• The European benchmark for refugee integration: A comparative analysis of the National Integration Evaluation Mechanism in 14 EU countries

    The report presents a comparative, indicator-based assessment of the refugee integration frameworks in place in 14 countries: Czechia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

    Conclusions cover the full range of integration dimensions, such as housing, employment, education and aspects of legal integration, and refer to recognized refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.

    Legal and policy indicators are the focus of analysis, as well as indicators on mainstreaming, coordination and efforts to involve refugees and locals.

    Results are presented in terms of concrete steps that policymakers need to take in order to establish a refugee integration framework in line with the standards required by international and EU law.

    #rapport #intégration #France #Grèce #République_Tchèque #Hongrie #Italie #Lettonie #Lituanie #Pays-Bas #Pologne #Portugal #Roumanie #Slovénie #Espagne #Suède #réfugiés #migrations #asile #regroupement_familial #citoyenneté #logement #hébergement #emploi #travail #intégration_professionnelle #éducation #santé #sécurité_sociale
    ping @karine4

  • BBC - Travel - Užupis: A tiny republic of free spirits

    Located within the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, Užupis is one of the smallest republics in the world, covering less than 1 sq km. But don’t be fooled by its size – it boasts its own president, government, constitution and currency, and even has a navy consisting of three or four small boats (used mainly for ceremonial purposes). Until recently, it also had an army of around 10 men, but given the republic’s peace-loving attitude, it has been retired.

    Užupis is an eclectic juxtaposition of Soviet Bloc architecture and artistic flair. Following the fall of the USSR in the early 1990s, many plinths that had held statues of Soviet icons stood empty across Vilnius. In 1995, a group of local artists used one of them to erect a statue of US rock icon Frank Zappa (despite the fact he had never been there) as a symbol of freedom and a call to democracy. Two years later, on 1 April 1997, they went a step further, declaring their neighbourhood of Užupis independent from the rest of Lithuania. Although Užupis is not recognised by foreign governments as an official nation, the micro-nation has become a source of pride in Vilnius and throughout Lithuania.

    #lituanie #vilius #truc_marrant #truc_sympa

  • Netanyahu expands his struggle against EU during Baltics visit -

    Netanyahu said he intended to counterbalance the EU’s ’unfriendly approach to Israel’ through direct contact with European leaders

    Noa Landau
    Aug 24, 2018 4:18 AM

    In the heart of Vilnius, Lithuania – his ancestors’ homeland, as he often points out – Benjamin Netanyahu formally thanked the country’s prime minister for helping him wage his all-out diplomatic war on the European Union in recent years.
    Netanyahu lauded Saulius Skvernelis on Thursday for his “strong stand” in support of Israel in EU forums. He said it was refreshing to see Skvernelis stand for “clarity, truth and courage.”
    “I want to thank you, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Linas, for the strong position you have taken in the forums of the EU on behalf of truth, on behalf of Israel, on behalf of decency. Israel is often mistreated by the EU in Brussels. There are many distortions that are leveled at us and it’s refreshing to see that you take a stand of clarity, of truth and of courage. And we discussed how that can be expanded,” he said.

    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Netanyahu said he intended to counterbalance the EU’s “unfriendly approach to Israel” through direct contact with European leaders, as he began a three-day trip to Lithuania, where he is set to meet leaders of the Baltic nations.
    Keep updated: Sign up to our newsletter
    Email* Sign up

    Lithuania helped Netanyahu visit the EU headquarters in December by getting him a breakfast invitation with European foreign ministers before their monthly session. The move was seen at the time as running contrary to protocol and raised considerable anger in the office of the union’s head of foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini.
    Netanyahu has systematically cozied up to the most nationalistic countries of central and east Europe, with the aim of sabotaging the required consensus among the union’s 28 members to pursue a uniform foreign policy. Now he further revealed his strategy to use sub-regional blocs of states, like the Visegrad Forum and its star from Hungary, Viktor Orban, to sway EU positions on the Palestinians and Iran, or at least prevent a consensus, a tactic that would hinder the possibility of advancing new moves affecting Israel.
    “I am interested in balancing the not always friendly attitude of the European Union towards Israel so that we receive fairer and more straight-forward treatment. I am doing this through contacts with blocs of countries within the European Union, Eastern European countries, [and] now with the Baltic countries, as well, of course, as with other countries,” Netanyahu said before boarding his plane.
    Netanyahu is also due to meet Lituhania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas. Also, Netanyahu is scheduled to attend a commemoration ceremony at the memorial site of the Jews’ massacre in Ponar, meet the leaders of the Jewish community in the Vilnius’ Choral Synagogue, the only in the city to survive the Holocaust, and visit the gravesite of the Vilna Gaon, where he will no doubt tell his hosts yet again the history of his family, descendants from the sage of Vilna.
    “You know, my family’s from here,” Netanyahu told his Lithuanian counterpart a moment before their meeting. “I know, I know,” the host said.
    Israel’s relations with Lithuania and Latvia have been growing warmer in the last few years. Estonia is seen as cooler in its position and leaning toward a neutral stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – especially during its term as the EU’s president. Unlike West Europe’s larger states, the Baltic states suffer from negative migration to other EU countries, which leads to a brain drain, and Israel is seeking to strengthen its relations with Estonia on the basis of this issue. Also, the complex history of the Baltic states and Russia has led to the rise of ultra-nationalistic views, and, since the Russian invasion of Crimea, deep concern over defense and military power.
    Netanyahu emphasized that, too, in his meetings, telling Lithuanian leaders that like Israel, Lithuania has great national pride, while stressing that this quality stood “alongside democratic values and individual rights.”
    Observers in the corridors of Brussels told Haaretz that Netanyahu’s acts indeed have a “chilling effect” on the ability to publish joint statements in the name of the 28 member states. These dynamics are not new but became more prevalent and assertive in the past two or three years. “It’s more difficult for the EU to speak with one clear voice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” one observer said.
    Netanyahu’s cultivation of relations with the eastern European and Baltic states at the expense of the large liberal countries, like France and Germany, comes at a price that some would call ideological and others would call strategic. He is doing all he can to undermine Germany and France in a bid to prevent EU support for the two-state solution, which he himself usually supports in statements made to international audiences.

  • Statewatch News Online: Council of Europe: Prison statistics for 2016: increases in prison population rate and average length of imprisonment

    The Council of Europe’s recently-published annual prison statistics reports cover the year 2016 and show an increase from 2015 in the prison population rate (the number of prisoners per 100,000 of a country’s population), the average length of imprisonment, the number of entries into penal institutions and the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for theft.

    There were decreases between 2015 and 2016 in overcrowding, in the amount spent per day per prisoner, in the number of releases from penal institutions and in the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for drug offences.

    Council of Europe: European prisons are almost full, according to latest Council of Europe survey (press release, pdf):

    “European prisons are on average close to full capacity, with inmates occupying over 9 out of ten available places, according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE) for 2016, published today.

    The survey shows that the incarceration rate grew from 115.7 to 117.1 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants from 2015 to 2016. This rate had previously fallen every year since 2012, when it reached 125.6 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.

    The incarceration rate is mainly influenced by the length of the sanctions and measures imposed. In that perspective, the average length of detention, which can be seen as an indicator of the way criminal law is applied, increasing slightly to 8.5 months.

    The countries where the incarceration rate grew the most were Bulgaria (+10.8%), Turkey (+9.5%), the Czech Republic (+7.6%), Serbia (+6.6%) and Denmark (+5.5%). The prison administrations where it fell the most were Iceland (-15.9%), Northern Ireland (-11.8), Lithuania (-11.1%), Belgium (-10.1%) and Georgia (-6.7%).

    On the other hand, overcrowding remained a serious problem in many countries. Thirteen out of 47 prison administrations reported having more inmates than places to host them.”

  • President Donald J. Trump’s Support for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

    Donc, nous, forcément, on est très rassuré.

    We are very protective of the Baltic region… We have great friends there.

    President Donald J. Trump

    BOOSTING DEFENSE AND SECURITY COOPERATION: President Donald J. Trump supports strengthening efforts to enhance the defense and security of our Baltic NATO Allies.

    The United States plans to provide nearly $100 million for procurement of large-caliber ammunition and over $70 million in training and equipping programs to the Baltics to build the capacity of the national military or national-level security forces of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

    #trump #pays_baltes #états-unis #otan #sécurité_collective

  • On eve of Netanyahu visit, EU to mark Human Rights Day with anti-occupation group B’Tselem
    Noa Landau Dec 04, 2017 3:53 PM

    In slap to Netanyahu, incoming EU ambassador chooses to hold official event with human rights group ■ Foreign Ministry says move is like ’spitting in the face of Israelis,’ while minister blasts EU as increasingly irrelevant

    Representatives of the European Union in Israel will mark International Human Rights Day on Thursday together with the human rights organization B’Tselem. The event, led by incoming EU Ambassador Emanuele Giaufret, will feature an exhibition of photographs marking 50 years of Israeli occupation and has sparked a fierce condemnation from Israel.

    The exhibition, entitled “50 Years,” is currently on display at the Jaffa Port in Tel Aviv. It features portraits of 50 Palestinians born in 1967, the year that Israel took over the West Bank and Gaza after the Six-Day War. The event is expected to be attended by other foreign diplomats in Israel as well.

    Early next week, Netanyahu will fly to Brussels for a rare meeting with the 28 foreign ministers of the EU member nations.

    In a departure from protocol, Netanyahu was invited not through the usual official channels, but through Lithuania’s representatives to the EU, a relatively friendly nation from Netanyahu’s perspective. The bypass of protocol has peeved the foreign minister of the EU, Federica Mogherini.

    The spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Emmanuel Nahshon, stated, “For reasons unknown, the EU people believe that the way to Israelis’ hearts is by spitting in their faces. We are again seeing the same patronizing approach of preaching hypocritical, condescending morality, that just pushes away rather than bringing closer. It is sad and superfluous.”

    Israeli officials and politicians fumed at the news. “The European Union loses no opportunity to needle the State of Israel and persists in its unilateral ways,” stated Naftali Bennett, the leader of Habayit Heyehudi party. “This attitude makes the EU a less relevant player by the day.”

    Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely commented that Israel has “been threatend by Palestinian terror for over 100 years” and that “unfortunately, the EU has not investigated the Palestinian Authority’s education system, which raises children to be ready to kill innocent civilians.” She further added that “whoever wants to look into human rights should begin with the Palestinian education system.”

    B’Tselem responded, saying they have invited Bennet, Hotovely, and Nahshon to the exhibition, “so that they can have a firsthand look at the children of 1967— who have been deprived of their human rights by Israel.”

    In late April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a scheduled meeting with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel for refusing Netanyahu’s demand that he not meet with two human rights nongovernmental organizations, Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem.

    Netanyahu’s bureau stated at the time that the prime minister’s policy is to not meet with diplomats who visit Israel and meet organizations “that slander [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers and seek to prosecute them as war criminals.”

    In February, Netanyahu ordered the Foreign Ministry to reprimand Belgium’s ambassador to Israel after Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel met with representatives from B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence. Netanyahu’s bureau stated at the time that “Israel sees gravely the meeting of the Belgian prime minister today with the heads of Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem during his visit to Israel.”

    The same month Netanyahu visited London and asked Prime Minister Theresa May to stop funding left-wing Israeli organizations, including Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel and others.

    In the past Netanyahu has also ordered to abolish the posts at B’Tselem reserved for young Israelis who do voluntary national service as an alternative to enlisting in the army.

    This is not the first time the EU has lent public support to the organization, despite the disapproval of the Israeli government. In October 2016, the EU delegation to Israel openly supported an appearance by B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad before a special session of the UN Security Council on the settlements, tweeting “We support B’Tselem to maintain human rights of vulnerable Palestinian communities in Area C.”

  • Latvians in the Soviet Political Elite 1920-1937 | Latvian History

    he Latvian nation has suffered from the Soviet repressions like no other. However, among ranks of communist supporters and top officials, Latvians took a high position. It happened because of the nature of the times before the Russian revolution and after. On the beginning of the 20th century, the New Current (Jaunā Strāva) was strongest Latvian leftist movement with whom many Latvian future social democrats and communists emerged. The revolution of 1905 was directed by Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party. Before World War I some Latvians moved to Russia to look for new farmland, while intellectuals like Krišjānis Valdemārs, Krišjānis Barons, Baumaņu Kārlis and others established carriers in Petersburg and Moscow. The German invasion in 1915 made hundreds of thousand Latvians go on the refuge to Russia. Locals in Moscow begun to notice that city is full of Latvians and Jews, who were forced to leave Lithuania and Latvia. The fall of Russian invasion made many previously mistreated minorities including Latvians to believe its their time to take power for themselves. And since Bolshevism an international movement in its roots seemed the most popular and strongest choice many Latvians chose the Soviet way. In future it turned out an ill-fated tragic choice, but in 1917 the perspective of independent Latvian state seemed far from reality.

    #lettonie #colonisation #urss #union_soviétique #révolution_ruse #1917

  • Commentary: A win for Trump’s #gas_diplomacy

    Last week, American liquefied natural gas (LNG) made its way to the somewhat unlikely market of #Lithuania. The former Soviet republic traditionally bought its gas from Russian state company Gazprom; this was its first shipment from the United States. For President Donald Trump, that must have been a gratifying sign of the success of his administration’s nascent energy diplomacy.

    The U.S. became the world’s largest producer of natural gas around 2011, overtaking its long-time competitor Russia and starting to rival Saudi Arabia in oil production. This was made possible by the shale revolution – the breakthrough of hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” that could split rock formations below ground and boost the extraction of oil and gas resources from shale rock formations. Environmentalists oppose LNG exports on the grounds that methane leakage from fracking can make natural gas as harmful to the climate as coal and that the LNG trade involves the energy-intensive measures of freezing gas, shipping it across oceans, and then regassifying – a process that further increases the carbon footprint.
    Nonetheless, Cheniere launched its inaugural delivery of LNG to Poland in June. During his visit to Poland the following month, Trump reiterated the implications of this delivery: “We are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never held hostage to a single supplier of energy,” he said.

    While reducing Gazprom’s dominance is part of Washington’s long-standing agenda, the Trump administration is the first to explicitly link the trinity of diplomacy, LNG trade, and national economic interests in Europe, Asia, and beyond. However, U.S. officials should be wary of implying that Washington’s LNG diplomacy is centered on making America’s friends buy gas to prove their loyalty. It’s already in Washington’s economic interests to support its allies’ energy security. There is no need for the White House to belabor the point.

  • Lithuanian Military Gathers Data on Russian-Chinese Naval Drills for NATO - Sputnik International

    arrivée du DDG-174 Hefei, type 052D à Baltiisk
    © Sputnik/ Igor Zarembo

    Lithuania has been closely following Russian-Chinese naval exercises Naval Interaction — 2017 in the Baltic Sea and has been informing NATO on its progress, Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Vytautas Umbrasas said Tuesday.

    The Russian-Chinese joint naval drills were first held in 2012. Joint drills Naval Interaction — 2017 are the first naval maneuvers in the Baltic sea in the history of cooperation between the two fleets. The active phase of the exercises is scheduled for July 25-27, during which the fleets of the two countries will practice joint anti-sabotage, air and anti-ship defense.

  • #Taliban seen with SCAR rifle commonly carried by American commandos

    WASHINGTON — In a propaganda film posted to the Taliban’s official website, a fighter can be seen carrying a FN SCAR 7.62mm rifle, a weapon commonly issued to U.S. special operators, such as Marine Raiders and Army Rangers. 

    The 70-minute video titled “Omari Army 5,” produced by Al Emarah Studio — a media branch of the Taliban— showcases seven Taliban training bases and military training exercises being carried out by the resurgent militant group.

    The video also displays U.S. weapon systems and optics commonly carried by American soldiers and Marines.

    Attached to the rifle is what appears to be an AN/PEQ 5 visible laser, which aids special operators in aiming and precision fires in close quarters.

    Affixed to the rifle’s side rail mount is a past model Surefire flashlight, issued to special operators as part of the older generation of Special Operations Peculiar Modification Kits — assorted optics, lasers and night vision equipment issued to American commandos that can be attached to an M4 carbine or SCAR rifle.


    In terms of how U.S. military gear could wind up in the hands of the Taliban, #Afghanistan is a major market for illicit arms trafficking and plenty of these weapons are frequently captured by the Taliban during raids on Afghan troops.

    The video prominently displays Ford Ranger trucks, for example, a vehicle supplied to the Afghan National Police by the U.S. The vehicles — and other equipment — are routinely captured by Taliban forces after attacks on poorly defended checkpoints.

    “It would be more likely that the weapons were captured during an assault on a checkpoint, rather than raiding an armory or a base," Capt. William Salvin, a spokesperson for Operation Resolute Support, told Military Times.

    “However, we can’t confirm where the weapons came from observed in the video,” Salvin added.

    The U.S. supplies the Afghan army and its commando forces with M16s, M4s and ACOG sights through the Defense Department’s Afghan Security Forces Fund. The SCAR, however, is not part of the current inventory provided.

    It is possible that Afghan forces are getting the SCAR through another Defense Department security assistance program, Salvin explained.

    The rifle may have also been lost by U.S. forces last August, when American forces battling ISIS fighters in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, lost a SCAR and a host of other equipment — to include a tactical encrypted radio — as forces attempted to evacuate battlefield casualties, according to a report by the Washington Post.

    “The August 2016 case is the only instance where an FN SCAR was not recovered from a mission,” Salvin told Military Times.

    The FN SCAR is manufactured by FN Herstal, a Belgian company, and is also used by the British SAS, as well as special forces from Belgium, Lithuania, and Georgia.


  • “An interview with Wolfgang #Ischinger - Germany’s best-connected former diplomat on its future in the world” #Germany #Allemagne #France #Europe

    So although it is long, I am publishing the transcript of our conversation. Among Mr Ischinger’s most striking points were his arguments that:

    – Germany is increasingly open to military action
    – Brexit makes EU defence integration easier
    – Germany’s deployments in Afghanistan, Mali and Lithuania mark a real turning point
    – NATO’s 2%-of-GDP target for defence spending is not sufficient on its own
    – The 2% should be replaced with a 3% target encompassing defence, foreign policy and aid
    – Mr Trump’s statements make it harder for European leaders to contribute more to NATO
    – Germany should not contemplate its own nuclear weapon
    – Mr Macron’s election is an “enormous and unique” opportunity to relaunch the Franco-German partnership as a model for the whole EU
    – The Kohl-Mitterrand era of co-operation can be (partly) revived, starting with joint military procurement
    – Mr Macron understands Germany “perfectly”
    – Germany and France should consider a 2018 rewrite of the Elysée Treaty codifying the alliance between the two countries
    – Germany should consider backing EU majority voting on foreign and security affairs
    – Germany and France might eventually share nuclear weapons and an army, but only in the very long term
    – Notions of Germany as the new leader of the liberal world are “totally unhelpful”
    – Russia’s current belligerence towards the West may not last
    – Germany and the West must keep the door open to Mr Putin
    – Europe and Canada cannot reform their relationship with Russia without America
    – Mrs Merkel’s patience and Russian language skills give her unique advantages in talks with Mr Putin
    – Germany must “engage, engage, engage” with Mr Trump
    – Mr Trump has “good and experienced pros” in his team but “believes in unpredictability as a negotiating strategy”

  • ‘Necessary deterrence means’? Lithuania awards $1.45mn contract to erect Russia border wall

    Lithuania has announced that it will award some €1.34 million ($1.45mn) to a private contractor to build a 2-meter high metal fence alongside the 45 km stretch of land bordering Russia’s #Kaliningrad region.
    #Lithuanie #Russie #frontières #murs #barrières_frontalières #Gintreja

    • Commentaire de Stéphane Rosière :

      L’article sur le frontière #Lituanie - Russie illustré par une photo de la frontière #Biélorussie - Lituanie (cf. les 2 poteaux symbole de l’état, à droite c’est le l’inénarrable Belarus de Loukachenko, pas la Russie).

    • The EU has built #1000_km of border walls since fall of Berlin Wall

      European Union states have built over 1,000km of border walls since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a new study into Fortress Europe has found.

      Migration researchers have quantified the continent’s anti-immigrant infrastructure and found that the EU has gone from just two walls in the 1990s to 15 by 2017.

      Ten out of 28 member states stretching from Spain to Latvia have now built such border walls, with a sharp increase during the 2015 migration panic, when seven new barriers were erected.

      Despite celebrations this year that the Berlin Wall had now been down for longer than it was ever up, Europe has now completed the equivalent length of six Berlin walls during the same period. The barriers are mostly focused on keeping out undocumented migrants and would-be refugees.

      The erection of the barriers has also coincided with the rise of xenophobic parties across the continent, with 10 out of 28 seeing such parties win more than half a million votes in elections since 2010.

      “Europe’s own history shows that building walls to resolve political or social issues comes at an unacceptable cost for liberty and human rights,” Nick Buxton, researcher at the Transnational Institute and editor of the report said.

      “Ultimately it will also harm those who build them as it creates a fortress that no one wants to live in. Rather than building walls, Europe should be investing in stopping the wars and poverty that fuels migration.”

      Tens of thousands of people have died trying to migrate into Europe, with one estimate from June this year putting the figure at over 34,000 since the EU’s foundation in 1993. A total of 3,915 fatalities were recorded in 2017.

      The report also looked at eight EU maritime rescue operations launched by the bloc, seven of which were carried out specifically by the EU’s border agency Frontex.

      The researchers found that none of the operations, all conducted in the Mediterranean, had the rescue of people as their principal goal – with all of them focused on “eliminating criminality in border areas and slowing down the arrival of displaced peoples”.

      Just one, Operation Mare Nostrum, which was carried out by the Italian government, included humanitarian organisations in its fleets. It has since been scrapped and replaced by Frontex’s Operation Triton, which has a smaller budget.

      “These measures lead to refugees and displaced peoples being treated like criminals,” Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, researcher for Delàs Center and co-author of the report said.

      At the June European Council, EU leaders were accused by NGOs of “deliberately condemning vulnerable people to be trapped in Libya, or die at sea”, after they backed the stance of Italy’s populist government and condemned rescue boats operating in the sea.

    • Building walls. Fear and securitization in the European Union

      This report reveals that member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer ‘maritime walls’, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as ‘virtual walls’, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population.
      Ainhoa Ruiz Benedicto, Pere Brunet
      In collaboration with
      Stop Wapenhandel, Centre Delàs d’Estudis per la Pau
      War & Pacification

      On November 9th 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, marking what many hoped would be a new era of cooperation and openness across borders. German President Horst Koehler celebrating its demise some years later spoke of an ‘edifice of fear’ replaced by a ‘place of joy’, opening up the possibility of a ‘cooperative global governance which benefits everyone’. 30 years later, the opposite seems to have happened. Edifices of fear, both real and imaginary, are being constructed everywhere fuelling a rise in xenophobia and creating a far more dangerous walled world for refugees fleeing for safety.

      This report reveals that member states of the European Union and Schengen Area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls, the equivalent of more than six times the total length of the Berlin Walls, since the nineties to prevent displaced people migrating into Europe. These physical walls are accompanied by even longer ‘maritime walls’, naval operations patrolling the Mediterranean, as well as ‘virtual walls’, border control systems that seek to stop people entering or even traveling within Europe, and control movement of population. Europe has turned itself in the process into a fortress excluding those outside– and in the process also increased its use of surveillance and militarised technologies that has implications for its citizens within the walls.

      This report seeks to study and analyse the scope of the fortification of Europe as well as the ideas and narratives upon which it is built. This report examines the walls of fear stoked by xenophobic parties that have grown in popularity and exercise an undue influence on European policy. It also examines how the European response has been shaped in the context of post-9/11 by an expanded security paradigm, based on the securitization of social issues. This has transformed Europe’s policies from a more social agenda to one centred on security, in which migrations and the movements of people are considered as threats to state security. As a consequence, they are approached with the traditional security tools: militarism, control, and surveillance.

      Europe’s response is unfortunately not an isolated one. States around the world are answering the biggest global security problems through walls, militarisation, and isolation from other states and the rest of the world. This has created an increasingly hostile world for people fleeing from war and political prosecution.

      The foundations of “Fortress Europe” go back to the Schengen Agreement in 1985, that while establishing freedom of movement within EU borders, demanded more control of its external borders. This model established the idea of a safe interior and an unsafe exterior.

      Successive European security strategies after 2003, based on America’s “Homeland Security” model, turned the border into an element that connects local and global security. As a result, the European Union Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) became increasingly militarised, and migration was increasingly viewed as a threat.

      Fortress Europe was further expanded with policy of externalization of the border management to third countries in which agreements have been signed with neighbouring countries to boost border control and accept deported migrants. The border has thus been transformed into a bigger and wider geographical concept.
      The walls and barriers to movement

      The investigation estimates that the member states of the European Union and the Schengen area have constructed almost 1000 km of walls on their borders since nineties, to prevent the entrance of displaced people and migration into their territory.

      The practice of building walls has grown immensely, from 2 walls in the decade of the 1990s to 15 in 2017. 2015 saw the largest increase, the number of walls grew from 5 to 12.

      Ten out of 28 member states (Spain, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Austria, Slovenia, United Kingdom, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania) have built walls on their borders to prevent immigration, all of them belonging to the Schengen area except for Bulgaria and the United Kingdom.

      One country that is not a member of the European Union but belongs to the Schengen area has built a wall to prevent migration (Norway). Another (Slovakia) has built internal walls for racial segregation. A total of 13 walls have been built on EU borders or inside the Schengen area.

      Two countries, both members of the European Union and the Schengen area, (Spain and Hungary) have built two walls on their borders for controlling migration. Another two (Austria and the United Kingdom) have built walls on their shared borders with Schengen countries (Slovenia and France respectively). A country outside of the European Union, but part of of the so-called Balkan route (Macedonia), has built a wall to prevent migration.

      Internal controls of the Schengen area, regulated and normalized by the Schengen Borders Code of 2006, have been gone from being an exception to be the political norm, justified on the grounds of migration control and political events (such as political summit, large demonstrations or high profile visitors to a country). From only 3 internal controls in 2006, there were 20 in 2017, which indicates the expansion in restrictions and monitoring of peoples’ movements.

      The maritime environment, particularly the Mediterranean, provides more barriers. The analysis shows that of the 8 main EU maritime operations (Mare Nostrum, Poseidon, Hera, Andale, Minerva, Hermes, Triton and Sophia) none have an exclusive mandate of rescuing people. All of them have had, or have, the general objective of fighting crime in border areas. Only one of them (Mare Nostrum) included humanitarian organisations in its fleet, but was replaced by Frontex’s “Triton” Operation (2013-2015) which had an increased focus on prosecuting border-related crimes. Another operation (Sophia) included direct collaboration with a military organisation (NATO) with a mandate focused on the persecution of persons that transport people on migratory routes. Analysis of these operations show that their treatment of crimes is sometimes similar to their treatment of refugees, framed as issues of security and treating refugees as threats.

      There are also growing numbers of ‘virtual walls’ which seek to control, monitor and surveil people’s movements. This has resulted in the expansion, especially since 2013, of various programs to restrict people’s movement (VIS, SIS II, RTP, ETIAS, SLTD and I-Checkit) and collect biometric data. The collected data of these systems are stored in the EURODAC database, which allows analysis to establish guidelines and patterns on our movements. EUROSUR is deployed as the surveillance system for border areas.

      Frontex: the walls’ borderguards

      The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) plays an important role in this whole process of fortress expansion and also acts and establishes coordination with third countries by its joint operation Coordination Points. Its budgets have soared in this period, growing from 6.2 million in 2005 to 302 million in 2017.

      An analysis of Frontex budget data shows a growing involvement in deportation operations, whose budgets have grown from 80,000 euros in 2005 to 53 million euros in 2017.

      The European Agency for the Border and Coast Guard (Frontex) deportations often violate the rights of asylum-seeking persons. Through Frontex’s agreements with third countries, asylum-seekers end up in states that violate human rights, have weak democracies, or score badly in terms of human development (HDI).

      Walls of fear and the influence of the far-right

      The far-right have manipulated public opinion to create irrational fears of refugees. This xenophobia sets up mental walls in people, who then demand physical walls. The analysed data shows a worrying rise in racist opinions in recent years, which has increased the percentage of votes to European parties with a xenophobic ideology, and facilitated their growing political influence.

      In 28 EU member states, there are 39 political parties classified as extreme right populists that at some point of their history have had at least one parliamentary seat (in the national Parliament or in the European Parliament). At the completion of this report (July 2018), 10 member states (Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Sweden) have xenophobic parties with a strong presence, which have obtained more than half a million votes in elections since 2010. With the exception of Finland, these parties have increased their representation. In some cases, like those in Germany, Italy, Poland and Sweden, there has been an alarming increase, such as Alternative for Germany (AfD) winning 94 seats in the 2017 elections (a party that did not have parliamentary representation in the 2013 elections), the Law and Justice party (PiS) in Poland winning 235 seats after the 2015 elections (an increase of 49%), and Lega Nord’s (LN) strong growth in Italy, which went from 18 seats in 2013 to 124 seats in 2018.

      Our study concludes that, in 9 of these 10 states, extreme right-wing parties have a high degree of influence on the government’s migration policies, even when they are a minority party. In 4 of them (Austria, Finland, Italy and Poland) these parties have ministers in the government. In 5 of the remaining 6 countries (Germany, Denmark, Holland, Hungary, and Sweden), there has been an increase of xenophobic discourse and influence. Even centrist parties seem happy to deploy the discourse of xenophobic parties to capture a sector of their voters rather than confront their ideology and advance an alternative discourse based on people’s rights. In this way, the positions of the most radical and racist parties are amplified with hardly any effort. In short, our study confirms the rise and influence of the extreme-right in European migration policy which has resulted in the securitization and criminalization of migration and the movements of people.

      The mental walls of fear are inextricably connected to the physical walls. Racism and xenophobia legitimise violence in the border area Europe. These ideas reinforce the collective imagination of a safe “interior” and an insecure “outside”, going back to the medieval concept of the fortress. They also strengthen territorial power dynamics, where the origin of a person, among other factors, determines her freedom of movement.

      In this way, in Europe, structures and discourses of violence have been built up, diverting us from policies that defend human rights, coexistence and equality, or more equal relationships between territories.

      Pour télécharger le rapport:

      #murs_virtuelles #surveillance #murs_maritimes #murs_terrestres #EUROSUR #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #racisme #xénophobie #VIS #SIS #ETIAS #SLTD

  • A Mummy’s DNA May Help Solve The Mystery Of The Origins Of #Smallpox : Goats and Soda : NPR

    The child mummy was found in this crypt in a church in Lithuania.
    Kiril Cachovski/Lithuanian Mummy Project

    The surprise find of smallpox DNA in a child mummy from the 17th century could help scientists start to trace the mysterious history of this notorious virus.

    Smallpox currently only exists in secure freezers, after a global vaccination campaign eradicated the virus in the late 1970s. But much about this killer remains unknown, including its origins.

    Now scientists have the oldest complete set of smallpox genes, after they went hunting for viral DNA in a sample of skin from a mummified young child, probably a boy, that was found in a crypt underneath a Lithuanian church.


  • Russia beefs up Baltic Fleet amid NATO tensions : reports | Reuters

    Russia is sharply upgrading the firepower of its Baltic Fleet by adding warships armed with long-range cruise missiles to counter NATO’s build-up in the region, Russian media reported on Wednesday.

    There was no official confirmation from Moscow, but the reports will raise tensions in the Baltic, already heightened since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, and cause particular alarm in Poland and Lithuania which border Russia’s base there.

    The reported deployment comes as NATO is planning its biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War to deter possible Russian aggression.

    Russia’s daily Izvestia newspaper cited a military source as saying that the first two of five ships, the Serpukhov and the Zeleny Dol, had already entered the Baltic Sea and would soon become part of a newly formed division in Kaliningrad, Russia’s European exclave sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania.

    Another source familiar with the situation told the Interfax news agency that the two warships would be joining the Baltic Fleet in the coming days.

    With the appearance of two small missile ships armed with the #Kalibr cruise missiles the Fleet’s potential targeting range will be significantly expanded in the northern European military theater,” the source told Interfax.
    Izvestia said Russia’s Baltic Fleet would probably receive a further three such small warships armed with the same missiles by the end of 2020.

    It said the Baltic Fleet’s coastal defenses would also be beefed up with the Bastion and Bal land-based missile systems. The Bastion is a mobile defense system armed with two anti-ship missiles with a range of up to 300 km (188 miles). The Bal anti-ship missile has a similar range.

  • Latvijas Gāze pays the fine applied by Competition Council | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    In accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court, which approved the decision made by the Competition Council in relation to the breach of regulations and damage caused to its clients, Latvijas Gāze has transferred the payment of the fine worth EUR 2.2 million applied to the company.

    In 2013, CC made the decision to fine Latvijas Gāze for its abuse of monopoly status in its refusal to sign new gas supply contracts with new clients who did not pay back debts owed to LG by previous clients. Over the course of the investigation CC received complaints about such cases from 500 clients.

    #Latvia #Latvijas_gāze #Competition_council

  • Ombudsman: poverty in decline in Latvia | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    «In 2013, Latvia had the lowest proportion of funding allocated for social insurance benefits in the European Union – 14% of GDP. This had very little impact on poverty reduction in the country,» – the European Commission mentioned about Latvia in its report.

    The report mentions that Latvia’s contribution to social exclusion prevention measures (including guaranteed minimal income index) is only 0.1% of GDP, whereas the average index across Europe is 0.5%. Contribution to housing benefits is just as small: 0.1% of GDP (0.6% in Europe). Social assistance funding is completely decentralized and could increase regional inequality even more. In addition, the country’s social assistance system does not provide sufficient support to people wishing to return to the labour market.

    #Poverty #Latvia #Economics

  • Estonia elects its first female President – Kersti Kaljulaid | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    Estonian parliament has on October 3 elected the country’s long-time representative at the European Court of Auditors Kersti Kaljulaid to serve as the next President of Estonia.

    ERR reports that after numerous rounds of voting since late August, the Estonian presidential election ended with the parliament voting with 81 MPs out of 101 voting for Kaljulaid.

    Responding to criticism regarding this round of presidential elections that one-candidate presidential elections are not democratic, Kaljulaid stated on a televised interview before the vote: «If the majority of the Riigikogu’s parliamentary groups has nominated me, then it is a democratic process.»

    #Presidential_Elections2016 #Kersti_kaljulaid #Estonia

  • Struggle of Estonian presidential election to be continued | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    Another round of the current Estonian presidential election has produced no result, as a special electoral college on September 24 failed to give clear backing to either of the candidates.

    Neither Siim Kallas backed by Reform Party, nor Allar Jõks supported by the Free Party and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union received the 167 votes needed for being elected.

    138 election college members voted for Kallas, 134 for Jõks, while 57 ballots were submitted blank.

    #Kallas #Estonia #Presidential_elections_2016

  • Unity: FM threatens to ruin single compensation system principles | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    Finance Ministry’s prepared amendments to the Law on Remuneration of Officials and Employees of State and Self-government Authorities that provide for refusal of keeping compensation records for state and municipal capital association officials will negatively influence the principles of the single compensation system, as noted by Unity.

    According to the annotation to FM’s proposed amendments, 584 institutions regularly submit information to the record system. FM intends to relieve 233 institutions – state and municipal capital associations – of the duty to submit information about compensations paid to officials and employees.

    #FM #Law_on_Remuneration #Latvia #Bureaucracy

  • A night-time border encounter: Some reflections

    It’s late March. Spring hasn’t quite sprung in Eastern Europe. I’m sitting on a bus that’s travelling over night from Vilnius to Warsaw. I’ve been doing this quite regularly since my partner and I resettled in Lithuania and Poland to work.
    #témoignage #frontières #traverser_les_frontières

  • Ten million euros to be allocated to assist with elder people employment | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    Central Finance and Contracting Agency has sent a proposal to the State Employment Agency to apply for European Social Fund financing to realize measures to maintain and improve elder people employment.

    Employment assistance measures are intended for people aged 50 and older who are subjected to the risk of unemployment. In addition, assistance will be provided to people whose education level does not exceed secondary or vocational level or if a person’s return to normal work hours is impeded by a family member’s health and the need to provide care to them. Other conditions for provision of assistance include part-time employment and low income. SEA will provide carrier advice, skill development events and mentor programme, as well as workplace adaptation and other helpful measures, CFLA informs.

    #Welfare #Latvia #CFCA #SEA

  • Economic Diary of Latvia. | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    This week, members of the Saeima unexpectedly declined amendments that provided for the merging of finance and customs police of the State Revenue Service. After hearing out deputies, Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola decided not to give up.
    This week was rich with all kinds of paradoxes and surprises. For example, it became known that investments of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Latvia have reached approximately EUR 600 million.
    Opposite to claims that Latvia is irrationally using its forests, it turns out that the total forested area in Latvia has doubled since the pre-war period. It continues to increase year after year, according to information from Green House association.

    #Economics #Latvia #Ministry_of_finances #Forests #Nature #Investments

  • KNAB launches inspection in relation to Rimsevics’ declaration
    | Baltic News Network - News from Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia

    Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has begun an inspection in relation to information stated in the declaration submitted by the governor of the Bank of Latvia Ilmars Rimsevics.

    According to KNAB press-representative Laura Dusa, the bureau plans to assess the declaration for 2015 submitted by Ilmars Rimsevics to check if the document contains information that would breach regulations of the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interest in Activities of Public Officials.

    Last week, at a meeting of Saeima’s Corruption Prevention Sub-committee, deputy Karlis Serzants said Ilmars Rimsevics’ declaration could serve as an appropriate example to allow KNAB to perform inspections of officials’ declarations. In his declaration, Rimsevics stated income from ‘renting out’ his apartment.

    #Latvia #KNAB #Rimsevics #Bank_of_Latvia