Poland’s military might: Elsewhere in emerging Europe

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.

Poland’s military might and hopefully will

Polish deputy prime minister (and the de facto head of Poland’s governing PiS party), Jarosław Kaczyński, late last year introduced a homeland defence bill to more than double the number of Polish service personnel from the current 110,000 to 250,000, plus 50,000 reservists. If reached, this would give Poland one of the largest armed forces in Europe, by personnel, with only France, Greece, Italy, and Turkey topping that number. But it is one thing to announce a huge expansion of the armed forces, and another to make it happen.

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Hungary election: outsider from the right backed by left to beat Viktor Orbán

Known to the Hungarian political world as MZP, Péter Márki-Zay made his political debut in his hometown of Hódmezővásárhely, a Fidesz stronghold in southern Hungary. Two days after he announced his mayoral run in 2018, he was dismissed from his job at an electrical components company.

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Montenegrin novelist sounds alarm about nationalist rhetoric

Young Montenegrin novelist Nikola Nikolic says that even though his country’s government came to power with promises to address the crimes of the 1990s, politicians are still using ethnic divisions as a political tool.

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How Albania became a pyramid scheme

In early 1997, a tiny, semi-literate Roma former shoe factory worker, Maksude Kadena, went to the balcony of her shabby Communist-era apartment in Tirana, the capital of Albania. Beneath her stood hundreds of people who had invested in her company, Sude, which had been offering big rewards: 5-10 per cent returns per month. But suddenly the interest payments had dried up, investors were being prevented from retrieving their capital. And so here they were — baying for her.

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Fact and fiction: The lessons of Ryszard Kapuscinski

Few journalists in the 20th century achieved the renown of Ryszard Kapuscinski at the height of his career. As a lone correspondent from communist Poland’s state news agency, he witnessed many of the upheavals of his age from Latin America to Africa and wrote about them in spellbinding prose. For Gabriel García Márquez, he was the “true master of journalism”; for Margaret Atwood, a “superlative witness to our times”. When he died in 2007, Germany’s Spiegel magazine ran a tribute entitled “The best reporter in the world”.

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While Bulgarian teens have Netflix, they could use a little more sex education

In Bulgaria, where sex education is not a mandatory part of the school curriculum, many adolescents are ill-equipped to deal with sexuality and matters related to their sexual well-being, a major factor, experts think, in the country’s high numbers of teenage pregnancies.

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Czech church displaying plague victims’ bones hit hard by another pandemic

It’s a bit ironic that a pandemic is behind delays to the renovation of a church adorned with bones from 14th-century victims of the Black Death. Covid-era tourism losses have slowed down the restoration of the famous Bone Church near Kutná Hora, or the Church of All Saints, as it’s officially called.

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Turkmenistan: A leopard never changes its spots

Turkmenistan continues to face challenges, but there is little chance that the solutions will become any less hapless in 2022 under Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov’s tutelage.

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US targets ‘corrupt, destabilising’ Bosnian politicians, TV station

The US administration has imposed sanctions on several Bosnian officials and a TV station for alleged corruption and for trying to destabilise Bosnia and Herzegovina, but experts said these measures alone might not do much to ease the country’s political crisis.

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What to read in 2022: Ten books from Eastern Europe

Across Eastern Europe, political, environmental, and social futures appear obscure; its literature, however, remains engaged, unsettled, illuminating, and resistant to the forces that threaten the erosion of complexity and nuance.

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