Recently, with Libya looking more and more like a quagmire and the stirring images of Tahrir Square fading from the memory, there has been much lamenting the Arab Spring’s lost momentum. That short burst of dramatic change that saw Ben Ali flee, Mubarak toppled and Libyan rebels take Benghazi seems like a long time ago. The message this morning from Parag Khanna, ECFR’s new non-resident senior fellow, was not to despair. The Arab Spring is, he said, a “marathon not a sprint,” and we are only on mile two.
Parag was looking at the recent upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa through a broad lens, speaking at an ECFR London ‘Black Coffee Morning’ on “the geopolitical implications of the Arab Spring”. One of his first points was to flag up a trap that is very tempting when talking about the region at present: that of attributing everything that is going on there to Arab Spring
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Medvedev is touching down in Hannover for talks in a Germany at the heart of a nervous Europe. The Russian President will be flanked by twenty ministers and corporate chieftains. Angela Merkel will be surrounded by a host of problems. European spreads are rising, stocks are falling and squabbles unfolding between Berlin, Brussels and the ECB.
Moscow is peering into Europe’s rising gloom trying to make sense of it. Russia can discern out of the miserable headlines – a rising Germany, a strengthened Russia negotiating position but also an EU weakened beyond her interests.
Germany over Europe
Putin has long been obsessed about Germany. Since the financial crisis Russia has seen Germany morph into the more independent power the Kremlin has wanted since the 1960s.
Gleb Pavlovsky was long the political technologist closest to power, masterminding Kremlin PR campaigns and dirty
There are two main things to mention in this update.
Firstly, ECFR published our much-anticipated report, The Scramble for Europe, which looks at the wider impact of recent Chinese investments and purchases in Europe. The report, by François Godement and Jonas Parello-Plesner, with Alice Richard, is available for download from the China Programme section of our website.
Secondly, following an article published by George Soros in the Financial Times that calls for a ‘Plan B’ for Europe, ECFR has launched a project on the ‘Reinvention of Europe’. The idea is that, beyond the short term efforts to deal with the spreading firestorm of contagion in the Eurozone, we need to start looking at how Europe can rebuild its vitality and relevance in the years ahead. Please feel free to contribute your thoughts on any articles and blog posts on the website. A new essay (and hopefully a
Moscow normally never misses a chance to point the finger at European failings. Yet it has been bitten its lip during the current phase of the currency crisis. Last year, Medvedev hinted that a break-up of the euro was a possibility and called on Europeans – in particular Germans – to prevent this eventuality. Yet in 2011, as the crisis deepened, the Kremlin has been unusually uncritical. Putin has even been upbeat - announcing he might one day join the euro.
“Russia would be happy to see the EU splitting,” leading expert Vladislav Inozemtsev told me by SMS: “Euro-pessimism is an official religion. Yet at the same time there are some worries about the euro, due to the possible decrease in value of European assets of Russian corporations.”
Moscow is in a bind – she wants a politically weakened Europe but one that is economically strong enough to guzzle more hydrocarbons and be
Two interesting things popped up in this morning's reading regarding the financial crisis.
Firstly, an extremely useful blog post from Stanley Pignal at the Financial Times. We all know that beyond talk of speculators and debt levels there have been significant imbalances in the Eurozone. These imbalances became the faultlines that the economic crisis has now split open.
Stanley (with the help of Mael Guilhon) pulls together a few worrying statistics from the World Bank regarding the ease of doing business in various European countries. Here’s the spreadsheet of their data, and here are a few choice statistics:
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