It has been almost two months since the people of Ukraine went on the streets protesting against the government. The protest, which spread to many cities, is criticizing the decision of the Ukrainian government to reject European Union’s Association agreement in favor of improving trade and traditional relations with Russia. Since then, the government has failed to cool down the tempers. The situation became even worse recently when the government of Ukraine made a law that sums up protesting as illegal. Protests which were gradually becoming mild, turned violent with protesters fighting the police and raiding government buildings.
While Ukraine is in the midst of a crisis, foreign media have been doing their best to propagate their own propaganda. Western media came out to the full support of European Union and the protests, whereas Russian media did their best criticizing the protests and supporting the Ukrainian government.
There was always this belief that Eastern Ukraine is more pro Russia, and western Ukraine is more tilted towards Europe. This division became prominent when pro-government rallies were organized in eastern parts of the country such as Donetsk. Though autonomous republic of Crimea is a part of Ukraine, people consider themselves as Russians and hold Russian passports. Crimea, along with rest of eastern Ukraine came out with strong support for the government.
At the time when divided media is dividing public opinion, it is very important to understand what actually is happening in Ukraine. For this reason, we surveyed native Ukrainians asking their opinion on recent protests and we got mixed responses as we had expected.
The survey was done asking a set of questions in person, on website and on social media from people belonging to different age groups, genders and regions of Ukraine.
We asked people, if given a choice between European Union and Russia, what would they choose? 60% of Ukrainians said they will prefer European Union, 33.33% said they want to align towards Russia or Customs union and 6.66% people said they want a free country, neither towards European Union or Russia.
We then asked the same people if they think Ukraine may have a better future with European Union. 33.33% percent people said no. whereas 53.33% said yes and 13.33% people were unsure. This statistic gives an interesting insight when compared with the one above. A significant number of people who wanted Ukraine to incline towards European Union were confused and unsure if it is good for Ukraine, assuming that those who want Ukraine to incline towards Russia will always deny the possibility of a better future with European Union.
European Union itself has been undergoing a financial crisis and the new member states, especially the countries of East Europe have in a number of times blamed EU of discrimination (take for example Bulgaria and Romania that are kept out of Schengen area). There are countries like United Kingdom who want to leave the European Union and there are countries like Iceland, Switzerland and Norway who do not want to join European Union. Greenland has left the European Union at its will. At this juncture, will Ukraine find a respectful position if it completely joins the European Union? Or bringing Ukraine to EU is just a plan to embarrass Russia? We asked the same question from the people we surveyed and we got mixed response: 40% people said yes, Ukraine may become a victim of discrimination, and 40% people said no.
At the moment Ukraine is having a political crisis where protesters have been so far successful in getting the Prime Minister of the country resign. There are clashes between principles. Protesters are raising their voice and demonstrating because they have every right to do so. However, the government believes they are elected majority, brought by the majority of the people of Ukraine, therefore they have every right to govern and do not want to give up.
As we were analysing the survey results, we could clearly see the east and west divide among Ukrainian population, where east supporting the government and west against it.
Ukraine political crisis
It is difficult to accurately determine which side has more supporters. In every democracy people have the right to elect their leaders and if they are not happy with the government then they have the right to make the government fall. Nevertheless, if the number of people who elected the government is more than the number of protesters, then is it democratic to force the government to quit? In any democracy, the party that has the largest support group should be the winning one… right? Considering the split of opinions between East and West dividing the country, it looks like one has the majority. I asked this same question to my Ukrainian friend who had come for a visit to India and he said that many west Ukrainians had boycotted the elections and did not cast their votes, thus president Viktor Yanukovich was put into power by easterns. So things might not be so simple after all.
European Union and Customs Union trying to gain Ukraine, made Ukrainians fight with each other, which is a sad reality. Now the question is not whether Ukraine will chose European Union or customs union, the question is whether Ukraine will let Yanukovich govern or not. He is serving one of the toughest times. After the resignation of Prime Minister Azarov, the President remains with less power. However, under the new constitution introduced in 2004, most of the power remains in the hands of the president. And the government can work for another two months without the Prime Minister.
The chaos in Ukraine started when the government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union. An association agreement is different than permanent membership of European Union. Such an agreement facilitates the cooperation between European Union and signatory countries in areas that include development of political, trade, social, cultural and security links. This agreement does not ensure better jobs, better lifestyle, access to Schengen region and other facilities and benefits which EU member states might enjoy. However, this agreement may make it easier for Ukraine to join European Union in the future, requiring an approval in the parliament or a public referendum.
European Union has certain membership criteria, and among them some criteria where Ukraine fails as of today are:
- stable institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
- a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with competition and market forces in the EU;
On the other hand, Russia has assured that it will not review its earlier signed agreements if the new government comes to the centre. Putin reiterated that the political crisis in Ukraine must be solved without any foreign interference. He further added, the international community, which has been calling on Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich to act in a civilized way amid the crisis, should urge the opposition to do the same.
[polldaddy type=”iframe” survey=”53478B7045792A87″ height=”auto” domain=”haemetite” id=”ukraine-political-crisis”]*Results from this survey will not be updated in the report
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Seasif’s Franco Favilla discusses the post-Covid economy and the price of gold
Although the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, there has been much discussion on the idea of a “post-Covid” economy, especially with the beginning of vaccination efforts in some countries. With markets throughout the world suffering the economic effects of the virus, experts have been looking towards the future –– and one of the topics that often comes up is the price of gold.
In August, the price of gold exceeded US$ 2,000 an ounce for the first time, driven by multiple factors. However, in November, advancements in Covid-19 vaccines led to a decrease in this trend, a result of the turbulent period we are going through.
“Regardless of the market volatility and the price changes that could occur over a given period of time, the fundamental fact is that the price of gold over the course of 2020 has reached an all-time high, and this, in my opinion, is very good news for the world economy,” explains Franco Favilla, founder and CEO of Seasif, a multinational company active in the extraction and trading of gold and oil.
According to Mr. Favilla, the main problem of the pre-Covid economy was the completely arbitrary nature of international finance. At one time, a ton of gold corresponded to a ton of currency, but since the 1980s, and at an impressive rate since 2000, the gap has widened enormously, so much so that today the relationship between the world’s currencies and gold is enormously unbalanced.
Total gold reserves around the world cover only 30% of currencies. This means there is nothing to cover and guarantee the value of money. In short, money has turned into a pure convention, a pure agreement between parties acting outside the market. Gold, on the contrary, guarantees democracy, because it protects savers and the market, offering an objective value for parameterizing every transaction.
“My hope, therefore, is that the crisis caused by Covid-19 will help to change finance, making it less ‘phantom’ and more linked to an objective dimension, based on gold, with obvious advantages for the real economy. Gold protects consumers, the most important component in any economic system: if you don’t have a market made up of consumers with a certain level of wealth, how can you sell? To whom? Consumer protection must come first, and gold is one of the main ways of protecting them,” states the CEO of Seasif.
Sustainability has also been at the forefront in discussions about the post-Covid world, as countries look towards establishing a more resilient global economy, one able to better withstand such events in the future –– and “green gold” may well be a part of that future. Green gold, in a sense, can be considered the “gold of the future” due to its ethical and sustainable extraction process. Seasif produces green gold, with a department entirely dedicated to green, and has allocated economic incentives to its continued production.
Even as 2020 draws to a close, the future may still look uncertain. But for those searching for greater security, gold may be one of the few certainties left.
How much money do you need to live comfortably in Spain?
There are plenty of reasons why you may be thinking about living in Spain: its population is friendly and kind; its climate, especially in the coastal areas, is enviable; its gastronomy is incredible… but, what about its prices? What is the most affordable way to live in Spain?
Perhaps the most important question if you decided to go: would it be better to buy instead of renting a property in Spain. Or yet living in a Spanish residence?
Spanish cities where to live cheap and well
In the geographical variety that Spain presents, we can find many differences in average salaries and the standard of living that reside there would require. The areas of Galicia, Extremadura, Castilla y León, together with Almería and the south of Alicante usually have a lower price of euros/square meter in their homes. The quality of life is really appreciable, but you should know that there are fewer possibilities for business and transports.
The autonomous community of the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Madrid, which have higher than average incomes (normally more than 24,000 euros per year), also have higher prices. However, Madrid has such a wide range of rents that it sometimes makes them cheaper than other countries.
In addition, and taking into account the tourist seasons, the areas of Valencia and Andalusia are normally a preference when it comes to living in Spain for a while or even spending your retirement. Although day-to-day life can be more expensive than in other areas of Spain, the mild climate and variety of leisure options are often worth it in the long run.
Whatever your option is when moving to another country, especially if you don’t know its legal system, can be very tiresome. That’s why our advice is to try to contact local agencies (that speak English) to give you fair and fruitful advice. For example, to move to Andalusia, we usually recommend Tejada solicitors.
I have already decided on the place. Now what?
Well, if you have already fully immersed yourself in the streets of a beautiful city that we have talked about, what should be your first step?
Decide what kind of stay you want to be in (since your future economic situation will also depend on this: taxes, permits…). You may have already chosen, for example, property conveyancing in Marbella, but it is recommended that you also think about renting a property, because it can be very profitable while you are in your other place of residence.
To sum up, before moving to a Spanish city, decide if you want to spend a little more money per month in exchange for the exceptional conditions that their precious land can give you; secondly, contact a reliable agency that will help you make the best investment and even more, apply for a Spanish residency if you are decided to stay for a long time.
And remember: a move is always a new beginning.
Holiday in Italy: choose Florence for a break in the winter
Florence is one of the most visited Italian cities, with over 15,4 million tourists visiting the city each year. Located in the heart of the Tuscany region, this beautiful city breathes history, life and culture among its streets. If you are looking for the perfect location for your next winter holidays, then you should look no further, Florence is the perfect destination for you.
Enjoying the best cuisine
Florence is one of the cities with the richer gastronomy in the world. From traditional Italian cuisine to exquisite wines, the food in this city have everything you may wish for in order to please your palate. With so many options available, you may be wondering where to eat in Florence. Food critics recommend that you check out the following options during your visit to Florence:
- Traditional Italian cuisine: visiting Florence and not tasting original Italian cuisine would be considered blasphemous by many. Italy has one of the most delicious gastronomies in the world, and in Florence you will be able to taste it at its finest with local ingredients. Restaurants like La Chiostrina or Il Rosmarino will allow you to rediscover Italy by its traditional food.
- Tasting the local wine: wines from the Tuscany region are famous worldwide as the best in the market, making this region the Mecca of wine lovers. During your visit to Florence you will be able to taste those deliquescent wines in restaurants such as Olio Restaurant or Villa Pitiana Restaurant, or taste it on places dedicated exclusively to wine such as Enoteca Obsequium Firenze or L’Enoteca Sandro Soltani.
- International cuisine: if you like international cuisine, then you are on luck. The best chefs around the globe have restaurants on Florence. This means that you will be able to taste flavours from all the world without having to leave the city. For example, you can visit the restaurant El Inca for a taste of Peruvian food, restaurant Com Saigon for genuine Vietnamese cuisine, restaurant Ararat for Armenian and Georgian traditional food, or Dim Sum for refined Chinese cuisine. Discover the world by trying the taste of these countries’ traditional flavours.
- Taste original gelato: gelatos are the ice cream predecessors, and they have been one of Italy’s culinary specialties for centuries . This traditional Italian cold dessert is similar to ice cream, but has less fat and less added sugar. You will be able to enjoy this amazing treat on the many gelaterias around Florence streets, such as Gelateria Edoardo or Gelateria Dei Neri.
- Tapas and Street food: these are excellent alternatives if you are looking to make a simple meal with your family. You will be able to enjoy these small dishes in places like Italian Tapas or Rivalta Cafe.
- Modern cuisine: you can taste the most modern and alternative cuisine in the world in Florence. Restaurants like Alla Torre De’ Rossi or Winter Garden by Caino will bring to your table the sophistication the more delicate palates crave.
Discover Florence’s hidden gems
Florence is a city with a lot of monuments and museums to discover. However, most people that visit the city tend to focus only on the main monuments of the city, such as Campanile di Giotto or Palazzo Vecchio o della Signoria, and the restaurants near those. Because of that, if you want to experience Florence to its fullest, we recommend you rent a bike.
Discovering Florence by bike will grant you access to places away from the mainstream crowds, such as the Andrea del Sarto Museum (dedicated to this amazing Italian painter) or the beautiful Ospedale degli Innocenti (a 17th-century home for abandoned children which includes some amazing pieces of art done by renowned artists like Botticelli). These are really stunning places you would miss if you stick to the traditional tourist route, causing you a lot of regrets over the missed chance.
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