26 June 2016; by Siegfried O. Wolf
On June 23, 2016, the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK) -mostly those residing in England and Wales- held a referendum that resulted in an overall vote to leave the European Union (EU). This socalled ‘BREXIT’, a fusionist portmanteau of the words ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’, properly coined on the pattern of GREXIT (referring to the potential exit of Greece from the EU), clearly indicates that the European project of regional integration reached a pivotal moment in time.
Continue reading “BREXIT: What does it mean for Regional Integration and South Asia?”
23 June 2016, Siegfried O. Wolf
Recognizing the steadily declining political, human rights and security conditions in Bangladesh, on June 7, 2016, the European Parliament (EP) in Strasbourg held a debate on the current situation in the South Asian country. During the lively discourse, several different views were put forth by members of the European Parliament (MEPs) regarding the causes and consequences of the deterioration of the societal and political space, foremost through rising Islamism, intolerance, political radicalization in the country. Considering these different views and opinions it should not come by surprise that there were also different suggestions made as to what should be the next steps by the parliament, and what kind of political action is expected in Europe from Bangladesh political elites in general and the government in particular. Despite varying opinions on what to do, MEPs agree the current political trajectory one may observe in Bangladesh is deeply worrying.
Continue reading “Rising Islamism in Bangladesh is a European concern too”
18 June 2015; by Siegfried O. Wolf
Image by European Commission DG ECHO
To respond to the ‘alarming rise in the irregular movement of persons in the Indian Ocean’, the Royal Thai Government organized the ‘Special Meeting on Irregular Migration in the Indian Ocean’ on May 29th, 2015 in Bangkok. Subsequently seventeen countries convened in Thailand’s capital to address the then called ‘boat people problem’ in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal. Among the participants were high-level representatives of the five most affected countries namely Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand. The fact that Sri Lanka, India as well as Afghanistan joined this significant event underpins the fact that the ‘boat people’ crisis is an issue which involves not only the intersection between South Asia and South East Asia but also the respective subcontinents on the whole. Continue reading “Rohingya Crisis and the ‘Boat People’ Conference: Towards a Regional Solution?”
March 2015, by Siegfried O. Wolf
Source: South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF), Brussels, Belgium
The recent US State Department’s budget proposal for the fiscal year 2016 once again contains substantial aid for Pakistan, this time around USD 900 million. Besides the fact that Congress must still approve the budget, one thing is already clear: the administration of President Barack Obama is still not able or willing to learn from the lessons of the past. The continuation of US aid for Pakistan does not come as a surprise but the fact that it’s allocated again more or less unconditionally is quite peculiar.
Continue reading “The fruitlessness of unconditional aid for Pakistan”
30 January 2013; Siegfried O. Wolf
Regional integration in South Asia has reached a pivotal point in time. There is no doubt, that the states and societies of the respective region have made only little progress towards cohesive, purposeful action directed towards regional cooperation. Having the reputation of being a part of the worldwide ‘Arc of Crisis’, there was a general tendency among political analysts to attest only dramatic, grim prospects to the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC), the regional pendant to the European Union (EU). Continue reading “Regional cooperation – a view from Nepal”