Pakistan says ties with India aPakistan says ties with India at their worst, calls for Kashmir talks


Pakistan�s military ruler General Pervez Musharraf said in remarks published Monday that relations with India were at their lowest level and that only talks on disputed Kashmir could improve ties.

�I totally agree that relations between India and Pakistan are at their lowest,� Musharraf said in an interview with The Hindu, the first to an Indian newspaper since he took power in a coup in October last year.

�The root cause is Kashmir,� he said, adding that earlier efforts to improve ties through cricket matches and a pathbreaking bus journey to Pakistan by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had failed.

�It has failed because the core issue was not being addressed. I feel there is one dispute only ... the Kashmir dispute. Others are minor aberrations. I will call them minor differences ... which can be resolved.�

Musharraf said the South Asian region was fraught with tension, especially along the disputed Kashmir border.

Afghanistan�s Taliban recognises rebel rule in Chechnya


Afghanistan�s Taliban regime said Sunday it had recognised the rebel government in Chechnya and its independence from Russia, and may consider military aid for the breakaway republic.

�The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has decided to accord immediate recognition to the government of an independent Chechnya headed by President Aslan Maskhadov,� the Taliban�s foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel, was quoted as saying by the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP).

�Our recognition has become absolutely necessary because of the brutal Russian onsalught against Chechens,� Mutawakel told the Pakistan-based agency from Kandahar, the Taliban headquarters in southern Afghanistan.

Taliban supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar made the decision after a meeting in Kandahar with a visiting Chechen delegation, led by special envoy Zelimhkhan Yanderbiyev, Mutawakel said.

The Muslim Chechen government has permission to open a diplomatic mission in Afghanistan, the Taliban minister said.

European Observer

The tale of a royal wedding: folklore, reason of State or true love?

By Alessandro RAIMONDI


Once upon a time there was a tiny country in old Europe that needed a cosmetic surgery, a major remake of its look badly deteriorated along the course of its latest years of existence. A kingdom, to be precise, that so full of proud past history, sometimes tragic but always honourable, needed to have its most recent years to be quickly forgotten, if not pardoned.

Not an easy task, to tell the truth, since late events had created ugly and visible scars on its outward appearance to let someone even asking about the purpose of such a tiny country in life. �If they�re not able to control events, to tackle emergencies, to manage everyday ongoing with their human resources, better let them be by themselves and not within the EU�. Indeed, as extremist as this judgement may be, such a solution has crossed the mind of more than one concerned European.

Not just euphemistic things had happened in that tiny country, but such nasty occurrence had taken place to rise an uproar of disgust all over the Old Continent and out of it.

The subjects of the tiny country too had been caught by surprise and could not deny their shame at being associated to such poorly edifying examples of wrongly willful conduct.

Scandals such as the paedophilia dutroux (the small �d� is not casual) affair, or the dioxine careless control, or heavy bribery in civil service and, last but not least, the discovery of an illegitimate daughter of the king, had deflagrated with the force of hundreds of kilotons! The tiny country was badly hit and its loyal citizens sought refuge in the anonimity of a low profile existence. Hard for a country hosting the �government� of the European Union and so always under limelights!

Belgium and the Belgians, these the country and its people, badly needed a new image, something that could be associated with them rather than paedophilia, bribery and dioxine. A miracle?

Yeah, a miracle seemed to be the best solution, but nowadays there�s such a scarsity of them, thought hepelessly the still many advocates of Belgium�s new look. Indeed if many were against, still lots are Belgium�s supporters and admirers, perhaps in consideration of the heavy tribute paid by the tiny kingdom in the last two world wars.

Nevertheless, if not a miracle, a flash of magic has lighted up the country and, like in the world of fairy tales, a blonde, gentle, beautiful Morgan Le Fay has appeared to help the country regain a status.

She�s Mathilde Marie Christine Ghislaine (as customary among aristocrats names are plenty) d�Udekem d�Acoz, now Princess of Belgium and Duchess of Brabant, and in the future queen of the Belgians.

In fact her appearance has made the miracle: convincing the 39-year-old Crown Prince Philip to get married! Things, however, are not so simple when members of the world�s royalty wed, not quite as getting married in a Las Vegas chapel: just think of the invited persons, some 1,700 guests, for whom there wouldn�t be room even freeing the attic and the basement from old junk. But, of course, that�s for ordinary people. Aristocrats live in castles or manorhouses, so that perhaps by squeezing a little bit, there might be room for everybody!

Joking apart, the royal couple-to-be announced their marriage only last September 10th, in occasion of the unexpected betrothal: little less than 3 months to go and 26-year-old Mathilde and Air Force Colonel Philip of Belgium would have been wife and husband. Things were really rolling quickly: once found the new image maker why to delay?

Now Philip and Mathilde, married since December 4th, 1999, have to carry on the task or renewing Belgium�s image. It seems they have had a good start, Europeans consider, specially because of her. Young, fresh, unaffected, yet not naive, she has already won the heart of her subjects-to-be.

Aristocrat from a family originating in the XIII century in Brabant, she will be the first Belgian queen born in Belgium (her mother-in-law, Queen Paola, is Italian). She has a bachelor degree in logopedia that she practices in Brussels where she lived sharing a small apartment with a friend (a girl, of course) up to just before the marriage. She�s therefore a modern girl, a �commoner�, which helps in having her on the same wave lenght of the people, but on top of that she holds those �quarters of aristocracy� that people expects in royalty members to feel secure, reassured that everything is �normal�. That�s why royalty is called by name, never surname. People needs their sovereigns with a human face, a human nature, not like a normal premier, president or minister, dressed in, by and for power, that nobody would ever call by name, only and always by their surname, to keep them distant. They do not belong to them: Mr Blair, Mr. Chirac, Mr. Prodi, Mr. Khol, Mr. Aznar�

Kings and queens are symbols, they hold in the hearts and minds of people almost a holy dimension, they let them dream and for them monarchy is an archetype deeply rooted in collective recollection.Yes, there�s also who considers royalty an unnecessary frill, and indeed some members of that elite even do act like that, but at a deeper investigation one can almost surely find out that those thinking that way do not treasure a sense of state, they care very little for their flag, they are not interested in their history, their roots are not one of their concerns. In few words they do not feeld the legacy, so they cannot comprehend the values placed upon a throne and a crown. Most of that people do not even take the trouble of going to the polls when it�s time to do it�

So Mathilde reassures her fellow Belgians with an ancestry that from her mother�s side goes back to St. Louis, King of France, and his successor Philip III, in the XIII century.

Philip, from his part comes from a family whose origins are traced in German Thuringia at the beginning of the XII century, that counts Margraves of Meissen, Landgraves of Thuringia and Dukes of Saxe-Cobourg and Gotha. But it lists as well one King of Great Britain, one King of Portugal and Bulgaria, six Kings of Belgium, one King of Sweden and Norway and one Queen of Italy, the last one, Mary-Jose, still living. So the �pedigree� is not a problem for both of them�

Belgium is now under a sort of �Mathildemania� effect, it has gathered itself under the charming and historic climax of the royal wedding. The couple gives a good, clean image of the kingdom and the event contributes to give back a moral to the country.

The newly wedded, aware of the ethnic differencies of their country, have given a strong signal of unity by answering to the wedding formula, read by Brussels� mayor, with the Dutch �Ja� the prince, and with the French �Oui� the princess. Then they have switched languages when the religious wedding has been celebrated in the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudule and the same question has been asked by the archbishop of Malines-Brussels.

It�s a good start, Belgians think, let�s not spoil it with some more foolery so as to live all happily ever after!

The 333rd anniversary of the opening of Seborga�s mint

We publish the second part of December �99 �Celebrations� column related to �The 333rd anniversary of the opening of Seborga�s mint�, written by Alberto MENGONI exclusively for The Globe.

The first part was published on our 99 (417) issue of December 24th, 1999. Unfortunately, on that issue for space reasons the article had to be cut short of the following part.

Alberto Mengoni (THE GLOBE)

The violation of the monks� prerogatives was manifest and evident, so much so that the king tried to mitigate his behaviour by monetarily compensating the principality. It�s unknown whether the royal indemnity was paid, but for sure poor Monsieur D�Abric had to pack up and leave Seborga for good. The embossing trade reached an end just a little later: Seborga was independent but weak, so in 1688 she bowed to the French unrightful wishes.

For sure, however, at that time it was launched a campaign against Seborga�s mintage activity meant to discredit the monks� integrity and forcing them to shut the operation. In fact Seborga was accused of being the production centre of false coins due to the markets of the Orient, but not only. The monks had been also accused of coinage of false Savoy coins right in a period in which the expansionist goals of the Duchy of Savoy were manifest, as the first purchasing act of 1697 demonstrates. No proof of such willful misconduct has ever been produced or found, so the whole denigration affair seems having been inserted in an �ad hoc� scheme to give room, to the other few embossing operations dotting Liguria and Provence, to sell their poor quality production in the East.

Maybe those Cistercians monks were not so all-spiritual-minded, but it cannot be said that they were forgers!

Eventually Seborga�s mint was closed down but the right to embossing was never abrogated, so that at any time such right might have been resumed. In consideration that the legal transfer of the principality to Italy � whose law on coniage is very strict � was never registered (and it cannot be now since international right doesn�t admit the usucapion practice) H.S.H. George I, the actual prince regent, has reactivated the operation which embosses now legal tender coins. The production is superb and consists of 5 different value pieces, with one Luigino exchanged at 6 US$.

Different value on the numismatic exchange is attributed to the few coins salvaged out of the monks� approx. 22-year operation (1666-1688). Unfortunately the remained examples are all in silver, no golden ones are known to be existing, but we know how secretive is the private collections domain�

The 4 different kind of coins kept at Turin, Marseille, Lyon and Vienna, plus those of the private collection of the last king of Italy, Humbert II, minted in 1667, 1668, 1669 and 1671, are all bearing on one side the coat of arms of the monastery, a shield hosting a mitre, two palm branches and a crosier, all symbolizing the religious nature of the monastery. Then out of the shield, on its top, there�s the crown symbolizing the princely dignity of the site. Around the shield on the two older coins there�s Seborga�s devise, �Sub Umbra Sedi�, while on the two younger ones the inscription has been changed into �Monast Lerin Prin Sepul C Cas�, the short form for �Monasterium Lerinense Princeps Sepulcri Congregationis Cassinensis�.

The recto of the four coins shows Saint Benedict�s bust, the founder of the monastery (that only in the last coin is depicted with his aureole), around whom are embossed the words �Monast Lerinense P Sepul�, standing for �Monasterium Lerinense Princeps Sepulcri� in the older coin, while in the 1668 specimen �Sepul� has been shortened into �Sep�. The coins of 1669 and 1671 bear a different inscription, �Decus Et Ornam Ecclae�, i.e. �Decus et ornamentum Ecclesiae�. Well folks, there�s room to revive your Latin�

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