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Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 641 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-13 13:58:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-13 13:58:15 [post_content] => In March 2013 the conflict will have raged for two years. The breathtaking momentum of the Arab Spring has been stuck in the deep bloody mud of a civil war that has seen over , more than and an estimated 13% of the population (3 million) forced from their homes. At time of writing that the eastern city of Deir Azzour (pre-war population 600,000) is under siege and in a desperate state. In Syria the unstoppable force of the Arab Spring has clashed most spectacularly with the unmoveable realities of the region’s geopolitics. An American diplomat has described Syria as a proxy war, a civil war and lots of small internal wars all happening at once. CIA officers sent to the country in 2011 reported back that the conflict was far too fragmented for them to see any easy answer to what Washington should do. Russian and Chinese intransigence at the United Nations has gummed the mechanisms of international war and peace. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi has admitted that his job is looking at a wall, trying to find any cracks. The US has been unwilling to grasp a complex nettle with a war weary population and a weak economy at home. Obama’s ‘leading from behind’ is a policy backed by the American public as well as the media establishment, both the New York Times and the Washington Post publishing editorials recently praising his pragmatic approach to the conflict. However on the ground things are changing quickly, forcing both the US and the Europeans to adopt a far more proactive approach in order to influence what happens in Syria. In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its economic hub, the rebels continue to push forward. As the US discovered in Iraq, long supply lines through hostile rural areas are prime territory for roadside bombs and other deadly ambushes. The Regime’s supply lines are stretched and their increasing reliance on airpower in the north is a reflection of such weakness. An analyst recently back from the region predicted Aleppo’s fall in 2013, a body blow to the regime and an opening of a space that some say could be Syria’s Benghazi allowing massively ramped up logistical support to the Opposition. In Damascus, despite the failure of the rebels ‘Operation – Damascus Volcano’ in July, a new offensive has focused on the suburbs and the symbolic and tactical location of the international airport. Since the start of the protests and then the fighting the regime has steadily ramped up the fire power it has deployed. What started with tear gas and bullets has evolved into and Scud missiles. Unnamed US officials have even begun to speculate that Assad would use chemical weapons in a final act of desperation. Prompted by the rapid rebel advances on the ground and continued fears of insecurity over spilling into key allies such as Turkey and Jordan, the Western powers have upped their game. November’s meeting in Doha nominally linked all the opposition elements together under one hat – the aptly long named 'National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces' (NCSROF). This wasn't a cathartic coming together of different opposition elements but rather London and Paris leaning on Doha, Riyadh and Ankara to ensure that the groups under their patronage signed up to what was seen as the only game in town. Likewise the decision this week by rebel commanders from across Syria to join forces under the ‘Supreme Joint Leadership Military Council’ reflects a stronger ‘push from behind’. The US, Germany and the Netherlands are putting Patriot missiles along with battery personnel into harms way along Turkey’s border with Syria and soon enough real questions will likely be asked as to why the West is only providing non-lethal support to what it now officially recognises as the legitimate representatives of the beleaguered Syrian people. In short the questions as to whether Syria will become a Lebanon, an Iraq or even a Somalia are forcing the hand of reluctant Western governments to get more involved in Syria. The US attempt to marginalise the Nusra Front as a ‘terrorist organisation’ within the Opposition reflects a desire to shape things going forward rather than letting the chips fall as they may. With the demanding a confidential report into military options and the White House likely to pivot around new studies into Syria expect a more proactive approach to country to combine with rapidly moving events on the ground. The general consensus around Assad’s demise may rapidly shift to serious questions as to what a post-regime Syria will look like. [post_title] => Syria: End of Year Report Card [post_excerpt] => Earlier this week the Telegraph’s Chief Foreign Correspondent surmised that “the disaster in Syria is getting steadily worse, and no one has any idea what to do about it”. I would agree with the first part of his argument but would suggest that the internal dynamics in the country don’t reflect a stalemate absent of ideas, but rather the continued erosion of the regime’s sovereignty over the country. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => syria-end-of-year-report-card [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/syria-end-of-year-report-card/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 872 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-13 11:04:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-13 11:04:56 [post_content] => In this FPC briefing Hamazasp Danielyan and Anna Jenderejian from Policy Forum Armenia set out some of the findings of their recent report into Armenia’s 2012 parliamentary elections. They use statistical data to argue that while some improvements were made on polling day and on the issue of ballot stuffing, real concerns still exist over vote counting, paid and multiple voting and the use of the identities of those who have emigrated. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Armenia’s 2012 Parliamentary Election [post_excerpt] => In this FPC briefing Hamazasp Danielyan and Anna Jenderejian from Policy Forum Armenia set out some of the findings of their recent report into Armenia’s 2012 parliamentary elections. They use statistical data to argue that while some improvements were made on polling day and on the issue of ballot stuffing, real concerns still exist over vote counting, paid and multiple voting and the use of the identities of those who have emigrated. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-armenias-2012-parliamentary-election [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-armenias-2012-parliamentary-election/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 870 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-12 16:19:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-12 16:19:04 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Chris Ogden sets out some the major challenges China and India face as they develop great power status. He discusses the history both of the two countries and others who have achieved global dominance, examining how China and India’s past experiences may shape their future behaviour. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: China and India’s Common Challenges En Route to Great Power [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Chris Ogden sets out some the major challenges China and India face as they develop great power status. He discusses the history both of the two countries and others who have achieved global dominance, examining how China and India’s past experiences may shape their future behaviour. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-china-and-indias-common-challenges-en-route-to-great-power [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-china-and-indias-common-challenges-en-route-to-great-power/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 640 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-10 11:14:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-10 11:14:57 [post_content] => Baku-based rights group the Human Rights Club is marking International Human Rights Day by launching an innovative new campaign called . The campaign will use all forms of art to promote democratic reform and respect for human rights in Azerbaijan – including improving the environment for artistic freedom of expression itself. “Art for Democracy is a unique initiative in Azerbaijan,” said Human Rights Club Chairman and Art for Democracy Coordinator Rasul Jafarov. “We hope that this new, creative approach will be effective in engaging new actors – such as artists and youth – in discussing and promoting human rights in Azerbaijan”. The Art for Democracy campaign seeks to expand upon the concept of the previous campaign, which drew widespread international attention to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan in the run-up to the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, which took place in Baku in May. Azerbaijan’s human rights record came under as the international community questioned whether the contest should take place in a country that . The Eurovision 2012 winner, Swedish pop star Loreen, took note of the issues highlighted by Sing for Democracy, the campaign’s activists prior to the Eurovision final to learn about the human rights situation in the country. Afterwards, she stated in an with Azadliq newspaper, “Human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things” – a comment which the Azerbaijani authorities claimed was an attempt to politicise the Song Contest. Post-Eurovision, as the authorities continue to on more traditional means of exercising the right to freedom of expression, it has become apparent that new tactics are needed for Azerbaijan’s human rights community to get its messaging out. The state maintains what is disseminated via broadcast and print media, and responds to any attempts by activists to protest repressive policies. Art for Democracy will seek to circumvent these methods of control and draw attention to human rights issues in a creative way. The campaign will particularly aim to improve the environment for artistic freedom of expression in Azerbaijan, including by providing direct support to artists who are marginalised because of the politically sensitive nature of their work. This will include cases of artists who are subjected to human rights violations, such as exiled Azerbaijani musicians Jamal Ali and Azer Cirttan. Rocker/rapper Ali was forced to flee Azerbaijan after he was detained for 10 days and by police following his arrest at an opposition protest in Baku in March, where he made insulting remarks about the President’s late mother during his performance. In his song ‘’, released just ahead of Eurovision, Ali sang, “I was beaten for what I said, shoved into a police car”. He said in an with the Guardian that police had told him “We’ll do our best to make you leave the country” as they beat him. Cirttan chose to leave Azerbaijan with his wife, an opposition activist, and their young daughter due to concerns for their safety. In an with Free Muse, Cirttan reported that prior to leaving the country, his attempts to publically perform were thwarted when authorities pressured venue owners to cancel his concerts. After seeing examples made of other opposition activists, when Cirttan noticed he was being followed in Baku, he and his family decided to leave. But the authorities’ actions to limit freedom of artistic expression did not start or end with the Eurovision Song Contest. As examined in a November 2011 , there is a stark contrast in the operating environment for artists who receive the government’s favour and those who do not. The most “in demand” products include sculptures of the ruling elite, and artists attempting to work independently “struggle to find jobs”. Young artists face particular difficulty in becoming established, as only a handful receive very small government stipends, and few are given workspace. As Cirttan explained in his interview with Free Muse, musicians of non-traditional genres, such as rock, have “handicaps” in Azerbaijani society – even if their music is not political. He pointed both to overt forms of censorship by the authorities – such as not giving radio airtime to certain artists and putting pressure on or closing down venues that host the “wrong” concerts – as well as to self-censorship as the result of systemic forms of pressure, as contributing to the poor climate for artistic freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. In the absence of other options, marginalised artists such as Ali and Cirttan are increasingly reliant upon the Internet as a means of disseminating their work - and so the fates of freedom of artistic expression and Internet freedom in the country are intertwined. While the Internet can currently be considered as in Azerbaijan, targeting by the authorities of journalists and activists who express critical opinions online presents a serious obstacle for Internet freedom. Further, local rights groups fear that in the near future, authorities may start to interpret existing legal provisions in a more restrictive manner or introduce new legislation that will effectively close the only remaining largely free space in the country. In addition to addressing the broader human rights and freedom of expression issues which hamper the ability of artists to express themselves freely, the Art for Democracy campaign aims to fill a gap which has been to date overlooked. “There are artists who want to contribute to the process of democratisation in Azerbaijan, but don’t know how”, noted Jafarov. “Art for Democracy will give them a platform to come together and use their talents to impact positive change. This is one of many reasons why Art for Democracy is so needed right now”, he concluded. December 2012 In addition to being a freelance human rights consultant and a Foreign Policy Centre Research Associate, Rebecca is the Advocacy Director for the Art for Democracy campaign. [post_title] => New human rights campaign seeks to improve climate for artistic freedom of expression in Azerbaijan [post_excerpt] => Azerbaijan’s affects many sectors of society – the media community, non-governmental organisations, youth movements and political parties, among others. But a new human rights campaign, launched today (10 December 2012), seeks to address restrictions on the right to freedom of expression of Azerbaijan’s artists – a population whose rights have so far received little attention. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => new-human-rights-campaign-seeks-to-improve-climate-for-artistic-freedom-of-expression-in-azerbaijan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/new-human-rights-campaign-seeks-to-improve-climate-for-artistic-freedom-of-expression-in-azerbaijan/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 639 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-05 12:41:47 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-05 12:41:47 [post_content] => The Council’s ‘democratic’ reputation was forged by , who headed the organisation between 2002 and 2010. Under her dynamic and energetic leadership, it became a place of of the government, providing a liberal critique of state policy in Russia’s narrow political environment in which such views are ridiculed and marginalised. It was therefore surprising that a government-founded institution could criticise the government so vociferously, even if its critiques tended to fall on deaf ears. According to research done by the Council itself, just five percent of their policy recommendations are put into practice. Nonetheless, the Council has published damning reports on some of the most salient social issues in the country, including , , and the election falsifications of December 2011. Indeed, some members consider it the Council’s main task to help form public opinion on critical social matters, although the extent to which the average Russian is aware of the Presidential Council, let alone accesses its reports, is debatable. Yet, despite its generally low impact level, some inside the Kremlin have lamented the unchecked voice of the Council, and events of the past year may signify the end of the Council as the government’s voice of conscience. In 2010 Pamfilova suddenly resigned as head of the organisation. Although she did not give an official reason, she privately mentioned that she had been repeatedly targeted by the pro-Kremlin youth movement, . Her successor, Mikhail Fedotov, a journalist and human rights promoter, is widely seen as a worthy successor. Indeed, the Council’s continuing democratic reputation no doubt comes from its membership: a large majority of those in the Council’s earlier compositions were regarded as critical and independent individuals by the NGO community. According to one veteran rights activist and former Council member , the previous make-up contained only fifteen to twenty percent Kremlin loyalists. It is, of course, highly unusual for a government body in a non-democratic state to comprise a majority who are either sympathetic to or active in the opposition, and the fact that this was the case with the Presidential Council contributed to its somewhat superficial designation as ‘democratic’. However, in the last six months, seventeen of the most respected and outspoken members of the Russian democracy movement have quit the Council, including , , and . Two main reasons have been given: eleven members left as Putin returned to the Presidency, stating that it would be hypocritical to advise that same person against whom they organise in the opposition movement. A second wave of members left in June, declaring that the new selection method of members to the Council, based on a public consultation conducted via the internet, was non-transparent and could be easily manipulated. Liudmila Alexeeva, widely seen as the figurehead of the Russian human rights movement, stated she would remain in the Council until its formation was complete and then decide whether or not she would be able to work in the new environment. However, she quit the Council mid-way through the process, stating in her that the media ‘Salivated over the smallest details of this process and turned them into scandals, constantly complaining about the cunning plans of the Council members to push through “their” candidates. At the same time in the internet, there was shamelessly blatant falsification of support for certain candidates. For example, during the night in the course of a few minutes, support ratings showed that more than a thousand people a minute had voted for a particular candidate. I had the lasting impression that they were deliberately trying to make the Council a laughing stock, and to deliberately discredit its members.’ It was unclear to what extent the public consultation influenced the decision on who to appoint and, in fact, after voting took place, Putin decided to increase the number of members from forty to sixty-five. The Council now includes a mixture of loyal Kremlin servants such as project co-ordinator at the ruling party’s youth group , Yana Lantratova, and fierce critics such as director of the maligned election monitoring organisation, , and head of human rights lawyers’ association, Agora, Pavel Chikov. But bar a few ‘celebrities’, members of the new Council are not as well-known as those of the previous composition. Could it be that the Kremlin thinks they will be easier to ignore? It is unclear yet whether the new Council will retain its critical stance on rights issues: the expansion of the Council could be a ploy in order to eschew the kind of independent advice that the Council has given in the past. Certainly, it will be hard to gain consensus on which recommendations to give to the President. The first meeting of the new Council with President Putin was held on 12th November. During the session he promised to revisit the laws passed over the summer, which include a greatly expanded definition of treason and a requirement that NGOs receiving foreign funding label themselves as foreign agent on all print and online material. However, it remains unclear as to why he did not wait to discuss the laws with the new Council before passing them; reconsidering laws already in the statute book will require work that could easily have been avoided. Perhaps the current repressive trend in Russian social politics demonstrates the true irrelevance of this Council; no one is really expecting that these promises will be kept. Overall, the meeting was described as ‘’ This raises the question of what the Presidential Council is actually for. On one hand, if its role is indeed to represent a cross-section of society to the President, one could say that a broader mix of political orientations could better embody the heterogeneous and conflictual nature of society. In which case it is a good thing that the Council should have difficulty reaching consensus, as it is hard to imagine a situation in which society at large could do so. On the other hand, if its role is to present clear advice to the President in the field of rights, including members who are neither experts nor interested in a rights agenda seems to defeat the object. The Council’s three roles as described on its website are to assist, inform and advise the President. This does suggest the need for a coherent voice from the Council and, if coupled with the requirement implied in the new make-up of the Council that it should reflect society at large, seems to imply that the Kremlin’s vision of Russian society is that of a unified servant to the state. As evidenced by the chaos of the first meeting, it is likely that the construction of the Council simultaneously as a cross-section of society and as an advisor to the President will be the further undoing of the Council as an effective institution. Critics have claimed that the Council is nothing but a decorative institution, a Potemkin village designed to give the illusion that the Russian government does care about human rights. But members, as well as some social scientists, argue that such mediating institutions are important for countries moving away from dictatorial rule in which there often lacks a clear feedback mechanism between society and the state. In countries in which elections are often tampered with, mass media lack freedom and civil society groups do not enjoy broad support, such formal meetings between state and society are seen both as important for the state in understanding social problems and working to diffuse tension, and for society, which can bring pressing issues to the seat of power. And in fact, the Presidential Council is just one of a huge trend of Public Councils in Russia in which prominent citizens advise government officials both at regional and national levels. But if we consider this new trend in governance in Russia under the rubric of ‘mediating institutions’, questions of legitimacy and accountability become even more salient. The process of mediation implies a harmonisation of interests between state and society. What gives these members the right to represent the interests of society before decision-makers, other than the fact they have done well enough in their careers to be considered ‘public figures’? And when they pursue their own interests at the expense of society via these Councils, through which mechanisms can they be held to account? Currently there are no mechanisms that ensure Public Council members are either legitimate or accountable. While it is important to be open to other forms of democratic organisation that move away from the electoral model of Western democracies, the Presidential Council as an effective ‘mediating’ institution demands serious reconsideration. If members of the Presidential Council are taking on a representative function, their legitimacy has to be grounded in a broad process of societal consultation and mechanisms of accountability need to be in place. If the Presidential Council is an advisory body, it should be comprised of experts on human rights and civil society chosen by the President. The blurring of these functions is indicative of a broader problem with the development of this new mode of governance in Russia. [post_title] => Is the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights ‘Democratic’? Implications for Russian Governance [post_excerpt] => In Russia the is a remarkable institution. It is composed of public figures from the NGO community, the media and arts, academia and business, whose job is to inform the President on the state of human rights and civil society at home and abroad, assist him in the protection of rights and freedoms as set out in the Russian constitution, and prepare recommendations on how to develop the institutions of civil society and protect human rights. Although the Council has no legal powers and its members are not elected by the Russian people, the Council is widely seen as one of the most democratic institutions in the country. What is understood by ‘democratic’ in this context? Is it any more than a talking shop for career-minded social activists? What can recent developments in the Council tell us about emerging modes of governance in Russia? [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => is-the-presidential-council-for-civil-society-and-human-rights-democratic-implications-for-russian-governance [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/is-the-presidential-council-for-civil-society-and-human-rights-democratic-implications-for-russian-governance/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 864 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-04 12:32:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-04 12:32:07 [post_content] => Dr Marc Herzog discusses the central role of Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara- the Antikabir- as a symbol of Turkey’s secular, nationalist heritage and state legitimation as well as a current site of protest by both Turkey’s old republican elite and secular civil society. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Anitkabir – Battleground over the nation [post_excerpt] => Dr Marc Herzog discusses the central role of Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara- the Antikabir- as a symbol of Turkey’s secular, nationalist heritage and state legitimation as well as a current site of protest by both Turkey’s old republican elite and secular civil society. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-anitkabir-battleground-over-the-nation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-anitkabir-battleground-over-the-nation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 862 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-11-26 16:04:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-26 16:04:58 [post_content] => In this FPC Briefing Martha Molfetas gives a detailed analysis of the current and historical tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, exploring the role of resources and the needs for long-term development and peace-building. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Resource Curse and Peace Building- A Tale of Two Sudans [post_excerpt] => In this FPC Briefing Martha Molfetas gives a detailed analysis of the current and historical tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, exploring the role of resources and the needs for long-term development and peace-building. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-resource-curse-and-peace-building-a-tale-of-two-sudans [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-resource-curse-and-peace-building-a-tale-of-two-sudans/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 860 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-11-26 13:50:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-26 13:50:55 [post_content] => This FPC briefing by Catherine Owen sets out some of the ways in which the Putin government has acted to stamp down on the protest movement that grew in the wake of the disputed Duma elections in 2011. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: What happened to the ‘Russian Spring’? [post_excerpt] => This FPC briefing by Catherine Owen sets out some of the ways in which the Putin government has acted to stamp down on the protest movement that grew in the wake of the disputed Duma elections in 2011. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-what-happened-to-the-russian-spring [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-what-happened-to-the-russian-spring/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 638 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-11-23 14:38:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-23 14:38:31 [post_content] => The unexpected genesis of the MoU and its far-reaching scope are the most significant evidence to date of the determination of Conservative government members to align UK foreign policy and diplomacy with an idealism that invokes political rhetoric from the past and impedes the attainment of British interests in the future. Economic Pragmatism... The last few weeks have seen William Hague sell UK-Canada diplomatic cooperation in mostly pragmatic terms. While steering clear of precise numbers, the UK Foreign Secretary touted the co-location of diplomatic sites and the joint provision of consular services as commonsensical measures to save the British taxpayers’ money. However, even the most superficial survey of British and Canadian diplomatic resources gives enough reason to suspect that, for the UK at least, cooperation will yield rather modest budgetary benefits. Made up of 180 diplomatic offices, staffed with about 7800 employees, Canada’s diplomatic network is significantly smaller than the UK’s, which boasts around 270 representations with 8800 employees and a much denser network of consular service points. Over the next years, the gap between both countries’ diplomatic resources is set to grow even wider, as the Harper administration is determined to further downsize Canada’s diplomatic operations and personnel. The FCO can still expect to generate sizeable savings from offering embassy and consulate space to Canadian diplomats. However, opportunities for outsourcing the consular protection of UK nationals to Canadian foreign affairs workers will be limited. Instead, particularly in Europe and Africa, FCO diplomats will face an increased workload from providing consular assistance to Canadian citizens who have no representation of their own government to turn to. Instead of reducing its human resources budget, the FCO might therefore be forced to spend more on staff, severely diminishing if not negating the savings generated by sharing diplomatic premises. ... is Trumped by Anachronistic Idealism The doubtful prospects of savings suggest that, rather than being the product of pragmatic considerations, UK-Canada diplomatic cooperation is driven by an anachronistic idealism, which has gained influence across Whitehall since the coalition government first came to power in 2010. Formed by the Foreign Secretary and his Conservative government peers, this idealism nourishes the idea that the UK’s global interests are most effectively realised at the helm of a new Commonwealth diplomatic network. In the FCO’s strategic planning, the MoU with Canada is thus only the first of several diplomatic cooperation agreements with and among what William Hague has labelled “first cousin” countries. Accordingly, UK diplomats in Canberra and Wellington have already sounded out the possibility of Australia and New Zealand becoming the next ‘relatives’ to join diplomatic forces with the UK. However, contrary to what the Foreign Secretary’s family analogy implies, the three partners of choice neither share the FCO’s enthusiasm for politically driven diplomatic cooperation nor are they likely to support the UK’s foreign policy interests by default. In Canada, the announcement of diplomatic cooperation with the UK has provoked widespread public concern about a creeping erosion of Ottawa’s independence in foreign affairs and an outcry among leading foreign policy experts about the incompatibility of British and Canadian foreign policy agendas. Although the discourse has so far been more nuanced in Australia and New Zealand, foreign affairs officials of both countries have already made clear that their governments are primarily interested in the financial aspects of diplomatic cooperation. London’s Declining Influence in European Union Foreign Affairs While the economic expectations and political aspirations Conservative government members have vested in a new Commonwealth diplomatic network are virtually certain to be disappointed, FCO support for the project is unlikely to falter any time soon. The promotion of an antidote to an increasingly assertive European Union (EU) in international diplomacy has bestowed Eurosceptic Conservatives’ unanimous favour on William Hague. To keep this favour, the Foreign Secretary seems even prepared to risk a further downgrading of London’s already weakened credibility and influence in EU foreign affairs. Indeed, in most EU capitals, the promotion of a new Commonwealth diplomatic network is seen as yet another strong indicator of the UK’s waning interest in taking a lead in EU foreign affairs. Thus, the endeavour to pool diplomatic resources with Commonwealth partners not only marks a sharp departure from past FCO efforts to conclude embassy co-location agreements with European partners, but it also fits the more general picture of a creeping British retreat from shaping EU foreign policy. Thus, over the last two years, UK diplomats have often been content with simply blocking common EU foreign policy statements in Brussels or obstructing long-established procedures of speaking with one EU voice in international organisations when they could have pursued British interests through EU diplomacy instead. A Missed Opportunity The Foreign Secretary’s squander of London’s influence in EU foreign affairs should not disguise the fact that deeper EU diplomatic cooperation provides one of the most promising avenues for cutting the FCO’s budget. In fact, the promotion of common EU consular posts figured prominently on the agenda of the British EU Presidency in 2005, because the UK’s initiation of several EU member state embassy co-location projects has produced significant savings. Likewise, it should be clear that even a network of some of the most potent Commonwealth countries cannot compete with the EU as a platform for effectively promoting the UK’s global interests. Despite the Eurozone crisis, the EU remains a formidable force in international affairs, both as a trade power and as an entrepreneur of international norms. Much of the UK’s appeal to partners beyond Europe is a result of London’s membership and leverage in the EU. Ironically, while unexploited by the coalition government, the UK’s potential for successfully shaping EU foreign policy and diplomacy has never been better. As Berlin and Paris are consumed with questions of deeper economic and fiscal integration, the UK is currently the only country that has the necessary political clout and resources to determine the grand design of EU foreign policy. London’s Commissioner in Brussels, Catherine Ashton, is not only in charge of the EU’s foreign affairs portfolio but also in desperate need of strategic input for making the EU’s diplomatic service a success. In most international organisations and third states, native command of the English language puts UK diplomats at a distinct advantage when it comes to negotiating common EU positions. Foreign Policy Rhetoric from the Past However, instead of seizing the unique opportunity to shape EU diplomacy in order to promote British interests, William Hague prefers to invoke a 60 year old foreign policy rhetoric that has failed the UK before. In January 1952, Hague’s predecessor as Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden, declared that the UK would never become part of closer European cooperation “For Britain’s story and her interests lie far beyond the continent of Europe. Our thoughts move across the seas to the many communities in which our people play their part, in every corner of the world. These are our family ties.” Less than a decade after Eden’s speech, the UK pledged its first (unsuccessful) bid to join the European Economic Community. Could-shouldering Europe to remain at the helm of a declining Commonwealth had become unviable, both economically and politically. Could-shouldering Europe once again to be at the helm of a new Commonwealth diplomatic will turn out to be just as unviable. November 2012 Jan Gaspers is a Gates Scholar at the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge, and currently engaged in a doctoral research project on EU member state diplomatic cooperation within the OSCE and NATO. In the past, Jan has worked inter alia with the OSCE, the EU Delegation to the International Organisations in Vienna, the EU Institute for Security Studies, and the European Centre for Development Policy Management. His wider research interests include UK foreign policy and diplomacy, the European External Action Service, and the evolution of European and transatlantic security and defence cooperation. [post_title] => At the Helm of a New Commonwealth Diplomatic Network: In the United Kingdom’s Interest? [post_excerpt] => When the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom (UK) and Canada, David Cameron and Stephen Harper, met in September 2011 to sign a joint declaration for renewed bilateral engagement, expectations were low that the document’s lofty words would ever translate into actual policies. Yet, in September 2012, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs endorsed an ambitious Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on diplomatic cooperation, which promotes the co-location of embassies, the joint provision of consular services, and common crisis response. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => at-the-helm-of-a-new-commonwealth-diplomatic-network-in-the-united-kingdoms-interest [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/at-the-helm-of-a-new-commonwealth-diplomatic-network-in-the-united-kingdoms-interest/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 637 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-11-21 14:00:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-21 14:00:08 [post_content] => China analysts rarely reach consensus on such matters. If anything, though, the weight of opinion on the new leadership is gloomy - by this reckoning conservatives outweigh reformers. But is this the right way of analysing Chinese politics? In particular, what does “reform” actually mean at this point in time in the Chinese context? Firstly, let’s look at what the commentariat outside China tends to mean by “reform”. For some this is a catch-all phrase which highlights the idea that bold change is needed to deal with the large number of challenges facing the Chinese leadership, from corruption to inefficient state-owned enterprises and political stasis. Alongside this view lies an analysis of the last decade as a wasted opportunity - see for a prime example of this sort of thinking. Within China, this thinking is not dominant, though it does exist. There is actually an intense debate about the way forward for China – outgoing Party General Secretary Hu Jintao obliquely referred to this in his 8 November speech to the 18th Party Congress when he said that "". Below the level of the leadership, "reform" is definitely a term which marks political dividing lines between those who think that more marketisation of the economy and structural reforms to governance and administration are needed, and those who feel that the zealous market reforms of the 1990s created many of the problems China faces today, environmental degradation, income disparities, and so on. At the leadership level, however, “reform” becomes a much more slippery term. Deng Xiaoping reportedly said in May 1989 that "". If the meaning of reform was not clear then – a time of real political crisis – it subsequently became clearer: “reform” as the slogan for a pragmatic developmentalism, in the service of which extensive market reforms were made in the 1990s, but much less so in the 2000s after the PRC’s accession to the World Trade Organization marked a high point of policy when it came to liberalization of the economy. Still, for top Party elites, no-one would admit to not being a reformer, even more so since a new reference to “reform and opening up” (gaige kaifang) has just been written into the Party constitution at the 18th Congress. On one level, this might be seen as an effort to curtail debate (in the traditions of democratic centralism), and new Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has already exhorted cadres to study these constitutional changes which, although they are presented as "theoretical innovations", are heavily Dengist in content (with the important and novel exception of environmental protection, translated in constitutional terms to “ecological civilization”). When it comes to reform there may be little in the way of radical ideas. That does not lessen the political imperative to adapt to deal with existing and new problems. Indeed, Hu’s 18th Congress report and subsequent statements by him and Xi Jinping have both stressed new challenges facing the Party and the country. “Reform” then becomes a useful rhetorical device for rallying the Party around the need to take pragmatic, but innovative, steps to deal with these problems. The actual policy measures taken will, however, be issue specific, and defy easy ideological categorization. Reform is a means, not an end. Indeed, today’s economy is much more complex, organic forces are stronger, and integration with the global economy much more substantial than in the 1990s when a call for radical market reform was politically difficult, but somehow easier to translate into policy. It is therefore not the case that all is lacking today is the policy determination of the late 1990s. The solutions are more difficult to find. Reform in one direction could make other problems more difficult to resolve – for example, energy prices which were fully marketised might increase both the power of certain state-owned enterprises and exacerbate wealth disparities among the population. What does this mean for reading the leadership transition? Firstly, the new PBSC consists of experienced cadres, most of whom have engaged with difficult challenges at the provincial level in recent years. There may have been more innovative individuals in the wings, but this top team will still be committed to addressing the challenges the Party faces in its pursuit of economic and social development – particularly when compared to the outgoing PBSC. Secondly, the more significant part of the transition was probably not the make up of the PBSC, but Hu Jintao handing over control of the military to Xi Jinping on 15 November, rather than some time in 2013 or 2014. This demonstrates a much clearer transition of top leadership than in 2002-4 or any previous one, and strengthens both Xi and Premier designate Li Keqiang. Their ability to take new steps, relatively quickly, to adjust policy should therefore not be underestimated. Thirdly, below the much-discussed Standing Committee, the rest of the Politburo is indeed of a younger generation. The balance between decision making by the Politburo and its Standing Committee under this leadership remains to be seen. But a government led by Li Keqiang, also featuring Ma Kai and Wang Yang, with a possible key role for Li Yuanchao (the surprise omission from the PBSC), is likely to push forward with policies to restructure the economy. Finally, political change will likely remain gradual. We should not expect any dilution of the Party's desire to remain the dominant force in Chinese politics at the same time as pursuing goals of building a “well off and strong” (fuqiang) China. Within that constraint, admittedly a fundamental one, some of the ideas that have been discussed to improve governance could well be brought forward. Indeed, Xi Jinping's early rhetorical targeting of corruption, and the placing of the tough Wang Qishan in charge of the anti-corruption portfolio, increases the chances of some progress in that area, although the systemic barriers are substantial. There is more to be said about the transition, of course, but on the whole, there are reasons to be quietly optimistic. For a start, it took place smoothly and on time (in spite of the political excitement and dire media warnings of the last ten months). Xi Jinping is the unequivocal successor to Hu Jintao. And the wider Politburo membership reflects not just a shift to a new generation of leaders, but also some substantial expertise and interest in addressing the issues which China will face over the next five years. November 2012 [post_title] => “Reform” and China's new leadership [post_excerpt] => Much of the commentary around China's new leadership, announced on 15 November, has asked what the transition means for "reform". This has involved attempts to categorise as “reformers” or “conservatives” those on the new Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC), the group of seven (previously nine) men at the top of China's political structures which has overall responsibility for strategy and policy. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => reform-and-chinas-new-leadership [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/reform-and-chinas-new-leadership/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 636 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-11-12 14:47:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-12 14:47:09 [post_content] => The event got off to a rocky start with logistical problems such as food shortages and widespread problems with Internet access at the IGF venue, the Baku Expo Centre. Twitter was full of complaints from the delegates who were able to get online that they were hungry and deprived of caffeine. Things took a more sinister turn when local rights groups were to stop distributing two reports on relevant issues in Azerbaijan, on the grounds that they were an attempt to “attack one of the stakeholder group” – the Azerbaijani government. A representative of the Secretariat suggested that the groups would be allowed to distribute the materials if they got permission from the Azerbaijani authorities. The reports examined and in Azerbaijan ahead of the IGF. The banned reports were not the only issue faced by Azerbaijani participants. A representative of the Expression Online Initiative – the coalition behind one of the banned reports – was harassed when attempting to register, being questioned over whether he was planning a protest at the IGF. Journalists from the online television station were also given trouble in the registration process, being told that the Azerbaijani ICT Ministry did not consider Obyektiv TV to be a media outlet. The reason for this harassment soon became clear: the registration staff were members of a . This seemed an odd choice given that host country officials are not meant to influence who can and cannot attend the IGF. But perhaps the lowest point of the week occurred when that the personal computers of two EU officials were hacked at their hotel in Baku. The officials were staff members travelling with Vice President of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, who took a on violations of freedom of expression and Internet freedom in Azerbaijan during the IGF and was from visiting a penitentiary hospital in Baku. The officials confirmed that they were conducting a forensic analysis of the compromised computers. On the final day of the IGF, that there had been reports of some laptops being infected with malware or viruses at the IGF. Then during the closing ceremony, reported that Facebook had stopped working – although it appeared to be back up several minutes later. The Azerbaijani government’s attitude towards the event was made clear when President Ilham Aliyev declined to participate in the IGF’s opening ceremony, opting instead to attend the Bakutel ICT Exhibition and Conference being held in the same venue as the IGF. Azerbaijani ICT Minister Ali Abbasov delivered the President’s comments at the IGF on his behalf. The decision to hold the IGF in a country with a troubling human rights record was the source of much deliberation over whether these factors should be taken into consideration in determining the venue for such events. But seasoned participants commented that there had been more discussion on human rights than at any previous IGF. Even the government’s most ardent critics saw the positive side of holding the IGF in Baku. As formerly imprisoned blogger Emin Milli said at a workshop during the IGF, holding such an event in an authoritarian country created a unique platform to discuss issues that would otherwise not be permitted. Rights groups fear potential retaliation for local activists and journalists who were critical of the authorities during the IGF, particularly as many were also outspoken earlier this year in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest, which local groups used as a platform to expose human rights problems in the country. So far these concerns appear to be grounded. On the final day of the IGF, Senior Presidential Adviser Ali Hasanov said in an that some NGOs had “dedicated consistent efforts” to attempting to “diminish the value” of the IGF. The fear remains that once international attention has shifted from the country, the door will be open for the authorities to target these critical voices. Rebecca Vincent is a freelance human rights consultant and expert on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. She worked with the and the to compile the banned reports and was formerly based at Article 19 as the Coordinator of the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan. [post_title] => Censorship, hacking and harassment: the Azerbaijan IGF experience [post_excerpt] => Last week (early November 2012) Azerbaijan was host to 1,600 representatives of governments, international bodies, private companies and NGOs who ventured to Baku for the 7th annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF). Although the authorities have experience handling large international events, such as the Eurovision Song Contest which took place in Baku in May this year, many wondered how they would approach an event where topics such as freedom of expression online would be discussed, given Azerbaijan’s own on the topic. The answer? With some interference and a confused political approach. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => censorship-hacking-and-harassment-the-azerbaijan-igf-experience [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:34 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/censorship-hacking-and-harassment-the-azerbaijan-igf-experience/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 858 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-11-06 12:24:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-11-06 12:24:24 [post_content] => William Gumede gives a historical account of the rise of corruption across Africa post-independence and outlines measures that can be taken to tackle the problem. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Corruption Fighting Efforts in Africa Fail Because Root Causes Are Poorly Understood [post_excerpt] => William Gumede gives a historical account of the rise of corruption across Africa post-independence and outlines measures that can be taken to tackle the problem. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-corruption-fighting-efforts-in-africa-fail-because-root-causes-are-poorly-understood [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-corruption-fighting-efforts-in-africa-fail-because-root-causes-are-poorly-understood/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 856 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-10-30 11:44:54 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-30 11:44:54 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Dr Simon Mabon gives the background to the political unrest and human rights abuses that took place in Bahrain around the Arab Spring. The briefing sets out the geo-political competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran that forms the backdrop to recent events and critiques the UK government’s relations with Bahrain. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Bahrain – between Geopolitical and Humanitarian Concerns [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Dr Simon Mabon gives the background to the political unrest and human rights abuses that took place in Bahrain around the Arab Spring. The briefing sets out the geo-political competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran that forms the backdrop to recent events and critiques the UK government’s relations with Bahrain. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-bahrain-between-geopolitical-and-humanitarian-concerns [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-bahrain-between-geopolitical-and-humanitarian-concerns/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 854 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-10-22 17:41:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-22 17:41:35 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Tanweer Ali explains the current wave of racism directed at Roma communities across Europe and its historical context, making recommendations for a political response. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Antigypsyism – A pernicious racist ideology spreading throughout Europe [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Tanweer Ali explains the current wave of racism directed at Roma communities across Europe and its historical context, making recommendations for a political response. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-antigypsyism-a-pernicious-racist-ideology-spreading-throughout-europe [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-antigypsyism-a-pernicious-racist-ideology-spreading-throughout-europe/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 852 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-10-22 16:54:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-22 16:54:59 [post_content] => FPC Senior Research Associate Firdevs Robinson gives her analysis of the difficulties Turkey is facing with Syrian instability and deteriorating relations with the EU. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Turkey's Juggling Act [post_excerpt] => FPC Senior Research Associate Firdevs Robinson gives her analysis of the difficulties Turkey is facing with Syrian instability and deteriorating relations with the EU. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-turkeys-juggling-act [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-turkeys-juggling-act/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 850 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-10-09 16:36:28 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-09 16:36:28 [post_content] => In a new FPC Briefing Lancaster University's Stephen Royle explains some of the main challenges, both historic and current, facing the banking sector in Iran that have helped to trigger recent unrest in the country. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Iran’s Economic Crisis-On the Verge of Change? [post_excerpt] => In a new FPC Briefing Lancaster University's Stephen Royle explains some of the main challenges, both historic and current, facing the banking sector in Iran that have helped to trigger recent unrest in the country. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-irans-economic-crisis-on-the-verge-of-change [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:35 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-irans-economic-crisis-on-the-verge-of-change/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [16] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 635 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-10-08 17:07:10 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-08 17:07:10 [post_content] => The EU, despite having no direct role in the peace talks, fully supports the current mediation efforts and has called for a peaceful settlement including essential elements such as the non-use of force, principles of territorial integrity and self-determination. At first stance the EU’s position looks rather vague - proposing two opposite solutions, territorial integrity and self-determination, show the EU’s lack of interest in the specifics of the conflicts at the EU’s periphery. Indeed, the EU’s overall strategy towards Nagorno-Karabakh and the South Caucasus in general has been incoherent, resembling to a child who is just about to walk and is still making clumsy steps. As a hybrid polity the EU has developed its own distinctive, though not always effective, approach to conflict resolution-Europeanisation, comprising both conditionality and social learning. Whilst by applying conditionality, be it through the ‘carrots’ or ‘sticks’, the European policy-makers seek to achieve the required changes in the domestic structures in a third country, social learning advocates an internalisation of the EU norms by the domestic actors who would consider these norms both legitimate and intrinsically valuable. However, this ‘nudging’ concept of social learning has little chance of being welcomed in the states like Armenia and Azerbaijan, where the vast implications of the contagious Soviet legacy are still felt throughout. Civil society reform in both countries is far from fully developed. The notorious Armenian presidential elections in 2008, a deteriorating track record of human rights abuses in Azerbaijan, where law-making leads to suppressing rather than strengthening civil society reform, is a brazen challenge to social learning advocates. Supporters of conditionality, despite recent attempts to strengthen the ‘more for more’, ‘less for less’ approach, are still far from achieving concrete results in Armenia and Azerbaijan. The general perception of EU conditionality is that it uses more ‘carrots’ than ‘sticks’ and cannot rely only on treaty-based sanctions. However, it is by the use of sanctions, and in particular targeted sanctions, the EU can and should reinforce and exert its influence, thus yielding positive changes in the policy making of the two South Caucasian countries. That may take the form of sanctions in the event of violations of contractual obligations undertaken by both countries. These positive changes towards democratisation should lead to a more constructive conflict resolution that should be enabled by an active support of civil society initiatives and thus fostering of an open dialogue between conflict-affected parties. This would make the EU’s stake in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution more tangible and effective. Despite this, reaffirm the general reluctance of the EU to apply a sanctions policy, even when the third countries do not meet the requirements of principal clauses such under ENP Action Plans. Retaining open political channels is still seen as far too crucial. Instead the EU sees awarding carrots as less problematic and this approach is eagerly promoted by Brussels. A rewards-based policy provides a comfort zone for open discussions. Sanctions however, though acknowledged as an option in a range of agreements, are treated cautiously. This opens up more fundamental questions about the EU’s almost chronic inability to set out a vision for its role in the South Caucasus. The EU has a choice of two patterns of engagement in the South Caucasus: a geo-political approach or one that prioritises policy convergence under the motto of Europeanisation. The latter is of a long-term nature and hence involves a more incremental development with foreseeable positive outcomes in the policy-making of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Strengthening a geo-political role of the EU in the region, a more short-term solution, may enhance the public perception of the EU in the South Caucasus, yet the implications for the parties involved would remain uncertain. The EU is not regarded as a full geopolitical actor in the region. And this is a bitter or a sweet truth. Yet, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is highly geo-politicised. A widespread belief in conflict-affected countries is that ‘a great game’ should be dictated by ‘great powers’, for example, by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. The EU is awarded with a secondary role, constrained to its soft diplomacy. What can become a booster for the EU’s geo-politicisation of its role is the potential replacement of France with the EU in OSCE Minsk Group to counterbalance the key regional players Russia and the USA. It could be contentious, though, to infer that the EU’s direct presence in the Minsk Group would invoke a different pattern in the peacemaking process or, some would point to a risk for the EU to be directly involved in the most dangerous conflict of the region. Some would argue that the EU as a co-chair may bring further implications for both Armenians and Azerbaijanis. The main concern relates to the EU’s lack of consolidating a common voice considering its inter-institutional discrepancies and differentiations further complicated by a rotating presidency of the EU. This argument certainly has a plausible grounding and echoes a conventional view on the legitimacy deficit of the EU and its non-affirmed identity as a geopolitical actor. Nevertheless, what should be better propagated to Armenia, Azerbaijan and their diasporas, the majority of which find their second home in liberal democracies, is the EU’s renowned consociational approach involving a guaranteed group representation. Besides, a potential presence of the EU as a co-chair will not break but rather may alter a dynamic in the Minsk group where more tools and instruments of transparent negotiations, intrinsic to the EU’s policy-making style will be delegated. This in turn would lead to a subsequent revision by Armenia and Azerbaijan of their own foreign policy strategies. Leaving aside a hypothetical boost of the EU’s direct geopolitical role in the conflict resolution, it is the second pattern of its engagement - policy convergence - that the EU has already stepped up in the South Caucasus. This has resulted in the launch of the ENP Action Plans in 2006, Eastern Partnership in 2009 and ongoing negotiations over Association Agreements. From a conflict resolution perspective, the EU’s ubiquitous commitment to encouraging democratic reforms is promising and ambitious, its core instrument being Civil Society initiative. However, as mentioned earlier it is too premature to acknowledge whether the EU’s normative power’s success and confidence-building measures, so eagerly promoted in EU official statements, have been taken on board by Armenia and Azerbaijan. Policy convergence under the ENP as a technocratic tool is sensible and is a more promising pattern to follow. It has the potential to establish functional and robust democratic institutions in Armenia and Azerbaijan that should incrementally foster an inclusive, consociational style in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. It is broadly accepted that the strongest incentive for both parties, when it comes to conflict resolution, is EU membership. However, due to the absence of such an offer under the ENP framework, European policy-makers must look for other potential incentives the EU can propose. None of the countries are overwhelmingly seeking a full integration or enthusiastically internalising the European norms. Policy convergence and European integration in general with no sensible and clear incentives to offer would be regarded less feasible and less prioritised by South Caucasus countries. Only by proposing tangible incentives for policy convergence in both countries will the EU’s leverage to influence the conflict dynamic increase and thus, improve the chances of encouraging the parties to find a compromise. [post_title] => The EU and Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution [post_excerpt] => Nagorno-Karabakh, a holy land, a historical heritage claimed by Azerbaijan and Armenia, two former Soviet republics who gained independence in 1991, has encountered a lengthy tug of war rather than a celebration of a peaceful coexistence. On going peace-making efforts for almost two decades under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group remain fruitless and scepticism over the performance of the geopolitical actors prevails. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-eu-and-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-resolution [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-eu-and-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-resolution/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [17] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 848 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-10-05 13:13:36 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-10-05 13:13:36 [post_content] => Dr Simon Mabon from Lancaster University sets out the ways in which Saudi Arabia is using new anti-terrorism legislation to restrict freedom of speech and online activity. The briefing examines changing Saudi social attitudes to women’s political participation, calls for greater accountability from the regime and the UK-Saudi economic and political relationship that has a chilling effect on London’s willingness to speak out against Saudi human rights abuses. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Saudi Arabia, ‘New Media’ and UK Relations with the Kingdom [post_excerpt] => Dr Simon Mabon from Lancaster University sets out the ways in which Saudi Arabia is using new anti-terrorism legislation to restrict freedom of speech and online activity. The briefing examines changing Saudi social attitudes to women’s political participation, calls for greater accountability from the regime and the UK-Saudi economic and political relationship that has a chilling effect on London’s willingness to speak out against Saudi human rights abuses. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-saudi-arabia-new-media-and-uk-relations-with-the-kingdom [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-saudi-arabia-new-media-and-uk-relations-with-the-kingdom/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [18] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 828 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-09-26 11:11:25 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-09-26 11:11:25 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Alex Jackson provides a detailed analysis of the recent conflict between the Turkish Government and the PKK, exploring the key dynamics behind recent events. Jackson’s research is supported by a comprehensive database of recent attacks, casualties and other important information. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: The Battle for Semdinli–An Analysis of Turkey’s Latest Violence [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Alex Jackson provides a detailed analysis of the recent conflict between the Turkish Government and the PKK, exploring the key dynamics behind recent events. Jackson’s research is supported by a comprehensive database of recent attacks, casualties and other important information. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-the-battle-for-semdinli-an-analysis-of-turkeys-latest-violence [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-the-battle-for-semdinli-an-analysis-of-turkeys-latest-violence/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [19] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 634 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-08-22 13:33:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-08-22 13:33:52 [post_content] => Turkey wants the United Nations to set up refugee camps "within the borders of Syria" in order to contain the number of Syrians fleeing to Turkey. It urges the international community to respond collectively to the killing of the civilian population. Turkey feels the world needs to stand by it when the threat to use chemical and biological weapons against Turkey exists. Turkey has responded to a massive humanitarian crisis at its doorstep in a manner befitting a serious country with a long history. The AKP government’s decision to finally distance itself from, and then take a firm stand against the Assad dictatorship, can only be applauded. However, it still leaves many unanswered questions. Even though the speed and extent of Syria's spiraling violence has taken most of the world by surprise, shouldn’t Turkey, claiming to be “the master, the leader and the servant “ of this region , have been reading and predicting the situation better than most? The unintended consequences of the conflict in Syria and Turkey’s involvement in it are becoming clearer each day. Lack of contingency planning, failure of foresight and an inability to develop a comprehensive policy that includes courageous steps to deal with its own ethnic question and democratic deficit undermine Turkey’s standing in its region. As the violence escalates and the stakes become higher, Turkey can no longer afford to continue with a foreign policy that is characterized by an “act now, think later” approach. The Arab Uprising put a spring in the step of Ahmet Davutoglu, the architect of Turkey’s recent foreign policy. Mr. Davutoglu had talked of In the Turkish Grand National Assembly session where the foreign minister made his statement, the opposition Republican Peoples’ Party (CHP) called the government’s policy towards Syria a “fiasco and adventurism”. However, having failed to formulate a credible alternative which adequately condemned the brutality of the Assad regime, the Republican Peoples’ Party’s warnings went largely unnoticed. The fact is, neither the government nor its fiercest critics had really predicted that unfolding events in Syria would turn into an existential threat for Turkey. The crisis in Syria tested the limits of Turkey’s influence in the region. It also exposed Turkey’s own ethnic and sectarian divisions. Alarmed at the power vacuum being filled with an increasingly bold Kurdish presence over the border, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned against Kurdish insurgents establishing camps in northern Syria, saying Turkey would not tolerate it. But it was inside national borders that Kurdish armed group PKK intensified its attacks on the police, military and civilians, carrying the decades old bloody conflict to a new and more dangerous stage. In late July, PKK militants engaged Turkish armed forces for nearly three weeks in the southeastern region of Semdinli, bordering Iran and Iraq. Over the past month, the PKK attacked and killed two soldiers in the Aegean seaside town of Foca. On August 12th, an outspoken Kurdish/Alevi deputy from the opposition CHP was kidnapped and held for 48 hours by the PKK. On 20th August, the second day of the major Muslim holiday Eid el Fitr, a car bomb exploded near a police station in Gaziantep, a city near Turkey's south-eastern border with Syria, killing at least nine people including four children and wounding dozens more. The government immediately blamed it on the PKK. The PKK denied involvement. One of the most dangerous consequences of Turkey’s decision to become an organising hub for the Syrian uprising has been the of its by foreign fighters. The British press has been reporting examples of fighting for Syrian opposition groups and concerns have been raised over young British Muslims being radicalised by the conflict in Syria via Turkey. The visible presence of home-grown Islamists and foreign jihadists caused alarm among populations in towns and villages along Turkey’s border with Syria. In areas where Turkey’s own Alevi (and in smaller numbers, Arabic speaking Alawite) community lives, security concerns and tension among local people are growing. Turkey’s covert and overt support for the mostly Sunni Syrian rebels fighting the Alawite regime in Syria and its facilitation of Saudi Arabian and Qatari arming and funding of rebels have unsettled many. Yet increasingly angry complaints raised by the local population about the sectarian and fundamentalist elements arriving in the area have failed to move Turkey’s decision makers. Despite widespread observations that adjoining provinces have become a logistics base for weapons and radical Islamist activity, the only official concern seems to be the threat posed by the Kurdish militancy. There is no doubt increased indiscriminate violence by the PKK and possible knock-on effects of the rising political aspirations of Syria's minority Kurds on Turkey’s own Kurds merit serious attention. However, it is difficult to understand the tendency to turn a blind eye, or even to deny the presence of a growing extremism in Turkey and beyond. Turkish columnist Semih Idiz’s went even further to suggest that it may be intentional. He highlighted the fact that one of the three Al-Qaeda militants killed recently in Aleppo was Baki Yigit, a known Al-Qaeda operative. Baki Yigit was arrested soon after the 2003 Al-Qaeda bombings targeting synagogues, the HSBC bank and the British Consulate in Istanbul, killing 57 people. Yigit was found guilty in 2007 and sentenced to life imprisonment. An appeal court ruling released him in 2010. Mr Idiz asked: “How is it possible that someone like Baki Yigit could freely travel to Syria and join the fight alongside Free Syrian Army?” His answer was chilling: “For a moment, I forgot this was the country where journalists, academics and retired generals rot in jails while convicted murderers walk free”. Even the obvious change of policy among western governments reacting to reports of recent brutality by some of the Syrian opposition didn’t seem to trigger alarm bells among Turkey’s leaders. When the US secretary of state Hilary Clinton visited Istanbul to discuss the Syrian conflict, she made it clear that their concerns were not limited to the PKK threat. “Yes, we worry about terrorists, PKK, al Qaeda and others taking advantage of the legitimate fight of the Syrian people for their freedom, to use Syria to promote their own agendas, and even to perhaps find footholds to launch attacks against others," Clinton said. Very little of the US emphasis on the need to vet rebel factions, in order to ensure weapons did not fall into al Qaeda hands, were mentioned in the Turkish media. Instead, Clinton’s visit was another opportunity to underline common perspectives on the fight against the PKK. Britain, too, recently announced its own "non lethal" support for Syria's opposition, with the acknowledgement of difficulties that went with it. Foreign Secretary William Hague confirmed that they were in contact with the "political arm" of the Free Syrian Army, and no military advice or weaponry would be provided. William Hague said that arming the opposition would have risks attached to it, regarding how that equipment would be used because “there have been reports of atrocities on the opposition side". On the same day, responding to the Foreign Secretary’s announcement, the Amnesty International UK Syria Campaign welcomed practical measures which aim to protect all of Syria's civilians. However, it urged the UK Government and its partners Amnesty said: “The UK needs to be crystal clear with the commanders of Syria’s armed opposition that they have a duty to prevent war crimes by those under their command. The UK should also emphasise to them that they may be held criminally responsible if they fail to do so.” In fact, Turkish authorities didn’t need prompting from the outside in order to have better understanding of the wider security issues facing Turkey. Among others, Mehmet Seker, the Gaziantep deputy from the opposition Republican Peoples’ Party CHP, the government in February about security lapses in refugee camps and loss of control at Turkey’s borders with Syria. Mr Seker spoke again soon after the latest bomb attack in Gaziantep. he said. The US and the UK have been sending their envoys to Turkey to meet the Syrian opposition, in order to stress the importance of human rights and respect for minorities. On the day Foreign Minister Davutoglu called on the international community to stand by the Syrian people’s rights and ambitions, the European Union urged Turkey to protect freedom of speech of its politicians while fighting against terrorism. The very same day, Turkey’s Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin threatened journalists who made mildly critical comments about him “to stuff their writings in their mouths”. That’s the irony of Turkey - a country that glorifies and finds its long lost mission in an Arab Spring, but feels petrified about the prospect of a Kurdish blossoming… [post_title] => Turkey’s Syria Conundrum [post_excerpt] => Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu must be secretly dreaming of a world where would vanish into thin air. He had told Parliament in April that . Barely four months later, on August the 20th with the number of Syrian refugees on its soil approaching one hundred thousand people, Mr Davutoglu declared that Syria is no longer a national or regional problem. He said . [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turkeys-syria-conundrum [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:36 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/turkeys-syria-conundrum/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [20] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 633 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-08-17 13:10:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-08-17 13:10:21 [post_content] => The Commission published its final report on Saturday 14 July at 7.30pm, televised on Channel 4. The report provides a road map for British commitment in Iraq going forward. The report was be delivered to the Prime Minister and the leaders of the main political parties. Similar in scope to the Iraq Study Group in the U.S, the inquiry heard evidence from over 50 witnesses from Iraq, Britain and the United States - from eminent military personnel, diplomats, business people and civil servants as well as legal experts, humanitarian aid groups and UK community leaders. It also received submissions from across the world. For the remit, witnesses and submissions to the Iraq Commission, see below. The Iraq Commission is jointly chaired by Lord Ashdown (former High Representative for Bosnia Herzegovina), Baroness Jay (former leader of the House of Lords) and Lord King (Defence Secretary during the first Gulf War and Chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee). Lord Ashdown said, “One of the greatest international challenges of our time is bringing peace and security to Iraq. It is both in Britain’s national interest, and a moral obligation, that a way forward is found for Iraq and its people.” Baroness Jay said, “The Iraq Commission aims to produce a long term strategy for Britain’s role in Iraq – this will incorporate the challenges of reconstruction, rebuilding and humanitarian relief efforts, as well as security for the Iraqi people and British troops.” Lord King said, “The current situation threatens the stability of the region, and has major implications for the world as a whole. It is up to policy makers on all sides to consider how best to help resolve it, and enhance the security of Iraq itself and the region.” The Chairs were supported by nine Commissioners: Former British Ambassador to the UN, Lord Hannay of Chiswick; Dr Rosemary Hollis, Director of Research, Chatham House; Sir Paul Lever KCMG, Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies; Lt Gen Andrew Ridgway, former UN and NATO Commander; Maeve Sherlock, former Chief Executive of the Refugee Council; Asim Siddiqui, Chairman of the City Circle; Stephen Twigg, Director of the Foreign Policy Centre; Sir Patrick Walker, former Director General of MI5; and Professor Brian Brivati. For biographies of the Commission members, see below. The hearings were open to the press, and were televised on Channel 4 from 2 July. This was followed on 14 July by a special 90-minute programme in which Jon Snow was joined by the Commission to discuss their recommendations and the implications of the report. All the hearings can be downloaded from www.channel4.com/iraqcommission Members of the public can watch hearings, read transcripts and join an online debate at www.channel4.com/iraqcommission Witnesses to the Iraq Commission • Sir Christopher Meyer, Chair of the Press Complaints Commission & former British Ambassador to the United States • Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP, Labour MP for Rotherham & former Minister for Europe • Greg Mutitt, Co-Director of PLATFORM • Dr Bassam Fattouh, Oxford Institute for Energy Studies • Mohamed Bali, Country Desk Manager for Iraq and Lebanon, Muslim Aid • Oliver Burch, Iraq Programme Manager, Christian Aid • Professor Amitai Etzioni, Director of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, George Washington University • Andrew Bearpark, Director General of the British Association of Private Security Companies • David Horowitz, Editor-in-Chief, The Jerusalem Post • Marion Birch, Director of MedAct • Dr Heba Al-Naseri, Member of the UK Iraqi Medical Association • Tom Porteous, Director of Human Rights Watch • Noaman Muna, Chairman of Iraqi Al-Amal Association • Dr Ismail Jalili, Chairman of National Association of British Arabs • Adnan Al-Dulaimi, General Council for the People of Iraq • Dr Toby Dodge, Senior Fellow for the Middle East at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London • Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, Shadow Security Minister in the Shadow Cabinet and National Security Adviser to Conservative Party Leader • Dr Ali Ansari, Reader in Modern History at the University of St Andrews, Scotland • Sir Richard Dalton, Former British Ambassador to Iran • Jan de Wilde, Chief of Mission at the International Organisation for Migration London • Thanaa Al Kinani, Lawyer and human rights activist • Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Former British Ambassador to the United Nations in New York and Her Majesty's former Special Representative in Iraq • Peter Bergen, Schwartz Senior fellow at the New America Foundation • Andrew Alderson, Gulf Capital • Professor Fred Kagan, Resident Scholar of American Enterprise Institute • David Horgan, Managing Director of Petrel Resources • Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, former Foreign Secretary and Conservative Member of Parliament • Lt Gen (Ret) Jay Garner, Retired US Army General • HE Dr Sami Khiyami, Syrian Ambassador to the UK • Duncan Bullivant, Chief Executive of Henderson Risk Group • Ammar Al Shahbander, Country Director for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting • Sir Menzies Campbell, Leader of the Liberal Democrats • Ghassan Attiyah, Executive Director of the Iraq Foundation for Development and Democracy • General Sir Mike Jackson, Former Chief of the General Staff • Dr Barham Salih, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq • Peter Kellner, Chairman of YouGov • Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South and Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee • Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies at King's College, London • Zainab Salbi, CEO and Founder of Women for Women International • Houzan Mahmoud, UK Head of the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq and co-founder of the Iraq Freedom Congress • Dr Ali Allawi, former Minister of Defence and Minister of Finance in the Iraqi Government • Professor Salama Al Khafaji, Independent Iraqi MP and former member of the Interim Iraqi Governing Council • Simon Maxwell, Director of the Overseas Development Institute • Verena Fritz, Research Fellow, Poverty and Public Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute • James Darcy, Director of Humanitarian Programmes, Overseas Development Institute • Tom Hardie-Forsyth, Co-Founder and Non Executive director of the Kurdistan Development Corporation. • Bayan Rahman, High Representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq to the UK and Chair of the Kurdistan Development Corporation • Roger Wright, UNICEF Representative for Iraq • Rachel Briggs, Head of Identity Programme, Demos • Tim Finch, Director of Communications, Refugee Council • George Graham, the Advocacy and Policy Officer, International Rescue Committee (IRC) UK. • Richard Fenning, CEO of Control Risks • Salam Pax, the ‘Baghdad Blogger’ • Patrick Seale, British author and expert on Syria and the Middle East • Dr Gareth Stansfield, Reader in Middle East Politics at University of Exeter and Associate Fellow, Chatham House. • Professor Brendan O’Leary, Lauder Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania • Dr Kahled Salih, Spokesman for the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq • Abdul Samad Rahman Sultan, Minister for Migration and the Displaced, Government of Iraq Submissions to The Iraq Commission The Commission received submissions from across the world. A full list is available at www.channel4.com/iraqcommission Remit of The Iraq Commission On the 27th April 2007, The Iraq Commission announced its inquiry into Britain's future involvement in Iraq. In coming to its conclusions on the scope and focus of Britain’s future involvement in Iraq, the Commission will take into account the impact any actions will have on: • Southern Iraq’s internal security dynamic, and approaches to improving stability • The political and economic situation in Iraq • The role of UK troops in Iraq, and the strategic objectives of their deployment • The UK’s wider Middle East strategy including Iran and Syria. • Domestic political considerations in the UK including the impact on community cohesion • Consequences for key strategic alliances - the transatlantic relationship, EU and the UN • Reconstruction and development in Iraq and the role of UK NGOs and other agencies • Long term support for Iraq, including budgetary, policing, social services, democracy and civil society support Issues expressly outside the scope of the Commission and the Report include: • The merits and legality of the UK decision to intervene militarily in Iraq. • Specific allegations of war crimes by British Forces, or corruption or wrong doing by individual organisations. Commissioner Biographies Co-Chairs: Lord Ashdown served as an officer in the Royal Marines from 1959 to 1972. He then worked for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, before being elected Liberal Member of Parliament for Yeovil in 1983. He was leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999. After leaving Parliament Lord Ashdown was appointed High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2002. Baroness Jay was formerly Lord Privy Seal, Leader of the House of Lords and Minister for Women. Previously, she was Minister of State at the Department of Health. She was a founding director of the National AIDS Trust and a governor of South Bank University. She is currently Chair of the Overseas Development Institute. Lord King was elected to Parliament at in 1970. He held the posts of Employment Secretary and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. He also served as Defence Secretary under Prime Minister John Major during the Gulf War in 1991. After retirement to the back benches, he became Chair of the Intelligence and Security Select Committee. Members: Lord Hannay of Chiswick, a British diplomat, spent five years as ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations. Most recently he has taken on specialised roles such as Special Representative for Cyprus and was a member of the UN High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, reporting to the Secretary-General in December 2004. He is the Chair of the United Nations Association UK. Dr Rosemary Hollis, director of research at Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs). Previously she was head of the Middle East programme at Chatham House. From 1990-95, she headed the Middle East Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies. From 1980-89 she was a lecturer in Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she also gained a PhD in Political Science. Sir Paul Lever KCMG, Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies. He retired from the British Diplomatic Service in 2003 as Ambassador to Germany. His previous postings included Head of Security Policy Department and Assistant Under Secretary for Defence at the Foreign Office; Leader of the British Delegation to the Negotiations on Conventional Forces in Europe in Vienna; Head of the Defence and Overseas Secretariat in the Cabinet Office; and Chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee. Lieutenant General Andrew Peter Ridgway, CB, CBE, became Lieutenant Governor of Jersey from 14 June 2006 after a long military career. In 1982 he attended the Army Staff College at Camberley, before taking command of the 3rd Royal Tank Regiment and the 7th Armoured Brigade (the 'Desert Rats'). In 1994 he was appointed UN Commander in Central Bosnia and Herzegovina, and became Chief of Staff for the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps for NATO's entry into the Kosovo War in 1999. Most recently, for 2003 to 2006, he was Chief of Defence Intelligence, although he was not directly involved in producing the controversial intelligence reports that led to 2003 invasion of Iraq and Operation Telic. Maeve Sherlock, former Chief Executive of the Refugee Council. Before joining the Refugee Council in 2003, Maeve was a special adviser to Gordon Brown, MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer where her brief spanned child poverty, welfare reform and the voluntary sector. Before moving to the Treasury, Maeve was Chief Executive of the National Council for One Parent Families and, prior to that, Director of UKCOSA. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board on Naturalisation and Integration and a Fellow of Durham University. Asim Siddiqui, chairman of the City Circle, a network body of mainly young Muslim professionals. In addition to local grass root community work, Asim and his team organise weekly public discussion forums providing an outlet for debate on issues of mutual concern between British Muslim communities and wider society. Asim is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and sits on the Guardian's Muslim Youth Forum. Stephen Twigg, joined the Foreign Policy Centre as Director in August 2005. He was involved with the FPC from its conception in 1998 and since then as a Member of the Board from 1998 to 2006. After being General Secretary of the Fabian Society from 1996 to 1997, Stephen was elected as a Member of Parliament for Enfield Southgate in 1997, which he represented until 2005. He was Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the House of Commons, the Rt Hon. Robin Cook MP, from 2001 to 2002 and then a junior minister in the Department for Education and Skills between 2002 and 2005, reaching the post of Minister of State in 2004. Stephen also contributes to the Aegis Trust in their work on genocide education and prevention. Sir Patrick Walker, the 12th Director General of MI5 (1987-1992). Sir Patrick joined the Security Service in 1963, following a period of service in the pre-independence government of Uganda. He became Director General in 1987, overseeing the Service's transition though the end of the Cold War before his retirement in 1992. Brian Brivati, is Professor of Contemporary History at Kingston University and runs the human rights programmes at BA and MA level. He was recently part of a panel of leading Ministers, MPs and thinkers who came together in the Houses of Parliament at the end of April this year to discuss the future of humanitarian intervention, after the conflict in Iraq. He has published extensive work on contemporary British politics. His research and teaching has recently extended to comparative work on genocide and human rights. Further details about The Iraq Commission are available at: www.channel4.com/iraqcommission [post_title] => About the Iraq Commission [post_excerpt] => In 2007 the Foreign Policy Centre, in conjunction with Channel 4, set up an independent, cross-party Commission tasked with producing a blueprint for Britain's future involvement in Iraq. THE IRAQ COMMISSION REPORT CAN BE DOWNLOADED AT: http://fpc.org.uk/publications/iraqcommissionreport [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => about-the-iraq-commission [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/about-the-iraq-commission/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [21] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 632 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-07-20 11:30:50 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-20 11:30:50 [post_content] => Until now, the Assad regime has relied, in part, on a strategy of urbicide. Urbicide is a strategy in which the annihilation of the built environment of a targeted population is carried out and remoulded – or not, as the case maybe - to achieve the desired political, socio-economic, ecological and cultural effects i.e. spatial domination. The concept of urbicide was developed by Bosnian architects during the 1992-1995 war. Bosnian architects noted that during this conflict the urban fabric was not destroyed through collateral damage but deliberately targeted by fighters. Political scientist Martin Coward noted that in Bosnia, “Buildings of no military significance were regularly and deliberately shelled. Moreover, the shelling covered a wide variety of buildings: housing, public institutions, cultural monuments, utility buildings, open spaces.” The Assad regime has resorted to urbicide before. In 1982, Islamists in the small city of Hama revolted against the Hafez al-Assad regime. Syrian historian Patrick Seale noted that the battle for Hama, “was a last ditch battle which one side or the other had to win and which, one way or the other, would decide the fate of the country.” The Assad regime won. Syrian immunologist Bara Sarraj reported on his visit to Hama following the 1982 onslaught by the regime, “Not a single tombstone was in its place.” In the aftermath of the conflict, the regime reformed the urban fabric of Hama. Instead of political and socio-economic reform, the regime doled out public largess in the form of roads that tore through the urban fabric, large public buildings, parks, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The Assad regime was not just remoulding the urban fabric but the Hama citizen. The Assad regime desired to transmogrify the Hama Islamist into the Hama Ba’thist. Seale noted, “Among the revolutionary changes was the introduction of mixed bathing in 1983 and the first college dormitory block in the whole of Syria to house both male and female students.” In the current revolt, the regime has once again committed urbicide on Hama. However, this time the byword for massacre and destruction is not only Hama, as it was in 1982, but simultaneously: Homs, Dera’a, Houla, Deir al-Zour and Khan Sheikhoun. And now Damascus. Previously Damascus could launch an attack, just as Washington or Westminster could wage war, or Rome could once be an empire. Indeed, Hafez al-Assad was known as the butcher of Damascus, a title inherited by his son Bashar. Now, however, Bashar al-Assad regime has lost control of urban space. There is now another Damascus in Damascus. The battle for Damascus is a watershed moment in the battle for Syria. As in Hama, Homs and other cities across Syria we are likely to see enormous acts of violence against urban dwellers and urbanity itself. It is of note that the fighting started away from Damascus Boulevard, the Four Seasons Hotel, away from Assad’s red carpets and shopping malls. Instead the fighting has started in the old quarters of the city, in the stoned labyrinthine of narrow streets and houses, difficult for the heavy weaponry of the regime to operate in. The regime now faces an existential crisis. Does the butcher of Damascus, take an axe to itself? Does Assad enact urbicide on its own seat of power? Unlike in Hama or Homs, the Assad regime cannot withdraw from Damascus and annihilate the urban fabric to remold it in a more compliant self-image. Damascus is supposed to be the regime’s image. The predatory ‘success’ of the regime has finally caught up with it. Where to now? The Syrian conflict is heading into ever more nihilistic ground. The battle over a city once again decides the fate of the country. Who holds Damascus, holds Syria. Things may all fall apart, the centre may not hold. All that is solid may turn to rubble. Or is this the beginning of the end for Assad’s Damascus and the start of another Damascus in Damascus? [post_title] => Urbicide in Syria [post_excerpt] => Control of urban space is key to the survival of the state and its institutions. It is in urban space, in the Middle East, where the final acts of authoritarian leaders have been played out, for example, in Baghdad, Tripoli, Cairo and Sana’a. In Syria the suicide bombing that killed Dawoud Rajha the Minister of Defence and the brother-in-law of Assad, the deputy head of the armed forces Assef Shawkat, along with the entrance into the city of lightly armed opposition fighters in the Damascene districts of Midan and Qaboon, mark the final spatial shift of the Syrian conflict to Damascus, the seat of power. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => urbicide-in-syria [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/urbicide-in-syria/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [22] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 846 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-07-06 14:09:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-06 14:09:52 [post_content] => As Vladimir Putin broods in the Kremlin wondering what his next foreign policy moves should be, is Georgia on his mind? The small Black Sea and Caucasus state has always been a bother for Russia. With its 3,000 years of history and one of the oldest languages in the world, the heady mix of ski-able mountains and tropical coastal resorts, the mélange of nationalities – Georgian, Armenian, Azeri, Turkic, Abkhazian, Ossetian (the best conductor in England, the LSO 's Valery Gergiev, is Ossetian) with minority languages and religions in addition to one of the oldest orthodox churches in the world, Georgia is the most exotic of all the nations that once formed part of the Tsarist then Soviet imperium. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Time for Georgia to become European [post_excerpt] => As Vladimir Putin broods in the Kremlin wondering what his next foreign policy moves should be, is Georgia on his mind? The small Black Sea and Caucasus state has always been a bother for Russia. With its 3,000 years of history and one of the oldest languages in the world, the heady mix of ski-able mountains and tropical coastal resorts, the mélange of nationalities – Georgian, Armenian, Azeri, Turkic, Abkhazian, Ossetian (the best conductor in England, the LSO 's Valery Gergiev, is Ossetian) with minority languages and religions in addition to one of the oldest orthodox churches in the world, Georgia is the most exotic of all the nations that once formed part of the Tsarist then Soviet imperium. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-time-for-georgia-to-become-european [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-time-for-georgia-to-become-european/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [23] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 631 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-07-05 10:28:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-07-05 10:28:35 [post_content] => Interestingly enough, according to the country’s constitution, the impeachment of the former Paraguayan leader does not make him ineligible; in other words if he wishes, Lugo could run for President in the upcoming election, because even though he was impeached, the former president preserved all his political rights, and therefore there are no legal limitations to his candidacy. On the other hand, Paraguayan law forbids re-election. Consequentially, Federico Franco, the new President cannot run for re-election. On 21 April, 2013, all Paraguayan citizens aged 18 to 75 years old are required to vote. The population will choose the president, vice-president, governors and 17 out of the country’s 45 senators alongside 80 congressmen. However, Lugo’s impeachment and the new government of President Federico Franco generated a series of unanswered issues. Unlike Brazil, where Fernando Collor’s impeachment in 1992 was a slow-paced, gradual-developed process monitored step-by-step by the population, Fernando Lugo’s impeachment happened suddenly and abruptly. Despite a number of tycoon farmers, opposition politicians and even Lugo sensing that "something was in the air," one cannot deny the incredible efficiency regarding the whole process after the decision to depose Lugo was taken. Among the few Paraguayan foreign policy concerns, Brazil is undoubtedly the main one. The relationship with Brazil involves, for example, Itaipu, the corridor of Paranaguá, soybean production and the so-called brasiguaios (Paraguayan descendents of Brazilian farming immigrants), who exert significant economic and political influence. Seen as an imperialist country by one of Paraguay’s main newspapers, ABC Color, Brazil is working hard to change this stereotype, accepting, for instance, that it has to negotiate tariffs paid for the Paraguayan excess energy supply from Itaipu. Piracy is definitely the downside that Brazil faces in its relationship with Paraguay. Without a clear solution for the problem, piracy has become important to Paraguay’s poor economy and a problem for the booming Brazilian economy. Lugo had a great relationship with former President Lula, something which was promising to the relations between the two countries. However, Lugo did not make it clear to the Brazilian government that his domestic relationship with the major law and opinion makers in the country was extremely fragile. There are several reasons for Friday’s impeachment. Some of the most important are the following: 1. Lugo did not mange to build a decent coalition in Parliament. He lacked the political skills to neutralise enemies and reinforce his allies 2. Despite having the very important support of rural workers, Lugo also needed the support of the country's elites, which he did not have 3. The dialogue and coordination between tycoon farmers and members of the Colorado Party had been occurring for a long time. Sources in the country point to these two as responsible for deflagrating Lugo’s deposition 4. The press was not favourable to Lugo and it constituted the most important vehicle of popular clamour 5. Paraguay’s domestic policy is strongly influenced by tycoon farmers, the economic and cultural elites of the Asuncion, businessmen and people linked to piracy in Ciudad del Este. Lugo was in direct conflict with the first group, and failed to cultivate a relationship that could favour him with the other groups The aforementioned facts expose unprecedented weaknesses in a President in South America. If externally, Lugo’s impeachment process, was questioned by the foreign press and neighbouring countries, domestically the population seems nonchalant, and in a political climate of anesthesia. However, once the anesthesia fades, the local political system could be the stage of new upheavals. By the current scenario of Paraguayan politics, elections will polarise the dispute between traditional Colorado Party candidates - who opposed Lugo and were linked to Stroessner - and the Liberal Party. Some names are being presented as possible candidates for the Presidency, but there are no official confirmations. The possible candidates for the Colorado Party are Horicio Cartes, Zacarias Irún e Lilian Samaniego, the latter is also the party’s president. The Liberal Party’s possible candidates are Blas Llano, who is a businessman, connected to the Franco government, and Efraim Alegre. [post_title] => Paraguay: With less than ten months until the Presidential elections, the country lives with political uncertainties [post_excerpt] => Paraguay’s political history is marked by advances and setbacks and one of the longest dictatorships in the Americas, led by General Alfredo Stroessner. In 2008, the country elected the former Bishop Fernando Lugo, who promised agrarian reform and social improvement. With Lugo’s impeachment, the country lives amid a political climate of uncertainty with less than ten months to go until the Presidential elections. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => paraguay-with-less-than-ten-months-until-the-presidential-elections-the-country-lives-with-political-uncertainties [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/paraguay-with-less-than-ten-months-until-the-presidential-elections-the-country-lives-with-political-uncertainties/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [24] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 630 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-06-29 13:35:58 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-06-29 13:35:58 [post_content] => The underlying reason for this assertion is the gaps in development within Guangdong province, China's largest provincial economy by aggregate GDP. Since the instigation of ‘reform and opening up’ policies at the end of the 1970s, Guangdong's economy has boomed as it has been at the forefront of China’s integration into global production networks and supply chains, earning it the sobriquet of the ‘world's factory’. The value of the province's total trade regularly comes in at a figure greater than its GDP (107% in 2009 for example), compared to something closer to two thirds for China as a whole. However Guangdong's development has not been evenly spread within the province, and in reality its integration with the global economy - and hence the most rapid development - has been limited to the PRD, an area made up of nine administrative cities around the provincial capital of Guangzhou and the bustling city of Shenzhen just over the border from Hong Kong. The city of Qingyuan epitomizes many of the disparities within Guangdong. Qingyuan’s average per capita GDP is around half of Guangdong’s. The minimum wage of RMB850 per month (for 2011, up from RMB580 in 2008) is about two thirds of that in Shenzhen or Guangzhou. Property prices are one third of Guangzhou’s. Qingyuan’s total trade equates to less than 30% of GDP, and net exports only contribute a small proportion of GDP growth. These indicators place Qingyuan closer to many inland provinces than to Guangdong’s bustling Pearl River Delta (PRD). These disparities are even more marked given the proximity of Qingyuan’s urban centre to Guangzhou. Not all of Qingyuan is so close, though, and the city’s administrative area spreads north to the border with neighbouring Hunan province. Qingyuan is the largest administrative city within the province, though this includes hilly and afforested non-urban areas covering 70-80% of the city, and its four million population are relatively sparsely distributed. This means that even within Qingyuan there are substantial social and economic disparities, with developmental gaps between the hilly northern areas of the city and the south. This is reflected in the demographic profile. Whereas Guangdong is a substantial net recipient of migrant labour, the net inflows of migrants in southern Qingyuan are small, and migrants flow out of Qingyuan’s northern areas to the other parts of the province or elsewhere. Social issues therefore feature high on the city leadership’s agenda, including a target of 72,600 households to have their annual income raised to RMB 2,500 per person or about £250. Economic and industrial trends The primary policy aim, however, is still one of economic development. Qingyuan’s GDP growth over recent years has been the fastest of Guangdong’s cities, rising around 15% in 2011, and there are signs of new investment coming into the city. So far, this is mainly from within China, for example, from Anhui Conch, the country’s largest cement manufacturer, or Guangzhou Automobile. The city’s strategy is also firmly part of the provincial policy agenda of rebalancing the economy and moving industry out of the PRD, especially in labour-intensive manufacturing: for this, Qingyuan is to play the role of a ‘bridgehead’. With this focus on industrial transfer, the city is now home to three provincial-level industrial zones, with a focus on attracting manufacturers from the PRD, environmental industries, and hi-tech projects. The provincial government has also decided to locate a cluster of technical and vocational training facilities and colleges in the city. These trends are supported by investment in infrastructure, as is typical in today’s PRC. The city is building its fourth and fifth expressways. The high-speed rail line between Guangzhou and Wuhan (which will eventually go on north to Beijing and south from Guangzhou to Hong Kong) stops at Qingyuan. Guangzhou’s Baiyun airport is less than one hour’s drive away. The city’s terrain also has rich mineral resources, including rare earths. Non-ferrous metals processing is the largest ‘pillar industry’ in the city, and there are numerous investments by copper companies. But environmental consciousness appears to be reasonably strong among the leadership, not least to avoid damaging the tourist industry which accounts for some 5% of the city’s GDP. There is also plenty of work needed to improve resource efficiency: Qingyuan’s energy use per capita is the second highest in Guangdong. These developments provide a foundation for growth in trade and investment, and in the local economy. Indeed, perhaps reflecting these opportunities, HSBC have just opened a sub-branch in Qingyuan. Moving outside the PRD Places such as Qingyuan create another alternative for moving production outside the PRD. They could offer lower labour and land costs than in the PRD, while retaining proximity to familiar export routes in Guangdong, and to Hong Kong, from where many of these operations are still managed. The wider implications could be twofold. Firstly, the disparities within Guangdong mean that it is a mistake to think about the province as saturated as a destination for investment or manufacturing, even if the PRD itself is becoming saturated. Secondly, therefore, there is plenty of space still for Guangdong to provide a relatively low-cost location for global production, one which is well integrated into established global production and logistics networks. Even as the PRD becomes more expensive, Guangdong’s global comparative advantage may be far from exhausted. June 2012 [post_title] => China's Economic Geography: Moving outside the Pearl River Delta [post_excerpt] => Rising costs in southern China's Pearl River Delta (PRD) have been posing a dilemma for businesses and investors with manufacturing and sourcing interests in southern China. One response has been to move inland, to provinces in central and western China (see FPC Briefing: Engaging with Inland China, Tim Summers, April 2011), another to shift production to places from Vietnam to Bangladesh and Indonesia, or even back to Arizona. However, a wider look at southern China suggests that there may be other options closer to the PRD. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => chinas-economic-geography-moving-outside-the-pearl-river-delta [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/chinas-economic-geography-moving-outside-the-pearl-river-delta/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [25] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 844 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-05-24 12:01:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-05-24 12:01:14 [post_content] => FPC Senior Research Associate William Gumede sets out some his concerns around increasing Chinese control of key South African resources and advises diversifying its sources of investment from other emerging markets. May 2012. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Challenges facing South Africa-China relations [post_excerpt] => FPC Senior Research Associate William Gumede sets out some his concerns around increasing Chinese control of key South African resources and advises diversifying its sources of investment from other emerging markets. May 2012. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-challenges-facing-south-africa-china-relations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-challenges-facing-south-africa-china-relations/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [26] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 842 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-05-08 18:23:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-05-08 18:23:16 [post_content] => FPC Senior Research Associate Firdevs Robinson gives a detailed and wide ranging account of the current challenges facing the long-running attempts to resolve the division and separation of Cyprus. She argues that unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is loosing hope that meaningful progress will be made in the near future and that as the Republic of Cyprus (Greek Cyprus) moves towards holding the EU Presidency, Brussels is no longer seen by the TRNC as a positive actor. She also draws attention to the growing rifts between the TRNC and Turkey on cultural and political lines, while exploring the current phase of tensions between Greek Cyprus and Turkey. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Cyprus: One step forward, two steps back [post_excerpt] => FPC Senior Research Associate Firdevs Robinson gives a detailed and wide ranging account of the current challenges facing the long-running attempts to resolve the division and separation of Cyprus. She argues that unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is loosing hope that meaningful progress will be made in the near future and that as the Republic of Cyprus (Greek Cyprus) moves towards holding the EU Presidency, Brussels is no longer seen by the TRNC as a positive actor. She also draws attention to the growing rifts between the TRNC and Turkey on cultural and political lines, while exploring the current phase of tensions between Greek Cyprus and Turkey. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-cyprus-one-step-forward-two-steps-back [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-cyprus-one-step-forward-two-steps-back/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [27] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 629 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-02-29 09:58:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-02-29 09:58:14 [post_content] => Mr. Cameron described the war-torn Somalia as a “complex jigsaw puzzle.” It is indeed a difficult and unpredictable country with many parallels with Afghanistan. Western intelligence experts now fear that Somalia is becoming a recruiting ground for radical militants in much the same way Afghanistan was. Somalia is now ranked by MI5 as one of the top three countries in the world, alongside Yemen and Pakistan, which pose a potential security threat to Britain. In a report published in early February 2012, The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) said that Britons are thought to make up about 25 per cent of the 200 or so foreign fighters fielded by the al-Shabaab group in Somalia and they are said to be currently engaging in a war on neighbouring Kenya and its tourist trade. The Colorado-based One Earth Future Foundation put the cost of the piracy off the coast of Somalia to the world economy at almost $7bn in 2011. So, the international community could no longer ignore this festering situation in Somalia. As David Cameron put it, “Pirates are disrupting vital trade routes and kidnapping tourists; young minds are being poisoned by radicalism, breeding terrorism that is threatening not just Somalia but the whole world.” Prime Minister David Cameron hosted the one-day London Conference on Somalia, bringing together fifty-five delegations from the international community. It was attended by US. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon and the foreign ministers of the Middle East and Europe as well as Somali leaders. They reached agreements in seven key areas – on security, piracy, terrorism, humanitarian assistance, local stability, a reinvigorated political process and on international coordination. It was decided that there will be a follow up conference in Istanbul in June to continue discussions on all these issues.One of the significant outcomes of the London conference was to propel Turkey onto the international stage as a key player in Somalia. The international community may have a renewed interest in getting involved in Somalia but Turkey has been present and visible in the country for quite some time. It also has had a distinctively different approach to Somalia’s problems. Turkish sources made it known that the British Prime Minister David Cameron had offered his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan the chance to co-host the International Conference on Somalia. Prime Minister Erdogan could not attend the meeting due to health problems. Last August, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife visited the country together with a high-profile delegation of Turkish officials, businessmen and celebrities. Turkey opened an embassy in Mogadishu in November 2011. There are twelve Turkish humanitarian organisations functioning in the country and Turkish Airlines has announced the start of regular flights to capital Mogadishu from 6 March 2012. There are several Turkish schools in Somalia, run by the Gulen movement, an influential religious community with a vast network of international education programmes. Recently, Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs and the Turkish Religious Affairs Foundation (TDV) brought a group of 400 Somalis to Ankara, mostly for Islamic education but some for nursing and vocational training. Foreign Minister Davutoglu gave the total number of Somali students in Turkey as 800 and he announced that up to 2000 Somali students will be given an opportunity to be educated in Turkey. “Soon, there will be a new generation of Somalis trained in Turkey,” he said. In his London conference speech, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu called for sustainable development and economic growth. He made some specific suggestions such as developing a provincial reconstruction team (PRT) model for regional reconstruction as in Afghanistan. He also underlined the need for rebuilding the national transport infrastructure to support law enforcement, trade and communication. Mr Davutoglu confirmed that Turkey has already allocated $300 million aid to Somalia. At the conference, Mr. Davutoglu highlighted Turkish efforts to provide medical assistance, educational programmes and diplomatic presence in the country. He called others to follow Turkey’s example by opening embassies in Mogadishu. Briefing Turkish media after the London meeting, Ahmet Davutoglu, was reported as saying that Turkey’s presence has been ”on epic proportions” in Somalia during the past five months, because it had kept all its promises towards Somalia since last year’s Istanbul conference. Turkey’s increasingly independent, ambitious, self-confident assertiveness on the world stage is welcome by some but viewed with suspicion by others. Yet, almost every Somali I spoke to during the conference was full of praise for Turkey. Turkey’s emphasis on being on the ground and encouraging sustainable development and economic growth seems to be supported by many Somalis. Abdirashid Duale, an influential businessman told the Reuters news agency that Turkey was ahead of the pack in exploring ways to engage economically."I think the Turks have changed the development environment, they've changed the landscape. They want to invest," he said. The Somali Relief and Development Forum representing Somali NGOs involved in humanitarian activities in Somalia and neighboring countries complained after the conference that their problems are not only political, they’re humanitarian and social. The international community had to prioritize the humanitarian situation in Somalia over the war on counter terrorism, piracy and governmental strategies. In its report published on the eve of the conference, The International Crisis Group called for enhancing the role of Turkey and other Muslim nations in the stabilisation effort, in order to build Somali confidence in the process. At the press conference following the meeting I asked Prime Minister Cameron what kind of role Turkey would be playing in these international efforts? Mr. Cameron was generous in his praise. He said the Turks had played a vitally important role in Somalia in the delivery of humanitarian aid, in supporting the refugee camps. He thought Prime Minister Erdogan had personally played a very important role. Whilst Turkey’s bold steps in Somalia are praised publicly, there are reservations voiced in private. Until recently, Turkey had chosen to act unilaterally in Somalia. Its close relations with the partially representative Transitional Federal Government have raised eyebrows. Some of the Turkish aid organisations most active in Somalia, such as the Foundation for Human Rights, Freedoms and Humanitarian relief (IHH) have a controversial reputation. The Turkish charity IHH was one of the key organisers of the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship that was raided by Israeli troops while en-route to Gaza in May 2010. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made it clear that they will not negotiate with the Islamist militant group Al Shabab. Others are more open-minded about possible engagement. But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told journalists in London that; “all the conflicting parties in Somalia respect Turkey- that is the reason they give importance to Turkey’s presence in the mediation process.” However, militant Islamist group Al -Shabab was just as hostile to Turkey as they were to the rest of the international community. They called the London conference an attempt to re- colonise Somalia and claimed that Turkish aid was sent to poison the people. Al Shabab objects to Turkey’s high- profile presence in Somalia based on radical Islamists arguments. According to Somalia Report, a privately funded, non-partisan website, Turkey’s efforts in Somalia are greatly appreciated but what Somalis need in their hour of need are not mosques and imams, but doctors and engineers. [post_title] => Turkey at the London Conference on Somalia [post_excerpt] => On 23rd February 2012, a major conference in London thrust Somalia back into the international spotlight. For the past 21 years, Somalia has been one of the world’s worst failed states with chronic famine, violence and piracy. The country has been without a functioning government for decades. Since 2006, parts of the country have been controlled by the militant Islamist group Al-Shabab, which pledged its allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2010. The European Union-backed military force, known as ANISOM, managed to push Al Shabab out of Mogadishu in recent months, considerably weakening the radical group but the al-Qaida sponsored al-Shabab militia still controls vast areas of Somalia. The largely ineffective Transitional Federal Government’s mandate is coming to an end in August 2012 and the next six-months are seen as a critical period for Somalia. In fact, recovering from the regional crisis of various kinds, the whole of Horn of Africa will be facing a challenging year. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turkey-at-the-london-conference-on-somalia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/turkey-at-the-london-conference-on-somalia/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [28] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 628 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-02-13 10:58:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-02-13 10:58:23 [post_content] => The opposition, despite having received several "gifts" from the government, such as the ministerial scandals, continues as in 2011, without speech or messages, with nothing concrete to say and deeply disorganized. In the midst of disaster, good news: the PSDB already has a candidate. Both FHC and Sergio Guerra, president of the party, announced support for Aecio Neves (MG) as a candidate for presidential succession in 2014. From this fact, some doubts emerge, as, for example, if José Serra accepts the choice, and if Aécio will be a competitive candidate. Another doubt is if he can unite the opposition. Finally, if he really wants to be a candidate. To be a candidate with a realistic chance of victory, Aécio depends more of others than himself. To be a strong competitor, Aécio will have to obtain the support not only of all opposition parties. He will to explore very well the split in the government coalition, attracting, for example, the PSB and/or PDT for his side. Aecio Neves, despite the strong last name and good transit between politicians, has not yet shown skills to play the big game of the presidential race. His profile would be perfect for the 1980s, as a kind of Collor from Minas Gerais. However, Brazil today is more complex and the government is much more powerful than it used to be in the past. The other issue relates to the second trend: the unity of the political base. Until now, after more than 15 months of Dilma's government, is evident that the governing base is greater than the ministerial reach. To complicate matters, there is an irresistible vocation for friendly fire. First, between the parties. Then within the parties. Moreover, no tools are available to deal with this situation. The strategy used it to procrastinate rather than establishing a "judgment" that demarcates and pacify relations. The government relies on its economic power to satisfy everyone and to promote growth without (much) inflation.The formula is good on the one hand, for the people - that, ultimately, is who decides - is satisfied and trust the president. On the other hand, the lack of a consistent plan of pacification of the governing coalition will charge a price in terms of efficiency, range and modernity in our public policies. Therein lies the faint hope of the opposition, and also the still uncertain and likely impact of social networks in the dispute. [post_title] => Brazil: Government, opposition and future [post_excerpt] => Governmental problems continue emerging from the allied base, and not from oppositional movements. This scenario can signal two trends. The first is that the opposition, as it stands, will not be a match for the government in 2014. The other is that the union of the governing coalition in 2014 will depend on a major commitment of Lula and Dilma. Let's examine these two trends. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brazil-government-opposition-and-future [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:39 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/brazil-government-opposition-and-future/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [29] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 627 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-02-09 17:10:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-02-09 17:10:09 [post_content] => In today’s age of global austerity and insecurity, UK development policy is arguably more critical than ever in reasserting Britain’s confidence at home and abroad. The Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown successfully created an internationally-respected development agency in the Department for International Development which, in spite of pre-election fears, continues to enjoy independence from the UK’s Foreign Office and maintains strong ministerial representation in the coalition government’s cabinet. Yet, the world has changed since the days when New Labour evangelised about the moral and ethical imperatives of making poverty in Africa history, and promoted responsible stewardship in the international community on issues such as securing debt cancellation for low income economies, UN and World Bank reform or lectured on the merits of good governance. An unprecedented financial and economic global slowdown – which as yet shows no sign of abating – has translated into high levels of government spending cuts, unemployment and inflationary pressures domestically. Furthermore, in the face of the UK’s relative decline as a global power, this is coupled with the growing political and economic influence of emerging power centres such as Brazil, China and India. All of this makes the domestic case for supporting development in other countries increasingly challenging. The coalition government, which has now been in office for more than 18 months, rigorously defends an unwavering notion of liberal pragmatism where UK national interest and national security are paramount. Thus, as a result of a recent review of UK aid, spending will now focus on fewer countries – 27 in total – with a particular emphasis on states affected by conflict and a greater focus on maternal mortality. Aid to Burundi is to be phased out, while the newest member of the group of Brics, South Africa, remains a UK aid recipient. UK development spending will also concentrate more on achieving value for money. As a consequence, aid effectiveness is to be measured by outputs and outcomes, not inputs. On the one hand, an assessment of the multilateral agencies has resulted in Unicef qualifying as a ‘good performer’ and on track to receive increases in UK aid. On the other however, the International Labour Organisation’s funding is to be completely withdrawn, while the Food and Agriculture Organisation has been given a final warning. In spite of these attempts to reshape UK development policy, a recent survey published by the Institute of Development Studies on public opinion about aid and development suggests that support is waning. In the context of tackling the UK budget deficit, 71 percent of respondents felt that aid spending should be cut and only 20 percent of those surveyed felt they had a sufficient level of awareness and understanding regarding the country’s development strategy. At a time when the UK Government has – for now at least – made a steadfast commitment to protecting and increasing development spending – up to 0.7 percent of UK gross national income – Dfid needs to become more than just an agency dedicated to dispensing money. It must transform into a development ministry ensuring greater public communication, co-operation and leadership across government in the UK on issues affecting global development, ranging from trade and investment to tax policies, to migration policy, energy and the environment, though not limited to climate change. In essence, to coin a phrase from a report published by the UK peace-building NGO, International Alert, development is less about ‘how much’ and more about ‘how’. Josephine Osikena is director of the London-based think tank, the Foreign Policy Centre This article was first published in 'This is Africa', the FT quarterly at: http://www.thisisafricaonline.com/news/fullstory.php/aid/345/UK__Development_Policy_in_an_age_of_austerity.html [post_title] => UK development policy in an age of austerity [post_excerpt] => In a 2011 article titled “The Lion Kings?” The Economist noted with surprise that more than half of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies in the past decade were in Africa. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => uk-development-policy-in-an-age-of-austerity [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/uk-development-policy-in-an-age-of-austerity/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [30] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 840 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-02-09 12:56:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-02-09 12:56:04 [post_content] => FPC Senior Research Associate gives her analysis of Turkey’s role on the international stage and as a leading player in the evolving map of the Middle East. She notes Turkey’s enhanced prestige but assesses the on going problems with Syria, France, Cyprus and the challenges it faces at home. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Turkey – Role Model or Regional Bully? [post_excerpt] => FPC Senior Research Associate gives her analysis of Turkey’s role on the international stage and as a leading player in the evolving map of the Middle East. She notes Turkey’s enhanced prestige but assesses the on going problems with Syria, France, Cyprus and the challenges it faces at home. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-turkey-role-model-or-regional-bully [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-turkey-role-model-or-regional-bully/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [31] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 626 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-02-07 16:09:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-02-07 16:09:11 [post_content] => Read on February 2, the 2012 Message was one of the largest ever sent. With 467 pages, it positively evaluated the government's achievements adopted so far for the various areas proposed and the developments intended for public policies for this and next years of the mandate. It presented an extensive set of measures, new or already underway, in the economic and social areas, and also in the improvement of public management, which are to be sufficient to maintain the country's growth, despite the drawbacks of the global economy still in crisis since 2008. The document goes through the promise of a better 2012 - even with all the challenges faced, 2011 was regarded as "good despite the difficulties." The government assesses the external environment adversely. Landmark for the present crisis, the United States grew slightly in 2011 (1.8% projected by the IMF) and should maintain the pace this year. Europe is considered a bigger difficulty to solve its current problems. For all advanced economies, it is expected low levels of growth and high unemployment. The set of economic and monetary measures adopted does not generate the certainty of overcoming the current crisis. The world will coexist with a differentiated evolution of the economy. And even so, developing countries, less affected by the current crisis, will not be immune to it. The decline in demand in the developed countries decreases the industrial production and prices of commodities exported by them. The document states measures taken in response to the crisis since 2008, how they were being mitigated from 2010, with the positive responses of the national economy, government action to tackle the inflationary process, from the end of 2010, and the steps again to remove the effects of the crisis in the last quarter of 2011, when production virtually stagnated. Since December, measures adopted included the loosening of monetary policy, tax relief measures, such as white goods, construction, IOF for individuals, foreign debentures of infrastructure, trucks, commercial vehicles and agricultural machinery. It is always emphasized that this set of measures did not negatively affect the stringency of fiscal policy. On the contrary, it led to the elevation of primary surplus targets to R$ 10 billion. The strategy was to ally the strengthening of economic fundamentals with initiatives to increase productivity, qualification of manpower, impulse on technological innovation and investments in infrastructure. The year of 2012 begins with increases in expenses related to the minimum wage offset by a relative decrease in personnel expenses. The president also shares this positive scenario with the attitude of Congress to postpone the wage adjustment for servers and members of the judiciary power. The Message concludes that the Brazilian economy has strong fundamentals, better than in 2008, and, unlike other countries, can maintain a sustainable growth path, with fiscal responsibility, without inflation and external imbalances. The presidential statement is an interesting read, both for the evaluation of the various government programs, and to show short-term courses. In this sense, there is more space devoted to the presentation and evaluation of ongoing programs than to trace long-term goals. A more adequate and appropriate message for a year in which there is less certainty on the horizon. The government did not commit to major reforms. After all, reality has shown, including in 2011, that ad hoc adjustments are more feasible than achieving major constitutional amendments. The government points to the importance of increasing investments. It is noteworthy to mention that they were lower in 2011 than in 2010, even with the announcements of new stages of the Growth Acceleration Program, My House, My Life and Greater Brazil Plan. The government claims problems in the beginning of the administration, but investment also fell as a function of fiscal restraint. The Message did not anticipate how the government will be able to expand these investments in 2012 and keep the promise to meet the fiscal targets. But it will certainly be a good exercise of political articulation and management of economic results. The measures proposed for 2012 and the targets for the various public policies seek the path of continuity (and not in alternation) in order to assert that necessary measures to increase growth, solve the problems of the productive sector, protect the national economy, expand social programs, reduce poverty and misery will be taken, without jeopardizing fiscal and macroeconomic balance. After all the government needs to convince economic agents that the country will grow and invite them to a "big deal", involving companies in a new cycle of productive investments. The messages of the Parliament During the reopening ceremony of the work of the Legislative, the chairmen of the House, the Senate and the Supreme Electoral Court (representing the Judiciary) gave important signals about what to expect in 2012. The chairman of the House, Marco Maia, acknowledged that Congress will have less time to vote on measures, due to the fact that in electoral years the work is drastically affected from June on, when the caucuses begin to define candidates and coalitions. Marco Maia highlighted some priority issues in the legislative agenda: 1) Supplementary Pension Fund for civil servants, 2) distribution of royalties for oil, 3) the General Law of the World Cup in 2014, and 4) change in "Zero Alcohol Law ", in order to make it more severe the act of drinking and driving. The chairman of the Senate, Jose Sarney (PMDB-AP), took the opportunity to criticize the executive branch regarding the issue of Provisional Measures. To Sarney, excessive measures hinders the Congress and reduces the quality of laws in the country, since there is little time for Parliament to discuss such proposals. In 2011 the Senate approved constitutional amendment proposal changing rite of process of provisional measures in the Congress. The proposal is in the House, but the odds of voting this year are small. His pronouncement on the subject will not have any practical effect on this issue. Sarney also defended electoral and party reforms. In 2011 the matter was discussed in the House and Senate, however, very little progress was made. The outlook for this year is not good and even occasional advances are unexpected. A highlight in Sarney's speech was the suggestion to create a committee of experts to discuss federal relations. For him, the relationship between the Union, the states and the municipalities is very worn out and should be examined. Besides the General Law of the World Cup and the issue of royalties, Sarney mentioned the change in the State Participation Fund (FPE). The Congress will have approve this year a new division for the Fund. In February of 2010 the Supreme Court concluded that the apportionment provided in Complementary Law 62/89 - in effect, therefore almost two decades old - was unconstitutional. This is because, under the Constitution, the FPE should "promote social and economic equilibrium" of the states and Federal District - which is not possible with fixed coefficients of participation, since the revision of percentages, which should have occurred in 1991, was never made . The Supreme remained, however, the application of the criteria of the law until the end of this year. Electoral Supreme Court Minister Ricardo Lewandowski made a point of highlighting the collaboration between the three branches. Unlike the perception of some, who see the Supreme Court "legislating," Lewandowski chose to classify this as a coordinated effort between the two powers. Government, opposition and future Governmental problems continue emerging from the allied base, and not from oppositional movements. This scenario can signal two trends. The first is that the opposition, as it stands, will not be a match for the government in 2014. The other is that the union of the governing coalition in 2014 will depend on a major commitment of Lula and Dilma. Let's examine the two trends. The opposition, despite having received several "gifts" from the government, such as the ministerial scandals, continues as in 2011, without speech or messages, with nothing concrete to say and deeply disorganized. In the midst of disaster, good news: the PSDB already has a candidate. Both FHC and Sergio Guerra, president of the party, announced support for Aecio Neves (MG) as a candidate for presidential succession in 2014. From this fact, some doubts emerge, as, for example, if José Serra accepts the choice, and if Aécio will be a competitive candidate. Another doubt is if he can unite the opposition. Finally, if he really wants to be a candidate. To be a candidate with a realistic chance of victory, Aécio depends more of others than himself. To be a strong competitor, Aécio will have to obtain the support not only of all opposition parties. He will to explore very well the split in the government coalition, attracting, for example, the PSB and/or PDT for his side. Aecio Neves, despite the strong last name and good transit between politicians, has not yet shown skills to play the big game of the presidential race. His profile would be perfect for the 1980s, as a kind of Collor from Minas Gerais. However, Brazil today is more complex and the government is much more powerful than it used to be in the past. The other issue relates to the second trend: the unity of the political base. Until now, after more than 15 months of Dilma's government, is evident that the governing base is greater than the ministerial reach. To complicate matters, there is an irresistible vocation for friendly fire. First, between the parties. Then within the parties. Moreover, no tools are available to deal with this situation. The strategy used it to procrastinate rather than establishing a "judgment" that demarcates and pacify relations. The government relies on its economic power to satisfy everyone and to promote growth without (much) inflation.The formula is good on the one hand, for the people - that, ultimately, is who decides - is satisfied and trust the president. On the other hand, the lack of a consistent plan of pacification of the governing coalition will charge a price in terms of efficiency, range and modernity in our public policies. Therein lies the faint hope of the opposition, and also the still uncertain and likely impact of social networks in the dispute. [post_title] => Brazil - Presidential Message: Commitment to sustainable development [post_excerpt] => At the beginning of each legislative session in Brazil, at the opening of the Congress, the president should send a Message and plan of government to the parliament, explaining the country's situation and requesting necessary actions. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => brazil-presidential-message-commitment-to-sustainable-development [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:40 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:40 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/brazil-presidential-message-commitment-to-sustainable-development/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [32] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 838 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-01-31 16:38:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-01-31 16:38:30 [post_content] => As part of the FPC’s new Israel and Palestine after the Arab Spring essay series Dr Toby Green and Prof Alan Johnson from BICOM (Alan is also a longstanding FPC Senior Research Associate) give us their take on the current state of the conflict. They argue that attempts to reach a two state solution are at a crisis and Palestinian refusal to enter negotiations without pre-conditions was a key problem. They argue that the US had made a policy error in insisting on a full-settlement freeze from which it later climbed down and that the Palestinian decision to go unilaterally to the UN was an error. They argue regional change put pressure on the Fatah and Hamas to form a unity deal and the regime changes in neighbours have removed important alliances. They argue that the international community needs to work with the political reality on the ground, focus on bottom-up not top-down initiatives, set realistic expectations and look for incremental steps forward. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: How do we create a future for the two-state solution? [post_excerpt] => As part of the FPC’s new Israel and Palestine after the Arab Spring essay series Dr Toby Green and Prof Alan Johnson from BICOM (Alan is also a longstanding FPC Senior Research Associate) give us their take on the current state of the conflict. They argue that attempts to reach a two state solution are at a crisis and Palestinian refusal to enter negotiations without pre-conditions was a key problem. They argue that the US had made a policy error in insisting on a full-settlement freeze from which it later climbed down and that the Palestinian decision to go unilaterally to the UN was an error. They argue regional change put pressure on the Fatah and Hamas to form a unity deal and the regime changes in neighbours have removed important alliances. They argue that the international community needs to work with the political reality on the ground, focus on bottom-up not top-down initiatives, set realistic expectations and look for incremental steps forward. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-how-do-we-create-a-future-for-the-two-state-solution [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-how-do-we-create-a-future-for-the-two-state-solution/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [33] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 836 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-01-31 16:12:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-01-31 16:12:52 [post_content] => As part of the FPC’s new Israel and Palestine after the Arab Spring essay series John Lyndon, Executive director of OneVoice Europe (a peace building NGO operating with communities in both Israel and Palestine) gives us his take on the state of the conflict. He argues that the Arab Spring risks the rise of new governments more hostile to Israel but that shifts to the right in Israeli policy have been ‘insular’ and ‘troubling’. He argues that the last year has seen Israel and the international community disempower the moderate Palestinian leadership, through continued settlement building and the rejection of the statehood option, while the prisoner transfer agreement following the Shalit release strengthened Hamas. He believes support for the two state solution and hope for negotiations are at an all-time low but calls for an active response from civil-society. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Israel, Palestine, and the "Urgency of Now" [post_excerpt] => As part of the FPC’s new Israel and Palestine after the Arab Spring essay series John Lyndon, Executive director of OneVoice Europe (a peace building NGO operating with communities in both Israel and Palestine) gives us his take on the state of the conflict. He argues that the Arab Spring risks the rise of new governments more hostile to Israel but that shifts to the right in Israeli policy have been ‘insular’ and ‘troubling’. He argues that the last year has seen Israel and the international community disempower the moderate Palestinian leadership, through continued settlement building and the rejection of the statehood option, while the prisoner transfer agreement following the Shalit release strengthened Hamas. He believes support for the two state solution and hope for negotiations are at an all-time low but calls for an active response from civil-society. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-israel-palestine-and-the-urgency-of-now [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-israel-palestine-and-the-urgency-of-now/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [34] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 834 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-01-24 16:02:20 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-01-24 16:02:20 [post_content] => Dr David Grigorian, Senior Economist at the International Monetary Fund's Monetary and Capital Markets Department and a co-founder of Policy Forum Armenia, gives an in-depth analysis of Armenia’s economic development from independence and to the present day. He argues that better governance is crucial to efforts to reform the economy, tackle public debt and improve long-term growth prospects. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Armenia’s Economy since Independence [post_excerpt] => Dr David Grigorian, Senior Economist at the International Monetary Fund's Monetary and Capital Markets Department and a co-founder of Policy Forum Armenia, gives an in-depth analysis of Armenia’s economic development from independence and to the present day. He argues that better governance is crucial to efforts to reform the economy, tackle public debt and improve long-term growth prospects. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-armenias-economy-since-independence [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-armenias-economy-since-independence/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [35] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 832 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-01-24 15:35:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-01-24 15:35:16 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Marc Herzog explores the development of Turkey’s Foreign Policy and its response to the Arab Spring, setting out the challenges faced and those still to come. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Weathering the crazy seasons- Turkish foreign policy in the era of political climate change [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Marc Herzog explores the development of Turkey’s Foreign Policy and its response to the Arab Spring, setting out the challenges faced and those still to come. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-weathering-the-crazy-seasons-turkish-foreign-policy-in-the-era-of-political-climate-change [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-weathering-the-crazy-seasons-turkish-foreign-policy-in-the-era-of-political-climate-change/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [36] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 830 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-01-09 12:20:01 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-01-09 12:20:01 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Alex Jackson gives us his analysis of the new alliance between billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili and Western-feted opposition leader Irakli Alasania, that has been shaking up Georgian politics in recent weeks. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Comrades in arms, or a marriage of convenience? [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Alex Jackson gives us his analysis of the new alliance between billionaire businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili and Western-feted opposition leader Irakli Alasania, that has been shaking up Georgian politics in recent weeks. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-comrades-in-arms-or-a-marriage-of-convenience [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-comrades-in-arms-or-a-marriage-of-convenience/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [37] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 624 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-12-20 09:32:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-12-20 09:32:00 [post_content] => Petr Necas leads the Civic Democratic Party (Obcanska Demokratická Strana, or ODS), the country’s main centre-right party, and a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the European Parliament, alongside the British Conservative Party. ODS was founded at the beginning of the 1991 by the current President Václav Klaus, and has championed radical free-market policies from the outset. Although Klaus is no longer a member of ODS, he still has many followers in the party, and his staunchly eurosceptic outlook and rigid free-market doctrine are core tenets for most members. It might indeed be argued that Klaus carries even more influence on his old party that the low-key Necas who is regarded by many as a weak and ineffective leader, concerned more with the survival of his government than matters of ideological purity. Necas‘ coalition partners are two new centre-right parties, both of which were formed in the run-up to last year’s general election. One of the parties, Public Affairs (Vecí Verejne, or VV), imploded earlier this year, seemingly unable to recover from serious infighting, and in most opinion polls they are below the 5% threshold needed to gain seats in parliament. The more powerful of ODS’ partners is TOP 09, founded in 2009, and now in control of the ministries of finance and foreign affairs. TOP 09 shares much of ODS’ free-market ideology, but is more pro-European. In the 2010 election TOP 09 came only a few points behind ODS, and the party’s leaders are hoping to position it to overtake its rival to become the main centre-right party. Paradoxically, whilst ODS is by far the most eurosceptic party on the Czech political scene, their electoral base comprises some of the more pro-European sections of Czech society, and this could benefit their more Europhile rival. Moreover it is widely believed that Václav Klaus is planning to form a new eurosceptic party once his term as president ends in early 2013 – this would most probably take the form of a Czech version of UKIP, possibly also including more extreme elements. If Klaus does form his new party he is likely to attract current members of ODS, increasing the vulnerability of the party which he himself founded. In this political climate the fiscal compact leaves Petr Necas in an unenviable position. The majority of his own party is virulently eurosceptic, and would be delighted to see him refusing to support the new agreement. On the other hand, the leaders of TOP 09 are firmly committed to the agreement, and have hinted that this could be a resignation issue, which would spell the end of the coalition. Beyond this balancing act, there will be pressure from Václav Klaus, who besides commanding support in ODS, has never hesitated to use his high media profile in support of his controversial views, and who, as president is entitled to attend cabinet meetings. Supporting the agreement would also put Necas on a collision course with the Czech National Bank. The majority of the central bank’s Board of Governors are Klaus appointees and the atmosphere at the bank is firmly eurosceptic. The bank is also against increasing its funding of the IMF in order to support the Eurozone. So Necas could keep his coalition together, at the expense of alienating many in his own party and risking the wrath of President Klaus and the opposition of the central bank. Or he might placate his party and avoid provoking a conflict with Klaus, only to see his government fall apart. He will also be acutely aware that the government in neighbouring Slovakia (which unlike the Czech Republic is in the Eurozone) fell this year precisely over the issue of support for an earlier rescue package. A further complicating factor will come early in 2012 when both chambers of parliament debate the Czech opt-out from the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. The opt-out was demanded by Václav Klaus as a precondition for signing the treaty, the last step in the process of ratification. The Czech Republic was the last country to ratify the Lisbon Treaty, the delay being the result of cases brought in the Constitutional Court by Klaus supporters. Klaus’ official reason for this demand was the concern that the Charter might be used by members of the country’s former German population to reclaim property that was confiscated at the end of the Second World War. This issue was never raised by Klaus during the process of negotiating the Lisbon Treaty, and it would appear fairly transparent that it was primarily a face-saving ploy when Klaus finally signed the treaty in late 2009. The validity of his claim as well as the legality, under the constitution, of his decision to withhold his signature are the subject of lively debate amongst constitutional lawyers. Nevertheless, the European Union did grant the Czech Republic the requested opt-out, which now has to be ratified by all member countries. Ironically, it is now clear that the opt-out will not be ratified in the Czech Republic, where it needs to pass both chambers of parliament. Since elections last Autumn the opposition Social Democrats have had a majority in the upper house, the Senate, and are committed to voting down this opt-out, which they see as an attempt to curtail workers’ rights. This will leave Klaus and his supporters incensed and in no mood to countenance further European treaties. In conclusion the Czech government is bitterly divided on the question of whether to support the fiscal compact and the safest course of action for the Prime Minister is to delay a binding decision until as late as possible. Hence the Czech decision taken at the summit was not to support the agreement, but to consider the country’s position. Neèas has made it clear that a final decision will only be made once the full details of the deal are clear, which will not be until the Spring. Meanwhile he has been forging alliances with other potential dissenters, with a highly publicized telephone conversation with David Cameron in recent days and a personal meeting with the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, all the time being careful not to make a commitment either way. In his own words: “the fiscal compact reminds one of the Yeti, everyone talks about him, but nobody has actually seen what he looks like.” Necas must surely be hoping that this particular Yeti will die its own death before he is forced to face the moment of truth. Sadly the FPC website is unable to display the 'hacek' that should be found on the c in Prime Minister Necas' name. [post_title] => Necas in a bind: The Eurozone fiscal compact and the Czech Republic [post_excerpt] => The Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas could have done without this month’s fiscal compact. The size of his government’s majority might give a misleading impression of stability, in a three-party coalition which is fractious and riven with rivalries; the strains became apparent not long after the government was formed in the summer of 2010. Moreover, the past few weeks have seen a spate of ministerial resignations amidst evidence of impropriety, and the government is badly trailing the opposition Social Democrats in the polls. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => necas-in-a-bind-the-eurozone-fiscal-compact-and-the-czech-republic [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/necas-in-a-bind-the-eurozone-fiscal-compact-and-the-czech-republic/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [38] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 826 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-12-13 16:33:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-12-13 16:33:13 [post_content] => Russia specialist Catherine Owen gives the FPC her take on unfolding political events in Russia, following the December 4th Duma elections. She examines the voting problems and the response of both the ruling elite and nascent opposition. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Russia Protests Parliamentary Elections- Winds of Change or Just a Lot of Hot Air? [post_excerpt] => Russia specialist Catherine Owen gives the FPC her take on unfolding political events in Russia, following the December 4th Duma elections. She examines the voting problems and the response of both the ruling elite and nascent opposition. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-russia-protests-parliamentary-elections-winds-of-change-or-just-a-lot-of-hot-air [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-russia-protests-parliamentary-elections-winds-of-change-or-just-a-lot-of-hot-air/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [39] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 623 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2011-12-12 14:36:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2011-12-12 14:36:38 [post_content] => • Firstly the future of the City was not on the table in Brussels until David Cameron put it there. The decision to make financial regulation the issue on which the UK government would seek to make a stand seems only to have crystallised in the days immediately prior to the summit. Before this attempts were being made to see if other member states might accept a repatriation of powers in employment and social law (the old social chapter), a longstanding Conservative Party demand (and coalition agreement point) flatly rejected by the other governments. This was an engineered crisis to allow the Prime Minster to return home with something to show to his backbenchers that he had not missed the opportunity provided by the Eurozone’s desire for treaty change to extract a price for the UK’s cooperation. It is conceivable that had some of the UK’s negotiating points been put forward with greater subtlety and time, fellow member states may have been willing to agree to keep the show on the road. As it was they felt bounced into changing long-standing arrangements on matters that were nothing to do with the issue at hand - the existential economic crisis facing the Eurozone - and decided to call the Prime Minister’s bluff. • Through this exercise in (failed) brinkmanship the Prime Minister has on balance made it more rather than less likely that new financial sector changes that he does not agree with will come to pass. Under previous EU arrangements a potential financial transactions tax (FTT) would have required UK agreement, as unanimity would have been required for it to go ahead. It is indeed true that any new arrangement for Eurozone fiscal coordination would have increased the risk of caucusing, which may have in turn under pressure from President Sarkozy changed the dynamics of the financial regulation debate within the EU that in practice had been moved forward unanimously until now (even in areas covered by Qualified Majority Voting-QMV). However following the new ‘Eurozone plus’ arrangements the future is less certain, and there is now a somewhat greater possibility that the 26 might choose to introduce such an FTT amongst themselves than would have been possible under existing structures with the British veto. In the other areas which the UK tried to have changed from QMV to unanimity such as the scope and location of European supervisory bodies that exist under current EU frameworks, the diplomatic deterioration makes it more rather than less likely that that the UK position will get outvoted in future. • If these events are to presage a final rupture between the UK and the EU, there needs to be some clarity over what Britain’s options for going it alone actually are. European Economic Area members (EEA) members Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland have full access to the single market for goods, services, capital and labour (including freedom of movement) and as such have to accept EU regulations on these areas wholesale, without the ability to influence their constructions (with the exceptions of agriculture and fisheries). Switzerland (a member of the EFTA but not the EEA) has access to some areas of the single market as a result of negotiating bilateral agreements, where access has been balanced by corresponding regulatory convergence. Having at first cited Norway as a potential example of a country succeeding outside the UK, pro-withdrawal Eurosceptics are now more commonly using Switzerland as their potential alternative model, balking at the practicalities of the Norwegian experience of ‘fax diplomacy’. Notwithstanding differences in the two countries’ GDP per head and the structures of their economies, the UK’s demographic and economic size means that its presence has a much more significant impact on the operation of the single market. The UK should not assume it could pick and choose the elements of the single market and its regulations that it wanted à la carte from the EU. A doomsday scenario of a bitter divorce where no bilateral agreement was reached would inflict even greater damage on both sides, but the failsafe provided by the WTO would provide greater comfort to continental goods exporters than the UK’s services sector. Much newsprint has been devoted to the Prime Minister’s sudden transformation from Neville Chamberlain to Winston Churchill in the eyes of Eurosceptics. However the national stereotype more fitting for the current position would be John Bull, not Churchill - the isolationist little-Englander rather than internationalist Briton (). The next few weeks and months will prove critical for Britain’s future. It is essential that those who believe that the UK has a role on the world stage, built as it is on the unique ability to knit together European, American, Commonwealth and global perspectives, to push the country back from the precipice and recommit to pragmatic discussions with our EU partners so that the European pillar of British influence is retained. Now is not the time to play political games that seek to embarrass the coalition for short-term gain, the economic and strategic risks for Britain’s future are too great. A version of this article is available on the Huffington Post UK site at http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/adam-hug/john-bulls-britain-paddling-towards-euro-isolation_b_1145585.html [post_title] => John Bull’s Britain: Paddling towards European isolation [post_excerpt] => The decision of the UK government at Thursday’s summit actions to block Eurozone attempts to stabilize itself through EU structures has rightly been described as a potential watershed in the country’s troubled relationship with Brussels. The implications of the Prime Minister’s actions have been much chewed over in the media and by commentators (including myself) on Twitter over recent days. However there are a few things that need to be made clear in this maelstrom of a debate: [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => john-bulls-britain-paddling-towards-european-isolation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:42 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/john-bulls-britain-paddling-towards-european-isolation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
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