Dear friends and supporters,
With President Obama visiting Europe, we have not been short of events and issues to analyse over the last week (some of us in ECFR’s London office managed to join the rather excited crowds outside Westminster Abbey where the soft power of this American presidency was well in evidence).
I went to Brussels for a two day visit to get some insights about how EU foreign policy and the EEAS are doing. The expectation was that I would get bad weather but a brighter and more optimist look than the one we get at the capitals. To my surprise, I got tanned after having lunch under the sun in a restaurant garden at Archimedes, but really depressed about the EEAS. Here is a snapshot of the gossip I collected:
Foreign Ministers do not have a fluid relation with Ashton, and only a few have her mobile number. Ashton irritates Defence Ministers by making them wait for 45 minutes so she can properly attend to the press. People in the Council lament that the EEAS has become a sort of Commission B, rigid, bureaucratic and unattractive and that people are leaving it. People in the Commission complain about the Council trying to override them. In turn, people say that the Commission
In 2008, before getting elected, President Obama came to Berlin and gave a remarkable speech in front of the Siegessäule in front of some 300,000 people. In his speech he managed to make the connection between the Cold-War Europe with the divided city of Berlin in the Middle, citing the famous words of Ernst Reuter (Völker der Welt, schaut auf diese Stadt/ People of the world, look at this city) and those of President Kennendy: I am a Berliner. He received more applause from the European citizens than from his own US voters. Back then, for the last time as we can see as of a couple of days ago, he made a clear commitment to the strategic value of the ‘West’, the transatlantic Alliance - with Germany being at the heart of its strategic orientation, as the choice of his speeches’ location alone reveals.
As of Wednesday, when Obama held a historical speech in front of both houses of
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What if the leaders of the free world got together and nobody noticed? This week’s G8 summit in Deauville has received remarkably little advance attention in spite expectations that it will (i) generate promises of major financial assistance to Egypt and Tunisia and (ii) be an opportunity for Barack Obama and his European counterparts to chat about who should replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the IMF.
But the G8 still seems sadly diminished now that the G20 is the main hub for high-level financial diplomacy. In a paper for the Brookings Institution, Bruce Jones, Emily O’Brien and I identify two arguments for keeping the G8.
The first argument is that the G20’s future remains uncertain. It could eventually crack up due to the competing interests of the US, EU and emerging economies such as China and India. Last year’s G20 summit in Seoul was a distinctly uneasy affair, with
So, Mladic has been captured. My first reaction is surprise. After all, accepted wisdom among so many in the region is that he couldn't have managed a decade on the run without the connivance of some part of the Serbian security forces, and that for all concerned (other than Mladic himself) a dead body would be the best way to avoid any inconvenient utterances. The talk was about Mladic being found face down in a stream in Republika Srpska, or with a cyanide capsule broken between his teeth. A living, breathing - and maybe talking - Mladic was considered unlikely.
After the surprise there is relief, curiosity and a great measure of satisfaction. It'd be wrong to say happiness, because anybody who knows Bosnia - where land mines still litter the countryside, where division and anger still cut communities off from each other, and where the scars of that ugly war of the early 1990s
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