Thursday, 15 March 2018

Will Cyprus stay in perpetual division?

With EU-Turkey relations at an all-time low, the reunification of Cyprus seems like a distant prospect. This week I saw an island where the frozen conflict has become largely normalized. Unlike in Berlin, this wall doesn't look like its falling any time soon.

Sometimes, old wounds just won't heal. So it is with the island of Cyprus, where a 180 kilometer scar runs from shore to shore, and has been festering for four decades.

I visited the island for the first time this week, and those wounds were on display right from the start. As my plane flew across Greek Cyprus, over the capital Nicosia, I could see the giant Turkish flag painted on the mountains to the north, taunting the Greeks. It reminded me of the Alexanderplatz TV Tower in Berlin, built to be unavoidably visible everywhere in West Berlin during the Cold War.

The trip was, admittedly, somewhat of a box-checking exercise. Of the 32 European Union and EFTA countries, there are three left that I haven't visited - Cyprus, Slovenia and Romania. I'm heading to Slovenia next month for a conference, and have resolved to do a weekend in Bucharest before the year is done. Then - I win?

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

I’ve had an abortion

On 25 May, Ireland will hold a referendum central to its self-image in the 21st century. This week guest blogger Jen Baker explains why she's hosting a fundraiser to Repeal the 8th in Brussels next Tuesday.

I’ve had an abortion.

It was awful, painful - both physically and psychologically - and not something I would wish on anyone. And it was absolutely the right choice for me.

My normal contraception had failed and I was left with a stark choice, neither option particularly appealing. But at least I had a choice. In Ireland abortion is illegal under the 8th Amendment. Because of this, every single day women and girls who may have suffered rape or incest, have life-threatening healthcare issues while being pregnant or, simply like me, have found themselves with an unwanted pregnancy are forced to travel abroad to seek care.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018