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The Maastricht Diplomat

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The week before Christmas in a Nut(cracker)shell

Good Sunday everyone. For some, exam week just ended. Others are already enjoying their holiday. While many of you have been occupied catching up, revising or taking time for yourselves, I would like to first mention my stay in France.

During my time, the new immigration law was adopted on the 19th of December. This acceptance entails immigration quotas, but also harsher conditions for familial reunions, acquiring French nationality, and job opportunities. As an example, before the law, an A2 French-level was requested to obtain a residency permit, which allows you to stay in France. From now on, immigrants are  requested to have a French education following the contract of republican integration and to have a B2 level in French. The law, proposed by Darmanain the Minister of the Interior was officially refused, to then be re-adapted and accepted this week. After the first refusal, Darmanain submitted his resignation which President Emmanuel Macron refused. Before its adoption, many protests occurred around France, including in the town of Metz, where I have stayed this week. In the background of sparkling Christmas lights and Maria Carey´s voice, the  political protests seemed unusual but festivities seemed not to stop the French government from changing. 

As if that wasn´t enough of bad news, the French government, and specifically Emmanuel Macron, worsened its case by showing support for Gérard Depardieu, a French actor currently accused of rape and sexual assault. A documentary on Depardieu was recently published in the magazine “Complément d’enquête”, showing Depardieu’s distressing and horrifying behaviour towards women. Seemingly unbothered, after a certain call between him and Depardieu, Macron stated that the Légion d’honneur should not be taken away from him. During the show “C à vous” on France 5, Macron expressed his admiration for Depardieu and denounced a “chasse à l'homme”, meaning a type of man hunting against Depardieu in which the president does not want to take part.

My stay in France has been rather interesting politically, to say the least. Yet, I do not want to ignore other international events that have happened. In Czech Republic, a shooting at Charles University in Prague, caused 15 deaths, including the shooter. According to the New York Times, the shooter first shot his father and then moved on to the University. Gunman was a student in the Faculty of Arts and lived in a village, 21km away from Prague where his father was found dead. Those tragic events last Thursday, the 19th also injured 25 other people, disturbing the upcoming engagement of Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.

Following on attacks, a terrorist attack was prevented in Nancy, my home town in France. Five men between 20-25 years old we stopped in the towns of Nancy, Vandeuvres, and Toul. All were planning a terrorist attack in Strasbourg on the 22nd of December. Fortunately, all have been arrested before moving to Strasbourg. So far, the media has not given any further information on the arrest and the attack planned. Considering the backlash the French government has been getting, people have expressed to be increasingly skeptical.

Even more eastwards, the position of the Ukrainian war also seems to have deteriorated this week. President Zelensky reported last Tuesday that about 450,000 to 500,000 additional soldiers will be needed to win the war against Russia. Further, Kyiv also noticed an aid decrease. Across the Atlantic, the US Republicans are blocking a 61billion military package. Closer to home, Hungary has so far also been stopping an EU financial deal of 50billion. In an urgent plea, Ukraine called for more soldiers and encouraged Ukrainian men living in Europe to help fight against Russia. It's evident that making this call is especially challenging during the holiday season, given that men are committed until the war's conclusion, with only a 10-day leave permitted.

I am well aware that this Sunday summary certainly breaks the Christmas spirit. Yet, hoping to lighten the general  mood, I would like to point out that the new Willy Wonka movie with Timothée Chalamet came out and has so far seemed to experience great success. According to Vogue, it is the most magical and chocolatey film of the year, and hence a very good fit to fix the Christmas spirit. While some have pointed out to be skeptical of Timothée Chalamet’s takeover of the Chocolate factory, many now think he is the perfect incarnation of Willy Wonka.

I hope many of you enjoy the festivities but keep yourself informed because politics and culture do    not take vacation. On this note, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.


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