Current Affairs

LOSING RIGA – LOSING LATVIA?

by Licia Cianetti

On 1st June the residents of Riga went to the polls to elect a new City Council. The election came after four years under mayor Nils Ušakovs, the first ethnic Russian to lead an administration in the capital. Ušakovs secured another victory for his moderate Russophone ethnic party, Harmony Centre, and kept his post for another term

Are Polish teens anti-Semitic?

The fast approaching 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was marked by an opinion poll conducted by the Homo Homini Institute, surveying the attitudes towards ‘Jewishness’ of a representative sample of 1250 Warsaw high school students. The results have been reported by some of the mainstream media, including Israeli news portals or the British Daily Mail, as proof of deeply rooted anti-Semitic attitudes amongst Polish youth

Digitalization of Democracy: Is the EU falling behind?

by Teodor Kalpakchiev

The recognition of the role of Internet and digital technologies can easily be judged by the self-criticism in the latest Digital Agenda for communication in Europe[1]. With the presence of 50 million wireless devices by 2020, Europe should provide the necessary digital solutions to pave the way to the already existent ICT growth. But when it comes down to the question of increasing public value through technology, the conclusions are superficially connected solely with money saving through e-Procurement and e-Government

Politics and social media: why Eastern Europe’s politicians are all atwitter


Politicians in Central and Eastern Europe are taking to Twitter in increasing numbers – but with mixed results, finds Philipp Köker.

Since Barack Obama’s use of Twitter and other social media in his successful 2008 presidential campaign, more and more politicians (or their PR advisers) have discovered the power of delivering short, 140-character messages to supporters. This digital revolution has also not left politicians in Central and Eastern Europe unaffected and many leaders in the region are now on Twitter

Comparing inaugural addresses of CEE presidents: Putting the country first?

by Philipp Köker

On 21 January 2013, Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term as US president drawing thousands to the West front of the Capitol and his inaugural address (full text here) was awaited by citizens and journalists around the world alike. In CEE inaugural addresses are usually held in parliament (also due to the fact that half of the president are elected there by the deputies and not by popular vote) and while presidents’ words receive their fair share of media attention, it can hardly measure up to American proportions

Premature Mortality: Europe’s Persisting Iron Curtain

by Mateusz Zatonski

While the political Iron Curtain dividing Europe has been long gone, the health divide between the two parts of the continent remains still very much in place. While Western European countries have seen their death rates before 65 years of age fall to under 10%, in many countries of the former Soviet Bloc only around 1 in 2 of their male citizens live to this age. In fact, in countries such as Russia premature mortality in young and middle-aged (15-69 years) males is not only much higher than in Western Europe, but also twice higher than in China, India, Latin America, and slightly exceeding sub-Saharan Africa

Baltic athletes bring back 385 medals from London 2012


by Mateusz Zatonski

With most of CtB’s contributors currently residing Great Britain, we have naturally been closely following the Olympic and Paralympic Games that recently took place in the city of London. We have of course paid particular attention to the performance of athletes representing the countries of the Baltic rim. The world’s biggest sporting event proved to be a mixed bag for our region

 Cultural Differences in Foreign Policy: The Concept of Intervention

by Peter Lindén

As the recent case of Syria has shown, the issue of military intervention is again topical in international media. The countries surrounding the Baltic Sea understandably have different views on the idea of military intervention; some states are firm believers and promoters of democracy and liberal values while others emphasize the need to protect the institution of state sovereignty. The relationship these countries have to NATO is another obvious factor in how they approach the issue

EURO 2012 – Europe is in for a Treat

by Mateusz Zatonski

A few weeks ago we presented you with a rather pessimistic appraisal of the situation in Poland before the European Football Championship which the country is organising together with the neighbouring Ukraine. Many Poles seem to be worried by unfinished road construction projects, poor promotion of the tournament, and not least of all the political scandals in the Ukraine that led some European politicians to declare a boycott of the tournament. In some sections of the Polish society the moods are rather bleak

Hours in the Car But Granny Keeps Us Entertained: A Pessimist’s Outlook on Euro 2012

by Mateusz Zatonski

With less than a month left until the opening game of the European Football Championship, UEFA is sending e-mails to all those lucky enough to be selected in the ticket lottery re-assuring them that their tickets are just in the process of printing. Although it might sound trivial, for many Polish fans it is comforting to know that at least one organisation involved in putting together the world’s third largest sporting event seems to have things under control… 

Eastern Promises and Western Interpretations

Putin’s victory in Russia’s recent presidential elections hardly came as a surprise. Yet, it has not only sparked a number of protests within Russia but it has also given rise of a whole new set of debates within international media

Railway Tragedy in Poland: Archaic Infrastructure but an Excellent Emergency Rescue System

by Mateusz Zatonski

Sixteen people have been killed and almost sixty injured in a tragic train accident that took place on Saturday evening in southern Poland. A southbound train on its way from Warsaw to Kraków collided with a train travelling from Przemyśl (near the Ukrainian border) to Warsaw

Russian Presidential Elections 2012: Spring Feelings in Moscow while Putin heads for Another Victory

by Mateusz Zatonski

The Russian presidential elections will be taking place on Sunday, March 4th. Voting has already been going on for weeks as light-house keepers, reindeer herders and gold seekers inhabiting the most remote areas of this enormous country have been given a go at the ballot box

Tomorrow’s Election: Is Finland ready for a Gay President?

by Kristofer Jäntti

This Sunday Finland will elect herself a brand new president to follow the two terms of Conan O’Brien’s look-alike, Tarja Halonen. The question at hand is Finland ready continue on its progressive path and elect a gay man as head of the country and armed forces?

No Poppies but ‘Imported Anarchists’ – a Report from the recent Polish Independence Day Celebrations

by Mateusz Zatonski

Every nation celebrates the biggest dates in its history differently. For instance, Fourth of July gathers Americans at hot-dog eating contests and firework shows. The British Remembrance Day is a rather more solemn affair, with the omnipresent poppy commemorating the victims of the Great War, and parades of war veterans applauded by crowds of tourists and locals. Other countries opt for body paints, historical re-enactments, and countless other ways of celebrating national unity and pride

Hello Scandinavia! Will Edinburgh soon be on the Baltic rim? – A response to the SNP’s idea of an independent Scotland

by Anna-Cara Keim

On December 5th the British newspaper the independent published information about a Scottish government document revealing that upon a Scottish independence the current government in Edinburgh wants Scotland to “become Scandinavian”.
The idea is to build closer ties with Scandinavia and North-eastern Europe. Additional plans suggest that Scotland should join the Nordic security co-operation and the Nordic Council

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