08 March 2013

Friday Round Up - 3/8

I have been all atwitter on twitter this week!  Lots of stuff going on in Europe these days, particularly the southeasterly neighbors in the Balkans.  Europeans be trippin', as they say.  There were so many happenings that this post is all news and very little play.  Scroll through my twitter for some of the fun diversions I found!


Happenings


Macedonia: Upset that Xhaferi was appointed as a defense chief. This certainly underscores a lot of the explosive tensions that exist in the Balkans, but I think the appointment could potentially be a point of healing and growth. The government is fractured and I think this was a drop of alcohol on an open wound.  Then there's the debate on FYROM's name; quite honestly, the EU should offer Greece aid in return for simply giving Macedonia the name it wants.  Naysay all you want, but I think that's a fair trade in Greek eyes and would put this shenanigans to bed.

March 4: Casimir Pulaski (or Kazimierz Pułaski) Day!

Moldova: This no-confidence wave is escalating quickly. Moldova's government was pro-EU and the opposition is decidedly anti and nationalist.  Super great, right?  This country locked between Ukraine and Romania also has Transnistria to its borders--if that's even really considered a country--is likely going to head to Russia's economic union if the government starts exiting the EU sphere.  To be fair, economically that may make more sense since Ukraine is on the fence and Romania is pretty bitter (see below).  We shall see.

Serbia: A poll shows that Serbians would rather have Kosovo than the EU, which proves, again, that history is the bread and butter of Balkan life.  This makes Dačić's editorial even more ballsy (moxie, if you want to pardon my French).  Considering the news this week was rife with events from the Balkan nations, I wonder how this truth will play out in Serbian politics.  The EU is turning its hope onto this region since it's the one place that really needs the diplomatic mission of the union.  This focus will shift the importance of economic matters to the side and bring out what the EU was meant to do: promote peace.  It uses economics as an incentive and reward, but it first and foremost wants to create a peaceful community that has wrestled with the demons of the past.

Latvia: To boost the EU's profile even more, Latvia decided to officially apply to join the euro.  This is big news considering the hullabaloo around the currency and it's a gateway to the Baltics.  Latvia has serious systemic issues, but then again, who doesn't?  On a personal note, this would be great so I can more easily travel to Latvia.

Hague: Still pissed, but this article tempered it a bit.  This one eloquently explains the more symbolic value of the Hague.  But! A twist!  Perišić could go to trial for espionage allegations.  I have mixed feelings about Serbia indicting its own monster and for catching him on a far more benign charge, since it's like Capone getting arrested for tax fraud.  BUT, in the end, it may be better that Serbia condemns its own; I still wish they'd condemn him over the real crime.

Balkans: For all the drama this week, there was a bright ray of hope.  The Balkans are cross-investing more and more.  Booyah!  That's exactly what the EU wants.

Hungary: Klubrádió wins yet another court case, but this isn't doing much to change anything.  Again.  Erp.

Bulgaria: Protests continue, miners are joining, and Plamen Goranov died from complications due to his self-immolation.  Then more politicians resigned. 

Romania/Bulgaria: Both were denied Schengen inclusion.  Romania is pissed and Bulgaria's been pissed for a while. Let me say one thing: I don't think they are wrong to be angry.  Europe is unloading its frustration on them unfairly.  There is one caveat - corruption is a serious problem and one that can't be ignored as the borderland of a Schengen area.  What I think should have happened is giving them both a "not yet", give them concrete steps and goals for achieving Schengen status, and stick to it!  It's unfair that this was an unexplained, unconditional no and that's where the vitriol is coming from. There have been slurs against both with assumptions that Romanians and Bulgarians will simply flood Europe and suck their coffers dry.  No and no.  I hate this attitude about Mexicans in the States because it ignores the economic reality that immigration helps an economy grow and provide more jobs.  Also, Romania got dropkicked in the face with the horse-meat scandal and that was bogus to shovel onto the steaming pile of ethnic hate.  Given Bulgaria's instability right now, the Schengen denial is not such a serious blow to its ego (you have to expect that when your government resigns over the cost of utilities...).  However, the EU may want to consider the fact that their efforts to be noble peace and money makers is looking really hypocritical when viewed from there.

Slovenia: Reached a bank deal with Croatia! Hey now, that's pretty great.  Balkans, you're giving me misty eyes. 

Marxist joke: If you haven't seen this, you should.

Phew! What a week. Now you have a summary of the barrage of information from this past week.

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