The Return

NEED TO KNOW The Return SPAIN [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/9867eeee-5129-4a23-af3d-b9c85aeb55a9.png"] A plan to forgive Catalan separatists in Spain might have seemed like a political masterstroke when it was first conceived, but the future for Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his minority government in Madrid is still far from certain. The exiled...

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Up for Grabs

NEED TO KNOW Up for Grabs SLOVAKIA [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/def5a447-d17d-4b18-8656-a0934b7c83eb.png"] Thousands of Slovaks took to the streets of their capital of Bratislava recently to protest the pro-Russian stance of Prime Minister Robert Fico and his Smer-SD political party. As Reuters reported, Fico has been critical of European military aid to...

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Vladimir the Determined

NEED TO KNOW Vladimir the Determined RUSSIA [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/db8acf88-8b4f-4b1c-bf9a-1e71d4eee94b.png"] Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, is urging Russians to protest when their country holds its presidential election from March 15 to 17. In a video rebroadcast on the BBC, Navalnaya called for voters to...

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Being There

NEED TO KNOW Being There EUROPEAN UNION [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/597ff6f5-aa2a-4913-81c8-7a38f364a41b.png"] Saxon State Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor, and Transport Martin Dulig recently said that Germany’s new immigration law would attract skilled Indian immigrants who would help Germany plug its labor shortages. As the Hindu reported, Saxony currently needs four million...

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The Masterful Player

NEED TO KNOW The Masterful Player ITALY [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/13ef7d88-e231-4aaa-9970-c3480223c0d5.png"] Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been confronting twin crises. The first is low economic growth. The second involves the nearly 160,000 migrants arriving in the country’s Mediterranean waters last year, a 50 percent increase over 2022. Meanwhile, she has...

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Stinky Politics

NEED TO KNOW Stinky Politics PORTUGAL [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/e9920e0b-df86-4240-9933-aed7de687bff.png"] In November, investigators searched the official residence of Portugal’s Socialist Prime Minister António Costa, as well as the environment and infrastructure ministries, looking for evidence of corruption, explained the Guardian. The prime minister then stepped down. Now, these corruption scandals might tip the...

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The Language of Families

NEED TO KNOW The Language of Families IRELAND [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/7cea72cc-1559-4005-a6ad-f3350418bc77.png"] Irish voters will cast ballots in a nationwide referendum on March 8 – International Women’s Day – to determine how their country’s constitution depicts families and motherhood. Advocates are seeking to alter the constitution in the largely Catholic, Western European...

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Family Feud

NEED TO KNOW Family Feud HUNGARY [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/f77307e3-d12d-4a63-bcb5-407e519df6dc.png"] Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whom the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs and others have described as illiberal because of his predilection for authoritarianism and admiration for Russia and China, has long portrayed himself as a defender of traditional family values. That...

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Forced Predictability

NEED TO KNOW Forced Predictability BELARUS [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/3dffa11e-ac63-436f-a4ed-735a6dabc4a6.png"] Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko recently claimed that his security forces had captured Ukrainian and Belarusian “saboteurs” in a counterterrorism operation on the country’s border with Ukraine. Other than saying these so-called enemies were transferring explosives to use in Belarus and Russia,...

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Running Out the Clock

NEED TO KNOW Running Out the Clock UKRAINE/ RUSSIA [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/1fcd4036-786d-9ce0-309a-14f74105b898.png"] Near the front line in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, Ukrainian soldiers detail how two years of fighting their giant neighbor, Russia, is wearing them down, as they cope with losses, fatigue and shortages. Titushko, 39, explained to the Guardian...

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Seeding Fury

NEED TO KNOW Seeding Fury EUROPEAN UNION [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/597ff6f5-aa2a-4913-81c8-7a38f364a41b.png"] In Italy, a sign on the front of a tractor flying the Italian tricolor in Turin in early February read, “Agriculture is dying!” as Euractiv wrote. To the north, in Germany, around 30,000 farmers and 5,000 tractors descended on Berlin,...

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An Election of One

NEED TO KNOW An Election of One AZERBAIJAN [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/00e51a13-ac1f-4599-999d-e15e3ad08ea2.png"] President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan recently ordered a snap presidential vote. He was slated to run for reelection next year. Now, for a variety of reasons that highlight the tensions and risks in the former Soviet region in the...

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Saving Stalin

NEED TO KNOW Saving Stalin GEORGIA [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/e341329d-b90e-4b8e-8e3b-6429d9366897.png"] The late communist dictator Josef Stalin is arguably the most controversial native son of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Mixed feelings about Stalin, who defeated the Nazis, turned the Soviet Union into a world power, but also oversaw an iron-fisted regime...

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The Politics of Co-Dependence

NEED TO KNOW The Politics of Co-Dependence FINLAND [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/91b0da4b-efc6-40c2-a405-00e958404c77.png"] The former president of Finland and 2008 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari died recently at the age of 86. He helped draft peace accords in Namibia in the 1980s, in Northern Ireland and between Serbia and Kosovo in...

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Troubled Justice

NEED TO KNOW Troubled Justice NORTHERN IRELAND [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/e1fa23fe-bd64-4526-9f49-8430fef05250.png"] Violence between British-backed Protestants and Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland has been relatively subdued in recent memory compared to the street fighting decades ago, when, as one BBC story illustrated, British troops huddled for safety behind their armored vehicles. Peace in...

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Eternal Turmoil

NEED TO KNOW Eternal Turmoil COMOROS [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/3e1e7791-0efb-4c01-bc98-96b7c2eacff0.png"] After he secured power in a coup in 1999, Azali Assoumani ran for the presidency of Comoros in 2002. After retiring from politics in 2006, he ran for office again and won in 2016 and 2019. Now, after a court decision...

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Cops & Robbers

NEED TO KNOW Cops & Robbers RUSSIA/ UKRAINE [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/1fcd4036-786d-9ce0-309a-14f74105b898.png"] In 2022, a Russian court sentenced Vladislav Kanyus to 17 years in jail for “torturing, suffocating and stabbing” his girlfriend. Today, following a pardon for his crimes by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kanyus is fighting for Russia in Ukraine,...

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Self-Serving Justice

NEED TO KNOW Self-Serving Justice SLOVAKIA [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/def5a447-d17d-4b18-8656-a0934b7c83eb.png"] Thousands of people took to the streets in the Central European country of Slovakia late last week to protest criminal justice reforms proposed by the newly elected Prime Minister Robert Fico and his leftist populist allies. They chanted “Mafia, mafia ...

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Operation Dismantlement

NEED TO KNOW Operation Dismantlement POLAND [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/31d830f6-377a-4afc-861b-7fbf94dce490.png"] The results of the Oct. 15 parliamentary elections in Poland are still echoing throughout Europe. Women and young voters helped swing the election to the Civic Coalition and other parties opposing the ruling Law and Justice party, a populist political group that...

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Standing Up

NEED TO KNOW Standing Up ICELAND [map url="https://mcusercontent.com/a2e22d7f24f6d1e3464d05be4/images/05c4ecf9-d048-43ef-9046-22a7f3c10f03.png"] Iceland is considered one of the most gender-equal countries in the world based on income, education, and health. The country elected the world’s first female president, noted Time magazine. Icelandic women founded the first all-female political party. So it may be surprising...

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