Actually, it’s more like a slab. But from the New York Times. It’s tasty and full of all sorts of facts and anecdotes that are probably very good for you.
The E.U.’s rationale for welcoming Turkey into its councils and its economic sphere used to be a matter of “strategic rent,” compensation for its position at a crossroads of continents and military blocs. Today, says Soli Ozel, a political scientist at Bilgi University, what Europe sees in Turkey is “an example that a modern, secular democratic state and capitalist society is compatible with a Muslim population.” Europe has come to value Turkey not just for where it is but for what it is.
The EU’s tug of war with Turkey over human rights continues. This weekend attention has been focused on an academic conference held at Istanbul Bilgi University to discuss issues arising from and surrounding the massacre of Armenians which took place following the collapse of the Ottoman empire.
Swiss voters said yes in a referendum this weekend to extending an agreement with the EU on the free movement of workers to include the EU-10 ‘new accession’ members (and here). Well sort-of. They voted by 56% to 44% to gradually ease restrictions on the working rights of citizens from these countries so that by 2011 (the same year as France and Germany) they will enjoy equality of access with those from other EU countries. (The only EU states to have opened their labour markets to the new members to date are the UK, Sweden and Ireland). Continue reading →
Italy has, of course, it’s own version of the twin deficit: on the one hand a political system which maintains serious democratic and credibility deficits (viz the mutual ppresence of Tremonti and Fazio in Washington this weekend) and the equally important financial deficit which has generally received less attention in the press. (We can leave on one side the growing Balance of Payments current account defecit for the time being). Last Friday Morgan Stanley’s Vicento Guzo drew attention to the government budget deficit issue, describing the task of introducing auterity measures with the backdrop of such lacklustre growth as ‘daunting’, and pointing to one highly ‘perverse’ consequence of Italy’s euro membership:
Market reaction was muted, as usual. Italy keeps benefiting from the euro’s shelter effect. Had this political turmoil occurred ten years ago, outside the common currency influence, it would have probably led to a noticeable rise in the country’s borrowing costs with dangerous ripple effects on its financial system. It may sound as a great achievement, but the path ahead is more treacherous than it looks, in our view. The currency is playing a perverse role, by reducing the incentive to seriously tackle the debt problem. Markets’ appraisal, however, is inherently binary: either they assume Italy will put its debt on a sustainable trajectory or they assume it won’t. This is why the cost of further procrastination might be suddenly high.
We don’t do “memes” here at fistful, but this is too cool an idea to pass up. Today apparently is Lurker day, which means readers who never or rarely make comments tell us who they are, where the’re from and what they like (or don’t like) about fistful, etc.
When we last looked in, Viktor Yushchenko had been inaugurated, Viktor Yanukovych had grudgingly conceded, and orange was the color for all would-be world-changers.
Unfortunately, while we weren’t looking, Ukraine’s cabinet was collapsing into in-fighting and neglecting to do the things that people put them in office for. On the positive side, an investigation into the Gongadze affair was making, you’ll pardon the word, headway. Continue reading →
It hasn’t only been the July 7th London bombers who have been attracting press attention for having bought return tickets: for some time now European-based Islamic radicals going to fight in Iraq have been causing concern amongst anti-terrorism experts due to the possibility they might one day return. This issue was first covered on Afoe back in July when Spanish police arrested 16 suspected Islamist militants accused of recruiting activists for the al-qaeda campaign in Iraq.
Subsequently there was a controversial CIA assessment which suggested that “Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda’s early days”.