By: Hannah Morris, Editorial Assistant
During the first week of February, Italy’s navy rescued over one thousand illegal migrants from boats just southeast of the island of Lampedusa in a period of just 24 hours. In January alone, two thousand illegal migrants landed in Italy, ten times the number of arrivals in January 2013. In the third quarter of 2013, a total of 42,600 illegal immigrants arrived in the EU, almost double the number compared to 2012. Unsurprisingly, the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants, whether coming from North Africa or the Middle East, is causing great concern among EU lawmakers, member state leaders and their citizens.
On February 19, 2014, The European Institute, in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania and the Embassy of Sweden, held a breakfast discussion with The Honorable Vytautas Leskevicius, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs for the Republic of Lithuania and His Excellency Björn Lyrvall, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, focusing on the increasingly potent role that the partnership between Nordic and Baltic states has assumed in defining both regional and European foreign policy priorities. Particular emphasis was placed on sustaining the EU’s Eastern Partnership Initiative following last year’s Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and on assessing the implications of the volatile situation in Ukraine.
By Zachary Laven, European Affairs Editorial Assistant
The voting outcome was a resounding “no” – as widely predicted. So what is the background on this peculiar referendum, a reminder of the continuing tension between the Balkans and post-Soviet Russia. With more than 70% turnout, the vote against promoting Russian as the nation’s second official language was 75 percent and reflected the ethnic and linguistic divide between Latvian and Russian speakers. Said a relieved President Andris Berzins, “The vote on a second state language endangered one of the most sacred foundations of the Constitution: the state language.”
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