tv Focus on Europe PBS November 9, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PST
♪ max: hello everybody, welcome to "focus on europe." showing you the human stories behind the headlines. kw my name is max hofmann and here are the topics for today's show. slovenia -- refugee trek in a race against winter. moldova -- boxing for a better future. germany -- cemeteries for humans and their pets. tens of thousands of refugees are still on the move. most of them are from war torn syria and most of them want to go to germany. to get there they take the western balkans route from
greece via croatia to austria. we send reporters to the region every week and each time they come back their message is -- the situation is getting even worse! with winter approaching a humanitarian catastrophe is taking shape. here's our latest from slovenia. >> this photograph is ali's pride and joy. he's wearing his police uniform. it was taken about six months ago in iraq. ali and shara are showing us pictures of their old life. it's the life that the police officer and young computer programmer left behind when they decided to flee to europe. >> iraq not good. not good. d'aish. all problem. >> in the spring, they decided to leave with their 13-month-old daughter, rose, taking just what they could carry. they say they had no choice.
now they're refugees, just like thousands making their way to western europe. what they've experienced on the way is unimaginable. many long to return, but their former life was bombed to rubble. >> i used to go to the court in the morning. until 14 hours. then go up in my special office, my own office til 18 hours, then go home. it was a very beautiful life. you can in the evening go to the cafe or walking with my wife. but now, no it's difficult. we lost everything. >> they're stranded in the reception center in sentilj in eastern slovienia. thousands arrive every day, more than ever before. they're able to rest for the first time after trekking unprotected through the cold and rain. before they left, most could not imagine that fleeing would be so hard and risky. aya is from syria.
she tells us that if she had known, she and her daughters would never have started out. >> they told us this journey is very short and no suffering. and i've discovered that it's very long and very tiring. and i am very tired, really. so i don't know what about is coming. >> her daughters rana, zina and anissa play with the few toys they have. these treasures allow them to forget their life in a war zone and the perils of their journey. >> i'm scared. i'm still scared about this because every step which i make they tell me, yes, you will reach your goal, you will really reach your goal, but now in austria. i don't know. >> as they pass through different countries, thousands of refugees must live in the most primitive of conditions. they receive little information about how their trek will continue. observers say their flight is a
miserable hand-to-mouth existence. so hundreds set off on their own, in an effort to get to austria. >> ali and shara still look at their old lives, remembering how they were and want to be again in the future -- at the end of their long journey into a new, foreign land. max many of these migrants on : their way to western europe have no clear idea of what really awaits them once they get there. the paradise they hope for simply doesn't exist. the european reality also includes for example religious exclusion in france. the country that's always been so proud of their secular tradition now has a number of mayors that want to refuse to take in refugees if they're not christian. bottom line -- muslims not welcome. our reporter went to one of those cities. >> belfort is a prosperous
industrial city in eastern france. cars, trains and street cars are produced here. immigrants from the former french colonies in north africa have played an important role in its the city's success. many came here to take factory jobs in the 1970's -- and made belfort their home. they comprise some 10 percent of the city's population. but now they find themselves feeling unwelcome in their own community, following comments made by mayor damien meslot. he said that belfort is considering taking in refugees from iraq and syria -- but for now, only christians. >> i don't want to take them in because they're christians, but because they're persecuted. i'm surprised at the criticism from the left-wing parties and certain media organizations. you get the impression that, because they're christian, we've no right to take them in. >> protests decrying islamophobia are unwelcome. meslot is quick to dismiss them by publicly attacking his opponents. >> the muslim brotherhood are known for their provocations.
>> meslot's remarks have provoked outrage well beyond belfort's borders and been denounced by france's interior minister. the mayor isn't giving interviews at present but -- for belfort's muslim population in particular -- his message has come through loud and clear >> i'm algerian and have been here 37 years. if i could return to algeria and work i'd have left long ago, rather than deal with the racism here. it's got to stop. >> samia jaber is one of the mayor's iggest opponents. born to an algerian family, she's fought her way to the top in belfort and had a seat on the city council for years. the socialist hopes to combat the prevailing anti-islamic sentiment, which she believes is politically motivated. >> our mayor damien meslot is wooing front national supporters. but that's a losing battle -- in which you lose your values and your soul.
>> meslot and his republicans are trying to attract supporters of far right parties like the front national -- which won a record 24% of the vote here in local elections this year. meslot's looking to do better in upcoming regional elections -- and his gamble could pay off. >> with non-christian refugees we can't be sure they don't belong to is. >> i am with him, that is all. >> the mayor also has the support of the catholic church. together, the city and the diocese have set up a organization to welcome christian refugees. but church representatives say they're not discriminating against refugees of other religions. >> as christians, we have a special fraternity with our christian brothers. but we know that in syria and iraq there are also other minorities that are being persecuted. that includes the yazidis, the
kurds and other muslim minorities. we'll welcome anyone sent to us. >> in the coming months, france expects to take in some 24,000 such refugees. that's a relatively small number, compared with the amount being taken in by other european countries. still, racist sentiment is growing in france. in many french cities, muslims and jews keep to themselves, to avoid confrontations. but that hasn't been the case in belfort. >> the mayor's comments are regrettable. but you must remember that many in belfort were refugees themselves. belfort took in many alsatians in 1871 after the franco-german war. across europe there are people who've been forced to flee their homes. often they were treated well -- and we must continue to do that. >> but the growing intolerance towards the muslim population is
increasing tensions and sparking racist incidents. bus drivers here mobbed a muslim colleague who showed up at their soccer club wearing a jacket with arabic writing on it. samia jaber blames damien meslot for such incidents. by demonizing minorities she feels he's failed as a mayor. >> i'd like to return to the way things were in our city, when comments were measured and balanced. now people take positions that are divisive and create tensions. we've never had tensions here. i'd like to revert to our peaceful tradition. >> mayor meslot has driven a wedge between christians and muslims here, so it's ironic that around half of belfort's muslim voters helped him get elected. it seems unlikely he'll receive their vote next time around.
max: a country in europe where most young people just want to get away is the republic of moldova. so about a quarter of the population works abroad to avoid corruption and poverty. but not everybody wants to leave. some young boxers in the small town of grimankauz think they're exactly where they need to be. thanks to the local boxing school. >> every jab, every feint and every hook brings 10-year-old doru closer to achieving his dream his dream of becoming a champion boxer. he trains six days a week. it's a grueling routine, but he wouldn't miss a single day. boxing is everything to doru. >> do you like it? >> yes. >> did you win any medals? >> yes. i won two medals. >> is it hard or easy for you to beat these guys? >> it's easy.
>> have you ever been beaten? >> i always win. i never lose. >> you've never lost? >> i've never lost. >> boxing is everything to coach petru caduc, too. he's worked a miracle in the moldovan village of grimancau?i on the border to ukraine. his boxing school is among the most successful in all of europe. >> i would very much like to create world class athletes. creating national champions or participants in world and european competitions is very satisfying. and if these athletes receive awards, i'm overjoyed. >> dmitrii galagot is the european vice champion for his weight class. to keep his weight steady, he trains in an air-tight suit.
he has to deliver top performance in near sauna conditions for over an hour. >> petru caduc is known for his rigorous training methods. but these boys feel honored to have him as their coach. they each have their own dreams of greatness. >> those dreams don't entail day-dreaming. duro might take time out for a game of chess with his little sister, but he wastes no time. he's ambitious and focused on his goals. in the ring, he prefers to pit himself against stronger boxers, even if the odds are against him. >> i know they're bigger and stronger, and they have more practice. but i want to become like them, and i will. >> his mother is proud of him and his determination.
doru's father used to box. later, like hundreds of thousands of moldovans, he worked abroad for years. now he's returned to his village and his roots. this is where he's got his family. >> petru and his wife svetlana haveig pns. the town council has given him use of an old school building. he's planning to turn it into a boarding school. a sports academy of his own. >> over here, we're going to build a multi-purposehall 42 by 24 meters in size. it'll have viewing stands and provide space for competitions and training for other sport >> he's not yet certain where the money for the academy will come from. the state finances the boxing school, but moldova is poor and struggling just to cover the daily expenses.
>> the money doesn't really flow. that's the main problem. we sign contracts and transfer money, but the money com in very slowly, because the country's financial situation negatively affects the boxing school as well. >> as soon as school's out, doru hurries off to boxing practice. he's been at it for about a year. he's interested in soccer and astronomy, but his passion is the boxing ring. he has no less drive and single-minded dedication than any adult. his coach has high expectations for him. >> doru is a very disciplined boy who listens. boys like him are very rare. he has a gift and comes to training and to work on it. when he sees a stronger boxer he tries to copy him to become stronger himself.
>> petru caduc says that's what makes the difference between a good boxer and a champion. maybe one day, he'll have doru's trophy to put in the case alongside all the other medallions and cups his boxers have won. >> i'm a coach with an international reputation, but i don't have the courage to leave the vlage. it's better for me to stay home. >> for boys like doru, boxing is a world unto itself here in the village. a rld of glory. that may he something to do with the success of the grimancaui boxing school's . max: >> in italy it looks like there's a glimmer of hope after ars of disastrous economic news. growth is picking up and unemployment is slightly down.
but not everywhere. there are places, especially in southern italy where all hope , seems lost. whoever hasn't yet paed up and left can watch the life draining out of small villages in the region of calabria. but one of the mayors there is now doing everything in his power to prevent the demise of the place he loves so much. >> sellia is a remote village in the mountains of calabria. the mayor looks with longing at his community's cultural legacy. the fortress is one thousand years old. it should be a magnet for archeologists and tourists, but no one has mntained the structure. it's become unstable and must be cordoned off. >> this abandoned ruin symbolizes southern italy's difficulties. we are at rock bottom, despite our cultural wealth. this has to change.
>> residents continue to leave the village. the community is in danger of dying out. anyone who can, flees the unemployment and poverty. the school in sellia is closed. there aren't enough children. many families have emigrated. >> we've left it just as it was when the children left in 2010. otherwise, the memory that sellia ever had a school will be erased. >> the school is a memorial to better days in calabria. the mayor uses the empty auditorium as a community center. in a symbolic gesture, he's decreed that residents of sellia are no longer allowed to die to , prevent the village from shrinking further. symbolic though it may be, those who fail to maintain their health do face a fine.
>> if people neglect their health and die earlier, then we'll never be able to survive as a community. >> that's why he's set up a medical service together with doctors who've volunteered to help. >> in the old days, people had to know somebody to get care. now they can get an appointment without connections. >> many leave to seek their fortunes in northern italy or abroad. they want to get away from the corruption and mismanagement that plagues italy's south. the highway from reggio calabria to salerno is a good example. the project has been ongoing for 50 years -- and hundreds of millions of euros have fallen into mafia hands. our visit to the calabrian coast is particularly disheartening. rubble and ruins litter huge sections of beach that could otherwise be a paradise for vacationers. but the mafia and corrupt administrators have ruined the area.
weeet mafia pert sandro ruotolo. police had to provide protection for our interview. ruotolo is on a casalesi clan hit list. he arrived in a bulletproof car. >> the bigger the contracts or projects are, the more the mafia is involved. and every one in the corrupt system has to get their cut -- the contractor, the city councilor and the mafia boss, too. all that makes the project much more expensive. a recent study shows that the five regions with the greatest mafia infilttion are also italy's poorest. that frightens off investors. the mayor is setting up an amusement park for tourists because no one is investing in sellia. he assures us he did it with eu funds, which he vigilantly oversees. the main attraction will be a zip-line down to the ruins of
the ancient fortress. he says the project will create 12 jobs in a region where one in two young people is unemployed. we meet youth of the village in a cafe. when we ask 19-year-old maria how she sees her future, she proudly demonstrates her knowledge of foreign languages. >> [speaking in german] i love germany and want to go there to work. >> those are words the mayor would rather not hear. >> stay, maria -- we need young people like you. >> can the mayor hold onto the young villagers? if not, the town is left with an aging population -- and they will eventually die out -- despite the mayor's decree. max: frederick the great was perhaps prussia's most famous
king and his last wish was to be , buried together with his dogs. he would have had a hard time doing that in today's germany. there's general distrust towards mixing up human and canine remains and also - as always in these cases - a whole lot of red tape. but to many old folks their pets -- not only dogs by the way --really are their family. so things are starting to change. recently two cemeteries opened up that cater to those who want a burial with a bark. >> marlies tepass and her dog mutley. the crossbreed stays by her side with her through thick and thin. that's why she's certain: she wants to be buried next to her furry companion. >> he belongs to me. spouses are buried next to each other. why shouldn't the same go for my dog? it's great this is possible.
>> but her husband isn't exactly happy about the idea. >> he says, "a human is a human, an animal is an animal." but knowing how much i want it he'll do it for me. , >> in the west german city of essen, a cemetery has become one of the first in the country to bury humans next to their pets. but its operators have to abide by strict regulations. >> the cremation of humans and that of animals is clearly separated. animals go to an animal crematorium, humans go to a human crematorium. after that, both urns can be handed over to us and we'll organize a joint burial. >> the issue splits the church. both confessions reject collective eulogies for pets and humans. but protestant vicars could come to terms with pets' ashes in a grave in what's called a burial gift. >> we often see burial gifts, people throwing flowers or
letters into graves. or sometimes a supporters' scarf of a particular soccer club. some miners, here in the ruhr region, were even buried with a bottle of liquor. >> the catholic church shows >> the cnderstanding for such r. but they take a firm stand against joint burials of humans and animals. >> when we're burying a deceased we express that person's dignity beyond death in our prayers and words. that's why we struggle with the thought of treating humans and animals as equals at a burial. >> marlies tepass read in the bible that both humans and animals are god's creatures. she wants to be buried next to mutley. >> let's pick a grave, mutley although we don't want to go here yet. >> germans are known for their strong love of animals. there are around 150 pet cemeteries across the country. a dog cremation is as dignified
as a human family member's in the animals' heaven burial center close to berlin. around 3,000 animals are buried here. now, the operators are considering a spot for pets and their owners. maybe here, under the trees. but in berlin, that'd only be possible on the down-low. >> if you went to a normal cemetery and lit a candle wherever animals are secretely buried, we'd have very bright cemeteries in germany. we need to make it legal. we need to create spaces where pet owners know: when the time comes, i can be buried next to my pet family member. >> as far as marlies tepass is concerned, mutley definitely belongs to her family. and now they can stay together
till the end of time. max: to be buried with your pet. that's something that apparently more and more germans want. so here's our question: would you consider a funeral with your dog, cat, whatever animal you have as a pet? make sure to also tell us why or why not and where you live at the moment. here's my twitter account: alright, enough about funerals. thanks for watching our show today, hope you liked it. you can watch it again, if you want to on our website . and we'll have a new edition of "focus on europe" for you next week. please join us again. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ ♪
steves: a selection of ferries make the 50-mile crossing between helsinki and tallinn nearly hourly. because of the ease of this delightful two-hour cruise and the variety a quick trip over to estonia adds to your nordic travels, pairing helsinki and tallinn is a natural. stepping off the boat in tallinn, the capital of estonia, you feel you've traveled a long way culturally from finland. its a mix of east and west.
tallinn's nordic lutheran culture and language connect it with stockholm and helsinki, but two centuries of czarist russian rule and nearly 50 years as part of the soviet union have blended in a distinctly russian flavor. fins and estonians share a similar history. first, swedish domination, then russian. then independence after world war i. until 1940, the estonians were about as affluent as the fins, but then estonia was gobbled up by an expanding soviet empire and spent the decades after world war ii under communism. when the ussr fell, estonia regained its freedom, and in 2004, it joined the european union. tallinn has modernized at an astounding rate since the fall of the soviet union. its business district shines with the same glass and steel gleam you'll find in any modern city. yet nearby are the rugged and fully intact medieval walls, and the town within these ramparts
has a beautifully preserved old-world ambiance. among medieval cities in the north of europe, none are as well preserved as tallinn. the town hall square was a marketplace through the centuries. its fine old buildings are a reminder that tallinn was once an important medieval trading center. today it's a touristy scene, full of people just having fun. through the season, each midday, cruise-ship groups congest the center as they blitz the town in the care of local guides. like many tourist zones, tallinn's is a commercial gauntlet. here there's a hokey torture museum, strolling russian dolls, medieval theme restaurants complete with touts, and enthusiastic hawkers of ye olde taste treats. woman: [ laughs ] steves: but just a couple blocks away is, for me, the real attraction of tallinn -- workaday locals enjoying real freedom and better economic times.
hello there, and welcome to "newsline." it's tuesday, november 10th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. voters in myanmar are eagerly awaiting the final result of the general election, the first since military rule ended in 2011. opposition leader aung san suu kyi appears confident of victory. [ cheers and applause ] >> translator: at the moment, the official results from the ballot count are not out yet, but i think you all have the idea of the results.