Since the first reports detailing the presence of foreigner participating in the Syrian civil war in September 2011, the number of foreign fighters has increased exponentially. Especially European policymakers are worried about the potential threat posed by the presence of hundreds of European foreign fighters in Syria and the possibility that some of them could return to stage an attack. This article examines the challenges European policymakers face when addressing the foreign fighter phenomenon in general, and that of returnees in particular.Read more
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine is currently the only international presence that operates throughout Ukraine – including in the east and south-east of the country where fighting is taking place between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian rebels. Since its inception in March 2014, the SMM has established an impressive network of contacts with all sides in Ukraine and it has become the 'eyes and ears of the international community on the ground in Ukraine'. Alexander Hug, the Deputy Chief Monitor of the OSCE SMM explains in this interview how the SMM operates in Ukraine.Read more
On 23 May, the Eurovision Song Contest took place in Vienna. Austria won the contest in 2014 with the powerful song 'Rise Like a Phoenix' by Conchita Wurst who has since become an internationally known figure advocating more tolerance towards sexual minorities. Fittingly, Ireland announced the results of its referendum on legalizing gay marriage on the day of the Song Contest. It voted overwhelmingly (over 62%) in favor of same-sex marriage. Crowds in the arena in Vienna at the Eurovision Song Contest reacted to the Irish referendum by cheering loudly when Ireland read out its points. The winner of this year's Song Contest is Sweden with the song 'Heroes'. In this interview, Dr. Dean Vuletic, expert on the relation between popular music and politics, explains how popular music, and indeed the Song Contest, can help to build bridges between states and also between people, and how it can be used as a confidence-building measure. He also gives insights as to whether the Eurovision Song Contest can be used to affirm statehood.Read more
The Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting (SHDM) on Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association, with Emphasis on Freedom of Association took place in Vienna on 16 and 17 April. It was organized by the Serbian OSCE Chairmanship and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The meeting was part of a series of OSCE human dimension meetings that take place every year throughout the OSCE region and that culminate in the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, Europe's largest human rights conference, taking place in Warsaw in autumn. The SHDMs provide an opportunity for representatives of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to participate on an equal footing with government representatives.Read more
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24-05-2015 Interview: The Eurovision Song Contest as a Confidence-Building Measure and Bridge Builder?: On 23 May, the Eu... t.co/99wP2vAktp