Voices from Russia

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Greek Public Transport Workers Embark on Another 24-Hour Strike

00a 09.10.12 Thessaloniki protest


On Thursday, workers of practically all forms of public transport in Greece announced a 24-hour strike to protest against wage cuts to save money. Trains and passenger ferries are at a standstill across the country, and in Athens, buses, trolleys, and urban rail are idle for the next 24-hours. At the same time, the metro and trams still run in the Greek capital… home to over a third of the entire population of the country. Last week, the rightwing New Democracy government invoked constitutional law to end a 10-day public transport strike in Athens, declaring compulsory civil mobilisation. Now, engine drivers and service personnel on the metro and trams must work or face arrest.

31 January 2013

Voice of Russia World Service



Monday, 1 October 2012

Will Britain Kill the Ailing EU?

The Euro Time Bomb

Carlos Latuff



As reported by the Guardian, British Prime Minister David Cameron confirmed that the British people would be given a say, possibly in a referendum, on any new EU settlement after the next general election. Speaking on the final day of his visit to the USA and Brazil, the prime minister also announced that Britain would opt out of a series of EU laws and order policies later this year. Mr Cameron also indicated the strengthening of a hard-line approach to pan-European problems by saying that Britain would exercise its rights to stand apart from a series of justice and home affairs measures later this year, saying, “The key thing, then, is, well, which of the array of things you’ve come out of do you actually think are good for Britain and you want to co-operate with European partners on? That’s a discussion we’re having at the moment”.

Definitely, recent dramatic developments in the EU, and in the Eurozone in particular, prompted the talk of the need for consent from the British people on any new agreement within the pan-European framework. Whilst none of the observers can be 100 percent sure how long the Eurozone will last in its entirety, Britain may feel itself happy that back in late 1990s and early 2000s it refrained from adopting the single European currency. However, apart from current difficulties in the EU, one should note that, from the earliest stages of the process of European integration, Britain always adopted an idiosyncratic stance on virtually all common European matters. It joined the EU (at that time, the European Economic Community, popularly known as “Common Market”) in 1973… 17 years after the six “founding parents” formed it. Before and after that, Britain constantly tried to establish a special niche for itself in the EU. Besides keeping outside the common currency, it’s outside the Schengen area, and it’s constantly shown a much more pro-American approach in major foreign policy endeavours than most other EU member states (excluding the Eastern European and former USSR newcomers).

Therefore, the big question is whether the statement made by the British Prime Minister is a forecast of an approaching collapse of the European unity, or is it just a hint that Britain is going to continue to keep only one foot within the community, leaving the option of stepping away open? In fact, the clue to the situation lies in the fact that whilst forging the alliance back in 1950s and 1960s was dictated by the economic needs of the founders, with the course of time, the process of European integration began to be dictated by political aims rather than by economic needs. The large-scale expansion in 2004 was the most vivid example. By including a number of economically-weak former socialist countries, the EU solved the problem of tying them up to the common European carriage, but the carriage itself got overloaded. Hence, it led to all the problems and uncertainties of today.

In the early 2000s, many observers noted that the EU been a stillborn baby from the very beginning. Probably it wasn’t in 1956, when integration reflected the core needs of its participants, but the early 2000s effectively killed the baby. We should always remember that the strength of any chain is determined by its weakest and not by its strongest link. Now, commentators are trying to figure out whether Mr Cameron’s statement signifies the beginning of the final and total disintegration of the poorly integrated Union. In this context, one may say that by preserving its special status in the EU, Britain avoided being ANY link in the chain… be it the strongest one or the weakest one. Therefore, even if it steps away from the EU with both feet, this will hardly add any momentum to the already accelerating process of the common European collapse.

1 October 2012

Boris Volkhonsky

Voice of Russia World Service


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