This morning as the night’s fog cleared around our offices in Westminster, ECFR hosted a gathering of senior journalists, diplomats and academics to argue if Ankara’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is right when he states - “Turkey is an actor not an issue.”
We call these regular sessions our “Black Coffee Meetings,” and both the caffeine and our panel, Dimitar Bechev our Sofia’s office chief, Firdevs Robinson from BBC World Service and Vessela Tcherneva, the spokesperson of the Bulgarian MFA, had the effect of waking us up to just how much Turkey’s geopolitical rank has changed.
Vessela opened the debate with the view from the Balkans and Turkish activism there. She roll-called some of Turkey’s most potent acts in the region. It was Turkish mediation that brought Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia’s foreign ministers together in Istanbul. Turkey is active in trying to influence both
I do a bit of teaching here in Shanghai, and during a recent class a student asked whether she could tell a story to the group to hear people’s thoughts and reactions to it.
The student had seen a couple of Americans at the post office, trying to mail what looked like a large sculpture of Chairman Mao. On closer inspection she noticed that it was in fact a stool. The student's question to the class was whether her reaction to seeing the stool was strange - she had thought it somehow inappropriate and disrespectful that the great leader's image was being used in this way. She mentioned that the workers in the post office had found it equally disrespectful, while the American’s did not seem to notice.
The reaction in class was mixed (some were offended, others found it amusing, most didn’t care), but almost immediately came back to the conclusion that the real problem was that the
The Tsarist thinker Konstantin Leontyev used to warn, “Russia’s death will come in either of two ways – from the East by the sword of the awakened Chinese, or through the voluntary merger with a pan-European republican federation.” The country bruised by recession and in desperate need of modernisation, this old quote has resurfaced in Moscow as the Kremlin tandem prepare to meet with NATO and Chinese leaders.
Medvedev is attending the NATO Summit after months of discussions that have even seen the prospect of a Russian membership perspective discreetly mooted or forcefully argued for in Foreign Affairs by Charles Kapuchan.
Russia seems to have taken strides westwards, attending the Deauville summit with the French and the Germans for frank discussions on how to move forward and talk of an EU-Russia Security Council if Moscow can resolve the Moldovan ‘frozen conflict.’
1 commentsRead more…
In the 80s, Lothar Baier, a German left-wing intellectual, wrote a book on France (Firma Frankreich; Wagenbach Verlag 1988) including a chapter titled ‘The nuclear Phallus’ in which he tried to describe and understand why the French defended the US-Pershings and their own nuclear weapons to the great dissatisfaction of the – then and still today - mostly anti-nuclear German left, both in civilian and in military terms. I remember that I quite loved the book, and thought it was rather funny. Linked to the subcutaneous feeling of inferiority of France with respect to Germany, which always was perceived as economically more powerful, this helped explain French desire to have something powerful, too.
Yesterday, at the 11th Franco-German strategic forum in Paris, organized jointly by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the IFRI (Institut français des relations internationales), the
1 commentsRead more…
Recently at ECFR we’ve been discussing defence reform quite a lot – see my colleague Nicholas Walton’s recent post about the debate in the UK. I recently returned from a few days in Berlin, where the debate is both similar and different. It’s similar because Germany, like Britain, plans to cut defence spending and reduce the size of the Bundeswehr (the German armed forces). It’s different, however, because Germany has a quite different and in some ways diametrically opposite view of its role in NATO and in the world. Where we Brits like to talk endlessly about “punching above our weight”, the Germans are often accused of not pulling their weight – see for example in Afghanistan, where the Bundeswehr operates under particularly strict caveats in the relatively peaceful north of the country. The UK still believes in power projection, but Germany prides itself on having put
What next for China's military-industrial complex?
A crisis “made in China”
What does the end of "managed democracy" mean for Europe?
A diplomatic strategy for the conflict in Syria
Europeans are losing faith in the EU
Europe can rescue the two-state solution
27 countries in search of a proper security strategy
How Europe can help Egypt
Understanding the influence of the Gulf States
A new era for EU-Georgia relations?
What next for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?