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Mon May 11, 2020, 02:21 AM

Five Stories from Europe You May Have Missed

1. Belarus Pushes Aside COVID-19 Fears To Hold Victory Day Parade

Thousands of people jammed the center of the Belarusian capital to watch soldiers and military units march as part of celebrations marking the defeat of Nazi Germany, celebrations that took place despite serious concerns about the coronavirus.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who brushed aside warnings from the World Health Organization and criticism from many Belarusian political figures, made passing reference to the coronavirus in his public address during the May 9 events.

“Belarus celebrates this significant date at a difficult time," he said. "However, our current difficulties are dimmed by the hardships and losses that befell the heroic generation that saved the world from the brown plague” -- a reference to the Nazis.

Victory Day has long been a major secular holiday in Belarus, as in Russia and some other former Soviet republics. Fading memories, however, have changed the way the war's end is marked from country to country. Ill will among Russia's neighbors following Moscow's interference in Ukraine in 2014 has also changed how countries mark the day.

https://www.rferl.org/a/belarus-pushes-aside-covid-19-fears-to-hold-victory-day-parade/30602550.html

2. Poland's top politician defends policy after election crisis

The leader of Poland’s ruling coalition has defended the government amid questions of how it plans to handle a political crisis over the country's postponed presidential election, according to excerpts of an interview published Sunday.

The election set to take place Sunday was suspended following debate over how and when voting could be done safely during the coronavirus pandemic. The government had proposed an all-postal vote, but criticism of the plan and infighting complicated preparations and led to the postponement announced late Wednesday.

In excerpts from an interview with a weekly newspaper, Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said Poland was “changing for the better” under the coalition government led by his party and two smaller parties. At the same time, Kaczynski said it was no secret the coalition was divided.

snip

One of the junior parties in the coalition wanted the election delayed and warned last week that it would vote against the legislation authorizing the postal vote. Under pressure, the ruling coalition said the election would be declared void and new date set.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/05/10/poland-s-top-politician-defends-policy-after-election-crisis


3. Viktor Orban provokes neighbours with historical map of Hungary

Viktor Orbán has generated fresh controversy by posting a historical map of 'Greater Hungary' on Facebook.

Hungary's prime minister posted his support for students taking their examinations on Wednesday, accompanying the message with an image of Hungary's former territory before the end of the First World War.

This historical territory included large parts of modern Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Slovakia – which were all lost under the Treaty of Trianon of 1920 following the collapse of the joint Austro-Hungarian state.

snip

Romania remains home to a large ethnic Hungarian community, but on Wednesday, the country's parliament rejected an initiative to declare the Hungarian language official in Transylvania.

The decision had generated an angry response from the Democratic Union of the Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), who are closely related to Viktor Orbán's Fidesz party.

https://www.euronews.com/2020/05/08/viktor-orban-provokes-neighbours-with-historical-map-of-hungary-thecube


4. Coronavirus: Three bears kept in cages for tourism rescued after Covid-19 shuts business

Three bears that were being kept in cages as a tourist spectacle at a restaurant have been rescued after coronavirus forced the business to close.

The owner of the restaurant, in Armenia, said he no longer had any use for the animals and could not afford to feed them.

The mother bear and her two five-year-old sons are part of a series of rescue missions of wild bears held captive for “entertainment” in the country, after a government crackdown.

It is not uncommon to see bears in cages at restaurants or shopping centres in Armenia. They are often caught as cubs and spend their lives in captivity to attract tourists.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/bears-armenia-coronavirus-cage-animal-rescue-saved-covid19-restaurant-a9506211.html


5. Armenian Parliamentarians Exchange Blows After Coronavirus Aid Criticism
YEREVAN -- Armenian parliamentarians from opposing parties exchanged blows amid a disagreement over the government’s economic response to the coronavirus crisis.

During a debate on May 8, Edmon Marukian, the leader of the Bright Armenia opposition faction, accused the ruling My Step faction loyal to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian of failing to help ordinary citizens amid the economic shutdown.

The opposition has called for larger cash payments to citizens.

Marukian's criticism triggered angry remarks from My Step lawmakers, including Sasun Mikaelian. Displeased by what he heard, Marukian stepped down from the podium midway through his speech and approached Mikaelian, who stood up from this seat. The two threw punches at each other before it was broken up by other members of parliament.

https://www.rferl.org/a/armenian-parliamentarians-exchange-blows-after-coronavirus-aid-criticism/30601694.html

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 02:22 AM

1. Thanks

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 02:27 AM

2. K&R! Thanks! We used to get international news on a regular basis

But since the advent of Trump, his misadventures, offenses and blowhard bloviating takes up all the airtime - and then some!

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 03:04 AM

3. Romania has long been schizophrenic about Hungarian-speaking Transylvania

A good friend of mine originally came from there. The Romanians are dead-set against giving any of the territory back to Hungary, but are also dead-set against giving the Transylvanians the right to speak their own language. They are forced to speak only Romanian in schools, and any Transylvanians who gain fame must take Romanian names. There was a famous Olympian gymnast a few decades ago who charmed the world, Nadia Comăneci. My friend told me she was an ethnic Hungarian who had to "Romanize" her name, and had to publicly declare herself to be an ethnic Romanian.

My friend's family were originally Russian Jews who fled the Czar's pogroms, and figured the Hapsburg Empire was a safe place to settle. By the time he was born (1946), his family was speaking the local language of where they had settled, which was Hungarian. They even survived the Holocaust intact, living in a rural, out-of-the-way town in Transylvania. The area is known in German as "Siebenbürgen," or seven castles. The old Austrian coinage of Austrian Empress Maria Theresia, when minted at one of the mints in Transylvania, even has a coat of arms with seven tiny castles on it.

After World War II, the new socialist regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu brutally repressed the people of Transylvania, forbade their language and culture in schools, and routinely delivered them as victims when the Securitaţe was ordered to come up with a quota of capitalist "spies." My friend's father and uncle were taken in for suspicion of hiding airplane parts--in a village that didn't even have electricity or running water! They were beaten repeatedly, as they had no idea what it was they were supposed to confess to. The uncle died during interrogation, and my friend's father was expelled, along with his family to West Germany, which took them in, being ethnic Jews. His father died within a year from his injuries. His mother stayed on in Frankfurt, but never learned more than rudimentary German. The few times I spoke to her, it turned out that her German, after living there for 30 years, was scarcely better than my Hungarian, which is virtually nonexistant. He went on to study Medicine in London and Brussels, where he finally settled.

He still speaks Romanian well, as he was forced to go to Romanian schools until he was 13, but his native language remains Hungarian. He has also learned English, French, German, Dutch and Hebrew fluently, Yiddish well, and now also speaks decent Aramaic, which he learned and claims is necessary to be able to read the Torah (like I would know!). This is the kind of people that Stalin's minions expelled. I guess we should be thankful.

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Mon May 11, 2020, 03:07 AM

4. That is interesting. Thank you for sharing this information

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Response to rpannier (Reply #4)

Mon May 11, 2020, 03:12 AM

5. He has been a friend for over 40 years

I have heard a LOT of stories from him over the years. When I visited Hungary for the first time, he wrote down some Hungarian phrases for me and helped me pronounce them. It wasn't much, but it sure helped, since Hungarian is like NOTHING else. You either know it or you don't. In form, it is similar to Finnish and Turkish, but only they way it is set up. The words are in a class by themselves. Anyone who wants to learn Hungarian has to start from scratch.

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Mon May 11, 2020, 03:28 AM

7. Thank you. I have made friends with a very lovely young woman who is Hungarian from

near Transylvania, here in U.S. 11 years. I wanted to know mire without being nosey. Her little dog understands both Romanian and Hungarian.

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Response to emmaverybo (Reply #7)

Mon May 11, 2020, 03:56 AM

8. While the closest intercultural friendships almost always depend in mutual understanding.......

Hungarian is a real linguistic challenge. My wife and I get along so well because she is near-fluent in English and I am fluent in German. For a non-native speaker to become fluent in Hungarian requires a LOT of time and effort. Another small area, Moldova, is another bi-lingual enclave, but while one of their two main languages is Romanian, the other is Russian, which at least I can handle. I often meet Moldovan students on Cape Cod in July, as they somehow participate in a program to bring Eastern European students there for the summer to work and improve their English.

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Response to DFW (Reply #3)

Mon May 11, 2020, 10:14 AM

9. Hungary has never been schizophrenic about Slovaks and Romanians in Hungary.

Not since 1920.

By 1950, they were all but forced to assimilate and by 1970 the languages were pretty much gone.

In the 1990s they waged a pretty good campaign in favor of Hungarian rights in Slovakia. Sadly, by that time there were no Slovak-speakers left in Hungary.



Parts of the Book of Daniel are written in Aramaic. Strictly speaking, the Torah itself isn't (although a few words have been claimed to be Aramaic, it's more likely they were common).

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 03:22 AM

6. Interesting stories, every one. Thanks for posting.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 10:54 AM

10. Covid-19

is shaking governments up.

Thanks for all articles, each one is very informative.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 10:57 AM

11. I was going to start an SOS for you

Long time no see

Lots of trouble on the horizon

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