The “Frexit” election

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First results came out April 23rd 2017 which marks a turning point in the French Political life, even in French society, which is more divided than ever.

The first turn of this election shows the rise in power of the National Front led by Marine Le Pen, the defeat of the Right and Left Political parties, as well as the appearance of a new movement. This one is led by one of the youngest candidates of the presidential elections 2017. What happened? What changed people’s minds? Are any of the current event in charge of this Change of circumstances?

To win, each of the two finalists must build a gathering much bigger than its initial one. So they need to attract as many voters as possible from the candidates beaten in the first round. For decades, this gathering obeyed the logic of the two camps – left and right – that dominated the political landscape. The elimination of the candidates of the Socialist Party and the Republican Party, and the qualification of those of the National Front and “En marche!”. Make this voice reporting mechanism unprecedented and much more unpredictable. 

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Marine Le pen is a layer and right-handed politician who has been decisive in the construction of the modern politics in France. This year, she’s leading a political vision that is taking a lot of controversies in the way of being discriminatory, Eurocentric and fascist. In order to understand her ideas, it is necessary to state three of the main arguments she is willing to fight for.

Firstly, she wants to expel France from the European Union (Frexit), this will completely change the organization of the European program after the Brexit was triggered. As she declared in an interviewI am a ferocious opponent of the European Union, so I’m not held to the choices that have been made, which go completely against the interests of France.

Secondly, she wants to change the national and international security program in which France must be taken out from the OTAN, this make a lot of debates as France is one of the countries in which ISIS had taken the most acts.The fear of the French community is becoming stronger after each terrorist attack, is the responsibility for the candidates to ensure their country’s security.

Finally, Le Pen includes in her political campaign program a new economic platform changing for a protectionism in which they will close many of the international treats,  France will lose a lot of international economic power. This protectionism program has clear similarities with Trump and May objectives, in which the three of them share similarities in their political view.

Macron is a former member of the socialist party, despite of creating the centrist movement called “En Marche!”. According to, his electoral program, the republican candidate give an overall Pro European Union view, however he said in one of his speeches  that he wanted to “make some changes so that the EU can be made stronger”.

In economic terms, the Republican candidate is promoting to make France more a business based on work and responsibility. He wants to make the labour market more flexible and talk about changing the electoral system, which would be more proportional. It is known that these days France is suffering dangerous problems with security, so as Macron established, he had promised to strengthen police and suggest to increase European Union cooperation. Furthermore, the Republican candidate said that it is necessary to make France multicultural.

First not-surprise of this first turn, the surveys were not mistaken. The presidential campaign was characterized by a permanent lawsuit blaming the surveys, in particular after the primary educations of the Republicans where the opening of Francois Fillon had been underestimated and in more general context, marked by the partial failures of the survey institutes to predict Brexit and Trump’s victory at the time of the American Presidential election. On may 7th the French people will make an important choice because the far right has never been that close to preside, which would be a first in the French history.

On the other side, Emmanuel Macron leaves like the favorite of the second turn, however the surveys show that voting intentions are very tight between its two candidates.

The stakes are very important because the program of its two candidates are very different in particular economically with the exit of the Europe concerning Marine Le pen whereas Emmanuel Macron would wish on the opposite “to build Europe of the sovereign nations and free people”. In 4 days, France, Europe and the rest of the world will know the future of France and its place on the European scene.

A short trip into an Embassy: interview with Anna Ruffino

Anna Ruffino is an Italian young woman who has become the First Secretary of the Consular Chancery of the Embassy of Italy in Madrid after passing all the different and difficult stages of the open competitive exam which is organized, every year, by the Italian Foreign Ministry.

Being the First Secretary of the Consular Chancery of the Embassy entails having a great variety of tasks to execute, the majority of which are the same that, in Italy, are carried out by each municipality and especially by the general register office. So, as Anna Ruffino explained me, her work consists in providing Italian citizens, who are living in Madrid, with all the documents and services they need (ID card renewal, passport, fiscal code, possibility to vote from another country, pensions, registration of a change in the marital status and assistance to the victim’s family in case an Italian citizen dies on Spanish territory). In particular, this final aspect of her work is, for Anna Ruffino, the most difficult but, at the same time, the most gratifying. In her words:

“I know that it means facing difficult and really painful situations and tragedies, but knowing that, in some way, you are helping and supporting them by dealing with all the bureaucratic aspects they are not certainly thinking of in such a situation, makes you feel really helpful and useful.”

For example, she has given assistance to the families of the seven Italian Erasmus students who died in Valencia the last 20th March because of the bus on which they were travelling had an accident.

Talking about how to start working for an embassy she explained me that, if someone is interested in starting a career in an embassy the first thing he/she should have is a master degree either in international relationship, law or economics and a very good knowledge of English. Then, he/she must undergo to the five written tests and an oral exam which made up the competitive exam; if the candidate manages to pass all the tests he/she can become Legazione Secretary. When someone decides to work in an embassy, he/she should also be willing to spend two years abroad and after his/her mandate has come to an end he/she can return in Italy and working in the Italian Foreign Ministry, called Farnesina, or in another Italian embassy.

As regards the structure of the Italian Embassy of Madrid it has different offices, the political, cultural, economic, scientific and security one, each of which with its specific function. In particular, I have decided to focus my interview with Anna Ruffino on the cultural issues and projects the Italian Embassy of Madrid carries out. The cultural office is responsible for the coordination of all those events related to the Italian culture which are organized by the public authorities in Madrid and especially by the Italian Institutes of Culture. Moreover, the cultural office improves and promotes the relationships with the Spanish cultural institutions, foundations and universities with a special consideration for Italian studies. With this regard,

“a very interesting thing to know is that in Spain there are two Italian state schools (from kindergarten to high school) of the eight existing all over the world; one of these is in Madrid and other one is in Barcelona”.

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Switzerland under pressure from the European Union; an ambassador’s perspective.

Switzerland is worldwide known as a neutral country and as a tax haven paradise for companies, which is now witnessing a new chapter in its history. The Swiss Confederation is formed by 26 member states, called cantons, with four official languages: French, German, Italian and Romansh.

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Thomas Kolly, the Swiss ambassador to Spain and Andorra. Image source: DFAE

The wealthy country, is a non-European member “as the majority of people are still unwilling to adhere to the EU. Nonetheless, we have a close relationship since Switzerland and the European Union have several treaties in common like the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Schengen treaty. Plus, a bilateral agreement in terms of free circulation of people and trade, which has recently been modified on February 2014, causing severe pressure in the EU”, said Mr. Kolly.

Thomas Kolly is the Swiss ambassador to Spain and Andorra who works at the Swiss Embassy in Spain since 2013. He previously exerted the same charge in Guatemala in 2010. Mr. Kolly did his university degree in Law in Freiburg, subsequent to a postgraduate in European studies at the European School of Brujas, Belgium. In 1988, Thomas started to work at the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Since 2002, he has been in charge of the current affairs between Switzerland and the European Union. In 2005, Thomas became responsible for the International Affairs division of the Federal Office for the Environment, and participated in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, 2009.

On Monday 30th, I had the real pleasure to meet with Mr. Kolly in his office at the Swiss Embassy in Madrid. During the interview, we discussed the diplomatic relations between Spain and Switzerland, the Syrian conflict related to refugees, and the current situation between Switzerland and the European Union.

“I am the government representative for Switzerland in Spain. I deal with the diplomatic affairs and current issues laying on the table between both states. But, I consider the most important function to talk with the government and foreign ministers about the situation between Switzerland and the European Union”, he started explaining.

When thinking about the contrast between the Swiss and the Spanish economy, as Switzerland being one the richest countries, with a 3% of unemployment against a 20% in Spain. Thomas remarked that ““the Swiss Professional formation is the key for the wealthy Swiss Economy”. Adding that “Switzerland and Spain have a great relationship economically, with lots of investment from Swiss companies in Spain and vice-versa”. Nonetheless, “it is fundamental to consider that Spain has also a solid and strong economy based on the agricultural and tourist sector”, Mr. Kolly pointed out.

Considering now the Swiss immigration referendum “against massive immigration” on February 9th, 2014. Final results showed a 50,3% in favor, highlighting that this initiative goes against the principle of free movement of people between the EU and Switzerland. The approval caused much controversy in the EU, affecting Switzerland negatively. The Erasmus+ program has been suspended, as well as, the possible participation of Switzerland in Horizon 2020.

Notwithstanding the confrontation, Switzerland has been able to recover by extending the same agreements with Croatia as for the rest of the European Union. Thus, the Swiss confederation recovered its participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+.  Still, the situation remains delicate. “Both sides must show a good will and relinquish in order to find the best possible solution”, Thomas opined.  “What could happen in the future about Switzerland being part of the EU depends a lot on the eventual development of the European Union”.

After discussing about the controversy among Switzerland and the EU. The interview focused on the Syrian conflict, and most important refugees. Mr. Kolly firmly stated that the media always talk about Germany and Sweden, but do not mention the 38,000 refugees sheltered in Switzerland, and most important, the Humanitarian Assistance that it is providing through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) located in Geneva, and mainly financed by the Swiss Government among other voluntary contributions.

To conclude the interview, we discussed how countries could balance their interests and leave without conflicts internationally speaking. Thomas response was that this is a huge defiance facing our society. It is inhumane how people are dying as they are lacking basic needs, while we have all the required resources to eradicate such injustice. From my personal experience in Guatemala, I would like to share how babies or kids are daily dying due to the dreadful level of undernourishment. The sorrowful situation kept me awake for many nights, thinking of a possible measure to help them.

Finally, he ended by saying that the situation is mainly due to the lack of international political will. If all states would collaborate and reach agreements, it would merely be a question of time that peace will be attained globally.

By Alba del Mar Montoya Sacristán

 

 

 

Nagorno-Karabakh: The world silently watches as Azerbaijan and Armenia resume fighting

 

Once again conflicts ensued between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two historical enemies lying in the Caucasus region on Europe’s border with Asia. Russia plays a key role in the conflict too.
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Authors: Suzanne Vink, Derek Julian Weyrather,

Paloma Álvarez, Raquel Envó,Alba Montoya
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Location of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh within the Caucasus region. (Source: Eyes on Europe & Middle East News)

Stepanakert – The so-called “frozen conflict” over the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) region between Azerbaijan and Armenia started again in early April of 2016, the Azeri military intervened in Nagorno-Karabakh, killing several ethnic Armenians.

However, the conflict is not one sided, and victims are falling on both sides. Politico reports 18 Armenian soldiers have died in the current conflict, while at the same time 12 Azeri soldiers found the same fate. Moreover, the use of tanks, helicopters, artillery and grenade launchers show the conflict is getting serious.  Over the past two decades, about 300.000 Armenians had to leave their homes in Azerbaijan (of which 30.000 settled in NK). On the other side, there are 800.000 Azerbaijani people displaced, of whom 200.000 have fled from Armenia and 600.000 from the conflict zone.

Not unexpectedly, Russia plays a key role in this conflict. Not only is the world’s largest country busy fighting a war in Ukraine, it has also supplied both sides, Armenia and Azerbaijan with weapons. Nevertheless, on 3. April 2016 Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, called for an immediate ceasefire between the two former Soviet republics.

Russia’s call for a ceasefire is the response to diplomatic interest in the Caucasus region. While relations with Georgia have been strained since Russia’s invasion of the country in 2009, Azerbaijan and Armenia do enjoy good relations with the large Slavic nation. While Russia uses the conflict in Ukraine as an opportunity to stop gas supplies to Europe, the European Union has set an eye on the Caucasus countries, which lie in an energy-rich region, in order to diversify gas supplies from Russia.

In the meantime, Turkey is backing Azerbaijan. This is a sensitive issue, considering the fact that the Turkish government still has not recognized the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. Recently there have been worldwide protests towards the Turkish government, as it is the 101st anniversary of the genocide.

Azerbaijan and Armenia distrust each other, respectively. According to a census published in the Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD) (a monthly publication composed of statistics of all types regarding the Caucasus region), 63% of Armenians saw Azerbaijan as Armenia’s biggest enemy in 2012. 32% of Armenians stated Turkey as such. Simultaneously, 91% of Azeris stated to see Armenia as Azerbaijan’s biggest enemy.

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(Graph Sources: Caucasus Analytical Digest (CAD))

Already in August 2014, Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, threatened Armenia with war via twitter, further increasing the tension between the two countries.

Ilham Aliyev threatens Armenia with war via Twitter

(Image source: Ilham Aliyev Twitter)

Furthermore, since Azerbaijan’s has mainly a Muslim population, the Islamic world has severed ties with Armenia. Especially Pakistan, who even withdrew recognition of the Republic of Armenia as a state, also breaking off diplomatic relations.

On the other hand, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European External Action Service (EEAS), called for an immediate ceasefire, stating that: “We expect both sides to respect strictly the ceasefire, refrain from the use of force and resume efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.”

INTERVIEW: BY MARTA HERVÁS

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I have interviewed Rocío Caparros Del Moral, she is a woman who has been working in an international ambit, she has worked in Ver CV, UNESCO, European Spacial Agency and nowadays, she is working in the International Astronautical Federation.

I have asked her about her job in the European Spacial Agency in Paris, she said that it consisted in coordinate people who has other nationalities in specific themes about the space and to promote the “vulgarization´´ about the space to get a better knowledge for the necessities to intervene in the Science and the Technology of the citizen and in the Politics.

She started working in the European Spacial Agency because she did not like university and she had a scholarship in Investigation and Teaching. Working with the number one person in the Space: Gabriel Lafferranderie was her dream. At first, it was really hard, but she worked with him until he had to left the job because of the age.

Now, she is working as a director of Political Affairs in Andalucía, in a multinational in the Aerospace World and in the Defense.

The job consists in Strategy, Marketing and Operations. She needs to understand all the things, to achieve to productive talks. She needs to do that the Chairman´s Office have clear ideas and that the foreign institutions respect us and protect us as a key for the region. She is the “ diplomatic´´ of this enterprise.

I have asked her about the advantages of working with people from other countries and she said “flexibility, training (she has to practise many languages), culture and friends, all the things are benefits’’, she wanted to work in an international ambit because she had curiosity about discover new places, new cultures and she really loved the Outer Space, she wanted to make it a more popular topic in Spain because in other countries it was very popular.

I have asked her about her profession and she said “you must be very fickle, precise and serious with the information that you work with, your private life is sacrificed, your image is the enterprise´s image, you cannot overextend anything. On the one hand, you have to be very brave and throwed out but on the other hand you must take care with the risk´´.

We talked about how she would describe her job to someone who does not know everything about this, she said that she has to talk to people from other countries, she has to prepare everything and she has to prepare the information for all the people who does not work in her enterprise to get the correct level with the different countries. She is always living in a “Services Commission´´, every day is different, one day she has to prepare the urgency plan and other day she has to work in the institutional representation “the worst part´´ she said. She likes when she has difficulties because everything looks impossible but she has to find a solution.

At the end of the interview, I asked her for an advise for a student who wants to work in the same job than her and she answered “at first, I would ask him some stuffs about that student and his life and personality, then I would analyse the student and at the end I would give him/her the advise.

By Marta Hervás Díaz

Shedding the light on one of the most important car companies

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It was a great Opportunity to interview the Communications and Public Affairs Director of Ford in Spain Ms.Laura Barona.

In the interview  Ms. Laura has talked about the challenge that ford is facing world wide, how ford managed to overcome the crisis of 2006, the celebration of  Ford’s 40th anniversary coming the following year (2016) , the cooperation between the leaders of Ford and The Spanish Government, and how ford is currently competing in the automobile market.

Ms.Laura Barona,54,was born in Mexico City and she have lived most of her life there,”I had the opportunity of studying in several schools during my elementary and high school years”.she said. she studied 1st to 5th grade in two different bicultural English-Spanish schools in Mexico City,then she went to live with her aunt in a small town near Boston, Massachusetts, where she studied her 6th grade, then she was enrolled at the Licée Franco-Mexican (a French school), where she had the opportunity of studying high-school and senior high.”Having studied in such schools, I speak fluent English and French. Also, moving so many times from school to school allowed me to learn to adapt fast to new environments and meet many people…Even though I can say I was still very shy”.

After finishing her senior high school,she decided to study visual arts at the National School of Arts in Mexico City,After two and a half years,she started studying Computer Science at the Anahuac University.”everybody questioned me about what both degrees had in common… I guess that nobody – not even me -, had any idea on how computers would change our lives, and what we were going to be able to do with it… Even if I had no idea of the future, I always answered that someday I would be able to do art through computers” she said.

 

Working as Communications and Public Affairs Director of Ford was not easy to get Ms,Laura worked in many different places and departments before working at Ford,her first job was at the Canadian Embassy, in the Immigration department,but her first job in the communications department was at  the Mexican Investment Board.
“From that moment on, my entire professional career has been in that discipline”. Ms,Laura said about receiving an invitation to join Edelman,(a US based PR agency).In 2009 she was invited to collaborate with the Mexican government,working for ProMexico as Institutional Relations Executive Director and In 2011,she was invited to join Ford of Mexico as Communications Director.
As for Ford, she said that it has been present in Europe for over 100 years. It is presence started in 1903 through importers who for many years brought vehicles to Europe.She added that in 1911 Ford opened the first manufacturing facility in Europe which currently has a strong manufacturing footprint with 24 plants.
As for sale ,she expressed that Ford has always had a wide offer to satisfy their customer needs . She also added “it has been popular that Ford have over 10.000 orders “.She said that Ford’s presence is strong in Europe. She continued by saying that their share may vary and their competitors vary depending on specific market.She explained by an example , Ford closed a strong October and year to date performance across many markets in Europe.She said Ford was market leader in total vehicle sales in the UK and sales leader in Hungary year to date.She concluded by saying that Ford achieved market share improvements in 14 of 20 traditional European markets.
she mentioned that the main challenge that Ford is facing currently is to bring the company to profitability in all regions,while offering their customers the best products.
“We were ready to face the crisis (2006)”.Said Ms,Laura Ford hired Allan Mulally, a visionary that helped structure the company in a way that made Ford the only US car manufacturer that did not need the US Government support.

Concerning the help of the Spanish government she said in February 2015, our CEO Mark Fields came to Spain to celebrate our latest investments: 2.300 million € from 2011 to 2014 – the greatest investment in the automotive industry‘s history in Spain.

She explained that this investment was used for new facilities , new Modeo , and CD platform vehicles and since 2011 more than 900 robots were added.
Moreover , she said that with this investment the employment had increased from near 5000 in 2013 to over 8000 in 2014 . The daily production had also grow from 1500 in 2014 to 1900 vehicles by the end of 2015.
She did not forget to mention that their good relationship with the government and the unions had made this investment become concrete.
She answered the last question about their future plans by saying that they are always looking into having a strong footprint around the world and they are now focused on having a strong business and use their manufacturing capacity according to the markets’ needs.
Written by : Salem Eradad

Spain as “the first fishing power in Europe”

        Rafael Centenera is the actual Deputy Director General of “Agreements and Regional Fisheries Organizations”, belonging to the Spanish “Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.” His work is based on three international areas: fisheries agreements with the EU / third countries; Regional Fisheries Management Organisations; and Reporting. He has managed important international agreements and relationships reaching his actual position.

Captura de pantalla 2015-11-25 a la(s) 18.52.41   Rafael Centenera at the right, with the interviewer, Alejandro J. Cordeiro.

        Rafael studied Biology at the “Universidad Complutense de Madrid” and specialized in zoology. After that, he took a master on Fishing and Aquiculture that gave him the necessary knowledge in order to do a public examination to become “Optional Superior Technician of Autonomous Bodies” of the Ministry. Meanwhile he has been for two years in the European Parliament at the Department of Studies defending Spanish fishing interests. Throughout his career, Mr Centenera has met many people with power within the EU and international relations.

        About this experience in Brussels, he has the opinion that, as it is a co-decision authority, it must be more informed and must take the scientific studies more into account because there is a lot of political power and influences by different lobbies with particular interests. Besides, the “European Commission has become too technocratic, and sometimes forget their obligation to defend the interests of European industry. It should work more with the sectors that are involved.”

        Mr Centenera is so proud of Spain because is “the first fishing power in Europe and therefore has a lot to say, and the Commission listens with attention when we have any problem”. Even though, there is not any special benefit because the UE has to treat each country in the same manner. Mr Centenera says that Spain have “an outstanding fleet in relation to technology and fishing capacity”, with ships “in every ocean and in the whole world”. Spain is “leader in production and commercialization in Europe”, with a fishing value of “2.500 millions of euros per year” and a commercial value of “4.600 million.”

        In the interview he have explained the way international fishing is regulated. First, scientific researches and studies are carried out in order to have a better knowledge. Later, a certain management is applied and regulated. Each country is in charge of its coast until 200 miles and the part of international waters are “regulated by the regional fisheries organizations; all within the Law of the Sea of 82, and a series of standards that had been created”, about the obligation to cooperate. In the same way, there exist international and national laws that regulate the environmental aspects of the fishing activity, “a social, economical and environmental sustainability is necessary” because “in order to have healthy resources we need healthy habitats and we think that this is very important”. He argues that we have to take care of pollution and global warming because they affect the habitat of the fishing species.

        When asked about the international agreements that Spain have reach and its importance, Mr Centenera said that Spain exploit the European waters within the Act of Accession of Spain at 86, and that Spain has 15 international agreements all around the world and by all the oceans, showing that the Spanish fleet is “one of the most dynamic fleets of the world”. For example, there are very important “the agreements with Morocco or Mauritania, the first because of neighbour-ship, and the second because it is the most important for the Spanish fleet by number of vessels.”

        In order to have gotten such agreements, it was necessary a negotiation. Mr Centenera has been actively involved in achieving many Spaniards agreements. He has told us more in detail how it works: “First, you have to show an interest in access to water within a country; the EC requested a mandate to negotiate the agreement and then the negotiation starts with the 3rd country. Obviously you can only access resources that are surplus. And later you begin to discuss technical issues. Rafael has take part in the negotiations like the Mauritanian one, which “has been closed after two years.”

        Rafael also has explained the problem with Gibraltar. Due to de Utrecht Agreement, Gibraltar has not right over the 12 marine miles, but its fishing ships consider that they do have and they do not let the Spanish fleet exploit that zone. So “a truly artificial conflict has been created” that goes “beyond fishing”. Although Gibraltar hasn´t an authorized catch for blue fin tuna, they have assigned themselves “10 tones of tuna without asking anyone”, something that has been already put under the EU knowledge to be regulated.

         To conclude, Mr Centenera talks about the next general elections of Spain, showing his support to every party that allows “to continue defending a sustainable activity as it is done now”, that protects the interests of the fishing sector. He considers that “Partido Popular” (PP) “has performed nice these four years in relation to fishing issues”; that “Partido Socialista Obrero Español” (PSOE) “also has done good thing at their times” and that “Ciudadanos” “suggest measures that we like.”

Author: Alejandro J. Cordeiro, student of Business Management and International Relations.