All eyes are on Hong Kong – Edward Snowden, the 29-year old NSA whistleblower fled to one of the 'Special Administrative Regions' of the People’s Republic of China after single-handedly exposing the US government PRISM information collection programme that targeted private user accounts operated by Facebook, Google, Apple and other internet giants. While the actual severity of the US-led invasion of privacy is heatedly debated and Snowden so far has not been charged with anything, he nonetheless (pre-emptively?) decided to escape to Hong Kong. In an interview with the British Guardian he lamented that it is “tragic that an American has to move to a place that has a reputation for less freedom. Still, Hong Kong has a reputation for freedom in spite of the People's Republic of China."
Despite a well-established extradition treaty between the United States and Hong Kong, Snowden could
In recent years, there has been a conviction in the business and policy-making communities that Turkey’s Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) economic performance and political authority would ensure the country remained an island of stability in a critical but turbulent region. Given well-documented shortcomings in Turkey’s democratic performance, this approach meant a trade-off between stability and liberal democracy. Recent, widespread protests steeped in demands for inclusion by increasingly alienated segments of Turkey’s public suggest the government must choose between stability via mounting authoritarianism or via consolidating its democracy. Turkish society is ripe for the latter. By choosing full democratisation, Ankara can reap benefits not only at home but also externally, confirming Turkey’s position as a political and economic powerhouse as well as an energy hub in the
On the 16th of April the European Eminent Persons Group (EEPG) addressed an open letter to High Representative Catherine Ashton urging the European Union to adopt a bolder approach towards the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. The EEPG has now shared HR Ashton’s response with ECFR, the full text of which can be read here.
In her reply, Ashton voices her personal commitment as well as that of EU member states to playing a leading political role in revitalising the Middle East peace process and reiterates EU support for the creation of an independent, democratic, contiguous, and viable state of Palestine, pledging to do everything in the EU’s power to help end the occupation. The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the EU’s long-standing position on the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law and its refusal to recognise any changes to the
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As the EU-Eastern Partnership summit, scheduled to take place in Vilnius at the end of November, approaches, a heated debate has been going on about the possible participation of official representatives from Belarus. Those who would normally get the invitation –President Alyaksandr Lukashenka or foreign minister Vladimir Makey – are both on the EU’s visa ban list, which makes their participation in Vilnius highly improbable. Some EU states suggest that the foreign minister’s name is suspended from the list so that he can attend the summit; others insist that the Belarusian authorities should not be engaged unless all remaining political prisoners are released and rehabilitated. The EU is of course right to push the regime to free those who rot in jail for their political activities. But just how many such prisoners are there in today’s Belarus? And would their rehabilitation really
Sure, divorce is normally not considered good news; and above all it is a personal matter. But what is a personal decision for the Putins is also a historic step for Russia. Remarkably, Lyudmila Putina is now likely to become the first person ever to divorce a Russian ruler and go on living in freedom.
There is no need to mourn the Putins’ marriage: their alienation has been obvious for many years; their children are adults; and Lyudmila has been visibly uneasy whenever she appears in public together with her husband. If anything, formal separation was overdue. But in properly authoritarian countries heads of state rarely divorce – they either stay married regardless of anything, or their spouses die in unclear
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