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Kremlin expresses concern for Russian minority in Skåne

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, housing the Ministry of CIS Affairs, Compatriots Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation Source: wikimedia commonsIn the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, based on the pretext of protecting the rights of Russian minorities in foreign countries, an important question in foreign affairs has become which other Russian populations may be a target for “protection”. Moscow has already expressed its dissatisfaction with the treatment of Russians by the Estonian government, and a recent Kremlin memorandum from the Ministry of CIS Affairs, Compatriots Abroad and International Humanitarian Cooperation (the authority tasked with supporting Russians abroad) reveals that allegations have also been directed against other nations where Russian minorities exist. The memorandum underlined the importance of “supporting countrymen abroad, and their right to protect their traditions, customs and way of life from the incursion of nationalists”. Alarmingly, the Swedish region of Skåne received a mention of its own in a brief passage of the full document, signed at a meeting where Russian politicians discussed the preservation of cultural and linguistic Russian minorities in Europe. Russia has previously been keen to market itself as a neighbour country to Sweden, and not a far off alien nation, by emphasising historical and cultural ties, ties which it may now regard as being under threat.

By April Fools

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Has the European melting pot gone cold? The EU’s immigration challenge

Cars burning during the riots in Husby, Stockholm. Source: Wikimedia commonsOver the past 50 years, the majority of Western European countries have been transformed from fairly homogenous societies to multicultural melting pots. Europe as a whole has been transformed from a continent of emigration to a continent of immigration. One would expect that by now, the continent would have solved its immigrant integration challenges. However, recent developments in a number of European countries are sending a rather worrying signal.

by Nikolaos Tsitonakis

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Interview: Cecilia Malmström on Migration and Asylum Policy in the EU

Cecilia Malmström speaking at the UPF/LUPEF lecture. Source: UPFThe EU’s Common Migration and Asylum policies often spark heated debate between member states and parties. The Lampedusa boat disaster in October coupled with the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis have reinvigorated the debate on the EU’s responsibilities toward asylum seekers. On November 25, 2013, the current EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, was welcomed to Lund by UPF and LUPEF to speak about the challenges facing the EU’s asylum and migration policies.

By Likki Lee Pitzen

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The British Press: Sensationally Eurosceptic

Inflammatory rhetoric by the British Press. Source: Duncan Hull, FlickrEuroscepticism in the United Kingdom is hardly a new concept. Ever since the UK joined the European Communities in 1973, British people have been particularly sceptical about the way cooperation with continental Europe impacts their country’s internal affairs. The UK has traditionally been characterised by a remarkable capacity to be unhappy fully inside the European Union, while also being unhappy to be completely outside. An instrument often used to convey this Eurosceptic sentiment is the country’s press. A large part of the British press has traditionally been in the habit of employing inflammatory rhetoric when reporting EU affairs.

by Nikolaos Tsitonakis

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A Ship Comes Loaded With Timber… or Weapons?

"MV Arctic Sea." Source: Wikimedia CommonsIn the summer of 2009 a cargo ship carrying timber was hijacked off the coast of Sweden. Piracy has been unheard of in the Baltic Sea for hundreds of years, and this was the first known incident of its kind for centuries. For two weeks the ship MV Arctic Sea went missing, prompting Russia to deploy its navy to locate it. Many of the details of the hijacking still remain a mystery and with no credible explanation of its disappearance many have raised the question of whether the ship was only carrying timber, or whether there was something else in the cargo.

By Joakim Carbonnier

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Italian politics: Where dinosaurs rule

Does democracy work better the older its participants are? Source: Tjebbe van Tijen, FlickrIn early November the UPF Travel Committee carried out the first trip of this academic year, and the destination was Rome. The aim of the trip was, through meetings with political actors, to get a deeper insight into Italian politics and the current political issues. 

The Italian political system is complex in many ways. When a complex political system is connected with a complex political culture this can get to be too much. It is doubtless difficult to understand the political system for many Italians, and even more difficult for non-Italians. Something that strikes you, when analyzing Italian politics, is the high age of Italian politicians. There are many necessary factors to create a functioning political system and democracy and in Italy it seems that age has been included among those necessary factors. It is possible to imagine that the older a democracy is the better it works, but does democracy work better the older its participants are? In the Italian case: Are older people able to do democracy better than young people?

By Fredrik Karlsson

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The Roma in Europe: 700 Years of Discrimination

Italian authorities evict residents of a Roma camp. Photo by roma.rights/FlickrWho are the most persecuted people in Europe? Jews? Muslims? Homosexuals? You could easily argue that any of these groups qualify, but there is another minority that could be considered to have good claims to the title of most persecuted; the Roma.

The Roma minority has been living in Europe since at least the 14th century and its history has been marred by persecution since.  Often they were slaves and there are many gruesome examples of the harsh attitude directed towards the Roma; e.g. a law in Switzerland in 1510 that stated that any Roma found should be put to death. England adopted similar rules in 1554 and Denmark followed in 1589. Portugal took a different approach and decided to simply deport Roma to its colonies in 1538.

By Lotta Herz

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The Eastern Partnership: An Escalation of Russian Realpolitik

Thousands of Ukrainians Protest Scrapping of Trade Pact With E.U. Source: jamesryananderson10/FlickrOn the 28th and 29th of November, Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, will host the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Summit. It has been announced that the signing of an Association Agreement with Ukraine and the initialization of similar agreements with Armenia, Moldova and Georgia are going to take place during this milestone event. However, over the course of the year, it has become evident that Russia will not give up its sphere of interest without a fight. Putin seems ready to strong-arm Russia’s neighbors into joining its own Customs Union, founded in 2010, as a move to bring the former Soviet Republics back into the fold.  

By Yana Brovidy

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Lobbying in the Name of Democracy

View of the EU district, Brussels. Source: John & Mel Klots, FlickrThere are 15,000 active lobbyists in Brussels according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). These 15 000 lobbyists are divided between 3 000 different groups that are all stationed in Brussels. They work every day to try to influence the commissioners and lawmakers of the European Union, by trying to sway them into making decisions that would benefit their organizations. In anticipation of the first ever EU anticorruption report, which is expected to be published in November this year, one may start to question the influence of these groups and the EU’s approach to them. Can the lobbyists be considered representative of the people, thereby protecting public interests, where citizens are given a chance to communicate with the lawmakers directly? Or do they pose a potential threat to democracy? How fine is the line between lobbying and corruption?

By Erik Roshagen

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Conceptualizing Racism in Europe

Photo: Terra Nova Fondation. Racism is a term imbued with ambiguity. Sometimes racism is a manifestation of misplaced anger or irritation, at other times it is deep-seated and systematic. Part of recognising the shapes racism takes is crucial in the battle against it. Racism is a product of its context, which makes the European and Swedish perspectives an interesting duality for investigation.

by Talib Jabbar

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