European cinematographic culture… and interculturally defending tolerance through art

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by Sérgio Maia Tavares Marques, Managing Editor
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From 11th to 21st, Feb. 2016, Berlin will be the European (and not only) movie capital as the 66th Berlinale Festival takes off. 128 countries, more than 400 films presented, over 30000 people involved and more than 330000 tickets sold. However, apart from that commercial, industry façade of the Festival, a deeper artistic side has also its seat on Berlinale. Sections such as Panorama, Forum, Culinary Cinema and NATIVe offer a different view of the seventh art: independent movies, new comers, experimental art and indigenous people story-telling, for instance. Berlinale Talents section intriguingly revolves around “The Nature of Relations”.

Each programme brochure can be found here.

Nevertheless, the most impressive message of this year´s edition of the Festival is described by the Berlinale Director, Dieter Kosslick. He declares that the Festival is devoted to the refugees. In his words, “since the festival was launched in 1951, we have only had positive experiences with what is today known as “a culture of welcome”. Moreover the Berlinale would not exist if it were not for foreigners. The eleven days of the festival at Potsdamer Platz demonstrate how cultural diversity can celebrate a peaceful fest with great energy and verve.”

According to him, it is vital to follow Steinmeier´s principle of six eyes. “Each of us has our own perception of things, our own two eyes, and with each of them we should try to see the view of the other, to find a joint view, so to speak, so as to achieve, through a shift of perspective, a view shared by both sides (…). In the cinema the principle of six eyes is a matter of course. We look through a screen like we do through an open window into another world or we are right in the middle of it.”

Cinema and all arts are platforms to explore societal issues. They are a narrative of our lives and our time. His editorial urges us all to not misunderstand themes and that refugees arrival can carry out social tolerance (UNIO Blog’s motto for the time being, by the way. As should remain EU law’s. In fact, legal systems as a whole can take in many lessons.).

Picture credits: La Berlinale s’en va!  by Charlotte Noblet.

The principle of recognition as the cornerstone of European neighbourhood policies: waiting for Godot? Who is you, human being?

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by Daniela Cardoso, Collaborating Member of CEDU
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Due to the widely-acknowledged vulnerabilities that characterise the current European neighbourhood policies and external relations, the European Union has sought to encourage a renewed political dialogue. To a large extent, these new efforts are grounded on the need to face the current humanitarian and social crisis involving migrants and refugees and encountering two leading actors: Germany and Turkey.

The underlying issue is border management in order to polish and consolidate a more realistic answer to different needs. On one hand, attention must be drawn to the internal organisation of countries endowed with the geo-political profile, as the one that can be pointed out to Turkey, and their inabilities to handle the massive incoming of refugees in a solitary confinement. On the other hand, one is confronted with another issue concerning identities in transit. Giving the uncountable number of identities crossing geographical, social and cultural borders, is there any moral obligation on the part of the States to open their borders? At the core of what can be regarded as the management of political borders we encounter two chess pieces. The first thrives on cooperation and stability, sustaining that borders do have a peculiar moral meaning with its own sense of justice at the “local” level, regardless of shared views with political communities on distributive justice. The second one insists on a more plural argument placing the moral significance both in geopolitics and on people, which would be shyly seen in the possible accession of Turkey to the European Union – a topic which was recently re-placed on the table.

In short, there is one map with different languages: the tonic placed on the enlargement of the European Union and the emphasis on shared global governance.

Continue reading “The principle of recognition as the cornerstone of European neighbourhood policies: waiting for Godot? Who is you, human being?”

Editorial of January 2016

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by Mariana Canotilho, Editor
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‘The inclusion of the other and the fall of the Empire’

The word of the year 2015 was ‘refugee’. It is quite amazing how seven letters can actually encompass the sea of problems the European Union is facing, which will almost certainly be prevalent throughout 2016.

Aylan Kurdi died at our doorstep in the beginning of September. Before him, thousands of other migrants had already drowned in the Mediterranean, but it took the powerful image of a dead child lying on the sand for the Europeans to address the problem. Hundreds of volunteers mobilized to help their fellow humans, who ran away from war and misery. But although individuals acted, according to their possibilities, the EU institutions seem helpless, almost paralyzed. The Union struggled to reach an agreement about the reception and support to the refugees; some Member states refused the proposed quotas’ system. Hungary’s parliament voted to deploy troops to repel refugees from its border, deepening divisions with the rest of the EU. The common mechanisms negotiated have proven almost useless until now. Very few refugees have been resettled. 2016 began with yet another picture of a dead child, while trying to reach safety and peace, and with the alert from the former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres: the EU has failed, and only traffickers are managing the migrants’ influx.

There is a growing and worrying incapacity, within the Union, to “include the other”, to use a classical expression of J. Habermas. In fact, the refugees’ crisis is only the worst, more serious symptom, of a larger problem: the loss of the European social project, the abandonment of an idea of Europe as an inclusive and plural community of equals. With this phenomenon comes the loss of hope in the Union’s institutions, trapped between the unwillingness of some and the incapacity of others to find reasonable political solutions to people’s problems.

Under this scenario, citizens are turning to other, quite unsettling, options. Extreme right-wing parties are gaining followers and votes all over Europe (France, Hungary and Poland are good examples of this), without a decisive institutional reaction from the EU, even in common matters, and in a striking contrast with the way the Greek crisis was handled.

Nationalism and separatism are rising. No later than 2017, the UK will hold an in-out referendum about the Union. An “out” vote will have unpredictable consequences and may be the end of the European project as we knew it: the “fall of the Empire”. Therefore, the biggest challenge for the time to come is to reinvent the EU. To build European politics based on hope and on values such as solidarity, diversity and rule of law, rather than fear and exclusion. Only Europe can save itself. Will it succeed?

Picture credits: Michael Gubi

[We also invite you to take a look at the Portuguese elections aftermath as commented by Sérgio Maia Tavares Marques, here.]