October 26th, 2007 15:00 EST
World Chronicle - October 26, 2007
MAFRA, Portugal. President Putin of Russia attacked the Bush Administration for its plans to build an anti-missile shield in Central Europe. Although the main reason of Putin's visit to Portugal has been a conference on European Union-Russia relations, he used the meeting to voice his concern about “American imperialistic policy in Europe.” The Russian president said that if Washington pushed for the shield, it would create an international crisis, similar to the one in 1962 when the Soviet installation of nuclear missile bases in Cuba almost triggered World War III. Despite his tart comments on the present American foreign policy, President Putin said that George W. Bush remains his friend. The White House insists that the anti-missile shield, which is to be located in the Czech Republic and Poland, will only intercept Iranian missiles, and as such, will not pose any threat to Russia.
MAFRA, Portugal. Even the biggest optimists in Europe had not expected the European Union-Russia conference, held in Portugal, to be a breakthrough in the bipolar relations. With the incumbent Russian president, Vladimir Putin, leaving office in March 2007, and the outgoing conservative Polish government, both parties exchanged diplomatic pleasantries, refraining from raising topics that could create undesired tensions. Despite multiple handshakes and group pictures, the list of problems is very long. The European Union criticizes the Putin Administration for tampering with democratic reforms at home, as well as for exercising brutal foreign policy towards its former satellite states – Ukraine, Georgia, and Belarus. Russia, on the other hand, does not like the EU interference in its domestic affairs, which, it says, undermines its integrity. There are also a number of animosities among EU members. Whereas no organization of 27 countries, as different as Luxembourg and Bulgaria, can work as an organic unity, the European Union has been in a serious crisis since referendums in France and Holland rejected the European Constitution in 2005. The Portuguese meeting has been the last for President Putin who is barred by the Russian constitution to seek a third term. AMERICAS
BEUENOS AIRES, Argentina. Today, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is just the wife of the incumbent president. On Sunday, however, she holds every chance to switch the position and become the country's first female head of state. According to the latest opinion polls, Kirchner is expected to win with over 50 percent of the votes, leaving 13 other contenders trailing far behind her. Today, she visited the poverty-stricken suburb of the country's capital, where thousands of residents welcomed her with cheers and banners. Kirchner seemed to have been very concerned with their problems – raging from running water to electricity supplies – taking notes of her conversations and promising to “do something about it,” when she wins the election. Despite the enormous popularity, Mrs. Kirchner is not expected to change the policies realized by her husband. Most experts see in her candidacy a subterfuge designed to keep the Kirchners in power, since the Argentinean constitution limits the presidency to two consecutive terms. AFRICA
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa. Nothing can unite people more than sport, South Africans have proved today. In the country torn apart by racial tensions and economic discrepancies, Friday has been a day of national unity. Thousands of people thronged the streets of the country's industrial capital to welcome the South African national rugby team, coming back home with the title of the world champions. The Springboks – or white gazelles, as the team is called – had been a sensation of the world rugby championship held in France last week, winning all the games and defeating the favorite English team in the finals. Although there are only two colored players on the team, for the happy faces on the Johannesburg streets it made no difference, applauding each one of the victors as they appeared on an open-top bus. South Africa will host the 2010 soccer world championship. LAGOS, Nigeria. Eight foreign oil workers have been abducted in Nigeria, reports the Agence France-Presse. The agency says that an unknown number of heavily armed militiamen seized an oil platform, owned by an Italian company, destroyed parts of its equipment and kidnapped eight foreign workers. According to the Nigerian sources, among the abductees are Poles, Filipinos, and Nigerians. So far, no demands have been made, nor have the militiamen revealed themselves. It is estimated that in the last 18 months, over 200 foreigners have been captured by various rebel groups in the Niger Delta region. Although the oil prices soar, very few people enjoy the revenues in this oil-rich country. The government belongs to one of the most corrupted cabinets in Africa, for years neglecting the needs of ordinary citizens. As the majority of oil platforms are located in the Niger Delta region, it is there that violence is the most rampant.
YANGON, Myanmar. One day after the Chinese government refused to support United Nations sanctions on Myanmar, the military junta in this tiny country freed 50 democratic dissidents. A U.N. special envoy to Asia, Ibrahim Gambari, welcomed the surprising move; however, he demanded the Myanmar government do more to allow its citizens to express their political views. Gambari, who was in Japan today, has visited several Asian countries, trying to win their approval for political and economical sanctions sponsored by the U.N. and Western powers. At the same time as the political prisoners were released, hundreds of police officers were deployed to the country's capital to prevent any protests, expected to appear to mark one month after the junta began repressions. In a peaceful demonstration, organized by Buddhist monks in September 10 people were killed by the government forces and 3,000 arrested.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan. It's been a long time since the pictures of beheaded American hostages flooded the world media, sparking the calls to withdraw from Iraq once and for all. Today, it was the Pakistani government that had to respond to this vicious crime, amplified by the fact that it happened on its own soil. Television channels presented pro-Taliban militiamen in the province of Swat, holding four mutilated heads, purportedly of governmental officers. Controversial cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, took the responsibility for the beheadings, threatening to continue violence as long as Pakistan did not turn into a Taliban-like theocracy. The world learned about Fazlullah when he called on his supporters to wage a military uprising against the pro-American administration. President Musharraf has been facing a soaring opposition since he backed George W. Bush and the U.S. War on Terror.
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