Inside Europe: The inside take on European affairs 05.03.2011 March 12, 2011

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This week: Would a Marshall Plan work for North Africa? - Germany’s most popular politician resigns - A leading fashion designer falls from grace - It’s tough staying sober in Russia -Belarussian opposition politician risks all to tell the truth - Family secrets from the Holocaust revealed in Austria - Germans discover the truth about tattoos - Dutch designers give blood banks a boost. Would a western Marshall Plan work for North Africa?This week Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on the international community to create a Marshall Plan to help Arab states on their path toward democracy.The ...



This week: Would a Marshall Plan work for North Africa? - Germany’s most popular politician resigns - A leading fashion designer falls from grace - It’s tough staying sober in Russia -Belarussian opposition politician risks all to tell the truth - Family secrets from the Holocaust revealed in Austria - Germans discover the truth about tattoos - Dutch designers give blood banks a boost. Would a western Marshall Plan work for North Africa?This week Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on the international community to create a Marshall Plan to help Arab states on their path toward democracy.The idea of offering financial support in return for political stability has already been floated in several EU states who are concerned that their Mediterranean neighbours in North Africa may decide against a stable democratic system. The original Marshall Plan named after a US secretary of state, helped rebuild and secure democracy in large parts of Europe after the Second World War. But can this success be repeated in North Africa? Neil King put that question to George Joffe, a research fellow at the centre of international studies at Cambridge University specializing on North Africa and the Middle East. The original Marshall Plan named after a US secretary of state, helped rebuild and secure democracy in large parts of Europe after the Second World War. But can this success be repeated in North Africa? Neil King put that question to George Joffe, a research fellow at the centre of international studies at Cambridge University specializing on North Africa and the Middle East. Resignation of Germany’s most popular politician divides the nationGermany's defense minister Karl Theodor zu Guttenberg has resigned amidst accusations of plagiarism in connection with his doctoral thesis he wrote a few years ago. In the ensuing cabinet shakeup interior minister Thomas de Maiziere has been appointed to replace Guttenberg. And Hans-Peter Friedrich will take over the interior minister's portfolio. Guttenberg, who was the most popular minister in the cabinet of chancellor Angela Merkel, announced his resignation in Berlin on Tuesday, saying the high ethical standards he required from his staff should also apply to him, and that the plagiarism scandal had begun damaging the office of defense minister to an extent that was no longer acceptable to him. Uwe Hessler has all the details.A leading fashion designer falls from graceOne of the most remarkable partnerships in the luxury goods industry came to end this week when French fashion house Dior fired its longstanding head designer John Galliano after he was caught making anti-Semitic slurs on camera in a Paris restaurant. Galliano who has worked with Dior since 1996 has in the meantime apologized, saying that anti-Semitism and racism had no part in society. Nonetheless the British fashion icon will be charged by French prosecutors with making racist remarks on two separate occasions. He could be facing a prison sentence of up to six months or a fine of some 22,000 euros. John Laurenson has this postcard on the deep fall of one of Britain’s greatest fashion designers. It’s tough staying sober in Russia.Russia's lower house of parliament has passed the first reading of a Kremlin-backed bill that will abolish beer's special status as a foodstuff. It means that for the first time, beer will officially be classified as an alcoholic drink. The new law will also restrict beer sales at night, limit the size of cans and bottles and prevent it from being sold near schools. The legislation is part of the Kremlin's tough anti-alcohol campaign. The Russians consume so much booze that President Dmitry Medvedev has called alcoholism a "natural disaster" in the country. Jessica Golloher has been finding out why it’s so tough to stay sober there.A Belarussian opposition politician risks life and limb to tell the truthBelarus is considered the last surviving communist dictatorship in Europe. Alexsander Lukashenko has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron fist for the past 17 years. Following his disputed re-election last December, the government conducted a vicious crackdown on opposition protests, making hundreds of arrests.International condemnation was almost universal, and the European Union as well as the United states have slapped a new raft of travel and financial sanctions on Lukashenko and his inner circle. But the government’s crackdown on the country’s opposition continues, with many still under lock and key in what has been described as KGB torture prisons. Ales Michalevic is a prominent opposition politician who was among those arrested in December. He was released last month on the condition that he kept quiet about his nine-week prison ordeal. Neil King asked him why he has decided to break his silence.Family secrets from the Holocaust are revealed in AustriaA documentary film which opened in Vienna this week is forcing some Austrians to take a more critical look at what their relatives did during the Nazi era. The film, called "Liebe Geschichte" looks at family secrets and the holocaust. It focuses on the lives of contemporary women whose fathers, mothers and grandparents committed atrocities during the holocaust. Kerry Skyring has more from Vienna. Georgia commemorates pastLast week Georgia commemorated the day when a communist government was installed there 90 years ago. It was the first time the Georgians marked what’s called Soviet Occupation Day and it will now be a state holiday each year on February 25th. Flags flew at half mast as a reminder of how this small nation was conquered by the Red Army and the ensuing establishment of the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Paul Rimple has more from Tbilisi.Germans discover there’s more to tattoos than meets the eyeOnce upon a time it was tough types who indulged in tattoos – sailors and soldiers for instance. But tattoos can now be seen on people from all walks of life. Here in Germany, a study has found that more than one in five people under the age of 35 has a tattoo – and there's no sign of this body art trend fading away. As tattoos become more acceptable though, scientists are starting to take a closer look at what is actually in the tattoo dyes. And as Kate Hairsine found out, the results are pretty shocking. Blood banks get a shot in the arm from Dutch designers.The fashion industry is associated with top-models and big name designers. But fashion can also have a message. And a rather important one, as the Dutch discovered. Like most European countries, The Netherlands has an aging population and that's having an impact on its blood donor bank. It's vital that young people start donating blood to it. So there's been an initiative to draw their attention to this need through something they can relate to: fashion. Cintia Taylor reports from Amsterdam on how these two very different worlds have come together.