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The Maastricht Diplomat

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"A new era"

Hello everyone, and welcome to another Sunday summary. I hope everyone who celebrates has had a great Easter. I can tell you that, for me, it was certainly a very different experience this year! As I am currently studying in Granada, in the south of Spain, my days were filled with observing big processions crossing my way in the city. Many participants carried pasos, which are decorated floats, used to move the statues of important Christian figures. In front, or behind the floats, walked the Nazarenos, members of a brotherhood association wearing a cone-shaped hood with eye holes. As some of you probably know, the Holy Week (or Semana Santa) is a big thing in Andalusia. And while it was beautiful to experience this important celebration live in the city, I’m happy that now everything calmed down a bit again.

But let’s move on to the actual news of this week. To make you a little bit jealous, I’ll be writing this summary while drinking an iced coffee in the sun at 27°C. I just looked at the weather in Maastricht and let’s say I’ll try to make your day not much rainier with the news (can’t promise anything though). Let’s dive in!

The beginning leads us to my home country, Germany. Yesterday, the final three nuclear power plants were closed there. “The end of an era”, newspapers are writing. It certainly took a long time from the beginning of the anti-nuclear movement in Germany in the 1970s up to today. The plants were already supposed to be closed towards the end of last year. However, with the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany feared its energy security and thus they prolonged the end of its nuclear age until this year.

Indeed, this is the end of an era, but the decision stays controversial. After disasters such as Chernobyl or Fukushima, many people keep seeing the risks of the use of nuclear power. Plus, the ongoing question of where to store nuclear waste, because it remains dangerous for around 30.000 more generations. Others stress that nuclear energy is actually a very green alternative and that it is still necessary in light of the energy crisis.

For the next news, we’re going to move a little bit more towards the south of Europe, more precisely, to Italy. Here, the government announced a state of emergency on immigration, which is going to last for six months. This was based on the unusually high amount of migrants arriving in Italy this year. Up until now about 31,000 migrants have arrived in Italy. The two years before in the same period it has been around 8,000. On Tuesday a statement was released, stating the necessity of this measure and that the state of emergency will be backed by initial funding of 5 million euros. It allows the government to skip the usually very long parliamentary process of deciding on new measures. At the same time, Italy's government under Civil Protection Minister Nello Musumeci called for the solution depending on “responsible intervention by the European Union”. Many worry about this measure being taken by Giorgia Meloni, as it would only facilitate the deportation of migrants and refugees.

Continuing in the category of worrisome: On Monday, China ended its three-days-long military drills near Taiwan. They had been launched in response to a meeting between the US House Speaker with Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen. During the drills, direct strikes on Taiwan were simulated and the military practiced an air blockade of Taiwan. Many of the military aircrafts crossed the unofficial separation of the median line in the Taiwan Strait. The Guardian reports it as being “the largest show of force since the drills launched in response to McCarthy’s predecessor [in August]”.

These are not the first drills of this kind that China is executing near Taiwan. However, some analysts look at the situation with worry. They say that, compared to previous drills, the recent ones were more about China’s intent to annex Taiwan. They also worry that it has raised the risk of miscalculation and escalation.

Lastly, I quickly want to mention that the suspect said to be responsible for the leaks of Pentagon intelligence was detained this week. Some months ago, he started leaking top-secret US defence documents containing important information. It is said to have started in an online discord group connecting about guns, military gear and video games and racist language. As it seems, the suspect did not actually act to achieve any foreign policy outcome, but more out of an attempt to impress. Although Biden reports that he is not very concerned about the leak, these events could put a veil on allies' trust in US security.

This is it for today, everyone. I hope you enjoyed the quick update on the news. I wish you all a great week and take care!


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