Macron elected President: the world welcomes its victory!

On this day of Sunday, May 7th, Macron has become the new French president. First in polls for several months, French people believed in this young banker to be the one to govern their country. Thanks to his triumph against Marine Le Pen, its competitor, France is no longer divided and finds a semblance of tranquility.

But how did the rest of the world react? Because for some time France has been placed under a microscope almost everywhere. Going from Japan, to the United States, passing through Israel or Venezuela

Firstly, they were also some states in which they offered their support to Marine Le Pen, those special countries had some common characteristics in their political philosophy. The main countries that were backing the ultra-right program in France where; the United States, Russia and the UK government. Especially for UK, which was hoping that France, if Marine Le Pen was elected, that they would not be the only one leaving UE. 

Various political leaders announced by their personal social sites their disagreement to the victory of Macron. As Nigel Farage tweeted “Emmanuel Macron offers 5 more years of failure, power to the UE and open borders. If Marie Le pen sticks in there, she can win 2022”, who directly addresses their support as Le Pen was in favor of leaving the European Union. When the news arrives to Moscow, the reaction of president Putin after his meeting on march 24 with Le Pen was not very likely, as the French leader had included in her political government an exit in NATO and a very friendly relation with Russia.

It is clear that the important influence of the French power had around the world. For this reason the reaction of president Trump wasn’t directly supporting Macron but the past declarations before the elections and the visit of Le Pen to Washington evidently showed a relationship between these right leaders.

On the other hand, Emmanuel Macron was supported by most of the European countries because of Macron’s ideology which is considered pro-European. Many of members of the European departments show their positions as Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and of course, European countries like Germany, where Angela Merkel celebrate the Macron victory by calling him or even Mariano Rajoy, the president of Spain’s government, who sent a telegram to Emmanuel Macron. Furthermore, the ex-president of the United States, Barack Obama  announced his support to Macron too, just before the election on May 4th.

After winning presidential elections and becoming the world’s youngest president, Europe was then going to react to this event, some countries feared a victory of Marine Le Pen because they felt that the place of France was in europe.

And it is thus the most pro-European candidate of this campaign which was elected, what did not escape in his from now on counterparts. From Brussels to Berlin, including Rome or Madrid, congratulations streamed, so sincere as relieved. Concerning United Kingdom, the majority of the political leaders greeted the victory of Macron, which falls in the campaign.

Emmanuel Macron carries at the same time the hope of the countries of the South (Italy, Greece, Spain), who hope a little less obligatorily and a little more reflation, and those for countries of the North, which, to save European spirit, are ready for financial concessions if France implements new reforms. With its election and after Brexit  and more still if Martin Schultz beat Angela Merkel in autumn , Europe has maybe just entered a new cycle.

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

 

 

 

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.

Interview: “Working in a NGO”

 

“Save the Children” was founded in 1919 in London, in order to can growth to children from Germany during the Great War. It is very interesting to carry out this interview with a person who works in this NGO, where they want to avoid child poverty, defending their rights and freedoms. Actually they are working, principally, against the global poverty, in order to all the children can go to school, they can eat and they are as normal children.

Maria Jose has been working in this NGO since 2011, as a psychologist. She is degree in Psychology and she has a master about how to treat for children in order to improve their behavior. During her period of time in the University, she had to work caring children, while their parents were working or they were out. This experience was very useful for her, and probably one of the reasons she is working with childFullSizeRender.jpgren now.

She is mother of two children, and she admits that it is necessary they learn, since they are young, the things in the life are not free and not all the world have the same luck than them. Surely, the next month, during Christmas, they will want a lot of toys as presents, and the adults have to concienciate them that there are a lot of children who have not money and they are not going to have any present, so it would be enought one present per child. The most important during that date is to be all together, as a family.

The main task, which Maria Jose realizes in the NGO is to meet with the children and their families in order to be able to find some solutions to improve their lives, all together. Children are innocent and people dependent on their parents, so it is considered necessary that the meetings are conducted with parents and children. In addition, parents in many cases also need psychological help because they are frustrated at not being able to give their children the necessary economic and family stability. With the economic crisis and cuts in social benefits, more and more families are facing these problems in Spain, where this fact is very worrying as a third of the children are at risk of poverty. These meetings are very useful, but not always are easy. She thinks one of the worst things of her job is when the parents cry during the meeting, because they think al lis their fault, they are the adults and they should offer the best life to their children.

During the interview, she has explained to me her point of view about the positive and negative aspects of her job. She is thankful to can work in helping to improve living conditions of children. She would like to can do more things, because it is sad that in the 21st century, there are many children living in poverty, and in some cases, they do not have anything to eat. She would recommend to people who wants to work helping to improve the situation of the children in some places of the world, work in NGO’s or collaborate with them, because it is a good way to give meaning to their lifes. It is very important too, the work of the volunteers who help to children who can not go to school daily or they need more time to learn, depending on their personal situations, through school reinforcement.

Globally also address issues such as abuse and violence against children, many of them in developing countries are forced to leave school to become “soldiers”. On this subject, Maria Jose believes we should educate our youth, to know the reality experienced other boys of the same age in other parts of the world, and really know how to value the opportunities they have as large. In our society, we used to have everything at our fingertips (to some extent, of course), seeing beyond, and we have to worry about creating a society that is not selfish and fight for others by volunteering or helping people around them.

To conclude the interview, on the current situation of refugees arriving in Europe from Syria, José María is very clear: we can not turn our backs on thousands of desperate families fleeing their country because life there untenable. Moreover, he argues that we are in the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, and therefore, we were not really prepared to house so many people. The treatment should receive these people, mainly is psychological, because they come to a new country for them and totally desperate and fear of what they have suffered. From “Save the children”, he says, they are sending numerous teams to work offering help.

 

 

 

Sandra Merino Portero

Dicre y Relaciones Internacionales

International Rioja´s wine world

bodegas leza garcia

Fernando´s wine company

The last week I had the pleasure to met a very important business man in my Region, his names is Fernando Leza Garcia. The name of his company is “Bodegas Leza Garcia” and is a familiar company. He rules the company with his other two brothers .This company is one of the wineries that has more exports. He rules the company with his other two brothers.

Fernando has begin his career from collector and has end as the merchant business, but he steels like doing some work of recollecting. His company start to sell outside the country in 2001  because the Spanish market started to get smaller for his company. For that reason he has gone to a lot of countries like China , USA, Germany ,etc. To sell his wine. He has learn a lot of different countries and now he has his mind more open for different experiences in life.

propietarios leza Garcia

Fernando has tell that always in his journeys are something in some countries that he doesn’t like or he can’t understand, but he has to respect the other cultures and traditions if he wants to be respected and if he wants to make good a deal. He has tell me exciting stories about his journeys but he always says that he wants to spend more time with his wife and sons. He had tall me that this kind of work is very sacrificed for him because it consumes his energies and for his family because they have to live long periods of time without him must to be three weeks out of home without his family.

I have asked him about the Catalonians situation if in the case that they get independence would that afect him. He has told me that of course but not only because he will have less clients is because the clients of Europe and outside of Europe are going to see Spain and his companies something more week and less attractive. We were talking more about Catalonian and his situation with Europe so I asked him about Europe and how they help ,he has answer me that sometimes they help and sometimes they do it wrong for example France invest China for the quality of removable energy products has been made, so Chinese government start to spy not only French companies they spy all European companies and stop buying European products so that affected his benefits. The good thing is that Europe support companies like him giving some economic helps.

When we started to talk about Europe we started to talk about politics and how he see the actuall situation of Spain and what he prevents for the elections of the 20th of december, he smiles me and sayed to me “I know you´d ask this question, In my opinion the old political parties are not doing enough to show people they have change for better, so they are going to lose a lot of votes, now, in my opinion there are new political parties that in my case I am more related because they are more moderate than others that are more in other worlds”

Before finish I ask him something more relaxed, I asked him if he has met a famous personality like  a politician he told me that in all his travels around the world he has met a lot of influencial persons in many worlds but he has told that for him the most important person was a very influential politic in China. When he met in business they make a good relation so they deciden to see again in Spain in La Rioja that week all the village he as the Mayer of the village start to prepare everything for his arrive. Fernando thinks that that couldnt be only something for the village so he called the president of La Rioja and explained the situation. The president accepted happily to preside all the visit and show the guest the most important things of our little world. This meeting not only benefited his company it also benefited the rest of our region and companies.

I finally asked him if he recommend to students, from International Relation as I am, his job. He told that depends of your personality. But he finally tall me that he recommend to young people this kind of work while they are young because when you get older you started to don’t give the importance that this kind of work deserve like discover new cultures , tradition and education that may be new but not worse for that reason

 

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Written by Alvaro Rubio

Student of International Relation at UEM

Interview with Mr. Rachid Sator,Minister Counselor Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Algeria in Madrid.

This year was highlighted by several important events such as: the presidential elections, social changes and development based on considerable human and natural resources, and a privileged geostrategic position that can allow Algeria to win a role as a regional leader. Last Thursday, we had the honor to interview Sir Rachid Sator, Minister Counselor at the embassy of Algeria in Madrid.

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The context was propitious to questions related to diplomacy, as we were in the embassy with the Algerian diplomat. First, I asked him about the bilateral relations between Algeria and Spain, he answered that they are positive for both countries and adding  that  Algeria and Spain are going through a rapid growth “ there are several  visits and delegations in different fields : economic, political and diplomatic ”. Then, my second question was about the cultural exchange.  Without any hesitation, he said that it is very closed and dynamic, arguing that the geographical proximity is one reason because Algeria and Spain are separated few kilometers by the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, they have a historical link. He explained that some cities of Algeria had been colonized for nearly two hundred years. Giving the example of Oran, the second most important city after Algiers, this is still considered as the most Hispanic city in Africa by the Spanish people themselves.  Furthermore, Santa Cruz ford is its famous symbol. There are large human interactions between both countries that have been developed over the centuries.  Therefore, there is a brewing cultural exchange. Later, I asked him about the Algerian position between the Arab countries. He answered that Regarding the Arab world; Algeria is a full member of the Arab league which regroups countries of the Middle East and the Maghreb. Arabic is its official language within its borders, even though it has a particularism compared to the Arab countries. Indeed, the Algerian society is composed by different ethnic groups who share their own dialect “les Kabyles” for example.  During the interview, Sir Rachid Sator spoke about   the Arab spring which has shacked the Arab world “In 2011, several popular revolutions affected an entire system, Algeria was certainly saved because the reforms begun in 1988, which led to the establishment of a political plurality. Regarding freedom of expression, you can open a newspaper and see caricatures about the Algerian president and political officials. Nowadays, the media landscape is very rich created by a large freedom of expression.  The political field today is constituted of 30% of women either at the assembled elected officials, national or communal level.

The question about the future of the Algerian oil resources was crucial. Indeed, a decline in hydrocarbon production was officially announced by the Prime Minister, Malek Sellal. The oil resources which remain the main economic resource of the country are threatened of extinction in the next 15 years. The Algerian government is forced to find another solution in order to save its own economy, by changing its hydrocarbon law in January 2013 to open the way to the exploitation of unconventional energy resources. According to the report of the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), the country holds the third largest recoverable shale gas reserves in the world.   Therefore,  shale gas seems to be a good issue for the country, not only to meet the rising annual local demand for energy, but also to cover the total public expenditure, the cost of social transfers and to guarantee the continuation of subsidies on basic commodities, which represent 30% of the total budget. According to the Minister counselor Rachid Sator, in 2014, the trend is using the same mono-exporting system; Algeria must face the facts that fossil fuels will disappear one day or another, we must substitute the status of mono exporter, and Algeria has enough means.  “Concerning the exploitation Shale Gas, if the extraction method is not harmful and dangerous for people and the environment.  Then why not?  If you have a wealth under your feet and you can use it without major damage, I do not see any state that will refuse to take the risk”.

A huge development is being done in terms of agriculture, industry and tourism. The Algerian government is working in order to replace oil exploitations by other energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy.” Our Sahara could allow a potential solar energy exploitation, 12mounths/ 12 of warm weather and it is an unconventional energy that can last forever”. Sir Rachid Sator added “Actually, which is essential; is to change the mono exporter structure and be more competitive in terms of agriculture because Algeria has a temperate climate. Concerning tourism, we are developing it continuously. Most of the Algerian youth have high level of study. The access to education is accessible and free. Young graduate people can create their own businesses, and of course, sometimes it requires a help from the states.”

The last part of the interview was dedicated to the refugee issue. Lebanon is facing a crucial refugee crisis since the beginning of the civil war in Syria and the deterioration in Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Minister Counselor answered that “In diplomacy, the refugee crisis is called: collateral damage. Because of the Palestinian issue that unfortunately has not find a solution, over 3, 6 million Palestinians live outside their country. As the international community has the means to exert pressure on Israel, it is necessary to collaborate and discuss in order to find a solution to this perpetual conflict. Concerning Syria, it is experiencing a civil war, an end to this conflict can only pass through dialogue, it will not resolve by itself.”

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Assia Meghfour Lacheheb

Inside the European Parliament

On monday the 9th of June, I had the pleasure to interview such an important person in Spain as Mr. Ignacio Samper, as he is the director of the office in Spain of the European Parliament. This interview mainly consisted in questions about the European Parliament and many concerns that many people do not know about it such as issues such as future goals, Turkey or immigration.

To start the interview, I found appopiate to start asking him why was it important to have an European Parliament office in Spain. Mr. Samper explained to me that “there are offices all around the world in order to inform citizens, media and institutions about the activity and functions of the Parliament”.

As many people didn’t know what they actually voted for on the past elections, held on the 25th of May of this year, I had to ask him about the Parliament and its actual functions and why are they so important. He responded with a very detailed answer; “The EU Parliament that validates the ligitimity of the European Union and makes possible the effective participation of the citizens in the process of the European integration”. In addition, due to how the Parliament also decide in nearly all the issues that are within the European Union, those where the reasons why the past elections where different to others; they were going to be the first elections after the Lisbon Treaty which alloed the members of the Parliamente vote for the president of the Comission.

To continue explaining me about the functions of the Parliament, he also explained to me what the members do in the Parliamente is “debate, vote, propose amendments and finally approve or reject norms. The last legislature, the were more than 20.000 votes and more than 2.500 texts where approved were 952 were legislative texts” and the reason some countries send more members than others is due to the reason that the numbers of members sent by a country must be equivalent to the size of their population as the Parliament represent the citizens, not the nations.

Moving to more controversial questions which have been alive for many years, I decided to ask Mr. Samper about Turkey and immigration respectively. To start of, I asked him if Turkey was still interested in joining the Union and why and what do they have to do be part of it. He explained to me that “Turkey is one of the 5 candidate countries in joining the Union. It is important to explain that to join the UE, the country must fulfil the Copenhague criterias, which establish a mínimum of requirements not only economic, but also political and legal, the existence of stable institutions which guarantee the democracy, the state of Rights and human rights”.

About immigration he explained to me that after what is happening in southern European countries, there’s a necessity to approach an immigration policy from a paneuropean point of view. The Parliament has played a very important role in a very complex issue which is to get legal immigrants an equal treatment within the employment and economic areas. The Parliament have also decided to establish a “Common European Borders Supervision (Eurosur) in order for the member states are better equipped when they have to prevent and combat ilegal immigration and react more quickly when the immigrants life are in danger”.

To conclude with this interview, I thought it would be good to end it with Mr. Samper explaining the economic objectives of the Union for this and next year. The explained that the main objective was to overcome the recession and to reduce the unemployment rate. “The EU wants to increase to a 75% in 2020 the employment rate of European population between 20 and 64 years. The Parliament has adopted numerous anti-recession measures in the past years in order to get Europe back to the path of growth and employment, such as the approval of a budget of 80.000 million of euros for a Social European Budget for 2014 to 2020, which objective is to promote employment, improve productivity and work quality, increase the mobility and impulse the social inclusion.”

This interview to Mr. Samper has allowed me to get fully detailed answers about doubts I had about the parliament and will allow all European and non-European citizens to know how important the European Parliament is, what their functions are and how important it is for each citizen to contribute to make Europe a better place to live in.

Alberto Puente Saavedra