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Matteo Salvini Threw A Lame Party on Monday

Matteo Salvini Threw A Lame Party on Monday

Yesterday, Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threw a big party meant to launch a new alliance of European populist nationalist parties.

There was just one problem: not many people showed up.

Mr. Salvini, the most powerful politician in Italy, wants to "broaden the . . . family" of far-right parties ahead of elections to the European Parliament next month. Not a bad plan, given that support for the far-right across Europe has surged in recent years.

But some of Europe's most powerful far-right leaders took a rain check on the get-together. Conspicuous no-shows included members of France's National Rally, Hungary's Fidesz, and Poland's Law and Justice.

The problem for Salvini is that while Europe's far-right populists all agree on the need to curb the EU's power and push back against its liberal values, they disagree on some very big issues:

Views of the EU differ widely: While bashing Brussels is a standard crowd-pleaser for right-wing parties, views of the EU actually vary widely across the countries currently governed by such parties: only 42 percent of Italians believe EU membership has been good for their country. But in Hungary and Poland 60 and 70 percent of people, respectively, say the same.

Who takes the migrants? Europe's far-right leaders generally agree they want to close Europe's borders to further migrants (at least non-Christian ones). But there's friction over how to handle those who manage to arrive. Countries like Italy, which has absorbed more than 360,000 migrant arrivals since 2016, want others to share the burden. But Hungary and Poland have refused to take even a single migrant, defying an EU resettlement program. This fundamental disagreement complicates attempts by the far-right to forge a common migrant policy, a key component of European governance.

Relations with Russia: Far-right leaders in Italy and Austria want better relations with Moscow, seeing Russia as a welcome business partner and source of political leverage against Brussels. But Poland's Law and Justice prefers a more cautious approach, owing to Poland's historical concerns about Russian intentions. So while Rome and Vienna expressly called for ending Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia, you'd never hear such a thing from Warsaw.

Upshot: Europe's far-right parties have surged in recent years, but when it comes down to it, they'll chafe at least as much against each other as they do against Brussels.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET


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