What’s it like to be at the heart of a revolution? We at ECFR London got a first-hand account on Friday when Ahmed Naguib, one of the central figures in the Tahrir Square protests, who was in the UK with a packed itinerary of meetings, paid us a visit. The kitchen of our Westminster office is a far cry from Cairo, but as we gathered round the table he nevertheless managed to conjure up images of the “utopian republic” that protesters inhabited in the square during Mubarak’s last days.
After Tunisian dictator Ben Ali fell, Ahmed changed is Facebook profile to “The time has come,” with a photo showing a date: January 25th. When that day came, he began walking from his local mosque with five members of his family. Over the course of 20 kilometres, five people became around 30,000: “That day I learned the biggest lesson of my life; if you are sincere and you want to change you can
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How credible is Europe when it preaches to the rest of the world about human rights? That question was at the heart of the Black Coffee Morning held by ECFR London today. Thomas Hammarberg, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, who is currently on something of a European tour to launch his new book ‘Human Rights in Europe: no grounds for complacency’, was the guest speaker. While he was careful to point out that the Europe has much to be proud of in its record on human rights (it is the only death penalty free region – if you exclude Belarus – in the world; it has a very professional and vigilant civil society; and its criminal justice systems remain something of a model) it falls short in its protection of human rights in a number of critical areas.
As a case in point, he highlighted the difference between Europe’s and Tunisia’s responses to the influx of migrants as a
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This week ECFR published “What does Turkey think?”,an insightful collection of essays from Turkish insiders, looking at the dynamics inside this increasingly important country on the borders of the EU. The stagnant accession process, of course, is part of the story, but there is much more to examine, especially ahead of Turkey’s parliamentary elections in a few days time. The collection was edited by the head of our Sofia office, Dimitar Bechev.
As Dimitar has helped us build up a useful body of work on issues related to Turkey’s growth as a regional power, we have also put together a special section of the website where you can find this material – from podcasts to articles to blog posts, and, of course, a link to “What does Turkey think?”
Since the times of Chancellor Schröder, Germany has been pretending that it is becoming ‘normal’, especially with respect to Europe and foreign policy – this is something that I recently argued in my policy brief: “The new German question: how Europe can get the Germany it needs”. The question, however, is what normalcy means. If you compare Berlin with the ‘normal’ behaviour of other EU countries, it has in recent months and weeks seemed to be becoming ever more ‘abnormal’. It simply does not behave like its fellow European countries on a range of policy issues.
It is not only that Germany has, in the recent past, become an unstable and unreliable partner in the EU, the NATO and UN. There also seems to be a new-found constant in German politics, which is to continue – at a steady pace – down the road towards political isolation. Germany continues to anger its European neighbours.
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Simon Kordonsky used to be a senior speechwriter for Vladimir Putin. Today he speaks in his own words as a professor at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. Kordonsky has taken up sociology, unpicking what he calls the “caste society” that Putinism has built. He recently returned from a high-level research trip to Beijing together with other leading Russian thinkers, whose views influence the Kremlin.
A couple of nights ago I emailed Kordonsky from Beijing, where I am researching China’s Russia policy, to get a better sense of how China is viewed from inside the Russian system. I thought I would let some of my (on the record) note-pad spill onto the ECFR blog as I brave Beijing traffic.
JUDAH: What does the Kremlin think of China?
KORDONSKY: It seems to me that they hardly ever have China itself in their view finder. The China that is emerging into their world view is an
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