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Today, as part of our Reinvention of Europe initiative, we published an opinion piece by George Soros in which he warns that the financial markets are driving the world towards a second Great Depression, and outlines the three bold steps needed to avoid it.
Also on Reinvention:
Meanwhile, following last weekend’s announcement that Putin will stand for his third term as Russian president in 2012, Ben Judah has been examining what “Putin 3.0” will mean for relations between the world’s largest country and the EU.
Igor Ivanov, Putin’s former foreign minister, paid ECFR London a very well-timed visit on Monday (about which Ben has written this
I have spent the past two weeks travelling around China, including Shanghai and Chongqing, with my ECFR colleagues Mark Leonard and Alice Richard. In Chongqing we went out to eat the local hot pot; a quite delicious treat with meat and vegetables thrown into the hot pot in the middle – from which you then try to retrieve something good with your chopsticks. During dinner, I mentioned the ‘gutter’ oil phenomenon, which dampened appetites somewhat.
Gutter oil is what it sounds like: used and discarded oil that is being resold as new for local food stalls. Chinese police have recently busted large criminal gangs that trade in the oil. A friend and seasoned observer of China warned me when I was in the country back in March-April that new food scandals were on the horizon. The reason was simple: the government puts price quotas and controls on basic foodstuffs like oil in order to curb
After a weekend in which Vladimir Putin’s candidacy for the Russian Presidency in 2012 was announced, ECFR hosted Putin’s first foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, at the latest in our series of ‘Black Coffee Morning’ discussions. Few Russian diplomats have been as continuously involved in Russian decision-making as Mr Ivanov. He served in the 1980s as an aide to the legendary Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, then as deputy foreign minister to Yeltsin’s first and Russia’s most pro-Western foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev, filling the post himself between 1998 and 2004. Today he serves as President of the new think tank the Russian International Affairs Council and a board member of the oil giant Lukoil.
The former minister spoke of how Russia needs to diversify not just its economy away from oil and gas, but its foreign policy away from hydrocarbons and force: “The question
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There was a time when the power of states was greater than that of the markets. The old absolute monarchs could get into as much debt as they wanted to finance their dynastic wars, enlightened schemes or personal whims. When the situation grew unsustainable, bankruptcy was declared and you started over again. In some cases, as in France, the debt “haircuts” were carried out using methods as expeditious as executing the bankers. Comparing those rulers of old with ours today, humiliated by the ratings agencies, tightly supervised by all sorts of international institutions and scrutinised in their decisions by constitutional courts, the latter look wimpish. Even Angela Merkel seems just as impotent as the rest.
Until the 19th century, a state bankruptcy was not seen as something to be ashamed of. Some revenue ministers even held that a bankruptcy now and then was an effective way to
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Last week, I attended the First Belgrade Security Forum and it was nice to see a flourishing Belgrade – I haven’t been for five years or so and the city has developed nicely in that time – but also to be surrounded by people from the Western Balkans who actually still hold the EU in high esteem. It was hard to explain to them that the EU is perhaps no longer the haven of security and prosperity they dream of, and that people in Berlin, London and Paris no longer wake up in the morning and think about Kosovo, Bosnia or the dispute over the Macedonian name.
Economy is the new security in the EU. In Belgrade, by contrast, security is still security – be it hard or soft – in a way the European West has forgotten about. The Western Balkans aren’t post-modern yet. In some respects, therefore, the discussions at the conference seemed old fashioned to the (very few) participants from EU
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