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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Parthabi Kanungo – Into the first week of Maastricht’s plunge into self-isolation, and nobody has ever wanted to go on those aimless evening walks more. We could use this summary today to discuss statistics, lockdowns, travel bans and our impending doom, or we could delve into other stories you may have missed. We are going to opt for the latter, for the sake of your sanity and ours.

We are choosing to stop over in Moscow first, where despite rumours of a lockdown, the referendum on proposed constitutional changes is expected to take place on the 22nd of April. Earlier this week, the Constitutional Court approved a series of proposed amendments, including a reset of President Vladimir Putin’s term, providing him with the option of running for two more terms, and staying in power until 2036, the year he would turn 83. But in classic Russian style, it does come down to the decision of the people in the referendum (irrespective of whether the other half of the world deems it to be legitimate).

In a different part of the world, where we can’t physically travel to from Europe at the moment, the 11th Democratic Presidential debate culminated in a showdown between our final contenders Biden and Sanders. Commitments on Medicare for All, social security and Vice-Presidents were made, greeted with elbow bumps and shouts from podiums six feet apart. As a decisive Tuesday followed, Biden’s win in an additional three states, Arizona, Florida and Illinois made him the first candidate to cross the 1000 delegate mark. As several states have yet to vote, and amid coronavirus concerns leading to the postponement of primaries, there may still be hope for Team Bernie. Remember, the required delegate count is 1991!

As we head back to Europe, the refugee crisis which escalated three weeks ago, when 35,000 Syrian refugees crossed Turkey’s northwestern border into Greece, saw a decrease in migrant numbers last Thursday, as priorities also shifted towards the containment of Covid-19. Following a video-call between France, Germany, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the commitment to the EU-Turkey migrant deal was reaffirmed by EU leaders in a major victory for Turkey, as Germany pledged 125 million for Syrian refugees in Idlib.

Among the news items that provided actual relief, New Zealand’s landmark bill decriminalising abortion tops the list. A struggle of over 44 years finally saw the removal of abortion from the Crimes Act, and relaxation of stringent requirements for an abortion, such as certification from doctors confirming serious danger to life or health of the pregnant woman. Under the reformed law, abortion up to twenty weeks can now be the woman’s independent decision. The measure has been hailed as the 21st century adaptation for New Zealand’s legal system.

And while we are on the topic of adaptation, let’s bid farewell on an optimistic note, cheering on our abilities to paint our own rainbows on the walls of the houses we aren’t supposed to step out of. It’s all about the art of adaptation! And on that note, stay home and stay safe, we trust in your resourcefulness to find something to do.


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