The United Kingdom survived. Intact?

Today’s the day after the big day. Yesterday was the day that was to make history. A referendum concerning Scottish independence was held. Scots had to decide whether they still want to be a part of the United Kingdom or want to leave the union and become sovereign. This is one really important question, so it is not a surprise that more than 80% of population went to cast a vote and say ‘aye’ or ‘not’. And as most polls showed the opinions cut almost evenly in half – nothing was certain until today’s official statement.

First, let’s ask why does Scotland even want to be independent? Being under British rule since 1707, the first independence ideas has been around since late XIXth century. But the current situation is mostly triggered by the 2011 election of the Scottish National Party. The whole campaign was accompanied with heated debates, politicians making promises and statements and ended yesterday – at ballot. In my view, the details of what will happened after secession was too unclear and uncertain for it to become true. People mostly was lead by their feelings not by the real situation of the Northern part of the island.

When I was talking to a Scotsman about a month ago, he said a similar thing – that Scottish independence is very beautiful and romantic idea that will never work in practice. But there are advantages of such an event. Even if all time I spend in Scotland was rather fleeting, I managed to get a glimpse of how this nation is distinctive from others. They have their own accent, culture, attire (these kilts…) or food just as any other one. They seem to be rather unfriendly towards British people indeed (but not everyone, as it is now presented in media!). And I did try to pay  pounds issued by Scottish bank in London. I do not recommend it to anyone.

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The famous Scottish Highlands, so different than London's cityscape

Our continent faces a lot of problems – the crisis in Ukraine or the position of Great Britain in EU (!).. Right now, the situation of Europe is very unstable and the consequences of independent Scotland could be very disadvantageous. Not only we cannot be sure of its position in EU and NATO – most likely it would have to apply to be admitted just as any other country, but also – and in my view more importantly – it could have triggered an avalanche effect. There are many regions that waited only for the outcome if today’s referendum – the Basque Country, Catalonia or Silesia. And creating more little countries with little power will seriously diminish the political unity of whole continent. To say nothing of Great Britain – had the Scotland seceded, Great Britain would probably have lost the permanent seat in the Security Council. Overall, the influence and importance of UK would be seriously diminished. That’s probably the reason why David Cameron promised Scots even more autonomy if they don’t vote yes at referendum.

Today’s a memorable day. For some great one, assuring that UK is still union of four countries, for others it’s a day of grief and lost hopes for possible better future. Unfortunately, there are always winners and losers. How will it affect relations between these two nations? We will see.

The paranoia of the war on terrorism – the aftermath of 9/11

This time, thirteen years ago all citizens of United States of America were in commotion. In panic. In fear. The eleventh of Sepetember 2001 was to become a pivotal point in recent American History. A day that changed the future of the country, its policy and attitude of its citizens. The day when America has altered for ever, when four terrorist attacks were launched on World Trade Center, in New York City. The suicide attacks destroyed the Twin Towers and left people terrified, looking for their friends and relatives.. It was al-Quaeda’s five minutes that will never be forgotten which cost three thousand people their lives and more than $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage.

The sudden and unexpected collision of planes with two of the biggest buildings in the world in broad daylight is quite an event. It has been talked about for long, long time after and has influenced the society. Isn’t it great for a terrorist organizations such as al-Quaeda? After 9/11 the national paranoia started. Also, people changed – they immediately started spending more time with family. praying and showing patriotism. This shows how big the impact of this tragedy is. And let’s not forget that fearful nation is very easy to manipulate, which is very dangerous. A lot of uncertain facts and lies has been said (here, I will recommend you Michel Moore’s book ).

Such a big killing spree cannot leave people and governments intact. The conspiracy theory which were not unpopular in the history of United States became a collective paranoia. The anxiety level has been noted to be much higher than before. But the most noticeable thing was obsession with security. When you read the stories of people who were considered as dangerous at the airport for ridiculous and inadequate reasons. The attempts to track down terrorists by scanning the web in search of people who use words such as “bombs” or “terrorism”, sometimes not even cinsidering the context.

But these reactions are understandable. And even if the war on terrorism had made it hard for people to travel, we may risk saying that al-Quaedea and Osama bin Laden is not around thirteen years later. Maybe the United States and world is not completely free from terrorism, but we do everything to improve. As Americans didn’t allow such events to repeat, we can only look with hope to the future where our sense of safety will not be upset.

The new President of the European Council – strong man for difficult times

   Last Saturday evening everybody was talking about one thing – the election of the new President of the European council and the new European Union High Representative. As the first has been assigned to Polsih Prime Minister, Donald Tusk and the other to the Foreign Minister of Italy, Federica Mogherini. In the times of unstable situation of Europe, when United Kingdom considers leaving the EU and the conflict between Ukraine and Russia poses serious threat to continental security, having a strong leader is crucial. And Polish politician seems to fit this perfectly. 

   Donald Tusk is one of the very few Prime Ministers in Europe to be elected for the second term and the first one in Poland after fall of the Iron Courtain. He is known as a great and charismatic leader, having maintained his position throughout very difficult times, especially during global financial crisis which has been a nightmare for the whole continent. Poland, during the government of his party  was the only EU country not to fall into recession in 2009. Although he isn’t so popular among people in his country – right now 25% of people suppot him, while as many as 43% is against him, according to the April’s CBOS survey, he is probably a good choice for the position. 

   I believe that his nationality is not to be overlooked. Europe has started to divide into the “more-developed countries, mostly those having euro currency” and “less-developed, those not willing to change the currency right now”. Or the richer North and poorer South. Besides, we are facing war in Ukraine. Being Polish, Donald Tusk is both representing a country without euro currency and aware of the situation of Poland’s east neighbors. Thus, he should bridge the gap between “two part of EU”, as a leader from a country where you use local money and draw attention to the Ukraine-Russian conflict which may seem distant for countries that lie far from them.

 

 

   One of the biggest problems and threats to the EU is Great Britain’s place in the union. As one of the most powerful countries of Europe, its presence is crucial. If they leave, the stability will be upset. And Mr Tusk’s task will be speaking with other leaders – David Cameron or Angela Merkel on behalf of the common view in the union. And given his good realtions with most powerful representatives of European countries, we can hope his two and a half year will not be wasted as it is big opportunity – for him as a politician, for his country and for whole Europe.

   The elections are always drawing media’s and citizen’s attention. But after being chosen for one of the most important jobs on the continent, you are given the credit of trust and you are under constant surveillance – of your fellow workers,, media and people. It’s great opportunity, but also huge responsibility. Even if Donald Tusk is not a perfect politician – he made a lot of mistakes and also failed to be elected as a president , he is good person for these difficult circumstances.