Global Newsstand: The EU is more unified than many people think, and more

A roundup of global commentary for the Feb. 18, 2019 weekly magazine.

Petros Karadjias/AP
From left: Malta prime minister Joseph Muscat, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, French president Emanuel Macron, Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades, Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte, and Portuguese prime minister Antonio Costa at an EU summit on Jan. 29.

El País / Madrid

The EU is more unified than many people think

“The notion that the European Union has never been less united than now has taken hold in the public consciousness,” writes Miguel Otero Iglesias. “The recurring theme is that EU countries are unable to agree on euro reforms, on migratory flow management, on how to deal with growing aggressiveness from the US, Russia and China.... Divisions exist, and they are serious, but a calm and collected analysis, with historical perspective, shows that Europe is probably more united today than ever before. And to convince ourselves of this fact, it is not necessary to recall the centuries’ worth of European conflicts.... It is enough to review the last 60 years of European integration.... Even popular support for the EU has increased.”

The Moscow Times / Moscow

Russia’s new internet bill may put it in China’s league in terms of censorship

“When it comes to internet censorship, Russia has long followed China’s example...,” writes Leonid Kovachich. “But now the student might become master.... The latest Russian internet initiative – a ‘sovereign internet’ bill drafted ... last December – proposes to create a Russian intranet independent of global servers. The bill’s explanatory note says that the legal amendments are aimed at making Runet – the Russian-language internet – steadfast in the event that it is disconnected from the World Wide Web. However, no country has ever been deliberately disconnected from the internet, and to do so would be very difficult. This raises alarm bells about the true purpose of the bill.”

The Japan Times / Tokyo

US foreign policy in Venezuela has echoes of Iraq

“I have a different perspective on the political showdown between President Nicolas Maduro and National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido in Venezuela...,” writes Kuni Miyake. “The Trump administration has intensified pressures on Maduro by stating that all options are open, though this may not mean that Washington wants to use force.... What surprised me most was to find such familiar names as Elliot Abrams. On Jan. 25, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo named Abrams his new special envoy for Venezuela.... In 2004, when I was seconded to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Abrams was special assistant to the president at the National Security Council. The occupation of Iraq, in which he was deeply involved, was the biggest fiasco I’ve ever seen.”

Al Arabiya / Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Will Myanmar hold itself accountable for the Rohingya crisis?

“UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Myanmar, Professor Yanghee Lee, on [Jan. 25] called for the Myanmar Army Chief, Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing, to be prosecuted for genocide against the Rohingya...,” writes Azeem Ibrahim. “Aung San Suu Kyi should be given an opportunity to fully redeem herself and her country.... Now that the verdict of genocide has finally been pronounced, neither the international community, nor Myanmar’s civilian government, can obfuscate or deflect the issue any longer. It is time to ensure that what remains of the Rohingya community is protected, and that those who committed this genocide against them will be held accountable.”

The Daily Star / Dhaka, Bangladesh

Wetland conservation is an important part of mitigating climate change

“Every year on February 2, nations have been celebrating the World Wetlands Day since 1997...,” writes Quamrul Chowdhury. “Wetlands, particularly coastal and haor wetlands, are important in the process to mitigate climate change because they help to manage extreme weather events through the multiple services that they provide.... But with the degradation or encroachment of wetlands, human well-being is being compromised. It is raising the risk of flooding of houses and infrastructure, and increasing the risk of exposure to water shortages and drought. Against these threats, initiatives to conserve wetlands can make a difference and benefit the well-being of the future generations of people and wildlife.”

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