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We move to Russia in our series on Europe’s second-tier cities

Čt, 11/08/2018 - 10:33

Old habits die hard

A PUNGENT ODOUR of dried fish and the cries of merchants fill the cavernous central market, which locals in this southern Russian city still lovingly refer to as “the old bazaar”. Commerce is in the blood here. “If a man doesn’t want to earn money, then what is he doing on this earth?” guffaws Galya, who hawks pork. Rows of sellers reflect a multicultural history: Armenians, Georgians, Greeks, and even Korean women peddling kimchi. Down the hill from the market, the river Don beckons; on the city’s left bank, barges with piles of grain await their departure for foreign shores. “The south is more alive,” says Inna, a fishmonger. “It’s like the fish: when she swims in clean water, her eyes sparkle.”

A city with roots as a trading hub, Rostov-on-Don has preserved its entrepreneurial spirit. “The Russian south is the model of a future Russia,” argues Sergei Smirnov, CEO of Center-Invest...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Friedrich Merz stakes his claim to succeed Angela Merkel

Čt, 11/08/2018 - 10:33

“FRIEDRICH THE great” roared one headline. The hype that attended the surprise declaration by Friedrich Merz, a politician-turned-businessman, that he would run for the leadership of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) may have been a trifle overdone. But as Angela Merkel’s long reign as chancellor draws to a close, Mr Merz’s gambit has exposed the party’s thirst for political novelty. Mrs Merkel’s decision on October 29th to vacate the CDU leadership, a position she has held for 18 years, has unleashed passions that some Germans had forgotten they had. “The CDU lives!” gushed a party vice-chairman.

At first blush, the 62-year-old Mr Merz seems a curious agent of renewal. A longtime CDU man from a small town near Dortmund, in Germany’s west, he earned his spurs as a fearsome parliamentarian in the 1990s. But in 2002 he was felled as floor leader of the parliamentary party by Mrs Merkel, whose ambition he had underestimated...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

How a group of Athens troublemakers goes unpunished

Čt, 11/08/2018 - 10:18

THE DOWN-AT-HEEL neighbourhood of Exarchia in central Athens, known for its lively bars and tavernas, has long been home to a small but disruptive community of self-described anarchists. Violent street battles take place at weekends: extremists throw Molotov cocktails at police, who respond with tear gas. Long-suffering residents say their complaints are routinely ignored by the authorities.

One anarchist group, Rouvikonas (Rubicon), uses more sophisticated tactics to make its presence felt. Based in a cinema-cum-bar close to Exarchia’s central square, populated with drug pushers and sellers of bootleg cigarettes, Rouvikonas stages nuisance attacks against embassies, government buildings and the offices of multinational companies. Its members are not usually arrested. Prosecutors dismiss their actions as “too insignificant” to justify full-fledged investigation.

Rouvikonas’s victims would disagree. In recent months...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Lessons from history 100 years after the Armistice

Čt, 11/08/2018 - 09:33

SHORTLY AFTER 2am on November 11th 1918 a train came to a halt in a wood in Compiègne, near Paris. A second train pulled up on a nearby track. After four years of fighting, delegates of the German government sought an armistice from Ferdinand Foch, the commander of the French forces. Rare photos of the scene, hazy as a memory, show engine smoke twisting between the twiggy trees, makeshift boardwalks across the leaf-strewn ground and clusters of soldiers by the rails. At 5.15am the Germans signed the peace in the light of brass lamps in a teak-lined dining car. At 11am the guns fell silent along the 400km (250 mile) front, their thunder replaced by the pealing of church bells.

This peace ended a collective nightmare of hitherto unrivalled intensity and volume. The first world war was not just a grand tragedy. For the 67m who fought, it was a sordid hellscape. Few of the 10m killed in combat died from a “bullet, straight to the...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

Emmanuel Macron’s labour reforms may be working

Čt, 11/08/2018 - 09:33

WHEN GERHARD SCHRöDER launched a series of German labour-market reforms in 2003, his country’s unemployment rate stood at just under 10%. This was also the rate inherited by Emmanuel Macron, who signed his own labour-market reform into law in September 2017. The French president’s version is more modest than the Schröder package, not least because the bits already enacted touch only the labour code and not yet the unemployment-benefit and vocational-training systems. But Mr Macron’s hopes to curb unemployment are no less ambitious. A year on, has the French reform had any effect?

At first glance, not much. The number of jobseekers edged up again slightly in the third quarter, by 0.5%, after a tiny rise in the second quarter, according to Pôle Emploi, the unemployment agency. There has been a steep increase, of 8%, in the number of people out of work for between one and two years. France’s overall unemployment rate in the second quarter stood at 9.1%, still well above the 7%...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

NATO holds its biggest exercises since the cold war

St, 11/07/2018 - 18:50

THE SPANISH armoured vehicles were dug into the side of the road into Oppdal, a mountain village some 300km north of Oslo, cannons pointed across the snowy valley. Their task was to defend the local airport from the might of the “North Force”, played mostly by American marines, whose fleet of tanks assembled at a nearby petrol station. Rifle-wielding marines decked in snow camouflage prepared for battle with cups of hot chocolate, the attendant unfazed by the firepower massing on her forecourt. Yellow-jacketed umpires followed the war games, decreeing whether a tank had strayed into a notional minefield or been struck by hypothetical artillery. “It’s pretty much like battleships,” said Second-Lieutenant Larry Boyd.

The mock combat was part of Trident Juncture 2018, NATO’s biggest military exercise since the cold war, lasting from October 25th to November 7th. The alliance is flourishing on the ground, building up forces, transforming its institutions and squaring up to Russia with confidence. The question is whether this progress can be quarantined from the transatlantic squabbling between political leaders.

The very premise of the exercise—an invasion of Norway, causing the alliance to invoke its Article 5 mutual-defence clause—was a signal that, after...

Kategorie: Evropa, Souhrn

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