Tomorrow the Netherlands goes to the polls for a referendum on the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement. For international readers, here’s more information on what this referendum is, and who’s called for it. For Dutch readers, who know all that already, I just want to get straight into it, as tempting as it is to write pages on why this sort of referendum is neither effective nor democratic. Here are 4 reasons to vote Yes tomorrow.
Onderaan staat een samenvatting van de belangrijkste punten in het Nederlands! Continue reading
One year ago today I was relaxing in the sun at a party when the atmosphere suddenly changed. Somehow the news filtered through that a plane flying from Schiphol had crashed in Eastern Ukraine. At first it seemed like a horrific coincidence that this had happened precisely in a region where there was already so much chaos, but it soon became clear that this was a crime of unbelievable callousness. Separatist rebels had shot down an aircraft with 298 people on board. With God knows what on their minds, they decided that this plane flying at cruising altitude was clearly a Ukrainian military transport. Firing at their target on a complete guess, their missile’s shrapnel tore MH17 apart. Ukrainian villagers below had to endure the horrific sight of bodies plummeting into their fields and houses. Continue reading
Within sight of the Kremlin’s security cameras, a man was shot four times in the back on Friday night. The victim – Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician who opposed Russia’s actions in Ukraine. The killers – no one knows, but we can take a guess. So who was Boris Nemtsov? And who ordered his murder?
This morning Eastern Ukraine woke up to what is supposed to be the ceasefire that leads to peace. On Thursday night in Minsk, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande managed to bring Putin and Poroshenko to a deal to end the violence; a deal that the rebels also signed up to. With the agreement being that the guns would fall silent at midnight Saturday, the artillery pounded away until the last minute. This morning though, the quiet seems to have held so far, with only sporadic shelling. So what does this second Minsk deal agree to? What chance does it have of succeeding? And what will happen if it doesn’t? Continue reading
Today the Nigerian electoral commission announced that the presidential election scheduled for next Saturday would be postponed for 6 weeks, due to the Boko Haram security crisis. President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP party is pleased with the decision, but the opposition APC party is not. They believe the decision was taken to give the PDP more chance to win, and they have a point. The army apparently forced the commission into the decision by informing them that the military would not be able to provide security for the election at all, as they were busy fighting. However, six weeks is not going to solve a long running and hugely difficult conflict. To make matters worse, all signs point to the elections only bringing more violence.
Yesterday the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, at peace for months now, was ripped back into the war. Separatist rebels launched rockets directly at the city, taking its residents by complete surprise and killing 30 people. The attacks follow a month of intensified fighting, with the ruins of Donetsk Airport finally falling to the rebels, and dozens of civilians dying due to artillery. So why is what happened in Mariupol so important, and what does this say about the separatists? Where to from here? And on a more personal note, why do I care so much about Donetsk? Continue reading
Last year at this time I made five predictions for the world in 2014. Like everyone else out there, I missed the huge stories of Islamic State and Russia’s war in Ukraine, but let’s see how I did before looking back at the five biggest stories of the year. Continue reading