How did Russo-Turkish tensions start?

Since the 24th of November, the world has followed Russo-Turkish tensions with a mixture of interest and fear. But who should be blamed for the tensions? The following article summarizes the most important events in Russo-Turkish relations from the 30th of September to the 24th of November. I believe that its necessary to report this timeline, to contrast the general belief that NATO and Turkey acted in an unpredictable way, with the explicit goal of provoking Russia.

This timeline is available on the website of the Institute for the study of War:

30th Sept: RUSSIAN AIR CAMPAIGN IN SYRIA BEGINS. Russian aircraft based at Syria’s Latakia airfield hit targets in rebel-held towns in Homs and Hama Provinces. Targets included groups supported by the US.

2nd Oct. TURKEY ACCUSES RUSSIA OF TARGETING MODERATE OPPOSITION. Prime Minister Davutoglu says Russia is hitting the Free Syrian Army to ‘destroy the moderate opposition’ and bolster the Assad regime.

3rd Oct.RUSSIAN JETS VIOLATE TURKISH AIRSPACE TWICE. Russian fighter crosses into Turkish airspace, and MiG-29 aircraft (either Russian or Syrian) locked fire-control radars on Turkish F-16s.

5th Oct. NATO WARNS RUSSIA ABOUT VIOLATING TURKISH AIRSPACE. NATO holds emergency meeting about Russian violations of Turkish airspace. Turkey warns Russia that it might shoot down Russian aircraft in future.

6th Oct. RUSSIAN WARPLANES HARASS US AND TURKISH AIRCRAFT OVER SYRIA. Anti-aircraft missile systems in Syria locked fire-control radars on eight Turkish F-16s. US aircraft forced to re-route to avoid Russian planes in Syria.

10th, 11th of Oct. SYRIAN AIR DEFENSE HARASSES TURKISH AIRCRAFT. Syrian air defenses locked fire-control radars on seven Turkish F-16s on two separate occasions.

12th oct. RUSSIA ANNOUNCES ESCORTS FOR ITS BOMBERS IN SYRIA. Russia announces that advanced Su-30 air superiority fighters will accompany its attack aircraft, presumably to defend against coalition airplanes.

15th Oct. TURKISH AND RUSSIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS AERIAL TENSIONS. Turkish official says Russian aircraft approached Turkish planes at dangerous distances 13 times since September 30 and Russia has provided no “adequate” explanation.

16th October 2015. TURKEY SHOOTS DOWN RUSSIAN DRONE OVER TURKEY. A Turkish jet downed a Russian drone that crossed from Syria into Turkey, according to an unnamed U.S. defense official. Meanwhile, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that all Russian planes had returned to Latakia Air Base after “completing combat operations” but said that Russian drones were still conducting surveillance operations. RUSSIA SAYS IT WILL STOP ESCORTING ITS ATTACK AIRCRAFT. Russia says its attack aircraft will fly solo again


Adding fuel to the fire of Syria

I have never been a huge fan of the Italian PM Matteo Renzi. Indeed, i always thought that he never challenged geopolitical issues from the right angle, the migration crisis in primis. On the other hand, i strongly believe that today, in regards to possibility of joining Syria air strikes, he said something very true:
“Four years of civil war in Libya show it was not a happy decision. Today there needs to be a different strategy”, “The one thing we cannot allow ourselves is a repeat of Libya.”

Italy is therefore not joining Syria air-strikes. And i couldn’t agree with Renzi more. Certainly, one could argue that something against terrorism has to be done. And indeed, the US-led coalition should do something. But bombing Syria is probably not the right thing to do at the moment, at least for two reasons. First of all, because this military intervention will not stabilize the country. A multitude of actors is already involved in the conflict in Syria. The use of western military power will (maybe) make the conflict end earlier, but will also preserve the religious, political and economic tensions that contributed to the outbreak of this conflict in Syria. Second, in this war every party involved has something to be blamed for. Contributing to the victory of one actor over the others means legitimizing its crimes. We should not forget that our goal, should always be the establishment of a true democratic government in Syria.


The European political coma

The emergence of the European block could have been the greatest challenge to the Hegemonic power, since the end of the cold war. Even if China’s economic growth has the potential to undermine the basis of the financial advancement of the US, it’s hard to think about any other actor in the world with the political potential of the European Union.

Nonetheless, the blend of intergovernmental and supranational power that characterizes the European Union, represents de facto the biggest limit of the Regional Block. Let’s be honest, recent geopolitical factors have further marked that the political intentions of the 28 are at least contrasting, and this manifests itself in the disintegration of a European common foreign policy. The first sign of that was the Migration Crisis and the issues related to the idea of redistributing the quotas of migrants. A further example is given by the economic sanctions against Russia, which are still widely criticized within countries that rely mainly on the export of goods and services to promote growth.  These two examples alone would be enough to declare the European political project, a failure. Now, consider the new aggressive foreign policy of Russia, the conflict in Syria and the attacks of Paris. Even before the terrorists attacks, the European positions in regards to an intervention in Syria were contrasting. Two weeks after the attacks, nothing has changed. Not even an attack to the heart of Europe contributed to the development of a common purpose.

On the other hand, one could say that Europe seems to share a common political view on the roughness of Israel, which led to suspension of diplomatic dialogue with the latter. However, in this case it was the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that instructed the Foreign Ministry on Sunday evening to suspend contacts with European Union representatives. The EU’s only stance was labeling products from the West Bank. As a matter of fact, when European Countries act as a single, they do it in view of the constraints imposed by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, rather than for an ideal concept of common purpose in Europe.

I’ve never liked Euro-skeptics. I truly believe that a Single Europe is possible and that a unified continent will make everyone better off. This is why i like to think about a coma, rather than a death of the European concept. However, it’s time for us to embark toward a new idea of Europe.

We should be like Ben Urich.

This article is weird, informal, incredibly short and very personal. I admit that i can be a bit of a nerd sometimes, but if you read this with the right mindset, maybe you will understand why we should take Ben Urich as a model.

What? ‘Who is Ben Urich’!?

Ben Urich is fictional character, an investigative journalist of the Marvel Universe. Thanks to its courage and willfulness, Urich was able to deduce the secret identities of Daredevil and Spider-Man, but rather than revealing them, he has worked with the superheroes in numerous occasions, often providing them with information about the activities of supervillains. Ben Urich is the archetype of the morally correct journalist, who is willing to put his own life at risk to pursue an ideal of justice. This is why, in the comics as well as in the TV series “Daredevil”, Urich loses his job and decides to open a blog. By opening a blog, he wishes to escape the constraints imposed from above, in order to tell his stories without any form of censorship.
Why should we take him as a model, then? Well, the story of Ben Urich demonstrates that internet is a powerful instrument, where one can express opinions without any form of censorship. Now, most of us have probably never been threaten by the mafia. However, our lives are subjected to different forms of constraints. I’m talking mainly about mainstream media. Internet allows you to tell what the others ignore, express your believes and support your arguments. We should be like Ben Urich because we should always be brave enough to tell what we have in our minds.




If you want to fight terrorism, ignore the Media

Every citizen of the western world is shocked and scared by what happened in Paris last friday. To be honest, there are good reasons to be scared. The events of Paris sign the birth of a new type of warfare, in which virtually no place in Europe and North America is safe.
Certainly it’s reasonable to think that governments are preparing a plan to contrast the ascendance of this condition of fear in western countries. However, my aim today is to emphasize that every unarmed citizen can contribute to the defeat to terrorism. Terrorism, is de facto an act designated to spread terror. When, after a terrorist attack, a citizen decides to alter his life-style, terrorism wins. The best way to fight terrorism is therefore remembering our victims, without allowing fundamentalist terrorist groups to take the control of our lives. How do we you do that? Turn your television off! As many previous research demonstrate, media contributes sensibly to the spread of fear. Deborah Sorani, among many other, emphasizes for instance: “Fear-based news stories prey on the anxieties we all have and then hold us hostage. Being glued to the television, reading the paper or surfing the Internet increases ratings and market shares – but it also raises the probability of depression relapse”.
Terrorism cannot exists without fear. Every time a western government decides to cancel a major event, terrorism wins. Every time a family decides to remain at home a saturday night, terrorism wins. Every time a TV channel transmits a video made by the Islamic State, terrorism wins. We can escape this condition. And to be honest with you, i believe that some parisians have already done this. I’m referring to a group of football fans that started singing the French national anthem as they were evacuating from the Stade de France during the attacks; i am referring to Antoine Leiris, who after having lost his wife in one of the attacks wrote a letter on facebok with the title “Vous n’aurez pas ma haine” – You will never have my hate. In their tragedy, those brave men and women taught a lesson the world: we must not be scared.





“Is there a difference between democracies and illiberal states, regarding how media presents protests and riots?”

      The capitalist state is often portrayed as the bastion of freedom and equality; but also as the arena where these virtues can be expressed indiscriminately. This essay aims to prove this idea wrong and emphasize that we are indeed victims of the most devious, imperceptible and efficient kind of propaganda. In order to do this, this essay will therefore focus on how media reacts to mass protests meant to promote changes, in illiberal and liberal states. The first section will introduce and discuss domestic media coverage of the protests of Tiananmen Square (China ‘89) and Tlatelolco (Mexico ‘68). After having highlighted that government-controlled media tend to occult protests or to label protestors as violent rioters, the second part of the essay will focus on media coverage of two contemporary movements of the western world: Occupy Wall Street (USA) and the Indignados (Spain/EU). In particular, the evidence will demonstrate that western media discourages changes through demonization, de-legitimization and/or political isolation of social movements. In conclusion, the third section will emphasize that both government-controlled media and free-media, tend inexorably to support the perpetuation of the existing order; and therefore the difference between how media presents protests in Democratic and Non-democratic states is only methodological.

Mexico City, second of October 1968. The beginning of the Olympics game was considered by thousands of students the opportunity to protest against the government of Diàz Ordaz. This was the beginning of the event that went down in history as the Tlatelolco massacre. Similarly, on the 15th of April 1989, broke out the protests of Tiananmen Square demanding less corruption and reforms in communist China, which later resulted in the Incident of the fourth of June. Despite the chronological, geographical and ideological differences between these two events, it is helpful to emphasize their common characteristics. First, in both the cases protestors were mainly unarmed student (K. Lucero, 2011. Pp.4; K. Borden, 2005. Pp1). Second, in both Mexico and China government-controlled media presented the protesters as armed rebels to justify military intervention (K. Lucero, 2011. Pp.41; K. Borden, 2005. Pp.2). Finally, even nowadays it is impossible the state the precise number of victims of the protests (A. Chang, 2005. Pp.9; K. Borden, 2005. Pp.2), arguably in virtue of the lack of impartial media coverage. These examples seem to suggest the idea that media coverage of mass protests in non-democracies –or at least in Mexico and China- was aimed at justifying the government at eyes of the public and impeding the heroicizetion of the movements through occultation. An idea confirmed, for instance, by recent claims of explicit harassment of western journalist by the Chinese government over the anniversary of the massacre (R. Greenslade, 2015).

This might not be surprising for the citizens of the liberal world. Indeed, we tend to consider propaganda as characteristic of illiberal forms of government. Hence, empirical evidence reflect the idea expressed by Rod Hague and Martin Harrop that the media, alongside the military, is a “key control device” (2013, pp.60) for non-democracies. On the other hand, much ink has been spilled in the last hundred years to discuss whether the media does, or does not influence public opinion within democracies. In regards to this, it is interesting to take into consideration Jay Mathews’ article titled “the Myth of Tiananmen” (2010). As a matter of fact, Mathews pointed out that if it’s true that Chinese media underreported the incidents of the Beijing protests, it is also evident that imprecision characterised the western media coverage of the facts of Tiananmen. Arguably, one does not need to be a conspirator to understand why this American media’s imprecision often led to a strong unrealistic exaggeration of the number of fatalities in China. Also, capitalist Media exercises propaganda on public opinion. The following sections will demonstrate when and how, in regards to mass protests.

In the last years, two movements strongly challenged the status-quo of modern western democracies. The indignados movement rose in Spain in 2011. Without any affiliation with political party, the movement was a direct consequence of recession and unemployment, at 21% overall in the country (Zachary Arestad, 2013). The movement organized a series of protests also against austerity measures, economic inequality and corruption. In view of this and considered the socio-economic condition of Europe during the financial crisis, similar movements raised in many other EU member-states. Likewise, the experience of the indignados inspired, according to many, the foundation of Occupy Wall Street in the US. (Arianna Huffington, 2011) Occupy Wall Street began the 17th of September 2011 “and spread to over 100 cities in the US and actions in over 1500 cities globally” (Occupy Wall Street, n.d.). Europeans and Americans took the streets contemporary to bailout the power and the luxuries of the elites. Despite the expectations however, as Tomas Watson (2012) noticed “Occupy is not winning the war […] it’s fair to observe that nothing has really changed in terms of the middle class, the under-represented, the ’99 percent’ “. A very convincing explanation of why OWS produced only modest changes, is the ‘protest paradigm’, defined by Francis L.F. Lee as: “a pattern of [media] coverage that focuses on the violent and disruptive aspects of the protest actions […] highlights the protesters’ (strange) appearance and/or ignorance, portrays protests as ineffective, focuses on the theatrical aspects of the protests and neglects the substantive issues, invokes public opinion against the protesters…” (2014, pp.2727). This kind of strategy indeed, can be considered the primarily instrument through which American mainstream media reduced prospects of systematic changes. In regards to this, it is interesting to notice that in his “Framing Occupy Wall Street”, Xu analyzed 132 articles from the New York Times and USA Today and found out that the majority of articles (51.5 %) used a negative rhetoric negative towards protestors, while 64 articles were neutral or positive (2013, Pp2421). In particular, in the case of OWS, protestors were usually labelled as unpatriotic and violent by mainstream media, that thus relied on emotions and national feelings to uproot the movement from its popular background.

On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that while radical protests tend to be demonized by mainstream media in western countries, peaceful protests are often ignored because they are not considered newsworthy. In other words, “protest groups often find themselves in a double-bind: be ignored by the media, or resort to drama and risk that these events might be used to delegitimize the group.” (Douglas M. McLeod, 2007. Pp.186). One of the very few movements that escaped this paradox, was that of the Indignados. In view of the strong apolitical background of the movement and its strong presence on social networks, most of the protests in Spain and all around Europe were considered newsworthy events, often characterized by favorable media coverage (M. Kyriakidou & Jose J. Olivas, 2014). Nonetheless even in this case, the movement managed to produce only relatively modest changes. As a matter of fact, as M. Kyriakidou and Jose J. Olivas pointed out, “the press hardly managed to place the movement in direct dialogue with mainstream political processes and decision-making” (2014), thus de-naturalizing the fundamental idea of a protest as an instrument to promote changes. To sum up, if a protest is violent or involves radical tactics, the media will appeal to the ‘protest paradigm’. On the other hand, if a protest is peaceful –and if it makes it to the first lines of newspapers- the media will de facto alienate the protesters from the political channels, trapping the movement in a purely sociological dimension.

In his Quaderni dal Carcere  Antonio Gramsci emphasized the possibility that “man is not ruled by force alone, but also by ideals” (Thomas Bates, 1975. Pp351). Gramsci stated that the dominant class projects its own values on those who are subordinated, in order to favor acceptance of the capitalist system as logic and natural. First, In regards to peaceful mass protests, this explains why opinions that are “anti-capitalist, anti-nationalistic or anti-government are far less likely to make it into print or be covered by television than those that support capitalism, nationalism and our present governments” (John Smith, 2003). Second, Gramsci’s idea of hegemonic ideal justifies the demonization and de-legitimization that characterizes mass media coverage of protests (i.e. the protest paradigm). Finally, even when media coverage of protests seems positive, the political quarantine in which the Indignados movement has been trapped demonstrates that mainstream media disconnects protests from possibilities of changes; thus, whether explicitly or implicitly, media perpetuates the idea that the capitalist state is an indivisible and perfect unit. In illiberal democracies therefore, uprisings are suppressed with violence and particular strategies of occultation. In the western world on the other hand, the capitalist elite uses the media to control the effects of protests without getting its hands dirty, to impede the proliferation of destabilizing feelings. Quoting Marshall McLuhan: “I am in the position of Louis Pasteur telling doctors that their greatest enemy is quite invisible, and quite unrecognized by them” (1964. Pp.6)

To summarize, media coverage of mass protests, whether in liberal states or non-democratic regimes, manifests a tendency to preserve the established order. In illiberal states, this is possible thanks to evident and relatively simple strategies of control. On the other hand, Gramsci correctly identified the existence of an “hegemonic ideology” projected through the media in western societies: the key control device of capitalism. This necessarily means that even if there is a difference between democracies and illiberal states, regarding how media interacts with mass protests, both free-media in democracies and government-controlled media in illiberal states are de facto stabilizing instruments.


  1. Lucero, Karman M. (2011). 1989 Tiananmen Square: A Proto-History. Undergraduate Thesis, Columbia University. New York City, State of New York. USA. [online] Available at: [Last Accessed: 6th 2015]
  2. Borden, Kara M. (2005). Mexico ’68 – An Analysis of the Tlatelolco Massacre and its legacy . Undergraduate Thesis. University of Oregon. Eugene, Oregon. USA. [online] Available at: [Last Accessed: 6th 2015]
  3. Chang, Albert (2005). Revisiting the Tiananmen Square Incident: A Distorted Image from Both Sides of the Lens. Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs. 5 N°1. Pp. 9-25.
  4. Greenslade, Roy (2014). Foreign journalists in China harassed over Tiananmen Square anniversary. The Guardian. [online] Available at: [Last Accessed: 6th 2015]
  5. Rod Hague and Martin Harrop (2013). Comparative Government and Politics. 9th Palgrave MacMillan.
  6. Jay Mathews (2010) [1989]. The Myth of Tiananmen. Columbia Journalism Review. [online] Available at: [Last Accessed: 6th 2015]
  7. Zachary Arestad (2013). Spanish Indignados Protest Austerity measures 2011. Global Nonviolent Action Database. [online] Available at [Last Accessed: 6th 2015]
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  12. Xu, Kaibin. (2013) Framing Occupy Wall Street: A Content Analysis of The New York Times and USA Today. International Journal of Communication. Vol. 7 (2013). Pp. 2412-2432. [online] Available at: [Last Accessed: 6th 2015]
  13. McLeod, Douglas M. (2007). News Coverage and Social Protest: How the Media ‘s Protect Paradigm Exacerbates Social Conflict. Journal of Dispute Resolution. 2007, Issue 1. Pp. 185-194. [online] Available at: [Last Accessed: 6th Nov. 2015]
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Poland: when your biggest neighbour is your biggest nightmare

After the Crimean Status Referendum in 2014, Russia de facto annexed the former ukrainian region of Crimea. While the vast majority of countries declared the referendum invalid and the annexation illegitimate, the EU and the United States also targeted Russia with economic sanctions in order to push toward the withdrawal of Russia from the peninsula. Economic sanctions did not work and during this year, scholars, commentators and politicians from everywhere portrayed the crimean crisis as the first stage of a Russian project for the domination of eastern Europe.

Nonetheless, with the outbreak of the Syrian Crisis, the establishment of the IS and the new waves of violence in Israel, the Middle-East grabbed the spotlight. This is the reason why several important events that happened in the last months in Eastern Europe have been not fully conceptualized by journalists and commentators. My intention today is to summarize how Poland reacted to Russia’s aggressive behaviour from the economic, military and political perspective.
1-“Thirteen days before Poland’s general election, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz opened the nation’s first terminal to import liquefied natural gas and promised “full independence” from Russian gas supplies from next year” (BloombergBusiness, 12th Oct.).

2-“A former Polish military base in the town of Ciechanow may now be used to house American troops, Polish national daily Rzeczpospolita reports. The property share is aimed at strengthening military cooperation, the newspaper said, citing Polish officials.” (RT, 7th Aug.)

3-“Poland’s conservative [anti-EU] opposition won the parliamentary election with more than a third of the vote, according to provisional official results. The Law and Justice party made strong gains in all major cities and won all but two regions, securing 37.6% of the vote, with the ruling Civic Platform second on 24.1%.” (The guardian, 27th Ocotber).

The news reported demonstrate something. Poland is scared of Russia and not happy about the the EU. It seems fair to say that the Crimean Crisis, the evident ineffectiveness of the sanctions, added to the migration policies imposed over Poland by the EU, have lead to a mixture of anti-EU and anti-Russian feelings.slovenia-map-2-current