Daily Archives: 22 May, 2015

EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini visited the Middle East in the hope to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority grounded to a halt more than a year ago. The two-day visit (20-21 May) to the region included meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and was aimed at ramping up the EU’s involvement in the Middle East peace process. It remains to be seen whether the EU will manage to fill the void left by the US as a peace broker. Deciding to use its full might in pushing for a feasible solution, including economic sanctions imposed on an unyielding Israel, seems a bridge too far

Vienna, the grand city of music, is playing host to the 60th edition of Europe’s premier pop singing event; albeit, Vienna is famous for opera, symphonies and classical music. #12Points is how the city has been rebranding itself for the duration of the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). The face of the ESC 2015 is Thomas Neuwirth, more commonly known by his Drag Queen persona ‘Conchita Wurst.’ From advertising for bank loans to having a sausage named after her, no one in the past few years has achieved as much popularity after winning the ESC as Conchita. The city entered into a week of celebrations on the Sunday leading up to the finals. The State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) organised a special matinee programme, with the overarching theme of ‘Building Bridges’…

Forty countries are competing for the Eurovision Song Trophy in Vienna this year, with the Grand Final due to take place on 23 May. Although the contest has strict rules, according to which participants promoting political messages are banned from the competition, it also has a history of songs just on that thin line between activism and pure cheesiness. Most recently, social issues have been a potent underlying message, including respect for equality and human rights, culminating with the victory of the woman with facial hair in 2014, the Austrian Conchita Wurst. This year’s edition combines political and social activism with reference to the UK’s exit from the EU, the Armenian genocide and LGBT rights to equal citizenship in modern European countries.

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