Joanna Kakissis

To an outsider, this most Balkan of conflicts looks absurd: two countries fighting over a name and a historical icon who lived 25 centuries ago.

But the 26-year-old dispute between two southeastern European neighbors — Greece and Macedonia, over who owns the name "Macedonia" — is seen by both sides as existential and essential to national identity.

Greece, which prizes its ancient history above everything else, is especially sensitive.

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Abdul Kadr's wife found out he was gay the night his relatives came to kill him.

She hid him inside the home in Grozny, Chechnya, where they lived with their four young children, and told him she'd stand by him.

"She saved my life," says Abdul Kadr, a silver-haired former businessman in his 40s.

Being married to a woman was how he hid his eight-year relationship with another man, also a married father. It was a way to survive in Chechnya, a largely Muslim southwestern republic of Russia where gay men are reportedly sent to torture camps and even killed.

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Sumeyye Nur and her elderly parents were driving outside Izmir, Turkey, last summer when two plainclothes policemen pulled them over, demanding to know why her 75-year-old father owned a nice car.

It was no ordinary stop. It was part of a sprawling government crackdown on tens of thousands of Turks after last year's failed military coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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Along the southwestern coast of the Netherlands, not far from The Hague, kite surfers glide on the waves around a huge sand peninsula where beachcombers photograph seagulls.

But the peninsula is more than just a recreation spot. It's also an experiment in coastal management: It keeps the sea away from nearby cities.

The Dutch call it "De Zandmotor" — the Sand Motor, also known as the Sand Engine.

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France's busiest port, Boulougne-sur-Mer, sits just across the English Channel from Britain, in the Calais region.

Seagulls glide above scores of brightly painted boats docking to unload the catch of the day — mainly sole but also cod, roussette, crab and scallops.

It's all sold at a bustling seaside market where Marie-Laure Fontaine sells seafood from a fishing boat called Providence.

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Maggie and Bea Ordever left their home in southeastern England last October, a few months after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

"We'd made the plan before Brexit came along," says Maggie, 67, who worked in the hospitality industry. "We didn't want to choose Spain or Italy because we wanted an easy route back for family. And we fell in love with Brittany."

The Celtic-influenced region of Brittany, in western France, felt like home to Bea, 54, a design engineer.

Marlene Schiappa was barely into her teens when she realized that Paris, the City of Light, could be a dark place for women.

Whenever she and her sister walked anywhere — to school, to the supermarket, to hang out with friends — men followed them, catcalling, harassing, even groping.

"We took alternative routes, out of our way," she says, "to avoid the bands of boys."

Until last year, few Greeks had heard of Marina Satti.

It's a hot summer day, and 8-year-old Zak Ballenger and his 5-year-old sister, Alison, are doing something they've never done in Paris.

They're diving into the cold, murky waters of a city canal.

"I like splashing around," Zak says, "because it's hot outside."

His mom, Celina Ballenger, is a 38-year-old nurse. She says she couldn't afford a vacation this year.

"So we've come here because we can't go out of Paris," she says.

Samir Hussain's life changed in 2015, just after he and a friend left a movie theater in Crawley, a town south of London.

A gang of strangers, all men, had harassed them during the show and tried to start a fight outside Hussain's car.

He noticed that one of the men held what looked like a bottle of water in his hand, wrapped in a sweater. The man splashed it on Hussain.

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Paris opened a city canal for swimming this summer. And the mayor of Paris is testing the water, so to speak. She hopes the city can eventually open up swimming areas in the River Seine in time for the 2024 Olympics. NPR's Joanna Kakissis sent us this postcard from Paris.

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So archaeologists in France say they have discovered a first-century A.D. Roman neighborhood. And it's being compared to another buried Roman city, Pompeii in Italy. NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports from Paris.

Rich Walker directs a robotics company, Shadow Robot, out of a modest office in London.

He's tired of the British government fighting over how to exit the European Union. It's hurting his business.

"The fuse is burning," he says, referring to March 2019 deadline. "And we've not managed to get anything done or sorted out since last year."

The sea winds of Greece are legendary.

The strong, dry north Etesian winds, also known as the meltemia, blow on the Aegean Sea from May to September.

Then there are the fierce main winds, which blew mighty waves towards Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. "Then were the knees of Odysseus loosened and his heart melted, and deeply moved he spoke to his own mighty spirit: 'Ah me, wretched that I am! What is to befall me at the last?'"

Odysseus may have seen the winds as a curse. But on the island of Tilos, they're a blessing.

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Some other news. A British court has made a final decision about the life of Charlie Gard. A judge says the critically ill infant must go off life support and be transferred to a hospice. NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports his parents had hoped to bring him home.

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Slobodan Simic hardly looks like a donkey farmer. A 62-year-old lawyer and former lawmaker in the Serbian parliament, he's in dark glasses, chomping on a tobacco pipe.

"Jesus rode to Jerusalem on a donkey," he says. "They're special creatures, and that's why everyone in Europe used to have one. Ours was the Balkan donkey, and I want to preserve it."

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The hamlet of Sevnica, population 5,000, sits right in the middle of the small, alpine nation of Slovenia, in a green valley along the Sava River, surrounded by pine-forested hills.

"It's really an amazing climate," chirps Lidija Ogorevc, a cheerleader-peppy tour guide here. "You should try our wine, our salami."

She stops in front of a fenced-in building — not unattractive, but clearly closed.

"A cultural monument," she declares.

Marie da Silva is among the 25 percent of voters who are undecided ahead of Sunday's first round of voting in France's crucial presidential election.

The 52-year-old building manager and mother has soured on the men in the race, finding them too weak, unrealistic or communist.

Though she identifies as conservative, da Silva had never voted for the far-right party, National Front.

With his coiffed, salt-and-pepper hair and stoic demeanor, Francois Fillon looks like a president out of central casting. The 63-year-old conservative, a former prime minister under Nicolas Sarkozy, is even serious and prim at his campaign rallies, where his passionate supporters clap and chant his name.

"I'm not asking you to like me, but to support me," he told one crowd at an April 9 rally. "We're not choosing a buddy. We're choosing a president."

Fillon is also a practicing Catholic, and the only presidential candidate who speaks openly about his faith.

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