(October 12)  One of Europe’s most intractable conundrum—the island Republic of Cyprus—is celebrating its 50th year as an independent nation.  The celebration is muted, however, by another anniversary—the 36th year since Turkish troops (now numbering 43,000) took control of nearly 40 percent of the island and effectively displaced 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees.

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During a recent trip to Albania, it was striking to notice the number or of Kosovars spending their summer holidays on the Ionian Sea stretch of the Adriatic coast. Many of these tourists were predictably drawn by the beautiful beaches, scenery and pleasant weather but, perhaps unconsciously, they were also celebrating the emergence of their landlocked homeland, Kosovo, as an independent nation enjoying growing world acceptance. It got a boost from the July ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law. See recent European Affairs blogpost. This unambiguous statement at the core of the court’s finding went further, in Kosovo’s direction, than many observers had anticipated. Even so, in its quest for legitimacy and viability, Kosovo still faces formidable obstacles ranging from the need for recognition by more states to the challenge of making a peace with Serbia -- and domestically, the requirement of tackling widespread corruption.

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(September 27)  Kosovo’s President, Fatmir Sejdiu, abruptly announced his resignation today after the nation’s Constitutional Court ruled that he had violated the country’s constitution by simultaneously holding the presidency and the leadership of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK).

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(Sept. 22, 2010) The world of Swedish politics was stunned by last Sunday’s elections, when the anti-immigration party (Sweden Democrats) won 20 out of the 349 parliamentary seats; a first since its’ founding in 1988 (see New York Times). Party leader Jimmie Akesson has described Muslim population growth as the biggest external threat to Sweden since World War II. The governing Center-Right coalition of Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt failed to win a parliamentary majority, falling just 3 votes shy of the necessary 175 seats. The Social Democrats, in turn, suffered their worst showing since 1914. Prime Minister Reinfeldt has pledged not to work with the far-right Sweden Democrats, and if the still uncounted ballots from Swedes living abroad do not tip the results, he may well have to seek to widen his governing coalition elsewhere.

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As the “Great Recession” recedes, the aftershocks of public anger are exploding with a political passion not seen since the Great Depression.. In this tumult, knives are out for the two leading central banks – the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) and the European Central Bank (ECB), the agencies responsible for monetary policies underpinning the world’s most important economies and markets.

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