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EuroPDB: November 4, 2005

by soj Fri Nov 4th, 2005 at 07:19:27 AM EST

Welcome to the "Euro PDB", a briefing paper on today's events affecting Europe and European interests.

Today's big stories... rioting continues in France... Azerbaijan heads towards a critical election.. and Italian PM Berlusconi says his critics are unpatriotic and hate Italy if they don't believe him...

In English

Bad news for Rumsfeld's buddies as the EU health commissioner, Markos Kyprianou, is calling for big pharmaceutical companies to reduce the price of key drugs such as Tamiflu in order for EU members to meet their health needs.

Meanwhile the European Central Bank president, Jean-Claude Trichet, is warning that he could raise interest rates "any darn time" he feels like it in order to control the threat of inflation. In other news, Trichet blasted Antonio Fazio, the chief of the Bank of Italy for how he handled the takeover of Banca Antonveta.

Bad news indeed out of France as rioting has continued for an 8th night outside of Paris.

The slippery PM of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, is now saying there was (or is) a threat against his life. Surprising no one, he is now accusing all of his domestic critics of being "anti-Italian".

Here's some jolly news - the Secretary-General of Interpol, Ronald Noble, has stated that between 10 and 15 million stolen passports are in circulation worldwide. What's also interesting is that Noble said that the truck stolen from Japan, filled with explosives, that was used to murder ex-Lebanese PM Rafik Al-Hariri, was never reported to Interpol by the Japanese authorities.

The link is now erased but the opposition in Azerbaijan is threatening street protests if the vote this weekend is rigged. Well it will be rigged and Aliyev's cronies will maintain control of the parliament. And if 2003 is any guide, security forces will harshly repress any demonstrations. The only question is, "will anyone in the outside world care?".

A car bomb exploded in southeastern Turkey, injuring 23 people. The gov't is blaming the Kurdish PKK.

The fun-lovin' government of Thailand has imposed martial law in two new districts, Songjhla and Thepha. Three others, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, are already under martial law. Meanwhile the violence continues. For the BBC's background on this forgotten war, click here. I prefer the War Nerd's tasteless but more concise analysis.

After 10 years of being banned, the government in Britain is allowing Sun Myung Moon, the head of his own church, land in the country. He's still banned from entering most EU countries, especially Germany, as well as Bulgaria.

Good news if true - the EU and US are close to negotiating a deal with Libya on freeing 5 Bulgarian and 1 Palestinian nurse, tortured into confessing they infected hundreds of children with the AIDS virus.

Today the President of France, Jacques Chirac, is at the opening of a memorial to commemorate the only Nazi concentration camp that operated on French soil. A site very few people know about.

The Minister of Refugees for Georgia, Eteri Astemirova, has resigned.

And last but not least, the U.S. Congress has voted to give $75 million in aid to Armenia plus $3 to the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Georgia meanwhile is getting $67 in aid next year and Azerbaijan $35 million.

Lots of stories, a few comments:

  • please stop using "riots" to describe the skirmishes and incidents arounf Paris, it's just not fitting;

  • The Struthof camp, near Strasbourg, was technically not part of France when in service, as Germany actually annexed Alsace during the war and made it a territory of the Reich. As a result, young men from the area were forced into the Werhmacht to fight, a sore topic in Alsace still today (if you can read French, the linked article is really good);

  • Le Monde also had a goo piece yesterday about Rusana Guseinova, the widow of an journalist critical of the power in Azerbaijan, who was shot in the back in front of his 16 month old son a few months ago. She is now actively involved with the opposition.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Nov 4th, 2005 at 11:22:25 AM EST
Hmm... I am a stickler for language too and so I looked up the Merriam Webster definition for "riot":

2 a : public violence, tumult, or disorder b : a violent public disorder; specifically : a tumultuous disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons assembled together and acting with a common intent

You've got widespread civil disobedience in at least 2 towns for over a week, hundreds of cars burned, buildings torched, clashes with police, at least some real bullets fired and the police wearing riot gear.  I think this counts as a riot.

These people, "youths" or whatever you want to call them (nobody in France seems to agree) are angry and there's lots of them and they are using violence.  That qualifies as a riot in my book.

What word would you prefer?  


Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Fri Nov 4th, 2005 at 11:51:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just wanted to add that the peerless Eurasia  Net has an excellent summary of the players, news and what's going on with Azerbaijani elections.  Definitely worth reading!


Night and day you can find me Flogging the Simian

by soj on Fri Nov 4th, 2005 at 12:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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