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The important, interesting, or just downright quirky news from TOL’s coverage region. Today: Tbilisi pride; spat over U.S. troops in Poland; Roma in Russia; most business-friendly cities in Emerging Europe; and Hungarian businesses cross the Atlantic.19 June 2019
U.S. Troops in Poland to Serve ‘Merely Defensive’ Role
Responding to Russian reactions about news of the deployment of additional U.S. troops in Poland, U.S. Ambassador to Warsaw Georgette Mosbacher said that the move is meant to boost Poland’s defense capacities. “What we’re talking about is merely defensive, [making] a country enabled to defend its borders,” Mosbacher said. “And history is proving, particularly here in Poland, that [a country] has to be very careful with regard to its neighbors and be able to defend itself,” she also told Reuters. Last week, during a visit to Washington, Polish President Andrzej Duda secured U.S. approval to station another 1,000 American troops in Poland on a rotating basis, fulfilling part of the conservative Warsaw government’s plan to boost the U.S. military presence in the country. Russia then warned that Poland might face retaliatory steps, The Moscow Times writes. "In the event of any conflict, God forbid, the territory of Poland would become a clear target for a retaliatory strike, if there was suddenly an attack on us," Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the upper house of parliament's international affairs committee, told the Interfax news agency, as cited by The Moscow Times.
Tensions in Russian Village Lead to Alleged Mass Evictions of Roma
Hundreds of Roma from Chemodanovka have left their homes after a brawl between the Roma minority and the rest of the residents of the village, located in the Perm region in western Russia. Citing the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta, The Moscow Times reports that a fight on 13 June led to one death and several hospitalizations. Hundreds of members of the local Roma community were then allegedly relocated to another region. “All the Roma living here were taken to the Volgograd region, where the local diaspora agreed to shelter them,” The Moscow Times cites Sergei Fadeyev, the head of the Chemodanovka village council, as saying. “This was done by force. We are studying the question of the legality of their residence in our village council.” The Guardian notes that, according to the local government, the families left peacefully. Dina Cheremushkina, a spokesperson for the Penza regional governor, also said that the Roma “voluntarily” left the region, most likely to stay with their family and friends in other regions, and their whereabouts were unknown.
First Ever LGBT+ Pride Gets Rolling in Tbilisi
Threats did not prevent Tbilsi Pride from starting yesterday in the Georgian capital. “Despite the existing risks, the first ‘March of Dignity’ in the history of Georgia is in force and we are not going to cancel it,” read a statement from the promoters, cited by Reuters. Six years ago, protesters, including Orthodox priests, broke up a rally against homophobia. The situation hasn’t improved much in the Caucasus country, where, despite anti-discrimination laws, homophobia remains widespread, LGBT+ rights say. In addition to the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate, who said the pride event was an unacceptable provocation aimed at promoting “the sin of Sodom,” those who oppose the parade include Levan Vasadze, a Georgian millionaire and businessman. “Among us are lots of people with military experience, famous athletes, rugby players, wrestlers … [I]f the propagandists of perversion attempt to hold some sort of demonstration, we will break through any police cordon,” Vasadze said, addressing a rally on 16 June, according to Eurasianet. Earlier in June, the Georgian Ministry of Interior said it couldn’t guarantee the safety of the Pride participants at an outdoor event and offered indoor alternatives.
Poland, Czech Cities Most Business Friendly in Emerging Europe
Business is good in Central Europe, in part because of an increasing number of Western businesses deciding to open locations there. Still, some cities stand out more than others as a result of their brand, economic potential, and business climate. Those are some of the factors taken into consideration by Emerging Europe’s Business-Friendly City Perception Survey, who has compiled a ranking of 31 cities in 16 countries into seven categories. “A panel of 25 global location advisers and foreign direct investment experts weighed up the various merits of the 75 cities of emerging Europe which are either capitals or have a population of more than 200,000 inhabitants,” Emerging Europe explained. In addition to Prague and Warsaw, which ranked first in two categories each, Vilnius led the Business Climate index, while Poland's Lodz and Poznan ranked first for Economic Potential, and Support of Local Authorities, respectively.
Hungarian Innovation Comes to Washington
A newly opened "Business Promotion and Development Campus" in Washington, DC offers Hungarian businesses an occasion to dip their toes into the U.S. business scene, Voice of America reports. At the opening ceremony last week, Hungarian Ambassador to the U.S. Laszlo Szabo and Hungarian State Secretary for Economic Strategy Laszlo Gyorgy agreed that, while “Hungarian entrepreneurs are superb when it comes to innovation,” they also “lag behind in the marketing and commercialization of ideas and new products – areas, they say, in which Americans are highly proficient,” VOA notes. According to a press release published by the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, the facility “will be devoted to the short-term housing and development of Hungarian startups wishing to enter the U.S. market, and will allow these businesses to enroll in a personalized accelerator program.“