Saturday, 20 September 2008

Webzines : Weekend 20th September

Eurocrats Step In Where MEPs Fear to Tread. Elaib Harvey, The Brussels Journal (en)

Romania: EU dreams, but prostitution and poverty reality. Mocanu Madalina, Cafe Babel (en)
" ... Right opposite the Mausoleum is a car park, ostensibly for visitors to the building. During the day, the car park becomes an ad-hoc car wash, with or without the consent of the owners. By night, the area is transformed into a paradise for pimps, prostitutes and truck drivers. The authorities seem powerless to intervene. And although many local residents display profound respect for the monument dedicated to national heroes, poverty has long since degraded the purpose and dignity of the Mausoleum ... For many people in Marasesti ... there is still deep scepticism as to exactly how much real long term impact EU membership will have on the daily lives of people in Vrancea County."

Lukashenko Calls on West to 'Accept' Belarus . Deutsche Welle (en)
"... "Belarus does not want dialogue with the West through the 'iron curtain' it has built on its border," Lukashenko said in an interview with Western journalists ahead of the parliamentary polls. "We want dialogue in all areas."
"We want you to accept us and to recognize our elections," Lukashenko said"

Czech Republic seeks EU institute on totalitarianism. Renata Goldirova, EUObserver (en)
" ... The Czech Republic, sitting at the EU's helm from January 2009, is to seek the establishment of a new European body that could serve as a research institute into totalitarianism and a museum of victims of totalitarian regimes. "The institution could cover our totalitarian past from Portugal through Greece to the Baltic States," ..."

Russia’s armed forces : Advancing, blindly The Economist (en)
" ... What Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, has called a “punch in the face” for Georgia may have been an attempt to demonstrate the restoration of Russia’s military power. But it also exposed the poor results from Russia’s recent surge in defence spending. This has doubled in nominal rouble terms since 2004. Yet much of the extra money has been eaten away by inflation ...
... On September 16th, Mr Putin announced a 27% increase in spending next year on “national defence and security”. Yet much of that money goes on maintaining Russia’s nuclear deterrent. During the cold war it was the West that relied on nuclear weapons to offset the Soviet Union’s conventional superiority; now it is the other way around ...
... Outside experts estimate that one-third of defence spending is embezzled or otherwise mis-spent ... “the Russian army is a black hole” into which money simply disappears. The result is a military fantasy in which Russia sends barely functional bombers and warships on long-range missions. Take the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft-carrier ... It has undergone interminable repairs since being commissioned in 1985. It took part in rare exercises in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean between December 2007 and February this year ... Russia’s announcement in July that it will build five or six more aircraft carriers has been met with derision. Russia does not have shipyards able to build such vessels; the Admiral Kuznetsov was built in a shipyard that is now in Ukraine ..."

" Ever since Vladimir Putin and his ex-KGB friends came to power in Russia, they have had one big advantage: a booming economy, rising prices for oil and gas exports, and strong capital inflows from abroad. All of a sudden, that has changed ... As regulators and politicians in Moscow struggle to contain the damage, and firms worry about bonds due later this year, a big question is how the economic turmoil will affect Russian politics at home and its policies abroad ..."

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