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Saturday, 05 November 2011 18:21

Wired in #25: Velislav Ivanov

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Have you ever wondered what life in Sofia, Bulgaria is like? Or rather, what the feel of the city is? Thanks to Velislav Ivanov there's now a unique way for experiencing just that. When you listen to 'The Eye of the Beholder', a musical tribute to this fascinating city and his latest album, you can imagine wandering the streets at night, breathing in the city life. Velislav sings in Bulgarian, but fear not - when you download the free album from his website you'll also get an English translation of the beautiful lyrics. The music can be melancholic or dreamy, it explores and describes many different sides of the city and I can promise it will get you hooked and ready to plan your next trip to Sofia!

Кръв по асфалта by VelBG

 

E&M: You're a one man band. In what situations do you decide to sit down and make music?

VI: It's not a conscious decision, really. At any single moment when I have ideas, inspiration, time, and the necessary equipment it just comes naturally to me. Making music all by myself basically means that I take care of everything, from the conception of the melody to the final mastering of the song, and that process is incredibly time-consuming. I may actually write a song in minutes when I sit at the piano, but it takes dozens of hours until it reaches the state in which you hear it.

E&M: Do you ever miss getting inspiration from other band members?

Saturday, 05 November 2011 01:15

Polish election part II

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Two European topics have dominated the Polish election. The first was the next EU budget – the multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 which will be a key factor in modernising the Polish infrastructure in coming years. A topic which of course also shimmered on the Poles' TV screens. The second, somehow suggesting itself and linked to the previous one, is how Poland should react to the current financial crisis in the EU and the dynamics which it has catalysed. It is clear that the fact that Poland is currently presiding over the European Council right now has urged a greater focus on European considerations in this campaign.

Not wanting to interfere too much in the politicians' joyous film making that I talked about earlier I preferred to talk to a few young political and social scientists to get some answers about the role of the European questions in the ongoing Polish parliamentary campaign.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 19:29

'Debating Europe' discussion series launched

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The Körber Foundation and E&M are launching “Debating Europe”, a discussion series that will be held twice a year in Hamburg. Each discussion will be preceded by a funded article about the topic for debate. This article will also be published in the magazine. The first debate will take place on the 7th of November, in which Benita Ferrero-Waldner, former European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, and Adrian Lungu, E&M author, will reflect on the inside/outside dimensions of the EU dilemma in Croatia, and its possible meaning for other south-eastern European countries.

E&M will be sending Sixth Sense & Brain editors Matt Shearman and Carmen Kong to attend the discussion and present the magazine at the conference. Andrian Lungu's text will be available online on the Sixth Sense shortly.

Wednesday, 02 November 2011 01:52

"In or Out?" The Croatian case and the EU

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When I first went to Croatia, nine years ago, I was struck by how many Croatian flags I saw in Zagreb. On my trip to the Croatian capital in October 2011, I was already expecting lots of chequered flags all over the place, as Croatians seem particularly patriotic. On my way from the airport, I counted 13 Croatian flags - five of them accompanied by the blue twelve starred flag of the European Union.

see_through_flag_small
Photo: Adrian Lungu
EU and Croatian flags share protagonism on governmental buildings.

Croatia is not yet a member of the Union but has finished the lengthy negotiation process, during which it adapted its legislation and internal rules under 33 key chapters. In early December, under the first Polish presidency of the EU, Croatia is due to sign its Accession Treaty to the EU. After that, the Croatian Parliament is widely expected to call for a referendum in which Croatians would be able to decide whether they want their country to become the 28th member of the EU in July 2013 or not. But do Croatians really want to join the Union? Some EU flags fly on governmental buildings, but others burn in the hands of disaffected citizens.


Seeing EU flags in a non-EU country was not new to me. I had seen plenty of them in my own country, Romania, hanging from government buildings long before Romania's accession, in 2007. In Croatia's case, apparently it was former PM Ivo Sanader who gave an informal order to have all institutions display the blue flag. But on my last visit to Zagreb, for the first time I saw people resenting the presence of the EU flag on their official institutions. At Ban Jelačić square there is an EU flag, paired with a Croatian one, each on one side of the statue of the revolutionary leader of 1848, Ban Jelačić. The Ban (local ruler) holds a sword, like all the statues of European kings who fought their neighbours at some point in history. The blue flag is no older than six months, as it replaces one that was torn down in April, when protesters were infuriated by the decision of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to condemn general Ante Gotovina to 24 years in prison. Gotovina is widely regarded as a hero by Croatian society, but he was condemned by the UN tribunal in Hague for "persecution, deportation, murder and inhumane acts" in the war that led to Croatia’s independence - a war that Croatians feel they did not provoke but had to defend themselves from.

Another EU flag burnt in Zagreb in March. The police pressed criminal charges against a 25-year-old who burnt the flag during an anti-government protest. The flags of the two biggest parties, both in power and opposition, were also burnt.

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