tv Focus on Europe PBS February 13, 2016 6:00pm-6:31pm PST
michelle: hello and welcome to "focus on europe," with some of the very best stories on how europeans really live. i'm michelle henery. thanks for joining us. on today's show -- the eu sets its sights on macedonia to solve the migrant crisis. instead of holidays abroad, many russians opt for a staycation, and young people in italy are looking to the past for a brighter future. what does it really feel like to be on your own in a strange country, far from home, surviving on your wits? you could be one of those migrants welcomed here in germany with the chance of a new life in the west. or you could be one of the less fortunate, stuck in a makeshift
camp, with little food or protection from the cold. even worse, you could be held hostage by traffickers and beaten until you pay them for passage. every day, stories like this emerge from migrants trying to cross north through macedonia, a key country on the main route into the eu. critics fear that plans to strengthen continental borders could make a humanitarian disaster even worse. >> the route seems even longer if your legs are short. braving freezing temperatures, these refugees have reached macedonia, the first stage of the western balkan route. they're driven on by the fear that borders along the route could close down ahead of them, and they're more than glad to leave greece behind. >> in the camp it was really bad. there is no good food, no warm place. they just told us there are some houses like this, but there is no heat.
48 hours we spend there and they gave us some paper to let us go into europe. >> but only those who are from iraq, syria or afghanistan are allowed into the country. all the other asylum-seekers are facing a brand new fence provided by hungary. some still manage to cross it by night, such as these two young men from libya. they have been stranded in macedonia for over 30 days now, crossing the country by foot, only to get stuck at the border to serbia. >> a friend of mine tried going through the wood, but he got picked up by the police. >> samir from aleppo in syria has better luck. for 25 euros, authorities offered him transport by train to the serbian border. his ultimate goal is to reach germany. that is the final destination written on a piece of paper he received in greece. a document that will also get him across these improvised
checkpoints into serbia. >> some people, they have paper not good. they make it. they pay money for bad men and they make it and they come. some of those people were caught, others were not. >> macedonia is a multi-ethnic state, blighted by corruption and other serious domestic problems. nevertheless, some politicians in the capital, skopje, find the idea of turning the country into a firewall against migrants from greece potentially appealing. the poor country, striving to become a member of the eu, could soon become a front line state. in the ministry of the interior, anastasija ilieska, says her government is considering plans to close the border to greece entirely, if the eu wanted that. >> we are asking the european union to cover the cost because for a budget for a country like
ours, it's very hard to manage all the costs produced by this crisis. >> critics such as aid worker yasmin redzepi, warn however, that closing borders could lead to a humanitarian crisis. moreover, it would only divert migrants, he says, and revive old people-smuggling networks. already last year, his organization unveiled a number of people-smuggler camps. >> there were people in the houses, in one house 100 illegal migrants were held hostage and beaten every day just to pressure their family to give the money to the smugglers so they can transport them to serbia. >> just as in macedonia, the transport for these migrants coming from syria, iraq, and afghanistan has been well organized by the serbian authorities. at this reception center in presevo, they have to show their
greek documents and pass through a cursory security check. many people, doctors here say, refuse to stay over night, including one very weak, pregnant woman. >> eventually they made a decision to continue. they gave us the reason. they were very open and sincere about it. they are moving in groups, big groups, the family mainly. it means that they are getting support from their small community. >> back at the macedonian border with greece, more large groups like these have arrived and everyone is desperate for a new pair of shoes -- shoes fit for the european winter and for the onward journey to the next border on the western balkan route. michelle: after the end of the cold war, russians became enthusiastic travelers. they were often ranked among the top five spenders on trips abroad. two of their favourite winter getaways were the sunny coasts of egypt and turkey. but recent events have made many reconsider overseas travel.
after the islamic state blew up a russian plane in sharm el shaik, flights to egypt were suspended. tourists have also stopped going to turkey, after a russian fighter jet was shot down by the turkish military. and travel to europe is down. some fear terrorist attacks, while others feel unwelcome after the eu introduced sanctions against russia for backing separatists in eastern ukraine. as a result, domestic travel is up. and sochi, the host city for the 2014 winter olympics, is one of the most popular destinations. >> the ideal spot for skiing and snowboarding. sochi in southern russia boasts over 100 kilometers of perfectly-prepared pistes, modern ski-lifts and plenty of snow. since the fall of the rouble and recent attacks on russian tourists abroad, the subtropical city on the black sea has been doing everything to attract russian holiday makers. many are pleasantly surprised.
>> i wouldn't have thought i'd like sochi after skiing in austria, but i really do. >> i'm russian. i'm afraid to go to egypt. and turkey? they're shooting down our planes, they don't like us. so we'll have our fun here instead. >> we'll listen to our president and stay in russia. >> but pistes alone do not suffice. the infrastructure has to be right and so does the price. and that's the snag. most of the hotels here were knocked together in a matter of months just ahead of the 2014 winter olympics. now the facades are crumbling. many buildings have already had to be renovated. we're not allowed to take a look inside. the ski resort development company's ceo plays down the issue. he says that sochi epitomises the new russia. probing questions are unwanted here.
>> if we compare ourselves with european ski resorts, we can say we are in the top league. actually, there's hardly any resort that can compete with us. >> and sochi is not only about skiing. it's also great for a vacation by the sea, just half an hour away by car. but unlike in egypt, the sun does not always shine in winter here. >> only 20%, at the most 25% of our customers want to go on holiday in southern russia. the rest would still rather go to egypt or turkey. >> back at the ski resort in sochi, the hotels are reminiscent of more upscale spots in austria or switzerland , and pleasure-seeking russians
can pretend that they're in the alps for a while. the apres ski scene includes russian pop stars from moscow, who play to a few hundred tourists. there's not that much going on for peak season. that's because the prices are often higher than in europe. for most russians, sochi is still too expensive. >> i'd say there's still a lot of potential for russian tourism. sochi is a good example of what could happen. i hope our government understands that. >> right now, the action is still to be found in sochi, with plenty of pomp and patriotism. but that could change if russia's relations with the world improve again. then rich russians might move their party back to the alps.
michelle: europe's coal industry is in decline, with imports far exceeding production. last december saw great britain's last deep coal mine close, heralding the end of the british mining industry. it was one of the largest deep pits in europe and at one time produced 2 million tonnes of coal a year. but the industry, considered dirty and expensive, could no longer compete with so many other sources of energy from gas and nuclear to renewables. the closure of the pit wasn't just a matter of jobs for the miners, but the loss of an entire way of life. now many wonder how the families and businesses in the region who relied on the mine will cope. >> the drill comes to a halt thousand meters below ground. one of the miners takes a chunk of coal for the museum. and they
prepare to leave the shaft for the last time ever. they would have prefered to stay -- for many, mining was both a job and a way of life. now, 450 of them are out of work. nigel is one of them. he's 50 and there's not that much on offer for him in the open market. he worked at kellingley colliery for 32 years. the coal industry brought jobs and wealth to yorkshire. >> everything i've had in my life, these have paid for. me father sank the shafts and i'm going to cap the shafts. i'm going to be part of that team to cap that shafts. absolutely devastating. >> the big k was once the biggest coal mine in the whole of europe, churning out 40,000 tons of coal a week. people were glad of the opportunity to work here.
so was lee, the last apprentice at kellingley. his father was a miner, like his father before him. he cried with joy when he finally became a miner himself. he often went to eat fish and chips with his mates after work. they had good money coming in. all that is over now. >> it's all i've ever known. don't know one person in the family who hasn't worked down the mine apart from the women. my son's five-years-old, he always took an interest in where i work. when we drive past the colliery itself he always points at the towers. >> the social club was like a second home. that's where the miners would hang out, sharing their experiences about time spent in the shafts, something those above ground couldn't really understand.
>> coal has been my life all the time. i don't know anything else. my skills aren't transferable to other industry. it's like going back 32 years again, it's like leaving the school all over again. we have to be retrained, people might not want to employ us. >> helpless, angry, disappointed, the miners don't understand the decision to close kellingley. they don't understand how it could make more sense to import coal from russia than to use british coal. >> they've just announced that they're not going to have coal in 10 years time. we could have got another 10 years work in. paid all those taxes.hat t i i. >> why should i lose my job when all they're going to do is import foreign coal anyway? there's nothing green about it because there's nothing green about importing, is there? >> there are three coal-fired power stations nearby. a quarter of british energy is
still generated by coal. but this is due to stop by 2025. at drax, britain's biggest power station, they've started burning wood pellets and cheaper imported coal from russia and colombia. it's hot and sticky 1000 meters below ground, and yet there are few who identified with their work as much as these miners. they would have done anything to save kellingly -- accepted a wage reduction, pleaded for state subsidies, bought up the mine themselves. but to no avail. british coal is dead. a final fanfare, musicians are rehearsing for a play. they're in the hall of the miner's union, a shrine to the glory days of coal when the powerful trade unions could still bring the country to its knees.
the mineworkers union head chris kitchen seems a bit forlorn behind his desk. he says british coal could have been rescued by green technology and subsidies from london. instead, those are going to the nuclear industry. he thinks that's is a mistake. >> there's no doubt in my mind. coal put the "great" into "great britain," and with the decline of the coal industry, we've seen the decline of great britain's name in the world. >> it's the end of an era. for now, some 30 million tons of british coal will remain under ground. michelle: coal mining is hard, dangerous work. but is it right to close the pits when it destroys a community? let us know what you think about that or any of today's stories by getting in touch on facebook, email, or twitter.
in the u.s., it is nearly time for mardi gras, and here in germany, cities across the country are preparing for their own carnival celebrations. both events see people dressed up in colourful costumes, over the top parades and dancing in the streets. but preparations are uncharacteristically muted after the spate of sexual assaults on new year's eve, notably in cologne, by groups of men of north african and middle eastern appearance. two of the men arrested in the wake of the assaults live in kerpen, a small town west of cologne that had long been regarded as a model of integration. now, immigrants who live there worry their reputation is irreversibly damaged. >> ali kalmua is german-moroccan. he's lived in in the town of kerpen for more then 20 years. sometimes he runs into friends at the newsstand. there's always someone here to talk to.
people exchange pleasantries and chat about events of the day. and they also talk about kerpen's integration projects for refugees, something ali kalmua is actively involved with. >> we work well together here in kerpen and live peacefully with one another. in terms of integration, we've been very successful. >> more than 70,000 people live in kerpen. a tenth of them moved here from other countries, many as guest workers who found jobs in coal mines or the auto industry. the small industrial city west of cologne has become their home. they are proud of their city and feel a part of it. but what happened in cologne on new year's eve came as a shock to many. hundreds of women were sexually assaulted and robbed. preliminary arrests were made in kerpen's refugee camp. two algerians were accused of possessing stolen cell phone. one of them allegedly took part in the attacks on women.
someone who knows two young men expressed surprise at the accusations. >> i don't believe they took part in the sexual harassment. to be honest, it is true that they do steal. but i just don't believe the other accusation. >> the raid at kerpen's refugee shelter, the arrests, and the seizure of stolen goods -- many of the people living there were >> the police came and checked everyone here. everyone had to show their id, and then they arrested two men. and the police took cell phones and a bag from their room. >> witness reports claim most of the perpetrators come from north africa, all of them young men who came to germany alone. zakaria merouane did as well. but the young moroccan doesn't want to be lumped together with criminals.
>> they shouldn't do things like that. because all of us, whether we're from morocco, algeria, tunisia, or asia, we're all people and just want to live. >> live, and work in germany. zakaria is attending a vocational school to prepare for an apprenticeship. he works hard and wants to make the most of his opportunity. his instructor, jeremy jason, is worried that the attacks in cologne will make it harder for young male refugees to be accepted. >> this blanket suspicion is very hurtful to these people who make the effort, every day, to do their work. and then when they're on a bus or something like that, they're met with hostility that they don't deserve. >> the offenders in cologne have done damage to the reputation of all immigrants. zakaria and his friends won't
stand for that. they want to help restore the honor of north africans in germany. michelle: much of europe continues to feel the after-affects of the economic crisis, with youth unemployment still at nearly 40% in italy. many college graduates struggle to find opportunities, leading to an inevitable brain drain. but one sector suffering from skills shortages is doing its best to reverse the trend -- old fashioned craftsmanship. from handsewn leather goods and rug weaving to artisan chocolate making, young people in italy are increasingly embracing neglected arts. by learning these traditional skills, many are finding new ways to make a future for themselves, as well as bringing new life into entire areas that were in decline. >> chiselling, sanding, hammering and sewing. most of these italian craftspeople went to university, but now they're making a living using their hands.
for many of them, it was their only chance of making money in a country bruised by recession. >> this work helped me to gain my freedom. i can decide for myself what i want to do and what i want to make. >> here in the hills south of rome, there are many young graduates who see their future in artisanal handicraft. sofia modena also gave up her old job and took the plunge. as an it specialist, she developed software for bank. today, she's a weaver, designing modern textiles for wealthy customers, and she makes them by hand. >> a lot of people think i'm crazy to spend my time making something thread by thread by thread in this modern age. and they're right to a certain extent. weaving is time-consuming. you can call it crazy or magical.
i, of course, think it's magical. >> sofia finds her customers online. she combines the knowledge gained from her previous job and her studies with traditional craft techniques. it's a concept that she finds up-to-date and future oriented. >> weaving and it have some things in common. there is a project development phase. and you have to master the language of machines in weaving, too. >> apart from the time she spends working at the loom, sofia is also out and about a lot. she is trying to set up a regional network of up-and-coming craftspeople. a lot of college graduates who've turned to handicraft live in zagarolo, sofia's home town. today, they've got an
appointment with local politicians. they, too, have recognized the potential of this group -- the chance to promote and sell products from the region. >> your own town is an ideal place to try out new ideas and create something unique. but if you just concentrate on your region, you won't get very far. you have to act local, but think global in terms of marketing. >> graduate anthropologist daniele knows what he's talking about. in zagarolo, he created a weekly market from scratch. each sunday, hundreds of people now flock from nearby rome to visit the market. it's also helping older craftspeople to find new customers. >> these products only have a future, if we manage to market them properly. people have to realize that products made by hand are worth more.
that's our job, the job of us young people who've studied. >> the market only sells products sourced, or made locally. daniele's own speciality has no tradition in the region. the chief ingredient of his product, cocoa, comes from south america. daniele became a chocolate maker almost two years ago, and that's how he earns his living now. chocolate wasn't made like this anywhere in italy before he came along. daniele brought the business idea back with him after studying abroad in the u.s. and holland. now his chocolate business is running so well that others are trying to copy his successful model. >> of course, you can copy me. you have to invest a lot of energy and experiment a lot. i started with two chocolate moulds like this. now we have hundreds. two kilos of cocoa and one kilo of sweetener were my first
ingredients. today, we process tons of the stuff. and everything was built up from scratch. >> daniele now employs three people -- they, too, are university graduates. with the right business idea, italian artisans are showing it's possible to achieve job satisfaction and make a decent living by working with your hands. >> perfetto! michelle: perfetto indeed. that's it for today. thank you for watching. get in touch anytime with your thoughts and comments. in the meantime it's goodbye from me and the whole team. see you next time.