Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Liberals’ Løkke Rasmussen forms small minority government, publishes work plan

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 30th June 2015

Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of Venstre, the Danish liberals, has formed a small minority government of 17 ministers, who took office yesterday. The government has published its work plan and used its first day in office to reinstate a tax credit scheme for homeowners making improvements or getting maintenance and gardening work carried out.

Following several days of negotiations with other parties, mainly with the Danish People’s Party, the Conservatives and the Liberal Alliance (the other three parties in the blue bloc on the right), after the parliamentary election on 18th June, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the leader of Venstre, the Danish liberals, has formed a small minority government of 17 ministers, who took office yesterday.

With just 34 seats out of the 179 in Folketinget, the Danish parliament, Løkke Rasmussen and his party must negotiate with other parties to find a majority position in most legislative areas – aptly illustrated yesterday afternoon, when Claus Hjort Frederiksen, the new minister of finance, announced that Venstre, the Danish People’s Party (DPP) and the Conservatives, on the right wing, had agreed with the Socialist People’s Party (SF), on the left wing, and the centre-left party the Alternative to reinstate a tax credit scheme, killed off by the now deposed Social Democratic-Social Liberal coalition government from 1st January 2015, for homeowners making improvements or getting maintenance and gardening work carried out. The scheme will be changed later this year, however, so it has a greener profile in the future and will also apply to people who rent their accommodation, pleasing SF and the Alternative.

Parliament will be recalled this week for a brief session when the new government will also table a bill with measures – predominantly financial – to make Denmark a less attractive target for asylum-seekers and refugees. The aim is to reduce the number of people coming to Denmark for asylum.

Something that DPP and the parties in the blue bloc agree on, this will be accompanied at some time by a ‘pronounced strengthening of the control at the borders’ in order to fight crime and illegal immigration, another political requirement from DPP that forms part of the new government’s work plan.

The government also plans to reduce income taxes, to make it more attractive for people to work, and it will not increase other taxes. It will introduce a cap on certain transfer incomes to the unemployed, measures to encourage people not currently saving in a non-state pensions scheme, and measures to speed up diagnosis and initial treatment of illnesses.

A referendum on the Danish opt-out on justice and home affairs in the European Union, planned by the previous government, will be bought forward and will be held before Christmas 2015.

A commission currently looking into the background for Denmark’s participation (under Venstre’s Anders Fogh Rasmussen in 2003) in the USA-led military invasion of Iraq, and the behaviour of Danish troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be disbanded. They money saved will be earmarked for improvements to the conditions of Danish veterans.

The government will also appoint ‘an experienced, respected person with international views’ to find strategic ways of coordinating Denmark’s policies in security and defence, foreign affairs, trade and development aid.

Danish development aid will be cut to 0.7% of gross national income from 0.85%, and the number of countries to receive the aid will be reduced.

Click here for the list of ministers (in Danish) in the new government.

Missing voices mixed music for peace

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

By Michael de Laine, Copenhagen, 24th September 2009

The Mogens Dahl Concert Hall in Copenhagen was the venue of a rare treat yesterday, when Missing Voices – a gathering of three women performers with Middle Eastern backgrounds – met the Middle East Peace Orchestra.

Based on the Muslim Eid and the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, the performance, with its variety of sounds from horns to pipes to drums to voices, was a musical feast in name of peace.

Arranged by the US Embassy, the evening was billed as “a first of its kind concert bringing together established artists in their own right and blending their sound and heritage into one large celebration of cultures”.

The Iranian musician and dancer Shoreh Shahrzad performed an intriguing and passionate dance in a costume of her own design, and followed this with by playing a def (large Iranian drum resembling a tambourine) to accompanying music.

Another drum, an Arab darbuka, was played by Simona Abdallah, a Palestinian percussionist, also to accompanying music. One of the few women to play what has been considered a man’s instrument, Simona captured the audience with her skill, verve and thrumming.

Three traditional Afghan songs were performed by Zohreh Jooya, an Iranian-Afghan singer who journeyed from Vienna for this concert. One song, including one about the fate of a beautiful woman, was a rendition marked by passionate and emotional facial expressions and gestures.

The Middle East Peace Orchestra comprises Jewish and Arab musicians – Henrik Goldschmidt (oboe), Anders Vesterdahl (accordion), Naser Abel al Harbi (vocals), Tobias Allvin (bouzouki) and Bilal Irshed (oud) – who play the music of each other’s cultural background, both traditional and recently composed.

The orchestra’s music combines elements of Jewish ‘Klezmer’, Middle Eastern ‘Makam’ and classical Arab music. The fascinating rhythmic mix was well-received by the audience and served as an apt group rendering to match and contrast the first half’s solos.