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New Europe

Postscript

Michael Palin - New EuropeEven allowing for the fact that life abroad is much worse when you read about it in the newspapers than when you're actually there, some ominous clouds are gathering on the horizons of new Europe.

Romania and Bulgaria have joined the European Union since I set out, but the likelihood of an independent Kosovo could ruffle the Balkans again. There are many who disagree with Poland's new anti-communist vetting laws (which have already tarnished the reputation of Ryszard Kapuscinski, one of their country's finest travellers and journalists). Turkey is having increasing difficulty balancing its secular tradition with Islamist aspirations, and Ukrainian politicians are still nowhere near resolving the rift between the eastern- and western-oriented halves of the country. There have been student riots in Hungary, and Russia and Estonia have come to serious blows after the relocation of a war memorial.

At least these are problems the countries of the region will have to sort out themselves. Far more worrying is that super-power politics, from whose corrosive influence Europe looked to have been mercifully released, is back on the agenda. At the time of writing the Americans and the Russians seem hell-bent on resurrecting the Cold War.

My advice would be, as you might expect, not to stay at home and worry, but to go to the countries and find out for yourselves.

Michael Palin, London, June 2007
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Postscript
  • Country/sea: England
  • Place: London
  • Book page no: 7

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