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An Enthusiastic Europe Enters 2009

  • January 1st, 2009
  • Posted by Amelia Birnie

bigben.jpgCelebrations are taking place all over Europe to mark the end of 2008 and usher in the New Year.

From Rome to London and Athens to France, revellers greeted 2009 with stunning pyrotechnic shows and heartfelt appeals for compassion.

In Rome, the splendour of St Peter’s Basilica contrasted with Pope Benedict XVI’s call for “soberness and solidarity” in 2009.

He urged people not to be afraid during these uncertain times but to help each other.

In London, hundreds of thousands gathered for a spectacular fireworks display by the River Thames where the Lord Mayor Boris Johnson set an upbeat tone for the year.

“There are those who say we should look ahead to 2009 with foreboding,” said Mr Johnson in his New Year’s address.

“I want to quote Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now when he says ‘Someday captain, this war is going to end’; and some day, this recession is going to end.”

“Let’s go forward into 2009 with enthusiasm and purpose,” he added.

Meanwhile, engineers adjusted the Houses of Parliament historic clock, Big Ben, to add an extra second of time before it struck midnight.

Astronomers had ordered the extra second on clocks globally, to allow for a slight slowing in the Earth’s rotation.

GREECE, FRANCE AND A NEW PRESIDENCY

In Greece, pro-Palestinian protesters staged a demonstration near an outdoor concert in Athens during New Year celebrations, chanting slogans and burning Israeli, United States and European Union flags.

As France handed over the EU’s rotating six-month presidency to the Czech Republic, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for Europe to remain strong in 2009.

He said the bloc had proved its strength through its reaction to such challenges as the financial crisis, conflict in Georgia and an ambitious greenhouse gas agreement.

“I remain convinced that the world needs a strong, independent, imaginative Europe,” he said.

Reference:

BBC World News, ‘Fireworks as world welcomes 2009’, 01.01.09

European Union, (Home), ‘Europe welcomes 2009’. www.europea,eu, (1.01.09). See also “MEPs debate the French Presidency with President Sarkozy”, 16.12.08. www.europarl.europa.eu/ … (1.1.09)

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