Ongoing fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh: now diplomacy is needed

The fierce fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan continues. Now the UN Security Council is dealing with the conflict.

Firing has been going on for three days: Azerbaijani missile on September 27 at the contact line Foto: Uncredited/Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry/dpa

JEREWAN afp | The newly erupted military conflict in the Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh is increasingly preoccupying international diplomacy. On Tuesday the UN Security Council will deal with the fighting in the disputed area between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The number of people killed in recent skirmishes rose to at least 95.

The emergency meeting of the most powerful UN body is to take place behind closed doors in the afternoon (US East Coast Time). The initiative for the meeting came from Germany and France, according to the UN headquarters in New York. The meeting was formally requested by Belgium.

According to diplomats, a declaration will be published following the deliberations of the Security Council – either on behalf of the entire body or only on behalf of its European member states, should no consensus be reached in the entire Council.

On Monday, fears that the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh would spread through interference by foreign powers increased. “External interference is unacceptable,” warned a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. The new outbreak of the conflict is a “very dangerous development”, said government spokesman Steffen Seibert in Berlin. There must be an “immediate ceasefire”.

The actual number of victims is unclear

On Monday evening, Azerbaijani soldiers launched a new “major offensive” in the southern and northeastern areas of the front line, a spokesman for the Armenian Defense Ministry said in Yerevan. According to the Armenian-backed insurgents in the South Caucasus region, 26 other rebel fighters were killed. This increased the number of rebel fighters killed to 84.

According to official figures, at least 95 people were killed in the fighting, 11 were civilians. The number of victims could actually be much higher. The government in Azerbaijan stated that it had killed hundreds of Pro-Armenian fighters. The Pro-Armenian rebels denied this.

Armenia and the pro-Armenian regional government of Nagorno-Karabakh accuse Turkey of supporting the Azerbaijani side with fighter jets, helicopters, drones, soldiers and mercenaries. The activists of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that Turkey had withdrawn more than 300 fighters from Syria and relocated them to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense denied these allegations. In return, it charged that “ethnic Armenian” mercenaries had been transferred from the Middle East to Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey and Russia are vying for influence

The two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been fighting for decades over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is largely inhabited by Armenians. On Sunday the conflict flared up again after years of relative calm. The Azerbaijani army and pro-Armenian rebels who control Nagorno-Karabakh fight each other.

Nagorno-Karabakh had declared its independence in the 1990s, but was not recognized by any country and is still considered part of Azerbaijan internationally. Turkey immediately pledged its full support to Azerbaijan following the recent flare-up of fighting. Turkey had assisted Azerbaijan in modernizing its army in recent years.

Turkey is wrestling with Russia in particular for influence in the region. Moscow is on friendly terms with both sides. It maintains a military base in Armenia, but also supplies weapons to Azerbaijan. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday that the priority must now be “ending hostilities – and not the question of who is right and who is not”.


Is France doing enough for migrants from Lesbos?

► “The answer can only be European”

Yves Pascouau, director of Europe programs at the Res Publica association, specialist in migration policies

Here we are again stuck in an emergency, when the alarm has sounded for years. These are often the same countries that offer substantial, albeit insufficient, assistance. So the question is not whether to welcome 50, 150 or 500 migrants after the Moria camp fire, but how to get out of the reaction at the moment “T” to conduct a real migration policy. at the gates of Europe.

→ READ. Moria fire: 400 minor migrants taken care of in ten European countries

Ten EU countries will host some 400 unaccompanied minor migrants. France, like Germany, will take care of 100 to 150. Solidarity is expressed on the lowest denominator of vulnerability, no one will contest this choice. But then, what to do with isolated women, or women with children? Will the big losers be the men alone in the full capacity of their means? Asking whether it’s too much, or not enough, doesn’t solve the problem. In reality, we are exhausting everyone with colossal means to intervene, until the next crisis. To do ten times more would be commendable on the humanitarian level, but would not fundamentally change the situation of our global policies, at the European level.

The European Commission is expected to present its action plan for immigration and asylum on September 30. Already postponed several times, it should contain a global vision, with proposals for legal migration in the long term. It is then up to Member States, including France, to seize it. The real dilemma is what to do with countries that don’t want to do anything. This refusal should have consequences for the countries of central Europe, in particular enhanced cooperation between united Member States which penalize those who do not participate. At the moment, we are not ready for it.

The other question is how to even tackle the subject of legal migration, in a context where, in France and around the world, anxiety is mounting over the health, economic and social situation. This reflex of being preoccupied with oneself before others is natural. This is why I do not think that there will be, in the public opinion, an open reaction as there was before. It is therefore up to leaders to have the courage to keep migration management in the field of priorities.

→ READ. In Lesbos, migrants and residents no longer want camps

People left to fend for themselves on Lesbos are voluntarily placed in a situation of waiting, delivered to the greatest dehumanization. It literally drives them crazy. Preventing asylum seekers from accessing the procedure is a problem of the first importance, when the very values ​​of Europe and France are based on respect for the rule of law. This battle for a human policy will not be easy to assume. It is a safe bet that political groups will exploit the fear of migration as best they can and will defend the withdrawal, in the upcoming elections, in France as in Germany.

► “France must be more proactive”

Jean-Francois Ploquin, Director General of Forum Réfugiés-Cosi

After the Moria camp fire in Lesbos, France pledged to welcome 100 to 150 unaccompanied minors, just like Germany. If we look at vulnerable people more broadly, more should be done, because there were also many elderly, disabled and pregnant women in this camp. France, by its demography, its size, its wealth, is one of the great countries in Europe and it is important that it fully take its part.

→ MAINTENANCE. Fr. Maurice Joyeux: “We had to expect the Lesbos camp to end in flames”

However, it should first be remembered that the European continent is far from being the most in demand. The bulk of the reception of some 25 million refugees in the world takes place in countries such as Turkey, which is home to 3.6 million, Pakistan, Uganda, Germany and Lebanon. In 2019, the asylum request in Europe was 613,000, almost the level before the crisis.

We must also remember that within Europe, France was not at the forefront of mass arrivals in 2015-2016, unlike other countries such as Germany or Sweden. At the time, we made a commitment to relocate around 20,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece, and we finally kept less than a quarter of our commitments. Then, from 2017, there was certainly a rebound effect in the asylum request directly in our country, but it remained at manageable levels, with 120,000 requests in 2019, which remains less than in Germany. and hardly more than in Spain. If we compare this number to the population, France is in the middle of the table.

It is therefore important for France to take its part. It must also keep its promises. I would remind you that at the very beginning of the year, well before the fire, Paris had already undertaken to welcome 400 asylum-seeking migrants from Lesbos and 350 unaccompanied minors. But the Covid has been there, and only about fifty minors arrived at the end of August.

→ READ. Greece: state of emergency declared on the island of Lesbos

We must collectively be a little more proactive. When we take in a few hundred asylum seekers, that only represents a handful per department and when we organize things, we have good results. But this requires financial and human resources, as well as a dynamic shared between the State, local communities, associations and citizens. Currently, half of asylum requests are in Île-de-France. We need to better distribute the reception.

Finally, we will not achieve anything if we do not consider the arrivals in Greece, Italy or Spain as a European problem. We must be able to distribute the burden of hosting to twenty-seven, or ask the States that do not want to welcome to take their share financially. In any case, we must above all not leave the reception to the sole responsibility of the countries that geography has placed at the gates of Europe. “


Ankara’s solidarity with Baku: Erdoğan’s game with fire

According to various sources, Turkey is sending Syrian mercenaries to Azerbaijan to assist the country in the conflict with Armenia.

Involved in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia: Turkish President Erdoğan Photo: Murad Sezer / reuters

ISTANBUL taz | While Russia, the most important influential power in the South Caucasus, has been trying since Sunday not to let the newly flared conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia degenerate into an outright war, Turkey, the second important power from outside, is trying to turn its back on Azerbaijan in a possible war strengthen.

According to the motto “two states, one nation”, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan assured the “leader of the brother people”, İlham Aliyev, of his unwavering solidarity and sharply condemned the alleged Armenian aggression.

The Turkish media unanimously spread the image on Monday of an attacked Azerbaijani nation in need of support against the aggressor. Even after a phone call between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish colleague Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, Ankara’s tone did not change.

On Monday lunchtime, the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stepped up again and lamented the many civilian victims of the Armenian aggression in the embattled border region.

Ankara’s approach: Proven in Syria and Libya

The Turkish government seems willing to provide military support to Azerbaijan in a possible war. And not only with military equipment and drones, but also with an approach that has already been tried and tested in Syria and Libya.

According to various sources, there are already Syrian mercenaries in Azerbaijan who are said to have been hired in the Syrian border region of Afrin, which was occupied by Turkey, and who were flown from Turkey to Baku. From there they are to be sent to the front in Nagorno-Karabakh to serve as cannon fodder in the front row.

As early as September 24, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that 300 fighters from the mainly Turkmen Murat Brigade and jihadists from the Al-Amshad Brigade had been sent from Turkey to Azerbaijan.

Images of Syrian mercenaries on the plane

Images of Syrian fighters on the plane are circulating on social media in Turkey, apparently on the way to Baku.

One of the best experts on the Caucasus in Turkey, the journalist Fehim Taştekin, wrote, “The use of jihadist Syrian militias is increasingly becoming a hallmark of Erdoğan’s foreign policy”. Nevertheless, the allegation of the Armenian ambassador in Moscow that there were 4,000 Syrian jihadists in Azerbaijan is arguably exaggerated. Turkish media countered with the claim that Armenia had brought Kurdish PKK fighters to Nagorno-Karabakh.

After Syria, Libya and the provocations against Greece, Erdoğan now seems to want to plunge into an armed conflict in the Caucasus as well.

But what does he want to achieve with it? In addition to access to Azerbaijan’s gas and oil supplies in the Caspian Sea, Taşkin wrote, it could also be a matter of forcing Putin to make concessions in Libya and Syria.


Russia-Belarus union, an old project

► Where does the project of union between Belarus and Russia come from?

The idea germinated in the head of President Alexander Lukashenko from 1995. The young leader “Hoped, in exchange for the end of the sovereignty of Belarus, to take the head of a confederation in place of a declining Boris Yeltsin”, recalls political scientist Valeri Karbalevich. After two failures, in 1996 and 1997, the two leaders ended up signing a treaty in 1999 defining “State of the Union”, with blurred outlines.

→ ANALYSIS. Belarus: Alexander Lukashenko’s crucial visit to Russia

This text provides for the creation of a confederation in the long term, with commercial, economic, customs, cultural, military, monetary and industrial integration. In fact, their rapprochement is confined to the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, a vast free trade area spearheaded by Vladimir Putin, which includes Armenia and Kazakhstan in particular.

► What are the obstacles to such a union?

In the 1990s, Russia, embroiled in the war in Chechnya, was reluctant to the union project proposed by Alexander Lukashenko. The election of Vladimir Putin in 2000 was a game-changer. Understanding that he would never be named at the head of a confederation of the two countries, the Belarusian leader put the text in the closet.

It was Moscow that ended up exhuming it, by conditioning its economic aid, in particular a significant discount on the sale of gas and oil, to further integration with its neighbor. In September 2019, the very serious Moscow daily Kommersant had detailed a plan providing for a fiscal, customs and energy union by 2021. It will finally be challenged by the Belarusian regime.

► Why is the subject regaining strength today?

Self-proclaimed the first defender of the independence of his country, Alexander Lukashenko has constantly denounced the “Interference” Russians during the presidential campaign. He has radically changed his rhetoric since his contested re-election on August 9. Faced with the anger of the street, the autocrat called for help Vladimir Putin, who pledged to provide him with military reinforcements if “Extremist forces” came to attack the official buildings.

The two leaders were to discuss “Integration”, Monday, September 14, when they met in Sochi, Russia. Alexander Lukashenko came there to beg for a new loan of one billion dollars, essential to honor the debts of the State and to stop the collapse of the Belarusian ruble. Support that it risks having to pay with concessions: Russia is notably asking for the creation of Russian bases in Belarus and the establishment of a single currency.


The symbolic victory of Camp Navalny

The camp of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny recorded symbolic electoral victories at the places where it was suspected of being poisoned, following regional elections dominated by the Kremlin party against a backdrop of accusations of irregularities. In Tomsk, the city where he was probably intoxicated, his two main candidates, Andrei Fateev and Ksenia Fadeeva, won their constituencies, becoming the very first elected members of the Navalny movement. In Novosibirsk, the third largest city in Russia and the main Siberian city where Alexeï Navalny had also campaigned, his camp won five elected officials, including its local leader, Sergei Boyko.


WHO predicts “harsher” autumn in Europe

An autumn ” harder “ is looming with a rise in the number of deaths from Covid-19 in Europe, which should call for a targeted response but not generalized confinements, said the director of the European branch of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“It’s going to get harder. In October, in November, we will see a higher mortality “, said Hans Kluge, as the number of recorded cases soars on the Old Continent, but with a daily death toll for the moment almost stable.

→ READ. At the hospital, better organization in the face of Covid

This increase in the number of daily deaths will be due to the rise in cases due to the resumption of the epidemic in Europe, according to the WHO.

“We are at a time when countries do not want to hear this kind of bad news, and I understand”, said the boss of his European branch, who however wanted to address “The positive message” than the pandemic “Will stop, at one time or another”.

The epidemic will not stop with the arrival of a vaccine

WHO Europe brings together on Monday September 14 and Tuesday September 15 all of its fifty or so member states to discuss the response to the pandemic and agree on its five-year strategy.

The senior UN official, based in Copenhagen, warned those who believe the end of the epidemic will coincide with the development of a vaccine, still underway. “I hear all the time: ‘the vaccine is going to be the end of the epidemic. Of course not ! “exclaimed Hans Kluge.

“We don’t even know if the vaccine is going to be effective for all parts of the population. Some signs we are getting is that it will be effective for some but not for others ”, underlined the Belgian doctor. “And if suddenly we have to order different vaccines, what a logistical nightmare …”, also warned Hans Kluge, hoping that Europe will be able to show solidarity.

“The end of this pandemic will be when, as a community, we learn to live with this pandemic. And that depends on us. It’s a very positive message ”, he said.

Against the politicization of the crisis

Faced with a new disease, he defended the trial and error of the authorities in recent months and warned against an overly politicized management of the health crisis in a context where doubt has instilled within the populations.

→ EXPLANATION. Local confinement, closure of bars … Eight tracks to harden the fight against Covid-19

It is important to found the response to Covid-19 “On epidemiological and public health data”, he insisted. “The WHO has been criticized several times, but communicating on something that you do not know perfectly is very, very difficult”, he defended. “For some, you do too little, for others, you go too far”.

As research progresses gradually, knowledge remains imperfect and for the first time, decisions must be made on the basis of incomplete evidence, summarized Hans Kluge. And to deplore: “In a number of countries, we see that politics is imposed on scientists, and also in a number of other countries we see that people doubt science, it is very dangerous”.

Number of cases on the rise

The number of cases in Europe has been rising sharply for several weeks, especially in Spain and France. According to public data from the organization, more than 51,000 new cases were reported for Friday alone in the 55 countries of WHO Europe. This is more than the peaks seen in April, although testing capacity was significantly lower at the time, according to experts.

→ CHRONICLE. Like a gigantic vice, the pandemic crushes us

For now, the number of daily deaths remains at the level observed since the beginning of June, around 400 to 500 deaths linked to Covid-19, according to the same data. However, the pandemic should not be managed in the same way as at the end of last winter, according to the WHO.

“In February, we targeted society as a whole (…) now we are targeting the virus”, insisted Hans Kluge. “Schools may have to close temporarily and locally but if we have a good monitoring system we should be able to control (the virus) locally and after a few weeks relax the restrictions”, detailed the manager.


Deadly conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh: danger of war in the Caucasus

Skirmishes between Armenia and Azerbaijan shake Nagorno-Karabakh. Both sides mobilize soldiers.

Volunteers gather in Yerevan: They want to fight for Armenia in Nagorno-Karabakh Foto: Melik Baghdasaryan/photolure/reuters

BERLIN taz | The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in the South Caucasus escalated on Sunday like seldom before. According to Armenian sources, Azerbaijan’s military started bombing the region in the morning, over which the two countries are fighting, and also attacked targets in Nagorno-Karabakh’s capital, Stepanakert. Residents of Nagorno-Karabakh report to the taz that the Azerbaijani armed forces have also attacked civilian targets such as residential houses and school buildings, and speak of hundreds of deaths.

Both sides accuse each other of being responsible for the escalation. “Azerbaijan is targeting the Armenian civilian population,” says the ombudsman for human rights in Nagorno-Karabakh, Artak Beglaryan. Azerbaijan contradicted the information and said in turn that it had responded to an Armenian attack.

Armenia said it shot down several helicopters and drones. Azerbaijan’s prime minister announced that the Azerbaijani army had captured six villages. Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh deny this. The International Red Cross warned both sides to protect the civilian population on Sunday afternoon.

The territorial conflict over the predominantly Armenian-inhabited area of ​​Nagorno-Karabakhda, which was added to Azerbaijan in Soviet times, has been smoldering for over 30 years. A war in the early 1990s in which an estimated 25,000 to 50,000 people were killed and over 1.1 million displaced resulted in a fragile ceasefire in 1994.

Since then, Armenia has controlled the area and the parts of Azerbaijan between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia itself. Fighting broke out again and again, most recently in July of this year. The zone around the enclave is still highly militarized on both sides.

Interests of Russia and Turkey

Russia, which is in a military alliance with Armenia and maintains a military base there, has called on both sides to sign a ceasefire. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is holding talks to persuade the conflicting parties to stop the fire, the authority said in Moscow. Russia supplies arms to both sides.

Turkey gave Azerbaijan its full support. The Turkish defense minister accused Armenia of threatening peace and stability in the Caucasus with its “aggression”. However, the renewed escalation had also been announced by Turkish intervention: According to several reports, hundreds of Turkish fighters were recently relocated from Libya and Syria to Azerbaijan.

The EU Council leader called on Twitter to urgently return to negotiations and suspend all military action. But Armenia declared a state of war and announced a general mobilization of the whole country. In Azerbaijan, a state of war with curfews should apply in some parts of the country from midnight local time.

Soldiers in tanks march

All operational residents of Armenia over the age of 18 should get ready. Videos of tanks and soldiers deployed were circulating on social media. Azerbaijan is also mobilizing.

Groups of men gathered at Republic Square in the Armenian capital Yerevan on Sunday, many of them veterans of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in the 1990s, as reported by taz eyewitnesses. They held up national flags and played folk music. “We have to bring the enemy to their knees,” one of them shouts. “We pray for our peace,” says another.

Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Transport and Communications has restricted internet access in the country and blocked social networks such as Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp for users. Only Twitter still works as it can be used for propaganda abroad.


Swiss referendum: clear yes to immigration

The right-wing conservative SVP wanted to impose a limit on immigration in Switzerland. The citizens prevented that.

Cheers among the opponents: the SVP initiative was rejected Foto: Anthony Anex/dpa

BERLIN taz | A clear majority of the Swiss voters rejected a restriction on immigration to their country. The “limitation initiative” presented by the right-wing conservative “Swiss People’s Party” (SVP) was rejected after an initial extrapolation by over 61 percent of the electorate.

For the initiative to be successful, it would not only have required an absolute majority of all voters, but also a majority in over half of all 26 cantons and half-cantons. According to the first extrapolation, this majority was not achieved in any canton.

All other parties as well as the country’s trade associations, trade unions and churches had rejected the SVP’s initiative. Its adoption would most likely have meant the end of the seven bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU. In a vote in 2000, the people approved these seven agreements with 67.2 percent.

The agreements give the Swiss economy access to the European market. One of these agreements is the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (FZA). It allows Swiss citizens to live, work and study in the EU under certain conditions. The same applies in reverse for EU citizens.

SVP warned of “mass immigration”

A committee founded and financed by the SVP, which is against the free movement of persons, had submitted the restriction initiative with the demand for “moderate immigration”. According to the committee, there is mass immigration in Switzerland. This would lead to rising unemployment and endanger the prosperity, freedom and security of Swiss citizens.

In the opinion of the Federal Government of Bern (Federal Council), the bilateral path chosen by Switzerland is the right one. He made it possible to find solutions tailored to the needs of Switzerland and its citizens. The bilateral agreements guaranteed balanced relations with the EU, Switzerland’s most important trading partner. Without these agreements, prosperity and jobs in Switzerland would be at risk.

If the limitation initiative had been accepted, the Federal Council would have had to negotiate the end of free movement with the EU within 12 months, which the EU has so far strictly rejected. If the negotiations had failed, the Bundestag would have had to unilaterally terminate the agreement on the free movement of persons within a further 30 days. In this case, the guillotine clause would apply and all seven bilateral agreements would expire.


Greece is arming itself against Turkey

The seismic research vessel Oruc Reis has returned to the port of Antalya, on the southern coast of Turkey. The seismic research boat, which had been patrolling for oil deposits since August 10 in the disputed waters of the Mediterranean, completed its mission, the Turkish government press reported on Sunday (September 13th).

Ankara did not wish to extend it “To give diplomacy a chance” with Athens, the newspaper Yeni Safak said. And the live-fire naval exercise in northern Cyprus, announced by a Navtex (an international maritime safety message) from September 12 to 14, has apparently not taken place.

While criticizing the “Provocative behavior of Greece which increases tensions” in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar called for a dialogue “As quickly as possible on the situation in the region”. According to him, Athens has constantly opposed dialogue under the auspices of NATO or the EU.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on September 13 greeted this “First positive step”, hoping there would be more.

Greece wants to form a “national shield”

Despite repeated calls for dialogue from both sides, Athens and Ankara are constantly sending each other names of birds, and tensions have risen dangerously over the past month. On Saturday, September 12, Kyriakos Mitsotakis devoted most of his general policy speech, in Thessaloniki, to new defense efforts.

To face the Turkish threat at the gates of Greece, “The time has come to strengthen our armed forces (…) to form a national shield”, he pleaded.

→ INVESTIGATION. Turkey’s dangerous game in the Mediterranean

While it already has a large military budget, Athens plans to buy from France a squadron of 18 Rafale fighter jets – six new and twelve used. The Greek army should also equip itself with four frigates, four helicopters, anti-tank weapons, torpedoes and missiles, detailed the head of government.

Its ranks, with a hundred thousand men, professionals and conscripts, should be reinforced with 15,000 new recruits in the next five years. Military service – from 9 to 12 months, compulsory for men – will be reformed for more efficiency. Finally, American funds are investing in the modernization of the Elefsis shipyards and a strategic investor is expected for those of Skaramanga.

Together with a plan to support the economy of 6.8 billion euros, these “Courageous choices and bold responses” will allow the Greeks and the country “To get out of uncertainty” and pass “From turmoil to the calm waters of progress and hope”, commented Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

“The slightest concession would pass for a national betrayal”.

“The country needs this military expenditure”, says Ilias Kouskouvelis, professor of international relations at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki. “These measures are very well received by the Greeks who believe that they will make the difference in the balance between Greece and Turkey”, he specifies, adding that the Greeks are very sensitive to the support of France.

→ INVESTIGATION. In the eastern Mediterranean, the waters of discord

“It is psychology which is very expensive, but which is very profitable electorally”, challenges Joëlle Dalègre, historian at Inalco. According to her, Greece, its eleven million inhabitants and its operational equipment in the future cannot frighten the Turkish military power strong of 80 million souls. And despite belligerent rhetoric, neither country, financially drained, wants to go to war. “These expenses show above all that Greece is not ready to retreat, she believes. Perhaps Turkey took the opportunity to bring her boat back to port and temporarily lower the tension ”.

In the battle for the sovereignty of the waters between the two riparian countries, neither Athens nor Ankara have so far shown the slightest hint of concession. “They are each convinced to be right and have convinced their public opinions, continues the historian. They put themselves in a position where the slightest concession would pass for a national betrayal ”.


Torn France: The stressed country

Five years after the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the November terror: France is in a deep identity crisis.

Illustration: Katja Gendikova

It is a serious and heated discussion in France: How do you dress for school? Belly-free is not possible, say stick conservatives. This clothing debate now appears even more bizarre than usual against the devastating background of a second corona wave with high case numbers and strict regional restrictions, which are protested by those responsible there because they are not allowed to participate in decision-making. The new bans severely weaken the “France Relance” plan recently announced by President Macron and the government under the new Prime Minister Castex to revive the corona-plagued economy. But they are not yet comparable to the repressive nationwide lockdown in spring. The state currently wants to avoid it at all costs and therefore appeals to the citizens: internal reason, please (and properly dressed) not to overdo it with the beloved savoir vivre.

The unfortunate clothes debate, it appears like a lost piece of a French society puzzle. It is a jigsaw puzzle in which a nation that has been stressed on various levels has come to a standstill. So how torn can jeans be in the classroom? Education Minister Blanquer from the ruling LREM party is seriously calling for a “tenue républicaine”, whatever it may be – perhaps a floor-length tricolor for Elev: inside in the national colors, one would not seriously throw in. Under the hashtag # lundi14septembre, students recently campaigned vehemently not to allow short skirts and co. To be banned anywhere.

Instead of calling out solidarity and laissez-faire in unison in a community that claims freedom on paper, there are contradicting signals from society and politics. Here people, mostly men, who cling to traditional conventions, ultimately work on a figure of thought that never existed in reality, even before 1968: good old France, France, in which women and girls, depending on each other They knew how to behave in a flirtatious to “decent” situation, men were still “real”, seductive men, and the many immigrants, mostly from the former French colonies, were obediently ghettoized.

Of course, France has not only been harboring social explosives since the appearance of the yellow vests at the end of 2018. That phenomenon, like the uprisings in ailing French suburbs as early as 2005, shows, however, as if in a burning glass, resource and distribution struggles. And: excessive violence by protesters and the often racist state power. This complicated social situation has nothing to do with the republican pathos that President Emmanuel Macron avidly serves in everyday life. It is characterized by frustration and feelings of inferiority on the one hand and elitism on the other.

New breaks in society

The former editor-in-chief of the German edition of Charlie Hebdo, Romy Strassenburg, recently said succinctly in a taz interview (when the trial of the Islamist-motivated attack on the satirical newspaper began) that the French dose horribilis In 2015, with its big questions about identity, religion and terror, it was replaced to some extent by new questions that revealed new breaks within society. The public focus is now less on the detached, radicalized young Muslims, but more on a frustrated white lower class in peripheral urban areas who do not shy away from violence. France, according to Strassenburg, “is probably even further away from social unity or pacification than in 2015”. Now on Friday two journalists were caught in a knife attack near the former office of Charlie Hebdo injured. Identify anti-terrorist units; it remains uneasy – also on the subject of Islamism.

After the Islamist attack in front of the former seat of the satirical newspaper “Charlie Hebdo” in Paris, the main suspect confessed to the crime. The man arrested after the attack was taking “responsibility for his act,” it said on Saturday, September 26th. from investigative circles. As a motive he named the republication of controversial Mohammed caricatures by “Charlie Hebdo”, which he “could not stand”. (afp)

In early September Macron gave a speech at the Panthéon in Paris, where many French celebrities are buried. The tenor of the speech: The values ​​of the French Republic such as freedom, equality, fraternity and secularism are “indivisible”. And in a discourse in mid-June after the second major Parisian anti-racism demo, Macron actually said: “This fight is unacceptable if it is captured by separatists.” You have to act against racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination, but please don’t . How then? The country clearly has problems with the acceptance of its state organs – and people who think critically about it are pilloried.

France is drifting apart at critical points. And the monetary gap between the poor and the rich is growing steadily. Social housing, for example, has become noticeably less under Macron. A so-called tax on the rich never came. Whether there is good education and good support often depends on the “right” address – and the qualification at an elite institution – in the centrally managed hexagon, which is strongly geared towards the president. Those who apply for jobs, for example, often fall through the grid due to their non-French sounding name and origin from suburbs that are considered desolate.

System of inequality

Only recently, the powerless, conservative human rights representative of the government, Jacques Toubon, recalled that the “system of France” as a whole must be called into question: “a system that creates and maintains inequalities”. For people who do not look French and / or are not materially well off, “the republic does not keep its promises”.

This condition existed before Macron, but contrary to his promises, almost nothing has happened under him in terms of social and appreciative opportunities for advancement. That Macron is meant, who in his 2017 election campaign with the movement La République en Marche (LREM) like Kai aus der Kiste successfully advocated a France “beyond right and left and on the move”, the man who supported the socialists and the conservatives largely cannibalized to this day. That Macron, who in his election campaign was emphatically social democratic and multicultural. And now, in view of the likely final electoral duel in 2022 between him and Marine Le Pen, the head of the Rassemblement National, strategically moves ever further to the right in his domestic political agenda. Garnished with wishy-washy slogans like “Look ahead and don’t leave anyone behind”.

This mix now drives quite a few in the party into dismal perplexity; the mood is bad and trench warfare at LREM. Several MPs have left the National Assembly and Pierre Person, LREM Deputy Chair, has recently resigned. Aurore Bergé, a more conservative MP, recently warned in The world: “Our movement is in a real malaise. We no longer know who we are and what we stand for. ”What the self-absorbed“ Roi Macron ”probably doesn’t care about – for him, technocratic and vertical governance is more important. He sees movement as a vehicle for power.

Socialists as good as dead

The opposition parties, which are heavily revolving around themselves, and the first visible successes on the Franco-German EU axis after a long time are not (yet) making things really uncomfortable for Macron. The Parti Socialiste (PS) is as good as dead and is only discussing the question of whether it would not be smart to gather behind the Greens (EELV), which were very successful in the last European and local elections. But EELV is clumsy at the national level. Does the party even want to gain power, does it want its own presidential candidate?

The Greens are neither trying to clarify their relationship to liberalism, nor are they clear about whether they are striving for a radical, more emotional course or a more rational, moderate one in the future. And two influential figures at EELV, the Grenoble mayor Éric Piolle and the EU parliamentarian Yannick Jadot, are not green in the truest sense of the word. Cooperation with the conservative Republican Party (LR), also divided and divided, is, unlike black-green options in this country, zero issue for both sides. And then there is Jean-Luc Mélenchon, head of the left-wing movement La France insoumise, who is perfect in populist rhetoric. But since neither the Greens nor the Socialists will agree on him as a presidential candidate, the left will probably remain disparate for the time being, unless a left-wing party with a majority for a change is founded.

In contrast to Germany, where due to the electoral system and the federalist principle, a new party cannot march through from a standing start, in France it is much easier to bundle moods and sensitivities in one movement at the national level, see LREM. If Macron, as the most powerful in the state and the current government, does not slowly succeed in defusing the social explosives with rationality and foresight, the mood, which is doubly stressed by Corona, can brusquely tip. The country would then experience a violent reprint of the yellow vests or similar social, thoroughly heterogeneous movements. As a precaution, the national anthem, the bloodthirsty Marseillaise from the days of the revolution, is sung at demos of all stripes.

The republic – it is currently stressing the people in France. She doesn’t let go of her.


Novichok poisoning, the other Bulgarian case

There are disturbing time matches. Relations between Russia and Western countries have taken a terrible turn in recent weeks following the poisoning of the nerve agent Novichok by Russian opponent Alexei Navalny on August 20.

Six days after this assassination attempt which creates a geopolitical overheating between East and West, the Bulgarian justice has ordered the suspension of the investigation into a perfectly similar case, revealed to the Bulgarian press on September 3 the main victim, Emilian Gebrev.

It was five years ago. Emilian Gebrev, the boss of the arms company Emko, had fallen into a coma following poisoning during a party in Sofia on April 28, 2015. His son Hristo and the director of Emko, Valentin Tahtchiev, had also been violently intoxicated.

The troubled links between Sofia and Moscow

While the Prosecutor General has just buried their case, the three survivors demand, in an open letter sent on September 8 to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and to Prosecutor General Ivan Guechev, that Bulgaria actively cooperate within NATO and EU “To establish the truth about the novichok attacks”, namely those concerning them and those perpetrated against the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, in Great Britain on March 4, 2018, and most recently Alexeï Navalny.

→ MAINTENANCE. “Poisoning, an ideal technique of intimidation”

The links between Sofia and Moscow are not foreign, according to them, to the lack of zeal of the Bulgarian justice which has never ceased to close their case. In 2015, the press had reported that before the assassination attempt, the Emko company had signed a contract for the sale of arms to Ukraine likely to greatly upset Moscow and that it was running for private hunting markets. Russia. “Emko owns a former military complex which was a sensitive structure of the Warsaw Pact”, adds political scientist Antony Galabov.

“Emilian Gebrev himself was involved in the Communist secret service, he specifies. Bulgaria is a battlefield on which Russian and Bulgarian interests clash. “

A link between the three assassination attempts at the novichok

In 2018, after the Skripal affair, Bulgaria refused to expel Russian diplomats, unlike other NATO and EU countries (it has, however, expelled three Russians accused of espionage in recent months) . “The man from the Kremlin in Bulgaria is none other than the prime minister”, denounced the former ambassador to NATO Boïko Noev, and close to Emilian Gebrev, on the first private television channel bTV on September 9.

→ EXPLANATION. In Russia, Alexeï Navalny’s teams continue the political fight

Emilian Gebrev’s stubbornness and the sagacity of investigative journalists in Britain, Russia and Bulgaria brought the Gebrev affair back to the fore and made connections between the three Novichok assassination attempts.

For Antony Galabov, it is probably no coincidence that the victims are not dead: “The objective is not to kill but to publicly humiliate those who have dared to confront Russian interests. Navalny, saved by the Germans, will no longer have the same opposition power ”.

At first the Bulgarian public prosecutor’s office had concluded that the three Bulgarians had been poisoned with an insecticide but, failing to identify the origin, had closed the investigation in 2016. It was forced to reopen it in the autumn 2018.

Making the link between the Skripal affair and his own, Emilian Gebrev was then convinced of having been the victim of a novichok attack. This will be confirmed after Bulgaria asked for help from London in February 2019, to investigate the said poisoning.

Same Russian secret agent involved in Skripal and Gebrev cases

At the time, the rapprochement between the two cases tightens seriously around Sergei Fedotov, the mysterious third man involved in the attack on Skripal. Several investigation sites, in particular the English Bellingcat and the Russian The insider, reveal the true identity of Sergei Fedotov who is none other than Denis Vyacheslavovich Sergeev, also known as DVS, a high ranking officer of the Russian military intelligence (the Gru ).

Under the same identity of Fedotov, Denis Sergeev had just landed in Bulgaria on April 24, 2014, four days before the triple poisoning that had targeted Emilian Gebrev. He left via Istanbul on April 28. Bulgarian newspapers Capital and 24 Tchassa then detailed the actions of the Russian spy who had stayed in the Orbita hotel in Sofia, precisely where Emilian Gebrev has offices, and located close to the restaurant where the poisoning allegedly took place.

Sergey Fedotov would then have returned, at the end of May 2015, when Emilian Gebrev, who was better, was released from the hospital but had to be hospitalized again, after a sudden relapse.


Last January, Denis Sergeev was formally charged with attempted murder, like two other Russian agents of the Gru. On August 27, the investigation sites and the German newspaper The mirror report that German doctors at the charity hospital in Berlin – where Alexei Navalny is located – contacted the Bulgarian doctors who treated Emilian Gebrev in 2015, again testifying to the similarity between these assassination attempts. It was just when Bulgarian justice was turning a corner.