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Christodoulos Ioannou

Fighting back IS; at their home and ours

The latest wave of terrorism, this time in the seat of the European Institutions, should be the final warning for our society and for our governments to respond to the threat of IS collectively and with determination.
So far, the citizens have answered proudly and defiantly. Throughout Brussels, people are coming together peacefully, leaving their own messages as an answer to terror, singing and mourning the loss of life with respect. This is what sets us apart from the terrorists, our humane response to tragedy and loss.
Our administrations should follow with responsibility, tackling IS decisively while staying away from populist manoeuvres and divisive rhetoric. Terrorists are actually helped in their strategy to radicalise young muslims in Europe by politicians like Donald Trump, who vow to exclude the whole Muslim community from the United States, or when countries proclaim that they will only accept Christian migrants. This helps turn young, desperate adolescents into suicide bombers.
An often forgotten characteristic of the terrorist attacks that shook Europe in the past 12 months is that this time they have also come from European nationals. We can choose to close our borders, whether internal or external, but it will not prevent the radicals who hold a European passport of putting these attacks forward.

Marine Le Pen

At this difficult time for France and for Europe I cannot help but reflect upon the national motto of the historic French nation.
The results of the French elections have sent us a clear message, one that has been repeated throughout the member states. The citizens are tired and disillusioned by mainstream politics, turning to extremes in the hope of a new solution. The consequences are already showing in Greece where the leftist government of Tsipras promised hope, but brought a meltdown instead to an already troubled country and its people.
In France things are more worrying. Despite an impressive re-branding and a changed rhetoric by the National Front and its president Marine Le Pen, the leadership remains dangerously extreme. The National Front is fiercely anti-immigrationanti-semitist and xenophobic, taking advantage of the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks by the radical extremists of the Islamic State. The answer of Ms Le Pen is to close the borders to most immigrants and ask to restore internal border controls in Europe. Shockingly, in the country that served freedom, democracy and equality, Marine Le Pen wants to bring back the death penalty.

"I left my soul behind, open up".

In the early hours of this morning, for the 39th year in a row, Cyprus was awoken by the familiar but awful sound of war sirens.  They go on every year on the same day and time, on the sad anniversary of the Turkish invasion on the island. 
The 14th of August 1974 was one more day that marked the turbulent timeline of our small but historic island-nation.  Following the first phase of the Turkish invasion on the 20th July of that year, 40000 Turkish troops raided the northern part of the island.  Not able to be stopped by the 12000 strong Greek and Cypriot army, they occupied 36% of Cypriot territory.  Thousands were killed or are still missing today, in despair of their loved ones.  The invasion, and ongoing occupation, dislocated hundreds of thousands of people from their homes making them refugees within their own country.  Among them, my twenty-year old parents who fled their homes taking nothing in search of a shelter from the bombs, and had to start their adult lives in refugee camps.  Today, 39 years later, they have yet to be allowed to return to that little place they called home. 
A tragic, constant reminder of Turkey’s violation to our basic right of self-determination is the huge Turkish flag that provocatively decorates the mountainside of “Pentadaktylos”, a mountain range in the north.