Without change implemented by Kohl, Germany would not be the great country it is today and the differences between the East and the West would be significantly greater. At an economic level, reunification has been a positive event. A clearly positive one. At a cultural level and as far as remembrance is concerned there is instead “resistance.” The superstructure has survived cultural change as the success of Die Linke in the recent national elections proves . This is the opinion expressed by Angelo Bolaffi, an authority on German affairs who runs the Italian Institute of Culture in Berlin. Resetdoc spoke to him on the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Dialogue of Cultures
Without tacit approval from the Soviet Union, 1989 would never have happened. There would have been no peaceful and democratic mass revolts that resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is thus to Moscow, at the centre of the communist empire, that one must look, if wishing to examine the now two-decade-old epoch-making changes. An unexpected, sudden and phenomenal change that led the Eastern regimes to collapse one after the other. Two years later the Soviet Union also imploded and Mikhail Gorbachev lost his battle. We discuss these events with Andrea Graziosi, Professor of Contemporary History at the Federico II University in Naples, President of the Italian Society for the Study of Contemporary History and author of two scholarly books on Soviet history published by Il Mulino; Lenin and Stalin’s USSR and The USSR from triumph to collapse. An interview by Matteo Tacconi.
I do not wish to seem irenical, but there is something more serious going on, almost a tragic destiny. A bipolar system of hatred one cannot avoid and one hard to escape; an element that infiltrates and becomes a founding element of many aspects of Italian life. The antagonism present in the public sphere is also visible in social life. Ours (Italy) is an angry and anxious country. Due to the crisis experienced by the great political and social networks, the breakdown induced by neo- techno-capitalism, people live isolated lives or at best stay within the family circle. Hence the emotive dimension of individuals has become amplified, alone in front of a TV set, reacting to symbolic-personalities and events.
“One cannot really identify a specific winner or a loser in the recent Lebanese parliamentary elections.” Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut and editor of The Daily Star, comments for Resetdoc the Lebanese political situation, after the parliamentary elections held on the 7th of June and the first steps taken by the new Saad Hariri Government: “All Lebanese political groups, Shiite, Sunni and Christian, will respect the legitimate Lebanese Government and its role. And foreign countries will continue to interfere in Lebanese internal affairs, with the complicity of some local politicians.”
Pay attention – In 2007, American philosopher Martha Nussbaum more or less stated the following in The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future – I am about to describe hell to you; the abyss over which Indian democracy has hovered while led by the Hindu extremism of the BJP (Indian People’s Party) and its satellite organisations between 1998 and 2004, as well as the risk of fascism and the danger of a war with Pakistan. Hell, however, did not return. Last May the Congress Party won 261 seats. The Hindu Right lost 30 seats. Aggressive populists, curry-styled league members and authoritarian communists guilty of pogroms against peasant farmers in Western Bengal, beat their retreat.
In the Lebanon the anti-Syrian coalition that won the June elections seems to be disintegrating due to the recent defection of the Druse leader Walid Jumblat, until recently Syria’s bitter enemy. Whoever will be part of the next government, Damascus has everything to gain from the disintegration of the anti-Syrian front. Even any further delay in forming a government plays in Syria’s favour, and therefore, a politically divided and institutionally weak Lebanon is the best thing Damascus could hope for.
The autonomous Uyghur region of Xinjiang, as it was renamed in 1955, is in fact rich in gas, oil and mineral fields. Although exploitation poses problems due to the climate and the morphological conditions, natural resources could be used by the region’s neighbouring countries such as Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. For China, the Uyghurs inclination for closer ties with central Asia, due to cultural and ideological reasons, represents the possible loss of a strategic area for future commercial development.
An overview of EU at 27, plus Turkey and Croatia, points out that the teaching of religion is majority, although the religion in question is not always the catholic one and, sometimes, the religion taught is not just one: in fact, this is the case of only six countries (Croatia, Italy, Ireland, Malta, Portugal , Slovakia) for the catholic religion, two countries for the orthodox one (Cyprus and Greece) and one country for the Islamic one (Turkey). In twelve countries, the religious teaching concerns more religions and the multicultural ferments characterizing Europe make us thinking more deeply on this theme.
China is today the market growing fastest in the world in terms of imports from EU. At the invitation of Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Premier Wen Jiabao of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China paid an official visit to the Headquarters of the European Commission on 30th January 2009. The two leaders promoted mutual trust and bilateral cooperation and reaffermed their commitment to further develop the EU-China comprehensive and strategic partnership. Economic development does not mean democratic or social development, as well as economic dialogue is not intercultural dialogue. Nevertheless, Chinese opening, although mainly due to economic interest, is however an “opening” that, inevitably, goes beyond the mere economic sphere.
The younger generations know little and only learn about those events when travelling abroad. Can the Tiananmen Square massacre remain a taboo twenty years after taking place? The government says it can and for the simple reason that admitting a mistake and stating one was wrong means looking weak in the eyes of the Chinese people and would threaten the party leaders’ hold on power.
Twenty years have gone by, but the Tiananmen Square Massacre is still a taboo. Andrew J. Nathan - professor of Political Science at Columbia University, one of the leading scholars of modern Chinese politics and human rights, co-editor of the book The Tiananmen Papers, a collection of the Chinese government's secret deliberations from April to June 1989 – explains what happened and the impact the event has had on Chinese politics and international relations.
In Afghanistan recently approved laws abolish all the most fundamental rights given to women in recent years. Emma Bonino has yet again launched an appeal from the website of Resetdoc (a website devoted to dialogue between civilisations) asking the Afghan Parliament and President to abolish this legislation and asking everyone with human rights close to their hearts, to sign the petition with her. At this point I believe it is absolutely necessary that the appeal should also be signed by those Islamic intellectuals who in recent years expressed positions advocating the modernisation of Islam. As Muslims speaking to other Muslims one must state that Afghanistan’s return to Taliban positions in Family Law does not respect the Koran. On the contrary it violates it and is instead a reaction to the exasperation of a backward culture with which no one should any longer identify.