It is not only America’s or Europe’s antagonistic policies which drove Putin to endanger peace and stability in Europe.

25 years after the fall of the Berlin wall Russia’s president took to the stage in his Kremlin on March 18 to tell the world: „The Germans should understand the Russian need for re-unification.“ Valdimir Putin looked very serious when he said that, although I guess he was chuckling inside. In 1989 he was not at all happy that the East Germans broke through the wall to get to West Berlin. Because they ran away from him, the Soviet KGB officer in Dresden. He did not see the collapse oft he Soviet Union as liberation from a dictatorship; for Putin the end oft he real socialist empire was a catastrophe. The joy of the „Ossis“ to finally be reunited with the decadent, capitalist West was a personal humiliation for the young Russian.

I am getting tired of this anecdote of Vladimir Vladimirovich’s early life. As traumatising as it was, it does not explain his behaviour today. Putin did not seriously expect understanding from the Germans for his theft of Crimea. „Instead they threaten us with sanctions“, he complained. „Since the 17th century, this policy of containment against Russia has been in place, but it is still going on. Our western partners have crossed the line, they have acted irresponsibly.“

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Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski about the necessities of sanctions against Russia, the European future of Ukraine and the role of the EU in laundering money.

Radoslaw Sikorski, 51, foreign minister of Poland since 2007 studied in England since 1981 and became Poland correspondent of the "Sunday Times" after the fall of the Iron curtain. He then also briefly acted as advisor for media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Since 1992 Sikorski has been a member of various Polish governments. Under the conservative prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski he was defense minister, now he serves under the pro-European and German-friendly government of Donald Tusk., who like Sikorski is a member of the liberal Civic Platform Party. Sikorski, known for his sharp tongue, negotiated together with the German and French foreign ministers an agreement between then president Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition on February 21 in Kiev. "If you don't sign this", he told the protesters on Maidan, "You will get martial law. You will all die." Sikorski is married to US historian Anne Applebaum.

Alex Salmond

The Scots vote for or against their independence from the United Kingdom on September 18. Strangely, even the separatists want almost everything to remain the same. 

When Alex Salmond talks about the future even his hair seems to tremble in excitement: “Great Britain is increasingly unbalanced socially”, the charismatic Scottish First Minister said last Tuesday at the “New Statesman” lecture around the corner from the Houses of Parliament in Central London. “When we Scotts are independent, we will build a socially just country.”

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Ivan Krastev, one of the leading “world thinkers”, about the escalation in the Ukraine and why Putin sent his troops.

Ivan Krastev, 49, is one of the leading political analysts on Eastern Europe and Russia. He is chairman of the Center for Liberal Strategies in Sofia and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) in Vienna. His latest books include: "In Mistrust We Trust: Can Democracy Survive When We Don't Trust Our Leaders", (TED Books, 2013); "The Anti-American Century", co-edited with Alan McPherson, (CEU Press, 2007) and "Shifting Obsessions: Three Essays on the Politics of Anticorruption" (CEU Press, 2004). He was Number 56 on the list of “World thinkers 2013” in “Prospect magazine” and is now preparing a book on recent protest movements between Turkey and Russia.

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The Palestinian intellectual Azmi Bishara gave one of his rare interviews to profil in his exile in Doha.

Azmi Bishara came a long way. He is a Christian Palestinian who was born in Nazareth, an Arab city which is part of Israel since 1948. Today he is considered one of the most influential political intellectuals in the Middle East – and he resides in the Muslim Emirat of Qatar because he is considered persona non grata in his homeland.

@ Reinhard Werner

@Reinhard Werner

Austria is still torn between its horrible past and its democratic present. Ari Rath, former editor of the "Jerusalem Post",  changed his speech in a performance at Vienna's Burgtheater to react to a recent far right fraternity ball in the centre of Vienna.

He still is the same hard-hitting reporter. At 89 Ari Rath, the legendary former editor of the "Jerusalem Post" scribbles on a piece of paper while sitting on stage during the performance of "The Last Witnesses" in Vienna's Burgtheater state theatre. Then he walks out under the lights in front of the stage and delivers his deftly updated statement:

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Great Britain is only a victorious European power when Jude Law is king. 

Henry V is not Shakespeare’s greatest play. But the British still love it, especially when Jude Law plays the main part. It’s sold out in the West End for weeks. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25200156) The title role shows a moral king – that doesn’t make for great drama and Shakespeare runs the risk of his character boring the audience. But Henry V conquers France during the Hundred Years War in 1415 and he also wins the heart and the hand of the French princess Catherine. It’s a simple plot but Jude Law fills the stage with such confident charm and playful joy that the work never collapses under the weight of even its dullest patriotic moments.

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Ariel Sharon was better at war than peace.

Ariel Sharon never took it easy. After a stroke in January 2006 he clung on to life in a coma for eight years. The last days saw his organs shut down one by one. He died, aged 85, this Saturday.

The general and politician has played a huge role in Israeli public life for almost his entire career. For his fans he was the "King of Israel". His critics called him the "Butcher of Beirut". But even his political arch-enemy Uri Avnery, Israel's peace activist number one, respected Sharon as one of the big generals in this small country’s history. In this state of the jews, which was born out of the trauma of the Holocaust, the generals of the founding generation commanded special respect. Sharon or Yitzhak Rabin were the new type of jew: the Israeli, who does not go to his death without putting up a fight.

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz