Category Archives: Europe

La Question de l’Indépendance et les Droits des Minorités


L’organisation des Nations unies a été fondée en 1945, au lendemain de la Seconde Guerre mondiale, pour fournir une base de dialogue à tous les pays et éviter les guerres. À la base, il y a avait 51 pays fondateurs, dont la France. Aujourd’hui, l’ONU compte 193 membres. Le dernier État à avoir intégré l’institution est le Soudan du Sud, en 2011. Il n’y a désormais plus que quatre États sur la planète reconnus par l’ONU, mais qui n’en sont pas membres : la Palestine, le Vatican, les Îles Cook et une île du Pacifique sud.

Dans le monde actuel, les Etats multiethniques sont la norme et la majorité. La définition traditionnelle de l’Etat-nation selon laquelle un groupe national distinct correspondait à une unité territoriale n’a jamais été exactement respectée en pratique, mais, de nos jours, la mondialisation et les déplacements croissants à travers les frontières la rende totalement dépassée. Cependant des cultures majoritaires ou dominantes dans les différents pays du monde cherchent encore à imposer leur identité aux autres groupes avec lesquels elles partagent un territoire.

L’opinion dominante aujourd’hui notamment à l’ONU est que les minorités, par principe, ne peuvent pas réclamer le droit à l’autodétermination. Toutefois, certains auteurs considèrent, en revanche, que le principe d’autodétermination pourrait s’appliquer aux minorités, bien qu’ils ne donnent pas d’indication claire sur le mode de réalisation de ce principe.  Continue reading La Question de l’Indépendance et les Droits des Minorités

Innovation and start-ups: Used Coffee Grounds Turned Into A Renewable Energy Source


Coffee is one of the globe’s largest agricultural commodities, with about 8bn kilograms (more than 16bn lbs) grown annually worldwide. That’s a lot of coffee – and a lot of leftover coffee grounds, most of which ends up in landfills or, in a best-case scenario, as a soil conditioner in someone’s garden.
Soluble coffee has been reported as a richsource of antioxidants, the consumption of which may prevent diseases caused by oxidative damage.Through a little bit of research the founder of Bio-Bean, Arthur Kay ,taught that coffee has a higher caloric value than wood.  figured out how to compress the grounds into bio-fuel pellets.
As it has been reported on the Guardian, companies such as Starbucks and Nestle, for example, are already putting used coffee grounds to work, while researchers believe that oil from coffee grounds could end up contributing tens of millions of liters of biodiesel to the global fuel supply.

UK-based clean tech company bio-bean has industrialized the process of turning used coffee grounds into sustainable biofuels and biochemicals. Bio-bean works within the existing energy and waste infrastructure to develop products and solutions that displace conventional fuels and chemicals.

The Telegraph reports that Bio-Bean has contracts to collect used coffee grounds from cafes, coffee factories, and airports, all of whom are saving a pretty penny in disposal fees (£154 per ton, around $225). Before being turned into biofuel, the coffee refuse is stripped of the oils in order to keep the bricks from smelling like coffee when burned. “Some people think this is a shame but others don’t want their home to smell like Starbucks,” Kay states.

Bio-Bean, now three year old company,  reprocesses about 10% of all the coffee grounds in the UK — about 50,000 tons — into pellets every year. That’s enough to heat about 15,000 homes according to its founder. The company produces biomass pellets and recently introduced Coffee Logs, carbon neutral biomass briquettes that can fuel homes and appliances, such as wood-fire stoves and BBQs. It has also undertaken extensive research and development into the commercial application of biodiesel from waste coffee grounds.

Bio-bean sells its carbon-neutral clean fuel to local businesses and aims to eventually help power the same coffee shops that supplied the grounds.

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In Joure, in the Netherlands, Veolia and Douwe Egberts Master Blenders have developed a solution for reusing coffee grounds to produce steam, and thus reduce the coffee company’s consumption of natural gas.

Veolia engineers set out to meet this challenge by developing a combustion system unlike any other in the world, in which the spent coffee grounds from the production process are burned to generate the steam needed to operate the plant. The system has enabled the plant to reduce its CO2 emissions by 70%.

Sources: Bio-bean,the Guardian, Telegraph UK.

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Featured Image Credit: @Wikipedia

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Grâce à une technologie proche de celle qui permet aux industriels du sucre de produire du biocarburant, Bio-Bean est capable de transformer les restes de café en un produit capable de propulser les voitures équipées de moteurs adaptés. Mais la production de ce nouveau carburant laisse à son tour des déchets « solides », pour lesquels notre entreprise britannique a également une solution : compactés, ils sont transformés en granulés pour le chauffage.

Pour l’instant, la société basée à Londres centre son activité sur la capitale anglaise et se permet même le luxe de produire local, et donc de limiter les émissions de CO2 de son activité.

Pour cela, il a fixé aux habitants et aux industriels locaux des objectifs ambitieux en terme de déchets (70% d’entre eux devront être réutilisés, recyclés ou compostés d’ici 2020) et d’émissions de CO2 (60% d’émissions en moins d’ici 2025).

How Political Corruption Weakens Democracy and Economic Growth in Cyprus and Malta


Today, the European Union has to take the role to protect and preserve democracy while authoritarianism is felt everyday by the state during the Covid-19 flu and in a lot of cases measures are unjustified. The COVID-19 crisis has offered corrupt and authoritarian leaders a dangerous combination of public distraction and reduced oversight.

This new authoritarianism made more obvious the problem of corruption in some weak democracies. To analyze the corruption problem and how it can destroy all the country’s system i’m taking as an example two small countries in the European bloc, Cyprus and Malta where the implications of corruption and political clientelism in these two countries is obvious in all country’s structures and has already done a lot of damage.

The two countries used to issue “Golden Passports” during the previous years, something that skyrocketed the rent prices while salaries remained very low. Corruption weakens democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption

Why High Corruption Index hurts Democracy

The term corruption is defined as the misuse of public office for private gains which costs every country a large amount of financial, political and social resources every year. Research on the causes, consequences and combat strategies of corruption are manifold and very revealing. Worldwide studies indicate, for example, that well-established democracies show lower levels of corruption than authoritarian regimes or young democracies . At the same time, high levels of corruption undermine democracy. By diverting rare resources from disadvantaged people, it damages the rule of law, social justice and lowers the trust of citizens in political institutions and processes.

Economies that are afflicted by a high level of corruption, which involves the misuse of power in the form of money or authority to achieve certain goals in illegal, dishonest, or unfair ways, are not capable of prospering as fully as those with a low level of corruption. Corrupted economies are not able to function properly because corruption prevents the natural laws of the economy from functioning freely. As a result, corruption in a nation’s political and economic operations causes its entire society to suffer.

Political competitors in younger democracies have had less chance to develop policy reputations with voters and their political parties are likely to be less well-established as vehicles for conveying credible
policy stances. As a consequence, they should be more susceptible to reliance on patrons as a means to establish credible bonds with voters. This implies that the policy choices of young democracies should resemble most closely those predicted by the foregoing arguments: lower levels of public good provision, high levels of private, targeted goods, and high rent-seeking. More systematic empirical evidence comes to support this claim.

Looking now at the profiles of Ministers and politicians, in these two countries, we can take as common measures the rent-seeking tendencies, measures of bureaucratic quality, the rule of law, secondary school enrollment and government ownership of newspapers. The misuse of these measures affect directly the democratic system and there are disadvantages for the middle class and the poor.

Studies tend to conclude that political competitors in young democracies are less credible, more reliant on patrons, and more likely to focus public policy on transfers and rent-seeking than broad public good provision finds substantial implicit support in the case study literature. Various contributors in Malloy and Seligson (1987), looking at countries experiencing the transition from authoritarian to democratic government, repeatedly note the reliance of new political competitors on narrow benefits to targeted constituencies.

Corruption can lead to an uneven distribution of wealth as small businesses face unfair competition from large companies that have established illegal connections with government officials. In a corrupt economy, resources are inefficiently allocated and companies that otherwise would not be qualified to win government contracts are often awarded projects as a result of bribery or kickbacks. Moreover, the quality of education and healthcare also deteriorates under a corrupt economy, leading to an overall lower standard of living for the country’s citizens.

Uneven Distribution of Wealth

Corrupted economies are characterized by a disproportionately small middle class and significant divergence between the living standards of the upper class and lower class. Because most of the country’s capital is aggregated in the hands of oligarchs or persons who back corrupted public officials, most of the created wealth also flows to these individuals.

In a corrupt economy, small businesses are not widely spread and are usually discouraged because they face unfair competition and illegal pressures by large companies that are connected with government officials. Certain industries are more prone to corruption than others, making small businesses in these sectors even more vulnerable to unethical business practices.

Corruption in the way deals are made, contracts are awarded, or economic operations are carried out, leads to monopolies or oligopolies in the economy. Those business owners who can use their connections or money to bribe government officials can manipulate policies and market mechanisms to ensure they are the sole provider of goods or services in the market.

Small businesses in corrupt countries tend to avoid having their businesses officially registered with tax authorities to avoid taxation. As a result, the income generated by many businesses exists outside the official economy, and thus are not subject to state taxation or included in the calculation of the country’s GDP.

Another negative of shadow businesses is they usually pay their employees decreased wages, lower than the minimum amount designated by the government. Also, they do not provide acceptable working conditions, including appropriate health insurance benefits for employees.

Press Freedom and Corruption

Press Freedom is at risk in these two countries. This factor leaves a window open to more and more corruption of the country’s system. In Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia, a prominent investigative journalist, was murdered in 2017 after writing about alleged money laundering by powerful officials, as well as the business dealings of the prime minister’s wife. The investigations and public demonstrations that followed her death eventually led to the resignation of the prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and to the arrest of his chief of staff, Keith Schembri.

On the other hand, although press freedom in the Republic of Cyprus is guaranteed by the constitution, political parties, the Orthodox Church and commercial interests have a great deal of influence over the media. In both sides of the island (greek and turkish) according to Reporters without Borders , journalism is also hampered by certain bans on the use of geographical names not accepted by the state; on the denial of crimes against humanity, and war crimes not recognised by the state.

The Golden Passport Scheme and its links to Corruption Risk

Last October, in a plenary debate with Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, MEPs stressed the inherent risks that these programmes give rise to, namely money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. They insisted that Europe must not have “a fast-track entrance for criminals”.

The Cyprus Papers – a series by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit – shows that the European Union (EU) is currently defenceless against the haphazard sale of EU citizenship and residency to criminals and the corrupt.

On October 20, the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Cyprus and Malta over so-called “golden passport” schemes, in which individuals can get a fast track to citizenship after investing between € 1 and 2.5 million in the countries’ economies.  

This practice has been lucrative for both governments. Since 2013, Cyprus raised € 4.8 billion, amounting to 5% of its GDP, by selling thousands of passports to foreign investors. Malta gained about € 718 million in this manner in foreign direct investment since 2014. 

This in turn undermines the integrity of the status of EU citizenship and is incompatible with the principle of sincere cooperation between the EU and member states.  In addition, journalists revealed that high-profile criminals were able to obtain Cypriot passports. The Commission argues that this represents a security threat for the EU as a whole, and increases the risk of money laundering, tax evasion and corruption. 

Without ensuring individuals applying for citizenship have a  genuine connection to their countries – an internationally recognized legal standard for citizenship – they have been taking risks for the EU as a whole.  Corruption in any country, however small, affects the EU as a whole. Every country has a veto over some crucial policies, such as the EU budget. Each country also gets a turn at chairing the EU and shaping its agenda. A passport from any EU country confers the right to live and work anywhere in the EU27.

For example, many of the new owners of a Cypriot passport sought to evade criminal prosecution in their home countries. Mykola Zlochevsky, the owner of the Burisma energy company who is wanted in Ukraine, obtained his passport in 2017. At the time, he was already under investigation in Ukraine for corruption where he offered prosecutors a $ 6 million bribe in cash. 

The government of Cyprus was also accused of issuing passports to foreign criminals and the relatives of despots such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and Cambodia’s Hun Sen.

Not only were the lax requirements to “buy” citizenship in Cyprus and Malta legally and morally questionable, in practice, these schemes were also a harbour of corruption. Anyone willing to pay for it could get a passport with no difficulty. The most direct result of this is to give access to the EU to wealthy people evading criminal charges at home. 

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Observing Istanbul, the Eternal Capital of the East


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Istanbul, Galata Bridge , May 2018

I had the incredible chance to visit Istanbul twice that year ,back in 2018 . Istanbul really is a place like no other. Spanning over two continents, the city’s exceptionally unique position is just one of the many ways Istanbul brims with juxtapositions. Although Turkey’s most-visited city exudes an eclectic modernity, the country’s deep-rooted history, culture and tradition still remains undeniably prevalent. For some who know very well the city, Istanbul still remains as the eternal capital of Turkey.

Life starts early in the morning at Galata Bridge in Istanbul. The unique spirit of the bridge is still preserved today—with fishermen, tourists, and tea and bagel salesmen.

The Galata Bridge is an Istanbul landmark that connects the newer parts of the city, including Karaköy and Beyoğlu, with the historic old parts of Eminönü and Sultanahmet. The bridge has been frequented by fishermen for over a decade, and boasts some of the city’s best fish vendors and views.

The bridge welcomes both professionals, those who have frequented it for years, amateurs, and enthusiastic beginners alike. Amateurs are eager to learn the right time and the right place to catch fish.

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Istiklal or Istiqlal CD, street Istanbul, May 2018

Built during the Ottoman Empire, the Istiklal street, literally the independance road, was originally known as Grande Rue de Pera, until it was renamed by the new Turkish Republic in the early 19th century. While today the street is pedestrian-dominated, it was once a dangerous high-speed automobile highway that fell into disrepair in the 1970s.

It wasn’t until the founding of the Republic of Turkey that this famous street received its third and present name.  Originally the street was simply called Grand Avenue (Cadde-i Kebir). With the arrival and settlement of non-Muslims and European foreigners in the 17th century, Istiklal Caddesi was referred to as ‘Grand Rue de Pera’.

Located in the historic Beyoğlu (Pera) district, it is an elegant pedestrian street, 1.4 kilometres (0.87 mi) long and Istanbul’s most elegant street , in my opinion, and home to the city’s smartest shops, various embassies and churches as well as fashionable residences and tea-houses. A street people wouldn’t dream of taking a stroll on wearing an ordinary pair of jeans.

The Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey.
The Blue Mosque, (Sultanahmet Camii), Istanbul, Turkey.

Istanbul is famous for its Mosques and Ottoman architecture. As the capital of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 and the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is home to over 3000 mosques.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Turkish: Sultan Ahmet Camii), also known as the Blue Mosque. It’s known as a functioning mosque which also attracts large numbers of tourist visitors. It was constructed between 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I. Its Külliye contains Ahmed’s tomb, a madrasah and a hospice. Hand-painted blue tiles adorn the mosque’s interior walls, and at night the mosque is bathed in blue as lights frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets and eight secondary domes.

 It sits next to the Hagia Sophia, the principal mosque of Istanbul until the Blue Mosque’s construction and another popular tourist site.

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In the pedestrian pavement of Ayia Sofia, Istanbul, May 2018
Hayia Sofia, Istanbul, front photo

Visitors are still welcome to Hagia Sophia, which remains the country’s most popular tourist attraction. Hagia Sophia, It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, the nation’s biggest tourist draw, and the contested religious center of both Christian and Muslim empires.

The architectural marvel—celebrated for its Byzantine architecture, elaborate mosaics, and religious importance to Christians and Muslims.

The Hagia Sophia that stands today was built in the sixth century as the cathedral for the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (also called the Byzantine Empire), and it became a mosque in 1453 with the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. It remained a Muslim house of worship until 1934, when the Turkish government turned it into a museum.

Taksim Square, May 2018

The word Taksim means “division” or “distribution”. Taksim Square was originally the point where the main water lines from the north of Istanbul were collected and branched off to other parts of the city (hence the name.) This use for the area was established by Sultan Mahmud I. The square takes its name from the Ottoman era stone reservoir which is located in this area.

Taksim is a main transportation hub and a popular destination for both tourists and residents of Istanbul. The Republic Monument (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Anıtı) , a notable monument located at Taksim was built to commemorate the formation of the Turkish Republic in 1923.

Istanbul, Taksim Square, credit New York Times
Istanbul, May 2018
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View from Hayia Sofia window, May 2018
Istanbul ferry, May 2018

It’s a well-known fact that the city of Istanbul is unique for spanning two continents. For very cheap, you’ll take a 10 minute ferry ride from Karakoy (Europe) to Kadikoy (Asia). If the weather is good then head out onto one of the outside decks for great views of Sultanahmet including Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Also keep your eyes on the water as you may see a few playful dolphins pop their heads up from time to time. Before you know it you will have docked at Kadikoy – welcome to Asia!

Thank you! Teşekkür ederim!