You know that has to be true when the hardest-liner on the side of making France pay a fine for its flouting of the 3%-of-GDP budget deficit limit, Dutch finance minister Gerrit Zalm, finally throws in the towel. That he is now doing so is clear from an interview published in today’s Het Financiële Dagbald (subscription required). The scheduled meeting next Monday evening of EU finance ministers, long thought to be a setting for confrontation, will now merely be a formality as the lenient stance proposed by EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Perdo Solbes is approved. Even though for him personally Monday’s meeting is sure to be, as the article puts it, “a long and unpleasant session,” in the end Zalm himself might even vote to approve Solbes’ proposal, if only to head off even more-lenient treatment of the French that some may use that occasion to advance. (more…)
Archive for October, 2003
We’ve seen Dutch premier Balkenende travel to Warsaw to try to break some of the stalemates blocking progress at the EU’s Constitutional Intergovernmental Conference (IGC): no dice. On Sunday, French foreign minister Dominique de Villepin basically tried the same thing, visiting Warsaw himself to have talks with Polish foreign minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, according to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza. (more…)
While suicide-bombs explode in Iraq, the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) over the draft EU Constitution goes on. Even though right now there is no actual meeting of government officials occurring, at whatever level, the daunting task still looms of somehow arriving at a Constitution all member-states can agree upon. One can strongly assume that the Italian Foreign Ministry is very busy now in gathering information and making bilateral contacts about how the IGC impassed can be broken. Meanwhile, the draft Constitution is also a topic of discussion as officials from other groups of EU member-states meet.
The Netherlands’ very own premier Jan Peter Balkenende is now on a swing through Eastern Europe, and on Monday he was in Warsaw, meeting with both the Polish president and premier, reports the NRC Handelsblad (Poland Remains Contrary over the EU’s Future). (more…)
What’s the hot story these days? Clearly, the coordinated, so-called “Ramadan bombings” which took place in Baghdad yesterday. From my wanderings among the on-line European press today, I know that there’s been plenty of reporting of those (and even actual commentary, here and there) all over the place, in every and any nation’s press you like.
You can get a good selection of reporting and commentary from English-language sources from around the globe here, if you subscribe to Salon. Non-English-language sources, you say? For that, you know you’ve come to the right place. But if I have to review reporting about the Ramadan bombings myself, then I think I’ll take the opportunity to return, after a long absence, to the Hungarian press. The leading Hungarian daily Népszabadság has an interesting article entitled “Why Are We in Vietnam Again?”, and sub-titled “Saddam Has Returned: He Profits from the Occupiers’ Damaging/Harmful Behavior.” (more…)
Surely you’ve all been following the latest to-do having to do with Princess Diana, formerly of the British Royal Family until she had an unfortunate, and lethal, auto accident along the Seine in Paris in late August, 1997? Her former butler, and apparent intimate, Paul Burrell, is in a revelatory mood and has written a book about her, spilling all sorts of intimate details to the point that he has provoked a confrontation with William and Harry, her surviving sons. For all he has revealed, though, there is one terrible secret he has held back, something so sordid, so dastardly, it is said, that it “could destroy the royal family.” Gadzooks! (more…)
OK, we’ve heard from the sanctimonious but idealistic Danish Left. (That’s the entry from earlier today, below; with the zany way that weblogs work, you get to read that afterwards, unless you switch over there right now.) Now for last week’s Madrid Conference of Iraqi donors from the cynic’s point of view – what you could call the “pay-to-play” outlook. (That “pay-to-play” concept I’ve now run across in connection with the California recall election, and just recently having to do with the upcoming election for Philadelphia’s mayor – which I am definitely not interested in. You should get a good idea of what it means from what follows.)
Let’s start with Die Zeit . . . (more…)
In the end, last Thursday’s and Friday’s Madrid Iraqi Donors’ Conference seems to have turned out better than expected. The coverage in Denmark’s Politiken (Japan Gives Iraq $5 Billion) gives a final verdict that is middle-of-the-road: yes, donor countries “reached deeper into their pockets than had seemed would be the case even hours before the conference closed.” (As the headline recounts, Japan upped its contribution during the course of the conference, ultimately offering a soft loan of $3.5 billion, and an outright grant of $1.5 billion.) On the other hand, Politiken still calls the results disappointing for the Americans, who had hoped to call forth much more money than the result of $18 billion to add to the ca. $20 billion that the US Congress approved (half of it a loan). On yet another hand, the article points out, for a long time there were doubts whether there would even be enough support to hold the conference in the first place.
Overall, the world’s press has plenty in the results of the Madrid Conference to see either a glass half-full or half-empty, according to the given newspaper’s (and/or its journalist’s) inclination or political stance. It’s rather more refreshing to come across a piece of commentary on these happenings which is willing to put them into a wider context, even if it turns out to be a very anti-Coalition one. This is what we have in the article in the Danish commentary newspaper Information entitled A New Iraq. (more…)
One of my weblog entries back on October 18 had to do with an article in the Dutch newspaper Trouw which treated seven supposed contradictions in the long reign of Pope John Paul II, including the question of his record in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II. (True, that was not when he was Pope; but it was when he was a Catholic seminarian.)
That entry has now prompted Nik to respond with an extensive comment shedding further light on just what the then-Karol Wojtyla did during those trying years, a comment which debunks any allegation of morally cowardly behavior, which it is pretty fair to say the Trouw writer was trying to insinuate. That comment (the link is here) is too valuable to leave only for those who, wandering in the on-line wilderness of my weblog archives, happen to click the “Comment” link of the right past entry. I would instead encourage any readers interested in the life of John Paul II to follow that link above to check it out.
Yesterday marked the first day of the two-day Iraq donors’ conference in Madrid. I’ve chosen the German press as the prism through which to review events at and surrounding that conference; it usually gives good, comprehensive coverage, and what’s more, in this situation it represents a country which you suspect doesn’t want to be at that Madrid conference in the first place. (Germany’s delegation there is headed not by a political minister – the Minister for Developmental Aid, Heidemarie Wieczoreck-Zeul, might at least have been appropriate – but by her top civil servant, state-secretary Erich Stather.)
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung covers Madrid thoroughly, in two on-line articles, the lead one of which is entitled At the Construction-Site of an Iraqi Marshall Plan. (more…)
One big piece of current news in the Netherlands is the release of a comprehensive report from the Centraal Planbureau (CPB) on “The Future of Europe.” That “Central Plan Bureau,” despite its name, does not occupy itself with any sort of economic planning – i.e. in the socialist sense (as in the old Soviet Gosplan) of presuming to choreograph the national economy by calculating how that economy should work to achieve given national objectives, and then issuing instructions to economic actors about what they are to do. Rather, it is roughly the equivalent, say, of America’s National Bureau of Economic Research, except that the CPB is not private but rather publicly-funded, organizationally being part of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Nonetheless, the CPB claims that it is quite objective and independent in the research it performs and conclusions it draws, even if it is formally part of the government.
Back in 1992 the CPB produced, and released to the public, its “Scanning the Future” report, a long-term study of the future of Europe and of the Netherlands based upon a general-equilibrium economic model it had developed, called “Worldscan.” “Scanning the Future” was built around four different long-term scenarios of how the future might look, depending on what assumptions you adopted. Like that earlier report, the just-released “Four Futures of Europe” – written in English – is also constructed around four long-term scenarios. (more…)
Can I write some more about that last week’s “European Council” (i.e. summit of European heads-of-state/government) in Brussels? There is at least one loose end to tidy up – interesting enough in itself to prompt an essay from Die Zeit.
There were a few other things that happened in Brussels, besides Jacques Chirac representing Germany for a day, and everybody reciting for the umpteenth time their stand on the draft Constitution. For one thing, the assembled leaders also approved the creation of a new European agency to coordinate immigration controls at the EU’s expanded borders. But of greater interest is the “growth initiative” that also constituted part of the summit’s business. That was mainly what the EU leaders talked about Thursday afternoon, after their no-progress talks on the draft Constitution of that morning. (more…)
You’re probably aware that British Prime Minister Tony Blair was hurried from Chequers to the hospital last Sunday suffering from chest pains and an irregular heartbeat. (You may or may not know that, at roughly the same time, his colleague, finance minister, and possible rival, Gordon Brown, was at a hospital in Scotland doting over his newly-born son.) Now, where did that come from? Tony Blair is renowned, among other things, for his rude health – a fact that was confirmed on a BBC World Service broadcast from earlier this week, in which one of his close acquaintances spoke of his diet of fruit, the Downing Street treadmill that he uses regularly, and his low weight for his height.
Maybe it was the coffee, that strong stuff that Blair’s Belgian hosts served at the end of last week at the European Council. At least that’s what Blair himself thinks, according to this article (“Bitter Blend” from The Independent, and therefore in English), which I was alerted to by this article in the Danish newspaper Politiken. Turns out he simply drank too much of it. And doctors quoted in that Independent article confirm that too much caffeine can indeed trigger the heart complaint that Blair was discovered to be suffering from – but that it can also “come out of the blue.”
As varied as the individual details may have been, one theme clearly predominates the preceding accounts on this website, from the French, Dutch, and the Czech press, of the progress of the EU draft Constitution Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) so far. And that is, of course, that there has been virtually none – indeed, that there is even considerable dissatisfaction over the process currently being used to try to gain common agreement on an EU Constitution. (more…)
The Czech on-line press has not paid too much attention to the recent Brussels EU summit. The exception is Hospodarske noviny, the country’s leading business newspaper. HN is no more impressed by the results out of Brussels than were the French or Dutch press; the headline reads International Conference Is As Yet at a Dead End. In fact, the article reminds us that things have bogged down this way despite four EU meetings intended to get things moving with the approval of the EU Constitution: There were the summits of heads of state/government in Rome and now in Brussels, yes, but each of those also had a meeting of EU foreign ministers attached to it, namely at Rome and Luxembourg. And so far – nothing.
As you would expect, a specifically-Czech tidbit is thrown into Hospodarske noviny’s reporting: Czech foreign minister Cyril Svoboda has been lobbying at these events to prevent the EU “Minister of Foreign Affairs,” envisaged in the draft Constitution, from actually having that title. According to Svoboda, much better would be something less grandiose, like “Foreign Policy Representative.” “Minister,” you see, implies a sovereign state – and we don’t want to give any support to the notion that this Constitution will in any way create a sovereign state. (Actually, within the Czech Republic it is primarily President Václav Klaus and his opposition ODS party who are sticklers on points such as this; Svoboda’s campaign reflects his government’s weak position in the Czech legislature, which forces that government to keep the ODS sweet by taking up its causes in this way at the EU level.)
The HN article speaks of a compromise “package” that EU President Silvio Berlusconi undertook at the Brussels summit to fashion, which would be examined by the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Rome on 28/29 November, to prepare it hopefully for acceptance at the end-of-presidency EU summit of 12/13 December. It also mentions the mid-November “mini-summit” that Berlusconi wanted to hold to help him along with this; but that last bit has probably by now been overtaken by events, given the reluctance to meet yet again on the part of EU government heads that emerged in the French and Dutch press.
If the Dutch on-line press is any indication, opinion in the Netherlands over the results of the just-completed European summit in Brussels (which was supposed to make progress towards a final European Constitution) is no higher than in France (covered in the following entry). Indeed, these articles offer some key updates to developments. (more…)
Bad news for EU taxpayers, at least those who rather expect some concrete results from their representatives at European Union fora in return for the tax-euros they are paid. (Come on now – could anyone really be so naïve?) I know you recall that EU summit in Brussels that took place yesterday and the day before – Chirac also spoke for Germany during yesterday’s session, remember? (Covered in €S from both the French and German points-of-view.) That was nice, a great symbolic gesture and all that, but more pertinent might be the fact that little of note was actually accomplished. At least so the French on-line papers say. (more…)
The Pope celebrated the 25th anniversary of his accession on Thursday, and I provided on these pages one evaluation of his legacy, from a Czech source. But here’s another, from the Dutch newspaper Trouw which, interestingly enough, used to be the newspaper for Dutch Catholics, although now it’s non-sectarian, as well as generally a cut above most of the rest of the pack in the intelligence of its articles, as regular EuroSavant readers probably are aware. My specific motivations for bringing you this are 1) Trouw’s excellent, straightforward, even bullet-point treatment of the contradictions that have characterized this Pope’s reign, that I thought you might like to know about, and 2) The rather-too-hagiographical treatment of John Paul II that I have run across elsewhere, such as this entry on “Fistful of Euros.” (I could leave a comment – but in the form of a €S-type article analysis? Better to put it on my own site and use the great new weblogging feature of “Trackback”!) Longevity is hardly a recommendation for someone’s performance in office per se; the Duvaliers oppressed Haiti for decades on end, just to name one example, and, to name but another, Haidar Aliev has pillaged Azerbaijan for 35 years and just recently topped it all off by installing his son to succeed him as president, via a fraudulent election.
But now to the Trouw article, The Seven Silver Swords of Karol Wojtyla. (Registration required, as usual, and in Dutch. But if you try, you can probably figure out what they want you to fill out. And if you don’t erase the “cookie,” you’ll never have to do this again at your computer!) (more…)
Now that we’ve already covered German reporting and commentary on Jacques Chirac acting to represent German interests during the second day of the European summit in Brussels (today, in fact), let’s look at the French side. Another day’s passing has even allowed the time for more detailed, nuanced coverage to spring up in the French press, and so I concentrate on these recent articles. (more…)
Yes, it’s true: Chirac wird Bundeskanzler, Chirac becomes the German Chancellor. For Friday’s session of the EU summit of heads of state/government in Brussels, neither Gerhard Schröder nor his foreign minister Joschka Fischer plan to be present. In their stead, French President Jacques Chirac will represent both French and German interests. The two German leaders feel that they’re rather more urgently needed back in Berlin in the Bundestag that day, where it seems every single SPD/Green coalition vote will be needed to pass a raft of labor-reform laws which some call “Hartz IV” (after the Hartz Commission, chaired by Peter Hartz, a Volkswagen executive, which called for such reforms).
Even though I concluded in my previous weblog entry of earlier today (directly below) that it has had no practical effect on official Polish policy (yet) . . . I still think you might find interesting the “open letter to European Public Opinion, ” the brainchild of the editor-in-chief of the Polish quarterly Krytyka polityczna (“Political Critique”). The Le Monde article by new correspondent-in-Poland Christophe Châtelot which first drew my attention to it is here; and here is one of the places where you can refer to the Polish original (it’s in the middle of the page, under the “List otwarty . . .” heading) in case, say, you want to evaluate my Polish-to-English translation skills.
Click on “More…” to proceed to the English translation (you know we don’t want to take up valuable homepage space to impose this on €S visitors who aren’t the least bit interested in this sort of thing . . .) (more…)
Our old/new friend Christophe Châtelot, correspondent in Poland for Le Monde, is back at work, with an interesting new article (pointed out to me by EuroSavant habitué Chris K.), Two Hundred Polish Personalities Are Ready to Sacrifice for Europe. The brief piece concentrates on the 23-year-old figure of Slawomir Sierakowski, editor-in-chief of the quarterly review Krytyka polityczna, or “Political Critique.” Mr. Sierakowski is against the “Nice or Death” approach to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on the EU Constitution adopted by, according to him, “the [Polish] political and media establishment.” (For those coming in late, you can find €S background on “Nice or Death” here.) He says such an approach is likely to result in “a strong Poland within a weak EU,” a result he rejects. For good measure, he also considers unnecessary any explicit reference to the Christian faith in the Constitution’s preamble – not because he considers Christian values unimportant, but because he wants a Europe founded upon the widest base of values, and mentioning Christianity specifically could repel others or make them feel excluded.
To put these sentiments into action, Sierakowski drew up and publicized “an open letter to European opinion” (reproduced and discussed here, but in Polish; maybe I’ll translate it later, it’s not that long). He managed to gain the support (i.e. signatures) of around 200 other Polish intellectuals. And for many inside and outside of Poland, mainly those who earnestly hope that a final-form European Constitution can be agreed upon at the IGC, and who suspect Poland’s approach to that conference to be a mite unyielding and hard-core, this is a welcome gesture.
But will it have any true reverberations on the government, so that the Polish negotiating position is actually modified in some way? Or is just the combined voice of 200 Polish intellectuals crying out of the wilderness, so that “Nice or Death” is, so to speak, still alive and well? I went looking for an answer in the Polish on-line press. (more…)
The time is drawing near (16 October) which will mark precisely the 25th anniversary of the election by the College of Cardinals of Karel Wojtyla to the papacy. Not that we need too much more motivation these days to take a look back at what that papacy has meant to the world; there was the recent awarding of the Noble Peace Prize, which did not go to the Pope but which many felt should have. And there is his ever-worsening health, which made more fervent the urgings of those who felt he deserved the Prize (Nobel prizes cannot be awarded posthumously) and, in any case, prompts looks backward in time as a sort of dress-rehearsal for the obituaries which are supposedly to be published soon.
The Polish on-line press is filled with treatments of the history of this papacy – essays, vast collections of pictures (check out this collection of thirty), even a chance to chat on-line with the Krakow priest Mieczyslaw Malinski, who has known Karol Wojtyla for years (but he probably only “chats” in Polish). But you realize that any Polish assessment of Pope John Paul II is not going to be very unbiased. Me, I prefer a more level-headed treatment, if still from the same general area of the world. What better resource to go to for that than the Czech Republic (one of the most non-religious nations in the world), and especially the maverick commentary weekly Respekt? I refer to their current article, An Old Man Changes Clothes, by Jiri Hanus, who is a historian and editor of the magazine Teologie & spolecnost, or “Theology & Society.” (more…)
Since my first revelation of his wordcraft, taken here from the Danish Politiken, there may be some of you out there who just can’t get enough of that literary artist whose day-job just happens to be the presidency of the United States, one George W. Bush. (Others, on the other hand, would advise him not to give up that day-job. Still more, however, are already working hard to make sure that he does just that in January, 2005.) Well, it seems that the Truth is a difficult thing to get whole, although widespread reading in numerous languages might help you get closer to it. That poem to Laura printed in Politiken was barely the half of it; now I’ve discovered this article in the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny that gives a fuller version (although who knows whether this is finally the complete one). Yes, I’ll reproduce it for you here (it’s only cyber-space – and a miniscule portion of my allowed storage-space on the host server – that I’m expending):
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Oh my lump in the bed,
How I’ve missed you.
Roses are redder,
Bluer am I,
Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat, they missed you too,
Barney’s still mad you dropped him,
He ate your shoe.
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier,
Next time you want an adventure,
just land on a carrier.
For those of you into careful comparison of such works of literature in parallel texts of two different languages, Lidové noviny also provides a Czech translation. And yes, the Czech paper also mentions the connection to Bush’s flight onto that carrier last May, and his declaration there of the end of major combat operations in Iraq. It also mentions that Mrs. Bush recited this poem at the Library of Congress book festival in the presence of her husband.
The current most-talked-about press-scoop about current conditions in the Middle East belongs to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. A search on Google News indicates that scattered English-language periodicals have picked up on its eyebrow-raising report from last Saturday. (I first became aware of it via the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.) As before, when Al Gore cited in a speech a damning interview about the Bush administration’s economic policies in Der Spiegel by top American economist George A. Akerlof, EuroSavant is glad to step in to assist its English-speaking audience. (more…)
Here’s a postscript to EuroSavant’s coverage of European reactions to the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as California governor (the French and the Austrian press’ reactions). As reported in today’s on-line version of the Dutch semi-tabloid De Telegraaf, citizens of Georgia (that’s the former Soviet republic, located in the Caucasus mountains, not the American state whose capital is Atlanta) want to name a peak after him. Specifically, local officials in the western province of Imereti have picked out a mountain to name for the Terminator; they’re hoping that he can be persuaded to come attend the mountain-christening ceremony.
I’ll be off-line through the weekend, since I’m traveling again. This time it’s to the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, one of the world’s prime publishing events, with a history stretching back hundreds of years. Naturally it has its own well-developed website – actually, two, in English and in German.
I have to go as a private person (I’m not “trade”), so that means on the weekend. Will there be anything there about blogging? I haven’t found anything yet, even after some pretty substantial perusals of their websites. (By the way, both websites offer a great, and free, Palm download that enables you to identify, record, and track on your PDA the companies, people, and events you want to see; I’m just about finished with my extensive preparation along those lines.) If there is anything, and it’s interesting (especially if it can be linked to), I’ll be sure to let you know about it. It seems there’s a big category of attendee companies called “Electronic Media,” so we’ll see if that has what I’m looking for (along weblog lines, at least; I’m really mainly interested in foreign language textbooks).
Austria is where Arnold Schwarzenegger originally came from (born there in 1947, in Thal-bei-Graz). And, from a review of Austrian coverage of Arnold’s election victory, it seems the country has gone wild about its favorite son, popularly known there as simply “Arnie.” A review of that coverage is in order – but please realize that, since I don’t ordinarily treat Austria, I have but an imperfect idea of the newspapers I should cover here.
As you probably have noticed, I generally cover the national press, not the regional press; and I generally cover the “broadsheets” rather than the “tabloids.” (These terms refer to the physical format of a newspaper – whether you read it with the long side vertical or horizontal, respectively – but they also have come to mean “respected, mainstream publication” and “pandering to the crowd,” respectively.) It was easy to find a webpage with the Austrian newspapers, but it was not clear which of those satisfied my criteria. If there are any Österreichers out there who can help me along, by telling me which other Austrian newspapers I should have included but didn’t, or perhaps which of the ones I did choose that I shouldn’t have, I’d be mighty grateful. And I’ll be prepared for that “next time” – say, when an Austrian is elected EU Council President (if the draft Constitution proposing that new office ever gets off the ground).
As with the French press, the challenge here is to find coverage that adds something new to the blanket recitation of facts about the recall election that you’d be able to find anyway in the English-language press. Turning first to the Kurier, only two articles stand out in this regard. (more…)
I know that I owe you a survey of Austrian reaction to the election in California of the “Governator,” but hold on. (Actually, by this point that’s probably the entry above this one; you’ve already read it.) While working on the French-press entry, I discovered serendipitously this great article in Le Monde about Baghdad residents finally being able to use the Internet. It’s entitled In the Internet Cafés, Baghdadis Discover the Joys of “Chat,” Erotic Sites, and “Real Life”, and yes, the whole thing brings to mind adolescents discovering sex. (more…)
Here we go: and the French press, as you can well imagine, has had a lot to say about Governor-elect Schwarzenegger, who by the way apparently is known best there as “Schwarzy.”
We start with Le Monde, which features no less than three commentary pieces on the California election results, in addition to several reports of a more factual nature. (more…)
The EU’s Nice Treaty of December, 2000, stands in the immediate background to the ongoing deliberations in Rome over the draft Constitution that began this past weekend. As I mentioned yesterday, should this attempt to arrive at a mutually-acceptable EU Constitution (or perhaps “constitutional treaty”) fail, the status quo of that Nice Treaty is what the EU will be left with, until (if/when) the next attempt at further institutional reform actually succeeds. As we also have seen, Nice has had a more direct influence on the Rome IGC, in that the advantageous voting allocation in the European Council awarded there to Spain and Poland – for whatever reason – has become a point of contention. Those countries seemingly refuse to agree to the draft Constitution terms which would have them give it up.
So we find just what the doctor ordered in the Dutch newspaper Trouw, namely a refresher on that Nice summit of almost three years ago was all about, in an article entitled Failed Nice Summit Continues to Play Tricks with the EU. (more…)