Friday, April 27, 2007

So long Slava!

Mstislav Rostropovich, probably the best cellist ever, has died today at the age of 80. It is a curious coincidence that I got the news about his death in the city where he was born: Baku. A master musician, Rostropovich was also renowned for his backing for human rights and opposition to Soviet rule. His support for dissidents in a letter to Pravda made him a target for Soviet authorities,which he never regretted: when he was asked, some years ago, what was the best thing he had done in his life, he replied: "the best step was not found in music, but in one page of this letter; since that moment my conscience was clean and clear".

Saturday, April 21, 2007


My travel schedule remains almost outrageously busy… On Wednesday I went to Madrid, came back on Thursday; tomorrow I’ll go to Bonn and will come back on Tuesday; and on Wednesday, back to Baku until Sunday… This tight schedule, together with the fact that I have been spending entire days on meetings, makes me feel not only tired but also somehow lost. Today, I was supposed to be in another meeting, but realized that I had an appointment with an electrician who is now doing I don’t know exactly what upon my landlord’s request, and had to inform my colleagues that I will be late for it, as I can’t leave now from here… I hate when I’m not in control of the situation! To be honest, I think this is actually the only thing I can sincerely say I hate... and broccoli, obviously!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Maybe Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates forgot about the strugle for independence of East Timor.

Maybe he did not demonstrate with the other Portuguese for the independence and peace in East Timor.

I didn't forget. I did demonstrate. And I do remember Western Saharans and their strugle against Moroccan occupation.

That's why I deeply contemn that the Prime Minister of my country sanctions the Moroccan Government where before we criticised Indonesia.


I don't see US citizens in the streets demonstrating massively for stricter gun control regulations.

I see South Koreans fearing for their nationals living in the USA.

I will see the US National Rifle Association defending (again) that teachers should carry firearms into classes to avoid further massacres.

I don't see how on earth can the USA be the leaders of the "free world"!

Victims II

Maybe I'm too insensitive. And maybe I'm being unfair.

But I cannot avoid feeling disgusted with the media coverage of the “Virginia Tech drama”. Just because I refuse to share this aproach where some are more equal than others.

Why should all the main channels spend hours and hours broadcasting about this event? I don't see this kind of coverage about the deaths in Iraq or other places in the world: I don't see the parents crying for their dead kids, I don't see the survivers telling how they escaped, I don't see reporters on site explaning over and over again how it happened, I don't see politicians proclaming their shock and solidarity with the families...

And I don't see how the life of US or European citizens can be worth more than the life of Iraqis, Sudanese or any others.


Since the invasion of Iraq on 20 March 2003, over the 1.490 days elapsed, an average of approximately 41 persons have died every day in Iraq, as a consequence of the conflict,

Just to keep things into perspective...

Monday, April 16, 2007

L'auberge européen

If Rome is called the eternal city, I would say that Brussels is the ephemeral one..

Be it for a couple of months, years or even decades, there is definitely a lot of people just passing by. As awward as it may seem, this city is not a destination in itself, it's just a way through to somewhere or something. Even if that something is a work with the European or other international institutions, likely to be placed here.

And there again, we cannot say that all the ways lead to Brussels. But we could say that all the ways pass by, making of this intriguing city an “auberge” in the croosroad of many, maybe even too many, life paths.

Brussels, Lisbon and Rome

It’s unavoidable that every time I go to some meeting, people ask me where I am from and where I live. Even though I always start by saying that I am from Guimarães, the truth is that I always end up adding that Lisbon is the place I feel at home. And, of course, that I live in Brussels. The following exercise is most usually the comparison between the two cities… When comparing Brussels and Lisbon, I usually come up with the boring stuff about how the weather is nice in Lisbon and shitty in Brussels. But the weather in Brussels has been amazingly nice these last few days. At this right moment, the temperature is of 17°C and tomorrow the forecast says that the sun will keep shining and the temperature will rise up to 26°C. This won’t impress you too much if you live in Lisbon but, living in Brussels for almost two years now, I can assure you that here this isn’t normal… even in summer! On the other hand, I read today in a Italian newspaper that Rome is the second safest capital city in the World, according to a study carried by the UN Agency dealing with crime and delinquency. If you live in Lisbon, you will be surprised to know that you live in the safest!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Roma Tre

This morning the Congress was supposed to close at 11am, which was really perfect as I had my flight at 2.25pm. When I left from the Hotel, a bit past 12.30pm, the discussions were still going on, which proves that the enthusiasm was kept all over the weekend… My journey back was via Hamburg. I had a short connection there, as it usually happens with Lufthansa flights, which is the reason why I like to take them. Everything seemed to be working well, until I arrived in Brussels… and found out that my luggage had been lost again! Don’t know if there’s something about Sundays 15th or if the firemen are somehow to blame… but it’s not nice! The good thing is that it was so hot in Brussels (28.5°C) when I left the airport that carrying a suitcase would have made me sweat like a pig! Not to mention the fact that I didn’t have the need of unpacking… Yet!

Roma Due

After a late dinner and a very welcome and well-deserved beauty sleep, I was finally able to attend the Congress of FNG. The room was full with almost 100 delegates from around 50 Italian youth organisations, and they were all very enthusiastic… maybe even too much, at certain points! Even though I don’t speak Italian – at least not enough to be able to make a speech in Italian -, I do understand it. This made my attendance much more interesting than when I attended the General Assemblies of the Greek or the Lithuanian National Youth Councils, but sometimes I would have appreciated not to understand it so well… Anyway, it was nice to see the internal dynamics of one more of the European Youth Forum’s Member Organisation, and the people were generally nice. But, while Brussels boosted summer temperatures and clean skies full of sun shining, in Rome it was raining, which, together with the location of the Hotel, prevented me from enjoying some sightseeing while the delegates were taking part in the working groups. It seems to be my faith to bring rain to that beautiful city… and therefore the shopping promises made prior to the trip were unavoidably broken… or, at least, postponed.

Roma Uno

This weekend I was in Rome again, this time for the Congress of the Italian National Youth Forum. I went on Friday. Friday, 13th… I’m not superstitious, but what happened that day makes me think that I should maybe review that stand… The previous evening, I set my alarm for 6.45am, knowing that my flight was scheduled to take-off at 8.50am. I arrived in Rome at 8.30pm… How come? Well, it all started because the Fire Department at Brussels’ airport was on strike… No firemen working, no flights operating! Lufthansa was kind enough to rebook me in another flight that was supposed to have left at 6.30am, knowing that it would anyway leave before mine. At this time, when I did my check-in, the flight was supposed to take-off at 9am, when the strike was supposed to end. Then, it was announced that the strike had been extended until 10am, and therefore my flight delayed for another hour. At this point, it was already clear that I would miss my connection in Munich and be late for my commitment in Rome, and therefore I decided to approach the counter and ask for a solution. When I finally managed to talk to the Flight Manager, the flight had actually been cancelled and the only solution Lufthansa was able to offer me was to take a bus to Frankfurt and then a flight to Rome… That’s what I did: took a bus to Frankfurt and, after 5 hours on the road, I made it just on time for the Alitalia’s flight that took-off from Frankfurt at 6.40pm… Now I know that there are roads connecting the Frankfurt airport to some places, including Brussels. But I still haven’t seen a city called Frankfurt…

Friday, April 13, 2007

Subha Aluth Avuruddak Weva!

Happy Sinhala New Year!

May the coming year be one of peace, happiness and prosperity!

* Dawn of the New Year - Saturday, April 14 at 12.29 p.m.

Duality II

It seems that the European Commission expressed some reservations on the real values of the published Portuguese deficit for 2003.

Is EC President José Manuel Barroso doubting the former Portuguese Prime Minister Durão Barroso?

Thanks to Miguel

an inconvenient truth

Sleep easy everyone, the line-up for Live Earth has been announced!

'Live Earth will bring together more than 150 of the world's top musicians for 24-hours of music from 7 concerts across all 7 continents. [It] will bring together an audience of more than 2 billion at the concerts and through television, radio, film, and the Internet.'

Great - that's 1/3 of the planet being encouraged to switch on their computers, TVs and radios for 24 hours, to watch 7 massive concerts, with stars travelling in (by private jet?) from across the I the only one that thinks this is a complete load of b****cks??? If you're the kind of person that needs the likes of Madonna and James Blunt spewing AOR and pious nonsense at you from an over-priced stadium gig to get you to recycle more, I feel for you I really do...

on a side note, I wonder how many of these 'artists' have albums coming out this year??

Keep up the good work...

This is a further example of the ineptitude of the Ministry of Defence in the space of just one week. Beyond the debate about the very presence of the UK on Cypriot soil, is that of the decision-making of those leading the Ministry.

The debacle concerning the sailors ‘captured’ by Iran, and the inane decision to allow them to sell their stories to the press smacks of an arrogance and simplicity that should well have died in the late summer of 1947. The tactics employed in both cases represent a foolish attitude to sovereign nations, a fundamental distaste for genuinely democratic ideals, and a basic misunderstanding of the sophistication of the public. Attempting to win a propaganda war, while denouncing Iranian media treatment of the captured sailors was narcissistic, hypocritical, and just plain unnecessary. If we (the British) can pride ourselves on engaging in ‘quiet diplomacy’ and using peaceful means to resolve and indeed, prevent international disputes, why compromise this with grandstanding statements about the integrity of a state, and attempts to assert our strength…the former reveals a noble sophistication, but which is ultimately undermined by the stink of insecurity…

The hypocrisy only continues when politicians continually talk about not having any dispute with the ‘people’ of a given state, but merely their government: so insulting their very integrity, and then revealing how shallow this respect is, by making clumsy attempts at media manipulation both at home and abroad.

The arrest of Marios Matsakis was a foolish move, and as Chris Davies succinctly notes, "a trivial matter will now become a major political issue threatening relations between Cyprus and Britain." To the wise old men of the MoD, I salute you - if nothing else, for being laughably consistent...


Do as I say but not as I do! seems to be the message of Paul Wolfowitz to the Less Developed Countries...

It's not a surprise that he doesn't resign. It just shows who he is. Let's hope that at least the World Bank Board can do the right thing!


The way the British and US Governments reacted to the capture of British military personnel by Iran, together with the initial reactions from the media, are a good reflection of the biased “self-righteous” of the western powers.

A heritage left from the Cold War times, we still assume too much that we, the westerns, are the “good guys” against the evil ones. The war in Iraque and all the, later evident, manipulation aiming to justify the invasion, showed us better.

Today, the existence in Cyprus of a British stronghold, including two military bases and surrounding villages, totaling an area of 157 square kilometers, retained after Cyprus independence in 1960 regardless the contestation by the local population, is still an example of old habits standing with the “old” powers in a new world.

As strange as it may seem to British militaries, the arrest of a Greek-Cypriot politician cannot be justified and presented to the public as a reaction to 'local hostiles acting against Britain' anymore.

Simply because this local hostile is member of the European Parliament!

And this changes the perspective of the media and our own on the issue. Cyprus is not anymore the former colony or an island in the far shouth-east of Europe.

Maybe ten years ago this situation could be “sold” in a different way. Today it just stands out as it is – outrageous!

"It is outrageous that in the 21st century there are Cypriot villages living under British military rule, neither under their own government's jurisdiction nor under the protection of the EU treaties"

Chris Davies - British Liberal Democrat MEP

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Addicted to data

I try to regulate my data intake: I don't carry a BlackBerry. But I do carry a cell phone, and it has made me a rapacious consumer of text messages. I've become dismally fluent in typing on my cell phone's keypad, one thumbed, while walking. Don't get me wrong: I have a full-blown e-mail problem too. And when it's not coming in through my eyes, digital information is taking over my ears via my beloved white iPod. If you're reading this, you probably share my addiction... Data comes to us wrapped in the rethoric of interpersonal connection, creating a sense that our loved ones, or at least liked or tolerated ones, are electronically present to us, however far away they may be. But I can't help wondering if we're underestimating the countervailing effect: the cost we're paying in our disconnection from our immediate surroundings, in our dependence on a continuous flow of electronic attention to prop up our egos and, above all, in a rising inability to be alone with our own thoughts - with that priceless stream of analog data that comes not from without but from within.

The epic collapse of the Bush Administration

The three big Bush stories of 2007 - the decision to "surge" in Iraq, the scandalous treatment of wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the firing of eight US Attorneys for tawdry political reasons - precisely illuminate the three qualities that make this Administration one of the worst in American history: arrogance (the surge), incompetence (Walter Reed) and cynicism (the US Attorneys). All the three defining sins of the Bush Administration are congenital: they're part of his personality, they're not likely to change. And it is increasingly difficult to imagine yet another two years of slow bleed with a leader so clearly unfit to lead.

Don't Fade Away

Don't fade away
My brown-eyed girl
Come walk with me
I'll fill your heart with joy
And we'll dance through our isolation
Seeking solace in the wisdom we bestow
Turning thoughts to the here and everafter
Consuming fears in our fiery halos
Say what you mean
Mean what you say
I've heard that innocence
Has led us all astray
But don't let them make you and break you
The world is filled with their broken empty dreams
Silence is their only virtue
Locked away inside their silent screams
But for now
Let us dance away
This starry night
Filled with the glow of fiery stars
And with the dawn
Our sun will rise
Bringing a symphony of bird cries
Don't bring me down now
Let me stay here for awhile
You know life's too short
Let me bathe here in your smile
I'm transcending
The fall from the garden

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Bit of Irony

I'm asking Mr Blair to not put these 15 personnel on trial because they admitted they came to Iranian territorial water.

A Good News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says 15 British naval personnel captured in the Gulf will be freed.

An Inconvenient Truth

The invasion of Iraq was based on the false premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but even now the occupation forces continue to stay there and people are still being killed.

Roozhaye Roshan

The news from the last few days has been flooded by the story of the Royal Navy personnel detained by Iran when they were inspecting a cargo boat. The incident came at a time of strained relations between the Western world and Iran, and it doesn’t really matter if the sailors were in Iraqi or Iranian or international waters: the facts are that these 15 sailors are held prisoners, and that Iran is under unprecedented international pressure. Many people have engaged in deep and complicated legal discussions for the last almost two weeks, but I think this is rather a political issue… How did we get to the present situation in and with Iran?

Let’s go back to the golden age of Persia – not the one of Darius or Cyrus, but the much more recent era of the Pahlavi dynasty. The rise of modernization of Iran started in the late nineteenth century and led to the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911, which marked the beginning of the end of Iran’s feudalistic society and led to the establishment of constitutional and parliamentary monarchy. Along came new institutions, new forms of expression, and a new social and political order. In 1921, Reza Khan staged a coup against the Soltan Ahmad Shah Qajar and became the prominent political personality in Iran; in 1925 he assumed the throne and became known as Reza Shah. An autocrat and supporter of modernization, he initiated the development of modern industry, railroads and establishment of a national education system. In 1941, however, due to Reza Shah’s closeness to Germany, Britain and the USSR invaded and occupied Iran, and forced the Shah to abdicate in favour of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a Western-educated 22-years-old young man, hoping that the younger prince would be more open to influence from the Allies, which proved to be the case. The increasing Western involvement in Iran led, however, to a political crisis in the early 50’s: in 1951, the Iranian parliament voted unanimously to nationalise the oil industry, which shut out the immensely profitable Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the predecessor of British Petroleum and a pillar of British economy at that time. Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, became Britain’s number one enemy and, in response to the nationalisation, Britain embargoed Iranian oil and began plotting to depose him. Members of the British Intelligence Service invited the US to join them, but the US President at that time, Harry Truman, was categorically unwilling to do it. In 1953, however, his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, authorised Operation Ajax, and CIA took the lead in overthrowing Mossadegh and supporting a US-friendly monarch. The covert operation, for which the US Government led by Bill Clinton apologised in 2000, was led by Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., the grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. Iranians were hired to protest Mossadegh and fight pro-Mossadegh demonstrators, which led to violent clashes in the streets leaving almost 300 dead. The operation was successful in triggering a coup and, within days, pro-Shah tanks stormed the capital and bombarded the Prime Minister’s residence. Mossadegh surrendered, was arrested, tried for treason and sentenced to prison. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule became increasingly autocratic in the following years. With strong support from the US and the UK, the Shah further modernised the country, but simultaneously crushed all forms of political opposition. Ayatollah Khomeini, who was popular in religious circles, became an active critic of the Shah and was imprisoned, first, and sent to exile, after. Khomeini was sent first to Turkey, then to Iraq and finally to France, but he continued to denounce the Shah. Starting in late 1977, the Shia Islamist reaction to the autocratic Shah began to build. One year later, millions of Iranians were in the streets and the country’s economy was paralysed. The Shah left the country in the beginning of 1979 and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to tumultuous, adoring crowds. The result was the establishment of an Islamic Republic with sharia and clerical rules: the land that gave birth to what is considered to be the first declaration of human rights (the Cyrus Cylinder) became, as a consequence of political mistakes and foreign interference, one of the most repressive societies in the whole World…

The Independent reported yesterday that what led to the hostage crisis was a failed US attempt to abduct two senior Iranian security officers on an official visit to northern Iraq, in the morning of 11 January. The British newspaper claims that this aggressive act provoked a dangerous escalation in the confrontation between the US and Iran which ultimately led to the capture of the 15 British sailors. I have the impression that we would all win if our leaders stopped playing war games and went back to what we pay them to do: politics!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


From the Greek Zephyrus, (the West Wind)

Zephyrus, or just Zephyr, in the original Greek Zephuros (Ζέφυρος), is the Greek god of the west wind. The gentlest of the winds, Zephyrus is known as the fructifying wind, the messenger of spring. It was thought that Zephyrus lived in a cave in Thrace.


1. a light refreshing wind; a gentle breeze

2. any thing of fine, soft, or light quality, especially fabric

Zephyr Song

can I get your hand to write on
just a piece of leg to bite on
what a night to fly my kite on
do you want to flash your light on
take a look its on display...for you
coming down, no not today

did you meet your fortune teller
get it off with no propeller
do it up its on with stella
what a way to finally smell her
picking up but not too strong...for you
take a piece and pass it on

fly away on my zephyr
I feel it more than ever
and in this perfect weather
we'll find a place together
fly on... my wind

rebel and a liberator
find a way to be a skater
rev it up to levitate her
super friendly aviator
take a look its on display
for you...coming down, no not today

fly away on my zephyr
I feel it more than ever
and in this perfect weather
we'll find a place together
fly on... my wind

in the water where I centre my emotion
all the world can pass me by
fly away on my zephyr
we'll find a place together

fly away on my zephyr
I feel it more than ever
and in this perfect weather
we'll find a place together
fly on... my wind

in the water where I centre my emotion
all the world can pass me by
fly away on my zephyr
we're going to live together

Estou além...

At its darkest, life can be colourful and at its most coulourful, dark!

Living in different places or travelling around takes us into wonderful experiences, gives us the possibility of knowing breathtaking places and the privilege of meeting amazing people. And only one knows how strong these are carved into our being...

But it also leaves pieces of us shattered around different places. And this can be painful and dispairing! And this can be beautiful and inspiring...

Though ultimately it leads us to dispair with an unsolvable paradigme: I am where I want to be but I am not where I would like to! I am happy to be with those around me, I'm desperate to be with the distant ones!

I guess that this was the feeling that the late portuguese singer, António Variações, wanted to express in one of his songs, "Estou Além":

Vou continuar a procurar o meu mundo, o meu lugar
Porque até aqui eu só estou bem
Aonde não estou
Porque eu só estou bem
Aonde eu não vou

Me too, I also want to keep looking for my world and my place...

Wherever...! Whoever...! Whenever...!

Ultimately, travelling is all about getting to know yourself

There have been plenty of times when I have faced a crisis, and a degree of emotion that surprises even me has welled up, driving me into action to overcome the crisis. Sometimes I scream and cry on my own, it's too tough, it's too hard, I want to give up and go home, I'm lonely - but even so, I've always just kept on going. The reason I keep travelling is because the feeling is so strong that I want to find the part of me that even I don't know. Also, travelling makes me think of all sorts of things.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Music is the universal language...

Migan asbet rafighe rooze jange
Mo migooyom azoo behtar tofange
Svaare bi tofang ghodrat nadaare
Svaar vaghti tofang daare svaare

Tofange daste noghream raa forookhtam
Baraaye del ghabaaye terme dookhtam
Ferestaadom baraayom pas ferestaad
Tofange daste noghream daad-o-bidaad

Kingdom of Heaven

Song 2

I got my head checked
By a jumbo jet
It wasn't easy
But nothing is, no

When I feel heavy metal
And I'm pins and I'm needles
Well I lie and I'm easy
All of the time but I'm never sure when I need you
Pleased to meet you

I got my head done
When I was young
It's not my problem
It's not my problem

When I feel heavy metal
And I'm pins and I'm needles
Well I lie and I'm easy
All of the time but I'm never sure when I need you
Pleased to meet you

Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah
Oh, yeah