There is some symbolic value in the fact that Russia’s deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov resigned one year and one day after the start of President Putin’s third term. It does not matter what exactly lay behind his resignation: his conflicts with the Investigative Committee; contacts with the opposition; or the failure of Medvedev's government to perform in the way the president would have liked it - these are all technicalities. In a way, Surkov simply had to leave, because his era – the era of “managed democracy”, when the powers could manipulate the elections with the consent of the electorate – ended in late 2011. Putin is still in office, but the way his regime operates has changed, and Surkov has no place in the new order of things.
Surkov had an amazing career that created and exposed many paradoxes in Russian politics. For example it is noteworthy that the front pages
Since 2011, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have expressed interest in full political and economic integration in a much-touted Gulf Union. As regional organisations are strengthening amidst an increasingly multipolar international order, the move is not illogical. But in the Middle East and North Africa, regional organisations – be they the GCC, the League of Arab States, or the Organisation of the Islamic Conference – have suffered from a lack of vision and coherence. As the GCC itself has witnessed mixed fortunes at best, observers are reminded that regional integration here has been a schizophrenic affair, which begs the question: whether on economics, trade or security, what is a union good for?
Enhancing trade, boosting common security, and projecting power through a stronger foreign policy – the hallmarks and benefits of integration – are not especial
On Tuesday 7 May the Egyptian cabinet was reshuffled – and one of the key portfolios for Egypt’s relations with the outside world went to Amr Darrag of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). Darrag was named minister for planning and international co-operation. Last Friday, only days before he joined the cabinet, he appeared as a panellist at a Black Coffee Morning event at ECFR in London. Whether or not he had any inkling about his imminent promotion, Darrag’s comments give an insight into the outlook of a man who will now be influential on a series of contentious issues – including negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), relations with the European Union, and rules governing the operation of NGOs in Egypt.
Darrag is certainly a polished and articulate performer, and in that sense, a smart choice for a job that involves making Egypt’s case
The expression bad blood denotes the unpleasant turn taken in a relationship when one party is perceived to be hurting the other. The result is animosity, and an inability to communicate and interact freely. Think of Angela Merkel characterized as a Nazi in Athens, or branded with swastikas in Lisbon. Or think of the cover of Der Spiegel, featuring a quaint Southern European peasant on a donkey loaded with euros, under the EU umbrella, and the legend “The lie of poverty: how the crisis countries hide their wealth.”
And never forget that, though the center left has assumed power in Italy, some 55 percent of Italians voted for Beppe Grillo or Silvio Berlusconi, whose electoral speeches were furiously anti-German. And the French Socialist Party’s internal memo complaining of how Germany’s “selfish intransigence” is dragging Europe down: we are talking not just about placards in street
It was barely a few months ago: the French president, Francois Hollande, was fighting his way through Timbuktu's massive crowds and happily swanning through the streets of Bamako. At home and abroad, he had achieved what he had failed to do in the previous six months of his presidency -- become presidential.
How far away that seems. The presidential mantle that Mali afforded him was promptly snatched away at his return, by the social, economic and moral crisis that still besets the country and his apparent failure to steer the course. He is at a record low in the polls - lower still than president Sarkozy was at his very lowest. And yet there now seems no route but the domestic route for the beleaguered president. His recent entreaties to Germany and China have encountered little sympathy, to say the least, and Mali has become but a back story to the issues of the day.
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