King Felipe VI of Spain's dress sense, voting in Romania and interview with a Paris-based NGO's president.
The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War highlighted Bosnia’s role in the conflict. But neglect of the country’s archives means that primary sources from the time have been decaying in substandard storage.
Since January the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage has been digitising the surviving elements of the National Library’s collection. Documents relating to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were the first to go under the scanner and will be joined by many others online – but without political agreement on heritage funding, the future for the hard copies seems bleak.
Thirty-three years after he first addressed the nation, King Felipe has finally assumed his place on the throne after the surprise abdication by his father Juan Carlos in June. But there is no time to get comfortable: a social and institutional crisis still grips the country, the clamour for Catalonian independence grows and a corruption scandal involving his sister and brother-in-law has prompted Spaniards to question whether they need a monarchy at all.
Pointedly, one of King Felipe’s first acts was to announce new transparency measures, banning members of the royal family from working in the private sector and pledging to subject royal accounts to external audits. However, the challenge isn’t to improve the monarchy’s image but to prove its relevance. King Felipe’s past experience as a soldier, pilot and Olympic athlete will provide the necessary discipline; studies in law, economics and international relations have honed a strategic mind; and mixing with foreign dignitaries and has refined impeccable language skills. While his father won hearts and minds with his common touch, this king gains respect with expertise.
Will his fluency in Catalan temper antagonism between Madrid and Barcelona? Should he build on his 69 trips to Latin America to strengthen economic ties? Can a 46-year-old king project a more modern image of Spain on the world stage? In the coming months, as calls for democratic reform grow louder, King Felipe’s measured, soothing tone can at least provide a welcome counterweight to a shrill and often acrimonious public debate.
SOS Racisme is a Paris-based NGO that aims to stamp out racial discrimination in French society.
Has France become more tolerant in recent years?
There are lots of opinion polls that point towards a greater level of acceptance but there is also the growth in popularity of extremist political parties. It’s a paradox.
Are any communities particularly targeted by racist attacks?
The Arab-Muslim community and the Roma people. The media and so-called intellectuals seem to think it’s OK to single these people out.
Why is that?
Some of the problems date back many years. For example, the loss of Algeria dented French national pride and that seems to have had a lasting influence on attitudes.
Don’t high-profile individuals from diverse backgrounds help to change attitudes?
Yes but it’s early days. Rachida Dati was the first non-Caucasian to become a minister and that was only in 2007, so France has been slow to address this issue.