September 11, 2015
It feels like only yesterday: Tuesday morning, 11th September 2001. CNN was broadcasting a “Breaking News” from New York City when viewers saw live another plane deliberately crashing this time into the World Trade Center’s South tower. That was my second day as a Freedom House Visiting Fellow. We were supposed to have numerous meetings in Washington D.C. before continuing the program in Enid, Oklahoma and Atlanta, Georgia. While watching the news in the hotel room in Arlington, VA I could not even imagine that few minutes later the terror will reach the Nation’s Capital and that Freedom House fellows from Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Ukraine, representing each pillar of Democracy, will feel and witness the fear of terror themselves.
One of so many personal stories about the day that marked the new century
We should have started the day with a visit at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Since we arrived a bit earlier we still had a few minutes to walk around and take some pictures. At that very moment, security officers suddenly appeared from everywhere, advising everybody to move further away from the buildings. Other federal officers were leaving the premises. Meanwhile a colleague from Romania who’s had his wife on the phone told us a third plane hit the Pentagon. I thought the White House could be the next target and I am so close to it; and then- a war is starting…what will I do and how can I go back home? At that moment I was scared out of my wits. Thanks to the professionalism of Freedom House staff, the individual programs and flights, prepared carefully months in advance, had been rescheduled within a couple of days and we successfully fulfilled our missions. Moreover, we witnessed the spirit of unity and determination of the American people.
It has been a life-lesson.
As years passed by I gained other 14 years of experience in the NGO development in Bulgaria, Italy, Poland and Belgium, while also doing research work as a MBA student at a “Leadership in a Global Environment” Programme. Now, I can say I was right: A war like no other before has started on September 11th 2001. It is still ongoing bringing new global problems.
It has been the day when the XXI century has actually started and new global challenges have been born!
The 9/11 terroristic attacks triggered the armed conflict in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq (fighting Al Qaeda and its leader). Eliminating Osama Bin Laden provided space for ISIS to take the lead and challenged the national security, welfare and legislation of EU as a system and the member states individually. Fighting the terrorist organisations, however, is just one of the many elements of the nowadays “hybrid” (world) war.
It is “hybrid” as in addition to terrorism the warfare involves cyber-attacks, surveillance, indirect foreign intervention, “information war”, insurgency, chemical weaponry, civil unrest. And yes, it is a global problem as it is no longer about US, Europe and the Near and Middle East. It is a problem affecting Australia, Canada, Africa, and Asia as well.
Since September 11th 2001 the European Union has enlarged its territory and common market from 15 to 28 member states and became the largest economy in the world. It is a land of peace, cooperation and diversity. No wonder then that victims of the war in Afghanistan, Syria and Africa are dreaming of re-starting their lives in Europe.
The recent events with thousands of migrants crossing each day the borders of Greece, Italy and Hungary in search of safety came as a result of lack of solidarity, inability of the national governments and EU institutions to react faster than the accelerated migrants’ wave. Jean-Claude Juncker idea of having European Agenda on Migration became reality only in the end of May 2015.
These events have shown
Lack of political engagement to take actions towards eradicating the cause of the problem in time.
However, since the beginning of this month there are indications of positive further developments and hopefully finding a solution to the humanitarian crisis soon: the EPP MEP Eva Paunova bravely stated that the war in Syria shall end; the UK Prime-Minister and the European Commission High Representative/Vice-President have expressed opinion about “bringing peace and stability” and ”putting an end to the conflict in Syria”.
Ending the war will give hope and jobs to the now displaced people, will re-unite families, will bring the children and students back to school and universities not to mention the business opportunities for the EU companies in re-building the region.
While focusing on the refugee crisis we do not get the whole picture. It is time to take a step back and see this is not just a wave; but a man-made destructive storm.Stela Stancheva