There Is No Glory in Suicide

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl, Spotlight Europe
Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl (Remix by Spotlight Europe)

The terrible crash of the Germanwings airplane on Tuesday, 24th March 2015, is particularly shocking as it was caused – as far as the official investigation has proclaimed – deliberately by a single person who had decided to end his life. He did it full knowing that the lives of all other 149 passengers on board would end with his too.

This tragic suicide is not the first in history. Suicide happens in many variations and sadly enough one cannot for sure exclude that it would happen again – despite all intensified controls and despite all taken actions after the crash.

There is no glory in suicide. There is only sadness and emptiness.

Then why, one has to ask, do young people in Europe take the decision to join terroristic movements like the Islamic State (IS) in order to blow themselves and kill others? Is this suicide so very different from the one in March 2015? Ironically the world that is so much shaken by tragic wars and crisis is a globalized world, a world where the borders of communication increasingly fade away. The news of the deliberate airplane crash went around the world and sent waves of shocks, left people speechless. Empathy is with the victims.

In our modern information society where everyone can access every bit of information, the message of suicide should be clear – especially for young people: Suicide is not the next adventurous kick of your life but a sad way to vanish from this earth without leaving footprints.

For our society it is important though to try to understand and reintegrate these young people and to take their worries into account. Nowadays it is important to foster democracy and to take religious symbols and rituals seriously, but not to the extend that they justify exclusion, terror and murder.

In their basic idea democracy and religion are the same: They are peaceful and people want peace.

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…

A Strong Europe Is Needed Now

Prof. Manfred Pohl, Spotlight Europe
Europe needs to be stronger to master the crisis, writes Prof. Pohl. (Remix by Spotlight Europe)

One crisis seems to succeed another nowadays. At the moment there is on the one hand the European financial crisis which has hit not only Greece and there is the political crisis in Crimea, Eastern Ukraine on the other hand. Looking globally there are wars and terror in every part of the world: The “Islamic State” in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram in Nigeria or the Houthi rebels in Yemen to name a few.

The trouble spots of this world demand for a strong Europe. Because of this, Europe should evolve as quickly as possible in political as well as economic and military terms. This means specifically that Europe needs to become a political union – either as a union of states or a federal state in the example of the United States of America. In this regard further discussion will be necessary.

A swift solution to the European debt crisis has to be developed that deals not only with Greece alone but equally encompasses all countries of the Union.

Finally a European army needs to be set up that is strong enough to play a crucial role in NATO – together with other Western countries (e.g. USA). In the long term Europe strongly needs a bundling of forces in order to be not only heard but also taken seriously in the world.

Europe’s evolution has to be realized quickly so that future generations will know in which Europe they will live in some day.

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…

Germany vs. Europe?

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl (Remix by Spotlight Europe)
Is Germany playing with the future of the European Union? (Picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

During the last months it appeared as if Germany’s image that was tediously reestablished 70 years after the end of the Second World War, is in the process of deterioration in large parts of Europe. However German politicians still believe that they are doing everything right. It becomes apparent in the way in which they are dealing with the crisis in Ukraine and Greece but also in the manner in which they appear towards other states and give advice.

Now, one eventually wonders how can it be that the Germans are perceived as arrogant, dogmatic technocratic and stubborn. What are the reasons in the end?

“Economic power helped Germany to its outstanding position”

One aspect for sure is that the economic power helped Germany to its outstanding position at Europe’s front. Germany is believed to be rich. Many people hold the belief that its wealth and economic influence has not only been gained by effort alone but also by beneficial historic constellations after the Second World War. The swift provisions of its war debts may have played a crucial role as well as the launch of the Marshall Plan that pumped money into Germany’s base material industries and into its medium-sized enterprises.

It is not decisive at all of whether or not Greece has met the financial criteria for accessing the monetary union at that time. It is a fact that Europe needs to stand together now and that the Euro is an identity-forming currency that will leave its stamp on our future in the world.

Germany has to wake up to its current image and has to discard its self-inflicted leading position in Europe, otherwise it will risk its future, the future of the European Union, the Euro and especially the future of generations to come.

“oderint dum metuant”

The Roman saying “oderint dum metuant” – may they hate me if only they do fear me – by Lucius Accius cannot be Germany’s maxim for the future. It does not mean however that Germany should start to back down in everything. Neither does it mean that it should let itself be blackmailed by its Nazi past. Put plainly it means that the Germans should for a start show more humility and understanding towards people living in other countries.

How do you see this?

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…


Rethinking Europe

Remix by Spotlight Europe
This week’s message is simple and clear: Dear (young) Europeans, be positive! (Picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

Once, unifying Europe has inspired millions. Now, negative views on the European integration process prevail in public debates. In Brussels, negative thinking and playing down the achievements made so far are by now fixed elements of the daily political routine. But: Who should think positive of Europe if not its youth?

Sad to say the youth does not even have a real lobby in Europe. Money is being spent, but not enough and inconsiderately distributed so as to prepare Europe’s youth to make a difference of the Europe of the future. These young people between 15 and 20 years – a crucial age in which they will vote for the first time and prepare their professional careers – are the ones who could give the European project back its positive spin.

The latest survey draws a gloomy picture. Take Italy, Germany and France for example: In Italy only 27 per cent feels committed to the European project. In France, the number is determined at 40 per cent whereas in Germany 53 per cent of the respondents feel committed after all. And then: Only 11 per cent Italians, 13 per cent Germans and 23 per cent of French people have positive associations with the Euro as common currency. (Data taken from the recently published study by the Italian opinion research institute Demos & pi, January 2015)

Seeing Europe in a negative way – is it the fault of communication or tangible data? I believe it is both.

The youths of the “My Europe” initiative clearly stated their topics for their future Europe: “Gender Equality”, “Religion”, “Religion”, “Education” and “Employment”. On their next Get2Gather which will take place in Madrid from 23 to 26 April they will present their European values.

The voice of these young people will be loud and clear against the cacophony of defeatists in Brussels and European member states. They know that Europe still has to offer a bright, positive future. Europe is not as powerless and wasted as American professors and Chinese communists like to picture. Europe’s youth advocates a strong and future-orientated Europe!

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…


The Wolf in Sheep´S Clothing

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl, Spotlight Europe
Why is it so difficult to accept the equality between men and women? (Picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

“I show up and say women were entrusted to men by God. These feminists ….they do not have a link to our civilization, belief and religion.” (Today’s Zaman)

This most recent statement was made by Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is only one piece in a constant series of similar predications that aim to subordinate the role of women to men’s role in Turkish society. In his belief, equality between men and women is not in line with the religion of Islam. Unfortunately he is not alone with this belief. I would presume that more than half of all men share his view.

Such statements may influence the notion how women are regarded and treated in Turkish society. On 11 February 2015 the Turkish student Ozgecan Aslan was attacked by a bus driver who tried to rape her. She was killed by him. Now there are demonstrations in Turkey that stand up for women´s rights. And Recep Tayyip Erdogan? He does not see how his statements against gender equality might have encouraged men to act like this – on the contrary! Now, he vows in front of the public to personally put a stop to violence against women. Is it political staging or real regret?

This tragic incident which cost the life of a young student must make him finally aware – when no common sense does – that his notion is misguided.

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…


Time for Change

Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl Remix, Spotlight Europe
“It is time for change”, finds Prof. Dr. Pohl. (Picture: Remix by Spotlight Europe)

We have lost track of the trouble spots of this world. But you do not have to face the world´s problems in order to have doubts on a peaceful future. The very last days in Europe are enough to leave us stunned and make us shake the head in disbelief. Especially young people in Europe do not grasp what really happens here while all the political talk is done.

“One should send three young people to Minsk.”

The negotiations in Minsk have been a farce: Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and François Hollande talked for 14 hours without any real result to present at the end of the day. The vital question is, though: Have these politicians nothing else to do but to quarrel over an explicit breach of international law? Time can be used better. One should send three young people aged between 15 and 20 to Minsk. In one hour they would achieve a neat proposal for solution. But then: Who takes notice of the youth?

For sure not old tyrants like Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Viktor Orbán. It is up to the youth though to shape and be our future, not old quarrelling politicians.

In the second half of the 20th century, the disorder of the world has given way to the hope of building a peaceful world. Although communism and fascism are no serious issues at the moment, the gaining momentum of populist left- and right-wing movements threatens to pull down the fragile structure of peace and democracy and to destroy these hopes.

“Brussels clings almost desperately to its outdated system.”

Brussels clings almost desperately to its outdated institutional system and does not see the change that is needed. A change that can only come if the voice of young Europeans gains weight and is taken seriously! The youth’s system of values is much more credible than that of cautiously haggling politicians.

Thus, it is high time that the youth co-decides on the institutional framework of Europe. It is high time that the youth has its say on democracy. It is time for change.

About the author:

MP1Prof. Dr. Manfred Pohl is the Founder and Chairman of Frankfurter Zukunftsrat, the think tank that organises “My Europe”. more…