Archive for October, 2003

Belgian IGC Play-by-Play

Tuesday, October 7th, 2003

Yes, I’ve managed to kick my recent Danish fixation. And yes, that EU Constitutional Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) got underway this past weekend, starting with a one-day EU summit meeting on Saturday attended by heads of state and/or heads of government of all 15 current EU members, the 10 members-states which will join the EU at the beginning of next May, and 3 other states slated to join somewhat later as well (namely Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey). They were welcomed by current EU President Silvio Berlusconi, who called for an “act of will” from out of the assembled delegations, to come up with a version of the Constitution acceptable to all by Christmas. As President, Berlusconi got to speak first, and got to speak a little longer, and he was followed by five minutes’ remarks from European Commission president Romano Prodi, then European Parliament president Pat Cox, then from leaders of each of the 28 national delegations. “After everyone had spoken, basically nothing had been said, much less discussed,” comments Die Zeit’s article on the proceedings, Strength-of-Will, At Least up until Christmas, which, although I’m indebted to it for many of the above details, I found otherwise disappointing in its low quotient of actual analysis.

Maybe it was just too early to be able to say anything truly profound. Those heads of state/government couldn’t hang around for long – they’re a busy bunch of Euro-men and -women – meaning that it was their representatives, generally the foreign ministers, who were left behind to roll up their sleeves and start getting into the details. I’ve found good coverage about this part – the rest of the story, so to speak – in a series of articles from the Belgian on-line Gazet van Antwerpen. (more…)

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WMD Lies: Something Rotten in DK

Monday, October 6th, 2003

“Weapons of Mass Destruction”: That was the mantra this political leader cited over and over in the run-up to the War in Iraq last spring, and to him Saddam Hussein’s possession of such weapons was the irrefutable fact justifying what was about to happen. This was despite the fact that this leader never really took the time to examine the supplied evidence on its own merits, to arrive at his own independent assessment of it. Now, of course, his government is trying to play down WMD, insisting that that was only one of the rationales given for toppling Hussein’s regime.

George W. Bush? Tony Blair? Of course. But I’m actually referring here specifically to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, prime minster of Denmark, according to the account entitled Denmark at War on a Lie in the Danish commentary newspaper Information. It looks like the Danish electorate is feeling similarly deceived (or, at least, has the right so to feel) as its American and British counterparts. And speaking of deception, you, dear reader, have just been hit once again with the time-honored journalistic trick of the non-specific article lead-in, taking you along what you think is familiar ground before suddenly swerving in a quite unexpected direction when specific details are finally supplied. What a great shtick! (more…)

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Denmark Rejoins the EU’s Small Countries

Sunday, October 5th, 2003

Yes, its “Denmark Day,” but time now to go in a more serious direction, which is the Danish government’s approach to the EU Constitutional Intergovernmental Conference that opened this weekend in Rome. This event is naturally at the top of the Danish news, and is covered in all three leading nationwide, general-interest dailies, Politiken, Belingske Tidende, and Jyllands-Posten.

It turns out that there is important news to report, as it seems that Danish premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen has altered his government’s policy towards the draft Constitution in a notable way as the IGC begins. (more…)

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George W. Bush: Poet(aster)

Sunday, October 5th, 2003

I first found word about this while scanning the on-line edition of Denmark’s main Politiken newspaper. It seems that the American President missed his wife Laura rather badly while she was away this past week, visiting Paris and Moscow. So he wrote her a poem – and fear not, my friends, for it goes without saying that he wrote it not in Danish but in English, which is how it is reproduced in Politiken:

Dear Laura
Roses are red, violets are blue
oh my lump in the bed, I miss you
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier,
next time you want adventure, just land on a carrier.

Two things about this:

1) At my first take, I was surprised on how little this has been reported in the press. From Politiken I resorted to Google’s news search engine, which told me that only one news-site in India and two in Australia have yet picked up this story;
2) Then again, maybe it didn’t need to be picked up. The quality of the verse won’t make too many of the Nobel judges regret that they were so fast in awarding the Literature Prize for this year to the South African writer J.M. Coetzee. And maybe intimate communication of this sort between a man and his wife should just be left alone. Except that Laura Bush herself brought it up, according to the Politiken article, at her appearance at a literature festival this past weekend at the Library of Congress.

Of course, the Danish newspaper can’t resist expanding on the “land on a carrier” reference: the President himself, as we all know, landed on a carrier last May 1 to announce that the War against Iraq was over. Since then “at least 85 American soldiers,” says Politiken, have been killed in combat in Iraq. At least the Danes are giving the President a break with their numbers; I’m pretty sure that that total by now is well above 85.

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Poland Set to Derail EU IGC?

Friday, October 3rd, 2003

I’m back home, and back in business. And just a quick note for that subset of my clientele concerned (as am I) about the best Internet café in Prague: Unfortunately, the one I mentioned at the Narodni Galerie on Dukelskych hrdinu will shut down for good at the beginning of the week of 5 October. There were always free terminals to be had there, yes; but a normally welcome fact like that can also eventually backfire, when those in charge evaluate whether the facility is bringing in enough revenue to justify its existence.


The big event coming up soon from the EuroSavant perspective is the EU Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) for evaluating and (probably) amending, prior to official submission for approval to the 25 EU governments, the draft Constitution submitted last June by the European Constitutional Convention. One major thread to this story, it seems to me, is the hard line that the Polish government is taking in the run-up to this IGC, making its various demands for changes to the draft document clear and threatening to veto the whole process if it doesn’t get them. I noted this only obliquely in a recent entry which discussed the controversy over the proposed German “Center Against Expulsions” memorial for Berlin. But with the ICG due to start tomorrow, it’s time to zero-in on the topic – and fortunately, Le Monde’s new correspondent for Poland, Christophe Châtelot, does exactly that with what is his first dispatch in his new assignment, an article entitled Poland Goes on the Assault against Future European Institutions. (more…)

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