diplomacy

Russian lawmakers are debating measures to restrict the distribution of foreign films shown at domestic cinemas in a move that reflects growing anti-western sentiment. The threat of a new Cold War is giving Hollywood the shivers.

Robert Schlegel, a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, has tabled a parliamentary bill that would place a 50 per cent cap on the share of foreign-made films distributed at Russian cinemas. Deputies are expected to debate the proposals in the next couple of weeks. Continue reading »

By Kinga Dudzińska and Anna Maria Dyner of PISM

To the west, relations between Poland and Russia are often perceived as negative, mainly due to their history. However, one evident success of their bilateral cooperation in small border traffic (SBT) between northern Poland and Kaliningrad Oblast, with almost a year and a half of evidence showing it’s working well. Continue reading »

Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president elect, might well be excused for thinking she’s under fire from a new Triple Alliance.

In the next few days she can expect a binding court ruling that threatens to extend Peru’s maritime border into Chilean territorial waters. Meanwhile, landlocked Bolivia hasn’t given up its dream of a corridor through the Atacama Desert to the Pacific (though it must now do without the late Hugo Chávez’s boisterous support). And Argentina is suddenly making noise about wanting its own door to the world’s biggest ocean. Continue reading »

A bar, a cinema, a bowling alley: all the essentials for an embassy?

Maybe so, but the Indian government has asked the US embassy in New Delhi to close down its onsite entertainments on the grounds that, as elements in a “commercial facility”, they are deemed to be illegal. It’s the latest move in a catty to and fro that has followed last month’s arrest and strip search of Devyani Khobragade (pictured), an Indian consular official, in New York. Continue reading »

By Rodrigo Tavares of the São Paulo State Government

Although France was the first European country to recognize the independence of Brazil, in 1825, only three French presidents have since visited the country – de Gaulle, Chirac and Sarkozy. François Hollande’s visit to Brazil on December 12 and 13 aims to fill some of the empty space and to capitalise on a relationship that has brought good results recently on trade and investment, military contracts and education. But the most innovative outcome from his visit will be something to which few people are likely to pay attention. Continue reading »

Tight relationship

Russia and Vietnam signed a raft of economic agreements on Tuesday that will strengthen their strategic partnership and counter rising Chinese influence in southeast Asia.

The deals, signed during a visit by Vladimir Putin to Vietnam, will see Russia step up involvement in Vietnamese energy markets and help boost security in the country that has been a close Kremlin ally since Soviet times. “Vietnam has been a long-term, trustworthy partner for Russia and the political dialogue between the two countries is at a high level,” Putin told reporters after talks with Truong Tan Sang, his Vietnamese counterpart. Continue reading »

It was not exactly spying on presidents, but revelations in Folha de S. Paulo, a Brazilian newspaper, that Brasília spied on the diplomats of some would-be close friends are a bit embarrassing. Of course everyone does it and of course, the Russians, Iranians and Iraqis – the alleged victims of Brazilian spying in the Folha report – were probably doing it to Brazil at the time when the incidents occurred back in 2003 and 2004.

But the problem here is that Brazil has been taking pains to appear shocked and violated by accusations this year that the US was spying not only on Petrobras and other state-owned companies but on President Dilma Rousseff and her staff. Continue reading »

Can North Korea’s Kaesong become an internationally competitive industrial park on the back of its ultra-cheap labour? Probably not. But at least its backers are trying. Seoul’s unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean relations said on Wednesday the two Koreas will hold a business fair at the North Korean border town in October to attract foreign investment, after they agreed to reopen the complex next Monday. Continue reading »

Xi Jinping of China and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan in Astana, Sept 7, 2013.

By Usen Suleimen of the Kazakh foreign ministry and Xiaojiang Yu of Hong Kong Baptist University

The visit of Xi Jinping, China’s president, to Kazakhstan last weekend and the signing of $30bn of new agreements is another symbol of the growing closeness between two of the world’s largest countries. It is a relationship built on mutual challenges, geographic proximity and energy, as China increasingly looks to central Asia to power its growing economy.

But these links have also raised alarm bells in the west. Continue reading »

By Ben Aris of bne

Armenia’s announcement this week that it will join the Russia-led Customs Union trade club is yet another jolt in a tug of war over the loyalties of nations in central and eastern Europe. It is a boost to Russian President Vladimir Putin – whose relations with his near neighbours have chilled in recent weeks – and has wrong-footed officials in Brussels, who had hoped to bring Armenia closer to the European Union. Continue reading »

Panama, with a reputation as a Latin American growth superstar, suddenly has a diplomatic hot potato on its hands.

The country knows a lot about international shipping – 4 per cent of international trade passes through the Panama Canal. But after intercepting a North Korean-flagged vessel carrying arms from Cuba to Pyongyang, the government has called in the (pardon the pun), big guns: the UN. Continue reading »

Is North Korea’s economy doomed? Perhaps not. The communist state seems to have found a way for survival, despite its growing isolation and tougher international sanctions.

The impoverished country has defied international predictions with its economy growing at the fastest pace since 2008 last year, thanks to increased farming production. Continue reading »

By Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission

It is rare that world leaders have a chance to pragmatically achieve an idealistic goal, to unite bold dreams and careful statesmanship at the same time. Yet such an opportunity is now upon us, as the time for the European Union and Ukraine to come closer together, to create a bridge between east and west, is at hand. Continue reading »

By José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, secretary of foreign affairs, Mexico

This week, President Enrique Peña Nieto welcomes President Xi Jinping of China. It is the first State Visit for Mexico’s new government and an opportunity for both countries to showcase their political will to relaunch an already strong and diversified relation and take it to a new level of engagement and cooperation. Continue reading »

When Russia’s Communist party called for a Moscow street to be named after Hugo Chávez in March, the city authorities refused on grounds that the former Venezuelan leader had not been dead long enough to qualify for the honour. However, in a sign of the importance Russia attaches to Venezuelan relations, Igor Sechin, the powerful chief executive of Rosneft, wants Moscow to waive the rules. Visiting Caracas this week to finalize a big oil deal, Sechin said a Chávez street should indeed be added to the map of the Russian capital. Continue reading »