His Christian Democrats are rising in the polls and are now in a dead heat with the opposition Labor Party. Mr Balkenende has ushered the Netherlands through a rocky period since his first election campaign in 2002.... a period that included two political assassinations and the premature collapse of two of his cabinets. And even in the past few weeks, his party was hit by controversy - when it scrapped ethnic-Turkish candidates from the ballot list after they refused to acknowledge the Armenian genocide. In an exclusive interview for Radio Netherlands, Richard Walker asked the Prime Minister whether the voters will choose his party in November.
Turkey has its first Nobel Prize winner, with Orhan Pamuk winning the prize for literature. But surprisingly his award has not been met with universal celebration in Turkey. The writer has become the target of the country's growing nationalist movement, which consider him a traitor. That's because Pamuk has frequently spoken out about the killing of Armenians in Turkey 90 years ago. To make matters worse for the author on the day of the announcing of his Nobel Prize, the French parliament passed a bill, which criminalizes the denial of the Armenian genocide, something Turkey strongly denies. The 2 events have placed Pamuk at the centre of the perfect nationalist storm, Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul
Recently, Romanian and Bulgarian authorities spotted an oil slick on the surface of the Danube River. It soon became apparent that the oil installations at Prahovo in Serbia were to be blamed for the release of an "undetermined quantity" of heating oil into the Danube, one of Europe's most important environmental and economic river-ways. In less than a week the Romanian authorities managed to clean the 50 km long oil slick of oil spending more than 300 thousand Euros in the process . Fortunately the damage to the environment was minimal. But now the question is: Who is foot the 300 thousand euro clean up bill? Radio Romania International's Iulian Muresan reports that the lack of trans-boundary environmental legislation in countries outside the EU renders these kinds of issues even thornier than they already are.
Almost a year after France's suburban riots, police are warning of a new upsurge of violence in the country's poorer districts. Policemen were stoned and beaten by gangs of youths in three separate incidents over the past three weeks. In the latest one, officers were ambushed and had to fire their hand weapons in the air to escape. The growing defiance against law enforcement authorities is a sign that few lessons have been drawn from last year's troubles on both sides, and that little has been done to improve the lives of immigrants in France's derelict and isolated housing estates.
The Security Council voted unanimously last week to impose sanctions against North Korea. But some analysts have questioned the wisdom behind the resolution and are asking if this is the best method to deal with the issue. One of the vocal critics is Sweden's Hans Blix, former chief weapons inspector in Iraq and now Chairman of the independent Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. He tells Azariah Kiros that he sees the Security Council sanctions as understandable but hardly advisable.
Network Europe receives support from the European Commission. The European Commission bears no responsibility for content.