Posts tagged ‘Southeast Europe’

Monday, February 28, 2022

“In a different World”

First of all, don’t worry. The world hasn’t really changed that much, but the above is a quote. As far as I’m concerned, we’ll be in a different world when the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, passes a property tax to finance the rebuilding of our army, the Bundeswehr.

Also, the Chinese foreign minister says that “the cold war has long gone”.

20220226_guanchazhe_chinese_ukraine_worries

Chinese worries (“Guanchazhe”, Shanghai, Febr 26):
Is the crying man really pro-Kiev,
rather than pro-Russian?
Are the Western media lying again?

But Twitter would be a useless distraction if I didn’t keep an account of what I learn there. So here goes.

February 22 Demonstration in Prague
Thousands of people gather on Prague’s Wenceslas Squareshow their solidarity with the Ukrainian people, Radio Prague, the Czech Republic’s foreign radio station, reports the following day. Ukraine’s ambassador Yevhen Perebyinis thanks them, and says that ” it really means a lot to us because we see that we are not alone.”
February 23 “No plans to leave Kiev”
Andreas Umland, a political scientist who has lived in Kiev for about two decades, is currently in Germany, but plans to return to Kiev on Saturday, he says in an interview with Polish foreign radio’s German service, broadcast on February 23. He doesn’t expect an attack on Kiev.
February 23 “China is watching us”
Latvia’s defense minister Artis Pabriks tells a TV station that “if we weren’t members of NATO and also of the EU, we would definitely be in the positon of Ukraine now – I can guarantee that,” and that “we have nowhere to retreat, because others are watching us. China is watching us.”
February 23 “Nixon’s visit changed the world”
China is certainly watching the U.S. China policy. At 22:05 local time, party-affiliated tabloid “Huanqiu Shibao” publishes an editorial titled “Washington must not fall back from Nixon’s diplomatic legacy”, and quotes Nixon himself as referring to his visit, from February 21 to 28, 1972, as “world-changing”. The editorial speaks about “overall stability” in Sino-U.S. relations despites “ups and downs”, about “mutual benefit”, and “double-win”.
此后50年,中美关系虽然历经风雨但保持了总体稳定,成就了两个大国长达半个世纪的互利共赢。.It wasn’t true, “Huanqiu Shibao” argues, that only the USSR,considered an enemy by both at the time, had made Nixon’s initiative possible, as that alone couldn’t explain the comprehensive and rapid development, nor the amazing vitality that kept erupting once the ice between China and the U.S. had been broken. Those “old stubborns” who had “once opposed Nixon” seemed to be coming back to life, “Huanqiu Shibao” deplores.
当年反对尼克松的老顽固们仿佛纷纷复活了,历史和美国兜了一个大圈子。
February 23 Own nukes for South Korea?
Seven out of ten citizens support the idea, reports South Korea’s foreign radio station KBS World, citing a Hankook Research survey. While tensions around Ukraine are rapidly rising in Europe, North Korea, of course, keeps testing missiles which run as a kind of background noise to South Koreans daily routine.Asked froom where they see the greatest threats to South Korea now, most respondent name North Korea,followed by China, Japan, and the U.S.. Asked which country would be the gravest threat in ten years, 56 percent name China.
February 24 “Everything suggests that this is a large-scale invasion”
Austrian Radio’s Moscow correspondent states that “everything suggests that this is a large-scale invasion” (“alles deutet auf eine groß angelegte Invasion hin”). Austrian radio’s coverage in general follows this diction.
February 24 Czech arms industry prepared to supply Ukraine
The Czech Republic’s arms industry is prepared to supply Ukraine with military material if the Czech government makes a decision in favor of that, Radio Prague’s German service quotes Jiří Hynek, chairman of the country’s arms industry association.
February 24 “Pleasantries are no strategy”
Christoph Heusgen, a former foreign-policy and security-policy advisor who served Chancellor Merkel from 2005 to 2017, says that while it had been right to keep channels with Moscow open, they had always underestimated Putin’s brutality and unscrupulousness. That’s how Radio Poland’s German service quotes Heusgen in their daily press review.
February 24/25 South Korea and Taiwan will join sanctions
Both South Korea and China announce that they will join international sanctions against Russia. South Korea’s foreign ministry says on Febr 24 that “South Korea, as a responsible member of the international community, will support and participate in international efforts, including economic sanctions, aimed at curbing Russia’s encroachment and resolving the situation peacefully.”
On February 25, in a speech at National Cheng Kung University in Tainan, announces Taiwan’s participation in the sanctions, saying that “Taiwan is ready to do anything that might help achieve a peaceful resolution to the conflict”.
February 24 Finland and Sweden
“It is important for Finland and Sweden to be involved in the Nato meeting, due to the situation in the Baltic Sea region, for example,” Yleisradio’s (Finland) English website quotes its country’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto. He reportedly also says that “we consider it important that Nato continues its open-door policy and that we can apply for membership if we wish.”
February 24 Taiwanese citizens in Ukraine
There are still 33 Taiwanese citizens in Ukraine, reports Radio Taiwan International’s German service, despites requests from the Taiwan government to leave the country.
February 24/25 Vietnam’s reaction
Vietnam’s foreign radio station’s foreign language programs are focused on the development of a strategic partnership with Singapore where state president Nguyen Xuan Phuc is visiting.
There is a notice from a spokesperson of Vietnam’s foreign ministry however, on February 24, suggesting that substantial numbers of Vietnamese citizens are in Ukraine, and offering them help if needed.

I’ve left the well-known newsitems (SWIFT cuts, arms supplies to Ukraine from other European countries, Nordstream 2 etc. out because they are well known. Think of this blogpost as a diary entry.

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Related

Sweden’s Donation, FoarP, Febr 27, 2022
No Quadriga for Nobody, July 18, 2011

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Saturday, February 19, 2022

Wang Yi: Minsk II “the only way”

Xinhua MSC coverage, Febr 19

Xinhua MSC coverage, Febr 19

Main link: FMPRC press release, Febr 19

On February 19 in the evening, State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, on invitation, took part in the 58th Munich Security Conference, gave a keynote speech by video link from Beijing. He answered the conference host’s questions concerning China’s approach and position concerning NATO eastward expansion, European security and the situation in Ukraine.

2022年2月19日晚,国务委员兼外长王毅在北京应邀以视频方式出席第58届慕尼黑安全会议中国专场并发表主旨讲话。王毅现场回答了主持人有关中方对于北约东扩、欧洲安全和乌克兰局势态度立场的问题。

Wang Yi said that the Cold War has long ended. Being a result of the Cold War years, NATO should judge the hour and size up the situation and make necessary adjustments. If NATO blindly expanded eastward, will that be conducive for maintaining long-term peace and stability in Europe? This is a question our European friends should seriously reflect on.

王毅表示,冷战早已结束,北约作为当年冷战的产物,应该审时度势,作出必要调整。如果北约一味东扩,是否有利于维护欧洲的和平稳定,是否有利于实现欧洲长治久安?这是一个值得欧洲朋友认真思考的问题。

Wang Yi emphasized that all countries’sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity ought to be respected and protected as this was a fundamental standard in international relations, reflecting the United Nations Charter’s objectives. It was also a principled position that had always been upheld by China, and Ukraine was no exception. If anyone doubted China’s position on this issue, that was just a hype with ulterior motives, and a distortion of China’s position.

王毅强调,各国的主权、独立和领土完整都应当得到尊重和维护,因为这是国际关系的基本准则,体现的是联合国宪章的宗旨,也是中方一贯秉持的原则立场,对乌克兰也不例外。如果有人在此问题上质疑中方的态度,那就是别有用心的炒作,也是对中方立场的歪曲。

Wang Yi said that as a permanent Security Council member, China had always decided on its position based on the merit of the issue itself, thus handling international matters. China believed that concerning the Ukraine issue, one should get back to the Minsk II starting point. As this agreement was binding,  agreed upon by all parties after negotiations, and obtained the Security Council’s approval, it was the only way to solve the Ukraine issue. According to our understanding, both Russia and the European Union support Minsk II, and when I had a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Blinken recently, America also expressed support. As that’s the case, why can’t the parties sit down together for a full discussion, produce a roadmap and a timetable towards a workable protocol? What every party needs to do now is to earnestly assume responsibility, make efforts for peace, rather than blindly pushing up raising tensions, creating panic and make war.

王毅表示,中国作为安理会常任理事国,一贯按照事情本身的是非曲直决定自身立场,处理国际事务。中方认为,在乌克兰问题上,现在应该尽快回到新明斯克协议这一原点。因为这一协议是当事方通过谈判达成的具有约束力的协议,得到了联合国安理会的核可,是解决乌克兰问题的唯一出路。据我了解,俄罗斯、欧盟方面都支持新明斯克协议,前不久我同美国国务卿布林肯通电话时,美方也表示支持。既然如此,为什么各方不能坐在一起进行充分讨论,制定出落实协议的路线图和时间表。当前各方需要做的是,切实负起责任,为和平而努力,而不是一味推高紧张,制造恐慌,甚至渲染战争。

As for the prospects of solving the Ukraine issue, Wang Yi said that Ukraine should become a bridge, connecting East and West, rather than a frontline state in the confrontation of powers. As for European security, all sides could raise their own concerns, with Russia’s reasonable security concerns being respected and taken seriously. China expected that all sides should find a solution through dialog and consultation.

至于乌克兰问题解决前景,王毅表示,乌克兰应当成为东西方沟通的桥梁,而不应该成为大国对抗的前沿。对于欧洲安全,各方都可以提出自己的关切,其中俄方的合理安全关切应该得到尊重和重视。中方期待各方通过对话协商,找到真正有利于维护欧洲安全的解决方案。

Saturday, February 15, 2020

COVID-19, new Diagnostics, statistical Effects, and some Leap of Faith

China’s explanation that a jump in the number of new COVID-19 infections can be explained with new diagnostic methods is meeting with a leap of faith in official Kiev. Radio Ukraine International, via WRMI on February 14 (Febr 13 local time in the US) reported in its “Ukrainian Perspective” program that

[a]s of February 13, 60,331 confirmed cases of the novel corona virus COVID-19, including 1,369 lethal cases, have been registered worldwide. The Ukrainian health ministry attributes the [ .. not readable] increase in the number of COVID-19 cases to a new diagnostic method deployed in the Hubei province. In addition to the test and specific symtoms screening, the method includes computer-assisted lung tomography to help detect pneumonia caused by the virus. So far, there have been no confirmed laboratory cases in in Ukraine, the health ministry reported on Thursday.
[…]

The report in full – with some shortwave background noise – can be found under the following link for a while. Please click the icon.

The report also quotes Ukraine’s prime minister, who addressed the issue of evacuating Ukrainians from Hubei province, and possible health risks for Ukraine that needed to be ruled out when the evacuations were carried out.

German television’s flagship news program “Tagesschau”, with a status in Germany comparable to “Xinwen Lianbo’s” in China, also attributed the rise in statistically recorded cases to the new diagnostic measures in a report on Thursday, but took a more distanced stance in the second part of the report, when addressing “revised diagnostic results” (“überarbeitete” Diagnoseergebnisse) announced by Hubei’s provincial government.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) Christmas Program on Shortwave

As every year, Northern German Radio (NDR) has scheduled a four-hours Christmas program on shortwave – “Gruß an Bord” (greeting all ships) – for December 24, from 19:00 to 23:00 UTC. The program usually begins with a news broadcast of about five minutes at 19 UTC, and the actual Christmas program would start right after that.

[Please mind the updates underneath – Dec 18, 2019]

Leer Reformed Church weather vane, archive / edited photo

Leer Reformed Church weather vane, archive / edited

All messages will be pre-recorded, in Leer, a town in northwestern Germany, on December 8, in Hamburg on December 15, and at NDR broadcasting house (where letters and emails will be  accepted until December 15), and be read out on December 24, from 22:15 UTC, according to the NDR schedule. Sometime during the first three hours of the program, a one-hour religious service is usually transmitted.

Radio Berlin-Brandenburg’s (RBB) media magazine has published the broadcasting schedule as follows1):

19:00 – 21:00 hours UTC

transmitter
site
kW direct kHz
Nauen,
Germany
125 west 6080
Nauen,
Germany
125 south-
east
9720
Moosbrunn,
Austria
100 east 9570
Issoudun,
France
250 south-
east
9800
Update, Dec 18 125 9740
Issoudun,
France
250 south 11650
Noratus,
Armenia
100 Europe 6030

21:00 – 23:00 hours UTC

transmitter
site
kW direct kHz
Nauen,
Germany
125 west 6145
Nauen,
Germany
125 south-
east
9720
Moosbrunn,
Austria
100 east 9675
Issoudun,
France
250 south-
east
9590
Update, Dec 18 125 9740
Issoudun,
France
250 9830
Noratus,
Armenia
100 Europe 6155

The Nauen site is said to be the oldest continuously operating radio transmitting installation in the world. There was an interruption of about a decade, however, from May 1945 to 1955. By the end of the 1950s, it was also one of Radio Berlin International‘s (RBI) two transmission sites, thus carrying East Germany’s official programs for an international audience.

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Notes

1) as at November 1 (which seems to suggest that changes aren’t ruled out)

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Updates (Dec 18, 2019)

See Deutsche Welle reference to the NDR program for latest frequencies

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Related

Program history, Dec 25, 2017

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Updates: Huawei / Hong Kong / Taiwan

Heading into a few weeks of working at half speed, but while the muse keeps kicking me, I don’t feel like doing long translations yet of, say, the Bulgarian president’s visit to China. But the following two news items – neither of them really new – may remain interesting as summer moves on.

Huawei

Trade conflict between America and China – no blog yet either, but here is a bit of it, by means of a few links.

Huawei advertisement, Bremen Central Station, December 2018

“2019 will be big (thanks to
a 6.21 in display)” – advertisement at
Bremen Central Station

A public warning by the Czech cyber watchdog is met with some heavy-handed PRC diplomacy,

Sinopsis wrote in December, with some more entries on the same subject following during the first half of this year.

Addressing concerns about a “kill switch” that could be added to Germany’s G5 infrastructure if Huawei were involved, the company’s Germany boss Dennis Zuo said in an interview with German daily Handelsblatt on February 20 that such a practice by Huawei would be technically impossible – only single components were supplied by any company.

Asked how Huawei would react if state or party demanded access, and if they actually had “a chance to say no”, Zuo said that Huawei would say no indeed – Huawei was owned by its staff, not by the Chinese state. Asked if they would go to court against the Chinese state, Zuo said that they wouldn’t do that, but “we would refuse [access] in any case” (“wir würden dies auf jeden Fall ablehnen”).

German Data Protection Commissioner Ulrich Kelber, also in an interview with Handelsblatt, pointed out that “the US itself once made sure that backdoor doors were built into Cisco hardware.”

Hong Kong / Taiwan

And Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, in June, awarded Taiwan a democracy and rule-of-law prize, although a somewhat embittered one:

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Updates / Related

2019 HK extradition bill, Wikipedia, acc July 4, 2019

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Shortwave Logs: Radio Romania International (RRI)

If you are looking for a European broadcaster on shortwave, the BBC World Service may come to your mind – or Radio Romania International (RRI). The latter’s range of program languages is quite diverse: English, Chinese, French, Romanian, Ukrainian, Russian, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and German. One a week, on Sundays, there’s a broadcast in Hebrew, too, with a review of the week1).

— Some history

According to the station’s website, first experimental radio programmes for target areas beyond Romania’s borders were aired in 1927. Broadcasting became official on November 1, 1928, on 747 kHz (401.6 meters) – apparently targeted at a domestic audience, in Romanian only. French and English programs followed in 1932, “to inform the diplomatic corps in the Romanian capital city”, and weekly programs in French and German were targeted at central and western Europe. Before the second world war, all foreign broadcasts depended on medium wave transmitters. When the first shortwave transmissions began, the focus appears to have been on the Balkans, and the Middle East. According to RRI, [i] t seems that the first letter received from abroad came from Egypt.

It’s a detailed account of RRI’s history (and that of its preceding organizations, all headquartered in Bucharest’s General Berthelot Street), and will most likely contain some information that is new to the reader.

Olt County's coat of arms, 1985 and post-1989

Olt County’s coat of arms, as depicted on a QSL card of December 1985, and as of these days (click picture for Wiki entry)

— Languages, Programs, Contraditions

RRI provides news, background reports and some cultural coverage. Much of the content is the same in English, German, and Chinese, but focus may differ somewhat. While there is news, some background information and cultural programming in all these languages, listeners’ preferred topics seem to count, too. German listeners frequently enquire about European and social issues – something that appears to be of less interest to Chinese listeners. The scope of Chinese programs may also be somewhat limited by air time: thirty minutes per broadcast in Chinese, rather than sixty, as is the case with some of the broadcasts in English, French, and German.

When it comes to international exchange or openness, RRI certainly can’t be accused of discrimination. The Institut Francais is shown among their partners on the French service’s web pages, and a link to the “Confucius Institute” in Bucharest adorns the Chinese-language main page, side by side with one to the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (with no specified status).

According to RRI’s English service’s website, RRI’s Chinese service, which first went on air on October 1, 1999, benefited from […] Chinese language experts […] as well as our colleagues from Radio China International, the Romanian language department […].2)

Given the kind of “news” being broadcast by China Radio International (CRI), this kind of cooperation doesn’t look appropriate.

Some caveats: undue Beijing’s influence isn’t limited to RRI in particular, or to southeastern Europe in general3) (as suspected by some German quarters). A number of German universities have opted for cooperation with the agency from Beijing, for example, and areas of cooperation are hardly less sensitive.

Also, RRI’s news broadcasts in Chinese don’t appear to differ from those of the English or German departments. When Chinese listeners hear about Romanian citizens who take to the street, opposing changes to the country’s legal system, or Japan’s prime minister emphasizing liberty, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as Japan’s and Romania’s shared values and principles, it may be met with more open minds, than if broadcast by a source that is deemed hostile by its audience.

All the same, turning October 1, 1949 into common ground between the audience and the station’s first broadcast in Chinese (October 1, 1994) spells a major contradiction, when suggesting at the same time, on a different history page, that RRI services turned towards the future, towards once again building a bridge between Romania and the democratic world and re-establishing the link between Romanians living abroad and those back home, a link that had been weakened on purpose by the totalitarian regime.

— Audience

RRI doesn’t offer detailed statistics – few international broadcasters do. It seems likely, however, that a presence on shortwave makes a difference for the better. I wouldn’t hear or read much about the country, if its signals didn’t come in handy. I’m suspecting that within Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, you can listen to RRI with a pressing iron (any appliance with spiral coils should do).

What has kept this blogger from giving feedback to the station is their online policy. It seems that everything that is mentioned in their listener’s-feedback programs goes right online, as a transcript. Facebookers probably won’t mind, but more traditional listeners may be a different story.

Either way, RRI certainly has its fans, and its multipliers.

— Shortwave

Shortwave plays an important role, at least when it comes to middle-aged and old listeners. For one, there’s the technical aspect. Nobody is encouraged to disassemble and reassemble his smartphone, or to boost its transmission power or its sensitivity. Use of shortwave, however, involves technical aspects, and people interested in some DIY. And while an app user may brush any source of information away after a few seconds, shortwave listeners’ attention span is likely to be sturdier.

It would seem to me that among a number of other aspects (sound not least – I find digital sound ugly), shortwave broadcasting signals respect for the listeners. It is more costly than web-based communication, it doesn’t provide broadcasters with as much information about how “efficient”, in terms of listener numbers, their productions actually are (which means that even the invisible listener matters), and it doesn’t ask if a listener lives under circumstances that allow for internet access – be it for economic or censorship reasons.

Shortwave is therefore a unique RRI feature. Bulgaria abandoned its shortwave transmissions years ago, so did Radio Poland, Radio Ukraine International, and Radio Prague (except for some airtime on German or American shortwave stations respectively). Radio Budapest, once one of the most popular Eastern European external broadcasters, is history.

— Recent RRI logs

Broadcasts in Chinese, German, and Hebrew
Time UTC Lang. Date Freq. S I N P O
07:00 German Jan21 7345 5 5 5 4 4
13:30 Chinese Jan21 9610 4 5 5 3 4
17:05 Hebrew Jan21 9790 4 5 5 3 4

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Footnotes

1) RRI’s website states 19:05 hours as the beginning of the transmission, which is standard time in Romania, and in Israel (17:05 GMT/UTC).
2) The Romanian department at CRI still exists, with an online presence, and medium/shortwave transmissions.
3) The “Spiegel” interview in German.

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