Inside Europe: The inside take on European affairs 17.02.2011 Feb. 17, 2011

from Inside Europe | Deutsche Welle· ·

A wave of North African emigration hits Italian shores - Are the days of Italian premier Berlusconi finally numbered? -Belgium claims an unenviable world record - How the patience of Czech doctors has paid off - Ireland gears up for a landmark election - Gun loving folk: why the Swiss rejected tighter gun controls - Versailles makes a hotel fit for a king A wave of North African emigration hits Italian shoresThis week, thousands of Tunisians landed on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa. They were escaping the chaos that has ensued since last month’s collapse of the former regime ...



A wave of North African emigration hits Italian shores - Are the days of Italian premier Berlusconi finally numbered? -Belgium claims an unenviable world record - How the patience of Czech doctors has paid off - Ireland gears up for a landmark election - Gun loving folk: why the Swiss rejected tighter gun controls - Versailles makes a hotel fit for a king A wave of North African emigration hits Italian shoresThis week, thousands of Tunisians landed on the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa. They were escaping the chaos that has ensued since last month’s collapse of the former regime in Tunisia. Italy declared a humanitarian crisis and has appealed to the European Union for 100 million euros in assistance. In the meantime, Lampedusa, has become a kind of open air migrant centre. Megan Williams is on the island and has this report.Are the days of Italian premier Berlusconi finally numbered?This week a judge in Milan ruled that Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi must stand trial in an underage prostitution case. The prime minister stands accused of paying for sex with a 17-year-old prostitute and then abusing his power to get her out of police custody. The trial is set to begin in April. If found guilty, Berlusconi could face a combined prison sentence of up to 15 years. However, a defiant Berlusconi has said he’s not worried by his indictment and that he will complete the remaining two years of his mandate. So, just how likely is it that Berlusconi will end up in jail? Helen Seeney put that question to Franco Pavoncello, a professor of political science and the president of John Cabot University in Rome. Belgium claims an unenviable world recordBelgium has become a world record breaker. But in this case, it’s not an achievement to be proud of. Two-hundred and forty nine days without a government - that’s longer even than post-war Iraq took to form a coalition after its elections. And as Vanessa Mock reports from Brussels, the lack of government is a serious business - but Belgians are trying to see the funny side all the same. And how the patience of Czech doctors has paid offThere's been a last minute reprieve for the Czech health system as doctors’ union members voted to accept a pay settlement offered by the government. Almost 4,000 doctors - more than a quarter of the total number working in the country’s hospitals - had formally handed in their notice, and had been due to quit on March 1st. Now the crisis appears to have been averted, but it's left something of a sour taste in the mouth for many. Rob Cameron has this from Prague.Ireland gears up for a landmark electionIt's just one week until the Irish people go to the polls in a landmark general election. Analysts are expecting voters to turn their backs on the ruling Fianna Fail party for its handling of the country’s financial crisis. Last year Dublin was forced to go cap in hand to the EU and IMF for a multi-billion euro bailout – a move that many Irish slammed as a humiliating loss of sovereignty. As a result, Fianna Fail, which has dominated Irish politics for decades, is set to lose an historic number of seats and could even come in fourth behind Sinn Fein. Lynsey Kiely reports from Dublin on the future of the Irish government and the challenges that lie ahead. Gun loving folk: why the Swiss rejected tighter gun controlsVoters in Switzerland have rejected tighter controls on gun ownership. Some 56-per-cent of voters rejected the proposed measures which included creating a central register for firearms and a ban on storing army-issue guns at home. The push to tighten Swiss gun laws was launched by an alliance of NGOs and supported by centre-left political parties. It’s estimated there are between two to three million guns circulating in Switzerland. Serving and former soldiers in the Swiss army are allowed to keep their weapons at home. Martin Killias is a professor of criminology at the University of Zurich. Neil King asked him why the Swiss are sticking to their guns?Historic Koran to go onlineOne of the world's most important and largest Korans is finally becoming accessible to Islamic scholars everywhere, after being hidden away in a Manchester library for more than a hundred years. Because of its age and size, the book is too fragile to be moved around or studied in detail. But now it is being digitised by a photographer, and will soon be available on the internet. From Manchester, Lars Bevanger reports.Versailles makes a hotel fit for a kingIf you’ve ever dreamed of spending the night at the Palace of Versailles, you might be in for treat soon, that is if you’ve got enough money to spare. An adjacent building to King Louis XIV's chateau is getting a multi-million euro facelift and is set to open as a hotel in spring 2012. The French government has been looking for ways to make money out of France's state-owned buildings. And considering the kingly room rates of 500-600 euros, they are set to make a pretty penny if the hotel takes off. Eleanor Beardsley has the details.Beating the wintertime blues in RussiaEurope has experienced a very cold winter this year but the Russian winter can be particularly long and hard to endure. Many studies have linked depression and illness in the motherland to the months of dark winter days and lack of sunlight. Helping people to cope with winter conditions is one of the reasons why President Dmitry Medvedev announced that Russia would switch to daylight-saving summer time for good. But some Russians are also attempting to rid the winter blues by turning to nature. Jessica Golloher has more from Moscow.