largest dataset combining psychometric scores with Facebook profiles ever to be collected.

The approach that Kosinski and his colleagues developed over the next few years was actually quite simple. First, they provided test subjects with a questionnaire in the form of an online quiz. From their responses, the psychologists calculated the personal Big Five values of respondents. Kosinski's team then compared the results with all sorts of other online data from the subjects: what they "liked," shared or posted on Facebook, or what gender, age, place of residence they specified, for example. This enabled the researchers to connect the dots and make correlations.

Remarkably reliable deductions could be drawn from simple online actions. For example, men who "liked" the cosmetics brand MAC were slightly more likely to be gay; one of the best indicators for heterosexuality was "liking" Wu-Tang Clan. Followers of Lady Gaga were most probably extroverts, while those who "liked" philosophy tended to be introverts. While each piece of such information is too weak to produce a reliable prediction, when tens, hundreds, or thousands of individual data points are combined, the resulting predictions become really accurate.

Kosinski and his team tirelessly refined their models. In 2012, Kosinski proved that on the basis of an average of 68 Facebook "likes" by a user, it was possible to predict their skin color (with 95 percent accuracy), their sexual orientation (88 percent accuracy), and their affiliation to the Democratic or Republican party (85 percent). But it didn't stop there. Intelligence, religious affiliation, as well as alcohol, cigarette and drug use, could all be determined. From the data it was even possible to deduce whether someone's parents were divorced.

The strength of their modeling was illustrated by how well it could predict a subject's answers. Kosinski continued to work on the models incessantly: before long, he was able to evaluate a person better than the average work colleague, merely on the basis of ten Facebook "likes." Seventy "likes" were enough to outdo what a person's friends knew, 150 what their parents knew, and 300 "likes" what their partner knew. More "likes" could even surpass what a person thought they knew about themselves. On the day that Kosinski published these findings, he received two phone calls. The threat of a lawsuit and a job offer. Both from Facebook.

Only weeks later Facebook "likes" became private by default. Before that, the default setting was that anyone on the internet could see your "likes." But this was no obstacle to data collectors: while Kosinski always asked for the consent of Facebook users, many apps and online quizzes today require access to private data as a precondition for taking personality tests. (Anybody who wants to evaluate themselves based on their Facebook "likes" can do so on Kosinski's website, and then compare their results to those of a classic Ocean questionnaire, like that of the Cambridge Psychometrics Center.)

But it was not just about "likes" or even Facebook: Kosinski and his team could now ascribe Big Five values based purely on how many profile pictures a person has on Facebook, or how many contacts they have (a good indicator of extraversion). But we also reveal something about ourselves even when we're not online. For example, the motion sensor on our phone reveals how quickly we move and how far we travel (this correlates with emotional instability). Our smartphone, Kosinski concluded, is a vast psychological questionnaire that we are constantly filling out, both consciously and unconsciously.

Above all, however—and this is key—it also works in reverse: not only can psychological profiles be created from your data, but your data can also be used the other way round to search for specific profiles: all anxious fathers, all angry introverts, for example—or maybe even all undecided Democrats? Essentially, what Kosinski had invented was sort of a people search engine. He started to recognize the potential—but also the inherent danger—of his work.

To him, the internet was a gift from heaven. What he really wanted was to give something back, to share. Data can be copied, so why shouldn't everyone benefit from it? It was the spirit of Millenials, entire new generation, the beginning of a new era that transcended the limitations of the physical world. But what would happen, wondered Kosinski, if someone abused his people search engine to manipulate people? He began to add warnings to most of his scientific work. His approach, he warned, "could pose a threat to an individual's well-being, freedom, or even life." But no one seemed to grasp what he meant.

Around this time, in early 2014, Kosinski was approached by a young assistant professor in the psychology department called Aleksandr Kogan. He said he was inquiring on behalf of a company that was interested in Kosinski's method, and wanted to access the MyPersonality database. Kogan wasn't at liberty to reveal for what purpose; he was bound to secrecy.

At first, Kosinski and his team considered this offer, as it would mean a great deal of money for the institute, but then he hesitated. Finally, Kosinski remembers, Kogan revealed the name of the company: SCL, or Strategic Communication Laboratories. Kosinski Googled the company: "[We are] the premier election management agency," says the company's website. SCL provides marketing based on psychological modeling. One of its core focuses: Influencing elections. Influencing elections? Perturbed, Kosinski clicked through the pages. What kind of company was this? And what were these people planning?

What Kosinski did not know at the time: SCL is the parent of a group of companies. Who exactly owns SCL and its diverse branches is unclear, thanks to a convoluted corporate structure, the type seen in the UK Companies House, the Panama Papers, and the Delaware company registry. Some of the SCL offshoots have been involved in elections from Ukraine to Nigeria, helped the Nepalese monarch against the Maoists, whereas others have developed methods to influence Eastern Euripean and Afghan citizens for NATO. And, in 2013, SCL spun off a new company to participate in US elections: Cambridge Analytica.

Kosinski knew nothing about all this, but he had a bad feeling. "The whole thing started to stink," he recalls. On further investigation, he discovered that Aleksandr Kogan had secretly registered a company doing business with SCL. According to a December 2015 report in the Guardian and to internal company documents given to Das Magazin, it emerges that SCL learned about Kosinski's method from Kogan.

Kosinski came to suspect that Kogan's company might have reproduced the Facebook "Likes"-based Big Five measurement tool in order to sell it to this election-influencing firm. He immediately broke off contact with Kogan and informed the director of the institute, sparking a complicated conflict within the university. The institute was worried about its reputation. Aleksandr Kogan then moved to Singapore, married, and changed his name to Dr. Spectre. Michal Kosinski finished his PhD, got a job offer from Stanford and moved to the US.

Mr. Brexit

All was quiet for about a year. Then, in November 2015, the more radical of the two Brexit campaigns, "Leave.EU," supported by Nigel Farage, announced that it had commissioned a Big Data company to support its online campaign: Cambridge Analytica. The company's core strength: innovative political marketing—microtargeting—by measuring people's personality from their digital footprints, based on the OCEAN model.

Now Kosinski received emails asking what he had to do with it—the words Cambridge, personality, and analytics immediately made many people think of Kosinski. It was the first time he had heard of the company, which borrowed its name, it said, from its first employees, researchers from the university. Horrified, he looked at the website. Was his methodology being used on a grand scale for political purposes?

After the Brexit result, friends and acquaintances wrote to him: Just look at what you've done. Everywhere he went, Kosinski had to explain that he had nothing to do with this company. (It remains unclear how deeply Cambridge Analytica was involved in the Brexit campaign. Cambridge Analytica would not discuss such questions.)

For a few months, things are relatively quiet. Then, on September 19, 2016, just over a month before the US elections, the guitar riffs of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" fill the dark-blue hall of New York's Grand Hyatt hotel. The Concordia Summit is a kind of World Economic Forum in miniature. Decision-makers from all over the world have been invited, among them Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann. "Please welcome to the stage Alexander Nix, chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica," a smooth female voice announces. A slim man in a dark suit walks onto the stage. A hush falls. Many in attendance know that this is Trump's new digital strategy man. (A video of the presentation was posted on YouTube.)

A few weeks earlier, Trump had tweeted, somewhat cryptically, "Soon you'll be calling me Mr. Brexit." Political observers had indeed noticed some striking similarities between Trump's agenda and that of the right-wing Brexit movement. But few had noticed the connection with Trump's recent hiring of a marketing company named Cambridge Analytica.

Up to this point, Trump's digital campaign had consisted of more or less one person: Brad Parscale, a marketing entrepreneur and failed start-up founder who created a rudimentary website for Trump for $1,500. The 70-year-old Trump is not digitally savvy—there isn't even a computer on his office desk. Trump doesn't do emails, his personal assistant once revealed. She herself talked him into having a smartphone, from which he now tweets incessantly.

Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, relied heavily on the legacy of the first "social-media president," Barack Obama. She had the address lists of the Democratic Party, worked with cutting-edge big data analysts from BlueLabs and received support from Google and DreamWorks. When it was announced in June 2016 that Trump had hired Cambridge Analytica, the establishment in Washington just turned up their noses. Foreign dudes in tailor-made suits who don't understand the country and its people? Seriously?

"It is my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process." The logo of Cambridge Analytica— a brain composed of network nodes, like a map, appears behind Alexander Nix. "Only 18 months ago, Senator Cruz was one of the less popular candidates," explains the blonde man in a cut-glass British accent, which puts Americans on edge the same way that a standard German accent can unsettle Swiss people. "Less than 40 percent of the population had heard of him," another slide says. Cambridge Analytica had become involved in the US election campaign almost two years earlier, initially as a consultant for Republicans Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. Cruz—and later Trump—was funded primarily by the secretive US software billionaire Robert Mercer who, along with his daughter Rebekah, is reported to be the largest investor in Cambridge Analytica.

"So how did he do this?" Up to now, explains Nix, election campaigns have been organized based on demographic concepts. "A really ridiculous idea. The idea that all women should receive the same message because of their gender—or all African Americans because of their race." What Nix meant is that while other campaigners so far have relied on demographics, Cambridge Analytica was using psychometrics.

Though this might be true, Cambridge Analytica's role within Cruz's campaign isn't undisputed. In December 2015 the Cruz team credited their rising success to psychological use of data and analytics. In Advertising Age, a political client said the embedded Cambridge staff was "like an extra wheel," but found their core product, Cambridge's voter data modeling, still "excellent." The campaign would pay the company at least $5.8 million to help identify voters in the Iowa caucuses, which Cruz won, before dropping out of the race in May.

Nix clicks to the next slide: five different faces, each face corresponding to a personality profile. It is the Big Five or OCEAN Model. "At Cambridge," he said, "we were able to form a model to predict the personality of every single adult in the United States of America." The hall is captivated. According to Nix, the success of Cambridge Analytica's marketing is based on a combination of three elements: behavioral science using the OCEAN Model, Big Data analysis, and ad targeting. Ad targeting is personalized advertising, aligned as accurately as possible to the personality of an individual consumer.

Nix candidly explains how his company does this. First, Cambridge Analytica buys personal data from a range of different sources, like land registries, automotive data, shopping data, bonus cards, club memberships, what magazines you read, what churches you attend. Nix displays the logos of globally active data brokers like Acxiom and Experian—in the US, almost all personal data is for sale. For example, if you want to know where Jewish women live, you can simply buy this information, phone numbers included.

Now Cambridge Analytica aggregates this data with the electoral rolls of the Republican party and online data and calculates a Big Five personality profile. Digital footprints suddenly become real people with fears, needs, interests, and residential addresses.

The methodology looks quite similar to the one that Michal Kosinski once developed. Cambridge Analytica also uses, Nix told us, “surveys on social media" and Facebook data. And the company does exactly what Kosinski warned of: "We have profiled the personality of every adult in the United States of America—220 million people," Nix boasts.

He opens the screenshot. "This is a data dashboard that we prepared for the Cruz campaign." A digital control center appears. On the left are diagrams; on the right, a map of Iowa, where Cruz won a surprisingly large number of votes in the primary. And on the map, there are hundreds of thousands of small red and blue dots. Nix narrows down the criteria: "Republicans"—the blue dots disappear; "not yet convinced"—more dots disappear; "male", and so on. Finally, only one name remains, including age, address, interests, personality and political inclination. How does Cambridge Analytica now target this person with an appropriate political message?

Nix shows how psychographically categorized voters can be differently addressed, based on the example of gun rights, the 2nd Amendment: "For a highly neurotic and conscientious audience the threat of a burglary—and the insurance policy of a gun." An image on the left shows the hand of an intruder smashing a window. The right side shows a man and a child standing in a field at sunset, both holding guns, clearly shooting ducks: "Conversely, for a closed and agreeable audience. People who care about tradition, and habits, and family."


How to keep Clinton voters away from the ballot box

Trump's striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O'Neil observed in August 2016.

"Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven," Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump's team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. "We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals."

In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump's campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to "suppress" their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These "dark posts"—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.

Nix finishes his lecture at the Concordia Summit by stating that traditional blanket advertising is dead. "My children will certainly never, ever understand this concept of mass communication." And before leaving the stage, he announced that since Cruz had left the race, the company was helping one of the remaining presidential candidates.

Just how precisely the American population was being targeted by Trump's digital troops at that moment was not visible, because they attacked less on mainstream TV and more with personalized messages on social media or digital TV. And while the Clinton team thought it was in the lead, based on demographic projections, Bloomberg journalist Sasha Issenberg was surprised to note on a visit to San Antonio—where Trump's digital campaign was based—that a "second headquarters" was being created. The embedded Cambridge Analytica team, apparently only a dozen people, received $100,000 from Trump in July, $250,000 in August, and $5 million in September. According to Nix, the company earned over $15 million overall. (The company is incorporated in the US, where laws regarding the release of personal data are more lax than in European Union countries. Whereas European privacy laws require a person to "opt in" to a release of data, those in the US permit data to be released unless a user "opts out.")

The measures were radical: From July 2016, Trump's canvassers were provided with an app with which they could identify the political views and personality types of the inhabitants of a house. It was the same app provider used by Brexit campaigners. Trump's people only rang at the doors of houses that the app rated as receptive to his messages. The canvassers came prepared with guidelines for conversations tailored to the personality type of the resident. In turn, the canvassers fed the reactions into the app, and the new data flowed back to the dashboards of the Trump campaign.

Again, this is nothing new. The Democrats did similar things, but there is no evidence that they relied on psychometric profiling. Cambridge Analytica, however, divided the US population into 32 personality types, and focused on just 17 states. And just as Kosinski had established that men who like MAC cosmetics are slightly more likely to be gay, the company discovered that a preference for cars made in the US was a great indication of a potential Trump voter. Among other things, these findings now showed Trump which messages worked best and where. The decision to focus on Michigan and Wisconsin in the final weeks of the campaign was made on the basis of data analysis. The candidate became the instrument for implementing a big data model.


What's Next?

But to what extent did psychometric methods influence the outcome of the election? When asked, Cambridge Analytica was unwilling to provide any proof of the effectiveness of its campaign. And it is quite possible that the question is impossible to answer.

And yet there are clues: There is the fact of the surprising rise of Ted Cruz during the primaries. Also there was an increased number of voters in rural areas. There was the decline in the number of African-American early votes. The fact that Trump spent so little money may also be explained by the effectiveness of personality-based advertising. As does the fact that he invested far more in digital than TV campaigning compared to Hillary Clinton. Facebook proved to be the ultimate weapon and the best election campaigner, as Nix explained, and as comments by several core Trump campaigners demonstrate.

Many voices have claimed that the statisticians lost the election because their predictions were so off the mark. But what if statisticians in fact helped win the election—but only those who were using the new method? It is an irony of history that Trump, who often grumbled about scientific research, used a highly scientific approach in his campaign.

Another big winner is Cambridge Analytica. Its board member Steve Bannon, former executive chair of the right-wing online newspaper Breitbart News, has been appointed as Donald Trump's senior counselor and chief strategist. Whilst Cambridge Analytica is not willing to comment on alleged ongoing talks with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Alexander Nix claims that he is building up his client base worldwide, and that he has received inquiries from Switzerland, Germany, and Australia. His company is currently touring European conferences showcasing their success in the United States. This year three core countries of the EU are facing elections with resurgent populist parties: France, Holland and Germany. The electoral successes come at an opportune time, as the company is readying for a push into commercial advertising.

********

Kosinski has observed all of this from his office at Stanford. Following the US election, the university is in turmoil. Kosinski is responding to developments with the sharpest weapon available to a researcher: a scientific analysis. Together with his research colleague Sandra Matz, he has conducted a series of tests, which will soon be published. The initial results are alarming: The study shows the effectiveness of personality targeting by showing that marketers can attract up to 63 percent more clicks and up to 1,400 more conversions in real-life advertising campaigns on Facebook when matching products and marketing messages to consumers' personality characteristics. They further demonstrate the scalability of personality targeting by showing that the majority of Facebook Pages promoting products or brands are affected by personality and that large numbers of consumers can be accurately targeted based on a single Facebook Page.

In a statement after the German publication of this article, a Cambridge Analytica spokesperson said, "Cambridge Analytica does not use data from Facebook. It has had no dealings with Dr. Michal Kosinski. It does not subcontract research. It does not use the same methodology. Psychographics was hardly used at all. Cambridge Analytica did not engage in efforts to discourage any Americans from casting their vote in the presidential election. Its efforts were solely directed towards increasing the number of voters in the election."

The world has been turned upside down. Great Britain is leaving the EU, Donald Trump is president of the United States of America. And in Stanford, Kosinski, who wanted to warn against the danger of using psychological targeting in a political setting, is once again receiving accusatory emails. "No," says Kosinski, quietly and shaking his head. "This is not my fault. I did not build the bomb. I only showed that it exists."

About authors:

    
                                                                                                           
Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus are investigative journalists attached to the Swiss-based
Das Magazin specialized journal.  The original text appeared in the late December edition under the title: “I only showed that the bomb exists” (Ich habe nur gezeigt, dass es die Bombe gibt). This, English translation, is based on the subsequent January version, first published by the Motherboard magazine (titled: The Data That Turned the World Upside Down). Approved, present is the advanced version of the original Zurich text for the MD. Additional research for this report was provided by Paul-Olivier Dehaye.


February 9, 2017



The Malta Plan – a humane EU border and asylum policy is possible

Gerald Knaus


This newsletter as PDF

 

Dear friends,

As European leaders meet in Malta today, one thing is obvious: the European Union urgently needs a credible policy on asylum and border management. It must combine effective control of external land and sea borders with respect for existing international and EU refugee law.
Such a policy must deter irregular migration. At the same time it must treat asylum seekers respectfully. It must respect the fundamental ethical norm of the rule of rescue, not to push individuals in need into danger, which is at the heart of the UN Refugee Convention (and its key article 33 on no push-backs or non-refoulement ).
The current EU presidency (Malta), supported by the countries which suffer most from the status quo (Greece and Italy) as well as countries where broad publics still support the goal of a humane asylum policy (such as Germany and Sweden) should build consensus for a concrete proposal before the summer. This should replace the current Dublin procedures whose reform is currently debated in the EU with little realistic prospect for a successful outcome. What the EU needs instead is a Malta Plan for the Mediterranean: effective, humane, and politically viable:

Malta Plan outline
EU Asylum Missions invited by Greece and Italy
Quality asylum decisions by these missions within four weeks
Direct relocation of recognized refugees by these missions
Readmission from Italy based on take-back agreements with countries of origin
Action plan for Turkey to become a credible Safe Third Country
EU commitment to resettlement with UNHCR/bilaterally
Valletta mechanism to replace Dublin regulation
EU target: Mediterranean irregular arrivals below 100,000 a year
EU commitment to principles: no push-backs, no Nauru, no fortress EU


 Aegean lessons for the Malta Plan

Ten months ago, the EU-Turkey agreement (Aegean agreement) laid the basis for diffusing the refugee crisis. It urgently needs to be implemented fully – and its lessons need to be applied to African migrants arriving by sea in Italy.
The Aegean agreement is based on existing EU laws on asylum and on the principles of the UN Refugee Convention. It commits the EU to help improve conditions for refugees in Turkey with the most generous contribution the EU has ever made for refugees in any country in the world. It makes improving the work and quality of the Turkish asylum service a matter of direct interest to the EU: only if Turkey has a functioning asylum system can it be considered a safe third country. It also foresees substantial resettlement of refugees in an orderly manner from Turkey.

In the past ten months the implementation of this agreement has been deeply disappointing. Conditions on the Greek Aegean islands where asylum seekers have landed are shameful for the EU. No serious effort has been made to address legitimate questions whether and how Turkey can demonstrate that it is truly a safe third country for those who might be returned there from the Greek islands. The Greek asylum service has been overwhelmed by the challenges it faces, both on the mainland and in the Aegean, deciding fewer than 1,000 asylum claims per month. EU support efforts in Greece have been managed badly, with every announcement contradicted by reality. And instead of sending a signal that rhetoric about alternative, safe and legal ways to the EU for Syrian refugees is serious, less than 3,000 refugees have been resettled from Turkey to EU member states since April 2016.

For more:
On solid ground? Twelve facts about the EU-Turkey Agreement
(25 January 2017)

And yet, the fact that the Aegean agreement has been implemented badly does not make it any less important. In the time since the pact was reached some ten months ago, it has had a dramatic and immediate impact on refugee movements in the Eastern Mediterranean. Crossings in the Aegean Sea fell from 115,000 in the first two months of the year 2016 to 3,300 in June and July. The number of people who drowned in the Aegean fell from 366 people in the first three months of the year to seven between May and July 2016. This was achieved without pushing refugees to other, more dangerous routes (the people arriving in Southern Italy in 2016 were from African countries). And there have not been any mass expulsions from Greece either, something NGOs had feared would happen. In fact, more people had been sent back from Greece to Turkey in the three months preceding the agreement (967) than in the ten months since it was concluded (801).

This stands in stark contrast to the situation off the coast of North Africa. Here it is obvious that the EU has no credible strategy. The status quo is unacceptable from a humanitarian point of view: in 2016 an unprecedented number of people (some 4,500) drowned in the Central Mediterranean. The situation is also politically explosive, lending ammunition to the far-right across Europe (from Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to Marine Le Pen in France and the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany). They argue that the only way to control migration is by abolishing the Schengen open borders regime and restoring border controls within the European Union. The lack of a coherent EU strategy has led some to suggest looking to Australia for inspiration, praising a model whereby anyone reaching the EU by sea should be denied the right to even apply for asylum in the EU and be returned to North Africa.

However, a humane and effective border and asylum policy is possible, and it does not involve emulating the Australian model. The first step requires implementing the EU-Turkey agreement in full. The second step involves applying the right lessons to the Central Mediterranean. Both steps would require the EU to set up new structures, including credible EU asylum missions, that decide claims on the spot, and instruments to resettle refugees, among others. Importantly, such a policy can be defended in upcoming elections. Without the backing of democratic majorities even the best design for a humane border and asylum policy does not matter.


An Athens-Rome initiative to save the EU

 

Greece and Italy should call on the EU to send European asylum missions that should be able to take binding decisions on asylum claims. This would require provisions that any decision taken by such missions could be suspended by a chief Greek or Italian legal officer – a sovereignty clause.
All those who are given protection should then be relocated across the EU, without delay. At the same time reception conditions on the Greek islands need to be urgently improved.
For this to work Turkey would also need to present a concrete proposal on how to ensure that it is fulfilling the conditions set by EU law to be a credible safe third country for refugees of any origin, whether they are Pakistani, Afghan or Syrian. It would need to guarantee – with more assistance from the EU and UNCHR, if need be – that there are sufficient asylum case workers, translators and legal aid in place to provide an efficient asylum process. There would need to be full transparency surrounding what is happening to each and every person returned.

Why the Nauru model is a fantasy

The Australian government puts everyone who arrives via the sea in camps on the Pacific island of Nauru or on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Asylum seekers held in Nauru in recent years have been forced to wait many years for their applications to be decided. Conditions of detention are intentionally harsh to deter further arrivals. And once asylum is granted, it remains unclear where refugees might go.

It is important to underline that taken together Nauru and Manus island have never hosted more than 2,500 people at any given time, under inhumane conditions, and with no clear sense of what should happen to those whose asylum claims are eventually recognized as valid after many years of unnecessary delay. The notion that the EU might outsource the detention of tens of thousands of asylum seekers to camps across North Africa for long periods and under similar conditions is a recipe for failure, logistically impossible and deeply inhumane.

Take-Back Agreements in Africa

So how can the EU reduce the number of arrivals - and deaths - in the Central Mediterranean? The key lies in quickly processing asylum applications of anyone who arrives, and in quickly returning those whose claims are rejected to their countries of origin. Both of these tasks should become European responsibilities. African countries are understandably suspicious of readmission agreements under which they would have to take back an unlimited number of their citizens who arrived in the EU in the past. Those who are granted asylum should be quickly relocated to other EU countries.
Arrivals from Nigeria to Italy 2014-2016

 

2014

2015

2016

Arrivals

9,000

22,237

37,551

Positive first instance asylum decisions

2,145

3,740

3,220 (Jan-Sept)

What would be the impact of such a policy on arrivals? It is very likely that these would fall sharply.
Nigerians were the largest group of arrivals in Italy in 2016, and the majority would be unlikely to risk their lives crossing the deadly Sahara, unstable Libya and the Central Mediterranean and spending thousands of Euros on smugglers when the probability of being returned to Nigeria within four weeks of arival in Italy is almost 70 percent.
Ensuring that Nigeria, Senegal and other countries after an agreed date take back their nationals who do not qualify for protection should be the chief priority in talks between the EU and African countries of origin – similar to the commitment Turkey made to take back without delay people who arrive in Greece after 20 March 2016. There is a need for specific "take back" agreements between the EU and African countries of origin which focus only on those who arrive in Italy after these agreements enter into force. Thereby this would have no impact on current remittance flows. In return the EU should offer these countries concrete benefits, from scholarships to visa facilitation and schemes for regular work migration.

Top 10 nationalities of arrivals in Italy 2016, recognition rates 2015

 

Italy arrivals

EU Recognition rate

Nigeria 37,551 21% 24%
Eritrea 20,718 11% 90%
Guinea 13,345 7% 37%
Ivory Coast 12,396 7% 32%
Gambia 11,929 7% 34%
Senegal 10,33 6,00% 28,00%
Mali 10,01 6,00% 29,00%
Sudan 9,33 5,00% 56,00%
Bangladesh 8,131 4% 15%
Somalia 7,281 4% 63%
All arrivals 181,436    


The key – fast quality asylum procedures

All this would require that there is an EU asylum mission in Italy able to process all claims within weeks. Developing the ability for EU Asylum Missions to deal with claims within four weeks, while ensuring the quality of decisions through quality control mechanisms and trained staff, backed up by competent interpreters and with available legal aid, should be the top priority for the EU in the coming weeks. This is above all else a matter of resources and competent management.
This holds the key to a humane and effective EU plan for the Mediterranean. Quick decisions and rapid readmission based on EU Take-back Agreements with African countries of origin would bring down sharply the number of people who stay in the EU after their applications are rejected. In this way, the number of irregular arrivals will become manageable – with less business for smugglers and far fewer deaths at sea. The aim could be to reduce the number of all irregular arrivals by sea to below 100,000 (for an EU of over 500 million people) already in 2017. Such a goal is realistic: it is, after all, close to the average number of arrivals in the years 2009-2014!

Irregular Mediterranean crossings into Greece and Italy 2011-2016

 

Greece

Italy

Total

2011 57,000 64,300 121,300
2012 37,200 15,200 52,400
2013 24,800 45,300 70,100
2014 50,800 170,700 221,500
2015 885,400 154,000 1,039,400
2016 182,500 181,100 363,600

ESI calculations based on Frontex data. For the data on detections of illegal crossings of EU borders 2011-2015, see Annual Risk Analysis 2016, 5 April 2016, p. 17; for the year 2016, see Frontex Migratory Routes Map, accessed 30 January 2017.


Instead of Dublin, Valetta

Almost all irregular arrivals to the EU at this moment reach the EU through Greece and Italy. EU asylum missions there would dramatically reduce the pressure on all other European asylum services. If such a plan would be implemented there would also be no need for the doomed Dublin reform debates currently taking place in Brussels. A Valetta mechanism – based on EU asylum missions in border states, reformed relocation and EU readmission from these states – should replace Dublin.
European leaders could thus demonstrate to their electorates that it is possible to control external sea borders without undermining the refugee convention. They should also simultaneously push forward the global debate on orderly transfers of refugees through resettlement. The only way to do so is to lead by example, building up EU capacity for resettlement as well boosting the UNHCR's capacity to do more. Then, coalitions of willing EU states should commit to resettle a significant number of refugees each year.
In recent decades, resettlement has never reached more than 100,000 a year in the whole world, and of these the US has taken the lion's share. With the US under Trump is unlikely to continue to play this role, the EU needs to step up its efforts. Until now European states have not built up the bureaucratic machinery for large-scale resettlement. For this reason, pushing the EU to fully implement the resettlement provisions in the Aegean agreement (point 4) is vital and deserves to be an advocacy priority for human rights NGOs and refugee rights defenders.

For more on resettlement globally and in the EU and other refugee-related issues: The refugee crisis through statistics (30 January 2017)


Refugee rights and the EU in the era of Trump


In the face of rising anti-refugee sentiment across the world, it will take a strong coalition of countries to protect the refugee convention. Such a coalition requires governments able to win elections on the platform that a humane asylum policy and effective border control can be combined and can even reinforce each other.

Such a policy would have to be based on clear core principles: no push-backs; no-Nauru; discouraging irregular passage through fast readmission and fast asylum processes; expansion of resettlement. If this happens, the lessons from the Aegean agreement – the only plan in recent years that has dramatically reduced the numbers of people arriving without changing EU refugee law – might help to develop a blueprint for protecting refugee rights in an age of anxiety. The stakes could not be higher.
Yours sincerely,

Gerald Knaus

PS: A detailed ESI report, looking also at the results of the Malta summit, will follow next week:
"The Malta Plan explained – How Greece and Italy can save the EU." You will find it here: www.esiweb.org/refugees .
As always, we are looking forward to your feedback. Please send your comments to feedback@esiweb.org .

Contact
European Stability Initiative (ESI)
Grossbeerenstrasse 83
10963 Berlin
GERMANY
Tel: +49 30 53214455
Fax: +49 30 53214457
E-mail: info@esiweb.org
Website: www.esiweb.org


© European Stability Initiative (ESI)


February 3, 2017


2017



PUBLICATIONS MARCH, 2017:

 Bosnian precariat, militaristic world images and media cynicism - Senadin Lavić


PUBLICATIONS FEBRUARY, 2017:

 SR15 Caspian Basin.pdf

 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - By: Tomislav Jakić

 Decriminalize Victims, please - Sooyoung Hu

 Big data and the Future of Democracy - by Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus

 The Malta Plan – a humane EU border and asylum policy is possible - Gerald Knaus


PUBLICATIONS JANUARY, 2017:

 
The Diplomatic Insight JAN 2017.pdf


 La-La-Land of Central Asia Kazakhstan and its “Astana Code of Conduct” - By Samantha Brletich

 Donald Trump, Nuclear Issue and Nuclear War -By:  Markus Wauran

 TRUMP’S TURN - By Tomislav Jakić

 Facing the Trump Presidency – Will the Monroe doctrine finally die? - Nicola Bilotta

 Human Misery monetized - By Aleksandra Krstic

 Jakarta Gubernatorial Election 2017: Who Will Be Eliminated? - By: Igor Dirgantara


 
Battling the Tiger: Combating corruption in the Sino-world - By Lingbo ZHAO

 
A European swamp – corruption and human rights - Gerald Knaus



info@orbus.be
www.orbus.be






Koninkrijk Belgie - Monarchie Belgique










Maasmechelen Village


Maasmechelen Village




Adria




BALKAN AREA
BALKAN AREA




prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic
prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarevic

Editor - Geopolitics, History, International Relations (GHIR) Addleton Academic Publishers - New YorK

Senior Advisory board member, geopolitics of energy Canadian energy research institute - ceri, Ottawa/Calgary

Advisory Board Chairman Modern Diplomacy & the md Tomorrow's people platform originator

Head of mission and department head - strategic studies on Asia
Professor and Chairperson Intl. law & global pol. studies



Critical Similarities and Differences in SS of Asia and Europe - Prof. Anis H. Bajrektarevic



MENA Saga and Lady Gaga - (Same dilemma from the MENA) - Anis H. Bajrektarevic



Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Assos. Prof.[1] Nguyen Linh[2]
HE ONGOING PUBLIC DEBT CRISIS IN THE EUROPEAN UNION: IMPACTS ON AND LESSONS FOR VIETNAM - Dr. Nguyen Anh Tuan, Assos. Prof.[1] Nguyen Linh[2]



Carla BAUMER
Climate Change and Re Insurance: The Human Security Issue SC-SEA Prof. Anis Bajrektarevic & Carla Baumer



 
Igor Dirgantara
(Researcher and Lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Politics, University of Jayabaya)




Peny Sotiropoulou

Is the ‘crisis of secularism’ in Western Europe the result of multiculturalism?




Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella
A Modest “Australian” Proposal to Resolve our Geo-Political Problems

Were the Crusades Justified? A Revisiting - Dr. Emanuel L. Paparella




Alisa Fazleeva
Earned an MA in International Relations from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom in 2013. Her research interests include foreign policy decision-making, realism and constructivism, and social psychology and constructivism.



 
Corinna Metz
She is an independent researcher specialized in International Politics and Peace & Conflict Studies with a regional focus on the Balkans and the Middle East.




Patricia Galves Derolle
Founder of Internacionalista
Săo Paulo, Brazil
Brazil – New Age





Dimitra Karantzeni
The political character of Social Media: How do Greek Internet users perceive and use social networks?

 


Michael Akerib
Vice-Rector
SWISS UMEF UNIVERSITY




  
Petra Posega
is a master`s degree student on the University for Criminal justice and Security in Ljubljana. She obtained her bachelor`s degree in Political Science- Defense studies.


Contact: posegap@live.com





Samantha Brletich,
 George Mason University School of Policy, Government, and Intl. Relations She focuses on Russia and Central Asia. Ms. Brletich is an employee of the US Department of Defense.


Interview on HRT-Radio

Prof. dr. Anis Bajrektarević




Dr Filippo ROMEO,



Julia Suryakusuma is the outspoken Indonesian thinker, social-cause fighter and trendsetter. She is the author of Julia’s Jihad.

Contact: jsuryakusuma@gmail.com 




Gerald Knaus




Mads Jacobsen
Mads is an intern at PCRC. Mads Jacobsen is from Denmark and is currently pursuing his Master's degree in 'Development and International Relations' at Aalborg University...




Dzalila Osmanovic-Muharemagic
University of Bihac, Faculty of Education, Department of English Language and Literature - undergraduate
University of Banja Luka, Faculty of Philology, Department of English Language and Literature - graduate study




Rakesh Krishnan Simha

New Zealand-based journalist and foreign affairs analyst. According to him, he writes on stuff the media distorts, misses or ignores.

Rakesh started his career in 1995 with New Delhi-based Business World magazine, and later worked in a string of positions at other leading media houses such as India Today, Hindustan Times, Business Standard and the Financial Express, where he was the news editor.

He is the Senior Advisory Board member of one of the fastest growing Europe’s foreign policy platforms: Modern Diplomacy.





Damiel Scalea
Daniele Scalea, geopolitical analyst, is Director-general of IsAG (Rome Institute of Geopolitics) and Ph.D. Candidate in Political studies at the Sapienza University, Rome. Author of three books, is frequent contributor and columnist to various Tv-channels and newspapers. E-mail: daniele.scalea@gmail.com




Alessio Stilo,
 
Research Associate at Institute of High Studies in Geopolitics and Auxiliary Sciences (IsAG), Rome, Italy, and Ph.D. researcher at University of Padova, is IMN Country Representative in Italy.




Tomislav Jakić
Foreign Policy Advisor to former Croatian President Stjepan Mesić





Zlatko Hadžidedić

Graduate of the London School of Economics, prof. Zlatko Hadžidedić is a prominent thinker, prolific author of numerous books, and indispensable political figure of the former Yugoslav socio-political space in 1990s, 2000s and 2010s.




Mr. Nicola Bilotta
Nicola Bilotta has a BA and a MA in History from Universitŕ degli Studi di Milano and a MSc in Economic History from the London School of Economics. He works as a Global Finance Research Assistant at The Banker (Financial Times) and collaborates as an external researcher at ISAG (Istituto di Alti Studi di Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliari) N_bilotta@lse.ac.uk




Markus Wauran
Date and Place of Birth: April 22, 1943 – Amurang, North Sulawesi, IndonesiaEducation: Bachelor in Public Administration.
Writer was a member of the House of Representatives of Indonesia (DPR/MPR-RI) period of 1987-1999, and Chairman of Committee X, cover Science and Technology, Environment and National Development Planning (1988-1997).
Currently as Obsever of Nuclear for peace
.




Sooyoung Hu
Attached to the US-based Berkeley University, Sooyoung Hu is a scholar at its Political Science and Peace and Conflict Studies Department. Miss Hu focuses on international relations, international organizations and its instruments.




Senahid LAVIĆ