Germany struggles with Armenia genocide debate

  • 23 April 2015
Man walks past mural in Yerevan depicting Armenia's genocide memorial (22 April)
Germany's Nazi past and its alliance with the Ottomans make its role with Armenia highly sensitive

The Pope has spoken of it; the European and French parliaments have voted on it. And, of course, Kim Kardashian, has had her say too.

Now Germany's government looks set to condemn as genocide the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks 100 years ago. In some ways.

On Friday, parliamentarians in Berlin will debate a motion on the 1915 massacres, in which hundreds of thousands of people died.

But instead of a clear statement of condemnation, politicians will discuss an opaque, tortuously-worded sentence, which aims to be unclear enough to keep everyone happy - with the sort of convoluted phrasing that the German language is so good at.

Skulls in ruined Armenian village of Sheyxalan, 1915 (pic from Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute)
Skulls lie in a ruined Armenian village in 1915 (pic: Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute)

Roughly translated, politicians will debate whether the fate of the Armenians "exemplifies" the 20th Century's terrible history of mass killings, ethnic cleansing, expulsions and genocides.

Read full article Germany struggles with Armenia genocide debate

Europe at risk of corruption from lobbying - report

  • 15 April 2015

European nations urgently need new regulations to prevent governments from being unduly influenced by businesses and other special interest groups, according to a new report by the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International.

The advocacy group says most countries do not control lobbying practices, "allowing for nearly unfettered influence of business interests on the daily lives of Europeans".

Read full article Europe at risk of corruption from lobbying - report

Pro-Putin Russian bikers spark Polish protest

  • 15 April 2015
Podworski Facebook page
A Polish Facebook campaign is under way against the Night Wolves

A Vladimir Putin-backed motorcycle club called Night Wolves - sometimes portrayed as Russia's Hells Angels - has triggered a protest in Poland.

The bikers plan to ride through Poland on a trip to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over the Nazis, ending in Berlin on 9 May.

Read full article Pro-Putin Russian bikers spark Polish protest

Brave new world for EU farmers as milk quotas scrapped

  • 31 March 2015
Vat of butter in Isigny, France
Isigny-sur-mer, France: Europe is not short of butter to sell

Back in the days when the EU was called the European Community, the big gripe was the butter mountains, wine lakes and milk lakes.

In 1984 European leaders decided that enough was enough - they imposed milk quotas to stop the over-production.

Read full article Brave new world for EU farmers as milk quotas scrapped

EU set to fight back in Russia information war

  • 18 March 2015
Woman watches Russian President Vladimir Putin (15 March)
Russian TV ran an extensive three-hour documentary on the annexation of Crimea on Sunday night

When EU leaders meet for a summit in Brussels later this week they will have to confront serious divisions on whether and when to extend sanctions, imposed on key sectors of the Russian economy in response to the Kremlin's actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

But amidst talk of unresolved splits on sanctions, there does seem to be broad agreement on a separate but related issue: the need to challenge what a draft version of the summit's conclusions calls "Russia's ongoing disinformation campaigns".

Read full article EU set to fight back in Russia information war

Bulgaria PM Borisov seeks to halt security turmoil

  • 13 March 2015
PM Boiko Borisov (Feb 2015)
Prime Minister Boiko Borisov wants anti-corruption work handled by the government not security services

Bulgaria's parliament has approved the appointment of a new interior minister, Rumyana Bachvarova, after a week of drama in which five top officials have resigned or been replaced in the secret services and interior ministry.

The political turmoil at the heart of government has hit a country which was warned in a European Commission report earlier this year that much more had to be done to fight organised crime and corruption.

Read full article Bulgaria PM Borisov seeks to halt security turmoil

Germany split over policy on migrants

  • 8 March 2015
A view of the living container village for refugees during an Open Door Day in the district of Koepenick in Berlin
Koepenick, Berlin: Some "container cities" have been erected hurriedly to house refugees

To the east of Berlin, there's a bleak clearing surrounded by concrete high-rise apartment blocks.

And behind a few windswept pine trees and a wire fence, is a three-storey metal building.

Read full article Germany split over policy on migrants

Italian MPs chided for macho language

  • 6 March 2015
Laura Boldrini - file pic
Laura Boldrini (centre): Time for the Italian language to catch up with modernity

One of the top positions in the Italian state has been occupied by a champion of women's rights since 2013 - Laura Boldrini, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies (lower house).

She has campaigned against online harassment of women, for equal pay, and spoken out against beauty pageants. But now she is in a tussle over grammar.

Read full article Italian MPs chided for macho language

Europe's environment - good news and bad

  • 3 March 2015
Heathrow - plane landing near field
Plans for a third runway at Heathrow raise environmental concerns

Here’s a striking thought: in many parts of Europe, the local environment is arguably in as good a state today as it has been since the start of industrialisation.

This direct quotation leaps out of the tome produced by the European Environment Agency to assess the progress of policy from the 1970s stretching forward to 2050, when the EU aspires to be "living well within the limits of the planet".

Read full article Europe's environment - good news and bad

Greek bailout: Eurozone pressure remains despite deal

  • 24 February 2015
EU and Greek flags flutter on top of the Greek finance ministry (24 Feb)
Frayed nerves? EU and Greek flags flutter on top of the Greek finance ministry

It's hardly a ringing endorsement.

Following weeks of negotiations and meetings and increasingly short tempers, the Eurogroup has finally approved the Greek reform plan with a degree of enthusiasm that looks suspiciously like a damp squib.

Read full article Greek bailout: Eurozone pressure remains despite deal