Edit 2: Merkel won by landslide. Her speech:
“Heute wird gefeiert – morgen wird gearbeitet.” (Today we celebrate, tomorrow we work).
Live blogs (in English):
Infographic – http://wahl.tagesschau.de/wahlen/2013-09-22-BT-DE/wahlmonitor/index.shtml (in German but you’ll be able to figure it out anyway.
Posted: August 23, 2012
Was Iceland right? (Opinion piece)
Intervention is a trap (Washington Post on Syria)
Posted: August 14, 2012
1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe
Analysis : The book’s author, Sarotte , is a professor (of History and International Relations) at the University of Southern California. She’s also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and author of a few other books. The body of the book is just over 200 pages long, and is well worth a look for anything from a casual to an academic read.
I took this book out as a loan from a library for an essay, and considered it such a great resource that I ended up buying it on Amazon. It was the Financial Times’ ‘Book of the Year’, and not without reason. The book gave a lot of insights into a very important year without losing sight of what could’ve happened, and the context behind everything.
1989 shows interest in Russia’s part, and why Russia has been left on the sidelines of Europe since the end of the Cold War – something which is often left out of books about the events surrounding the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Posted: June 29, 2012
After a lot of wasting time on all sides, the last summit seems to have pulled everyone together a bit more.
Merkel seems to be the loser here, as Italy and Spain blocked certain pacts before they were given emergency measures to recapitalise banks. something that some foreign newspapers called blackmail.
Hollande benefited from Italy and Spain’s block, “I said during the presidential campaign that I wanted to renegotiate the fiscal pact to add growth and stability measures and a medium-term vision. This summit has enabled us to achieve that” (quoted after the talks). Forming commitments with Southern member states, meeting German opposition leaders, and openly contradicting the German chancellor seems to have paid off then.
All roads still lead to Berlin. The Greek stock market rose today, following a deal reached by key EU leaders. Bankers and investors of Greek debt are no doubt saddened by the news, however, as they faced a write-off of 50% of their returns. This ‘haircut’ on Greek debt is, according to the BBC, expected to cut debt to 120% of its GDP in 2020. It’s not likely that Greece, or other eurozone countries will be satisfied with this in 10 years time – a more long-term fix needs to be made now.
The Euro bailout fund (The European Financial Stability Facility) is to be boosted up to 1tn euros. Part of its purpose is to make eurozone debt more attractive to investors, by offering insurance – subsequently lowering borrowing costs for governments. There is also talk of incorporating a ‘special investment vehicle’ for other investors to contribute to, such as China . The structure for this should be set next month. However, some small good news came out of this. The statement released earlier on today. Banks are to be made to raise just over 100bn euros (privately) by mid 2012 – as a shield against government default and bank collapse.
What did the leaders have to say about this? Sarkozy believed that it gave them a “credible and ambitious and overall response to the Greek crisis.” I disagree, it is too little and too late . Nothing in the deal will actually solve the crisis and an overall response is lost in the lack of crucial details in the agreement (how exactly the rescue fund will work will only really be decided in November).
Europe is no doubt “closer to resolving its financial and economic crisis” as the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barrosso, says, but that doesn’t mean this agreement has helped in the long run. For instance if the downturn in the Italian and Spanish economies turn into recession then the leaders will have to return to talks – the current three prong plan is inadequate for Greece, let alone Spain or Italy.