Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poland - nation caught in crossfire

Polish President and many top Polish officials died in aeroplane crash as their plane tried to land in thick fog. Really a tragic event! But this event has also helped to thaw the tense relations between Russia & Poland.

Polish president was going to attend anniversary of Katyn massacre (There is excellent movie on this by Andrej Wajda, renowned Polish director). In this massacre around 20000 Polish troops and intelligentsia were killed by Russian army. Russia confessed about this massacre in 1990 and prior to that it had claimed that it was done by Nazis.

Poland has always been caught in this crossfire of two mighty nations on either side. And so has been Hungary. Mighty Russia on one side and Germany (and more recently USA & allies) on the other (Wajda movie depicts this very well, where by citizens are caught on bridge with Russian & German armies invading from either side). During World Wars, these countries were used as pawns & soft targets and suffered the most. Cities were devastated, people had to migrate (even Able in 'Kane and Able' is Pole). During Cold War, they were part of Soviet block and were important part of Russian strategy against USA. After disintegration of Soviet Union, these countries tried to move away from Russia towards NATO block, resulting in ire from Russia. Thus, over the years Poland and Hungary been caught in the crossfire.

But recent events have helped to improve relations between Poland and Russia. Medvedev addressed Polish people and showed empathy towards them. Even Putin's reaction has been positive. Such improved relations with West & Russia would definitely help Poland. It could benefit from its unique location. Lot of investment from Western Europe, especially Germany, has gone in Poland and further Russian investments would definitely help. So rather than being a nation caught in crossfire, it could serve as a nation which bridges West & Russia!

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Eugene Terreblanche, leader of white supremacist movement, was murdered yesterday in South Africa creating potential for racial tensions in SA. He was an Afrikaner staying in mostly-white town in the interiors of South Africa. This murder could result in disruptions in South Africa in Football WC year.

Afrikaners have always considered themselves as part of South African history, as if they are natives over there. They are mainly descendants of Dutch immigrants who migrated to South Africa in 18th-19th century. Interestingly, they didn't try to colonise, unlike Europeans did in other parts of the world. They were mainly farmers (and hence called 'boers'- farmer in Afrikaan) and formed their small towns & republics in northern part of SA after British colonists pushed them inland. They fought with local African tribes like Zulus & Xhosas for land. Interestingly, Niall Ferguson in his book Empire, mentions Boers as last remaining tribe of Africa, after Zulus were defeated.

And still Afrikaners consider themselves as the rightful owners of SA land and in my opinion, their white supremacy movement, lead by Terreblanche in past, also stems from this. It's like any other separatist movement where people want separate country because they are ethnically/religiously/culturally different. Even they have in the past threatened 'Civil war', war between two groups of same country, if their demands are not met.

Interesting how some European immigrants went to totally different region and became a local 'tribe'!

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