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Mark Leonard's World in 30 minutes

In our weekly series, Mark Leonard and guests explore the big issues in foreign policy.

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You better bring a book – the start of the EU’s lengthy budget talks

Negotiations over the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2021 – 2027 just have started. But as tensions and divergences between the EU member states are rising, a final agreement seems considerably far away for now. The European Union is subject to a series of unprecedented constraints, the most significant one being the UK’s departure and the withdrawal of the money it once granted. Still, the implications of the budget allocation are manifold and extremely far-reaching. It will…Listen to podcast

President Michel meets MFF Contact Group of the EU Parliament (c) European Union

Feeling the Westlessness at the Munich Security Conference 2020

The annual Munich Security Conference was themed "Westlessness", defining “a widespread feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the face of increasing uncertainty about the enduring purpose of the West”. Is the West becoming less relevant in global affairs? Are the West’s international partnerships endangered? And if so, what will the world look like in the future? Our Director Mark Leonard is joined by an all-star ECFR cast including Janka Oertel, Ulrike Franke, Ellie Geranmayeh and…Listen to podcast

MSC / Kuhlmann - ©

Trump’s “Deal of the Century” debunked: is there something in it for Palestine at all?

When US-President Donal Trump revealed his much-awaited plan for peace for Israel and Palestine it was set to solve one of the world's longest-running conflict. But this “deal of the century” was not met with the same enthusiasm in Palestine as it was seen on Trump’s and Netanyahu’s faces – to say the least. Host Mark Leonard and our MENA experts Hugh Lovatt and René Wildangel are analysing in depth the “Peace Plan” and show how little there is actually in it for the Palestinians. “The…Listen to podcast

Trump annouces his Peace Plan - ©

War and pieces: Political divides in southern Yemen

Lunch discussion to mark the launch of ECFR's newest paper "War and pieces: Political divides in southern Yemen".  International attention to the Yemeni conflict has shifted in recent months from the Saudi-led war against the Houthis in the north and west of the country to a major clash within the anti-Houthi coalition between the UAE supported Southern Transitional Council’s forces and those of the coalition supported internationally recognised government of President Hadi. The Saudi…Listen to podcast

To Huawei or not to Huawei?

Last week the European Commission published its EU Toolbox on 5G Cyber Security, with the aim of aiding the member states in evaluating the risks associated with future usage of 5G infrastructure and networks. This was a step forward given the polarising debate surrounding the role of Chinese telecommunications firms like Huawei and ZTE within a future 5G network in Europe. The decision, however, will ultimately be a national one taken by individual member states. Our Director Mark…Listen to podcast

Pixabay - ©

Reshuffling Russia's leadership - old wines in new bottles?

It came as a surprise when Russia’s government resigned just hours after Putin’s announced his plans for a possible referendum of constitutional changes. Host Mark Leonard is joined by Kadri Liik and Gustav Gressel to elaborate on the recent political changes that have happened in the world’ largest country over the course of just the past weeks. What role will Putin play in the future in Russia and on the global stage? Is there a change to recent the relationship between the EU and…Listen to podcast

Putin and Mishutin (c) government.ru - ©

The Berlin Libya Conference: a moment to shine for European foreign policy?

Anthony Dworkin stands in for our usual host, Mark Leonard, to de-brief the Berlin Conference on Libya. Together with the ECFR’s experts Asli Aydıntaşbaş, Tarek Megerisi and Arturo Varvelli, he discusses Europe’s attempt to get back in the game in Libya after the country has been torn apart by many foreign forces and players. They evaluate the conference’s turnout and analyse the final agreements – while also looking at another question: what does this all say about European foreign…Listen to podcast

Libya talks in Berlin (c) Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung / en.kremlin.ru (cropped) - CC BY

Iran-US: Preventing a Collision Course

ECFR, in partnership with the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES), invited to a discussion on “Iran-US: Preventing a Collision Course” on 21 January. Following a series of attacks in Iraq that culminated in the assassination of Qassem Soleimani and missile attacks against airbases hosting the U.S. military, Iran and the United States have reached a peak of military escalation under the Trump administration. European leaders have called for urgent restraint and offered to engage in a…Listen to podcast

Can Europe catch up in the digitalisation and innovation race?

During the Munich Strategy Forum 2019, host Mark Leonard sat down Toomas Ilves, the former president of Estonia aka the first smart country and “digital nation” in the world. What could we learn from this small EU member state when it comes to digitalisation? How did the digital revolution change foreign relations and international relations? And what role does Europe play it in? Frankly, does it play any role at all? Toomas Ilves points out how the lack of a common digital market puts…Listen to podcast

Man looking at Hologram 8C) Ashwin Vaswani - ©

Multilateralism is dead – long live multilateralism!

Today, 100 years ago, the Versailles Contract went into effect which established the League of the Nations and laid the foundations for multilateralism. In 2019, Germany and France launched the Alliance for Multilateralism aiming at showing that countries still "support multilateralism and support the United Nations (to) remain the majority in the world," as French Foreign Minister Le Drian said. Planning to establish a network of countries ready to join forces and efforts on inequality…Listen to podcast

Security Council (cropped) - CC BY

De "facto declaration of war"? - Soleimani's killing as turning point in the Middle East

With the US-killing of the Iranian military leader, Qassem Soleimani, the Middle East has been yet again sent in the heart to geopolitical uncertainty and frenzy. What does the killing mean for the future of the region, the Iran Nuclear Deal and the US role within it? Was there a strategy behind this offence and if yes, what kind? How should Europe react? In a special podcast edition, Mark Leonard talks with our senior policy fellows Ellie Geranmayeh, Jeremy Shapiro and Julien…Listen to podcast

Sardar Qassem Soleimani (c) sayyed shahab-o- din vajedi - ©

Ten Foreign Policy Trends for 2020

‘Tis the season! ...when Mark Leonard and Jeremy Shapiro review the year gone by and predict 10 foreign policy trends (plus two bonus ones) that will define 2020, the beginning of a new decade. With a score of 6.5/10 they couldn’t sustain last year’s success but can still pat themselves on their backs - or what do you think? Let us know about your foreign policy predictions for the upcoming year. Comment below or e-mail us! This podcast was recorded on 16 December…Listen to podcast

Neon Question Mark (c) Emily Morter - ©

1989 - The Firstborns of a New Age

In this bonus episode of our 1989 podcast miniseries, host Mark Leonard is joined by ECFR's young generation, all born between 1988-1990. Coming from the former GDR and Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Venezuela and the UK, they grew up in a borderless world, in a united Europe, with their parent's optimism about the future but with their teenage years shaped by the financial crisis and 9/11. So what did 1989 mean for their lives? And how will this generation influence the world and politics once…Listen to podcast

Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (c) Doğukan Şahin - ©

1989 – the beginning of history

In the 1990s 13 out 15 European countries were led by social democratic governments and the transatlantic relationship came out strong by “winning the Cold War”. The fall of Berlin Wall and dissolution of the Soviet Union was considered as a turning point for Europe’s future and it symbolized the greatest common achievement of US and Europe at that time. But since then, EU-US relations and most of the social democratic parties in Europe have been deteriorating. Did the West underestimate…Listen to podcast

Sylvie Kauffmann (c) Aron Urb (EU2017EE) (cropped) - CC BY

China's 1989

Anthony Dworkin stands in for host Mark Leonard to talk about how China experienced 1989 back then and today. In some ways, it is more comparable to the changes 1968 provoked in the West, claims podcast guest and China expert Jeff Wasserstrom. Looking beyond the dreadful Tiananmen Square Massacre, how did China change after 1989 politically and socially? And can we draw a line from the protests back then to the ones in Hong Kong right now? This podcast was recorded on 2 December…Listen to podcast

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 1988 (c) Derzsi Elekes Andor - CC BY-SA

Iran: Calculating the cost of US sanctions

Over a year into the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, the re-imposition of sanctions have not only placed in jeopardy the Iran nuclear deal, but also hit the Iranian economy. The panel consisting of Esfandyar Batmanghelidj(Founder, Bourse & Bazaar), David Ramin Jalilvand(CEO, Orient Matters), Tara Sepheri Far(Iran Researcher, Human Rights Watch and chaired by Ellie Geranmayeh (Deputy Head of the MENA Programme, ECFR) looked at all the costs associated with…Listen to podcast

Iran Meeting in Berlin

America's 1989

In the fourth episode on the events of 1989 and how they have shaped and may continue to shape our world in the years to come, host Mark Leonard is joined by Jeremy Shapiro. Jeremy Shapiro is research director here at ECFR, and is able to provide an account of the American experience of 1989, which was much less dramatic than European and Russian collective memories of the event. Nevertheless, 1989 is an interesting jumping-off point for thinking about the lenses of US foreign policy and…Listen to podcast

Press and Information Office of the Federal Government - CC BY-SA

The first beneficiaries of 1989

Host Mark Leonard has an intimate discussion with our heads of offices from Sofia and Warsaw, Vessela Tcherneva and Piotr Buras about their experiences, hopes and dreams during the transition times of the 1990s. How did their life and future change the minute the Berlin Wall fell? What are this generation’s thoughts 30 years later and predications for Europe in the coming 30 years? This podcast was recorded on 21 November 2019. Bookshelf: "The light that failed" by Ivan…Listen to podcast

9 November 1989 (cropped) - CC BY

Russia's 1989

In the second in our series on the events of 1989 and how they will shape our world for decades to come, host Mark Leonard is joined by Fyodor Lukyanov. Lukyanov is Editor-in-Chief of Russia in Global Affairs, Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, and Research Director of the Valdai International Discussion Club. In this podcast, recorded in Dubai, the two discuss America's and Russia's differing views on the Cold War and its end. The trauma of 1989, but…Listen to podcast

. (cropped) - CC BY

Yemen - Seizing the moment of oppurtunity?

Recording of the Lunch Discussion analysing Yemen's role in the current Gulf crisis and how recent regional developments will have an impact on the UN-coordinated peace process. Almost a year after the widely praised UN-sponsored Stockholm Agreement, there have been significant changes in the Yemeni war but peace appears no nearer. Focus has shifted away from the Hodeida front, leading to the UAE’s military disengagement from Yemen, and leaving Saudi Arabia in sole charge of the war at…Listen to podcast

Sanaa, Yemen (cropped) - CC BY