Czechs are joking that if warm weather in July and August do not ruin things, they will experience a wonderful winter. In reality, the cold and rainy weather that Central Europe is experiencing is no laughing matter. With temperatures in the teens on the centigrade thermometer (in the 50s on the Fahrenheit thermometer) and incessant rains, the Danube, Inn, Vltava, and Elbe Rivers along with many others are swelling. There already is flooding in some areas, and Prague has closed the flood gate that blocks the Čertovka Canal and protects the Lesser Town. Flooding is expected to actually hit Prague on the evening of 2 June, which will be a serious test of the anti-flooding measures that the city took in the aftermath of the 2002 flooding. As of 5.00 PM local time on Sunday, 2 June, authorities in Prague closed eight Metro stations. See http://envis.praha-mesto.cz/%28dqwkfzanojs20fz5dtue02zy%29/default.aspx?id=64073&ido=6153&sh=1107582488, http://www.radio.cz/en/news#1 (2 June 2013), and http://news.yahoo.com/central-europe-hit-floods-days-rain-110603316.html.
"What's New? How Is the World Treating You?"
Table of Contents for the Second Quarter of 2013
The European Commission has determined that Latvia is prepared to become the next member of the eurozone. The plan is for Latvia to adopt the euro in January 2014 to replace the lat. The report from the European Commission is available at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-500_en.htm.
The Czech economy is in its fifth quarter of recession with domestic product down 2.2 percent. Its manufacturing sector is down 6.0 percent, and its construction industry is down 20.6 percent. An article in Forbes with the title "The Stunning Failure of the Czech Republic's Austerity Experiment" is an indictment of the government's efforts to cut investment and to raise the VAT tax over the past few years. Analysts expect the recession to continue for the remainder of the year. See http://www.czso.cz/csu/csu.nsf/aktualniinformace (in Czech), http://www.mzv.cz/ottawa/en/economy_and_trade/czech_economy_recession_deepens.html, http://news.yahoo.com/czech-economy-stuck-recession-082729464.html, and http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2013/05/30/the-stunning-failure-of-the-czech-republics-austerity-experiment/.
Unrest continues to spread in Turkey, where many have grown weary of the efforts of Prime Minister Erdoğan and his Justice and Development party to introduce traditional Islamic restrictions. An article in the City Journal at http://www.city-journal.org/2013/eon0603cb.html by Claire Berlinski, an American journalist living in Istanbul, explains the background to the protests from a decidedly liberal standpoint.
Eight people have died in the Czech Republic as a result of flooding, and approximately 9,000 people have been evacuated. The damage in Prague, which saw the Vltava River four meters above its normal level, were not nearly as bad as in the 2002 flood. The metro still has closed stations, but the city gradually is returning to normal. In other parts of the country, however, the damage is extensive in low-lying areas. The worst hit is the northern part of the country. Flood waters still have not crested along the Elbe in Germany. Information for this posting came from Czech television news broadcasts and personal observations. Also see the preceding post.
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-rt-us-turkey-protestsbre94u0j9-20130531,0,2600785.story and http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2013/0601/In-Turkey-s-Taksim-protest-angry-citizens-and-a-defiant-prime-minister-video.
http://euobserver.com/enlargement/120331. A copy of the implementation timetable is at http://euobserver.com/media/src/0807580ad8281aefa2a89e38c49689f9.pdf. The posting about the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo on this website is here.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1371512/Nazis-fed-speed-infantrymen-tested-cocaine-like-stimulant-concentration-camps.html and http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/crystal-meth-origins-link-back-to-nazi-germany-and-world-war-ii-a-901755.html.
USSteel Plant in Košice, Slovakia, to Remain Open (26 March 2013) -- The Slovak government signed an agreement with USSteel to keep open for at least another five years the Košice plant, which employs more than 12,000 individuals. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130326/eu-slovakia-us-steel/?ir=media.
Trial of Alexei Navalny (24 April 2013) -- The corruption trial of the anti-Putin politician and presidential candidate Alexei Navalny began in Kirov, Russia, on 17 April. See http://news.yahoo.com/russian-protest-leader-trial-show-innocence-095833474.html.
Czech Government Provided $200,000 to West, TX, after Blast (24 April 2013) -- After the devastating explosion of a fertilizer plant, the Czech government agreed to provide $200,000 to help rebuild the community. In the nineteenth century, a large number of Czechs immigrated to West and surrounding communities. See http://news.yahoo.com/czechs-send-funds-blast-hit-texas-town-181551812.html.
The Czech Republic and the Euro (25 April 2013) -- President Miloš Zeman stated that the Czech Republic might adopt the euro within five years, but his comment brought words of caution from the prime minister, Petr Nečas. Under the previous president and eurosceptic, Václav Klaus, there was no movement toward adopting the euro. See http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/necas-urges-caution-referendum-on-euro-in-wake-of-zeman-comments.
Chernobyl after More Than 25 Years (April 2013) -- A slide show of Chernobyl, Ukraine, more than 25 years after the disaster at the nuclear plant on 26 April 1986, reveals a ghost town frozen in the era of late socialism. See http://news.yahoo.com/lightbox/chernobyl-today-slideshow/guard-stands-dityatki-checkpoint-marking-30-km-zone-photo-192826723.html.
Serbian Legislators Support Agreement with Kosovo (26 April 2013) -- The Serbian parliament has approved the agreement with Kosovo, ending the differences between the two countries and paving the way for both to have closer ties with the European Union. See http://news.yahoo.com/serbian-lawmakers-vote-support-kosovo-deal-201504497.html. Earlier reports about the talks between Serbia and Kosovo appear on this website.
Franz Joseph’s Hair (26 April 2013) -- A lock of hair from the Franz Joseph, the ruler of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1848 to 1916, sold at auction for nearly $18,000. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/26/emperor-franz-josephs-hair-auctioned_n_3160549.html.
Hitler’s Food Taster (26 April 2013) -- Margot Woelk remembers her time as Adolf Hitler’s food taster and the horrors of the Second World War in an interview at http://news.yahoo.com/hitlers-food-taster-tells-poisoning-fears-150032362.html.
Excellent Whiskey Emerges from a Communist-Era Experiment (28 April 2013) -- An attempt to make whiskey in communist Czechoslovakia has yielded an excellent blend named Hammer Head. See http://news.yahoo.com/czech-communist-whisky-matures-excellence-143044322.html.
ECHR Decision Regarding Tymoshenko (30 April 2013) -- The European Court of Human Rights has determined that the pre-trial detention of the former Ukrainian prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, was “arbitrary and unlawful.” See http://euobserver.com/foreign/119996.
Soviet Jews in the Second World War (April 2013) -- A slide show of Jewish Soviet war heroes from the Second World War is available at http://news.yahoo.com/lightbox/soviet-jews-in-the-red-army-slideshow/.
EU Assists Croatia after Flooding (1 May 2013) -- The European Union has given Croatia €14.6 to recover from spring flooding. See http://www.croatiantimes.com/news/General_News/2013-05-01/33208/EU_Solidarity_Fund_helps_Croatia_to_cover_floods_damage.
German Warnings about Anti-Semitism in Hungary (6 May 2013) -- The foreign minister of Germany has warned Hungary that it is not doing enough to prevent the spread of anti-Semitism. See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/10039952/German-warning-to-Hungary-over-rise-of-anti-Semitism.html. See also http://euobserver.com/political/120171 regarding the uproar in Germany a few weeks later over the Hungarian prime minister’s comparison of Angela Merkel’s policies with Nazi Germany.
Europeans’ Common Ancestors (7 May 2013) -- A study of DNA has revealed that Europeans had common ancestors as recently as 1,000 years ago. Read more at http://news.yahoo.com/europeans-had-common-ancestors-1-000-years-ago-210129852.html.
Slovenia’s Economic Measures (9 May 2013) -- In order to avoid a bailout from the European Union, Slovenia has adopted a series of new taxes and has cut its budget. More information is available at http://news.yahoo.com/slovenia-announces-anti-bailout-measures-161246698.html.
Nazis in West German Politics (9 May 2013) -- The German journalist Malte Herwig has published a book titled Die Flakhelfer that outlines how former Nazis hid their past and held prominent positions in West Germany. See http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/09/new-book-reveals-postwar-germany-s-nazi-party-ties-cover-up.html.
Charlemagne Prize for Lithuanian President (10 May 2013) -- The Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, has received the Charlemagne Prize for her dedication to European politics. See http://euobserver.com/political/120070.
Bulgaria’s Elections (12-29 May 2013) -- Neither the GERB nor the Socialist party emerged as winners of the 12 May 2013 Bulgarian parliamentary elections. See http://euobserver.com/political/120090,
and http://news.yahoo.com/bulgarias-center-party-wants-vote-canceled-114135623.html. On 29 May, Bulgaria’s former non-partisan finance minister, Plamen Oresharski, became the prime minister and will build a government of experts. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/world/europe/bulgaria-naming-of-prime-minister-ends-stalemate.html?_r=0.
Transnistria and Moldova (12 May 2013) -- Tension continues to build between Moldova and its breakaway Transnistria region, and an interview at http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/805 with the Transnistrian politician and political scientist Andrey Safonov provides insight into the problems.
Political Protests in Ukraine (23 May 2013) -- A report on the political protests against the regime in Ukraine is at http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/820.
Yugoslavia’s Royal Family Reinterred (26 May 2013) -- The last reigning king of Yugoslavia and three of his family members who were buried in the United States after the Second World War were reinterred in Serbia. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/serbia-holds-funeral-for-yugoslavias-last-king-3-other-members-of-royal-family/2013/05/26/38de2958-c608-11e2-9cd9-3b9a22a4000a_story.html.
Problems for Bosnian Farmers (30 May 2013) -- Croatia is one of Bosnia’s most important trading partners, but that likely will change when Croatia enters the European Union in July. Although Bosnia’s farmers meet EU requirements, the separate agricultural ministries in Bosnia are unable to reach agreements in order to prove their compliance with EU standards. As a result, Bosnian farmers may not have a market for their produce. See http://www.dw.de/croatias-eu-membership-spells-trouble-for-bosnias-farmers/a-16849517.
See http://www.jpost.com/Jewish-World/Jewish-News/Polish-court-rules-against-ritual-slaughter and http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/poland-to-step-up-ritual-animal-slaughter-regulations-to-minimize-suffering/article11497997/.
See http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/kosovo-approves-resolution-on-agreement-with-serbia, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20130421/eu-serbia-kosovo/?utm_hp_ref=homepage&ir=homepage, http://www.scotsman.com/news/international/serbia-approves-normalisation-deal-with-kosovo-1-2904435, and http://euobserver.com/enlargement/119873. Background to Serbia's decision to come to an agreement with Kosovans is at http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/768. Finally, the 15-point agreement is available at http://euobserver.com/media/src/e04cf94895edb5ad13bdcff237ea2008.pdf. An earlier posting about the agreement is available here.
http://news.yahoo.com/us-philanthropist-savors-opening-jewish-museum-100042573.html. The museum’s website is http://www.jewishmuseum.org.pl/en/cms/home-page/.
For additional news about the celebrations in Poland to commemorate the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, see http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches/2013/04/warsaw-ghetto-uprising, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/19/warsaw-ghetto-uprising-70th-anniversary_n_3115348.html, and http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/poland-commemorates-70th-anniversary-of-warsaw-ghetto-uprising-a-895375.html.
http://news.yahoo.com/town-hit-explosion-known-czech-heritage-222653915.html. Additional details for this posting came from Stanislav Klíma, Cechové a Slováci za hranicemi (Prague Nakladatelstvi J. Otto, spol. s r.o., 1925), 203.
http://www.mzv.cz/washington/en/czech_u_s_relations/news/statement_of_the_ambassador_of_the_czech.html. Meanwhile, some Tweets from Americans have identified the perpetrators as Czech, much to the consternation of their fellow Tweeters. More on this story is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/19/chechnya-czech-republic-twitter_n_3116773.html.
http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/48041/. Now, professor Anna Jagiełło-Szostak, who teaches political science at the Wyższa Szkola Handlowa in Wrocław, presents a progress report on the development of the Yugosphere at http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/761.
http://www.rferl.org/content/eu-serbia-kosovo-talks/24962271.html. See also the posting immediately below dated 18 April 2013 and an even earlier posting here.
http://www.rferl.org/content/kosovo-eu/24960899.html, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/04/18/us-serbia-kosovo-idUSBRE93G1AF20130418, and http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/germany-pushes-serbia-to-normalise-relations-with-kosovo.
http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.newsmain&id=664. On the issue of Greek financial claims against Germany, see http://www.dw.de/greece-ponders-german-war-reparations/a-16744823.
See http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Croatias+first+elections+show+lukewarm+support+membership/8240981/story.html, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/774895.shtml#.UWxajUpc1Zc, and http://www.croatiantimes.com/news/General_News/2013-04-15/32951/EU_skeptic_wins_the_first_European_Parliament_elections_in_Croatia.
The lecture will focus on the Kurds, the largest and most important national minority of the Middle East, and the role they have played in the politics of the region since the First World War. It will trace the Kurds’ socio-political development in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria and examine their relationships with the central governments of these countries.
Sara Zandi Karimi holds a M.Phil from Oxford University in the UK and is a University of West Florida alumna. Her research focuses on the history of modern Iran and its Kurdish regions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
This announcement also is available at http://events.uwf.edu/EventList.aspx?fromdate=4/1/2013&todate=4/30/2013&display=Month&type=public&eventidn=1673&view=EventDetails&information_id=5872.
UPDATE! On 30 April, Ms. Karimi will give a lecture titled “Between Scylla and Charybdis:The Kurds and Iran in the Interwar Period” at the University of South Alabama in Mobile at 3.30 PM in Room 122 of the Humanities Building.
Father Emil Kapaun (1916-1951) -- On 11 April 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor to Father Emil Kapaun, a Roman Catholic army chaplain who died in captivity during the Korean War. Kapaun, who was born near Pilsen, KS, of Czech immigrant parents, served in the Second World War as well as the Korean conflict. While in Korea, he saved several men during battle, comforted the injured, and chose to remain with the men, even though it meant his capture. The Catholic Church designated him as a Servant of God in 1993, which placed him in the first of four categories in the process of canonization as a saint. See http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/11/president-obama-awards-medal-honor-father-emil-kapaun-0.
Political Prisoners in Belarus -- The case of the Nobel Prize nominee Ales Bialiatski, who is in a maximum-security prison for 4.5 years, allegedly on a false charge of tax evasion, calls attention to the fate of political prisoners and the cause of free speech in Belarus. See http://euobserver.com/foreign/119757.
Wrocław’s Economic Success -- A brief report from Al Jazeera about the economic appeal of Wrocław, Poland, is at http://aje.me/YD06y8.
Margaret Thatcher and 1989 -- An analysis of the late Margaret Thatcher’s role in the collapse of communism, particularly from the Polish perspective, is at http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/751.
Klaus’s Amnesties -- The Constitutional Court will reexamine the validity of the amnesties that Václav Klaus issued before leaving office as the president of the Czech Republic. They are controversial not only in the number of people released--more than 6,000--but because many of those covered in the act of goodwill were high-profile economic criminals. See http://praguemonitor.com/2013/04/10/ln-constitutional-court-check-klauss-presidential-amnesty-again.
http://euobserver.com/enlargement/119742 and http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/south-serbia-albanians-request-exhange-of-territories-to-be-on-agenda.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/dangers-of-unexploded-wwii-munitions-in-north-and-baltic-seas-a-893113.html. See also the earlier report about an unexploded bomb at the Main Railway Station in Berlin here.
http://www.b92.net/eng/news/crimes-article.php?yyyy=2013&mm=04&dd=09&nav_id=85598 and the AP feed at http://news.yahoo.com/man-kills-13-people-serbian-shooting-rampage-200054568.html.
The motives for the pardons may be varied. Analysts speculate that they are to appease the European Union ahead of signing an association agreement with Ukraine. Another possibility is to further crowd the opposition slates with well-known potential candidates in various political races, especially the upcoming Kyiv mayoral race. The government stated that prison overcrowding was a contributing factor.
For more information on the pardons, see http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-yanukovych-lutsenko-pardon/24950001.html and http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/744.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/08/world/europe/08iht-putin08.html?_r=0, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/putin-visibly-amused-by-topless-femen-protest-in-germany-a-893128.html and http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/04/08/wrd-putin-topless-protest.html.
Filip Vujanović, has won reelection by a narrow margin. The contender, Miodrag Lekić, is challenging the vote, which may raise questions about Montenegro's democracy as it positions itself for European Union membership. Vujanović has the support of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists and Social Democratic party, while the opposition Socialist People's party, which is in the center and more conservative than the ruling coalition, backs Lekić. The position of president in Montenegro is largely ceremonial, although as in other countries where the prime minister is the real source of power, the president still is influential. See http://www.dw.de/vujanovic-declares-victory-in-ex-yugoslavia-state-montenegro/a-16726672 and http://news.yahoo.com/incumbent-declared-winner-montenegro-election-165652012.html.
Catherine Ashton, the high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy, indicated that she will not continue with further talks. See the AP feed at http://news.yahoo.com/serbia-reject-eu-brokered-kosovo-deal-105504417.html. See the earlier post on this topic here.
Aliza Vitis-Shomron (née Mendel, born 1929), who participated in the resistance as a young teenager and received orders to escape from the ghetto before the fighting began because of her age, recalled her experiences in an interview with the journalist Aron Heller. See the AP feed at http://news.yahoo.com/warsaw-ghetto-survivor-israel-recalls-uprising-173855032.html.
http://news.yahoo.com/estonias-capital-gives-residents-free-ride-065441258.html. The new policy is not surprising, considering that Tallinn also offers its residents free wireless Internet service in a program that covers almost the entire country.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-rail-services-face-disruption-after-wwii-bomb-found-in-berlin-a-892180.html and http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/03/world/europe/germany-berlin-bomb/index.html.
See the English report from Radio Prague at http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/president-zeman-hoists-eu-flag-at-prague-castle. Information for this posting also came from the Czech-language reports at http://www.lidovky.cz/prileti-barroso-se-zemanem-vyvesi-na-hrade-vlajku-eu-f9n-/zpravy-domov.aspx?c=A130402_121120_ln_domov_pef and
First, the issue of street signs in Cyrillic in and around the city of Vukovar, which has a substantial Serbian population, still is meeting with resistance from the majority Croats. Natalia Zielińska, a graduate student who specializes in European Union regional policy and integration of the components of the former Yugoslavia, has written an update about the situation at http://www.neweasterneurope.eu/node/722. An earlier post about this topic on this web site is here.
The Turks recently have floated a proposal to end the standoff in Cyprus between the Greek Cypriot government and the breakaway Turkish region. They did not release the details to the public, but it is apparent that they are proposing a two-state solution. The Turks maintain that a settlement would enable the island to exploit its natural resources, including valuable natural gas. The Greek and Cypriot governments claim that the Turks are taking advantage of the economic difficulties of Cyprus in order to arrange a deal that is favorable to them and the Turks on Cyprus. More details are at http://euobserver.com/foreign/119638.
Finally, on 2 April, talks between Serbia and Kosovo over the recognition of Kosovo apparently have collapsed. The European Union, which is serving as the mediator, is unlikely to begin accession talks with Serbia or conclude a Stabilization and Association Agreement with Kosovo if the two sides cannot reach an agreement. News about the 2 April meeting is at http://news.yahoo.com/serbia-kosovo-talks-fail-reach-accord-223842673.html. An opinion piece by Jeton Zulfaj, a postgraduate student at Lund University, is at http://euobserver.com/opinion/119633.
Traveling in Central Europe, the new section of this web site, will benefit anyone planning a journey to Central Europe, whether it is for business or pleasure. Magical Central Europe contains information about specific destinations in Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Tips for Travelers provides suggestions about making the travel experience more pleasurable and effective. Finally, Travel Links provides additional web sites to help plan a tour and schedule events at specific locations.