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NGOs rescuing migrants in Mediterranean, upholding rule of law, unity nurtured after coup now under threat, foreigners’ role in peace debate, improving relations with China over THAAD

A roundup of global commentary for the Sept. 19, 2016 weekly magazine.

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    Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration over what they say is unfair distribution of wealth in the country at Meskel Square in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, August 6, 2016.
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EUobserver / Brussels

NGOs rescuing migrants in Mediterranean

“The launch of Operation Triton in 2014 shifted the focus of [European Union] efforts in the Southern Mediterranean from Search and Rescue (SAR) to border control. Several [nongovernmental organizations] have since attempted to fill the gap left by the absence of large-scale humanitarian operations...,” writes Eugenio Cusumano. “As the Central Mediterranean corridor is frequently crossed by merchant and military vessels alike – all obliged to conduct rescue missions based on the legal duty to assist people in distress at sea ... one may consider the contribution of a few NGO vessels negligible. Among all the assets presently deployed in the Mediterranean, however, only NGO vessels have SAR as their primary mission.... Hence, while the capabilities of NGOs are relatively small, the fact that their assets are exclusively dedicated to SAR makes their contribution to rescuing migrants invaluable.”

The Reporter / Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Upholding rule of law

“The recent wave of protests that gripped certain parts of Ethiopia has led to the death and injury of hundreds and destruction of property...,” states an editorial. “Ethiopia must be governed by the rule of law. Misdeeds committed in the name of upholding the rule of law are disenfranchising the public and prompting revolt. Meanwhile, forces itching to enrich themselves unduly on the back of the legitimate demands of the public are committing grave crimes like arson, robbery, extortion and murder that exacerbate the destruction caused by the recent protests.”

Hurriyet Daily News / Istanbul, Turkey

Unity nurtured after coup now under threat

“One of the most important positive consequences of the July 15 coup attempt, which caused a wide and deep trauma within society and politics, was the unity and solidarity it helped foster between different political parties and walks of life in Turkey,” writes Serkan Demirtaş. “The essence of this spirit was the fact that all these groups ... unconditionally defended Turkish democracy.... For some senior [main opposition Republican People’s Party] officials, [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and the [ruling Justice and Development Party] have been trying to capitalize on the post-coup process to unite the whole nation, political parties, media and other civil society organizations around ... Erdoğan as the sole figure symbolizing the state.... They are seen as the footsteps ... that would introduce comprehensive systemic change in Turkey, collecting all power in a single pair of hands at the expense of further eroding checks and balances.”

Colombia Reports / Medellín, Colombia

Foreigners’ role in peace debate

“Foreigners with opinions on Colombia are as divided about the peace process with the [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] as Colombians themselves...,” writes Adriaan Alsema, a Dutchman living in Colombia. “[W]e should consider how we can contribute.... I suggest we recognize our place and primarily leave Colombians have the debate about their own future in relative autonomy. Remember it is their kids that are fighting in the jungles, not ours. If we do contribute to the debate about the pending vote, let it be informed, rationally, sensitively and compassionately.”

The Korea Times / Seoul, South Korea

Improving relations with China over THAAD

“The leaders of Korea and China held talks during the final day of the [Group of 20] Summit.... The primary focus of the highly-anticipated meeting between President Park Geun-hye and Chinese President Xi Jinping was how they would handle their differences over the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system on Korean soil...,” states an editorial. “The THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense] issue has become one of the most serious impediments in bilateral relations, but the Park-Xi meeting provided strong momentum for improving relations from here onwards. Amid escalating tension, the meeting that took place on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou is a positive sign that the two countries are on a path toward communication rather than confrontation....”

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