Vladimir Putin, it is clear, has a particularly old fashioned view of power: it can always be distilled into something resembling an arm wrestle involving gunboats, ununiformed military specialists, and the odd tank on the odd street corner. The EU, it is clear, is not in the same game. How then, can it have a foreign policy impact when dealing with those who talk loudly and feel free to use the big stick they routinely brandish?
One answer is of course sanctions. They are the frontline response of the EU to the Kremlin over events in Crimea. But they are also controversial: do they work and - if so - how can they be crafted to achieve the best outcome? ECFR's Wider Europe team held a seminar to discuss these and other related issues. The two main speakers were Mark Galeotti of New York University and Timothy Ash of Standard Bank. I packaged up their main thoughts into two clear
Is the EU a failed experiment? What is the impact of European disintegration on Eastern Europe? What would happen if creditor countries left the euro? Are Europe's citizens ignorant about the costs of leaving the single currency? Has the EU had a firm plan for how it wanted to deal with Ukraine?
These were some of the questions thrown by journalists at George Soros at an ECFR press conference. I've collected Mr Soros' answers together in the second of two podcasts, and you can listen to it here:
You can also listen to the first set of Mr Soros' answers to journalists' questions in podcast form here:
And don't forget that you can subscribe to ECFR's podcasts through software like itunes, or keep track of them on our podcast page, www.ecfr.eu/podcasts
I've just uploaded the first in a short series (two or three in total) of podcasts with George Soros answering questions from assorted journalists at ECFR's London office. Mr Soros was in the building for a press conference for his new book, "The tragedy of the European Union: disintegration or revival?", chaired by Mark Leonard.
The questions ranged widely on every subject from Mrs Merkel's approach to the euro to the Chinese economy. Here is this first podcast:
The issues covered in this chunk of the press conference concerned: Germany's solutions to the euro crisis; Scottish independence; the UK's winning strategy of non-euro EU membership; whether the markets or governments would bring stability to the system; central bank stimulus; and the dangers of anti-EU populism in debtor countries.
As economic growth returns to the eurozone, like the first shafts of sunlight after a long Arctic winter, and thousands of demonstrators in Ukraine provide proof that the EU still has magnetism, it seems like a strange time to question the European project.
But at a recent Black Coffee Morning at ECFR's London office, that's exactly what we did. We asked the simple question, "Is the EU doomed?" Two speakers attempted to answer it - Jan Zielonka of Oxford University (and the co-editor of ECFR's "The new political geography of Europe"), and Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times. We recorded the event, and there are a number of ways for you to listen to what happened.
In the first of two short podcasts, Jan Zielonka lays out his thoughts on the question, arguing that there are three good reasons for believing the EU is indeed doomed:
In the second podcast, Gideon Rachman throws
Since it took power from President Morsi last July, Egypt's military has cracked down on dissent in general and the Muslim Brotherhood in particular. Now, having successfully negotiated a constitutional referendum, Field Marshal Sisi appears ready to announce his candidacy for the post of president. A recent ECFR Black Coffee Morning in our London office examined these events and attempted to answer some key questions about Egypt's military and the possible response of the European Union.
The first speaker was Issandr el Amrani of the International Crisis Group: “Who represents who? Is the current military-led government really representative of a mass outpouring of anger against the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi administration? Or is it on the contrary as the Muslim Brothers will tell you, is that only a reflection of the near complete control of Egyptian media?”
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The EU needs to act faster and further in ensuring that Israeli settlements in no way benefit from EU-Israel bilateral relations
Iran deal should be a catalyst to end decade-long stand off with Tehran and lead to engagement on regional security
The EU needs an honest assessment of its capabilities and to set limited goals behind which member states can show sustainable unity