Earlier this month, a local mob in the eastern German town of Muegeln attacked and hurt eight Indian street vendors. LAst weekend weekend, physical assaults on foreigners were reported in three other places in Germany. And every time when a series of racially motivated attacks on foreigners gets coverage in the media, mainstream politicians here resort to a knee-jerk reaction and launch a debate on banning of the far-right National Democratic Party which is represented in several regional state parliaments. But chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats have become a great deal more cautious on this front after a failed attempt to ban the NPD in 2003. CDU interior affairs spokesman Wolfgang Bosbach says that as long as the state has informers in the NPD, one shouldn’t even think about going to court again:
Berlin’s Social Democrat interior minister Ehrhart Körting disagrees. He believes that the informers are of no great value and that intelligence agencies could stop using them:
”Whenever the NPD violates the spirit and letter of the Constitution, it doesn’t happen in a clandestine way, he says. Everyone can hear and see what they think and do. In other words, I don’t really need any intelligence people to find out just how dangerous the NPD is. And if you don’t employ any informers any more, the chances of banning the party will be excellent.”
”The fact that the NPD is able to act in public the way it does sends out a signal to many people here that there’s nothing wrong with harbouring anti-foreigner sentiments, says Koerting. Banning the party would certainly keep a lot of people from openly supporting the party’s ideology. I’m not saying that you can prevent attacks on foreigners completely just by banning the NPD, but we would certainly be able to reduce the number of such incidents.”
But such arguments cut little ice with the conservative interior minister in the southern state of Bavaria, Guenter Beckstein. He argues that banning a party doesn’t remove its ideology. And the risk of losing a court battle again is too high:
”A second failure would boost the NPD’s morale in an irresponsible manner, he says. It would be the breeding ground for even more radicalism. Politically, it would be a disaster, and we shouldn’t really let this happen.”Listen to the report:
This week the Swedish parliament decided to scale down the number of countries it helps with foreign aid. It wants aid to be more closely tied to democracy and human rights in recipient countries. The number of recipient countries will be cut in half, from 70 to 33—Though the total amount of money will remain the same. Radio Sweden's Azariah Kiros has more.
Remember that? The images themselves weren’t as graphic as it sounds. The whole thing was supposed to help promote European films. Sex sells. Well, Romania is seeing tangible results—An open-air theatre screening European movies is turning around a Bucharest neighbourhood. Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan has more.
Greece has been struggling to contain devastating forest fires this week that have killed dozens of people. The Greek president declared a state of emergency, and individual European countries have sent aid. Our Brussels correspondent, Quentin Dickenson, points out that there is a program in the works to organize European-wide assistance for situations exactly like this: aid for countries who can’t deal with disasters on their own. The former EU commissioner Michel Barnier recommended such a program 18 months. It’s been welcomed widely. But since then, nothing much has happened.
Three months after elections in Belgium, there’s still no sign that a new government is coming together. Coalition talks collapsed after French-speaking parties refused to agree to give Flanders greater autonomy. The stalemate is fuelling criticism that Wallonia - the poorer, French-speaking South - is feeding off Flanders - without putting anything back. There's growing support for right-wing Flemish parties who want create an independent Flanders. Radio Netherlands’ Vanessa Mock reports, that's worrying Walloons.
When you think bullfighting, you think Spain. Well, France also has a bullfighting tradition, though it’s come under criticism for being, well, too violent. The group that regulates French advertising has banned an ad showing a bull being killed during a match. RFI’s Anustup Roy meets some aficionados and some detractors of the sport.
Now something for you dancers out there—or those of you would who’d like to learn. Michal Kubicki of Polish Radio’s External Service recently made the rounds of dance schools in Warsaw— and found a surge in enrolments during the summer months.
Next week we’ll be doing a special program on China, and its relationship with the EU. To get you thinking about that theme, for this months’ quiz question please send a couple of lines about how China, in any form, affects you in your daily life—this can be anything, from Chinese-made products, immigration, culture. Anything. We’ll pick our favourite answers and read them on the air at the end of the month.
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