Joanna Kakissis

Albin Kurti became prime minister of Kosovo in February by promising jobs and justice. A former activist who was often arrested at anti-corruption protests and once set off tear gas in parliament, he is described by friends and foes alike as a cross between Che Guevara and Bernie Sanders.

But there's one view he shares with all politicians in Kosovo: He loves the United States.

"I always viewed the United States of America as the greatest ally," Kurti, 45, tells NPR, "an indispensable partner for us in war and in peace, for justice and development and democracy."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Hungary's government says it will end a coronavirus-related state of emergency on June 20, revoking a much-criticized law that handed sweeping powers to Prime Minister Viktor Orban in March.

TRT World / YouTube

A bespectacled man flashes a game-show smile as he saunters onto a stage facing walls filled with 100-plus screens.

Each year, the Eurovision Song Contest unites 180 million viewers in more than 40 countries for an electric-falsetto night of glitter, glam and hard-rock hallelujah.

European Parliament lawmakers demanded Thursday that European Union leaders punish Hungary's government for using the COVID-19 pandemic to grab power through a controversial emergency law.

Democracy is weakening across Central and Eastern Europe as well as Eurasia amid the rise of Chinese and Russian influence, according to a new report by Freedom House, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

The annual report — Nations in Transit 2020, Dropping the Democratic Facade — covers 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia and says there are now fewer democracies in the area than at any point in the past 25 years.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF STELIOS KERASIDIS' "ISOLATION WALTZ")

NOEL KING, HOST:

Federico Manni first noticed something was wrong with his family's olive trees about six years ago.

It was summer, the cicadas were singing, and Manni and his father, Enzo, were weaving through their olive groves in Puglia, the southern region forming the "heel" of Italy's boot.

They noticed some trees looked burnt.

"Dead branches, brown leaves," Manni says. "Terrible, really terrible."

They pruned and washed the trees but it didn't help. Soon more trees shriveled. Today nearly all are dead.

The International Organization for Migration said Tuesday that it was responding to a new COVID-19 outbreak at a third migrant shelter in Greece.

At least 150 people tested positive for COVID-19 at a hotel that's been converted into a migrant shelter in the town of Kranidi, in southern Greece. They include 148 asylum seekers, an aid worker and a hotel employee.

Pages