It has been a quiet, and short, week here in London, sandwiched between the long Easter weekend and a special bank holiday tomorrow to mark a certain royal wedding. Amid countless trivial articles about dresses, temporary nightclubs at Buckingham Palace and even jelly beans that supposedly look like Kate Middleton, wedding fever has overlapped in one sense with a far more serious story: the violent crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Syria.
As late as last night, it looked as though the Syrian ambassador to the UK, Dr Sami Khiyami, would be attending the right royal knees-up, despite reports of up to 500 civilians dead in his country and despite him having been summoned to the Foreign Office yesterday to be informed that the UK regards his government's use of force against the demonstrators as "unacceptable".
Thankfully, his invitation has this morning been rescinded on
Many westerners who to come China often find themselves stuck in long and seemingly interminable meetings with their Chinese counterparts. The conversation is often held in impressively fluent English that can sometimes be deceptive, making it seem as though the nuance of intended meaning is getting through while the conversation nevertheless drifts with no apparent purpose. At the end of the meeting, the Chinese participants will express gratitude for a productive and useful session, seemingly enthused by an encounter that the foreigner reflects on with bemusement.
There are a number of reasons for this. First, for some Chinese academics and low level local officials, it is often simply the act of meeting that fulfills their ambitions for the appointment. The more foreigners they meet, the more important they seem to others they work with.
Secondly, ascertaining useful
Here’s this week’s brief round up of what ECFR has been doing, ahead of a welcome Easter break.
Our blog has been very active over the last week. We began a series of blog posts on books and articles that ECFR staff have found influential on Europe and foreign affairs. It’s something that we’ve talked about internally at our policy retreats, and hopefully it’ll translate into a series of interesting posts. In the first two pieces:
Elsewhere on the blog:
If I had an Easter egg for every sign of Euro-populism I came across the past few weeks, my basket would, no doubt, be jam-packed. As soon as you start paying attention to both the new signs of nationalism and the Euro-populism in Europe, the plethora seems rather overwhelming and daunting. My last weeks were marked by several findings: Out shopping for groceries in a London supermarket, I was baffled by the vast number of products that claiming to be ‘truly British’ as their selling point be it ‘British’ potato chips or yoghurt made from milk from British farmers and with rhubarb from the British countryside only.
Back in the office, I opened an Italian monthly on world affairs (Longitude) only to stumble upon an article entitled ‘Eurozone vs. Euroreich’, which I found rather stunning. I thought the Italian experience with a German Reich goes back to the Hohenstaufen, more
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This is the second in a series of blog posts looking at books and articles that have changed the way ECFR staff feel about Europe and foreign policy. Click here for more
In the streets around ECFR's London office there are reminders that some institutions are built to endure. There are the buildings of parliament, the ministries of Whitehall, and the pealing bells of Westminster Abbey, coronation site of British monarchs since 1066. The streets are also full of crash barriers and spare ground is being colonised by TV companies. Westminster and the surrounding area is preparing for the latest episode in the long saga (or soap opera) that is the Royal Family - the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
But, as the websites for financial products warn, past performance is no guarantee of the future. Will William and Kate live to become King and Queen, or will they be swept
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Europe can rescue the two-state solution
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What next for Egypt, Tunisia and Libya?
What does China think about the island dispute?
A comprehensive evaluation of European foreign policy
How the euro crisis has affected politics in 14 EU member states