European Union

Earlier this week anti-American protests in Iran marked 34 years since the storming of the Embassy in Tehran, and the start of the 18-month hostage crisis. Suzette Grillot talks about the anniversary with Joshua Landis, who also provides a brief update on Saudi Arabia's frustration with the U.S. over Syria.

Later, a conversation with Boston University modern European historian Jonathan Zatlin. He says parts of Europe's debt crisis can be explained by religious tension between the Protestant North and the Catholic South.

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Allied powers divided war-torn Germany into four zones of occupation after World War II, with three of those zones uniting in 1949 to form what became known as West Germany.

The Soviet Union controlled the fourth zone, and East Germany remained within the Eastern Bloc’s sphere of influence for the next four decades.

Boston University modern European historian Jonathan Zatlin says the divided nation served as a tripwire for all the tensions of the Cold War, and that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin worried a united Germany posed a security risk.

Rebecca Cruise and Suzette Grillot discuss record levels of smog that are forcing the closure of schools and businesses in Northeast China, and heavy-handed tactics by Russia toward its former Soviet neighbors.

University of Oklahoma historian Kyle Harper joins the program to talk about how smallpox and the bubonic plague contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. His latest project focuses on the effects of disease and climate change on the history of civilization.

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European Union trade ministers are warning Russia to stop pressuring neighborhood countries that seek closer ties with the EU.

Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies, says since the end of the Cold War, countries that once served as Russia’s “buffer zone” increasingly look to the West.

Voice of America / Wikimedia Commons

Internet users worried about their personal information being intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies should stop using websites that send data to the United States, Germany's top security official said Wednesday.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich also said German officials are in touch with their U.S. counterparts "on all levels" and a delegation is scheduled to fly to Washington next week to discuss the claims that ordinary citizens — and even European diplomats — were being spied upon by the NSA.

Suzette Grillot, the Dean of the University of Oklahoma's College of International Studies, says what Snowden has revealed goes beyond normal intelligence gathering and turned into a major international incident.

Suzette Grillot reports from Antalya, Turkey, where she speaks with Middle East expert Joshua Landis about Turkey’s booming economy and domestic anxieties.

Desmond Shawe-Taylor and Anna Somers Cocks join the program to discuss art appreciation in the 21st century. Shawe-Taylor is the Surveyor of The Queen’s Pictures, overseeing nearly 7,000 oil paintings and 3,000 miniatures from the British Royal Collection. Somers Cocks is the founding editor and CEO of The Art Newspaper.

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Over the last decade, Turkey has averaged at least five percent growth of gross domestic product per year with a per capita income now more than $17,000, according to the country’s Ministry of Finance.

Those numbers are only expected to rise, even as a revolution continues to boil over next door in Syria, Iran faces severe economic sanctions, and economies in Greece and Cyprus melt down.

Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, says after Turkey’s attempt to join the European Union failed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan forged a new path, facing neither East nor West.

University of Oklahoma political economist and European Union expert Mitchell Smith joins the program for a conversation about the eurozone's economy slipping further into recession, and the American kicked out of Russia over accusations of spying for the CIA.

Veteran diplomat Richard Arndt speaks with Suzette Grillot and Joshua Landis about how the national security state changed U.S. diplomatic relations. He's the author of The First Resort of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy in the Twentieth Century.

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Slow growth is plaguing many European countries as they struggle to cut their spending and debts. France's GDP has fallen for two consecutive quarters, and Greece's international lenders say unemployment will remain above 20 percent for another three years.

Mitchell Smith, the Chair of OU's Department of International and Area Studies and the Director of the European Union Center, says austerity has generated more than just economic tensions.

"I actually think the political problems a number of European countries are experiencing are even more worrisome than the economic problems," Smith says. "The eurozone countries have, at least for the time being, allayed some of the concerns of financial markets and they don't want to stir things up and start another run-up of a financial crisis."

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Banks in Cyprus are open for normal business for the second day, but with strict restrictions on how much money their clients can access, after being shut down for nearly two weeks to prevent people from draining their accounts as the country's politicians sought a way out of an acute financial crisis.

"They were weakened by the fact that they had too many investments in Greek companies," said Suzette Grillot. "So they've become another victim of the Greek financial crisis."

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