We Europeans

George W Bush is reputed to have said that the French don’t have a word for ‘entrepreneur’. Whether he said it or not – probably not – the assertion contains a grain of truth. In its strictest sense the French word means a contractor, possibly a businessman, but does not convey the idea of a… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

Greek opposition to NATO extending to Macedonia (sorry, FYROM) draws, like Serbia’s stance on Kosovo, on the historical mythmaking of communities that claim to have suffered the indignity of occupation by the Ottomans (an experience often portrayed in that part of the world as much worse than it really was). The Greek attitude fully exploits… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

It helps to understand the differences in European values and attitudes by thinking in geographical terms, what I call the ‘Macro-Divides’. There are at least three: the Island-Continent Divide, the East-West Divide and, for want of a better description, the ‘South-North Incline’. The Island-Continent Divide is the most obvious, especially on the British/Irish side! There… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

While many Eurocrats and consumer goods marketers would like to believe that the Single Market is indeed single, the reality on the ground looks very different. Going from north to south in Western Europe we pass from one consumer zone to another. In beds, it’s from singles to doubles. In cooking, it’s from butter/margarine to… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

Stereotypes with a sting

Many of the world’s foreign affairs initiatives are powered and propelled by stereotypes. “Freedom”, “evil axes” and the like. We tend to think such things are a product of folk wisdom handed down over generations. After all, didn’t the Sicilians have a saying back in the 17th century that “the French are wiser than they… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

Belgoslavia

Few of the really big purported cases of cultural incompatibility have much to do with race or language. The real catalyst, as in the current crisis in Belgium, is something else. In the case of Bosnia-Herzogovina, it was not just a matter of different languages and religions. The indifference that soured into violence had more… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill

Belgium or bust!

When starting a blog about Europe and its cultures, what better place to start than Belgium? After all, it is the self-proclaimed capital of Europe. I’ve been living here for 40 years. We are always told to keep out of other people’s politics but, as an admirer and a long-standing resident of this country, I… » read more

Posted by Richard Hill