Magic Monday: Elsewhere in emerging Europe

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Our weekly digest of articles about emerging Europe published elsewhere this week, all of which caught our eye and all of which are well worth your time. Listing them here, however, does not necessarily mean that we agree with every word, nor do they necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.

Magic Monday: Europe reopens to tourists

Will this week’s border openings bring the visitors back? Five Financial Times correspondents report, including Valerie Hopkins in Budapest.

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Russians jump border into Belarus to bypass coronavirus travel ban

Russians are using Belarus as a springboard to travel abroad as their country’s international borders remain largely closed as part of efforts to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, transport sector sources say. Russia and Belarus form a customs union and their shared frontier is relatively porous, making it easier to avoid border guards by taking certain routes.

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In defence of Georgia: Why being neutral is not an option

In the field of global affairs, you’re either an ally or in need of one. And if you are a freshly transitioned democracy with a Soviet legacy, unstable economy, and a raging pandemic you are – most likely – in need of many.

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Hungary’s assault on education is a blow to the EU

By throwing a research university out of the country, Viktor Orbán’s government seeks to create a generation of conservative citizens rooted in traditional values.

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Serbia to keep balancing West, Russia and China, president says

Belgrade wants to keep balancing its ties with the West, China and Russia as it seeks to join the European Union and reach a settlement with Kosovo, President Aleksandar Vučić said on Thursday ahead of a parliamentary election.

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Fans flock back for final big games of Serbian soccer season

As European soccer prepares to crown national champions in empty stadiums, there is more for fans to celebrate in Serbia. Red Star Belgrade can host the biggest crowd for a game in Europe since soccer’s shutdown in the pandemic ended last month, when the Serbian title winner completes its season on June 20.

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Polish president issues campaign pledge to fight ‘LGBT ideology’

Gay rights and homophobia are likely to be major issues in Poland’s delayed presidential election after the frontrunner pledged to “defend children from LGBT ideology”.

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Difficult to reverse: Politicised board appointments in Estonia

As the coronavirus crisis continues, the Estonian government is replacing high-level officials and leaders of non-partisan state institutions with party apparatchiks.

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Coronavirus puts damper on Albania’s blowout wedding tradition

Albanian nuptials traditionally bring together hundreds of guests for lavish feasts and all-night dancing, with families often taking years to scrape together enough money to afford them. Yet because of the coronavirus pandemic thousands of couples are unable to say their vows with the fanfare they dream of, and the new health restrictions have brought a multi-million euro industry to its knees.

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Babies born to Ukrainian surrogates meet parents after pandemic restrictions ease

Foreign couples who waited two months because of coronavirus-related border closures have finally collected their babies from surrogate mothers in Ukraine.

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