Friday, 28 May 2010

On Turkey

We have recently forgotten that Turkey has not only a Muslem but also a secular political force. Maybe the struggle of the Kemalist party to survive should be more a barometer of the future of Islamic states. Please read for details The Economist.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Turkey revisited

One more interesting article about Turkey; this time in the context of NATO. My personal and strictly personal view is beginning to firm up.

1. If we looked backwards at the history of European culture, Christian links and the affinity between nations Turkey with its Islamic majority, link to Middle East and difference in points of reference should be left outside the EU.
2. But if we look at the future challenges; the question of transgressing the existing borders between former enemies (Franco-German entente etc.), build bridges between religions, confirm that people should not be discriminated based on their ethnicity or religion; and that Europe cannot achieve much without the support of Turkish authorities and legitimacy in the Muslem world; if we look at Europe as a global concept which aims at transforming the world; then Turkey cannot be excluded on the basis of any arguments about Islam, historical hostility etc.

Actually the only argument which speaks to my mind is the size of European Parliament and Commission with Turkey represented. But I am sure this question was on the table even before the ex-Soviet block countries knocked at the door.
Will Turkey ever join the EU. I think that this is possible but nothing is decided yet. If you wander how many years can be a candidate country look at Norway. Leadership, patience and the incremental approach should be the key features of the European authorities.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

On Jeremy Rifkin and his works

Jeremy Rifkin has become one of the prothets of the XXIst century. He is appearing in all possible media spreading the gospel of climate change and the end of fossil fuels. So what is the catch?

After reading couple of interviews with this guy I think he is right. We are on the bring of the third technological revolution. Internet and new energy sources will play a key role in the societal transformation. And he is right that instead of crying for the lost welfare state we should prepare our adaptation strategy. It is good that some visionaries get a publicity before they die.

Friday, 21 May 2010

How to engage with the Arab world

Recently I am lucky in finding interesting suggestions for the future of the EU policy.

Here is an article that brings in some interesting comments. I quote the 6 points of Mr Abdulfattah Yaghi:

...'I propose six-point model to improve Europe-Arabs serious and lasting cooperation:

(1) Historical reconciliation. Europe must officially admit that colonization of Arab nations was wrong, immoral, and illegal.

(2) Europe should compensate all Arab nations it colonized through a special international court. (3) Europe should correct its mistakes and solve the cornerstone issue in the Arab World that is the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Europe should fully recognize the State of Palestine on all the lands occupied by Israel in June 1967, (b) recognize that East Jerusalem is the capital city of the State of Palestine.

(4) Turkey is the strategic ally to Arabs. Arabs look at Europe-Turkey relations as precedence. Denying Turkey from entering EU and insisting on keeping EU a Christian club does not help Europe sustain fruitful relations with the Arab World.

(5) A paradigm shift is needed in Europe to focus on cooperation rather than containment.

(6) Decent treatment of Arab immigrants in Europe is needed to curb Christian fascism and national racism. '...

If I can share my views, I believe Turkey is getting further and further from joining the EU. Not because of some underlying changes, it is just that the public opinion is now seriously taken into account in enlargement and this will not fly.
But I completely agree on the issue of Israel/Palestine and the point about the treatment of Arab/Muslem minorities. The incoming elections in Belgium and Holland will be important in this sphere.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Key recomendation for developement

Another article I found really inspiring gives 4 recomendations about the development funds and how to improve our 'donor' performance:
I quote:
• Remove the disbursement pressure. I have worked with donors where it was in reality forbidden to discuss this – and most senior donor staff continue to pretend that the disbursement pressure is manageable. Yet I have never, over more than 20 years working of intensively with donors, met any field staff who did not complain about the disbursement pressure. It is there, it is real, and it is destructive. Spending big sums of money faster than it can be absorbed effectively can be outright harmful. Budget support modalities are not exempt from this curse – they just make it easier to spend the cash.

• Adapt business processes to country cycles. The TC reform argues for a mental shift in how we work. Donors have to focus on the partners’ programmes and help the partners in getting their programmes right. Then, they have to define their support to these programmes and not, (as implied in some donor-speak) see the partner as a ‘counterpart’ to the donor project. But this mental shift is hardly compatible with compressed identification and formulation procedures which, at fixed calendar times every year, have to produce identification and action fiches according to a Brussels-convenient calendar. The standard operating procedure of calling in consultants for three weeks to ‘do’ the identification and formulation is yet another mismatch: they do, nearly by default, end up being driven by the donor’s priorities and demands, not by the country partner’s.

• Recognise that field staff are doing development work, not (supposedly less worthwhile) administrative work. If staff have no time to get out of the office and engage in informal dialogue and networking, they cannot add the needed value to the money transfers. As said in Lusaka, we are in the relations-business – and that takes time.

• Spend small when opportunities are limited. Adapting to the heart beat of those we seek to assist implies sometimes spending very small catalytic money (and a lot of staff time). There must be room for that.

There is a lot of discussion about the Technical Cooperation and aid effectiveness. Very pertinent contribution.

Belgium outlines ideas on EU diplomatic appointments

Very interesting article scatching the Belgian philosophy.

EUobserver / Belgium outlines ideas on EU diplomatic appointments


Belgium's Mr De Ruyt aims to shift chairmanship of all EU Council working groups on foreign relations to the EAS by 2011, saying: "Our ambition is to make sure that the working presidency no longer has anything to do with external relations by the end of our term."
Meanwhile, EU foreign policy statements are to be made exclusively by Ms Ashton. "We will not publish any EU communiqués which bypass her office," Mr De Ruyt .....

I hope they succeed in building the External Action single voice.

Monday, 10 May 2010

EUrope is still alive!

You were wondering if this blog is still alive? Yeah... actually I was looking around trying to catch up with the recent developments on the global scene. I have an impression that the pace of global politics has accelerated since winter. And it was difficult to comment on the unfolding news:
1. The creation of the European External Action Service is rapidly progressing.
2. EUrozone at least has just affirmed a solidarity mechanism which was unthinkable even 3 months ago.
3. Poland lost part of its governing elites in a crash in Russia close the II world war crime place - Katyn with huge symbolism for the Polish nation.
4. UK has elected a hung parliament with big uncertainty about what will happen next.
5. Belgian federal government has exploded under the nationalistic pressures of Flamish liberal party.
6. The economic crisis is far from being over.
7. The digital revolution is taking place killing many of the foundations of the liberal democracy we know (newspapers).
8. The ash cloud reminds us how vulnerable our life style has become.

So what I would like to underline among all these important news/processes? I would say that Europa as a political project has just reached 60 anniversary (Schuman declaration) and the crisis shows that it will rather survive the turmoil.
And what is missing is a new narrative to justify its existance and competences. Probably this is the chapter to be written by our 'new' generation.