A review of the most important events that have taken place across the world in 2015
2015 can be defined as a year when the world was most affected by terrorist attacks. These attacks started in January and were directed against the Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Seen as an unprecedented attack on the press freedom and democracy, it left 17 people dead and 20 injured, most of them Charlie Hebdo staff members. The terror threat level in the French capital city was raised to the highest level and the anti-terrorist operation that followed led to the killing by security forces of the three jihadists involved in the attack. “We are not afraid!” was the strongest message of the march against terrorism organized a few days later, which was attended by around 2 million people in Paris, another 2 million people in other French cities and towns and hundreds of thousands in the rest of Europe. This way Europeans gathered together to reassert their fundamental values, from the right to life to the right to freedom of speech.
Romania, a Francophone country by tradition, linked to France by a privileged partnership, voiced its solidarity with the French people. Romania’s message of solidarity was conveyed by its President, Klaus Iohannis, who took part in the march in Paris alongside heads of state and government from all over the world. Talking about the tragic events in Paris, the Romanian Intelligence chief George Maior said in an interview that there would be more terrorist attacks in Europe. “The European intelligence services are prepared for a new level of terrorism. There is no such thing as absolute security,” Maior said.
Ten months later his predictions confirmed. On the night of November 13, Paris was the site of another attack, a series of attacks in fact, which killed 130 people and injured over 350. The attacks targeted the Bataclan concert hall, the terraces of some bars and restaurants and the area around Stade de France, on the northern outskirts of the French capital. In only three hours a jihadist commando forced the whole country into a new era in terms of security. The shock wave generated by the events in France can still be felt at world level. Islamic State claimed the attacks that were also carried out by young Muslims born and educated in France. The terrorist group that, according to the US Treasury, has become in only a few years the richest such group in history, deals in antiques smuggling, human trafficking and ransoms of millions of dollars in exchange for the lives of the people they kidnap. They also get substantial donations from influential people in the Arab world, and are said to be getting around 40 million dollars per month from the oil black market alone.
Coming against the background of the largest migration wave in Europe after World War Two, the attacks influenced the attitude of ordinary people and many decision-makers in Europe, who feared ISIS militants were hiding among the refugees. As the civil war intensified in Syria, a country where the Islamic State conquered large swathes to form what they call a “caliphate” together with the territories they seized in Iraq, the refugee wave started to look like an exodus. Around one million people left their countries of origin this year, fleeing war and poverty and heading for Germany and other western countries. Some said the migration towards Europe’s developed countries was to some extent the result of the decision of some European leaders to relax their immigration policy for non-EU citizens, thus hoping to solve the problems of their own labour markets. A situation was thus created that caused deep divisions between west-European governments and some in the east, as well as within individual countries in the EU bloc. Invoking the idea of European solidarity and despite objections from certain EU countries, it was decided that around 160,000 migrants would be relocated in countries in the European Union in the next two years, according to an obligatory distribution quota.
The decision was also made to set up “hotspot” centres in Greece and Italy, where migrants are to be registered and separated into economic migrants, pending for repatriation to their home countries, and refugees, whose asylum applications is justified by the area where they come from, and who may be directed to other host countries. Meanwhile, in an attempt to curb the migration influx, after lengthy negotiations, in late November the European Union and Turkey signed an agreement under which the latter pledged to take measures to stop the migrants transiting its territory. In exchange, the Union undertook to provide financial assistance to Ankara. The aid, originally set at 3 billion Euros, is intended for the refugees in Turkey, mostly Syrian citizens. The EU also agreed to revive talks on Turkey’s accession and on lifting entry visas for Turkish citizens. At the same time, the USA and Russia strengthened their military operations in Syria, which for four years now has been torn by a civil war that made many victims and crippled the efforts to fight the IS group.
(Translation by E. Enache, C. Mateescu and A.M. Popescu)