Angela Merkel. Photo: Duncan Hull/flickr.
After two months of haggling, a final coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD has been hammered out. The 185 page- document is with the title “Shaping Germany’s future” is supposed to set the tone for Germany’s new ‘grand coalition’ (in Germany the coalition is also known as GroKo which stands for Große Koalition). However, the deal sends a clear message: Merkel still holds the reigns and we are not about to witness a volte-face in German policies on Europe and foreign affairs.
The broad consensus established in the coalition agreement means that there is little sign of major innovation or a drastic change in direction in terms of European and foreign policy. On one hand, this can be seen as uninspired as the incoming German government demonstrates no real ambition for leadership in European and international affairs – with the notable exception of the euro crisis. On the other hand, as long as nobody moves, nobody gets hurt; Germany remains a reliable and unobtrusive partner in the world. » More
Tank in Cairo. Photo: Jonathan Rashad/flickr.
On October 24, the ISN co-hosted a roundtable discussion with the Cordoba Foundation on the recent political turmoil in Egypt and on the possible ways to resolve it. Today, we present some of the discussion’s highlights, with a particular emphasis on the observations made by Dr Maha Azzam.
The discussion started off by focusing on the ‘narratives’ that the Western media has used to both bound and characterize the Arab Spring. In the following response, Dr Azzam focuses on the term ‘Islamism’ and how it has been misused, often with negative consequences, by media outlets, politicians and others.
Kaesong, North Korea. Photo: http://www.asianews.it/
Just when nobody thought it could get worse, it did. Diplomatic relations with North Korea reached a proverbial low point early this year when Pyongyang followed a long-range rocket test with an underground nuclear explosion. Despite a perceived decline since then in North Korea’s belligerent rhetoric, and despite the reopening of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, political tensions between the two Koreas, and between North Korea and the United States, still remain high. Pyongyang, for example, has recently cancelled scheduled North-South family reunions and there are troubling signs that it may be resuming its plutonium program.
While the prospects for political engagement with the Kim Jong-un regime may indeed remain bleak, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other opportunities for increased dialogue. One of these is science diplomacy, which enables states to use academic collaborations and scholarly exchanges in politically helpful ways. The virtue of this type of diplomacy, which can focus on solving common environmental, health, energy, and security problems, is the ‘neutral’ political space it provides friends and foes alike. Instead of continuing to trap themselves in mutual competition, they can indeed use science to create shared interests and a common destiny. » More
Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, speaks at CSIS in February 2012, courtesy of CSIS/Flickr
Even the supporters of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) are disappointed with the results from Ahmet Davutoğlu’s foreign policy. Only 53 percent of AKP voters agree with his Syria policy; in total, 56 percent of Turks are opposed to it. However, not only with regards to Syria, Turkey’s overall foreign policy has hit the brick wall. There has only been very little progress in other areas as well: whether it is Cyprus, Greece, or Armenia – none of Turkey’s “old” problems with its non-Muslim neighbors have been resolved.
Moreover, relations with Muslim neighbors Iran and Iraq – with the exception of Kurdish northern Iraq – as well as Egypt are tense. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the AKP has lost its past influence over the involved parties. Neither Israel, nor the PLO or Hamas look to Ankara anymore. Little is left from Turkey’s stance as a regional power. » More