A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘southeastern europe

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Wawa, Calgary, Mexico City, Tirana, Hong Kong

  • Vice shares the photographs taken by Cheyenne Jackson of the declining, aging, northern Ontario town of Wawa. What future does it have?
  • At MacLean’s, Jason Markusoff looks at the diminishing support for the 2026 Olympics in Calgary. Is there any case for this?
  • Guardian Cities reports on the Via Verde, the vertical gardens attached to the pillars of the Mexico City freeway system. Are they merely cosmetic?
  • The continued efforts of the civic authorities in the Albanian capital of Tirana to improve life in this growing city are the subject of this Guardian Cities article.
  • This SCMP article makes a compelling argument that the distinctiveness of Hong Kong, as a city not wholly of China, is inexorably declining.

[NEWS] Five notes about migration: Albania, Venezuela, Latvia, Namibia and East Germany, Yunnan

  • This report from the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso noting the sheer scale of emigration in parts of rural Albania, proceeding to the point of depopulating entire territories, tells a remarkable story.
  • This opinion suggesting that, due to the breakdown of the economy of Venezuela, we will soon see a refugee crisis rivaling Syria’s seems frighteningly plausible.
  • Politico Europe notes that, in the case of Latvia, where emigration has helped bring the country’s population down below two million, there are serious concerns.
  • OZY tells the unexpected story of hundreds of young Namibian children who, during apartheid, were raised in safety in Communist East Germany.
  • Many Chinese are fleeing the pollution of Beijing and other major cities for new lives in the cleaner environments in the southern province of Yunnan. The Guardian reports.

[NEWS] Seven links on borders: Alberta, BC, Saskatchewan, Ontario, New York, Europe, NAFTA, Colombia

  • Relations between Alberta and British Columbia, regarding the latter province’s disinterest in hosting a pipeline for Albertan oil, are not good at all. The National Post looks at things.
  • Things aren’t good between Alberta and Saskatchewan, either. The <INational Post imagines what it would be like if there was not just a trade war, but an actual war.
  • Kathleen Wynne warned that, if New York imposed “Buy American” requirements, Ontario would retaliate. The Toronto Star reported.
  • Steel from New York is the first trade item to face retaliatory measures in Ontario, The Globe and Mail noted.
  • A generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe still shows the marks left by Communism, Leonid Bershidsky notes at Bloomberg View.
  • Will getting rid of the name “NAFTA” really make North American integration less controversial? Global News looks at the idea.
  • Colombia is tightening its border controls to try to deal with the influx from Venezuela, Bloomberg notes.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

  • Crooked Timber enthuses over the remixing, or remastering, of arguably the Beatles’ most iconic album.
  • Far Outliers notes the Albanian language’s alphabet struggles in the wider geopolitics of Albania.
  • Joe. My. God. notes an American soccer player opted to quit rather than to wear a Pride jersey.
  • Language Hat notes a new online atlas of Algonquian languages.
  • The NYRB Daily argues that Theresa May’s election defeat makes the fantasy of a hard Brexit, at least, that much less possible.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia’s concern at the dissipation of the prestige of its language and script in its former empire, especially in Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO looks at deserted Mirvish Village.
  • Crooked Timber reenages with the Rachel Carson and DDT myth.
  • The Crux looks at the Mandela Effect, exploring false memories.
  • Dangerous Minds makes the case for the musical genius of Bobbie Gentry.
  • From the Heart of Europe’s Nicholas Whyte recounts his visit to Albania’s bunker museum.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Brazil’s retirement of its only aircraft carrier.
  • The LRB Blog looks at the extent and speed of events in the Trump Administration.
  • Marginal Revolution engages with a book examining France’s carving out a “cultural exception” in international trade agreements.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reports on the passing of rulership of the Australian micronation of Hutt River.
  • Peter Rukavina shares good advice for visiting museums: visit only what you can take in.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russian Orthodox Church opposition to a certain kind of Russian civic nationality, and argues Russia is losing even its regional superpower status.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell reports on how local councils in the United Kingdom are speculating on commercial property.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams considers, among other things, studies of Alpha Centauri.
  • D-Brief talks about the unexpected chill of Venus’ poles.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a photo of the San Francisco shoreline.
  • Far Outliers notes the rare achievements of Michael the Brave.
  • Joe. My. God. notes the recent finding by an American court that transgendered students are protected.
  • The LRB Blog reports on the nuitards.
  • Marginal Revolution notes some of the singular failure of the Brazilian economy over the past century.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer wonders why some people apparently call Russia and North Korea the 51st states.
  • pollotenchegg maps election results onto declared language in Ukraine.
  • Savage Minds starts a series on decolonizing anthropology.
  • Torontoist celebrates the tenth anniversary of Type Books.
  • Transit Toronto notes upcoming repairs to Ossington.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on Russian fears that the Russian economy might be doomed to stagnate.

[LINK] “Romania Can Shine as Haven From Regional Politics, Minister Says”

Bloomberg’s Andra Timu and Irina Vilcu note how Romania is trying to benefit from uncertainty in Poland.

Romania’s finance chief sees an opening for her nation to become eastern Europe’s go-to investment destination as nerves jangle over government policies in Poland, until recently the region’s top performer.

The second-poorest European Union member has been underestimated by investors and eclipsed by its neighbors for too long, said Finance Minister Anca Dragu, citing a calmer political backdrop and an economic expansion that’s set to surge more than 4 percent this year. Standard & Poor’s cut Poland’s credit rating on Jan. 15 on concern the new government is undermining the independence of institutions such as courts and media.

“There are certain developments in the region that have investors worried,” Dragu said Friday in an interview in Bucharest. “Compared with that, Romania’s economic growth is balanced and sustainable, we have an educated population and relative political stability that we need to appreciate more because we don’t have extremist parties that cause problems in other countries.”

Romania is no stranger to political drama itself: Dragu is part of a technocrat cabinet led by former European Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, who took over in November after anti-corruption protests in the European Union and NATO member prompted his predecessor to quit. It also faces competition to lure cash fleeing Poland from other local peers, such as the Czech Republic, a regional haven whose 10-year borrowing costs are lower than every country in the world except for Japan, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 4, 2016 at 5:33 pm

[LINK] “Poverty spurs mass migration from Kosovo”

Euractiv notes the unsurprising fact that migration from Kosovo, arguably the poorest country in Europe, has recently spiked.

There is no precise information on the number of Albanians who ave left Kosovo. Estimates in early February cite several hundred leaving daily. According to data provided by security forces, over the past two months, more than 50,000 have left, while media estimate 100,000 since August 2014.

Such claims are dismissed by Kosovo government officials, who stress that even the smaller number they know of is cause for concern and is a heavy burden on Pristina.

This led the Kosovo Assembly to pass a special resolution on stopping illegal migration and to request that the Kosovo government earmark between 40 and 50 million euros, which would be used to create new jobs and solve social problems.

At the same time, Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga started touring the municipalities from which the biggest number of illegal migrants had left, and spoke about the matter directly with the those she met on the street and in restaurants.

As one of the measures aimed at stemming the flow of migrants, on 5 February, the government decided to form a commission that would consider the possibility of writing off all of their debts to institutions and public enterprises created between 1999 and the end of 2008. The possibility of writing off interest on the debts of citizens and companies incurred after 2008 was also announced.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 23, 2015 at 11:58 pm

[LINK] “Balkan wars: Serbia, Croatia did not commit genocide, UN court says”

I didn’t link to this important news, reported by the CBC among many others. Is it too much to hope that this might lead to a thawing in intra-Yugoslav relations?

The top court of the United Nations ruled Tuesday that Serbia and Croatia did not commit genocide against each other’s people during the bloody 1990s wars sparked by the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

[. . .]

The International Court of Justice said Serb forces committed widespread crimes in Croatia early in the war, but they did not amount to genocide. The 17-judge panel then ruled that a 1995 Croat offensive to win back territory from rebel
Serbs also featured serious crimes, but did not reach the level of genocide.

[. . .]

Tuesday’s decision was not unexpected, as the UN’s Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, a separate court also based in The Hague, has never charged any Serbs or Croats with genocide in one another’s territory.

Croatia brought the case to the world court in 1999, asking judges to order Belgrade to pay compensation. Serbia later filed a counterclaim, alleging genocide by Croat forces during the 1995 “Operation Storm” military campaign.

Rejecting both cases, court President Peter Tomka stressed that many crimes happened during fighting between Serbia and Croatia and urged Belgrade and Zagreb to work together toward a lasting reconciliation.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 9, 2015 at 11:19 pm

[LINK] “Merkel Concerned about Russian Influence in the Balkans”

Spiegel International notes the new official concern in Germany about Russian influence in southeastern Europe. Serbia, embittered by its losses in the Yugoslav wars and traditionally pro-Russian, comes out as an object of particular concern, but Bosnia (due to Republika Srpska) and Bulgaria (due to historical leanings and current Russian investment) are also mentioned.

From the perspective of Berlin, Russia has gone from being a difficult partner to being an adversary within just one year. The effort launched in 2008 to tighten cooperation on a number of issues, one in which German leaders placed a great deal of hope, would seem to have come to an irrevocable end. Instead, Berlin is now discussing ways in which it might be able to slow down Russia’s expansionary drive — particularly in the Balkans, a region in which some states are not entirely stable. Elmar Brock, a member of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Policy Committee, is also concerned about the region. “It is part of a broad strategic approach by Russia to ‘infiltrate’ the countries politically but mostly economically,” he says.

Cold War recipes are coming back into fashion. It is time to begin thinking about a new “containment strategy,” says one high-ranking diplomat. The reference is to the concept for curbing Soviet power that was first sketched out in a famous telegram sent in February 1946 by then-US Ambassador to Moscow George Kennan. It went on to become the foundation for Western policy in relations with the Soviet Union.

[. . .]

Merkel would seem to have drawn her own conclusions. At a Monday lecture held by the German chancellor at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, where she was following the G-20 summit in Brisbane, Merkel was clear about her view of Russia. “Truly, the Ukraine crisis is in no way a regional issue,” she said. “It affects all of us.” During the following discussion, she warned that the EU will not yield to Moscow like East Germany once did. “Otherwise, one would have to say: We are too weak, be careful, we can’t accept any others, we have to first ask Moscow if it is possible. That’s how things were for 40 years; I never really wanted to return to that situation.” She then made a particularly notable comment: “And that doesn’t just apply to Ukraine. It applies to Moldova, it applies to Georgia. If the situation continues … we’d have to ask about Serbia, we’d have to ask about the western Balkan countries.”

[. . .]

Apart from such tit-for-tat pettiness, Berlin has observed a broad new approach by the Kremlin in the Balkans. The focus, officials believe, is an attempt to prevent the region’s further rapprochement with, or even accession to, the European Union. “RUS attaches great strategic importance to the Western Balkans,” reads a Foreign Ministry analysis entitled: “Russia’s Influence in Serbia.”

The paper, which is classified as confidential, describes Moscow’s efforts to link Belgrade closer to Russia. The endeavor goes beyond military cooperation and Russian deliveries of natural gas. Moscow, the paper indicates, is engaging in “public diplomacy with clear pan-Slavic rhetoric” and enjoys high esteem in the population, not least because of its approach to the Kosovo issue. “Putin’s goal is to exert so much pressure on Balkan states that they either back away from EU membership or that, once they become members, influence EU resolutions in a pro-Russian manner,” says EU parliamentarian Brok.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 18, 2014 at 10:47 pm