When Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness greeted Queen Elizabeth on a visit to Belfast earlier this week, the atmosphere in the room was oddly warm, bordering on jovial. “Are you well?” asked the Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister McGuinness. Now in his mid-sixties and white-haired, he is remembered by many as the youthful, curly red-haired, fierce Irishman at the helm of the staunchly republican, nationalist Sinn Fein party and its militant wing, the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Even Donald Trump seemed sobered by the overnight verdict of the British people when the Republican presidential contender flew into Scotland to count his golf courses on Friday and spoke blandly and in relatively measured tones to the media at Turnberry. "Basically they took back their country."
An unconventional 74 year-old, who sports a gold earring and large lizard tattoo on his right wrist, Thessaloniki’s dynamic mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, sat down with European Affairs this week to speak about his philosophy of government and hopes for a renaissance in Greece’s second largest city.
The seven plus decades of twists and turns in the "special relationship" between the United States and United Kingdom have long been fodder for commentary between London and Washington. But it has taken the British referendum on its membership in the European Union to demonstrate that the sometimes mythologized U.S.-U.K. bonds still run as strong or stronger than ever in Washington's think tanks.
Just as the French economy started giving signs of recovery, albeit belatedly, spectacular demonstrations and strikes have hit the country, paralyzing significant parts of transportation systems including roads, subway (RATP), rail (SNCF) and air (Air France), as well as oil depots and EDF nuclear plants. Some of the demonstrations have been violent, destroying numerous stores and brutally attacking people, including police. Normal daily activities have been disturbed. Sometimes, it is impossible to find fuel in gas stations because refineries paralyzed by the strikers did not deliver their products. Metro and trains stopped providing regular services. This chaotic situation is taking place on the eve of the UEFA 2016 European Soccer Championship scheduled to bring one million visiting fans to France. And this on top of continuing concerns about terrorist attacks.
© COPYRIGHT THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTE 2009
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