Thursday, March 31, 2005

My formula 1 views

In some news unrelated to the state of world affairs (or to pretty much anything at all), I quickly strapped together a few pages dedicated to Montreal’s grand prix race. I am quite proud of the graphic look of these pages, very formula 1 like.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

BBC's Award for World Music, Part 3

Well, well, well. Seems that Bulgaria and its gypsy culture finally get some much deserved attention. Ivo Papasov, the Bulgarian clarinet player has snatched the Audience Award at the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music 2005.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Bulgarian Liberation Day

127 years ago this day, a tinny nation re-emerged on the political and historical horizon of our planet, after 5 centuries of quasi non-existence. That small nation was and still is none-other than the tiny Bulgaria. Russia’s Emperor Alexander II declared war to the Ottoman Empire in 1877 and signed a peace treaty in with the sultan in 1978 in a small city close to Istanbul known as San Stefano. Now, being fond of history, I could write a ten page paper on what lead to this war and its consequences on the region and the world in general. I am too lazy though, so I won’t. Suffices to say that Alexander II (probably the greatest tsar of modern Russia, the one who abolished "le servage"), who maintained that Russia was the protector of all Christian Orthodox in the world, used a crushed Bulgarian revolt as an excuse to attack the Ottoman Empire and free Bulgaria, which it wanted to transform into a strong ally in the Balkans, and most importantly, an ally that would have access to the Aegean See (and thus the Mediterranean sea). However, Britain, which was attempting to slow down Russia’s expansion all around the world (and thus the creation of an independent Afghanistan, but here again I am getting off track), quickly organised an international coalition that countered Russia’s initiative of a strong Bulgarian ally in the Balkans, and in July 13 1878, the Berlin Treaty was signed, officially creating an independent but small Bulgaria, and returning much of southern Bulgaria and all of Macedonia to Ottoman rule. Now, we all know the rest of the story. How the Balkans was the troubled region which contributed to destabilizing Europe’s status quo through two quick wars in 1912 and 1913 and how these two Balkan Wars are closely tied to the eruption of the Great War. It is easy to say only if this or only if that when studying history, but I rather look into the future, which appears to be somewhat brightly lit, as Bulgaria is set join the EU in 2007. So happy Liberation Day to all the Bulgarians around the world.

The Cedar Revolution

In some follow up news, it seems that things are moving even faster than expected in Lebanon, after Syria’s president/dictator Assad told the New York Times that Syria does plan to withdrawal from Lebanon. The struggle is far from over though. What a weird beginning of year it has been for the Middle East, new PLO leader, elections in Iraq, the Cedar Revolution, plans for multi-party elections in Egypt. Who knows what’s next.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Long Live the Cedar Revolution

The situation seems to be taking a turn for the best in Lebanon with the resignation yesterday of the country’s prime minister and his cabinet. Here are two interesting articles on the topic taken form the Globe and Mail: Cheers ring out in Beirut and Lebanon eyes future after fall of government. Once again, I must reiterate that I believe the impact in the Middle East of these events might be tremendous. In one of the articles it is mentioned that official Syrian TV is not reporting on the protests in Beirut, but with the amount of people tuned on to satellite TV, the entire region is following in real time this popular struggle for change. If it succeeds, oppressed neighbouring nations might be encouraged to seek change, as a previously unknown precedent will be set in the Arab world.

In one TV report I was struck by the similarities between this "Cedar Revolution" and the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine at the end of last year (PORA's web site). It was obvious from the start that the Lebanese were inspired by the successful actions of the Ukrainians and were applying their techniques (tents in the central place serving as a permanent manifestation nucleus, refusal to dismantle them even under police pressure), but they even have a giant screen TV broadcasting the sessions of the parliament to the protesters on the Place des Martyrs, exactly like it was the case in Kiev. And to think that this method of peaceful revolution was initiated by our Serbian brothers when they brought down crazy Milosevic, and then perfected in two countries of the ex-Eastern Block, Georgia and Ukraine. I have always maintained that the Middle East should stop bitching (sorry for the rude language) and follow the example of Eastern Europe, and here it is, happening in front of your eyes.

Now, the Lebanese should keep the pressure on, while averting civil armed conflict. If they obtain the resignation of President Emile Lahoud, I believe the withdrawal of Syrian forces will be assured.

Some Civic Campaigns web sites (something similar should get organized in Lebanon) :: Albanian Mjaft :: Belarusian Zubr

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