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The region in brief

  • 2007-04-18
The "Bourbon Dolphin," a Norwegian supply vessel, sank in the North Sea on April 15, taking with it eight lives. The ship was in the process of shifting an anchor for an offshore oil rig when it capsized. Seven crewmembers survived, but three were killed, and another five went missing. Authorities had hoped to tow the wreckage to a port in Shetland, England, but the vessel ended up sinking 1.1 kilometers to the bottom of the sea.

Finland and Sweden expressed preparedness to participate in NATO's 25,000-man rapid reaction force. Both countries, which have remained neutral since the end of World War II, have increased cooperation with the security alliance and are members of the NATO's Partnership for Peace program. They also maintain troops under NATO command in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Though both Sweden and Finland have new centrist governments, officials from both countries denied that the decision is a step toward joining the military bloc.

Four Finnish parties agreed to form a coalition, with the Center Party, which won the most seats in Parliament, taking eight ministerial seats, including that of prime minister. For the first time in 12 years the Social Democrats will lose control of the Foreign Ministry. Current minister Erkki Tuomioja will resign after seven years on the job. Meanwhile, the right-wing National Coalition, which has expressed support for Finnish membership in NATO, will take over foreign affairs for the first time in 30 years.

Poland and Ukraine agreed to make a combined bid to host the 2012 European Cup championship. UEFA inspectors have reportedly complained about road conditions in the countries, while others have pointed to Ukraine's political crisis. But in the words of Poland's bid committee, Michal Nykowski, "We are creating a huge marketing value with a population of more than 80 million." The last time the championship was held in Eastern Europe was in 1976, in Yugoslavia.