Inside Europe: The Inside Take on European Affairs Dec. 19, 2009

from Inside Europe· ·

Scotland prepares to lead the fight against climate change - Abkhazian election adds pressure to strained relations - War children open up about their lives - Celebrating Christmas the Romanian way - Russian towns deeply troubled by economic crisis - Spain prepares to take over EU presidency - UK sees sharp increase in measles - Creating the perfect mozzarella - Last call for German schnapps?
Scotland prepares to lead the fight against climate change

All eyes have been on Copenhagen this week for the climate change summit that was billed as make-or-break in the run up to the meeting.

The ...



Scotland prepares to lead the fight against climate change - Abkhazian election adds pressure to strained relations - War children open up about their lives - Celebrating Christmas the Romanian way - Russian towns deeply troubled by economic crisis - Spain prepares to take over EU presidency - UK sees sharp increase in measles - Creating the perfect mozzarella - Last call for German schnapps?
Scotland prepares to lead the fight against climate change

All eyes have been on Copenhagen this week for the climate change summit that was billed as make-or-break in the run up to the meeting.

The headline makers are usually the leaders of the world's biggest and richest countries. But the noise made by grassroots movements gets louder every year, as time runs out to save the planet. And it could be local or regional governments that make more of the running in the future, as these are by definition, closer to the populace. That's according to the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond and the reason why he was in Copenhagen to announce a climate-tackling partnership with the Maldives and the expansion of Europe's largest wind farm in his own country. Rob Turner spoke to Alex Salmond and asked him if Scotland was preparing to take a leading role in the fight against climate change.

Abkhazian election adds pressure to strained relations

People in the disputed Black Sea breakaway region of Abkhazia re-elected Sergei Bagapsh as their president with a huge majority last weekend.

Tiny Abkhazia - which has a population of around 200,000 - has been struggling to break away from the former Soviet republic of Georgia since a war in the 1990s. It is reliant on economic and military support from Russia. The presidential elections were hailed by Russia, which controversially recognized Abkhazia as an independent state last year. But the polls were criticized by the European Union and the United States, which regard Abkhazia as a part of Georgia. The struggle for control over this strategically significant coastal region continues to strain relations between the Kremlin and the western-backed government in Georgia, which has vowed to win Abkhazia back.

Report: Matthew Collin, Sukhumi

War children open up about their lives

It has only been two or three generations since the Second World War ravaged the continent.

The wounds of that conflict have healed in the main. However, the consequences of the German occupation are still keenly felt in France, where thousands of children were fathered by German soldiers. These so called "war children," now in their 60s, have only recently begun to speak about their lives and come to terms with growing up as a child of the enemy.

Report: Eleanor Beardsley, Normandy

Celebrating Christmas the Romanian way

In Romania, nearly 90 percent of the population is Orthodox Christian.

Come Christmas, millions of people across Romania will be taking time off from school and work to be together for the holidays. One of those people will be Zack Baddorf, an American Peace Corps volunteer living and working in Romania's east. He tells us about his experiences with how Romanians spend their winter break.

Russian towns deeply troubled by economic crisis

Russia was shocked this week by news that Yegor Gaidar, the architect of Russia's market reforms in the 1990s, has died aged 53. Yet his legacy is not free from controversy.

Russia still lags behind other BRIC countries - Brazil, India, China and Russia - in attracting direct foreign investment. The effects are clearly visible. Hundreds of Russian towns are in deep trouble as a result of the ongoing economic crisis. The small provincial town of Parfino is one of 17 towns on a list of 'most depressed' places compiled by the Russian government. Huge debts and crumbling markets forced the local plywood factory, which exported the bulk of its wares to the United States, to close its doors, leaving a large part of the local workforce jobless.

Report: Geert Groot Koerkamp, Parfino

Spain prepares to take over EU presidency

There are just weeks to go before the beginning of the Spanish presidency of the European Union.

The government in Madrid is laying out its priorities for the 2010 rotating presidency of the Council of the EU. But these plans are likely to be overshadowed by the ongoing economic crisis and the new political regime brought in by the Lisbon Treaty.

Report: Hazel Healy, Madrid

UK sees sharp increase in measles

Vaccines have saved millions of people for over more than 200 years.

Yet there are still those who refuse to have them, or to let their children be inoculated - out of fear of side effects. Now the UK is seeing a sharp increase in children falling ill with measles, following a health scare surrounding the vaccine which protects against the disease - the MMR vaccine.

Report: Lars Bevanger, London

Creating the perfect mozzarella

At this time of year, food is on many people's minds as they prepare for the festive season.

In Italy, it's a fairly certain bet that a good mozzarella will be on the table, preferably mozzarella di buffala made using buffalo milk. Our reporter eats a lot of buffalo mozzarella, but she's never seen a buffalo before. So she headed to Amaseno, a town 60 kilometers south of Rome renowned for its buffalo milk. And of course, she couldn't resist popping into a factory to taste some of the squishy white cheese.

Report: Stephanie Raison, Amaseno

Last call for German schnaps?

One of the preferred methods of washing down a belly full of food in Germany is a small glass of schnapps.

Farmers in south-west Germany have a long and rich tradition of making schnapps from fruit grown in their orchards. However, many of these small-scale fruit growers can only survive thanks to a government subsidy for agricultural alcohol - a subsidy the EU has ruled is illegal and has to be phased out. Germany has decided to fight the ruling, arguing that the end of subsidies will not only spell the end for one the country's cultural practices, it will also further endanger traditional orchards tended by the farmers.

Report: Kate Hairsine, Karlsruhe