An American, a German, and a Chinese gentleman walk into a bar in Prague. The first two order a beer, and the bartender then turns to the Chinese man to ask, “What can I get you?” He simply replies, “The accounts please, I own the place.”
The joke is not entirely removed from reality. The Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI – an economic agenda billed as the Silk Road reincarnated – is putting meat on the bones of Chinese interaction with Central and Eastern Europe. BRI investments play a role in the increased priority attached to the “16+1” – a political format that brings China and the region together. The sixth meeting of heads of states of the Central and Eastern Europe countries and China in Hungary has revealed four faces of Chinese activity in the region: connector, shaper, investor and challenger.
Central and Eastern Europe has not occupied an important place on India’s external policy agenda so far. However, since many CEE countries have joined the European Union and India is now a major emerging power, the time is ripe to open a new era in the relationship. The history of close ties and untapped potential for economic cooperation bodes well for India’s re-engagement in the region. Holding a regional economic summit could be the right step to examine the existing opportunities for trade and investment and push for closer cooperation. Poland may use the momentum to play a leading role in this regional dialogue.
If you could write an open letter to US President Barack Obama, what would you write? The question almost makes you think of something like a wish list to a Santa, who will do his best to fulfill your desires.
During the last months the media has seen innumerable open letters to Obama. And this is yet another one. It is a doleful and angst-ridden letter, one whose main argument is that the Obama administration is not taking the necessary measures for rebuking “revisionist Russia.”
I first had a reflective look at the senders’ list. Václav Havel and Lech Wałęsa are there, symbols of the people who led the revolutions of 1989. However, beyond all emotions, I realized the word ‘former’ is too prominent on the senders’ list. Valdas Adamkus, former president of the Republic of Lithuania; Martin Butora, former ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the US. The list goes on.
‘Former’ refers to something or someone belonging to a prior time. Even the letter reads ‘former’ to me, with arguments that in the current international context have acquired their dustiness.
The letter’s nostalgia-conjured past does not truly reflect historical realities. “Our nations are deeply indebted to the United States,” the letter argues. “Many of us know firsthand how important your support for our freedom and independence was during the dark Cold War years.”
These words make me think of my Romanian grandfather and how he told me that years after the end of World War II he was looking at the sky, asking himself when would the Americans come. And the Americans never came. So what is Central and Eastern Europe so indebted for? Apart from listening to Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, there was not much of an important support to be felt in the region during the Cold War.