Europe

Odd Situation in the “Paradise” of Press Freedom

A strange situation has emerged in Finland where some people feel that the press freedom is currently jeopardised. The small Nordic country is a press freedom celebrity leading the index kept by Reporters Without Borders since 2009 and hosting the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day on May 3.The case is related to the so-called Panama Papers that were recently leaked by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The papers originate from the Panama based law company Mossack Fonseca and include information about over 210,000 companies that operate in fiscal paradises.The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) was involved in publishing the leak and fiscal authorities of Finland now insist that the company has to hand the material over to them. The dead line expired on Friday but YLE has refused.The company is appealing the tax authorities' decision and stating that it's basic freedom is to protect the news sources. Besides YLE emphasised that it does not possess the material but a few journalists just have access to it.What has most surprised both journalists and the public here is the fact that this happens in Finland while no other country whose media is involved in the Panama case has experienced same kind of threat from the authorities."We understand very well about why the tax office and politicians are interested in the documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca”, the responsible editors of YLE investigative group, Ville Vilén and Marit af Björkesten, said in their statement referring to the possible tax evasions and their social consequences.They admit having partly shared purposes with the authorities but refuse to violate old principles that have been followed for decades in the European countries that respect press freedom."Despite their wideness the Panama papers are not a reason to endanger the protection of the news source and the possibilities of Finnish journalists to practice influential investigative journalism on a longer run," they continue."Surprisingly we are not here to celebrate press freedom but instead to ponder an amazing situation”, the president on the Finnish Council of Mass Media, Elina Grundström, said Monday on YLE's morning television. The Council of Mass Media is an organ of the Finnish media's self-regulation meant to supervise the ethics of the press from all stakeholders' angle. Grundström gave her support to YLE's decision not to give up the Panama papers to the tax authorities. Susanna Reinboth, the law reporter of the biggest national daily, agreed while Pekka Mervola, editor-in-chief of the regional paper Keskisuomalainen, thinking that the material could be delivered with certain reservations that are meant to protect the sources. The problem may be at least partly solved on May 9th when the ICIJ has promised to publish part of the Panama material.

Eastern Europe’s Claims for UN Chief Questioned

As the campaign for a new UN Secretary-General (UNSG) gathers momentum, there is one lingering question that remains unanswered: does the now-defunct Eastern European political alliance have a legitimate claim for the job on the basis of geographical rotation?

Developing countries left out of global tax decisions

Over one hundred developing countries continue to be left out of global tax cooperation negotiations despite leaks such as the Panama papers showing the high cost of tax avoidance.

OPINION: Wake Up! We Need Statesman and Values but We Get Selfish Politicians and Cynicism…

A total indifference has accompanied the number of refugees injured by Macedonian police in Idomeni, where more than 12 000 people, including 4 000 children have been trapped, since Austria asked Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, to prevent the continuing passage of refugees. Austria has now informed the Italian government that it will send several hundred troops to its border with Italy.

Will the UN’s new leader stand for the powerful or the powerless?

After hundreds of questions were posed to nine candidates vying for the role of United Nations Secretary-General this week, a lasting question remains; will the UN’s new leader stand for the powerful or the powerless?

The Panama Papers: A Global Report Card

On Sunday, 3 April, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released an unprecedented leak of documents exposing the secretive financial dealings of some of the world’s richest and most powerful. Few countries are safe from the findings; twelve current or former heads of state are implicated among 143 politicians, their relatives and associates for using offshore tax havens.

Terrorism: End the Duplicity

Europe is reeling under yet another terrorist attack on one of its capitals; its cities are locked down and on high alert. All Sri Lanka can say is “we’ve been there before; we’ve seen it all”. We know the pain and anguish law-abiding peace-loving citizens are going through in those countries.

OPINION: A Decalogue to Understand Terrorism and Its Consequences

The recent Brussels massacre has created a short term reaction, which ignores a long term projection. All the debate is now about security, police reinforcement, new military strategies, as if terrorism can be solved just as a matter of public order.

OPINION: Terrorism: the Answer Is More Europe, Not Less

The enemy isn’t Brussels: it’s Europe. The so-called Islamic State clearly signaled this by attacking, even more than the airport, a metro station. Maelbeek is not just another subway stop in the Belgian capital. Although the symbolism could have been more dramatic if the terrorists had chosen the neighouring station named after Robert Schuman…but perhaps the tighter security there dissuaded them.

Europe`s Crisis

It is wise of Angela Merkel not to have panicked in the wake of setbacks for her Christian Democrats (CDU) in Sunday`s three regional elections. The German chancellor acknowledged the blow, but discounted the likelihood of abrupt changes to her government`s policy on refugees.

Will the EU Become a Criminal Union Tomorrow?

The EUropean Union – a criminal?The EU that has peace as its top goal and received Nobel’s Peace Prize?The EU with Schengen and Dublin?

‘Worse Than World War I’

When the leaders of 28 European states enjoy again this week their exclusive flights, luxurious suites and official limousines, to meet for a new summit in Brussels to adopt a final decision on their proposed plan of using refugees as bargaining chips, 20.000 Syrians will most probably be still starving in the Idomeni camp in Greece, in a situation that has been described as “worse than World War I.”

“Take My Iraqis and Give Me Some Syrians” – Europe to Turkey

In a yet another violation of international laws and their own human values, 28 European countries have just agreed with Turkey to open a new “bazaar” of refugees, this time using the old barter system. i.e. Iraqis and Afghans in exchange of Syrians.

Border Restrictions Violate 1951 Refugee Convention

When the United Nations commemorated “Zero Discrimination Day” on March 1, there was an implicit commitment by the 193 member states to abhor all forms of discrimination – including against women, minorities, indigenous people, gays and lesbians and those suffering from AIDS.

Big Question for the UK on the European Union

The British have a problem. A referendum on continuing membership of the European Union scheduled for June may lead to Brexit- Britain heading for the exit. Anybody with any knowledge of Europe’s war-like history knows this would be totally self-defeating.

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