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International Tension: Don’t Let the Sparks Start a Fire

In an important two-part piece (read part 1 here) Erik Redli looks at the state of Eastern Europe. In this second part, he looks at how small sparks of tension can be dealt with before they start a fire.

At the moment it might seem that tensions between Ukraine and Russia are only the problem of the ‘marginal parts' of Europe. However, the consequences could sully the whole community. Look at the protesters in Aachen in the video below during the speech by Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. 

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International Tension: Europe Starts in Our Small Towns

In the first of a two-part piece, Erik Redli looks at the state of Eastern Europe and how learning lessons from the past have helped people move forward today. 

We might live in Europe but first of all we live on our own country, city or village. Therefore all European activity should start at local level. Last week I took part in the Charlemagne Prize ceremony in Aachen, Germany and this week I decided to attend a roundtable discussion in the town where I used to live as a child - Šahy in south-west Slovakia.

Šahy is a small town of about 9,000 inhabitants, two churches and a few bars where the people live at night. Because of its location on the borders, it has always been a gate to Hungary and a multicultural town with many foreigners and lorry drivers passing through and leaving rubbish. That's how we were introduced to empty Coca Cola bottles and McDonald's packaging.

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Charlemagne Prize 2014: Herman van Rompuy Brings Tolstoy into Russia Ukraine Situation

Erik Redli attended this year's Charlemagne Prize, and is bringing us a series of posts bringing out the key issues of the forum.

"Berlin is becoming a melting point of Europe." These were the words of John Holten, an Irish writer and translator living in Germany, at the European Karlspreis Forum 2014 in Aachen, Germany. For a few days, the whole of Europe focusses on Germany whilst Aachen hosts the traditional Charlemagne Prize ceremony. It rewards personalities that have fostered the process of ‘Europeanization' and this year's laureate was Herman van Rompuy, the president of the European Council.

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Catching the Paralympic Fever

As the Paralympic games in London come to a close many (including myself) have been touched by the athletes' fortitude and the endearing spirit of both games.

Not one for sport, I normally stay clear of tuning into any sporting event, let alone attending a match, though after an incredible night of sport at the Excel Centre I've truly been converted.

Visiting any of the Olympic venues or park is a great outing alone, but I was lucky enough to get an evening pass to view some of the world's best Paralympic teams competing in men's sitting volleyball.

A packed arena comprised of locals and visitors, all cheering on Brazil and Team GB. As they geared up to represent their respective nations, scores of fans, mainly Londoners, proudly began to chant.

I was suddenly immersed into the most alien thing to me- the competitive zone of the spectator. Thankfully for me my home team were playing and before I knew it, a sense of relentless pride took over me and I was consumed by the spectacle.

Despite the festive atmosphere, which to my amusement involved a DJ playing popular music during every interval and point of the game, Great Britain struggled to defeat the Brazilian juggernauts.

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Foreign Fridays Fact: Russia

As part of Foreign Fridays, we explore a different country each week through its most unusual, amusing and odd facts. If you want your country to appear, then simply get in contact with us either in the comments below or through Facebook or Twitter.

This week it is the turn of Russia:

Much of Eastern Europe is celebrating Old New Year tonight. In Russia,
they traditionally celebrate by drinking vodka and champagne,
and by eating Mandarin oranges.

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