EU chief calls for decentralization and federalization of Ukraine
To solve the current crisis in Ukraine, the country should become decentralized and federalized, Herman Van Rompuy, the president of the European Council, announced in his political anniversary speech in Paris this week.
Quoting "1,000 deaths" in the country since the cease-fire agreement was reached in Minsk on September 5, Van Rompuy said he could no longer call the situation a cease-fire. And a new cessation of conflict, if controlled by the same players, would have the identical outcome, the politician said in his speech, marking his five years presidency of the European Council.
Urging a "global solution," the EU chief said a way for Ukraine to become a "decentralized (or federalized) country" must be found. He called for the country's closer ties with the EU. However, he also said, "Europe has become unpopular among Europeans" in the past five to six years.
Kiev should "establish a correct relationship with Russia, its neighbor, with which it shares history, culture and language," Van Rompuy said, adding that the interests of minorities in Ukraine should be respected.
Sharing his EU "experiences and perspectives" with students at the Sciences Po institute of political studies in Paris, he pointed out that the current crisis in Ukraine is "the most grave geopolitical crisis we've experienced in Europe since the end of the Cold war." What makes it even worse, according to the Rompuy, is the fact that the "war" is happening on European soil.
Van Rompuy is not the first European politician to suggest Ukraine's federalization. Earlier in August, Germany's Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who is also the country's economy minister, spoke out for federalization to be introduced in Ukraine once the conflict in the east of the country is resolved.
The same measures to help settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine have been voiced by Moscow. However, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko keeps ruling out such political changes, saying the country's federalization is out of question.
Reuters: Mystery of Amphipolis tomb holds Greeks in thrall
After six years of economic crisis, political tumult and a humiliating international bailout, Greeks are desperate for heroes and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government is eager for some good news, says a despatch by Reuters refering to the archaeological excavations at Amphipolis.
"It revives Greeks' hopes that despite their big struggle to survive there is a 'holy grail' that will reconnect them to a period of glory and power," said to ReutersChristos Kechagias, a sociologist who teaches at the University of Athens. "In times of crisis, people have the chance to redefine their identity."
Greek broadcasters have been transfixed by discoveries from the tomb -- a pebble mosaic showing the abduction of Persephone; two sculpted "Caryatid" figures; skeletal remains in a limestone grave that are now being analysed for identification, says Reuters.
Samaras has frequently highlighted the tomb in his speeches. With his wife Georgia, he toured the site in August, walking along the marble wall that rings the tomb. He then stood before the tomb's entrance guarded by headless sphinxes to announce a "significant discovery" that makes "all Greeks proud".
Not everyone is happy
The opposition has criticised Samaras -- whose government handles all announcements related to the tomb -- for trying to make political capital from the discovery.
"Amphipolis is not the place for political games," said Panos Skourletis, spokesman for the opposition Syriza party.
Despina Koutsoumba, an archaeologist who belongs to the small, anti-capitalist Antarsya party, says Samaras is using Amphipolis to hide cutbacks at archaeological and other sites: "They highlight Amphipolis to cover up the nation's bankruptcy."