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Pedro Gonçalves

BBC News - Romania defends role in US missile shield - 0 views

  • President Barack Obama won rare praise from Moscow for scrapping that plan, which the Russians suspected was aimed against them.

    But the thaw did not last long. Last September, Washington announced what it called the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to missile defence.

    This new system would start by stationing missile defence assets in south-east Europe, and slowly spread its web to the centre and finally the north.

  • As part of the PAA, Romania has announced that it will accept up to 24 land-based interceptor missiles. Talks with the US on the details will begin soon.

    And the Bulgarian government has offered to play host to the radar component which complements the missiles.

  • The introduction of the interceptors and radar clearly represents a shift in the balance of power in south-east Europe, following 2008's Russia-Georgia conflict, and Ukraine's new president's offer to extend Russia's lease on its naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea.

    "The Black Sea region... will be a very interesting hub, in terms of the arms race and everything we can can see developing on the eastern border of Nato," says Radu Tudor, a defence analyst in Bucharest.

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  • Romania says there are several differences between the new US plan and the earlier, Czech-Polish version.
  • It will cover a wider area, it will be ready earlier - in 2015 for the south-east European segment - and the SM-3 missiles can incorporate new technology, as it is developed.
  • The Romanian authorities expect little public opposition.

    All major parties in the Romanian parliament support it, and the plan has already sailed through its first committee hearing in the Senate.

    Some politicians hope it will also help extract a long-standing thorn in Romanian-US relations - the tough visa regime Romanian visitors to the US still face.

Pedro Gonçalves

Declining Support for Nationalists: Hard Times for Eastern Europe's EU Haters - SPIEGEL... - 0 views

  • Today, opinion polls put support for Self-Defense at just three percent in the upcoming European parliamentary elections.
  • Five years on from the EU's big eastward expansion, there's not a single new member state where fierce critics of Brussels can expect good results in the EU election. In fact, they will be lucky to win enough votes to cross the five percent threshold needed to get seats in the EU parliament in Strasbourg.
  • In addition to Lepper, Poland's League of Polish Families has also slipped under the five percent mark in opinion polls.
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  • hings have quieted down at Prague Castle, Klaus's seat of office. The liberal-conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS) he co-founded has broken ranks and recently voted in favor of the reform treaty. The president's euro-skepticism has pushed him to the periphery of the country's political scene.
  • His newly founded right-wing Party of Free Citizens (SSO) is expected to fare even worse in the European elections than Lepper's Self Defense.
  • Opinion polls have registered increasing enthusiasm for the EU in the new member states. According to a Eurobarometer survey, a majority of citizens in Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania believe that accession to the EU brought their countries economic growth and democratic progress.

  • Poland's farmers -- Lepper's clientele -- used to be the problem children of the EU, but are now regarded as a source of stability. In 2007, 14.7 percent of Poles still worked in the farming sector, compared to just two percent in Germany. A few years ago the vast majority of them were vehemently opposed to the EU and feared that large swathes of Polish farmland would be bought up by Germans. But by 2008, three quarters of farmers already believed that Poland's agricultural sector had benefited from EU membership.
  • The EU cut €220 million in payments to Bulgaria and froze a further €340 million because Bulgaria was incapable of putting the money to effective use as a result of endemic corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency. But surprisingly, the ensuing public anger wasn't directed at Brussels but against their own politicians, who had led the country into the EU but weren't able to tap the EU's financial resources.
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