n.34 February 2011

For decades, Italian media has been convinced that Moscow and Prague, or both, were behind the Italian terrorist violence of the 1970s. . So far, declassified Cold War-era documents debunk such notions, bad news for a country that likes entertaining conspiracies and conspiracy theorists. . Most dossiers suggest that Moscow had only a primitive understanding of Italian domestic affairs in the so called “Years of Lead,” despite the strength of the Italian Communist Party.

For decades, journalists from all over the world have camped out in major hotels to cover wars and civil strife. But putting so many newsmen and women in one place has often yielded the worst possible result: Bored reporters producing news to fit the needs of an imagined public. Scarcity of news has also led to the peddling of pure fiction.

The Lithuanian capital of Vilnius played an important role in Tolstoy’s landmark epic “War and Peace,” but mostly a post-Napoleonic piece of the new Russian empire. Later, its history overlapped with that of Poland. Now, it’s a thriving, independent Baltic city whose Baroque and neoclassical roots, lauded by UNESCO, coexist with an longstanding appreciation of pop culture.

Improvements in the overall business environment, investment into higher value added sectors, and a search for more innovation remain among the key challenges for the Eastern and Central Europe in the wake of the global economic downturn region. Over the last decade, important progress has been made in making the overall business environment more investment-friendly, but important obstacles still remain. Foremost among them are a lack of professional skills, corruption, and poor management of domestic taxation structures. . Increasingly, the role of Western European economies is diminishing, with China on the rise.