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Spain

Spain And UK Data Show Two Tales Of Europe's Limping Economy

EL PAIS (Spain), GUARDIAN (UK), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

MADRID – Good and bad news arrived Thursday as Europe continues its struggle to emerge from a five-year-long economic crisis.

Bad news first: Spain has again marked record-high unemployment figures, with a 27.2% jobless rate for the first quarter of 2013, the seventh straight quarter of rising jobless numbers.

The euro zone’s fourth-largest economy (and the world’s 12th largest) counts some 6.2 million people out of work, with youth employment rising to a staggering 57.2%, El Pais reported.

[rebelmouse-image 27086717 alt="""" original_size="363x480" expand=1]

Indignados (Zarateman)

Jose Luis Martinez, a strategist at Citi in Madrid, told Reuters: "These figures are worse than expected and highlight the serious situation of the Spanish economy as well as the shocking decoupling between the real and the financial economy.”

Protests against austerity measures and rights for the jobless were expected later Thursday in the Spanish capital. Here was a different take, however, on the continuing crisis, with one Spaniard declaring: “16.6 million people working in this country for the rest. #unemployment #EPA”

16'6 millones de personas trabajan en este país para el resto. #paro#EPA

— Daniel Ampuero (@danielampuero) April 25, 2013

On a more positive note, Britain announced Thursday that its economy grew more than expected, expanding 0.3% in the first quarter. The data avoids a triple-dip recession. “Today's figures are an encouraging sign the economy is healing," said George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. “Despite a tough economic backdrop, we are making progress. I can't promise the road ahead will always be smooth, but by continuing to confront our problems head on, Britain is recovering and we are building an economy fit for the future."

The Office for National Statistics said the numbers were boosted by services and manufacturing, but that the construction sector continued to struggle, with output down 2.5%.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Alexandroupoli, How The Ukraine War Made This Sleepy Greek Port A Geopolitical Hub

Once neglected, this small port in Thrace, northeastern Greece, has become a strategic hub for transporting men and arms to the shores of the Black Sea. Propelled by ambitious infrastructure and gas projects, the region dreams of becoming an alternative to the Bosphorus strait.

Alexandroupoli, How The Ukraine War Made This Sleepy Greek Port A Geopolitical Hub

The U.S. military processing military equipment in the port of Alexandroupoli.

Basile Dekonink

ALEXANDROUPOLI — Looks like there's a traffic jam in the port of Alexandroupoli.

Lined up in tight rows on the quay reserved for military activities, hundreds of vehicles — mostly light armored vehicles — are piled up under the sun. Moored at the pier, the "USNS Brittin," an impressive 290-meter roll-off cargo ship flying the flag of the U.S. Navy, is about to set sail. But what is all this gear doing in this remote corner of the sea in Thrace, in the far northeast of Greece?

Of all the geopolitical upheavals caused by the Russian offensive of Feb. 24 2022, Alexandroupoli is perhaps the most surprising. Once isolated and neglected, this modest port in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly known for its maritime connection to the nearby island of Samothrace, is being revived.

Diplomats of all kinds are flocking there, investors are pouring in, and above all, military ships are arriving at increasingly regular intervals. The capital of the province of Evros has become, in the midst of the war in Ukraine, a hub for transporting arms and men to the shores of the Black Sea.

“If you look north from Alexandroupoli, along the Evros River, you can see a corridor. A corridor for trade, for the transport of goods and people to the heart of the Balkans and, a little further, to Ukraine," explains the port's CEO, Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou, from his office right on the docks. According to him, the sudden interest in this small town of 70,000 inhabitants is explained by "geography, geography, and… geography.”

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