Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
By Tamora Vidaillet and Darren Ennis
Reporters at a long-awaited summit between the European Union and China in Prague Castle learnt more about the art of stage managing set-piece events than about the state of the EU-China relationship.
The Czech Republic, which holds the EU presidency until the end of next month, pulled out all the stops to ensure security was tight for Wednesday’s fleeting visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and a handful of ministers, who were kept away from journalists by barriers.
Ushered into a stuffy holding room hours before the meeting, journalists were kept from stepping outside even for a smoke for fear of escaping into the sprawling compound of the castle.
Outside, other aspects of the summit were subjected to similar controls. About 60 peope protesting against alleged Chinese abuses of human rights were kept well away from the eyes of Wen, who swept into the castle in a motorcade of black limousines.
Instead of letting Wen arrive to a chorus of abuse, Chinese men in suits carefully orchestrated a more friendly crowd of local Chinese well-wishers who merrily waved Czech and Chinese flags as Wen and his entourage drove by.
Senior figures from across Austria’s political spectrum have condemned the head of the far-right Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, over his party’s European election campaign directed against Israel and Turkey.
In an advertisement in the newspaper Kronen Zeitung, Freedom opposes the accession of Turkey and Israel to the European Union. Although Turkey is in EU accession talks, Israel is not.
Members of the European Parliament engaged in some mutual back-slapping at their final session this week before an election next month.
“Nowadays very few decisions are taken in the European Union without the express consent and participation of the European Parliament,” said the parliament’s president, Hans-Gert Poettering.
Diplomats say there is mild panic in the EU capital at the thought that the regular June summit — where the bloc is due to discuss the Lisbon treaty reforming the EU — could be chaired by Eurosceptic Czech President Vaclav Klaus.
Poles and Czechs, their economies still relatively robust despite global recession, are up in arms about what they see as international investors’ tendency to tar them with the same brush as their more troubled neighbours such as Hungary, Ukraine and Latvia.
But if history is any guide, investors are unlikely to be impressed, at least in the shorter term.
Should Israel and/or its allies talk to men like these, the Palestinian Islamists of Hamas, who run the Gaza Strip?
That’s a question that has been revived this week following the end of Israel’s 22-day war in Gaza, which left Hamas rule apparently intact and 1.5 million people in desperate need, and the arrival in the White House of President Barack Obama, who has indicated he might be willing to talk to people his predecessor George W. Bush had shunned.
Posted by Andrei Makhovsky and Salah Sarrar
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and Libyan leader
Muammar Gaddafi found they had plenty in common when they met in
Minsk this week.
Both their countries have started to come in from the cold after years of
international isolation and sanctions that were imposed on their
countries because of their policies.
They also share a vision of a multi-polar world to
counterbalance U.S. influence.
Another bout of bloody clashes between Congolese Tutsi rebels and government forces, accompanied by vicious looting has sent the hapless civilians of eastern Congo’s North Kivu province once again running for their lives. Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting, bringing to nearly 1 million the number of people displaced by fighting in North Kivu alone since Congo’s first ever democratic elections two years ago.
The fighting on the border between Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda has triggered the usual round of recriminations between the two countries’ governments. Foreign envoys are jetting back and forth between Kinshasa and Kigali. The United Nations and European Union are both considering sending in extra troops to help the U.N. peacekeeping force, already the world’s biggest at 17,000-strong.