Europe culture news roundup

Danube’s roundup of the week’s Europe culture news includes Macedonia’s name change, the potential for interference in the European election, and evidence that women might have made medieval manuscripts.


Hopes rose this week that a resolution would be found to the 27-year dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter country’s name, which revolves around the fact that a region of northern Greece uses the same name and claims the sole right to it. Greece has been opposing Macedonian membership of Nato and the EU over the row.

On Friday, Macedonia’s parliament voted to accept the name Republic of North Macedonia, as many media including the Guardian reported.

But shortly after, Greece’s Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, the leader of the smaller party in Greece’s coalition government, then pulled his party out of the coalition over the prospect of Greece accepting its neighbour being called Republic of North Macedonia. As a result of the loss of support, Greece’s Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the larger coalition partner, has called a confidence vote in the government, as again many media including the BBC reported. The vote is due in the next few days, and could trigger a general election in Greece.

Both countries need political support of an agreement over the name change if the dispute is to be settled. The row could be resolved in the coming week – or it might rumble on.

In France, the government has made plans to crack down on the gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests over living costs that have been disrupting the country for weeks on end, as AFP reported. But the protests picked up again in their ninth week, with more than 84,000 people taking part, according to AFP. They were less violent than previously, the news agency reported, but it said that some journalists were assaulted.

The EU has called on the government of Belarus to scrap its death penalty, after the latest death sentence was handed down, as picked up by Radio Free Europe. “The EU unequivocally opposes the death penalty in all circumstances,” its European External Action Service said. “The death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, and mistakes are inevitable in any legal system, become irreversible.”

Wired reported on the EU’s preparations to defend the May European election from interference by foreign actors, focusing on the fact that there is no central plan, because defence is the responsibility of each individual EU country.

Europe was affected by severe snowstorms this week – including in countries where snow is rare. Several people died due to the extreme weather, in particular as a result of avalanches. The BBC produced a video overview of the situation.

AFP ran a nice feature on how the Turkish town of Hasankeyf, which has several historic buildings and tourist attractions, will soon be submerged by a project to dam the river Tigris. Some important cultural features are being moved, but locals are still divided.

Controversial plans are afoot to make products sold in the EU easier to repair, in an attempt to reduce planned obsolescence and the waste that results, according to the BBC.

Researchers wrote in The Conversation about why they think their identification of fragments of the blue pigment lapis lazuli in the fossilised dental plaque of the remains of a medieval woman is evidence that women – not just male monks – made manuscripts in the middle ages.

And finally, Wired ran a story on why watching porn is about to become more difficult in the UK – and why this is “one of the worst ideas ever”. Enjoy it while you can, Brits…

Words: Craig Nicholson

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