Serbia's president has officially dissolved parliament and has called early elections. President Boris Tadic says the snap elections will be held on May 11. The move comes after parliament collapsed last weekend following a deep split over Kosovo's independence and Serbia’s ties with the European Union. President Tadic wants his country to pursue EU membership even though 18 of the 27 member states have recognised Kosovo’s autonomy. But his coalition partners led by nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica hold the opposite view. They insist that unless member states reverse course and declare Kosovo as part of Serbia, the country shouldn’t seek to join the EU. Kosovo’s declaration of independence was always expected to have a dramatic effect on Serbia. I asked Marta Razborsek, Radio Slovenia’s correspondent in Belgrade, if the collapse of the Serbian government was expected?
And now we go from parliamentary elections in Serbia to local elections in France. The first round of these elections took place last Sunday, the second round is this weekend. The elections will determine the political fate of around 33 thousand mayors. One local representative, running for a seventh consecutive term of office, is standing out during this campaign: by prohibiting death in his village. John Laurenson has more in this postcard.
Across the Atlantic, in the United States, the aviation company, Boeing and many politicians are furious that the US Air Force has decided to order planes from its European rival, Airbus. At the end of February, the Air Force awarded a contract to a consortium run by the US company Northrop and the European EADS -- Airbus' parent company -- to produce a new fleet of air refuellers. While Boeing has enlisted congress in its fight against the deal, EADS is insisting the 25 billion euro contract is totally fair. Radio France International’s Sarah Elzas has this report.
The European Union is the biggest donor of development aid in the world. Projects range from training silk weavers in Cambodia, to helping small businesses in Peru find exports markets, and providing technical assistance to Egypt to eradicate a pest which threatened its vital potato exports. The EU funding amounts to some 48 billion euros annually – but this assistance hasn‘t been free of criticism. Critics argue that the EU gives with one hand and takes with the other. Radio Sweden’s Azariah Kiros explains.
Last year, Berlin received some very unflattering media coverage. The country’s most respected news magazine, Der Spiegel, said Berlin was no longer a hip and happening European metropolis -- unlike Barcelona, Copenhagen or even the Estonian capital Tallinn. Berlin had, in the words of the magazine, missed the boat. But the city has refused to accept defeat. This week, Berlin launched a new slogan as part of a multi-million-euro advertising campaign, aimed at spicing up the German capital’s appeal. And as Thomas Marzahl reports from Berlin, the campaign for starters targets Berliners themselves.
Something else that potentially needs an image revamp is Polish food. In the communist era, local dishes had a reputation for being gray and stogy. And as trendy bistros and international restaurants open up in the Polish capital, there’s fear traditional dishes could be left behind. Michal Kubicki from Polish Radio External Services set out culinary tour of Warsaw, and found, to his surprise, that Polish food still has a place in the hearts of its citizens.
This month we want you to identify a French film director, writer and producer who's celebrating his birthday on March 18th. He was born in Paris to parents who were both scuba diving instructors and this very much influenced his childhood. He long thought about becoming a marine biologist, but then discovered film. Every week, we are giving you a different clue as to his identity. Here’s the second one: he produced the video clip for the following song by Madonna.
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