French Security Concerns: Urgent vs. Important

In the Ranks of an Ally
A French soldier guards the spectators’ stands during the 2012, 14th of July parade in Paris. Photo: USAFE / AFAFRICA/flickr.

What role does France play in European security? What are the most important security threats the country faces? What security related decisions will President Hollande have to take over the next few months? These are the questions we asked François Heisbourg, a renowned French foreign policy and security expert. Professor Heisbourg, who is chairman of both the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), visited ETH Zurich in June 2012. He lectured on “France in European security” as part of the Master in Advanced Studies in Security Policy and Crisis Management (MAS SPCM) course.

Mongolia: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Ulan Bator - Bejing
Ulan Bator - Bejing. Photo: Dave Gray/flickr.

Given Mongolia’s potential to become a future commodity powerhouse, it does not seem strange that recent legislation that aims to cap foreign investment and ownership was a cause for concern among the domestic and global business community. The Strategic Foreign Investment Law  aims to confront two major challenges to Mongolia’s social and economic development. Firstly, the regime has to respond to domestic demands that resource wealth is used to benefit the wider population.  Moreover, Mongolia also seeks to reduce its dependence on its two powerful neighbors and in particular to limit Chinese influence over its economy. Neither of these dilemmas will be easily resolved.

After intense domestic lobbying, the Mongolian Parliament approved a watered-down version of the Strategic Foreign Investment Law on 17 May. Initially, the law stipulated that foreign investors seeking to buy a stake of more than 49% in Mongolian companies required the approval of Mongolia’s Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency (Fifta) and Parliament.  However, following amendments aimed at appeasing foreign investors, the conditions only apply to companies involved in Mongolia’s ‘strategically important’ mining, financial, and media and telecommunications sectors and when deals are valued at above $76 million. Yet deals in which the buyer company is even partially in state ownership will require approval regardless of the sector of the business.