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Old 01-30-2014, 10:31 AM   #101 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread

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Originally Posted by Allur View Post
Fair enough. I wanted another nation to go along with Russia on the post and Belarus was the first one to come to mind with its (alleged) lack of human rights, freedom of speech etc. having been on the news a lot lately. Looks like they're doing quite well though, my bad.
No problem! We're here to exchange information and points of view without attacking each other or degrading other ethnicities and their cultures. I appreciate that you took the time to check out my post and the data in it. Since you live in Finland, why don't you take a trip to Belarus? It's not that far from you. I think that you would be pleasantly surprised at how the people live there.

Just as an FYI, I'm an American, but ethnically both sides of my family are from Byelorussia. My mom's side is from the west-Grodno, and my dad's side from the east-Minsk (i.e. Slootsk in Minskaya Oblast).

The first time I was in Byelorussia was in 1970 when I spent a month living with my relatives on my dad's side. When I left I actually spent a month in Helsinki. Your language is really tough, but I felt comfortable there. They had a Russian Orthodox Cathedral I could go to, and all the movies were in English with Finnish and Swedish subtitles. Paradoxically, I could sit in the movie theater and watch the films in English while the local people had to read the subtitles. From Finland I went on to Australia where I lived two years and worked in the mines.

Fast forwarding past my years as a police officer in NYC, I was married in Kharkov (Kharkiv), Ukrainian SSR in 1989 to a local "Kharkovchanka," i.e. girl from Kharkov, in the Orthodox Cathedral in the city center. My son was born in Kharkov in 1990 and christened there. In 1990 we moved to Moscow where I worked for a major American company as laiason to the Soviet side of their joint venture (a major Soviet company). We left and moved to Minnesota in 1996.

I've volunteered an abbreviated biography to emphasize that when I discuss this area of the world I am not just talking through my hat. I speak, read, and write Russian; understand Ukrainian and some Polish; have had interaction on a social and business level there in both pre and post-Soviet times.

I get upset about the Nazis, because over half my family was murdered by them during the German occupation of Byelorussia during the Great Patriotic War. My family all served in the military against the Hitlerites. My dad was a U.S. Army Sgt. who fought his way through France, Beligium, Netherlands, and was finally shot and wounded in Germany. One uncle was a U.S. Army corporal and served against the Japanese in the Pacific Theater. My other uncle served in the Soviet Navy. He loved my son very much and spoiled him when we used to visit the Kolkhoz. He passed away in November of last year. Царство ему небесное!

This is very personal for me and I will not sit idly by while some people (NOT you) belittle Eastern Europeans as some kind of culturally/socially depraved group.

- Mike
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Old 01-30-2014, 05:37 PM   #102 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread

US, EU meddling in Ukraine battle

William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.


Published time: January 30, 2014 08:40

In the heat of recent exchanges and deaths of protesters in Ukraine, many have lost sight of the insidious role key players in Washington and certain EU countries are playing.

Their agenda seems to be to force an immediate end to the elected Yanukovich government in Kiev and lock Ukraine into the EU and, ultimately, NATO. Washington’s agenda has little to do with ‘democracy and freedom’, and a lot to do with destabilizing Putin’s Russia.

On Sunday, January 19, the eight-week-long series of protests and demonstrations against the government of President Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev escalated to a new level of violence. Bands of right-wing militants called Pravy Sektor (Right Sector), attacked Ukrainian police guarding government buildings and attempting to contain the protesters.

POLICE OFFICER FIGHTS FOR HIS LIFE AFTER BEING HIT WITH A MOLOTOV COCKTAIL THROWN BY A RIOTER


Enter the Neo-Nazis

Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at riot police from the top of the Dynamo Kiev football stadium in central Kiev beginning January 19. Police responded by using stun grenades and tear gas against the mobs. Vehicles were torched by the hooligans from the neo-Nazi Pravy Sektor. More than 60 police were hospitalized from barrages of rocks, stones and Molotov cocktails.

The core of Pravy sektor is made of the activists of radical groups, including ‘Trizub’, ‘Patriot of Ukraine’, as well as UNA-UNSO and the ‘Svoboda’ (Freedom) ultra-right party, which won nearly 10 percent of votes at the last parliamentary election in Ukraine. They are ‘pro-EU’.

The far-right violent radicals told Radio Free Europe, a US Government media agency tied to the CIA and State Department, that they were preparing full bloody guerrilla war against the government. Andrey Tarasenko, Pravy Sektor's coordinator warned, "If they attack and try to carry out a bloody crackdown, I think there will be a massacre. Guerrilla warfare will begin in Ukraine."

Tarasenko stated that their “demands” are to oust the current government and "build a nation state" in Ukraine. What kind of nation state we must imagine. They also demand that Yanukovich step down, but, generously enough, add that they would give him and his family “24 hours to leave the country safely.”

On their VKontakte (In Contact) social network website, the organization calls for donations of items such as slingshots, steel balls, gasoline, laser pointers, glass bottles, chains, and pyrotechnics.

Their published manifesto is nothing short of bizarre: “All those who at this point would try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way. The time of peaceful singing and dancing at Maidan [Independence Square] is over. This is a waste of time. There can be no negotiations, no compromise with the ruling gang. We will carry high the fire of national revolution.”

Curious is the fact that in the beginning of the protests, Pravy Sektor members were calling themselves ‘the Maidan self-defense force’. They had been designated by the main opposition leaders – Vitaly Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyagnibok - to provide security for peaceful protesters. Now they clearly have split from the peaceful protests.

Even more bizarre is the fact that in recent days ambassadors of several EU-member states, as well as the US and Canada have gone to Maidan to meet Pravy Sektor activists and learn how ‘the headquarters of national resistance’ operates.

Instead of unequivocally condemning the rise of violent Ukrainian nationalism, which could turn Ukraine into another Yugoslavia or Libya, the West is only threatening President Yanukovich with sanctions, while turning a blind eye to the real Pravy Sektor danger.



Boxer Klitschko favorite of West

The Tarasenko demands are virtually the same as ex-boxer-turned right-wing politician, Vitaly Klitschko, the pro-EU apparent favorite of Germany’s Merkel government. Klitschko has lived in Germany for the past several years.

The nominal reason for the latest explosive protests in Ukraine was passage of a series of emergency laws to control the civil disorder by the Parliament on January 16 which, among other things, restrict the right to protest, constrain independent media, and inhibit the operation of NGOs.

Evidence suggests that key players in the Ukraine protest movement are being steered and orchestrated by Washington-funded NGO’s like the National Endowment for Democracy], the German Marshall Fund in The United States (a Washington think-tank financed by a donation from the German Parliament), and certain key neo-conservative Bush-Cheney leftovers in senior positions at the State Department.

Already on October 11, 2011, the German Marshall Fund hosted Vitaly Klitschko, then-WBC Heavyweight Boxing Champion just entering Ukraine’s political boxing ring, at a Washington meeting to discuss Ukraine’s European perspective.

Again in 2012 during the October Ukraine elections The German Marshall Fund in the United States hosted a top-level group of UK, French and German journalists to visit Ukraine, where they also met Klitschko. The Marshall Fund journalists were told by the US Embassy officials in Kiev that, “Ukrainian oligarchs would like to see a strong opposition to the Party of Regions in the new parliament in order to temper the enrichment of President Yanukovich’s family.”

That ‘strong opposition’ is today headed by three very different political parties. One which won a shocking 10 percent in the last elections and sits in parliament is Svoboda, a neo-Nazi nationalist party led by Oleg Tyagnibok. Tyagnibok backed the US-financed 2004 Orange Revolution. He is openly anti-Semitic and anti-Russian, once claiming that Ukraine was ruled by a “Moscow-Jewish mafia.” The second-largest opposition party, jailed opposition figure, Yulia Tymoshenko’s ‘Fatherland’, led by Arseny Yatsenyuk, has signed an agreement to work with the neo-fascist Svoboda.

The opposition figure most attractive to the West is ex-boxer Klitschko, head of UDAR (strike), the smallest opposition party, who has spent the last years living in Germany. In order to have a chance at a Parliamentary majority in 2015, Klitschko will be forced to make a coalition with Svoboda and its policies, even though he is trying a delicate tightrope act of claiming to distance from Svoboda’s anti-Semitic ultra-nationalism.

In an Op-Ed in the London Financial Times, Klitschko wrote, “the official halt in Ukraine’s European integration unmasks the true face” of the Yanukovich regime — “a cartel of commercial self-interests that has captured public office and believes that political longevity can be bought by selling Ukraine’s interests.” Ukrainians, he warned, would not allow Yanukovich “and his cronies to steal their future” and if their views were not taken into account, “more protests are yet to come.”

A central role in encouraging the Ukraine protesters is being played by the US State Department, and especially Victoria Nulland.

RIOTER THROWS A MOLOTOV COCKTAIL AT POLICE


State Department’s role

A review of the official statements from Nulland, who met personally with opposition leader Klitschko in early December, is instructive of the open interference of Washington in the internal affairs of Ukraine. Nulland - a Hillary Clinton appointee who now is assistant secretary of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in the State Department - did not respect a sovereign decision by Ukraine’s government in November 2013 not to accept the dismal terms offered by Brussels for a Ukrainian EU ‘Association’ status.

The EU ‘offer’ would have forced Ukraine to open its economy to ‘free market’ rules in return for little. When Yanukovich told the EU of his government’s decision in November, Nulland’s spokesperson issued the following statement: “We continue to support the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to achieve a prosperous European democracy. European integration is the surest course to economic growth and strengthening Ukraine’s democracy.” That was an undiplomatic intervention on the side of the protesters designed to embolden the opposition. It did indeed.

Then on December 5 in Kiev, after her meeting with Vitaly Klitschko, Nulland declared, “There should be no doubt about where the United States stands on this. We stand with the people of Ukraine who see their future in Europe…”

She followed her speech with a high-profile bizarre media photo-op where she carried a single plastic bag of food to give to the opposition demonstrators. Nulland’s partisan pro-EU comments were followed by a brazen appearance from Republican war-hawk Senator John McCain a few days later, siding with the opposition in December. McCain is chairman of the Board of National Endowment for Democracy’s International Republican Institute, which has been in the middle of all US Color Revolution destabilizations since 2000.

Most recently, on January 15, after attacking Russia for granting a vital $15 billion bond purchase to help stabilize Ukraine, Nulland all but outlined the standard US government template for election tampering that has been done in countless ‘color revolutions’ since the NED’s 2000 coup against Yugoslavia’s Milosevic.

She told the US Senate, “the use of violence and acts of repression carried out by government security forces and their surrogates have compelled us to make clear publicly and privately to the government of Ukraine that we will consider a broad range of tools at our disposal if those in positions of authority in Ukraine employ or encourage violence against their own citizens.”

Nulland then issued a direct order to President Yanukovich: “We call on him to make it credible through concrete actions to restore government accountability, rule of law and engagement with Europe and the IMF.” Then, referencing planned 2015 national Ukraine elections, she added, “US pre-election assistance to Ukraine likely will include programs to support citizen oversight of the campaign environment and the conduct of the elections, independent media coverage and informed civic awareness and participation.” And finally, “The State Department and USAID are reviewing how best to support Ukrainian civil society and media.”

USAID is widely cited as a cover for CIA operations in foreign countries.

Victoria Nulland herself is a former assistant to Vice President Dick Cheney, and married to neo-conservative guru, Robert Kagan. She was under fire when caught recently lying to the American people when she was Hillary Clinton’s State Department spokesperson. Nulland pushed her superiors then to completely delete numerous references of extremists linked to Al-Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya after the assassination of the US Ambassador. She also persuaded more senior officials to delete information on at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants.

Washington is clearly out to destabilize the new Ukraine-Russia economic cooperation by hook or crook. On January 22, after severe Pravy Sektor violence, the American Embassy in Kiev announced it was revoking the visas of several unnamed Ukraine Government officials responsible for actions taken against protesters in November and December.

Negotiations

The latest negotiations between the Yanukovich government and the three main opposition party leaders—Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleg Tyagnibok—have led to the resignation of Yanukovich’s Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov and his cabinet, and changes in the emergency laws proposed 10 days earlier. Nine out of 12 anti-protest laws passed January 16 were repealed.

At this point, whatever agenda Victoria Nulland’s State Department may have had in trying to woo Ukraine away from Moscow, the internal forces of instability, egged on by vocal support from the West, have made the outcome incalculable. That is certainly not in the true interest of the EU, having a critical Central European nation of 45 million ungovernable, and a rising nationalist neo-Nazi Svoboda-led party calling the shots. That would prove too much even for the legendary boxing talent of Klitschko.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.
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Old 01-31-2014, 07:30 PM   #103 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread

When is the far-right acceptable to the West? When it's in Ukraine

by NEIL CLARK

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster.

Published time: January 30, 2014 09:44

The ‘progressive’ Western political elites and the establishment journalists who act as PR agents for them would like us to think that they are unequivocally opposed to neo-Nazism, homophobia, racism and far-right political extremism.

But how genuine is their opposition? The current disturbances in Ukraine and the western response to them, suggests that it’s highly selective to say the least.

Let’s imagine for a moment that there were violent demonstrations led by ultranationalists and neo-Nazis in a Western European country, and that those demonstrators held up posters of figures who had collaborated with the Nazis during World War II. That they had shouted neo-Nazi slogans and their leaders had made anti-Jewish and homophobic statements. That these same protesters had used violence to try and topple the democratically elected government – and that they had seized government buildings. We can expect the western elites and establishment journalists to fiercely denounce the protesters, who would definitely be labeled “rioters,” that they would call for “law and order” to swiftly be restored and for the leaders of the demonstrators to be arrested, and for them to be prosecuted under hate speech legislation.

Yet this is exactly what has been happening in Ukraine, and far from condemning the far-right protesters, the Western elites have been enthusiastically supporting their cause.

Before Christmas, Senator John McCain, the US’s leading neocon politician, flew to Kiev and dined with opposition leaders, including Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the extreme far-right Svoboda party. Later, McCain stood alongside Tyahnybok at an anti-government rally. In 1999 a report from Tel Aviv University, cited by Britain’s Channel 4 News, called Svoboda “an extremist, right-wing, nationalist organization which emphasizes its identification with the ideology of German National Socialism.” In 2004, Tyahynbok claimed that Ukraine was run by a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” Although the party has tried to clean up its image since then, the far-right extremism and ugly ultranationalist rhetoric remains – but that doesn’t seem to trouble too much the western elite figures cheering on street protests, in which Svoboda and other ultranationalist groups have played such a leading role.

JOHN McCAIN MEETS WITH LEADER OF PRO-NAZI "SVOBODA" PARTY, OLEG TYAGNIBOK IN KIEV


The same hypocrisy is shown in relation to the issue of gay rights.

Western elite figures have criticized Russia over the 2013 law banning the promotion of homosexuality to minors, with French President Francois Hollande being just one of the leading western politicians to announce that he’ll be boycotting the forthcoming Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Yet, whatever our views about it, the law in Russia is very similar to one in force in Britain from 1988-2003, when, revealingly, there were no calls for a sporting boycott of the United Kingdom.

Listen to establishment figures in the West and hawkish newspaper columnists and you’d get the impression that Russia was the worst country in the world for gay rights. You certainly wouldn’t think that there are almost 80 countries in the world where – unlike in Russia – homosexuality was still illegal, and that many of them were strong western allies. The same President Hollande who is boycotting Sochi last year made a two-day official visit to Qatar (a country where male homosexuality is illegal and the punishment is up to five years in jail) to discuss strengthening economic ties with the outgoing Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and his son Sheikh Tamim. The French president talked of the “mutual respect and understanding” between his country and Qatar. Qatar is due to host the 2022 football World Cup, but Hollande, the “principled” politician who’s boycotting Sochi, had nothing to say about the country’s record on gay rights.

Instead he drooled: “There’s the great subject of sport, in the sense I mentioned this morning of the only valid competition, namely on the global scale. For the time being, we’re preparing the European [Football] Championship, so it was agreed that we’d share our experience on this, so that Qatar can organize a very fine World Cup. It’s not simply about the sporting event, because we’re well aware that considerable infrastructure and hotel accommodation will be needed, and our cooperation on this can really be exemplary.”

Isn’t it strange how western leaders’ concern over gay rights seems to evaporate when they visit Gulf states and there‘s business to be done? In Saudi Arabia, homosexuality can be punished by death, yet will western elites be boycotting the country in protest, let alone be criticizing Saudi laws? We shouldn’t hold our breath.

Last year US journalist James Kirchik became a poster boy for western neocons and the fake left for attacking Russia’s new law live on RT, but Al-Jazeera, the channel owned by the government of a country (Qatar) where male homosexuality is illegal, gets a free pass. There are no calls for people interviewed on the channel to launch into an attack on Qatar for criminalizing male homosexuality or for people to boycott Al-Jazeera because of Qatar’s anti-gay laws.

The fact is that the western elite’s support for gay rights, like their “unequivocal” opposition to far-right, ultranationalist groups, like their “unequivocal” opposition to racism and neo-Nazism, is a sham. It’s used tactically, to help further the elite’s economic and geostrategic interests.

The reality is that you can be as ultranationalist, as Neo-Nazi, as racist and as homophobic as you like – so long as you are opposing a government that the western elites want toppled. The extremism of Ukrainian far-right groups is therefore swept under the carpet, because such groups want Ukraine to sever its links with Russia. Yes, they’re fascists, homophobes and racists, but they’re “our kind” of fascists, homophobes and racists i.e. anti-Russian ones. But in other European countries – e.g. Hungary – ultranationalist groups are condemned, because their interests are not in line with western elite interests.

The bottom line in all of this is money. If there is “regime change” in Ukraine and the country is locked into what are euphemistically described as “Euro-Atlantic structures,” there will be big profits for the western elites – not only would the country become a dumping ground for western multinationals, but a Ukraine in NATO – the same elites’ ultimate dream – would mean more profits for western defense companies and arms manufacturers.

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others,” the old joke goes. It’s a perfect way to describe the extremely flexible “principles” of the west’s “progressive” elite.
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Old 01-31-2014, 08:22 PM   #104 (permalink)
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Joining either EU or Russia is probably equally as bad for Ukraine. But they will choose EU I would believe. Also Lithuania wasn't a rich country to begin with and it had more to do with Globalism in general and not just EU that made the economy suffer....since let's face it the economy is indeed connected world over.

One really bad decision in Lithuania would be to get Euro currency. I dunno if it would make it worse but Greece sure as hell suffered from that.

Tell me about this migration issue since everytimne I come for a visit I don't really see much foreigners man..in comparison to let's say Sweden or England for that matter. I basically don't see anyone from middle east nor Africa while in Sweden and England(meaning north and west Europe) I can see foreigners every day. And than there is people saying that migration is a problem in Lithuania? I mean is that even serious? Are we talking about supposed Asian folks who come abroad to take Lithuanian jobs? Wages have nothing been high in Lithuania to begin with so why would they come there to begin to our homeland? Lithuania is a poor country.

Well it seems Russia is preparing for a possible war. It just doesn't look that good overall. Either way when wasn't Russian government corrupted to the core to begin with?
Both countries (I'm English btw) have an extremely favourable welfare system that basically ensures that even if the worst happens, you will be looked after. As a consequence, the area of the UK I live in is absolutely flooded with immigrants, mainly Polish and Lithuanian.

We are currently bracing for Romanians and Bulgarians also, but unless they wanted a reminder of what Soviet life was like, I'm not sure why they would come, cause this country is in a really bad spot right now, though not as bad as 2-3 years ago.

As for OP, I get the sense that the Customs Union is the guy to go, the WCW metaphor for the EU is spot on.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:38 PM   #105 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread

I brought my plane ticket to Europe a couple of days ago. Plan on going a whole month of backpacking in July. I figured someone might have some experience doing the same and could help me out. How much spending money do you think I will need on average? That's with cheap hostels, cheap food, etc.
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Old 01-31-2014, 10:55 PM   #106 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread

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I brought my plane ticket to Europe a couple of days ago. Plan on going a whole month of backpacking in July. I figured someone might have some experience doing the same and could help me out. How much spending money do you think I will need on average? That's with cheap hostels, cheap food, etc.
What countries are you planning on visiting? A month isn't really a whole lot of time. You probably should target a specific area and then get back to us. It would appear that membership in our forum covers a wide spectrum of European countries.

In any case, narrowing down your area and maping out a specific plan is a must or you are going to be running around like a chicken without a head.

- Mike
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Old 01-31-2014, 11:18 PM   #107 (permalink)
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread

The problem is that not just the Western media but also the general western people always view the "rebels" as the "good guys"

We live in a pretty FUCK DA POLICE society that views any overbearing authority as being "fascist" and "Nazi" and like the "underdog"

You could show protesters torturing a cop to death and many people would side with the protesters

Personally I favor stability over buildings burning with the FIRES OF FREEDOM but that's just me
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Old 02-01-2014, 12:11 AM   #108 (permalink)
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What countries are you planning on visiting? A month isn't really a whole lot of time. You probably should target a specific area and then get back to us. It would appear that membership in our forum covers a wide spectrum of European countries.

In any case, narrowing down your area and maping out a specific plan is a must or you are going to be running around like a chicken without a head.

- Mike
From Miami to Spain. Will be traveling in this order

1)Spain(Madrid & Barcelona)
2)France(Paris)
3)Netherlands(Amsterdam)
4)Germany(Berlin & Munich)
5)Switzerland(Bern & Interlaken)
6)Italy(Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence)

I believe there is another country we're going to, just undecided. I know a month isn't a long time, but I'm a college student. I had to work a shitload of hours to make this happen on my own without the help of my parents.
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Old 02-01-2014, 07:33 AM   #109 (permalink)
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From Miami to Spain. Will be traveling in this order

1)Spain(Madrid & Barcelona)
2)France(Paris)
3)Netherlands(Amsterdam)
4)Germany(Berlin & Munich)
5)Switzerland(Bern & Interlaken)
6)Italy(Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence)

I believe there is another country we're going to, just undecided. I know a month isn't a long time, but I'm a college student. I had to work a shitload of hours to make this happen on my own without the help of my parents.
It sounds like a great trip that will give you a tremendous overview of those countries. With your time constraints it is probably the best way to do the trip, although it sounds like it will be a whirlwind.

My technique was a bit different. I preferred to get to one place and then study it. For example, when I was visiting Italy I based myself in Rome and would focus on that city with day trips by train to Firenze, Venezia, and Milano.

Make sure that you check out the Prado Museum in Madrid. They have a collection of paintings by Heronymous Bosch, the somewhat "eccentric" Dutch painter. That man's mind was definitely in a different dimension!

Paris is a great city. You could spend a month walking the town and not scratch the surface. If you are into the "odd" and "unusual" check this out. I was wandering around one day and found this small Catholic church on a narrow side street where they have the body of a nun that was buried for decades. When she was dug up her nun's habit was decomposed, but the body looked like it had died yesterday! I believe it's the body of Roman Catholic St. Bernadette, but you can ask the locals. They'll tell you how to find the church.

Unfortunately, Berlin isn't the adventure it used to be. When I was there in the mid 1980s going over to visit from West Berlin was like being in a Tom Clancy novel. You booked a tour and got on a bus with a bunch of other foreigners.

As the bus approached the checkpoint the first thing you saw were cool signs in English, Russian, and French - YOU ARE LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR / ВЫ ВЫЕЗЖАЕТЕ ИЗ АМЕРИКАНСКОГО СЕКТОРА (I don't know how to write it in French). When you got to the checkpoint the bus stopped and was boarded by East German soldiers whose senior officer collected all the passports of everyone on the bus. After intimidating the people on the bus with their presence for about 15 minutes they waved you on and you took the tour for 3 or 4 hours. You got your passport back at the checkpoint when leaving the Eastern Sector.

I would get a kick out of this because the Americans on the bus would literally shit themselves and looked like they wanted to go back to their hotel rooms in the Western Sector. Back in the day you certainly got your money's worth!

I don't know what it looks like now, but East Berlin was most definitely the more interesting part of the city. The west looked like a typical "downtown" of a big American city complete with hookers, porno shops, muggers, drugs, rowdy U.S. military personnel, etc. The East was cleaner, the museums and historic landmarks were preseved and well kept.

BTW, I'm just relating my first impressions about Berlin when I was there and do NOT want to get into a debate.

Anyway, I just realized that this is . We are discussing Western Europe, but the thread is titled "EASTERN EUROPEAN DISCUSSION THREAD." Let's get back on topic!

- Mike
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Default Re: Eastern Europe Discussion Thread


John Kerry calls on EU and NATO to support rioters in Ukraine

Ukrainian Protests Split World Leaders at Security Conference

MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) – The ongoing protests in Ukraine divided world leaders attending the 50th annual Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that demonstrators in the country “are fighting for the right to associate with partners who will help them realize their aspirations.”

“Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine.”

NATO and EU officials echoed those comments in words of support for the demonstrators.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, however, urged world leaders to work with the country's leaders to defuse the situation.

European politicians should condemn the seizure of government buildings by demonstrators in Ukraine, Russia’s foreign minister said Saturday.

Why are there no voices condemning those who seize government buildings, attack the police and adopt racist and anti-Semitic slogans? Why do European leaders actually encourage such actions, when they would quickly move to punish them at home?” Sergei Lavrov said at the annual Munich Security Conference.

What would be the reaction from the European Union, if members of the Russian government began to openly express support, including personal visits, to rioters in London, Paris or Hamburg?” he added.


Sergei Lavrov blasts U.S./E.U. support for Ukrainian rioters at Munich Security Conference
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