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 »
On Latin America’s Pacific rim, deepening free trade appears to be the name of the game, as the region’s pro-markets countries of Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile – have agreed to drop most tariffs to speed the consolidation of the Pacific Alliance.
At least, that is what Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, told beyondbrics on the sidelines of the group’s latest summit in the Colombian city of Cali on Thursday. Continue reading »
When Barack Obama and Xi Jinping meet at the Annenberg Estate two weeks from now, the focus will be on how the American and Chinese presidents (pictured during a meeting in February 2012) can build a personal relationship able to bridge the many differences between the world’s two largest economies.
That may be a challenge. Politicians in both nations often struggle to hide their mutual dislike. Just now, Chinese netizens are working themselves up over Joe Biden’s dissing of their country in a recent speech. Continue reading »
The process that culminated Tuesday with the selection of Roberto Azevêdo of Brazil (pictured) to lead the World Trade Organization is a precious opportunity for the international community to move away from the increasingly balkanized system of trade that gained ground in the past decade as the United States and the European Union lost political and economic capacity to dictate global rules. Continue reading »
By Daniel Kurtz-Phelan of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
In 2003, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva found himself with his counterparts from India and South Africa on the sidelines of a G-8 Summit in France. They had been invited to the summit as observers but the invitation served mostly to underscore a common frustration. “What is the use of being invited for dessert at the banquet of the powerful?” as Lula later put it. “We do not want to participate only to eat the dessert; we want to eat the main course, dessert and then coffee.” Continue reading »
The European Parliament’s decision on April 18 to extend its monitoring mission to Ukraine is a crucial step for the country in the context of its European aspirations. The mission, which has acted as an informal platform to promote dialogue between the European Union and Ukraine, was one factor behind the government’s decision a week earlier to pardon a number of former opposition politicians. They include former ministers for the interior and the environment, Yuri Lutsenko and HeorhyFilichuk, and four others convicted of corruption. The pardons create renewed hope for stronger trade relations between Ukraine and the EU and have already defused tensions between Kiev and the 27-member bloc. Continue reading »
There is a new Great Game afoot and it is taking place beneath the sea floor of the eastern Mediterranean.
Turkey and Israel’s tentative reconciliation is a process so fraught that US Secretary of State John Kerry appeared in Istanbul at the weekend to chivvy the two sides towards restoring full diplomatic ties. But if the steps he set out can be taken — agreeing compensation for nine Turks killed by Israeli forces in 2010, avoiding inflammatory talk, exchange of ambassadors — then a whole series of changes could be unleashed from Damascus to Brussels. Continue reading »
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, has had a very good week. On March 21, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) announced a ceasefire; the next day, Israel apologized for an attack on a Turkish-led peace flotilla in 2010. The possibility of a solution to its Kurdish insurgency holds out the possibility of real benefits for Turkey through increased trade with Iraq, improved security and political calm. There is a less immediate payoff from the Israeli apology but it is a favorable signal, nonetheless, from a region where there has been little good news of late. Continue reading »
By Martti Ahtisaari and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of The Elders
It is unconscionable that March 15 marked two years of a bloody and remorseless conflict in Syria that the international community has, until now, proved impotent to end. Next week’s Brics summit is a chance for the world’s rising powers to demonstrate their commitment to the people of Syria at their time of greatest need. Continue reading »
Xi Jinping, China’s incoming head of state, is set to deploy a new force as he seeks to develop Chinese soft power: his wife, Peng Liyuan, a folk singer famous in China, as Kathrin Hille reports for the FT, for her fiery performances of patriotic songs.
Well, see for yourselves. Here she is in 2011, helping to celebrate the 90th birthday of the founding of the Communist Party of China. More after the break.
Diplomatic relations between Kenya and the west took a pummelling over the course of the country’s presidential election, which saw Uhuru Kenyatta (left) – currently indicted by the International Criminal Court for inciting ethnic violence after the 2007 vote – edge his way to a first round win.
But with results in, will the diplomatic fallout be as bad as the rhetoric suggests? The answer is: probably not. Continue reading »
Like the boy who cried “wolf”, it seems North Korea is not getting much attention – at least from investors – by setting off nuclear explosions. The world’s only hereditary Communist dictatorship carried out its third nuclear test on Tuesday to worldwide diplomatic outrage but also to blank stares of indifference from South Korea’s financial markets. Continue reading »
The escalating row over some uninhabited islands in the East China Sea has already deeply hurt economic ties between Japan and China. As military and political tensions have risen, Japanese automakers have seen China sales plummet, business at Japanese restaurants and Japanese-owned department stores in China has suffered and travel in both directions is down.
But at least one group is trying to benefit from the dispute: Chinese fireworks makers, who are peddling colourful explosives on an anti-Japanese theme. Continue reading »
As Beijing offers to broker a peace agreement between Myanmar and the Kachin rebels, the recent fighting is threatening to destabilise China’s rich and volatile border with Myanmar. The FT’s Ben Marino reports on the challenges Beijing faces as it tries to continue to extend its influence in Myanmar amid political reform and a recent wave anti-Chinese protests.
Latin Americans still like and admire President Obama, yet they no longer expect much from him. He mostly ignored the region in his first term, and never mentioned it during his re-election campaign. Sure, immigration reform is on his agenda, but only because both Republicans and Democrats are now intimidated by Latino political clout. It may be that Latin America requires only sporadic attention – like when an earthquake devastates Haiti, or a political crisis undoes Honduras or Paraguay, or an economy collapses somewhere.
But at least two of the region’s 33 countries demand a more strategic approach. Continue reading »
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