Friday, May 23, 2014

Roger Cohen on European (lack of) solidarity

I have just read in the New York Times site an excellent op-ed by Roger Cohen, Poor Angry Magnetic Europe. It is so good that it made me forgive the primitive anti-Bulgarian hate campaign carried out by the same magazine several years ago. I am advising you to read the entire column, and now I am quoting parts of it below:

"BERLIN — Europe at the centenary of the war that devoured it is voting in elections for the European Parliament that will no doubt reflect the anger, disillusionment and boredom of people inclined to cast their ballots for an array of protest parties, many from the xenophobic right, some from the pander-to-Putin left...

In some ways Europe’s mood resembles America’s. Focus has narrowed and solidarity atrophied. Europe, like America, does not want to die for anyone else. It has turned inward, wanting its own problems solved, and damn the Libyans and Syrians and Ukrainians and whoever else may be making demands through their plight.

Anyone who believes the spread of freedom, democracy and the rule of law matters is a “warmonger.” The sharing economy is in vogue because it affords a better deal on a car ride or a room. Sharing politics is not because it may involve sacrifice for faraway people with strange names...

The European Parliament election coincides with a critical election Sunday in Ukraine, where Putin has created havoc by annexing Crimea, dispatching thugs to stir unrest in the eastern part of the country, and inventing a “fascist” threat in Kiev to conceal his own growing affinities with such politics (his beloved, much lamented Soviet Union of course allied with Nazi Germany in 1939 before Hitler tore up the pact in 1941; attraction to fascism is nothing new in Moscow).

On Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, where Ukrainians died in numbers to escape the rule of an incompetent kleptomaniac backed by Putin, the European Union flag flies in several places. It is equally visible on surrounding streets. It is draped down the facade of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. It stands for something important in Kiev, something that seems almost unimaginable to Europeans in the confusion of their bile: the glowing possibility of freedom and dignity and pluralism, the possibility of a normal life...

But Europe is suddenly full of what Germans now call the Putinversteher — literally someone who understands Putin, more loosely a Putin apologist. Europeans of different stripes see him standing up to America, incarnating “family values,” countering a loathed European Union, and just being tough. Germans in surprising numbers are discovering their inner sympathy for Russia...

Europeans would do well to lift their gaze from the small world of their current anger toward those blue and gold flags fluttering on the Maidan, the better to recall what freedom means and with what sacrifice it has been attained."

Sunday, May 18, 2014

European fellow voters, think of Ukraine!

On May 25, EU citizens will vote to elect their representatives in the European Parliament. My vote will be dominated by considerations who will support the best policy with regard to Ukraine.

I am outraged that Russia is attacking other countries and grabbing land again, and EU is practically doing nothing. So I will vote for those who, in my opinion, will be most able to stand against Russia and to think long-term of European solidarity.

And I would advice you to consider doing the same, if you haven't already decided it. Forget your and your country's economic hardships, social problems, ethnic tensions etc. Because you at least enjoy peace and, when you go to bed, you know in which country you will wake up tomorrow. So let's think of Ukraine and not ask for whom the bell tolls!

Friday, May 09, 2014

I lost my mother

When my brother died 4 years ago, I feared that my mother would soon follow him. Happily, she proved strong enough to endure and somewhat recover. Although devastated, she still enjoyed watching her grandchildren grow, meeting friends, following the news, reading books. She never complained of her health, and I hoped she would have more years to live.

She died suddenly on Monday.

The day before, I had been with my sons at a dinner in her home. We did it every week. She always prepared much more food than we could eat and gave the rest in boxes, so that I would not need to cook the next day. Until her very last day, she always cared for her loved ones.

My friend once said the system with the boxes was nice but, as my mother was getting older, hopefully at some moment they would start to travel in the opposite direction, i.e. I would cook and bring food for her. My mother, however, dreaded the very thought of such reversal. She said, "I hope never to live to a day when my child would care for me." And she didn't.