Keyword in Focus: Greece

The Greek Parliament. Photo: SimonC flickr.

After yesterday’s vote and the approval today of legislation allowing for the rapid implementation of new austerity measures, one may legitimately wonder what tomorrow has in store for Greece, a country that will always have special significance in the West.

Few, it seems, have failed to notice the symmetry in the fact that until Wednesday the fate of the latest common European project very much seemed to turn—and perhaps still turns—on events in the birthplace of the oldest one.

Though more treacherous waters lie ahead, for now at least Europe has avoided the ‘Lehman moment’ that it was feared could trigger the unraveling of its monetary union and an even deeper crisis for its political one. No Marathon or Salamis, to be sure — but welcome news nonetheless.

We take this opportunity to showcase the holdings of the ISN Digital Library on Greece

International Relations Government

Upcoming International Events

Security talks. Photo: Tim Wendel, ISN

Dear Reader,

It’s been almost a month since the 9th International Security Forum (ISF) came to a close. In case you need further political inspiration and don’t want to wait until the next ISF, here’s a brief list of upcoming international events for your calendar.

Cannes Water Symposium
29 June – 1 July 2011, Cannes, France

Since 1999, the Cannes Water Symposium has become a key International Forum on various issues related to water, the sea and sustainable development. The 13th annual conference will take place in the Palais des Festivals in Cannes and will gather professionals, scientists and political decision-makers — all specialists on Water and the Environment. The conference will comprise scientific and technological workshops on 1) developing innovative and clean harbors and waterways, 2) sanitation, and 3) water quality and health.

EU as a Global Actor: From the Inside Out: The Internal Development of the European Union and its Future Role in an Interdependent World
7 – 10 July 2011, Berlin, Germany

“The EU as a Global Actor” is an international conference held by the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in cooperation with other leading organizations. The conference aims to consider the political, economic, and cultural development of the European Union, both as a regional organization and as a key player in global affairs. It aims to explore the challenges and opportunities facing the EU with respect to internal reform and growth, while also reflecting on the roles and responsibilities the organization faces on the global stage.

7th International Internet Law & Politics Conference 2011
11 – 12 July 2011, Barcelona, Spain

The 7th International Internet Law & Politics Conference (IDP, Internet, Derecho y Política), will focus on the current Net Neutrality debate and its consequences for the development of the Internet from both legal and political standpoints.

International Relations Security Economy

China: Superpower or Developing Country?

This illustration highlights the disparity between China’s per-capita income and its aggregate income in comparison with other countries.

China is not a superpower, said Major General Pan Zhenqiang, deconstructing one of the “myths” about his country. A retired officer from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and deputy chairman of the China Foundation for International Studies, Pan Zhenqiang talked at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich last week. He was also a guest of Vivian Fritschi of ISN Podcasts. In his talk Pan said that China is a poor developing country. Is he right? Or is China a superpower, after all? The answer to this question depends on whom you ask.

Chinese leaders themselves perceive their country as a developing one with a number of paramount domestic challenges. The largest share of China’s population lives in rural, underdeveloped areas and there is a large urban-rural income gap. And although China’s per capita income has been increasing at a remarkable pace – it grew more than threefold over the last decade – it is still comparatively low. To anyone familiar with rural China, it is obvious that this is in fact a developing country. But that’s only one side of the coin: even though China is a poor country in per-capita terms, it is a rich country in aggregate terms, due to its immense population.

From a Western perspective, China’s development is usually seen at the macro level: China is the second largest economy in the world today and might surpass the US within the next decade.


This Week in ISN Insights…

It's week 26 on our editorial calendar, Photo: Anna Armstrong/flickr

Coming up this week in ISN Insights:

  • On Monday, US space policy is under the microscope in an article from Washington, DC-based independent journalist Peter Buxbaum.
  • Professor Bob Ash of SOAS analyzes China’s changing consumption patterns on Tuesday to help determine who’s gained and lost during the country’s economic boom.
  • On Wednesday, Sofia University’s Professor Plamen Pantev examines Turkey’s foreign policy and geopolitical priorities in the wake of the 12 June elections.
  • And the Foreign Policy Association’s chief health blogger Cynthia Schweer investigates the changing logistical and political landscape of humanitarian aid on Thursday.

And in case you missed our special coverage of Chinese foreign relations all last week, you can catch up here with articles on: evolving China-Pakistan relations; shifting power dynamics in the relationship between China and Taiwan; dual-track EU-China relations; and China’s machinations within the BRICS grouping.

Government Security

Top Security Threats: All Transnational

Boundary stone at the Swiss border: deters neither mafiosi, nor human traffickers nor cyber criminals. Photo: Thomas Bresson/flickr

Money laundering by mafiosi, human trafficking and cyber crime: these are the top three security threats identified by the Swiss federal police in their 2010 annual report (German).

What is striking about this list is that each menace is transnational in nature. What does this mean?

For one: as this assessment by the Swiss authorities indicates, police work is no longer the strictly domestic affair it once was. As a result,  international cooperation has become a first-order concern for national law-enforcement organizations.  And this can be very difficult in practice. Take, for example, the fight against the mafia in Italy and Switzerland —  two countries which,  though neighbors, have different legal regimes and requirements for due process.

It is clear that more efforts are needed to  properly track  criminal activity across borders. In this day and age, the police’s concerns cannot remain theirs alone. Everyone dealing with or talking about security should take heed of this annual report and perhaps even adjust their own priorities.