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Posts tagged ‘Imperial Land of Impeda’

Montenegro more puzzled than affronted by Trump’s attention

July 19, 2018

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — World War III? Not us, say the puzzled people of Montenegro. Public officials in this tiny European nation didn’t know what to say initially when U.S. President Donald Trump suggested that NATO’s newest and smallest member, which has a military with fewer than 2,000 members, could be the spark that sets off a global Armageddon.

That the leader of the world’s dominant superpower would characterize the 620,000 or so Montenegrins as “very strong” and “very aggressive people” rendered their government speechless. It found its voice Thursday, and what came out was less a battle cry than a chorus of “Kumbaya.”

“We build friendships, and we have not lost a single one,” read a statement issued in the capital, Podgorica, in response to the media’s clamoring for comment. “It does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy.”

Living in a region that has seen more than its share of volatile conflicts, Montenegrins say they are much more interested in tourism than war. Montenegro, a former Yugoslav republic like Slovenia, the home country of U.S. first lady Melania Trump, is known for its long Adriatic Sea beaches.

“I laughed when I heard that and figured it could be a good advertisement,” retiree Slavka Kovacevic, 58, said of Trump’s depiction while taking a break from her morning shopping. Trump ventured his thoughts on Montenegro during an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson conducted Monday after the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. They were discussing NATO’s mutual defense pact.

If Montenegro, for example, were provoked, having NATO behind it could embolden “a tiny country with very strong people” to engage, the president said. “They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III,” he added.

The comment was not the first time Trump had taken notice of Montenegro in a way that attracted oversized attention. At a NATO summit last year, his first as president, Trump shoved Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of the way while trying to get in front for a leaders’ group photo.

Back then, Markovic refused to make a fuss over the American president’s manners. Markovic also took the high road regarding Trump’s comments this week. He noted in a parliamentary debate Wednesday that Trump spoke within the context of questioning NATO financing and was not trying to put down a particular ally.

“Therefore, the friendship and the alliance of Montenegro and the United States of America is strong and permanent,” Markovic’s government said in its statement Thursday. Trump’s views have some basis in history. Montenegro, which means “Black Mountain,” does boast of a heroic warring tradition forged over centuries of conquest and contemporary conflicts in the troubled Balkans.

Montenegro was a rare country in the region to retain a level of autonomy during the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Its past ties to Russia, with whom Montenegro shared a predominantly Slavic and Orthodox Christian culture, were so strong that its leaders were said to have declared a war on Japan in 1904 just to support Russia.

Montenegro became part of Yugoslavia after World War I. During the breakup of Yugoslavia, Montenegro was bombed by NATO forces in 1999 before it split from Serbia in 2006. “I just want to remind all the American public opinion and President Trump that Montenegro was an ally with American soldiers in two wars, in the first world war and the second world war,” former parliament speaker Ranko Krivokapic told The Associated Press.

“Montenegrins are not aggressive … but the nation of brave warriors,” he said. As it happens, the governor of the U.S. state of Maine, Paul LePage, was visiting Montenegro in hopes of strengthening ties with business and political leaders when the president’s interview aired. Maine is six times as big as Montenegro and has had a partnership with the country since 2006. LePage says it originally focused on disaster relief, emergency management and border security.

The Balkans have a difficult history, but “everybody likes Montenegro,” the governor said in a video the U.S. Embassy in Montenegro posted Tuesday. The embassy followed up Thursday with its own statement, saying “the United States is proud to call Montenegro an ally.”

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters seeking clarification of the president’s thoughts on NATO commitments in general and Montenegro in particular Wednesday that any elaboration would have to come from the White House.

“I can tell you that the president reiterated our ironclad commitment to NATO’s collective defense last week” at a NATO leaders’ meeting in Brussels, Nauert said. “Their summit declaration that came out at the end of the summit stated clearly that any attack against one ally will be regarded as an attack against all.”

Although its land mass and military are small, Montenegro was seen as an important addition to NATO when it defied Russia and joined last year. Along with having been a Russian ally in the Balkans, the country sits on a southern stretch of the Adriatic Sea that Moscow has been keen to control.

Montenegrin authorities accused Russia of being behind a foiled coup in 2016 that was intended to kill the country’s pro-NATO prime minister. Russia has denied the allegation. Given the recent tensions, some Montenegrin observers worried Trump’s comments might need to be taken seriously.

Former parliament speaker Krivokapic described Trump’s remark as “very strange.” “I hope (it was) just a mistake, nothing else,” Krivokapic said. “And I hope that Montenegro was not part of (the) Helsinki talks.”

The reaction of Miljan Kovacevic, 34, a lawyer in Montenegro, was more akin to his prime minister’s post-shove aplomb. “He is the president of America, but he has not done too well with his statements lately,” Kovacevic shrugged.

Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade.

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10,000 protest Trump in Edinburgh; UK police seek paraglider

July 14, 2018

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — From the capital of Edinburgh to seaside golf resorts, thousands in Scotland staged colorful, peaceful protests against Donald Trump on Saturday as the U.S. president played golf at one of his luxury retreats.

Trump and his wife, Melania, are spending the weekend out of the spotlight at his Scottish golf resort at Turnberry, on the western coast, ahead of his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

On the beach outside the resort, a dozen demonstrators staged a “protest picnic,” chanting “Trump is a racist! Trump is a liar!” as hotel guests played golf just 100 meters (yards) away. A line of police, some on horseback, separated the protesters from the golf course. Snipers were also perched atop a nearby tower overlooking the vast property.

Police were still trying to find a paraglider who breached a no-fly zone Friday night and flew a Greenpeace protest banner over the resort. The glider carried a banner reading “Trump: Well Below Par” to protest his environmental and immigration policies. Greenpeace, in a statement, claimed the protest forced the president to take cover, saying “as the glider appears overhead, the president can be seen making for the entrance, breaking into a trot.”

The environmental group said it had told police about the stunt 10 minutes before the glider arrived. Detective Inspector Stephen McCulloch said the protester breached a no-fly zone over Turnberry hotel, committing a criminal offence.

On the eastern side of Scotland, dozens of others protested Saturday outside Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeen. One woman climbed onto a wall surrounding the golf resort but was helped down by police.

A much larger demonstration was staged in Edinburgh, where 10,000 people weaved through the capital’s streets in an anti-Trump protest as amused tourists looked on and motorists beeped their horns in support. A choir, a bagpiper, a tambourine band and poetry readings added to the carnival spirit.

Protesters launched into the sky a 20-foot (6-meter) tall blimp depicting Trump as an angry orange baby holding a phone for tweeting. The same “Baby Donald” balloon flew Friday over anti-Trump protests in London, where thousands crammed the streets of the British capital to vent their anger over Trump’s first official visit to Britain.

One protester in Edinburgh, posing as Spider-Man, carried a placard reminding the president that “with power comes responsibility.” “I came to Edinburgh with my daughter to show her it’s important to stand up against men like Trump,” said Caroline Blake, 31, a beautician with her 4-year-old daughter. “Anybody who thinks it’s OK to grab women and talk about them like Trump does isn’t fit to be a president of anything.”

Jonathon Shafi of the group Scotland Against Trump said he wanted to show solidarity with Americans against Trump. “It’s not acceptable that a president talks about grabbing women, separates children from their families and gives encouragement to fascist, racists, misogynists and homophobes,” he said. “We are not anti-American, just against Trump and his divisive regime.”

Some walking by viewed the demonstration as a waste of time. “I don’t see the point,” said Beth Anderson, 43, an office administrator from Edinburgh. “What Trump does and says in America is a matter for the Americans. They say he hates women and is racist, but we’ve got people like that here too.”

But others say it was important to send a message — even if it never reaches Trump himself. “I don’t think anything gets the message across to Trump, but I hope demonstrations like these encourage people in the States to fight the Trump regime,” said Eli Roth, a 56-year-old from California who is living in Edinburgh. “We need to show that there are people outside America who care about what is happening and that Trump has a global impact.”

Sylvia Hui contributed from London.

Finnish brewery creates quirky beer for Trump-Putin summit

July 14, 2018

HELSINKI (AP) — A small Finnish craft brewery is paying a humorous tribute to the Helsinki summit. RPS Brewing has issued a limited-edition lager depicting cartoon U.S. and Russian presidents on its label, with text for Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin saying “Let’s Settle This Like Adults” and “Making Lager Great Again.”

The beer has been in high demand since it hit the shelves nationwide a few days ago and the whole 10,000-bottle lot had been sold out ahead of Monday’s summit. Samples have also been delivered to the U.S. and Russian embassies in Helsinki.

CEO Samuli Huuhtanen told The Associated Press on Saturday that “a couple of good beers can help any negotiations,” especially if followed by a visit to a Finnish sauna.

Demonstrators march against Trump, mock with giant balloon

July 13, 2018

LONDON (AP) — A giant balloon depicting U.S. President Donald Trump as a screaming orange baby flew over London Friday as tens of thousands marched through the streets to protest the American leader’s visit to the U.K.

The diaper-clad infant, with a quiff of hair and a mobile phone for tweeting, was the centerpiece of demonstrations protesting Trump’s policies on issues ranging from immigration and race relations to women and climate change.

“Depicting Trump as a baby is a great way of targeting his fragile ego, and mocking him is our main motivation,” said Matthew Bonner, one of the organizers. “He doesn’t seem to be affected by the moral outrage that comes from his behavior and his policies. You can’t reason with him but you can ridicule him.”

Anger over Trump’s visit has already had consequences. Just a week after Trump’s inauguration, Prime Minister Theresa May invited the president for a state visit, the type of event that normally includes glittering horse-drawn carriages and a state dinner hosted by the monarch. That morphed into this two-day “working visit” with much less pomp and circumstance amid concern about security and crowds in central London.

Protest organizers say they plan to stage demonstrations in some 50 cities around the U.K. “We hope that wherever Donald Trump goes, he hears and sees the strength of a British opinion that rejects not just him as a person and however distasteful he is as a person, but the policies and politics that he represents,” said Asad Rehman, organizer of UK Protests Against Trump’s Visit.

Carrying placards reading “Dump Trump,” and “Can’t comb over sexism,” joyous crowds blew whistles before starting from Portland Place heading toward Oxford Circus. Phil Bond, 65, a musician, said that he knows that it is unlikely that the demonstrations will make any difference to the president, but he believes people in the United States will notice. He said he just wants to add “my little drop of water to the 50 gallons.”

Not everyone was protesting against Trump, however. Augustine Chukwuma Obodo, who wore a “Make America Great Again! hat and a Trump for president in 2020 shirt, said he wanted make clear that not everyone found the protest amusing. He said he wanted to add his voice to those who are more quiet, but believe Trump is doing a good job on issues such as pushing NATO members to pay more.

“America is not a cashpoint,” he said. A march in support of Trump will start at the U.S. Embassy on the south bank of the River Thames and end near the prime minister’s residence at Downing Street on Saturday.

Trump, in an interview with Britain’s Sun newspaper, criticized London Mayor Sadiq Khan, saying he had not been “hospitable” to the U.S. government. Khan refused to block the Trump baby balloon. “I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London,” Trump said in an interview published Friday.

Khan, who has often been a target of Trump’s ire, backed the protests but said those who want to cause trouble are not welcome. “The U.S. has always stood by our side as a beacon for tolerance, openness and respect. This protest is not anti-American – far from it. Most of those marching on Friday will love the United States, just as I do,” Khan said. “But having a special relationship means that we expect the highest standards from each other, and it also means speaking out when we think the values we hold dear are under threat.”

After his meetings in and around London, Trump will fly north for a round of golf at his Turnberry resort in Scotland. That won’t help him escape protesters who have scheduled demonstrations outside the golf course, as well as George Square in Glasgow and near the U.S. consulate in Edinburgh.

US ambassador to Estonia resigns over Trump comments

June 30, 2018

HELSINKI (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to Estonia has resigned over frustrations with President Donald Trump’s comments about the European Union and his treatment of Washington’s European allies. In a private Facebook message posted Friday, James D. Melville wrote: “For the President to say EU was ‘set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank,’ or that ‘NATO is as bad as NAFTA’ is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it’s time to go.”

Melville was referring to Trump’s recent comments at news conferences and on social media. Melville stressed that a U.S. foreign service officer’s “DNA is programmed to support policy and we’re schooled right from the start, that if there ever comes a point where one can no longer do so, particularly if one is in a position of leadership, the honorable course is to resign.”

Melville is a senior U.S. career diplomat who has served as the American ambassador in the Baltic nation and NATO member of Estonia since 2015. He has served at U.S. Embassies in Berlin, London and Moscow, among other postings.

“Having served under six presidents and 11 secretaries of state, I never really thought it would reach that point for me,” he wrote, referring to a career with the State Department that started in the mid-1980s.

The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that Melville “announced his intent to retire from the Foreign Service effective July 29 after 33 years of public service.” It did not elaborate.

Foreign Policy magazine said Melville is one of the many senior U.S. diplomats who have resigned because of Trump’s policies.

King and queen of Spain wrap up visit to San Antonio

June 19, 2018

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia visited a museum exhibit featuring Spanish masterpieces on Monday as they wrapped up their visit to San Antonio. The royal couple came to San Antonio to celebrate the Texas city’s 300th anniversary and its roots as a Spanish colonial village. On Monday they inaugurated an exhibit at the San Antonio Museum of Art that features masterpieces from museums in Madrid, including works by El Greco, Diego Velazquez and Francisco Goya.

Also on Monday, the royal couple attended a summit featuring young Hispanic leaders. The king and queen arrived in San Antonio on Saturday, after visiting New Orleans for its tricentennial. The king and queen will meet Tuesday with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House.

What became San Antonio originally was founded as Mission San Antonio de Valero on May 1, 1718, by Spanish Franciscan missionaries backed by the Spanish monarchy and government during the colonization of New Spain.

The royal couple’s activities on Sunday included attending a welcoming ceremony before touring the San Jose Mission site.

King and queen of Spain visit 300-year-old San Antonio

June 18, 2018

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia are in San Antonio to celebrate the city’s tricentennial and its roots as a Spanish colonial village. The royal couple attended a welcoming ceremony Sunday hosted by Mayor Ron Nirenberg and other city officials at the Spanish Governor’s Palace before touring the San Jose Mission site and then visiting an historical exhibit. An evening dinner with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also was planned.

What became San Antonio originally was founded as Mission San Antonio de Valero on May 1, 1718, by Spanish Franciscan missionaries backed by the Spanish monarchy and government during the colonization of New Spain.

The king and queen are to meet Tuesday with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump at the White House.

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