THIRD QUARTERLY 2014

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INTERNATIONAL EDITION | Third Quarterly 2014
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VIEWPOPINT: Wanted A ‘Global Europe’

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By Shada Islam*

BRUSSELS (IDN) - Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini’s appointment as the new European Union foreign policy chief offers the opportunity for an overhaul of EU foreign and security policy.

With many EU leaders, ministers and senior officials slow to respond to world events given Europe’s traditionally long summer break, the 2014 summer of death and violence has left the reputation of ‘Global Europe’ in tatters, highlighting the EU’s apparent disconnect from the bleak reality surrounding it.

When she takes charge in November along with other members of the new European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, Mogherini’s first priority must be to restore Europe’s credibility in an increasingly volatile and chaotic global landscape.

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VIEWPOINT: Japan Remains Committed to Non-Nuclear Principles

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By Isamu Ueda*

TOKYO (IDN) - In recent years, Japan has found itself it in a rapidly changing security environment. The global balance of power has shifted and various new threats have emerged within the region, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems that may soon be capable of delivering them.

These changes have sparked serious debate within Japan about how best to meet the changing security needs of the people of Japan and to protect their lives and livelihoods.

Some have gone so far as to suggest that Article 9 of the Constitution, which famously declares that, “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,” must be fundamentally revised if we are protect ourselves and our national interests.

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EUROPEAN UNION: Freedom Of Religion Or Belief Crucial

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By Valentina Gasbarri*

ROME (IDN) - Fundamental freedoms and human rights are at the heart of the founding treaties of the European Union (EU) and these are protected under member states’ national legislation. The Charter on Fundamental Rights also sets out the civil, political, economic and social rights of European citizens and all persons resident in the EU.

In November 2012, the Norwegian Nobel Committee acknowledged the commitment and activities of the EU in reconciliation, democracy, promotion of human rights and enlarging the area of peace and stability across the continent, and awarded it the Nobel Peace Prize.

As a universal human right, freedom of religion or belief (FORB) is a priority under the EU human rights policy. The EU defends and promotes freedom of religion or belief as a fundamental right to which everyone is entitled, within and outside the EU. The EU Guidelines on FORB, adopted early in 2013, underline the 28-nation bloc’s strong commitment to the promotion and protection of this universal human right without any discrimination.

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EUROPE: West Eyeing Ukraine’s Huge Agribusiness

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By J C Suresh

TORONTO (IDN) - The way international financial institutions jumped in on the heels of the political turmoil in Ukraine and are rivalling to deregulate and throw open the country’s huge agricultural sector to foreign investors is described by a new report from the California-based Oakland Institute, Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.

The crisis in this Eastern European country, sprawling an area of 603,628 square kilometres (233,062 square miles), thus making it the largest country entirely within Europe, was precipitated by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s rejection of an Association agreement with the European Union in favour of a Russian deal. It was a major factor leading to his ouster in February 2014.

Soon after the change to a pro-EU government, the country’s swing to the West was buttressed with a USD 17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and an additional USD 3.5 billion aid package from the World Bank, both of which require significant economic reforms and austerity measures that are expected to have disastrous impact on the country’s economy.

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MIDDLE EAST: NGOs Concerned Over Rights Violations in Egypt

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By Jutta Wolf

BERLIN (IDN) - Violations of rights in Egypt are becoming increasingly evident in the aftermath of the country’s Ministry of Social Solidarity proposing a new law, which would constitute a dangerous escalation in the framework of systematic targeting of civil society activists and increasing restrictions imposed upon them, according to the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND).

The Egyptian ministry in charge of regulating civil society organization proposed a new draft law in June 26, 2014, causing shockwaves among civil society organizations (CSOs) in the country. For six months, they had carried out negotiations with former Social Solidarity Minister Dr. Ahmed el-Boraei, which led to a proposed law to be presented to forthcoming parliament soon after the elections.

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GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP: A Visionary Project for Interfaith Dialogue Launched

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By Francesca Dziadek

BERLIN (IDN) - A leap of faith is on the agenda in Berlin where a visionary project for interfaith dialogue, launched as the House of One, hopes to bring Christians, Jews and Muslims to worship under one roof from 2018.

In a country where inter-religious dialogue has spun numerous initiatives for Christian-Jewish dialogue set up after World War II (1939-45) and post 9/11 – the time after a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States in New York City and the Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001 – public opinion in Germany has yet to come to terms with how it was possible for six million Jews to be murdered by the citizens of a Christian nation.

Sharing a symbolic shoe-burying ritual in the sandy soil of an empty plot of wasteland in Berlin’s historic centre, not far from the building site for new Humboldt Cultural Forum, an unlikely trio – a Pastor, a Rabbi and an Imam – stood side by side in June thanking the shared God of the three Abrahamic faiths they hope to come and pray to once the bold Church-Synagogue-Mosque in one building is completed.

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GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP: A Buddhist Nun Becomes A Role Model

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By Kalinga Seneviratne

SINGAPORE (IDN) - By ordaining women into the Sangha (order of Buddha’s disciples), Gautama Buddha 2500 years ago has placed women on an equal footing with men in India. But today in most Asian Buddhist countries nuns are fighting an uphill battle to be recognized as credible teachers of the Dhamma (Buddha’s teachings).  One Nepali woman may be unwittingly changing this perception by virtually singing the Dhamma.

“I never label myself into anything I just do what my heart wishes to do, with all the understanding and respect towards Buddha’s teachings and his principles,” said  Nepali Buddhist nun Ani Choying Drolma, when I interviewed her just before she performed to a sellout audience at Singapore’s premier concert hall, The Esplanade in April.

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ASIA-PACIFIC: The Bayonet Trumps The Ballot in Thailand

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By Jayantha Dhanapala* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis

KANDY, Sri Lanka (IDN) - On May 22 this year the military in Thailand announced that it had taken over the country, suspended the Constitution and ousted the democratically-elected but controversial Government of Yingluck Shinawatra – sister of the exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Thus ended a period of political gridlock as the supporters and opponents of Yingluck conducted their months long struggle for supremacy on the streets of Bangkok imperiling the economic stability of the country and its reputation as a booming tourist capital of the world.

For some this came as a welcome relief. For others it is viewed cynically as more of the same in Thailand’s chequered history after 1932 when a constitutional monarchy was established, leading to a fragile democracy with a vibrant “Tiger” economy enjoying Newly Industrialized Country (NIC) status within the pro-US ASEAN regional group. That is because military dictatorships rather than elected democratic governance has been the predominant pattern in this country – approximately eight times the size of Sri Lanka and a 65 million population – with its centuries old Theravada Buddhist tradition and enjoying the unique advantage of never having been under colonial rule.

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ASIA-PACIFIC: India-Japan Link Amid Concern Over China

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By Harsh V. Pant*

NEW DELHI (IDN | Yale Global) - Asia’s leading nations have been slowly coming together to face the challenge of an assertive China. To the chagrin of Beijing, US, Indian and Japanese naval vessels gathered for a joint exercise in the Pacific ostensibly against piracy and terrorism. The rise of nationalist leaders in Japan and India, combined with growing US concern about aggressive Chinese policy, have created new dynamics in the region.

The Malabar exercise, an annual affair between the United States and India, commenced on July 24 at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan. China had reacted angrily in 2007 when the United States and India invited Japan, Australia and Singapore for the Malabar exercises. Under pressure from Beijing, New Delhi backed off and since then had refrained from making these exercises multilateral. But China’s growing maritime ambitions in the Indian Ocean region and greater assertion on territorial issues have led India to a more forceful posture, resulting in joint India-Japan naval exercises since 2012 and the invite to Japan this year for the Malabar series.

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ASIA-PACIFIC: Proliferation in East Asia Affects International Security

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By Isamu Ueda*

TOKYO (IDN) - In recent years, Japan has found itself it in a rapidly changing security environment. The global balance of power has shifted and various new threats have emerged within the region, including the development of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile systems that may soon be capable of delivering them.

These changes have sparked serious debate within Japan about how best to meet the changing security needs of the people of Japan and to protect their lives and livelihoods.

Some have gone so far as to suggest that Article 9 of the Constitution, which famously declares that, “the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes,” must be fundamentally revised if we are protect ourselves and our national interests.

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